SOU student to host Scrabble tourney at Ashland Springs

Travis Chaney wants to change the world, one word at a time.

The 34-year-old Southern Oregon University student begins that quest this weekend when he hosts the inaugural West Coast World Championship Wordlist Challenge Scrabble tournament at Ashland Springs Hotel.

The event will begin at 9 a.m. and conclude by about 5 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday in the Crystal Ball room. Spectators are allowed to watch, though Chaney is asking onlookers to be "quiet and respectful."

Some of the best players in the world make up the six-player field, including Stew Goldman, who holds the world record for the most Scrabble tournament wins, and Dave Wiegand, who has a top 10 finish in the World Championships under his belt.

Chaney is spearheading an effort to make the world word list the standard for Scrabble tournaments held in the U.S. Most U.S. tournaments instead use the thinner official tournament and club word list, a practice that irks Chaney.

"I've been passionate about that for a long time," he said. "I've always thought since I moved here that Ashland is a great place for a tournament because of its central location on the west coast, and because it's very culturally rich and literary oriented. I think it's a place where a Scrabble tournament can thrive."

The winner will be awarded $500 and the runner-up will pocket $100.

Chaney hopes the tournament becomes an annual event. He was hoping for more entries this year, but wasn't shocked at the low turnout.

"We didn't have a lot of people that showed up fort this one and I didn't expect a real large crowd, but I'm confident when the players give their testimonials about the tournament and with a year to plan for next year's tournament "¦ maybe we'll have a better tournament," he said.

Chaney tabbed Wigand as the early favorite to win the Challenge, but expects a great competition.

"Even though there are just six players," he said, "everybody is pretty much an expert player and it's going to be a strong field."

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