Nigel Richards of New Zealand entered the French-language Scrabble tournament in Louvain, Belgium, and took first place. But he doesn’t speak a word of French. Instead, he memorized a French dictionary.
"He can say 'Bonjour' and count from one to ten, so he can give the score to his opponents" said Liz Fagerlund, a friend, Scrabble aficionado, and longtime supporter. "I believe it took him about nine weeks to memorize all the French words for the tournament."
The trick to his success is learning the words without taking up the brain-space to remember their definitions.
"For Scrabble, there is a dictionary of words without their meanings," says Fagerlund. "It's most likely that he's wired differently; he doesn't even study the pages word by word. He can look at a page full of words and absorb them all."
Richards knows his Scrabble, though, and how to win. He’s held several English-language U.S. and world championships.