Nakul Prabhu, a Project Lead with TCS, has been playing Scrabble® professionally for the last 19 years. He has participated in around 15 international Scrabble® tournaments (TCS sponsored Nakul for two of these tournaments) and has finished in the top 10, eight times. His future plans include participating in the Causeway Scrabble® Challenge 2016 to be held in Malaysia.
Like any other amateur Scrabble® player, Nakul started his journey in a similar fashion. At the age of nine, his parents and grandmother eagerly took turns to become his opponents. By the time he turned 13, Nakul was already captivated by the game. In 1997, his mother spotted a print advertorial publicising a national level Scrabble® tournament to be held in India. His family unanimously decided to register him for his first Scrabble® tournament. Ever since Nakul participated in the under-15 category and won, there has been no looking back. By improving his game skills, Nakul soon progressed into the intermediate adults’ category. “Regular Scrabble® meets on alternate weekends and tournaments helped me improve my game further and I started playing in the premier division of Scrabble® in India,” says Nakul.
In 2013, after years of practice, Nakul represented India at the prestigious World Scrabble® Championship at Prague. “I remember the first game that I played in the World Scrabble® Championship against Esther Perrins from Australia. Even after scoring four bingos (using all seven letters on the rack) and scoring almost 500 points, which is a very high score in Scrabble®, I ended up losing the game as my opponent scored more,” recalls Nakul. He ranks this particular game as the most memorable one that he has ever played.
New words and strategies have always fascinated Nakul. For Nakul, a game of Scrabble® is a combination of skill and luck. “Before each game, it is important to know your opponent’s strengths and weaknesses. Each game can be planned to a certain extent based on your opponent’s tactics,” he adds. Of all his opponents, Nakul admires Nigel Richards, the world’s highest- rated Scrabble® player, the most. He regards Nigel’s abilities as simply extraordinary, equivalent to that of a supercomputer. Nakul had the opportunity to play against Nigel during the Sri Lanka International Scrabble® Championship. “I was lucky to beat the three-time World Champion, Nigel Richards. I was ecstatic winning a game against him,” exclaims Nakul.
In Scrabble®, tiles play a very important role in determining the course of your game. J, Q, X and Z are commonly known as the power tiles in Scrabble®. These tiles have higher face value points compared to the other letters and can help in maximising your score. The tile X is one of the hardest letters but tiles Q and Z help score the maximum points (10). The score value for blank tiles is zero. Nakul’s favourite letter is S as it helps in extending the existing words. He is also fond of the blank tile as you can use it as any letter and try to maximise your score.
Scrabble® has become an integral part of Nakul’s life. While weekdays are devoted to work, weekends are reserved for Scrabble®. “In life, if you are passionate about anything, you will always make time for the same. It is all about venturing into the unknown and stepping out of your comfort zone. I always believe in pursuing something that I like to do rather than what I am forced to do,” discloses Nakul.