Q&A with Austin Shin

Thanks to Gerry Carter for much of this interview.

  1. What are your top achievements in the game of Scrabble?

Winning 2017 UK NSC and 2017 NASC CSW division, probably also alongside 3rd place at 2017 MSI Worlds as well.  (Perhaps) my 10th place finish at the WESPAC event in Perth. (Also) my UK tournament record (that currently still stands since 2002) in that I am still the youngest ever UK tournament winner at the age of 12 years and 4 months.

2.  What is the favourite move you have ever played and when and where did you play it? What is your highest score, and word in tournament play and practice?

The one that sticks out in my mind, mainly because it happened relatively recently, is that in the UK major that is the Winter Matchplay in my hometown of Milton Keynes. I was holding a garbage rack of AEEILOT on a very tight board and I played through a disconnected L and E to make E(L)AEOLIT(E) for 60 (+5) points. That move really helped me win that game as I was trailing at the time, and the tournament in the end, which was really nice.

I don’t specifically remember high scoring words so I don’t really know off the top of my head for certain. But I did score 180 (+5) points for the nine-timer outplay ADENYLIC at the UK Open Warmup, Coventry in January 2016.

3.  Please give me some personal details about your life such as where you live, your marital status, children and your job.

I live in Milton Keynes, England. I work as a financial controller for a large European logistics company.

4.  What would you like to achieve in the game that you have yet to accomplish?

The two main accolades I would love to win would be winning the UK National Championship and the World Championship.

5.  What advice would you give to new players starting in the game?

First and foremost, just enjoy the game! That and learning the twos and threes are essential.

6.  Is there something that you think could be improved about the way the game is organised?

I think there is room for the masses (casual online players and serious living room players) to be included in our tournaments, though all three are very different. I just believe that there has to be some central point in between all three that connects them together (something from all three will have to give in some way), with an incentive for the masses to turn to tournaments as their primary go-to place for Scrabble. I think what MSI are doing with their online competitions in September is a step closer to this becoming a reality.

I think perhaps a shorter game – either using a 70 tile distribution would make the game more exciting, together with perhaps a shorter time frame of 15 minutes can make the game more appealing to audience.  I think the best way of doing this is through tablets!

7.  Can you tell us how many tournaments you have won and what prize money you have achieved? And what is your favourite tournament?

As of February 1st 2016, I have won 51 titles. In terms of total prize money that I have achieved, I’d be pretty certain it’s well into five figures in GBP. My favourite tournaments on the calendar would be the World Championships, UK Winter Matchplay (mainly because the venue is 5 minutes from my house!), Causeway Scrabble Challenge and Crescent City Cup in New Orleans.

8.  If there is one thing you could wish for in connection with Scrabble what would it be?

Extortionate prize money. Like millions and billions and gazillions. And get paid like football players and have huge contract sponsors and endorsements for random stuff that nobody ever really needs or wants.