Pulse.ng logo

Wellington Jighere Nigerian scrabble king dominating world with new strategy

Nigerian players are ‘relentlessly studying short words’ which has helped them to win some of the biggest tournament in the world.

  • Published: , Refreshed:
Wellington Jighere play Wellington Jighere shows off his World Scrabble Championship (Pius Utomi Ekpei/AFP/Getty Images )

Nigerian player Wellington Jighere is dominating world scrabble with a new strategy, the Wall Street Journal reports.

According to the report, Nigerian players are ‘relentlessly studying short words’ which has helped them to win some of the biggest tournament in the world.

Back in November 2015, Jighere won four straight games in the best-of-seven final round against Lewis MacKay from Cambridge to win The World Scrabble Championship.

Wellington Jighere, (middle), with his Nigerian teammates play Wellington Jighere, (middle), with his Nigerian teammates after winning the Scrabble world championship in November. (Pius Utomi Ekpei//AFP/Getty Images)


The report states that in what they dub smart Scrabble, a player who can unload all seven tiles gets an extra 50 points, in what is called a bingo.

Global competition and computer analytics have brought that sacred Scrabble shibboleth into question, exposing the hidden risks of big words,” The WSJ report says.

Risk one: Every extra letter on the board is another opening for an opponent to land their own seven-letter blockbuster.

Wellington Jighere play Wellington Jighere (Telegraph)


Risk two: Every letter played gets replaced by a random tile from the bag. A bad draw can—and often does—leave players stuck for several turns without vowels or decent letter combinations. After millions of computer-simulated games, Scrabble strategists have concluded that bad draws happen more frequently than previously assumed.”

In a strategy called rack management, players hold on to useful tiles to spell four- or five-letter words.

Nigerian players have rigorously studied the strategy.

 “The geometry of the Scrabble board rewards five-letter words; It’s a smart tactic,” Mr. Mackay, who lost to Mr. Jighere in the world championship final -during which the Nigerian nabbed a triple word score with the antiquated adjective KATTI, meaning ‘spiteful’ told WSJ.

Wellington Jighere speaks to Pulse TV play Wellington Jighere at the Pulse TV studio (Youtube/Pulse TV)


The report described 33-year-old Mr. Jighere as Nigeria’s Rachmaninoff of rack management.

He was intimidated by the extravagant vocabulary his Western opponents were spelling in a tournament in 2007 and then he stick to mid-length words, hoping to limit their play.

We had this inferiority complex,” Mr. Jighere told WSJ.

 “These guys are the owners of the language, they know so many words, we better be careful.”

Now, his method is changing the game. Champions have studied his defensive style, including his decision to put REPAIR on an S during the final, for 30 points. He could have earned 86, including a 50-point bingo, spelling PEREIRAS. Instead, Mr. Jighere kept an “e” for the next round,” the report stated.

Watch Wellington Jighere's interview with Pulse

Do you ever witness news or have a story that should be featured on Pulse Nigeria?
Submit your stories, pictures and videos to us now via WhatsApp: +2349055172167, Social Media @pulsenigeria247: #PulseEyewitness & DM or Email: eyewitness@pulse.ng. More information here.