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Who doesn't like a board game? One of my favorites is Scrabble, although I'm not very good at it. I have memories of my parents pulling out the dictionary and arguing about the meaning of the words (or rather whether the word was allowed). Somehow my mother was always right! When I heard that there was a new Scrabble group starting up in 2016, I jumped at the opportunity to meet with other like-minded people. I caught up with Aurea Fagel, the president of the Swiss English-language Scrabble Association (SESA) to talk to her about it.

Why did you start the Scrabble Association SESA?
After coming from a Scrabble Championship Tournament, Kévin Meng and I realized that there was no existing club or association in Switzerland that organize English Scrabble. Therefore we wanted to create the very first Swiss English-Language Scrabble Association (SESA) in the country to spur interest as well as discover and meet people who share the passion for the game. With the help of our dear friends (Dave, Vicky, Sue, Bill, Anne-laure, Jaqueline, Benoit, Hugo) we met and formed SESA one September evening in 2016. SESA is the official English Scrabble Association in the country, officially recognized by the Swiss Scrabble Federation as well as WESPA, the world governing body for English Scrabble.

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How long have you been playing Scrabble?
I have been playing Scrabble and also participating in competitions since my early high school years. I was given a Scrabble set as a gift when I was younger and it ignited my passion for the game.

What has been the biggest obstacle putting SESA together?
The biggest challenge for putting SESA is the logistics as we had to start from scratch. That means finding a venue where we could play, securing the needed Scrabble boards and timers and creating the publicity and marketing we need to get the word out.

How many members do you have?
As of current, we have about 30 members.

What activities do you offer (include weekly and tournaments here)?
Throughout the year, we have activities planned and scheduled. We hold our regular Scrabble session every Tuesday evenings. Plus not to forget our special sessions like our popular Halloween Scrabble and Scrabble Picnic/BBQ. We have dinner get-togethers such as our SESA Anniversary and Year-ender. Once a year we have our Open House to promote and attract new members. Quarterly meetings are held as well in order to discuss future plans, budget and projects. The group also goes for social activities like Christmas markets, winter outings, concerts & plays and other suggested similar events.
Every month, we hold a friendly Scrabble competition among the members in order to gauge their development. Sesa also meet with other Scrabble clubs and organize Game Nights & Demos with the local community to promote the game. In 2018, we held the very first Swiss Open Scrabble tournament in Lausanne wherein international and local players participated.

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Who are you typical participants?
We have members coming from different countries and ethnicities, from various professions/background and age levels. Definitely we accept all levels from beginner to Scrabble enthusiast to professional.

What would you like to see for the future of SESA?
Our vision for SESA is that through group play and learning, every member will be able to attain personal and mental development as well as have a positive social impact in the country. We hope we can successfully promote Scrabble as a useful learning and developmental tool for all ages. It would also be a proud achievement if we can put Switzerland on the Scrabble map.

Do you have a children’s version?
Scrabble does not have any age requirement in order to play the game. It is therefore accessible for all ages. However, SESA aims to introduce and promote Scrabble in the schools targeting the middle-school children.

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What advantages does playing Scrabble have? (Memory, etc).
Contrary to what people think, Scrabble is not just a play of words but involves mathematics and strategy.
Scrabble is known to improve memory and mental concentration similar to that of doing yoga or meditation. Playing English Scrabble, a word game, improves and increases your vocabulary and is a fun way to learn the language. It is known to increase your mental capacity and cognitive abilities as you try to work out your next moves, create high-scoring words and block your opponent. Playing the game with friends and families creates social bonding and personal confidence.
Therefore, Scrabble has health benefits, is educational and improves social and emotional well-being.

Any words of wisdom you would like to leave all potential new members?
It is good to learn a list of 2 letter words for filling in the gaps. Additionally, it is helpful to learn 7 letter words too... these are called "Bingo". Bingo is a slang term used when a player uses all seven tiles in one go. In French, the term is simply, "Scrabble".

Aurea and Dave welcome anyone who is curious or passionate about Scrabble or simply just want to have fun with this friendly group.

The events coming up in the next months are:

— Regular sessions, every Tuesday evening (upcoming 12 and 19 November; 3, 10, 17 December)
— SESA year-ender, 26 November
— Group outings in December to the Christmas Markets in Geneva and Morges.

SESA
Swiss English-Language Scrabble Association
Meets every Tuesday at 19h
Meetings are usually held at the Maison Asters Servette
47, rue Schaub
1203 Genève

Facebook link https://www.facebook.com/groups/388665298273243/
Website https://playsesa.wordpress.com