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2004 National SCRABBLE® Championship Commentary: Round 30

[ 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 30

Overlap between games still in progress and games yet to be played increased as the afternoon wore on, which is understandable, as pairings at top tables were only determined after all the paperwork was in. So, while some players were finishing up round 30, others weren't even there yet.

More Gibsonized games! In Division 2, David Pearl (Long Beach, CA) had a two-game lead over Win Inthara (Winter Park, FL) going into this round, so he was Gibsonized into playing Korakoch Kiatsommart (Winter Park, FL), who beat him 420-342. Yet another example of how hard it is to keep perfectly sharp when the pressure is off, even just a bit! Ryan Barrett (Englewood, CO) was Gibsonized as well this round, having sewn up division 5 win.

One game in division 1, at table 35, was taking place between Joel Sherman (Bronx, NY) and Daniel Goodwin (Seattle, WA). Joel was feeling punchy and more than a little bit silly. In honor of the division leader, Joel arranged his tiles to read GIBSO?S. He laughed loudly and pointed this out to anyone within earshot. Clad in a green shirt that says on the back, "I have beaten Nigel Richards before," Joel actually played GIBSON on his next play, laughing all the while. To keep with the expert player theme, Joel's next rack was EPST?IN. Paul Epstein (Ann Arbor, MI) is also playing in division 1.

Both Nick Amphlett (Cambridge, MA) and John Ezekowitz (Boston, MA) had strong wins to finish off the tournament. John defeated Esther White (Wexford, PA), 482-353. She played FEZ for 33, TRINDLE for 69, and EX for 52. John played ISATINE for 77, SAINING for 74, STEELING for 60, QUARTET for 72, and CHOKER for 54. Nick won his game, 601-308. Nick played ENTOILS for 83, FASTEST for 91, TRAINING for 80, QUIRE for 42, DOZES for 43, and FIX for 26. He commends his opponent, Stella Russell (Manchester, NH), for breaking 300 with the terrible tiles she had.

In round 30, Nigel Richards (Malaysia) defeated Komol Panyasophonlert (Thailand), 463-353. Nigel got down three late-game bingos (three of his last four moves were the bingos DECIMaTE for 84, DENOTES for 67, and AWARDER for 76). Komol played only one bingo: OVERsUP for 71. In the endgame, the player from Thailand held his scoresheet in front of and over his head, almost as if to block out the reality he saw on the horizon. Nigel's last play was an outbingo that Komol challenged.

Talk about ending the tournament with panache! Susi Tiekert (Indialantic, FL) and Marcia McPhee (Centreville, VA) end with a tied 386-386 score! I see HOArDING and OUTRAGe on their board. I guess this means they'll both get a prototype board!

On board 6 in division 1, I see Pakorn Nemitrmansuk (Thailand) and Jason Katz-Brown (Richmond, CA) in a tense game. FOOTIER has just been played through the T and to the R. On their board I see COnQUEST, OrEGANO, UNTIDIED, and CARITAS.

Behind the velvet roape, Adam Logan (United Kingdom) defeated John Luebkemann (Pineville, NC), 415-390.and In the end game, Adam sat with 6 tiles on his rack for a very long time. I see Adam's ERGATIVE and USHERING. John played INEDIBLE.

We know that David Gibson (Spartanburg, SC) is in the finals, but we're still waiting to see who will be with him. Chris Cree (Dallas, TX) defeated Trey Wright (Los Angeles, CA) in the last round, and if he wins this game again, by 210 or more points, he'll be in the finals with David. So, we're waiting with bated breath to see which one it will be! It is unusual to have contenders face off so many times in one day: this is their 5th game! Many players cluster by their table closet to the rope line. I see a couple people with Franklins out, punching in racks and words and ask them to put them away so that they don't convey any information to the player who sees them punching furiously. It is amazing what information can be conveyed in the most innocent ways! The game is tense and Chris stands up just after it is over, losing, 339-432. There was a lot of endgame banter about the letter J being in the bag. Chris sighed, raised his arms, and expressed all kind of disappointment, but pushed it aside to hug Trey and congratulate him on making the finals. The crowd cheered. Chris not only signed Trey's contestant scorecard, he signed his own, and looked about ready to sign anything handed to him.

As I watch David Gibson (Spartanburg, SC) play Charnwit Sukhumrattanaporn (Thailand) again for the second game in a row, I notice just how important the velvet rope is to keeping the players from being crowded in their top board games. What the rope can't prevent is noise making its way from the crowd to the players. The players are in total concentration mode and they seem to block it all out. I see FRAUlEINS on their board. They end up splitting games. Charnwit won the last won and David wins this one, 447-437.

Two top champs, Joel Wapnick (Montréal QC) and Brian Cappelletto (Chicago, IL) play at table 3. I note that Brian's tiles are upside down and sideways on his rack, as if their orientation doesn't matter! I see the play DILuTION played to the N, FOSTEREd, and JAYVEE on their board. Brian wins, 459-423.

Scott Pianowski (Berkley, MI) says to me after the round ends, "Chris Cree (Dallas, TX)very elegantly called the final of Wright-Gibson 'music versus mathematics.' For years people have been saying SCRABBLE® is a word game that's really amath game, but maybe we all should be studying the musical part of the game."

Kudos to division 1's Jonn Dalton (Austin, TX), who rebounded to go 11-11 after a tough opening day. He also won the Division 1 rotisserie, which paid out handsomely. David Pearl (Long Beach, CA) won the much smaller D2 rotisserie.

As we wind up in the playing room, some of the top names some familiar. David Pearl (Long Beach, CA) won division 4 at the 1998 NSC in Chicago and division 3 at the 2000 NSC in Providence. Now that he's won division 2 this year, he'll just have to study hard to win division 1 at the next NSC! Jerry Scheiten (Buffalo, NY) won division 2 at NSC 1998 in Chicago and this year's division 3!.

Keith Smith (Austin, TX) made an observation earlier today. Outside the hotel on the sidewalk was a construction sign that read, "Tile work being done." How fitting!

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