In physical sports, Israel didn’t fare all that well this summer as seen at the Olympics. Now another national team is heading out to Glasgow – this time in a mind sport – and could bring Israel the glory it expected from London.
Evan Cohen, Omri Rosenkrantz, Raz Na’ot and Maureen Hoch will represent Israel at the International Team Tournament 2012 Scrabble championships (August 31- September 2). For the first time, the annual team event will include six delegations instead of the usual four nations of the UK.
“The fact that they were interested in expanding the event is not that strange. That they should invite Israel was unexpected,” says Cohen, director and founder of the Tel Aviv Scrabble Club. “This may very well be due to the good relationships our players have on the international stage.”
Team Israel’s Cohen and Hoch are native English speakers who have lived in Israel for nearly three decades. For Rosenkrantz and Na’ot, Hebrew is their mother tongue, but they play the popular word game in English.
Earlier this month, the game of Scrabble was thrown into headlines around the world due to a cheating scandal at the US national championship. With the world’s biggest Scrabble club in Israel, the main Israeli media outlets covered that story and turned a focus on the local Scrabble clubs, too.
“It was bad for the sportsmanship of the game, but good for the sport. The cheating scandal gave us a much needed boost in the media,” says Cohen. “I’m not happy that the only way to get into four daily newspapers in Israel is via cheating, but it’s better than nothing. [It was] very good publicity.”
Israel will host an international event of its own next year. The Fifth Israeli Open Scrabble Tournament will take place on February 22-24, 2013 in Tiberias.