In his latest victory, against American Jesse Day, Richards’ winning word, with 68 points, was “groutier,” a word meaning more cross, sulky, or sullen. Haven’t heard it before? Don’t beat yourself up. It’s only appeared once in the New York Times, in their story about Richards’ win; it exists on Wikipedia only on the page for Sunday’s tournament; and it is nowhere in the Oxford English Dictionary, though “grouty” and “groutiness” both have listings there. (Competitive Scrabble uses the Official Scrabble Players Dictionary.)

For someone with such a way with words, Richards is famously uncommunicative. He tends to refuse interview requests, and even his mother doesn’t know exactly what his job in Malaysia entails, beyond that it’s related to CCTV cameras and security. When he’s not memorizing words, he spends most of his time cycling. At his first appearance at a New Zealand championship, he reportedly cycled for 14 hours overnight through “atrocious conditions” from Christchurch to Dunedin, won his division, and then cycled straight back again, refusing offers of a lift.

Photographs of Richards from the tournament show him stoney-faced and indifferent. Much like his winning, this is par for the course. In the wake of his victory at a 2011 championship, when asked how he felt, he told the Last Word newsletter, “I feel the same way I did in the first round.” But though he may not be there for the high of the win, he said, “I enjoy the Scrabble.”

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