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2004 National SCRABBLE® Championship Commentary: Round 26

[ 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 26

Jim Nanavati (Burlington ON) finds me and leads me over to his table. He had a barn-burner of a game against Korakoch Kiatsommart (Winter Park, FL) this round and won, 465-308. Jim played AGRyPNIA from the A for 89, CRESTED for 78, and IXIAs to the triple for 61. Korakoch got down EPSILON and tried CORNABLE* but Jim called it off.

At table 1 in division 2, I watch David Pearl (Long Beach, CA) make his last play and win, 402-329, his game with Win Inthara (Winter Park, FL). David's pentultimate play was a set up by the triple that Win couldn't block so he could play WRy/AW/ER for 32 points. I see ANKLETS and BLEMISH on their board.

An excited Verna Richards Berg (New York, NY), tells me about coming back to win a game against Joseph Jokubaitis (Middlebury, CT) in their division two contest. At one point, she was down 89 to 211 and came back to win, 501-424. There is a lesson in this somewhere about never giving up!

A tense game winds up at table 2 in division 2. I lean over to see that Kevin Fraley (Madera, CA) has defeated Dannene Drummond (Athens, GA), 391-323. On their board I see LEONINE and TORTONIS, but both are so involved with end- game paperwork, I go on by without much news.

At table 4 in division 1, Charnwit Sukhumrattanaporn (Thailand) is almost unable to speak. Adam Logan (United Kingdom), who defeated Charnwit earlier in the morning, stopped by to hear the bad news. The game was Charnwit's to lose and somehow he managed to do it. He was very low on time, down to just 31 seconds, and so focused on what to do to keep Nathan from making many points with the Q, that he let Nathan play AGEE, which hooked to make ATAXIS*, which is not good. If the play hadn't been for 54, Charnwit would have stomached it better. It takes Charnwit many attempts to put the board back to how it ended so that I could take a photo as he just couldn't believe the game wound up in that fashion.

At table 3 in division 3, Alan Kraus (Philadelphia, PA) had a good game against the teen phenom, Dielle Saldanha (Richmond BC), defeating her, 544-356. Alan passed his first turn and Dielle tried TOLANOS*, which Alan called off. He then finally opened with ZINGS for 50. He didn't want to make the play, but his only vowel was the I and..... so anyway, no surprise, she bingoed back: SOLATION for 66. He played RIF perpendicular hooking atop her word making ISOLATION for 23. Feeling that play wasn't quite enough, he then came back with SOARIng hooking to create ISOLATIONS for 90. It drew a challenge from Dielle. After 5 turns, the score was 163-90, in Alan's favor. She later played SAUTEEInG for 60 and he played OVERTURE through the V for 76 and LIMITED, creating OVERTURED for 96. This last play, too, drew a challenge, hence the spread!

At table 2 in division 5, Burke Riley (Ft. Lauderdale, FL) defeats Ron Barker (Portland, OR), 505-329. Ron opened with DJIN and Burke responded with WAISTED hooking DJINS for 103, his first double-double and OUTEARN, the second one. Ron got down uNSUITED to the D for 77.

The board at table 1 in division 5 is freaking me out. I can't envision this word: CASErnE. Well, William Snoddy (Asheville, NC) played it for 76, hooking the S to the end of FAVORS. He defeats Ryan Barrett (Englewood, CO), 341-310.

At table 1 in division 3, the very-comfortable-in-his-chair Steve Moniz (Manchester, NH) defeated Paul Haverly (Los Angeles, CA), 399-328. I see Steve's double-double REWARNED through the E for 90 and LANTeRNS from the L for 66. Paul got down LOONIER for 67.

In division 3, Gregg Foster (Manchester-by-the-Sea, MA) played a tough game with Edd Coker (Bronx, NY). When the game ended, the players thought the score was 355-357, with Gregg losing by 2. But after the recount, Gregg actually won by 1 point: 356-355. Edd played PUSSIER for 67, which Gregg challenged. Gregg later got down TELLING for 61.

In their round 26 games, Chris Cree (Dallas, TX) had a giant win against Pakorn Nemitrmansuk (Thailand), 516-401. Chris opened with HABITUE for 92, in turn three got down bILSTED for 91, and in turn four played FOlIAGE for 93. His other "pretty" play was RAJ for 62. Pakorn played COMITIES for 65 and UNDRAPE for 95

News this round is that Jason Katz-Brown (Richmond, CA) defeated Trey Wright (Los Angeles, CA), 404-309, despite having a phoney called off. At the game's midway point, holding D?NOYYN, Jason tried NOYAD*, which Trey called off. Jason rebounded well and got down two late-game bingos: VENdETTA for 74 and mISTIEST through the first T that Trey put out for a 122-point triple-triple. Early in the game, Trey got down KAISERIN for 74. This loss is only Trey's 5th in the event. It is worth mentioning that Jason is a 17-year-old who only qualified to play in the top division by two rating points! The future is bright for this up and coming champion. He'll be attending MIT in the fall! Go Jason!

We end thius round with division 5's Jon Rumzis (Chandler, AZ) at 25-1, four games above the pack and the player with the best record in the room.

In division 6, Mel Skolnik (New York, NY) is two games ahead of the pack with 21 wins.

Division 5's Ryan Barrett (Englewood, CO) is two games up with 22 wins.

Four games up is a good number for division 4's Eugene Murray (Indianapolis, IN). He has 23 wins.

Division 3 continues to be hotly contested. Both Steve Moniz (Manchester, NH) and Kenneth Rubin (New York, NY) have 19 wins with Greg Heidler (Waialua, HI) only a half-game behind. The latter has about 800 more points of spead than the leaders.

Two games up on the rest in division 2 is David Pearl (Long Beach, CA), with 21 wins. A little bird tells me that David and his wife, Diana, are expecting their first child in September. Congrats!

Trey Wright (Los Angeles, CA) still leads divsion 1 with 21 wins, but All*Star and former National SCRABBLE® Champion, David Gibson (Spartanburg, SC) is hot on his heels with 20 wins.

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