Cheah Siu Hean
Australian Championships 2002
Singapore Sweeps Masters in Freo
- Steve Sunter firstname.lastname@example.org
A strong overseas contingent kept the locals out of the top places in
Fremantle over the Easter weekend. Cheah Siu Hean (Singapore) held onto his
early lead to claim victory on the third day. His impressive last-round victory
relegated local favourite Paul Cleary (NSW) to third place. Paul is a three-time
Australian Champion with strong recent results in Asia. Tony Sim completed the
quinella for Singapore. He snatched second place after a tense final game
against local improver Michael Cameron (SA). Michael finished in 50th place the
previous year in Melbourne. His fourth placing this second time around shows
just how much can be achieved in twelve months.
Cheah notched up 17 wins from 21 games. His strong performance was presaged by a
clean sweep of ten wins in a local warm-up tournament the previous weekend. His
total wins in the Australian Masters Championship equalled the result of last
year's winner, Edward Okulicz (Bob Jackman also scored 17 wins in that
tournament but Ed had a larger margin). In the final game, Cheah reached 300 points in just four moves. However, Paul Cleary fought back
aggressively with some fantastic plays. The final board was a fitting showcase
of both players talents.
Strong field; Warm atmosphere
WA attracted a strong field with all Australian states well represented at the
Fremantle Italian Club. Unfortunately, both Edward and six-time champion John
Holgate were unable to attend this year's event. Tournament organisers Maureen
Gill and Glenys Lawrie received unanimous praise from players for this well-run
event. First-time Director Sue Omodei kept the whole show running smoothly (ably
assisted by many local volunteers). Spot prizes for unusual words and random
giveaways added interest to the event. Fremantle turned on fabulous weather
throughout the Easter period. Many players dined al fresco each evening and
enjoyed the three-day Buskers Festival centred around South Terrace and
A gentleman and a scholar
Cheah clearly enjoyed his win - His gentlemanly conduct earned him the respect
and friendship of many locals. Cheah is an Oxford graduate who has played second
fiddle to his countryman Tony Sim for several years. Indeed, Tony has previously
won the Australian championships back in 1995 (and finished runner-up in 1997).
But this time Cheah was the front-runner and Tony was only able to make up
ground on the final day. Cheah has also been active in the internet Scrabble
community for several years. He plays under the pseudonym "ean".
From near & far
The two-day open tournament was won convincingly by Muriel Berman. Runner up was
local Kim Quek with third place claimed by another Singaporean, Raja Dorai.
Players from Malaysia and Nigeria also competed in the main event.
A post-tournament dinner was held at Fremantle's Orient Hotel. Trophies
presented included a hand-crafted jarrah clock, with several prizes donated by
local WA Scrabble clubs. Stories of amazing plays and strange happenings were
freely exchanged at the bar.
SA to host in 2003
Next year's Australian Masters Championships will be held over Easter in
Adelaide. The venue in Glenelg is just a few minutes stroll from a
world-renowned beach, international hotels, shopping and entertainment areas.
King of the hill round - Cheah Siu Hean (504) d. Paul Cleary (445)
Words played: ONrUSHES, hISTRION, NONETTE, GRIBBLES, VACUOLES, LIPOID,
THROVE, ALGID, GEEZ, JASY, ULEX, HOURI
Photo gallery 1 - Main events
Photo gallery 2 - Presentations & social