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2004 National SCRABBLE® Championship Commentary: Round 6

[ 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 6

A positively beaming John Ezekowitz (Boston, MA) approached the Internet table. He said, "Sherrie, I'm 6-0!" John is one half of the 2003 National School SCRABBLE® Championship team (student SCRABBLE® is played in teams of two). He and his partner Nick Amphlett (Cambridge, MA) have been the New England SCRABBLE® Champions for the past two years and both of them have participated in several "adult" tournaments in the New England area. Anyway, my affection for this kid is boundless and I teared up with him over the joy of the moment. He literally took me by the hand to lead me to his most recent victory, a 375-322 game versus Sandy Nang (Los Angeles, CA). John's best play was aIRIEST for 70. He later hooked an H atop it for HaIRIEST/HA.

A class act, John said, but I'm only doing as good as Asif Rahman (Cincinnati, OH), another School SCRABBLE® phenom who has competed in the National School SCRABBLE® Championships (his team came in 4th place this past April in Boston). At the last NSC in San Diego, Asif competed in the same division as his dad, Muhit Rahman (dad won 18 of 31 games and son did almost as well, winning 16 of 31). Demonstrating that SCRABBLE® is a family game, Asif's mother, Anna Rahman (Cincinnati, OH) is the family member playing in this NSC with her son this year! Asif is now 6-0 with a Division 5 win against Rea Spidel (Memphis, TN), 416-409. Rea played DUSTING for 81 and Asif got down OBVIATED through the E for 68, AERIALS for 67, and VARIATE for 75.

Keeping with the theme of young players, Division 5, and SCRABBLE®, Nick Amphlett (Cambridge, MA) faced off against Andre Ornish (La Mesa, CA) (Andre and his brother Miles played in the this past April's School SCRABBLE® Championship and came in second!). And it was an 8-point win for Andre, 318-310. I see AERATES for 67 on their board. I see a lot of lines on Nick's scoresheet and he explains that Andre lost three turns for playing phoney 3-letter words, that Nick lost a challenge, and exchanged twice. Both boys are now 4-2.

Division 3's Dielle Saldanha (Richmond BC) wanders over to get in on the fun young boy energy. A superstar in her own right, Dielle is a member of the phenomenal Saldanha family from Richmond, BC. She won Division 6 at the NSC in San Diego in 2002. Her dad, Norbert Saldanha (Richmond BC), won Division 4 at the 2002 NSC, and is playing with her in Division 3 this year. Big sister, Dion Saldanha (Richmond BC) is playing in Division 4, mom, Miriam Saldanha (Richmond BC), is in Division 5, and big brother, Dean Saldanha (Richmond BC), is in Division 1. Dean was a finalist in the 2003 Canadian National SCRABBLE® Championships held in Toronto last fall.

During lunch, the 2-table set-up of boards 1, 2, 3, and 4 were separated to give the annotators a crack at annotating someone other than Nigel Richards (Malaysia) at board 1 and this round Kristen Chew and Beth Lerman annotated Marty Gabriel vs. Cheryl Tyler.

Division 5's Tobin Lathrop (Seattle, WA) walks by the Internet table and lets out an audible sigh. I ask him what is up and he says through a smile, "I'm 5-1! It's great!"

I catch the enigmatic Mike Baron (Corrales, NM) quietly watching an endgame unfold between Evan Berofsky (Thornhill ON) and Joe Neff (Oreland, PA). I surreptiously check out Mike's card and see he is 3-3. I slip by, not wanting to add pressure to the players and Joe leaps out of his chair to tell me that he just beat Evan, 423-352. He said he was pretty certain that Evan picked the Q three times and threw it in twice. As is often the case in top-level games, it came down to a bingoing out win. Joe set it up so that he could play his last bingo in one of two spots and Evan could only block one. Joe slammed down BURDENED through the first E for 63 and took the win. Joe was estatic.

I watch Panupol Sujjayakorn (Thailand) play upside down against Paul Avrin (New York, NY) at table 37 in Division 1. I see COEQUATED on the board and Paul's REVENUe for 63.

At the next board, Komol Panyasophonlert (Thailand) and Jonn Dalton (Austin, TX) leave the table to adjudicate Komol's play of SHEDABle. (that is SHEDABLE if the blanks read funny). It was ruled acceptable and Jonn lost a turn.

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