Gulf Championship Opens Thursday
Affected by cyclone Gonu earlier this month, the Gulf Air 17th Gulf
Scrabble Tournament opens on Thursday, June 21 at Bahrain's Ramee
International Hotel, two weeks after it was originally scheduled.
None of the nine entrants from Oman could leave the sultanate
earlier this month, and the organisers swiftly decided at the 11th
hour to postpone the GST rather than have a truncated event.
Not postponing would have meant three of the Gulf's top 10,
including defending champion Ralph Lobo, would have been absent from
the GST. Though several players immediately announced their
inability to take part in the postponed competition, players quickly
rallied to support the new dates.
Eight of the region's top 10 exponents in the brainy game
are expected at the GST this weekend. Gulf Air, the official air
carrier of the GST, quickly announced that reservations booked for
the June 7-9 weekend would be honoured for this weekend. Ramee
International followed suit with room bookings.
Bahrain champion Mohammed Zafar, 17, was to go to Bangkok,
Thailand, this weekend to compete in the King's Cup in Bangkok,
Thailand, with a top prize of $6,000 and 10,000 participants. Gulf
Air provided the Bahraini with a ticket. However, after days of
grappling with the decision, the champ decided to forego the King's
Cup in favour of the GST as the contest is the qualifier for the
ninth World Scrabble Championship in Mumbai, India, in November, and
he aims for a place at the WSC.
The GST postponement left many players in a quandary as it
threw a spanner in travel itineraries though most entrants were able
to revamp their plans to come to Bahrain this weekend. The tally of
players at present comes to 34 rather than 40 with entrants from the
United Arab Emirates still to confirm their full participation.
Bahrain and Oman have exceeded their player quotas (10 and