Belfast Telegraph

Two words you've probably never heard of (one isn't even in the Oxford Dictionary)... but they helped to make Paul Gallen a Scrabble champion

By Amanda Poole

A solicitor has shown Ireland that he isn't just an expert when it comes to the letter of the law.

Legal eagle Paul Gallen (26) left his opponents lost for words after claiming the title of All-Ireland Scrabble Champion.

The south Belfast wordsmith emerged the winner in Dublin by conjuring up some remarkable and unusual words to fill out the board.

"Now he's looking forward to retaining the Northern Ireland Championships crown in July – before taking on the best in the world.

"I had a great weekend," Paul said after the two days of competition, featuring nine of the top 10 players on the island. "My girlfriend Nicole came with me to Dublin, so she was cheering me on.

"For me to take the title I had to win my last game and another competitor, Kevin McMahon, had to lose his. It was quite a dramatic ending."

Paul scooped €200 (£180) and the All-Ireland Scrabble tournament shield at the City West Hotel.

Last November Paul became the first person living outside England to win the UK National Scrabble Championship – and pocketed £2,500 for his efforts.

The win in Dublin sees him move from fifth to fourth in the world Scrabble rankings.

The former Rathmore Grammar and Queen's University student is not only skilled at Scrabble. In 2006 he became Countdown Champion of Champions after appearing on the Channel 4 show.

Paul is a member of the Belfast Scrabble Club, which meets at the Beechlawn Hotel in Belfast every other Thursday. Paul told the Belfast Telegraph he is looking forward to the Northern Ireland Championships which are at the Beechlawn Hotel from July 6-7.

"Then the world championships are later in the year, most likely in Prague in November," he said.


Scrabble is played in more than 120 countries. Different jurisdictions use a variety of dictionaries and official lists to determine which words are acceptable and which are not. The word 'outbake' is not in the Oxford English Dictionary, but is deemed acceptable for the game here. Its suggested meaning is to surpass in baking, while 'blueline' is a line on an ice hockey rink.

Belfast Telegraph


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