–WARNING –I’m going to take a departure from my normal topic today. Stop reading right now if you’re only here for transport talk. It’s just that there’s been an injustice done which has been weighing me down lately, and I feel something needs to be said.
This post is in honour of bloke called Richie, the greatest sportsperson Canterbury has ever produced. But it’s probably not the Richie you’re thinking of, King McCaw. No, it’s a humble fellow called Nigel Richards.
I’m convinced this guy should be reverred higher than the other Richie in Canterbury folklore, and I’m going to tell you why.
A month ago he won his fourth Scrabble world championship, cementing his place as indisputably the greatest Scrabble player who’s ever walked the Earth. The Press thought the appropriate coverage was a tiny little 3-line paragraph buried in the middle of the paper. No front-page article, no ticker-tape parade, no talk of a knighthood. Contrast that to Richie McCaw who once made the news for joining facebook.
I don’t want to bag on Richie at all – he seems like a good guy. But I’m going to do a comparison to show just how impressive Richards is.
Firstly, let’s see how many World Championships each one has won.
Richie McCaw – 2
Nigel Richards – 4
Richards has won 4 World Championships, as well as 5x U.S.A. Championships, 9x U.K. Opens, and a whole host of other national titles. No other Scrabbler has come close to this record.
Secondly, lets ask are they the best at what they do?
Richie McCaw – debatable. Many would argue there are others who deserve that title more.
Nigel Richards – indisputably yes. There is daylight between him and the rest of the pack. He is akin to Don Bradman, the greatest cricketer of all time, whose batting average was double that of the nearest contender. Richards is the Bradman of Scrabble, an absolute genius.
Thirdly, how hard is it to excel in their chosen field?
Scrabble has 4,000 clubs worldwide. Many more people play socially (half of all British households own a Scrabble board), and tens of millions of people play the various online versions available. Rugby has 18,000 clubs worldwide and 4.5 million registered players. So rugby has more clubs, but scrabble has more players. They don’t seem to be orders of magnitude apart. All up, I think it’s fair to say they are both very competitive and you have to pretty special to excel in in either.
Fourthly, how impossible is their greatest achievement?
This is a weird criteria. I only included it so I could tell the remarkable story of how Nigel Richards won the French Scrabble Championship despite not being able to speak French. He did it by spending the prior 9 weeks memorising all 386,000 words in the French dictionary. When he was asked to make a winner’s speech he had to request an interpreter. I’m not sure there’s an equivalent achievement in rugby.
And finally, are they actually a Cantabrian?
Richie McCaw – more of a Canterbury convert. Born and raised in Otago, only shifting to Christchurch as an adult.
Nigel Richards – born and raised in Christchurch. True Cantabrian.
In conclusion, if Richie deserves a statue and a knighthood, then Richards deserves Cathedral Square to be converted into a giant Scrabble board and the Cathedral rebuilt as a giant reproduction of his magnificent beard. At the very least he deserves a proper newspaper article when he wins a World Championship.