37 year old Ben Smitheram from Chingford is the new World Scrabble Champion after beating a competitor he has known for more than 20 years.
Th recruitment consultant said his opponent, 49 year old Mark Nyman from Knutsford in Cheshire, was one of his 'scrabble idols' when he was growing up. The pair met when Nyman was a producer on Countdown, and invited Smitheram onto the show where he then appeared more than 10 times in his teens and early 20s.
Mr Smitheram used a number of tactical plays to secure the win - including his top scoring word, 'Braconid', a type of parasitic wasp. The word initially scored 176 points, but he then gained an extra five when his opponent incorrectly challenged it.
The top scoring words in the match were:
- BRACONID - A parasitic wasp. 176 points
- VARIEDLY - 'In a varied manner'. 95 points
- GYNAECIA - A type of flower. 95 points
- PERIAGUA - A canoe used by American Indians. 76 points
Mr Smitheram won a prize of 7,000 Euros (around £5900) after taking the title at the match in Lille, in France today. He said he had prepared for the tournament by spending up to two hours a day revising words - but was still 'speechless' after the win.