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2004 National SCRABBLE® Championship Commentary: Round 24

[ 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 24

The last day of the 2004 NSC is about to start (except for tomorrow's best of 5 finals in division 1). The players walk in excited, but a bit tired, too.

John Luebkemann (Pineville, NC) hands me his scoresheet from yesterday. He played Nigel Richards (Malaysia) in round 23 and won, 485-437. I see that John played WOODbINE for 62, FRIEZEs for 95, and RERAISED through the A for 131 (a triple-triple). Nigel opened strong with FRACTION for 78 and then got down NONRATED for 65 and LATTICES for 64. So, in a three bingo versus three bingo game, he who gets the triple-triple bingo wins!

George Ross (St. Petersburg, FL) walks up to me to ask if I've mentioned the "heightened security" down in divison 1. Yesterday the crowd control measures went into effect. Stanchions and velvet rope are separating the top 6 games in division 1 from the rest of the neck-craning crowd. There still is quite a crowd, but the players are less likely to feel breath on the back of their necks now.

Joev Dubach (Watertown, MA) tells me that he had a good game with Travis Green (Mooresville, IN) yesterday. Travis played three consecutive bingos: DETESTS for 76, NEONAtE, hooking the N to make HISN for 71, and TRUSTeR for 64. Joev lost this one, 416-466.

Barbara Santee (Tulsa, OK) from division 4 tells me that yesterday she played her first ever triple-triple! Her rack was EEIINNS and she played through a T. Like she did to me, I'll pose it as a question, can you get it?*

I don't know if this exactly proves that he is a "ladies' man," but [error: no such id: steveo] came up with an observation. There are all women seated at division 5 boards from 9 through 16. He mumbled that in his division, he's only played two women so far.

Laura Klein took to the microphone for the last morning session and started her comments saying that she didn't have many announcements to make this time around. She got a giant applause! The players were ready to go!

Not long after the round began, or so it seemed, Andre Ornish (La Mesa, CA) ran up to me and said, "I played a triple-triple, probably the best one so far this event!" I asked what it was and he beamed, "EATERIES through the middle E for 109!" I didn't have the heart to tell him it wasn't the highest- scoring one we'd seen thus far, but I did tell him it was great. I asked if there was any other news to tell me on the game. As he was walking off, he said, "Oh, yeah, it was missing a J," and he shrugged. I called out and said, "What do you mean it was missing the J?" It is , afterall, one of the game's power tiles. He said, "Oh, I guess that when I was shaking the bag before the round began, a few fell out. I mean, I thought I'd picked them all up, but I guess not. " I asked if he had found it yet and he said, "We're still looking." Since he was in front of me then, I assume his opponent, Tobin Lathrop (Seattle, WA) was, as we speak, on all fours in his kilt looking for the stray tile....."

Daniel Goodwin (Seattle, WA) comes up to tell me about his game this round with Martin Weisskopf (Huntsville, AL). Martin got down TOWNIES for 78 and BAWTIES for 78 (two W bingos) and Dan responded with two V bingos: AVOUCHER through the O for 92 and CAViLERS through the blank I for 98. This story was beginning to sound like a Dominating Dan story, but there is a twist: he lost, 467-432. I asked how and he said, "Oh, I haven't told you about the other bingos yet." Martin got down STILLIER through an L for 59 (which Dan challenged, it is good) and INERTIaL for 74, which cleared the bag.

Diane Firstman (Brooklyn, NY) starts the day with a bingo-bango-bongo, three bingos in a row. They were: TATRIES for 81, MOISTER for 74, and RAMEKIn for 90. She won, 522-338. I comb the board and find that her opponent Michael Baker (Portland, OR) made ANISOLE for 70.

Division 1, table 6, Komol Panyasophonlert (Thailand) defeats Joey Mallick (Cape Elizabeth, ME), 473-332. I see CONDUITS on their board, but decide not to bother Komol about the game particulars becasuse he is pouring over a word list book with a blue highlighter in his hand.

Charnwit Sukhumrattanaporn (Thailand) is very, very sad. I walk to his finished game and both he and Adam Logan (United Kingdom) are moving tiles this way and that, trying to figure it out. I listen a bit and Charnwit turns to me and says, "I made a big mistake. I thought there were three tiles left on his rack, but I was wrong, there were 4." Adam is nodding his head in sympathy over the endgame oversight. Charnwit thought Adam had AIS, but he had AEIS, which gave him only one spot to go out in one move. If he had only played JOTA, and blocked Adam's sole outplay spot, he'd have won the game, because, he'd have gone out with WEFT/EFT the next play, catching Adam with tiles. As it was, Adam won, 434-422. I see EMULATED through the E for 72 and RADIANs for 68, played by Adam, and INTERLAY through the L for 76, bRAISED for 87, and the well-positioned MESON for 58 by Charnwit.

At table 27 in division 2, Mike Frentz (Seattle, WA) has just defeated Luise Shafritz (Las Vegas, NV), 510-484. Luise played STEADING for 83 and PERLITe for 81 and Mike played ALERON for 70, VICaRAGE for 80, and UNNERVES for 80.

Also in division 2, board 3, Fern Lindzon (Toronto ON) lost to Bob Lundegaard (Minneapolis, MN), 420-398. Fern played SErIATES and GETTING and Bob played BERRIEs, but the real story was the endgame, says Fern. It came down to a C-stick.

While there, I took at gander and division 2's board 1. Kevin Fraley (Madera, CA) defeated David Pearl (Long Beach, CA), 473-349. Holding ATONIES, Kevin was delighted to see David play HELD, hanging the D in the triple lane. Down came SEDATION for 140, and that pretty much sewed up the game.

Division 1's board 2 had Chris Cree (Dallas, TX) defeatinng Jason Katz-Brown (Richmond, CA), 411-392. I see UNITARY and LECTIONS on their board and neither them nor their scoresheets are in sight!

Trey Wright (Los Angeles, CA) maintained his 1st place spot by defeating Pakorn Nemitrmansuk (Thailand) at table 1 in division 1 this round, 576-357. I see Trey's bingo-bango-bongo starting with his second play: VISAING (hooking an S to make CROZES) for 91, DURABlES for 89, and SELENIDE for 80. He played small for two turns and then got down OUTFEEL for 75. Pakorn played SEROTINE for 68.

I find a note has been slipped onto my desk either early this morning or late last night. It is about a round 23 game between Mike Garner (Taylor, MI) and Ruchi Gupta (Knoxville, TN). Mike played KIBITZED through the second I with the Z on a triple for 96 points. Other bingos were Ruchi's PANDEREd ad Mike's tIELESS. And this game was tieless! Mike won, 493-307.

So, I was sitting at my desk typing when the helpful (and handsome) Martin Smith walked by. Wendell Smith, division 4 leader, leaned over and said, "Man, that guy's got nicer hair than my wife! I got to find out who does his hair and tell her!"

*Barbara played NINETIES for 122 points!.

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