Ottawa Scrabble champ recounts 'embarrassing mistakes' before big win

Ottawa mathematician Adam Logan earned the Canadian Scrabble championship for the fifth time this week with some obscure plays, including dragonet, chufa and cryolites, but he admits to making some "embarrassing mistakes" along the way.

Adam Logan is a 5-time Canadian Scrabble championship, and won World Scrabble Championships in 2005

Atlantic Canada’s first-ever international Scrabble tournament is set to begin in Shediac this weekend (courtesy John Chew)

Ottawa mathematician Adam Logan earned the Canadian Scrabble championship for the fifth time this week with some obscure plays, including dragonet, chufa and cryolites, but he admits to making some "embarrassing mistakes" along the way.

"For one thing, playing a word that is not actually in the dictionary and having it challenged and losing my turn," the 41-year-old told Alan Neal on CBC Radio's All In A Day on Tuesday. "Sometimes you just have to try things because you're in a desperate position but sometimes you just make mistakes."
Adam Logan is a five-time Canadian Scrabble champion. (courtesy of John Chew)

He said he played "miz" in the preliminary round — a title that can precede a woman's name — but while it is acceptable in some dictionaries, it is not in the Scrabble dictionary.

"Yeah, well, no one's perfect," he said.

Logan won his first Canadian title 20 years ago — and went on to win the World Scrabble Championships in London, England in 2005.

On Monday, at the end of a four-day tournament at the Bond Place Hotel in Toronto, Logan beat Jason Leong, a 31-year-old lawyer from Vancouver, in three consecutive games in the best-of-five finals with scores of 549–493, 379–370 and 461-437.

It was his first time playing Leong.

"I knew it would be a tough match but you can't go into these things being terrified of your opponent. You have to do your best to play your game. So I had to try to compose myself to do that," he said.

Listen to the full interview here.

"With people I play with a lot in my Scrabble club, for example, I get to know, get some idea of how likely they are to play things that aren't words or whatever but with my opponent in this match I'd never actually played him before so I didn't have much of an idea."

His favourite play was "cryolites," building off the word "it" and using all his seven tiles for a bingo, which comes with a 50-point bonus.

Along with a trophy and a $7,000 cheque, Logan has also earned a spot in the North American championships in Fort Wayne, Indiana in August.

Logan said his profession as a mathematician helps him with his game.

"Although, Scrabble is a game that uses words, it's very much an analytical game," he said. "You have to have at least some kind of intuitive understanding of probability in order to know what to do, toward the end of the game especially."

And, in case you were wondering, dragonet is a fish, chufa is a plant and cryolite is a mineral.

with files from Alan Neal