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Oct. 14, 2019 | Monday
Local News
NOTL resident spells out hopes for a competitive Scrabble club in town
Joel Talento hopes to bring a competitive Scrabble club to NOTL. (Brittany Carter/Niagara Now)

The words are out of the bag – NOTL resident Joel Talento stacked his tiles against Scrabble players from around the world last weekend at the North American Scrabble Players Association tournament.

Now, Talento wants to bring his love for the strategic word game home by starting a Scrabble club in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

He said he has been in touch with the community centre and library to try to get a club off the ground. Nothing is official yet, but he said he’s hopeful it will spell out more competitive Scrabble locally.

Talento has been playing drop-in games casually with some friends at Sweets and Swirls Café, but he figures NOTL residents would be up for an organized Scrabble club.

In the next few weeks he will take the test to become a certified club director with the association, he said, which will allow him to oversee sanctioned clubs.

The 5th Niagara Falls International Open held 21 rounds in total from Friday to Sunday at the Scotiabank Convention Centre. While the convention centre was buzzing with Niagara Falls Comic Con hype, which took place at the same time on the main floor, Scrabble players occupied a conference room upstairs, quietly spelling out their best moves against some of the brightest international wordsmiths.

Talento placed 21st out of 25 players. While he said he would have liked to finish higher, he still had a great time and will definitely try again next year.

“It’s the camaraderie. I’ve seen people here that I’ve played with from all over the world.”

Picking up the book Word Freak by Stephen Fatsis in 2001 pushed Talento into the world of competitive Scrabble, he said.

“It’s a story about him being a reporter playing competitive Scrabble and he ended up being a really good player. After that I went to a Scrabble club,” Talento said.

Starting as what those in the Scrabbleverse call a living room player, Talento began studying the two and three letter words of the North American dictionary to improve his game.

The tournament this year was more of a challenge, he said, because it was international. While he has spent a lot of time studying the North American version of the game, he had to put in extra preparation time for the international tournament.

He’s a lover of words and anagrams, and, given the chance, is quick to present you with the various words that can be made from your name. After moving to NOTL from Vancouver several years ago, he said he took a hiatus from competitive playing.

He said his wife, Kendra Cooper, encouraged him to pick up the game again now that their children, Ellie, 7 and Max, 4, are a little older.

“I love numbers, I love words, and I love strategy.”

Talento created an Instagram account and said anyone interested in playing can message him at ScrabbleNOTL.

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