THE country’s top tile pushers are expected to crowd the city anew for the staging of the 15th Panagbenga Scrabble Tournament slated March 4-5 as part of the annual Baguio Flower Festival.

In cooperation with the City of Baguio, the sports event will feature the students/beginners and open category.

The Baguio-Benguet Word Builders Club is spearheading the event anew which is expected to be played at Calle Uno, along the first road of Quezon Hill.

“We’re on and we started already inviting players from La Union, Pangasinan, Metro Manila and the Southern Luzon area,” said BBWBC officer William Caluza, who takes precedence of organizing the event with club president Huub Luyk in The Netherlands for some family matters.

Close to P30,000 in cash prizes for the two divisions of open and beginners/students are up for grabs including beautifully crafted trophies in the two-day, 16 round king of the hill tournament.

Top tile pushers including Iloilo based lawyer Odette Rio are expected to come up to play with Rio again defending for the nth time.

Rio last year came from behind to salvage an unwinnable game, edge Ador Ruiz, 395-394, to win the P8,000 top purse after a 12-4 performance. It was also her 12th title in Baguio since national level competitions were started here in 2003.

Rio will expect strong competition from Leonora Labog, who also sneaked past Ruiz, for second place in last year’s competition. Labog went home with the P5,000 purse, while Ruiz fumbled with the P3,000 third place haul, a costly loss in retrospect, when he could have coasted to the win with his better end game tiles.

It was also one of the toughest competitions last year when four players had ratings of 2,000 plus including the returning Marlon Prudencio, who is now Singapore based.

Caluza said invitations had been sent and the event calendared in the United Scrabble Association of the Philippines, Inc. of which the BBWBC is a member and Luyk as a director.

Caluza added announcements be made a month earlier for players to be properly informed and other organizers to schedule planned tournament for other date or dates.

For inquiries and registrations, interested participants may contact organizers at (0906)655-6818 or at (0977)822-2992. (Sharma Buteng with Pigeon Lobien)