Scrabble champ wins French tournament after memorizing French dictionary

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NAILED IT: New Zealand Native Wins French Scrabble World Championship


(NYMag) -- Yesterday morning, Nigel Richards was considered the greatest English-speaking Scrabble player in the world. Today, he is also perhaps the best French-speaking Scrabble player in the world, the only problem being that he can't speak French.
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Richards's friend Liz Fagerlund told the New Zealand Herald, "He doesn't speak French at all, he just learnt the words. He won't know what they mean, wouldn't be able to carry out a conversation in French I wouldn't think."

The five-time USA National Scrabble Championship winner won the French Scrabble Championship on Tuesday after reportedly memorizing a French dictionary in nine weeks. Although the New Zealander — who now lives in Malaysia — does not know enough French to go into a store in Paris and ask where he might find the board-game section, he was able to successfully challenge his opponents when they tried to deploy incorrect words.

Here is some footage from the action-packed finals.

According to a 2010 profile in the Sunday Star Times — in which a fellow Scrabble competitor said Richards was "like a computer with a big ginger beard" — the champion's mother notes that his recreational consumption of bon mots is a defining character trait. "If you asked him how the Crusaders went, I don't think he'd know who they were. I don't think he's ever read a book, apart from the dictionary."

Click through to see photos of Richards:

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Nigel Richards, scrabble champ
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Scrabble champ wins French tournament after memorizing French dictionary
New Zealand's Nigel Richards competes in a category of the Francophone Scrabble World Championships in Louvain-La-Neuve on July 21, 2015. Nigel Richards, a 48-year-old New Zealander who was crowned the champion of Francophone Scrabble on July 20, doesn't speak a word of French. Bushy-bearded, bespectacled Richards is already a celebrity in the English version of Scrabble, winning its world championship in 2007 and again in 2011. AFP PHOTO / JOHN THYS (Photo credit should read JOHN THYS/AFP/Getty Images)
New Zealand's Nigel Richards competes in a category of the Francophone Scrabble World Championships in Louvain-La-Neuve on July 21, 2015. Nigel Richards, a 48-year-old New Zealander who was crowned the champion of Francophone Scrabble on July 20, doesn't speak a word of French. Bushy-bearded, bespectacled Richards is already a celebrity in the English version of Scrabble, winning its world championship in 2007 and again in 2011. AFP PHOTO / JOHN THYS (Photo credit should read JOHN THYS/AFP/Getty Images)
New Zealand's Nigel Richards competes in a category of the Francophone Scrabble World Championships in Louvain-La-Neuve on July 21, 2015. Nigel Richards, a 48-year-old New Zealander who was crowned the champion of Francophone Scrabble on July 20, doesn't speak a word of French. Bushy-bearded, bespectacled Richards is already a celebrity in the English version of Scrabble, winning its world championship in 2007 and again in 2011. AFP PHOTO / JOHN THYS (Photo credit should read JOHN THYS/AFP/Getty Images)
New Zealand's Nigel Richards (C) competes in a category of the Francophone Scrabble World Championships in Louvain-La-Neuve on July 21, 2015. Nigel Richards, a 48-year-old New Zealander who was crowned the champion of Francophone Scrabble on July 20, doesn't speak a word of French. Bushy-bearded, bespectacled Richards is already a celebrity in the English version of Scrabble, winning its world championship in 2007 and again in 2011. AFP PHOTO / JOHN THYS (Photo credit should read JOHN THYS/AFP/Getty Images)
New Zealand's Nigel Richards competes in a category of the Francophone Scrabble World Championships in Louvain-La-Neuve on July 21, 2015. Nigel Richards, a 48-year-old New Zealander who was crowned the champion of Francophone Scrabble on July 20, doesn't speak a word of French. Bushy-bearded, bespectacled Richards is already a celebrity in the English version of Scrabble, winning its world championship in 2007 and again in 2011. AFP PHOTO / JOHN THYS (Photo credit should read JOHN THYS/AFP/Getty Images)
New Zealand's Nigel Richards competes in a category of the Francophone Scrabble World Championships in Louvain-La-Neuve on July 21, 2015. Nigel Richards, a 48-year-old New Zealander who was crowned the champion of Francophone Scrabble on July 20, doesn't speak a word of French. Bushy-bearded, bespectacled Richards is already a celebrity in the English version of Scrabble, winning its world championship in 2007 and again in 2011. AFP PHOTO / JOHN THYS (Photo credit should read JOHN THYS/AFP/Getty Images)
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