The French Scrabble Champ Does Not Speak French

They call him the Bearded Wonder. Okay, no one actually calls him that (that we know of), but they should. He’s the greatest living Scrabble player in the world, and he’s at the height of his powers. Tennis has Serena Williams. Golf has Jordan Spieth. Soccer has Lionel Messi.

Scrabble has Nigel Richards, and he’s arguably more dominant at his game than any of these other athletes are at theirs.

On Monday, July 20, Richards—a native of New Zealand—won the French-language world Scrabble championship. He does not speak a word of French. It’s Nigel Richards’s world, and we’re all just Scrabbling in it.

“He doesn’t speak French at all, he just learnt the words,” Liz Fagerlund, a friend of Richards’s, told The New Zealand Herald. “He won’t know what they mean, wouldn’t be able to carry out a conversation in French I wouldn’t think.” Richards reportedly memorized an entire French dictionary in the two months leading up to the competition.


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