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NSC 2008 Commentary: Round 26

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Go to: 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, Award Ceremony.

Round 26

Before this morning's session, the NSA's John D. Williams, Jr., made two group photo requests. First, he wanted all the 19 and under students (meaning all teenagers and younger) to come back from lunch a bit early to pose in front of the big board. And, he wanted the 1948 set to come at that time, too.

As lunch drew to a close, the students started to filter in, a few at a time. Some of the better-connected called the missing to get them to show up for the shot. Conrad Bassett-Bouchard (Moraga, CA), in particular had his cell phone on broil by the time he was done calling the late ones. In the end, we got all but two, but we couldn't wait anymore. I've got Joey Krafchick (Roswell, GA) promising to help me with the photo IDs.

After the students, the 1948 babies came up for their photo. One woman, born on Christmas 1947, so still technically 60, jumped into the photo, too! One of the 1948 babies told me that when she was announced as a session raffle winner, she went to the NSA press desk to get her "prize." This woman, Diana Spiller (Ashby, MA), spent most of her life having the problem of looking 13, even when she was 30. Well, as long as I've known her, she has continued in that looking very young pattern. So, someone at the NSA table said, "No, you have to be born in 1948 to be a winner." And she kept saying, "But, I was born in 1948...? Do you want me to show you my photo ID?" I think by this point, she was finally believed, but I laugh at this story because I thought she was lying to me when we met, too!

The doors were then let open and the players rushed in for the final game of the session. After waiting for the players to find their seats and settle down, John D. Williams, Jr., made sure to point out who had done the lion's share of making this event happen, his wife, Jane Ratsey Williams. We all gave her a large round of applause. This event ran like a well-oiled machine. Not one single delay, not one thing out of place, just smooth as silk.

John then introduced Chris Cree, who took over the microphone to explain why he wasn't there playing: the birth of his new baby girl (he did not, I notice, offer to show anyone photos of his used forklifts!). We all cheered at her height, weight, and the news that Carla and Faith are doing just fine. He made a SCRABBLE reference by saying that in the past 6 nights, it has been 3-3, with Carla getting to sleep three of the nights, and being kept awake by Faith for three nights. I wonder how the spread will be factored? Soon enough he got down to business to mention the work of the NSA's Recognition Committee (Seth Lipkin (Hopkinton, MA), Keith Smith (Austin, TX), Joey Mallick (Cape Elizabeth, ME), Jim Hughes, and Chris Cree). The committee wants to keep annual records and award recognition in a number of categories: Highest peak rating in past year, highest rating jump, best rookie, highest tournament win, etc. These prizes will be automaticaly generated by data collected by cros-tables. org. The idea of these recognitions by categry was greeted with great enthusiasm by the crowd.

During lunch, the hotel decided to spruce up the division 1's 1st and second tables. The put out new roping, all of the same kind and style, so it looks more uniform over there. And points for creativity here, one of the workers lugged over 6 or so large plants, so the area looks more special now.

On a Matt Graham (New York, NY) vs. Nathan Benedict (Tucson, AZ) board, I see HASRO?IC, ATONIE?, and TOPPERS.

Evan Berofsky (Thornhill ON) vs. Mike Frentz (Seattle, WA). I see the fun opening play of FIXT and that Mike got down OVERLET for 89. The other plays, were all Evans: a bingo-bango-bongo of FREELOAD from the F for 64, FAnZINES through the E for 88, eIGHTEEN from the blank e for 74, and then later in the game yet another bingo: SENSOrY for 82. Evan's win, 492-365.

I catch Jeremy Hildebrand (Ottawa ON) and Randy Greenspan (Buffalo, NY) at the adjudication computer. I see that TOTALISER* was challenged. I don't hear any crying, so I can't tell who was less happy with the ruling.

In division 5, table 1 featured a Barbara McGrew (Burlington, VT) vs. Kendrick Lo (Toronto ON) game. Table 2 had Lesesne Kunz (Denver, CO) vs. Arthur Moore (Ocoee, FL). I see OUTDATE, STEP?ONS, IGNITER, and EXUdING. It was Lesesne's win, 410-344.

He wasn't kidding about that shell necklace! Scott Garner (Champaign, IL) defeated Phil Wertheimer (Short Hills, NJ) this round, 457-347. I see Phil's TaUNTERS for 64 and the fun YOGINI. Scott played ROARINGS for 72 and PINCERS for 83.

Joey Krafchick (Roswell, GA) invites me over to see his game with Jeff Parsons (Logy Bay NL) in division 2. Jeff played DETAINS 79, RECITES 75, IXIA 45, and SAUNTERS. Joey played EULOGIAE to the final E for 68, BREEDING for 78, BANKS for 44, and the fun outplay of YOUTHEN for 39. It wasn't enough, however, and Joey lost, 420-451.

A couple of divisions have had positions determined due to the standings as of this round. One game, the Conrad Bassett-Bouchard (Moraga, CA) vs. John Stardom (Ottawa ON) battle at table 1 in division 2, went John's way, 437-380. This win by John, guarantees the two of them eiher first or second, so they will continue to battle each other for the next two games. Their game had a beautiful 11-word (played piece by piece by John). It started with LIBERATE played through the A for 60, then LARD went down, hooking to make LIBERATED for 34, and then D was fronthooked to the triple, DELIBERATED, for 42. I also see that OX was played and then EYE was added for OXEYE, then JIVES/OXYEYES was played. This game's clincher was John's gORHEN from the triple. Both players knew full well it was good, but Conrad was forced to challenge. It was good and he lost his turn.

Lawren Freebody (Hawthorne, CA) vs. Daniel Goodwin (Seattle, WA). He played TeNUOUS and MURINES. She later got down TETANIZE and JOYRIDE, then Daniel played JOYRIDER/RUFF to the triple for 53, which she challenged. Later, he got down DEROGATe. Her win, 475-451.

I'm told that there was a very tense game in divsion 1 this round between Matt Graham (New York, NY) and Nathan Benedict (Tucson, AZ). As the game ended, they had Matt ahead by one point, but then after the recount, one point was found undercounted for Nathan and it ended up in a 390-390 tie. Thus, on this their third game togather at the NSC, Matt won one, Nathan won one, and then they tied! It doesn't get any closer!

The second game to determine division placement took place in division 6. Bradley Robbins (Windham, NH) defeated Ryan Chepita (Ottawa ON), 467-295. I see Ryan's LAX for 42 and Bradley's NaTTERS, PLAINER, and QI/QI for 64. Since Bradley has now won division 6, he will be Gibsonized.

Rose Kreiswirth (East Northport, NY) sees me and giggles. She says, "You know how funny Stefan Rau (New Britain, CT) is, right? He is so dry." I nodded and she said, "I walked by him and in passing asked how he was doing and he said, 'Oh, suicidal... and you?'"

Darrell Day (Richardson, TX) is still shaking his head. He's just lost to Steve Polatnick (Miami, FL) and he wants some sort of explanation, not necessarily from me or Steve, but from the SCRABBLE gods themselves. I see some fun plays on their board: FAITOUr for 70 by Steve, which was later extended down the triple lane by Darrell to SYRINX/FAITOUrS for 82. Um, SYRINX? That is such a surprising word! ERMINES for 70, ADHERING for 80, and FAQIR, by Steve. Then Darrell made the gorgeous parallel play of ROOKIE from the R parallel to SYRINX, creating OY/OR/KI/IN/EX for 53 points. After this play, Darrell tells me he rolled over and played dead the rest of the game.

As af this isn't enough news about Darrell, Daniel Fogel (Newton, MA) pulls me aside to tell me about his round 22 game with the champ from Texas. Darrell's first four turns were OSTEOID 77, JONESED 108, MATURED 85, and CALXED 69. Daniel played INTENDER through the D for an 86-point double-double, DISHONOR for 67, ZOOM for 75, URINATE for 71, and CEILINGS for 83. After the first 8 turns, their score was 442-413 in Daniel's favor. This trend continued with him winning, 506-496. What a battle! Daniel, as of this round, is 12-14 in the very tough division 1 field.

Seth Lipkin (Hopkinton, MA) wanders over and says, "I just earned 268 points in two plays." Intrigued, I said, "do tell." He blows on his knuckles and says, "Well, it started with ACcORDER through the first R for a 140-point triple-triple, which was challenged. And then, BEDiZEN, from the bag, for 128 points. The second bingo was taught to me by Lexington SCRABBLE club expert, Mike Wolfberg." He says, his opponent this round was the incredibly gracious, Craig Rowland (Mississauga ON), who continued to be so even after the tile bag "disintegrated into Seth Lipkin's (Hopkinton, MA) lap, spilling a tile out." The tilebag was on the old side and finally bit the dust and a tile slipped out the bottom. A massive win for Mr. cross-tables: 602-373.

That gray, wool, sweater vest crosses the corner of my eye and Sam Rosin (Bernardsville, NJ) tosses out, "like it or not, I'm 13-0 with it!"

Jeremy Cahnmann (Chicago, IL) walks up to me and deadpans,"I get 10% of Gibson's winings. I showed him the 'winning path.' You think he got that spread by accident?" I look at him quizzically and he explains sl-o-w-l-y, "after five losses in a row, David Gibson (Spartanburg, SC) played me in round 6 and creamed me, 461-239." Ah... I see. And, you know what? David is already well known for his legendaryily generous prize money sharing. So, who knows? Maybe Jeremy will be able to angle something!

The Saldanha siblings in division 1, Dean Saldanha (Richmond BC) and Dielle Saldanha (Richmond BC), faced off this round. It was the little sister's turn to win, 419-351. He is good natured about it, though. Is there a chance that he taught her all she knows?

just this hint might

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