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2004 National SCRABBLE® Championship Commentary: Round 15

[ 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.

This round's Division 1 Board 1 game between Sammy Okosagah (Baltimore, MD) and Trey Wright (Los Angeles, CA) appears in our playable games section.

Round 15

At table 27, in divison 4, Bill Hunter (Houston, TX) is playing Irving Reed (Miami, FL). This game is in progress, but I can glean that Irving has played DENTISTs for 68 and Bill has played SQUINTs for 93 and SIGNALED for 66. It is 390-279 in Bill's favor as I walk away.

Lane Lynn (New York, NY) and Matthew Williams (New Orleans, LA) are at a WordJudge machine challenging DORE. It is acceptable.

At the top of the pack this round in division 1, Brian Cappelletto (Chicago, IL) is playing Adam Logan (United Kingdom) at table 2 and Sammy Okosagah (Baltimore, MD) is facing Trey Wright (Los Angeles, CA) at table 1.

In division 2, David Pearl (Long Beach, CA) is playing Patrick Hodges (Glendale, AZ) at table 1 and Rick Wong (San Jose, CA) is playing James Kille L. Jr. (Philadelphia, PA) at table 2.

In division 5, Ryan Barrett (Englewood, CO) is playing Ruchi Gupta (Knoxville, TN) at table 1 and Pam Taylor-Bailey (Calgary AB) is playing William Snoddy (Asheville, NC) at table 2.

In division 3, Chip Brown (Bothell, WA) is facing Mike Stafford (Columbus, OH) at board 1. Board 2 has Gerri Martin (Casselberry, FL) playing Jerry Scheiten (Buffalo, NY).

Eugene Murray (Indianapolis, IN) is facing off against Linda Oliva (Woodbine, MD) at board 1 in division 4 and at board 2, Alex Fiszbein (South Lyon, MI) is playing the bandana-clad Gavin Hyde (Santa Barbara, CA).

At table 1 in division 6, Mel Skolnik (New York, NY), who is 13-2, is playing Sharon Valorose (Williamsburg, VA), who is 9-6. Each player has been to only two tournaments before this event. Their game had no bingos but a nice addition of SUR to the front of FACER, SURFACER. Mel won, 357-307.

Winter Zxqkj (Houston, TX) tells me he won 6 games today and he is ready to go home! Division 3 would prefer to be even, so I encourage him to stay around. Plus, in order to be the subject of a television show--"Real People 2004" hosted by John Pope--he has to stay around!

I catch two tall men at the division 1 WordJudge computer, Sam Kantimathi (El Dorado Hills, CA) and John Van Pelt (Arlington, MA). They challenge the play GUMTREE and it is acceptable. Sam's last play in the game was mAXILLAR through the second A for 80. He had to play it as it put him up, 366-318. Sam was horrified to realize, once he drew ther last seven tiles out of the bag and tracked, that John had EEUGMRT on his rack. Sam saw the bingo instantly, but it took John much longer to shuffle the tiles around before he saw it. Plain excruciating for Sam, who got down ADVISERS for 64, TRUFfLES through the first F for 72, and MOIETY for 34 (not a bingo, but very nice!). Sam's rack at the end was LEASEA, and he gave all the points to John due to the outbingo. John played DESPAIR for 77, HAZAN for 54, and the outbingo GUMTREE, which won him the game, 408-366.

Also in division 1, Charnwit Sukhumrattanaporn (Thailand) tells me that he won 7 games in a row today. He was floating on a cloud! His countryman, Amnuay Ploysangngam (Thailand), lost 6 in a row! Charnwit had a beautiful triple-triple in his last game with Chuck Armstrong (Saline, MI), TZIGaNES through the I for 203 points. Wow! Chuck, clearly stuck with bad tiles, played EREMURI through the EM, trying to clean up his rack, which hung the I into the triple lane that Charnwit used to such a good end. Chuck also got down ALIBIED through the B for a 40-point double-double, UPDARTS for 68, and ENHAlOED to the D for 74. Charnwit's win, 541-328. Their board was so unusual looking that Eric Chaikin (West Hollywood, CA) said the same thing I did when he first saw it, Were you playing clabbers?" Clabbers is an anagram form of SCRABBLE® that looks like random tiles are placed all over the board. (John: Clabbers is SCRABBLE® where the letters in each word don't have to be in any particular order. Boards tend to be more dense than in regular SCRABBLE®.)

Kenji Matsumoto (Aiea, HI) fell to Pakorn Nemitrmansuk (Thailand) this round, 347-397. I see Pakorn's RIkISHA and Keni's PIDDLIER. Other words I see on their board, PAVANES, GLUTEUS, and HEAVYSET.

Lynn Cushman (New York, NY) played Avi Moss (Missouri City, TX) this round in division 1. I see RESTOKe and LOANERs on the board and Avi's ADYTA (he wasn't at all impressed that I liked that word). Avi won, 431-387.

Daniel Goldman (New York, NY) fell to Panupol Sujjayakorn (Thailand), the WSC champ, 293-471. On their board I see NIOBATE, SERRANOS, ENNOBLE, VESTRIES, and DIGITaTE.

Mark DiBattista (Astoria, NY) wanted to tell me about some 5-vowel bingos from round 13, but I was too busy to concentrate, so he tells me this round. He defeated Jim Geary (Glendale, AZ) that round, 552-331, much on the strength of these two finds: AENEOUS and IPOMOEA.

Brian Cappelletto (Chicago, IL) fell to Adam Logan (United Kingdom) this round, 395-421. I see VAPORISES on their board.

Jason Katz-Brown (Richmond, CA) told me that he lost the last 3 games, but played well. He is 10-5.

Lisa Kessler (Toronto ON) shares some news on her dision 2 round 14 game against Bernard Gotlieb (Cote Saint-Luc QC). She confesses to sleeping very little since she got here (excitement, new bed, etc.) so this game, for which she felt almost "sharp" was a great experience. Lisa's plays were BoNHOMIE to the E for 72, JAB to the triple for 36, AUSTERE for 76, PERSUING* through the I for 62, MAZE to the triple for 45, OXID to the triple for 41. She'd earned 326 points by the 6th turn and went on to get one more bingo down, HASTIER, for 82. No slouch, Bernard played DIVeRTER for 74, ENROBES for 83, and AEOLIAN for 67. Lisa's win, 521-421.

And, just to prove it wasn't a complete fluke, Lisa went on to defeat her round 15 opponent, Noel Livermore (Easton, PA), 531-382. She got down TRAILER for 66, MARAUDeR to the R for 63, LIVEABLE through the second L for 76 (and it drew a challenge, too!), and FITNESS for 91. Noel played OILIeST for 76, EAUX for 57, and MANHOLES from the M for 92. Lisa ends today with 4 wins and a 6-9 record.

Division 1's Andrew Golding (Verdun QC) is still smiling, despite going 1-6 today. Standing beside his round 11 opponent, Andrew jokes that he lost to Adam Logan (United Kingdom) by less than 200 points (the game spread was -199).

As the players milled out of the room, Gene Tyszka (Mississauga ON), came up to me with a sheet of paper (he knew I'd need notes to help me understand his point!). In round 9, Shirley Petrey (Houston, TX) defeated Benton Bowen (Griffin, GA), 426-317. The last three tiles out of the bag were ? ? X. In round 12, Gene defeated Benton, 457-372. The last two tiles out of the bag in their game: ? ?.

Albert Hahn (Calgary AB) tells me about a game he played with Paul Epstein (Ann Arbor, MI). Paul found YaMENS, hooking onto QUINS, making QUINSY for 57 points. This play helped Paul defeat Albert by 8 points. In another game, [error: no such id: steveo] played thre great bingos against Albert: GRANTAGE through the N, PELORIA, and TOKENIsM to the M.

Robert Kahn (Plantation, FL) tells me of his favorite play today in a round 11 game against Larry Neilson (Hollis, NY): He held AEILNR? and there was ZED on the board. He found a 10-letter word. Can you?*

Mitch Bayersdorfer (Menlo Park, CA) tells me that he had an interesting rules situation. His opponent says "I've overdrawn." Following the rules, Mitch turned over three tiles: I I ?. No surprise, Mitch opted to throw the blank back into the bag. The opponent then says, "Oops, I made a mistake, I only had 7 tiles to begin with." They call over the director and get a ruling that a new tile should be drawn from the bag. The players asked for a second opinion and got a different ruling. The blank was dug out of the bag and returned to the player.

This evening, after dinner, about 100 players gathered in the playing room to meet with John D. Williams, Jr., for the semi-annual town meeting. John unwrapped the microphone from its holder on the podium so he could stand down on the floor in a more conversational manner. Joe Edley was wired up with his own clip-on microphone and two NSA helpers, Zach Hample and Ben Lyons combed the audience with two wireless microphones so that all questions could be heard clearly though the room's audio system. Some questions were about the next NSC and John mentioned maybe the twin cities, maybe Chicago, and maybe Las Vegas. He said that there were no plans yet to host the next WSC, but that he was in meetings about that with Hasbro. There were many questions about the upcoming word list update and Dictionary Committee Chair, Jim Pate (Birmingham, AL), walked up to the front and answered many questions in his soft, Southern drawl. Jim told the group that Merriam Webster editors are now going through the list of the words suggested by the dictionary committee. One director suggested that the NSA come up with some decent pairing software so she could run tournaments more easily. Another attendee said that computers are great, but that all directors should know how to hand pair should the need arise (loss of power or computer crash). There were representatives of all the NSA committees at the meeting: Ratings, Advisory Board, Dictionary, and Rules, should they need to be called on. Someone suggested a larger newsletter, another commended the NSA's web work, and one kind soul thanked the NSA for running such a great tournament!

All in all, the controversies were few and the meeting wrapped up quickly, which isn't always the case with our NSC town meetings!

*Robert Kahn (Plantation, FL) played uNREALIZED to the ZED.

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