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2004 National SCRABBLE® Championship Commentary: Round 14

[ 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 14

"Want to see my highest-scoring tournament game ever?" beckons a voice from the other side of the Internet table. Who can resist an invitation like that? So, for just a moment, I am the same height as the woman speaking to me, because I'm standing on a three-foot riser. As I descend the steps and reach the ballroom floor, I'm suddenly looking up into the clouds at a smiling Diane Firstman (Brooklyn, NY). She says, "Poor, poor Darrell Day (Richardson, TX)." I get to the table and find the 594-270 game. Diane played NONSUiTS through the N for 64, CAGIEsT for 76, STORING for 79, and ANEROID for 75. Looking over Darrell's plays, I see that he played LiMEY through Diane's blank i and DEICE on the triple lane through her C. Other than that, he just couldn't put anything together. Seeking balance, Diane admitted that the big wins come with the big losses--she lost last round to Jim Kramer (Roseville, MN) by 223 points!

At table 1 in division 5, William Snoddy (Asheville, NC) defeated Ryan Barrett (Englewood, CO), 371-330. William got down a double-double STATION for 94. Ryan made a low-scoring, but pretty play: EXIGEnT from the EX. More importantly, this is Ryan's first loss of the tournament! He was 14-0 going into this game.

Ida Ann Shapiro (Rego Park, NY) runs up and says, "I had the worst game this round! I had IUUVO and the like. Wouldn't you know that the only good rack I got the whole game was the last one, an unplayable bingo: SADDEST! Sounds like a true sob story to me!

At table 4 in division 3, Rahn McKeown (Central, SC) defeated Stephen Knapp (Battle Creek, MI), 375-355. I see the latter's SOLVAtE for 71 and Rahn's REFLOAtS through the F for 74 and AENEOUS for 68.

Ed Liebfried (Exeter, NH) defeated Victor Torres (Murray, UT), 405-325, at table 26 in division 3. As I scout out the board's better plays, Victor reclines back and taps out racks into his PDA. Ed is gone, probably handing in his winning paperwork. I spot Ed's AlATIONS for 66 and Victor's WILTERS for 74.

Two division 3 players were in a tense endcount. In the end, Wilma Pitzer (Englewood, OH) lost by 8 points to Jean McArthur (Austin, TX), 359-351.

Ben Loiterstein Greenwood (Lexington, MA) challenged Tina Udelson (Los Angeles, CA) and they were at the division 3 computer table adjudicating AUTACOID. It was ruled acceptable. Before he walked back to the table he told me he had an overdraw. His opponent turned over three tiles and they were all the letter I!

James Kille L. Jr. (Philadelphia, PA) of division 2, stops by me at an oyster table and draws me his play in my notebook. Every time he tried to explain it, it just seemed too hard, hence the drawing. Holding ABINOTZ, James played a 9-letter word: BOTANIZES through the AN, in a game against Patrick Hodges (Glendale, AZ) this round.

Division 4's Bill Hunter (Houston, TX) wants to be on TV really bad. How do I know? Well, he's taken a baseball cap and glued wooden tiles to its every surface. The real camera-catcher are the letters ESPN arranged atop the bill and visible to any and all as he bends forward to concentrate on his play.

Debbie Stegman (Kew Gardens, NY) just had a great game against Mark Nyman (United Kingdom), 550-460. Any time there is a combined score of more than 1000 between two players, you can tell they both played excellently. Mark is at a huge disadvantage at this event since he plays with a different dictionary. A top expert in England who has won tournaments all over the world, Mark is playing into a "blind" of sorts. He is in a position that players don't like: the gray zone. He has certain knowledge of what is good and what is not good (as in not acceptable in SCRABBLE® play) in the dictionary he normally uses (SOWPODS), but some of his plays are unfortunately not acceptable in our dictionary. In a candid moment earlier today he said, "All I can do is hope the plays are in your dictionary." Phrases like "when will North Americans use a 'proper dictionary'" slip out every so often. He is having lots of fun here, but is already looking forward to continuing his honeymoon in the Caribbean later in the week.

David Pearl (Long Beach, CA) lost his first game this round to Rick Wong (San Jose, CA). He is now 12-1. My notes say that one of them played GAMBLErS through the E, probably Rick. Eariler today, David played QUINElA, which is his favorite play of today, thus far.

James Kille L. Jr. (Philadelphia, PA) tells me that he won a game today that was a tie. He and his opponent were tied at the game's end, but once the factored in a 10-minute overtime penalty, James won.

In a division 4 game between Jane Clark (West Hartford, CT) and Juanita Washington (Yazoo City, MS), Jane eked out a 1-point win, 383-382, despite losing 10 points for going over on her clock by 14 seconds. I think this is an example of hanging on by a hair on one's chinny chin chin! I see RECkING for 83 and OUTSEED on their board.

Two graduate students from Florida State University are here conducting surveys on SCRABBLE® players. They've got several players, within certain rating ranges doing interviews of a cognitive nature. In addition, they are also asking any and all participants to take part in a survey to be completed now or mailed in before early September. Roy Roring and Frank Hines will be joined by other university researchers later in the week.

Since rounds are overlapping, I realize some of my notes are for round 15 games, so I'm going to mosey on over to that file.

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