South Scotland

UK Scrabble final sees former champions lock horns

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Media captionScrabble champion Paul Allan: "Sometimes I practise a ridiculous amount, about six or eight hours a day"

Two former champions are to go head to head in the 42nd UK Scrabble Championship in London.

Allan Simmons, from Coldingham in the Scottish Borders, and Paul Allan, of Rushden in Northamptonshire, will clash for the title on Sunday.

Mr Simmons, a Scrabble consultant, was crowned champion in 2008. Teacher Mr Allan, formerly from Aberdeen, took the title the year before.

The winner this year will walk off with a £2,500 first prize.

Mr Allan told BBC Breakfast said there was little difference between him and his rival.

"As players get better they tend to get more similar," he said.

"Weaker players have got their own idiosyncratic styles, but you tend to converge into the same style. So there's not much between myself and Allan."

Mr Allan got into the game in the mid 1980s when he started playing a scrabble computer game, and he later entered tournaments.

"None of my friends were that interested in it, so I just sat a lonely existence and just kept playing the computer," he joked.

Avoiding arguments

Ahead of big games, Mr Allan said he spent eight to 10 hours a day playing and revising up to 2,000 words.

"Other times real life gets in the way - you've got to do other things," he added.

Other than hoping he doesn't pick the letter Q too often, Mr Allan said he enjoyed all games whichever way they evolved.

He explained: "Any board excites me. There's all sorts of varieties. That's one of the strengths of the game."

He suggested that families and friends intending to play the game should invest in a scrabble dictionary to avoid arguments.

Mr Allan and Mr Simmons saw off more than 50 rivals to make it to the showdown at the Cavendish Conference Centre in London.

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