2004 National SCRABBLE® Championship Commentary: Round 1
[ Congratulations to the new National Champion, Trey Wright, who defeated David Gibson in three straight games, 365-328, 355-344 and 429-328. Please tune in to ESPN to watch the final games at 1 P.M. ET on Sunday, October 3rd, 2004. We welcome your e-mailed corrections to our web site. ]
Go to: Before the Tournament, Round 1, Round 2, Round 3, Round 4, Round 5, Round 6, Round 7, Round 8, Round 9, Round 10, Round 11, Round 12, Round 13, Round 14, Round 15, Round 16, Round 17, Round 18, Round 19, Round 20, Round 21, Round 22, Round 23, Round 24, Round 25, Round 26, Round 27, Round 28, Round 29, Round 30, Final Round 1, Final Round 2, Final Round 3.
Sadly for the players in Division 1, their division in sitting in the area furthest away from the restrooms. Good thing Joel Sherman (Bronx, NY) has on some running shoes so he can back and forth quickly!
In Division 1, Daniel Wachtell (New York, NY) had an unlucky draw: he got Brian Cappelletto (Chicago, IL). As I walked by midway through their game, I noticed Dan with a slight lead,, 324-264. As I was watching, Dan picked up the tile bag and felt around, sussing out how many tiles were left. His eyes were big. At the end of the round I found out that Dan won, 420-396. He tells me that he opened with PROcEED and Brian replied with UNCLOTHE to the E. Later Brian got down SNORERS and Dan played NIFTILy. Perhaps what helped give Dan the edge was his midgame double-double play of ADJOINT for 60 points. John Viloria (New York, NY) and others at the table were giving Dan hearty congrats and he was just shaking his head and moving tiles with jittery hands into a 10x10 block grid for the next players.
At table 28 in Division 1, I see Albert Hahn (Calgary AB) playing Chrisn Thivavarnvongs (Thailand) at table 28. I see ChOOSES, SeARING, TARNISH, and RIOTING on their board. Albert is using his lucky long rack and I see him with a slight lead midway, 374-311.
At a nearby table, I hear the soft cry of "challenge" by another Thai player not used to the self-adjudicating computers yet. The room is virtually silent save for the shaking and clattering of tiles, much like what an earthquake might sound like at a Chicklets factory! I'm borrowing that illusion for someone else!
The seven round oyster tables running down the center of the room are getting much use by the challengers/challengees. They both make their way quietly to the center of the room and type in the challenge, hit the TAB button, and receive their flawless adjudication in perfect silence. A better system just could not exist anywhere! No more loud shouts of "challenge" all over the place. Big thanks go to John Babina (Norwalk, CT) for making his WordJudge program available to us at this event. The program is freeware and is in ever-growing use at clubs and tournaments all over North America. A successful entrepreneur in his real life, John is one of many players who has directed his talent toward the betterment of our community. I speak for us all of us when I say a hearty thanks to John!
World SCRABBLE® Champ, Panupol Sujjayakorn (Thailand) is playing John O'Laughlin (Madison, WI) at table 37 and Eric Harshbarger (Auburn, AL) is playing Komol Panyasophonlert (Thailand) at the next board. Komol is wearing a rubbery braclet that looks like a thin orange jellyfish and he is worrying it around his wrist as he holds his head in his hands and bears down on his rack with great intensity. The concentration must have paid off! All 11 Thai players won their games this round!
John Chew, our ever helpful webmaster and numbers guru tells me smartly that there will be at most only two Thai players who can possibly keep up this all-winning record, because eventually they will end up playing each other and knocking each other out! That is if other players don't deliver them losses before then.
Marlon Hill (Baltimore, MD) is starting the event with his casual nonchalance. He had a cigarette or two during the opening comments (downstairs in the smoking area) and he's playing with his chair turned around, with the chair back facing the table. Too cool for SCRABBLE®, I do believe.
Dave Wiegand (Portland, OR) had a big win 465-385, against Frank Tangredi (West Babylon, NY) this round. The game picked up, Dave was sitting quietly, doing something that still blows me away every time I see it. The game was OVER and he was writing down his various racks as he had them during the game. Please note: he was doing this AFTER the game was over, with nothing but his memory to guide him on what these racks were, some of them nearly an hour ago. There are 100 tiles. Think about trying to remember what you had in your rack in turn 3. Are you pulling a blank? So would I!
Charnwit Sukhumrattanaporn (Thailand) was reading a Bob's Bible after his game was over.
Division 1 player Carol Ravichandran (Northville, MI) walks up to me and quietly says, "I just beat Adam Logan (United Kingdom)!" Her eyes were sparkling with delight and excitement. She said, "I actually wept!"
In Division 2, Carl Durdan (North Easton, MA) is in a tight game with Patrick Hodges (Glendale, AZ). On their board I see that one player opened with PYEMIAS and the other responded with LOUNGER. I also see NATTERED.
Two people rush over to tell me of a 646 game in Division 2. Rebecca Slivka (Seattle, WA) defeated Bernard Gotlieb (Cote Saint-Luc QC), 646-347. She got three bingos in a row: BLEATING through the T for 64, FLINTIER through the T for 65, and VANISHED through the E for 110 (a double-double bingo). Later on she got down a triple-triple OUTRACED through the C for 158 and then RAzORiNG for 176. Besides keeping his jaw off the table while he kept score, Bernard did manage to play ETESIAN for 65. He wheeled across the room to find me several minutes after the game was over and he just shook his head over and over in disbelief!
Joey Mallick (Cape Elizabeth, ME) in Division 1 tells me that he defeated Jesse Matthews (Calgary AB) this round. He was relieved to get a round 1 win under his belt. His better find was a 9-letter ETIOlATES through the TI for 59. In case the lower case l is reading badly, the word is ETIOLATES. Not a lot of game points, but style points galore. I guess Jesse was working into the tournament rhythm of the tournament and went over on his clock a little, which gave Joey a bit more spread. Joey isn't above taking any gifts he is offered!
His head shaking side to side as he walked out of the playing room, Evan Berofsky (Thornhill ON) told me he lost a game to Debbie Stegman (Kew Gardens, NY), 402-403. They even did a recount. He was up by 50 and she got down two bingos in a row to get the win. I wanted him to tell me more, but he kept wincing as I asked questions, so I thought I'd let him have some peace.
Robin Pollock Daniel (Toronto ON) smiles broadly and walks up to me in the room's entry. She says, "Poor Louis!" I lean forward, asking for more details. She says, "Well, he was going first and he traded 6 or 7 tiles. And there I am holding EFHLOOX. I slap down FOXHOLE and the game is on!" She ended up winning, 455-322. Nothing like starting off with a bang!
Division 1's Jim Pate (Birmingham, AL) says, "Do you think it is a harbinger of things to come when one's opponent starts with three natural bingos?" I smile and ask for details. His opponent, Nathan Benedict (Tucson, AZ) got down NODDERS for 70, FOAMIER for 86, and then UNSOLDER for 86(as a double-double to add extra pain). Later in their game, Jim got down AIRLIKE for 79, but it was too little too late and he lost, 279-495.
At table 24 in Division 5, I see two players over on their clocks and their game finishes up right in front of me. Judy Romanenkov (San Francisco, CA) defeated, Becky Dyer (Austin, TX), 367-319. Judy lost 20 on her clock and Becky lost 30. The first game is always a bit hard!
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