Scrabble champ Jack Peters ’20 has a way with words

Rising sophomore Jack Peters has a little-known secret: he’s a newly-minted Scrabble champion

jack peters plays scrabblePhoto/Jack Peters

Jack Peters plays Scrabble

To most, Scrabble is a fun game to play casually at the dinner table with friends or family, but for Jack Peters ’20 it’s a consuming passion.

The rising Brandeis sophomore just took first place in the Division 3 North American Scrabble Championships in New Orleans on July 26.

Peters, who was raised in London but now lives in Concord, Massachusetts, won the tournament with a 25-6 record over five days. His cumulative point spread was 2,045.

“One of the biggest challenges is having a strong mental game during a tournament,” said Peters, who played up to seven games a day for five days in New Orleans. “It’s as much about skill as it is about endurance.”

“At the championships, my mindset was that the first game counts as much as the last. I was focused every single day,” he added.

Peters is currently ranked 320th in the country, but made the jump to Division 2 with his first place finish at the Division 3 Championships.

He wants to continue to improve his game and practices almost every day, including in his residence hall on campus, where he keeps a Scrabble board.

“I actually played my roommate last year, and I beat him pretty good,” said Peters. “It’s not something I talk about often though, I don’t like to brag about it. But I told him about how I compete while we were playing, which was a lot of fun.”

Elevating your game at Scrabble isn’t just a matter of downloading and playing the iPhone application “Words with Friends.” Learning new words and gaining playing experience is key to being an adept player.

“Everyone studies in different ways, but part of practice is definitely playing games,” Peters explained. “Also, you study word lists. Certain words are more helpful than others.”

“If you play all seven tiles on your rack, it’s called a bingo and you’re awarded 50 points. It’s important to study word combinations, since tile points are based off of how common their letters are in the English language.”

Peters clinched first place in part by playing two seven-letter words: “insulae” and “apostle.”

With his victory, Peters is following in the footsteps of his uncle and grandfather, who also play competitively. In fact, playing Scrabble was something Peters did daily while growing up. Peters entered his first tournament when he was eight, but up to now has only competed three times a year. His hope is to play in more regional events in New York and New England next year.

Meanwhile, Peters majors in economics and history at Brandeis. Though he is unsure of what his career path might be, he knows he wants to pursue Scrabble as long as possible.

“I just want to see how high I can go,” Peters said. “I’m not sure what my ceiling is. Playing against the best Scrabble players in the world in Division 1 would be really cool someday.”

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