Congratulations on behalf of the ABSP to champion, Ed Martin and all other prize winners at the 2018 NSC. A 52-strong field contested the main event, with the top seven all rated 189 or higher.
Scoring never stopped on Saturday for defending champion Austin Shin who went into Sunday unbeaten, but a tightening of the closing pack saw four players on an 11-3 record with just two rounds to play - NSC debutant Jamie Jones and event sponsor Elie Dangoor joining Austin and Ed in the top 4. The nail-biting final shootout saw Ed build a strong early lead over Austin only to see it reduced to just 14 points after nine moves apiece.
A tense end-game seemed likely, although a poor late pick up effectively put paid to Austin's chances of being the first player since Mark Nyman to take back-to-back NSC titles. In the end, a margin of just 36 points clinched the title for Ed - 13 wins was certainly not unlucky for him this year. A late surge for 2012 NSC champion Paul Gallen was enough to take third place, with Lewis Mackay and Natalie Zolty rounding out the top seven.
It was a rare UK outing for Ed since his move to Sweden, and in fact the first time he had contested the NSC finals since 2014. It is his third victory at a UK Major event, although his first since 2007, a gap of eleven calendar years. Joyce Cansfield, Terry Kirk and Jackie McLeod share a current record gap of sixteen calendar years between Major wins although there are a number of active players who could threaten this particular statistic over the coming years.
Speaking about his win, Ed said "It was a great honour to win the tournament with so many excellent players in the field. Austin especially was a marvellous opponent and a pleasure to play, he is the absolute definition of a good sportsman. I have been entering the NSC on and off since 1991 so it was a long time coming for me! It was nice that there were a few familiar faces there from those days like Mauro Pratesi, Robert Richland and Barry Grossman. All in all I was delighted to win, thanks so much to all the people who organised the event and the live coverage."
Relative newcomer Jamie Jones was for many the biggest surprise near the top, although those aware of his recent tussle in Best with Harshan Lamabadusuriya, ultimately only decided by spread points, knew not to underestimate him. His performance of 200 was 38 points above his 162 start rating.
Paloma Raychbart topped the Plate standings at the close of day one and never looked back finishing two games clear of her nearest rival Mike Whiteoak. Paul Coyle and Rafal Dominiczak completed the top four. South African Gwen Rea playing in her first UK tournament finished in fifth place impressing with the Afrikaans word OPGEFOK - her opening rating certainly not "badly damaged" despite losing that game.
There was much to like about the venue, with roomy playing conditions and relative ease of access. We have noted some feedback, mostly about refreshments. However, there have been a lot of major events held in London and the South this year and the NSC has traditionally been an event that moved around the country allowing more people the opportunity to attend. With that in mind, organiser Wayne Kelly will soon be looking at more Northerly venues for next year. Thanks go to him, and all his team for their hard work making the 2018 event such a success.
The final game can be viewed on the Qwizical Scrabble YouTube channel. More videos will be uploaded when the streaming team are available to do so.
Last Updated October 2018