Nigel Richards (Scrabble player)

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Nigel Richards
Richards in 2018
Born1967 (age 55–56)
Christchurch, New Zealand[1]

Nigel Richards (born 1967)[2] is a New Zealand–Malaysian Scrabble player who is widely regarded as the greatest tournament-Scrabble player of all time. Born and raised in New Zealand, Richards became World Champion in 2007, and repeated the feat in 2011, 2013, 2018, and 2019. He also won the third World English-Language Scrabble Players’ Association Championship (WESPAC) in 2019.[3]

Richards is also a five-time U.S. national champion (four times consecutively from 2010 to 2013), an eight-time UK Open champion, an 11-time champion of the Singapore Open Scrabble Championship and a 15-time winner of the King's Cup in Bangkok, the world's biggest Scrabble competition.

In 2015, despite not speaking French,[4] Richards won the French World Scrabble Championships, after reportedly spending nine weeks studying the French dictionary.[5] He won it again in 2018, and multiple duplicate titles from 2016.[6]

Renowned for his eidetic and mathematical abilities, Richards has been described as a reclusive personality and has rarely been interviewed.[4]

Playing history[edit]

Richards started playing competitive Scrabble at New Zealand's Christchurch Scrabble Club. Since beginning his competitive career in 1997, he has won about 75% of his tournament games, collecting an estimated USD 200,000 in prize money.[7] In 2000 Richards moved to Malaysia.


Richards won the World Scrabble Championship[8] and earned USD 15,000 by winning a playoff, 3 games to 0, against Ganesh Asirvatham of Malaysia.[9] The two qualified for the playoff by leading a field of 104 international experts after 24 rounds of a tournament held 9–12 November in Mumbai, India.


Richards won the USA National Scrabble Championship and earned USD 25,000 by winning his last three games against the runner-up, 1998 champion Brian Cappelletto, for a record of 22 wins and 6 losses, with a cumulative spread of 1,340 points.[10]


Richards was the runner-up in the USA National Scrabble Championship in Dayton, Ohio,[11] losing to Dave Wiegand but still winning 25 of the 31 matches.


Richards won the USA National Scrabble Championship in Dallas, Texas,[12] again winning 25 games. His performance in this tournament was so dominant that he clinched the title before the last day of competition began.


He repeated his success in the World Scrabble Championship[13] in Warsaw, Poland, winning a closely fought final against Australia's top player, Andrew Fisher.

Richards won the USA National Scrabble Championship in Dallas, Texas,[14] winning 22 games, including his final two, to hold off a number of challengers.


Richards won the USA National Scrabble Championship,[15] in Orlando, Florida, winning 22 of 31 games. To win the title, Richards had to defeat past champion David Gibson by at least 170 points in the final game; he won it by 177 points. At the time of the victory, Richards became the only person to have won the event four times, as well as the only player to have won it in three consecutive years.


Richards won 24 of 31 games to finish first at the National Scrabble Championship in Las Vegas, Nevada, in July.[16] The championship was not decided until the last game. Though he lost the game to Komol Panyasophonlert, Richards kept the score close enough to retain the title for a record fourth consecutive time (and record fifth overall).

He became World Champion for a third time, beating Panyasophonlert in the final; as of 2013, the World Championship has been renamed the Scrabble Champions Tournament and will be held annually.


On 20 July, Richards won the nonduplicate portion of the 2015 French World Scrabble Championship in Belgium after two months of studying the French lexicon.[17] He does not speak French.[18] He won 14 of the preliminary 17 games before defeating the 2014 runner-up Schélick Ilagou Rekawe in the final, two games to one.[19][20] In the duplicate (rarely played in English, but played in French since 1972) he finished second, just one point behind the winner, Switzerland's David Bovet.[21]


Richards competed in the World Championship and became the first seed after the regular 30 games, but lost in the quarterfinal to the 8th seed David Eldar, who won the tournament.

Richards won the 2017 WGPO Word Cup.[22][23]


Richards won his fourth World Championship. He also competed in the NASPA Championship, losing to Joel Sherman in the final round.[24] He competed in the French Championship and won his second Classique Championship[25] and his second Elite Duplicate (without conceding a single point), Blitz Duplicate and Paires titles.

Richards placed 2nd at the 4th Niagara Falls International Open.[26][27]


Richards won his fifth World Championship and third Paires title. He also won the WESPA championship, making it (unofficially) a sixth World Championship.

Since 2020[edit]

Since winning the 2019 World Scrabble Championship Finals, Richards has not appeared in another World Scrabble Championship. The most recent major tournament he attended was the ASCI 2023 Masters, which he won.[28]

Career achievements[edit]

World Championship[edit]

No. Year Stage Opponent Result
1 1999 Preliminaries
2 2005 Preliminaries
3 2007 Finals Malaysia Ganesh Asirvatham 3–0 (1)
4 2009 Finals Thailand Pakorn Nemitrmansuk 1–3
5 2011 Finals Australia Andrew Fisher 3–2 (2)
6 2013 Finals Thailand Komol Panyasophonlert 3–2 (3)
7 2014 Preliminaries
8 2015 Preliminaries
9 2016 Preliminaries
10 2017 Quarter-finals Australia David Eldar 0–2
11 2018 Finals United States Jesse Day 3–1 (4)
12 2019 Finals Australia David Eldar 3–1 (5)

U.S. National Scrabble Championship[edit]

No. Year Result Runner-up
1 2002 2nd (1)
2 2004 3rd (1)
3 2005 7th
4 2008 Won (1) United States Brian Cappelletto
5 2009 2nd (2)
6 2010 Won (2) United States Brian Cappelletto
7 2011 Won (3) United States Kenji Matsumoto
8 2012 Won (4) United States David Gibson
7 2013 Won (5) Thailand Komol Panyasophonlert
8 2014 16th
9 2017 3rd (2)
10 2018 2nd (3)

French Scrabble[edit]

No. Year Format Opponent Result
1 2015 Classique Gabon Schelick Ilagou Rekawe 2–1 (1)
2 2017 Blitz Duplicate Won (1)
3 2017 Elite Duplicate Won (1)
4 2017 Paires Won with France Hervé Bohbot (1)
5 2018 Classique Ivory Coast Zingbe Gueu Mathieu 2–1[29] (2)
6 2018 Blitz Duplicate Won (2)
7 2018 Elite Duplicate Won (2)
8 2018 Paires Won with France Hervé Bohbot (2)
9 2019 Blitz Duplicate Won (3)
10 2019 Elite Duplicate Won (3)
11 2019 Paires Won with France Hervé Bohbot (3)

Other achievements[edit]


  1. ^ Willsher, Kim (21 July 2015). "The French Scrabble champion who doesn't speak French". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 28 July 2015.
  2. ^ Gendron, Guillaume (27 July 2015). "Nigel Richards, déchiffrer des lettres". Libération (in French). Archived from the original on 15 May 2023.
  3. ^ Nigel’s WESPAC title[1]
  4. ^ a b Pascaud, May (21 July 2015). "The new French-language Scrabble champion doesn't speak French". The World. PRX. Retrieved 9 March 2023.
  5. ^ "The French-language Scrabble champion doesn't speak French". Deutsche Welle. 22 July 2015. Retrieved 29 October 2023.
  6. ^ "The scrabble legend with few words to say, but plenty to play". ESPN. 16 January 2019. Retrieved 29 October 2023.
  7. ^ "Nigel Richards – Player Profile". Retrieved 23 February 2014.
  8. ^ John J. Chew, III. "WSC 2007: Nigel Richards [#82]". Retrieved 23 February 2014.
  9. ^ John J. Chew, III. "WSC 2007: Finals". Retrieved 23 February 2014.
  10. ^ "National Scrabble Championship : Division 1 Results". Retrieved 23 February 2014.
  11. ^ "National Scrabble Championship : Division 1 Results". Retrieved 23 February 2014.
  12. ^ "National Scrabble Championship : Division 1 Results". Retrieved 23 February 2014.
  13. ^ John J. Chew, III. "WSC 2011: Finals". Retrieved 23 February 2014.
  14. ^ "National Scrabble Championship : Division 1 Results". Retrieved 23 February 2014.
  15. ^ "National Scrabble Championship : Division 1 Results". Retrieved 23 February 2014.
  16. ^ "National Scrabble Championship : Division 1 Results". Retrieved 23 February 2014.
  17. ^ Chappell, Bill (21 July 2015). "Winner Of French Scrabble Title Does Not Speak French". National Public Radio.
  18. ^ Lichfield, John; Goodwin, Harry. "The new Francophone Scrabble world champion doesn't speak French". The Independent. Archived from the original on 20 June 2022. Retrieved 12 August 2016.
  19. ^ "Louvain 2015 French World Scrabble Championships live". French Scrabble Federation.
  20. ^ "Le champion du monde de Scrabble francophone est néo-zélandais et ne parle pas français". France Tvinfo.
  21. ^ "Louvain 2015 French World Scrabble Championships live, duplicate final results". French Scrabble Federation.
  22. ^ Steele, Brian (1 August 2017). "Scrabble tournament draws players from around the world to Springfield". MassLive. Retrieved 1 February 2019.
  23. ^ "WGPO Past Tournaments". Word Game Players. WGPO. Retrieved 1 February 2019.
  24. ^ "Wordsmiths unite in Buffalo for Scrabble Championship". 10 August 2018. Retrieved 17 April 2019.
  25. ^ FFSC.FR
  26. ^ Langley, Alison (30 July 2018). "Niagara to host international Scrabble tourney". Niagara Falls Review. Retrieved 1 February 2019.
  27. ^ "Niagara Falls, ON (CSW)". Retrieved 1 February 2019.
  28. ^ "Nigel Richards". World English Language Scrabble Players Association. Retrieved 2 November 2023.
  29. ^ "Championnats du Monde 2018 – Élite Classique". French Scrabble Federation. Retrieved 21 July 2018.

External links[edit]