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2004 National SCRABBLE® Championship Commentary: Round 5

[ 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.

Round 5

After four games, the players and staff needed a break, so we parted ways to eat and catch up on paperwork. The crack computer staff worked ably with division directors and division assistants to check math on each and every contestant scorecard. Bonnie Rudolph and Flo Turkenkopf worked on the orange cards, Mary Rhoades and Howard Turkenkopf worked on the yellow cards and so on. The bottom two divisions have the most "fun" colors. Division 6 is purple and Division 7 is pink!

At 2:45 the doors were opened and we discovered that we'd need a better way of handing out cards to 850 people prior to afternoon sessions. The foyer outside the ballroom is large and easily accommodates all the division scorecards. The problem creeps in when 850 people try to pick up said cards all at the very same time. It was beginning to look like the front 87 rows at a standing-room-only rock concert with players more squeezed in than they'd rather be outside of an elevator environment. The powers that be decided we'd hand out morning session contestant scorecards outside the breakfast room on the second floor before morning sessions and we'd figure out a plan for future afternoon sessions.

Laura Klein announced that Division 3 contestants scheduled to play Gloriosa Ondoy Agdeppa (San Jose, CA) would have to sit ready for her at each round this afternoon as she was expected any time. Her plane had been grounded somewhere in San Jose, CA, for more than a day. Just like in the movies, at that exact moment, Gloriosa ran into the playing room all breathless in her effort to get there for the first afternoon game. Naturally, she received a giant ovation for her efforts and timing!

After more announcements, which included introducing the rest of the NSC committee, Eric Chaikin (West Hollywood, CA) took to the stage for a minute to tell us about a special screening of his new documentary "Word Wars." It will be shown in Galerie 1 on the second floor at 8pm this evening. The modest fee will cover the cost of the room and equipment rental.

Then we were off, again.

Midway through the round, Matt Hopkins, Division 6 leader, approached the Internet table to tell us of an unusual 6-pass endgame. The players had six consecutive plays of 0, which just means the game is over and the players deduct the face value of the tiles off their racks. Ah, but there was the rub. One player dumped his tiles into the bag before deducting them! Put in this tricky spot, Matt took a look at what was left in the bag--a bunch of high-point consonants. Since no one could be certain what had been in the dumped rack, Matt took a worse-case approach and tallied up the face values of the highest-point tiles and had the player subtract that amount from his score when the game ended. It turns out that the player who dumped his rack was going to lose anyway, so it didn't change the result of the game, but it is a reminder to be mindful of the rules at all times.

In Division 1 Rita Norr (Danbury, CT) has a tough game with the steamroller that is Panupol Sujjayakorn (Thailand). Their score: 514-334. As I walked by Rita said, "Did you know that he is +1003 already!?" I nodded that I was aware of his massive spread. This loss was despite Rita's great 131-point TANGLERS through the L. Panupol played NITROGENS, LOOTERS, HOrNIER and VILLaGES.

Minnesota natives, Division 1 players, and fellow club members, Lisa Odom (St. Louis Park, MN) and Jim Kramer (Roseville, MN) faced off this round. It was Jim's turn to win, 433-372. He got down REVOICEd for 98, gAIETIES for 58, and SOLATION for 68. Lisa's better plays were AGENIZED through the Z for 75 and REMINDeR through the D for 74.

At the next board in Division 1, Ira Cohen (Los Angeles, CA) defeated David Weisberg (Hollywood, FL), 434-373. David points out his WINDErS and ZETAS through the E for 76. Ira played STaPLER and TELEMAN.

Vicki Blizzard (Knoxville, TN) has a friend visiting with her this week and that friend, Sheila, has been helping me today, walking around the room quietly observing plays. She watched a duo approach the WordJudge computer and type the play TUNICATED/BUNTLINE into the machine. Believe it or not: both are good! Some other plays she's liked: GRIeVERS, RETRACES played through the first E, and QUANGO through the N for 28 points. On another board she espied SAFETIeS for 70, REaVITES* for 61, and ONYXES for 72 points.

Adam Logan (United Kingdom) brought his partner Pat Larash and she also combed the room a bit this round. She noted seeing the play of AGAZE/PHIZ on a Division 5 board. In Division 2, an early board looked like this:

    X I

In Division 1, she saw Tim Adamson (Saint Paul, MN) play GAUZY for 63 points. In Division 6, the word PRALINE went down and she slips in a "yum!" editorial comment. In Division 4, John Stardom (Ottawa ON) played INGROWTHS in a game against Sam Rosin (Bernardsville, NJ). I'm sad to say that annotating caught her eye and she's off to annotate games from here on out. Oh well, it is more relaxing than running up and down the rows of games.

Toward the end of this round, Sam Kantimathi (El Dorado Hills, CA) handed me a piece of paper. It said WEIGHMAn. I asked him the significance and he said that a week ago he reviewed that word in a practice session with Marlon Hill (Baltimore, MD). Wouldn't you know it, he got to play it today in a game against Jeremy Frank (New York, NY)! The play earned Sam a win by ~37 points.

Perhaps the best part of this round is that the ever-racing Gloriosa Ondoy Agdeppa (San Jose, CA) was rewarded for her efforts with a win this round!

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