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Updated: June 17, 2013 16:10 IST

Word play

PRINCE FREDERICK
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Boy of letters Anand Bharadwaj. Photo: Special Arrangement
Boy of letters Anand Bharadwaj. Photo: Special Arrangement

Anand Bharadwaj of Australia recently won the World Youth Scrabble Championship

At an age when children can't look beyond cookies, Anand Bharadwaj — who recently won the sixth World Youth Scrabble Championship in Johar Baharu (Malaysia), representing Australia — displayed an inexplicable interest in words.

“Even before he went to school, Anand would eagerly scan the books in the study. As he grew up, he displayed an uncanny ability to spell and frame words,” recalls Anand's aunt Chitra Babu — head of the computer science department at a private college in the outskirts of Chennai — who tracks her nephew's progress, despite the fact that he lives in Australia with his parents (the family migrated to that country 10 years ago).

“Anand was drawn to contests that involved letters and words. An enviable record in spelling competitions proved that he could beat his seniors at spelling words. He displays a similar prodigious talent for scrabble,” says Chitra.

The world youth championship — meant for children under-17 — underlined this fact: Anand is 11 years old and his rivals are older. Besting 83 competitors, Anand won the crown as well as best player awards in three categories — under-12, under-14 and under-16. (for details, log in to scrabble.org.au)

“Nobody can miss his determination to win,” says Chitra. “In the world championship, he was at times cornered by opponents but he fought back.” Chitra says Anand's parents deserve credit for his success. She explains, “My brother Kannan Sethuraman is a faculty member at the Melbourne Business School and his wife Lalitha Sundaresan is a medical doctor. Pressing work commitments leave them with little time for leisure, which they often use in furthering Anand's scrabble career. They take him to local tournaments to ensure he is not out of practice.”

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