10-year-old Amersham schoolboy beats 15,000 kids to win the first ever BANANAGRAMS Challenge

Ten-year-old Louis Webber of Woodside Junior School in Amersham, Buckinghamshire, has beaten 15,000 other primary school children to win the first ever BANANAGRAMS Challenge! He’s the first child in the world to be crowned ‘Top Banana’, after triumphing over 11 other children at the live Grand Final of the word game tournament, held on Saturday (21 March) at the Magic Circle, the world-famous magician’s club in London.
 
Receiving his specially-designed trophy from Rena Nathanson, inventor of the addictive anagram game, Louis said: “I’m so pleased that I won! I was really nervous about coming to the final, but very excited too. I just tried my best and I really love word games. The thing I like most about BANANAGRAMS is the suspense and freedom, because you don’t have to wait ages for the other players to take turns – you just all work on your own word grids at the same time and it’s a race. I don’t know how I got to be so fast though!”
 
Louis’ mum, Hetty added, “Louis has been playing word games since he was six years old. His aunt bought BANANAGRAMS for him last Christmas and he beats us all the time at home – he won’t even play against us now because he says we’re too slow for him!”
 
15,000 children in 500 schools all competed in the classroom earlier this year. The best player from each school – the Best of the Bunch – then went forward to compete nationally in a series of online word games. The 12 players, which included Louis, then went on to the live Grand Final. “There were three online games and my favourite was the anagrams round,” said Louis, “My mum and dad thought some of them were really hard, but I was really good at them.”
 
Winner Louis’ also took home an exclusive goody bag and a £500 cheque for his school, which was presented by Nathanson, along with Deej Johnson, Grand Final host and author of the Collins Little Book of BANANAGRAMS. When asked if he had any tips he’d like to see added to the book, Louis said, “My top tip when you ‘peel’ (take another tile) is, as you reach for the letter tile, keep looking at your word grid so that you can easily see where the new letter might fit.”
 
Nathanson, who took part in a live Q&A session with all 12 finalists at the Grand Final commented, “Louis is an incredibly deserving winner. The whole team was blown away by the speed with which he formed his word grids! He sailed through to the final round and, although all the children did unbelievably well under quite intense pressure, it was Louis’ impeccable word skills that saw him triumph on the day.
 
“When my father, my children and I invented BANANAGRAMS back in 2006, we always dreamed there would one day be a way we could get schools competing and going wild with words together. I’m immensely proud of how the Challenge has turned out and of how popular it has been with schools across the UK.”
 
The BANANAGRAMS Challenge 2015 was the first official UK BANANAGRAMS tournament for schools. As part of its mission to get children playing with words, BANANAGRAMS launched the Challenge to help boost vocabulary and spelling skills in classrooms and after-school clubs across the country. With the new National Curriculum putting added emphasis on spelling this year, the BANANAGRAMS Challenge materials and games were designed specifically to incorporate the new Key Stage 2 spelling lists and to add value to classroom learning.
 
Visit www.bananagramschallenge.co.uk for further information about The BANANAGRAMS Challenge. Schools interested in taking part in the 2016 Challenge can also now register via the website.

"We all love Bananagrams – such a fun game for all ages!"
— Cindy Crawford
"Playing Bananagrams with friends! I love this game! I was just named Bananagrams Ninja! Be afraid, I’m amazing!"
— Kelly Clarkson
"(I'm a) self-proclaimed Bananagrams champion..."
— Andrew Luck | Indianapolis Colt's Quarterback
“Why it's fun: Manages to be speedy, challenging and super-simple at the same time.”
— AARP Magazine on Zip-It
“Can you spell P-H-E-N-O-M-E-N-O-N”
— Boston Globe
“Bananagrams go Hebrew. We’re kvelling!”
— Cool Mom Picks
“Good luck prying this anagram game [Bananagrams] away from students.”
— Scholastic
“Appletters will tickle word lovers to the core.”
— Everyday with Rachael Ray
“Gotta love the Bananagrams.”
— Kathie Lee Gifford
“This [Bananagrams] is so portable, I stash it in my car.”
— Kristen Bell
“Who’s up for a round of Bananagrams, anybody?”
— Jimmy Kimmel
“I love Bananagrams.”
— Ellen DeGeneres
"Maggie Smith loves it. They'll be like 'can we have you back on set' and she's just like [imperious wave of the hand] 'not now.' "
— Lily James, Lady Rose on Downton Abbey
"...one of my favorite games ever, Bananagrams – a fun, fast,addictive word game that will become a family favorite"
— Katie Couric