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NSC 2008 Commentary: Award Ceremony
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.
We ushered the players out of the playing room for about 45 minutes after round 28 ended. The hotel staff closed down the right third of the room, and we adjusted to less ballroom while the directors sat down with the results and determined category winners. The NSA had the hotel serve the workers thin crust pizza and salad: just what we needed to give us the energy to get the ceremony under way!
John Chew stayed on the elevated stage, handling the master of cermony duties, such as introducing each division leader. The NSA's John D. Williams, Jr., stayed on the playing floor by the big board to pose with each money winner.
Many awards were mentioned by each division leader, please check them out here.
Check out the photos of the Awards Ceremony to see the prizewinners who were present receive a handshake and applause from their peers. I will list those who weren't present in this section so they know we missed them!
Mad Palazzo, director of division 6, took to the microphone first. This was her first time directing at an NSC and she made it look smooth as silk. Like all directors after her, she thanked her division assistant, Kristen Chew, and computer operator, Jim Pate. She called up the top 10 prize winners and only Julia Scruggs (Stockbridge, GA), Stefan Huber (Tampa, FL), and Dave Rauppius (Athens, GA) were not present. One of the ceremony's largest applauses came with 11-year-old phenom, Bradley Robbins (Windham, NH) came up to accept his silver Tiffany tray. Every person in the room was standing, cheering wildly. The height differential between John D. Williams, Jr., and Bradley was such that John got down on his knees. Not understanding, Bradley then sweetly followed form and kneeled, too. It was a touching moment, not so much for the photographers who had even less of a target to shoot at with Bradley kneeling, but he got up again soon enough!
Division 5's director, John Robertson, then took to the stage. He thanked his partner in running the division, Allen Pengelly, and his "terrific" dedicated computer staff worker, Sarah Berch-Heyman. He called up the top eight prizewinners. All prizewinners were present and Kendrick Lo (Toronto ON) had a wide, wide smile when he accepted his engraved Tiffany tray. Not bad for a guy at his third tournament!
In his U.S. Marine Corps hat, Wendell Smith then took the podium to announce division four's winners. He thanked his assistant, Amanda Edmonds, and Michael White, his division's computer guru. Amanda, it should be noted, is a terrific artist, and she made many colorful, descriptive signs that got put up around the playing room, all on the ardent recyclist's favorite medium: recovered carboard. Except for the 10th place finisher, Daniel Hellmann (Fort Myers, FL), and 4th place's Gwen Stewart (Ellicott City, MD), all of the other eight money finalists were present for the ceremony. Both the division's 2nd and 1st place winners were heartily congratulated. Phil Wertheimer (Short Hills, NJ) virtually lived at table 1 throughout the event and Stephen Sneed (Fort Worth, TX), at 14 years of age, had a remarkable tournament. A gentle, quiet kid, Stephen smiled just a little as the flashbulbs went off while he stood with John D. Williams, Jr., holding his Tiffany platter.
Division 3's director, Matt Hopkins, promised to less pedantically sesquipedalian this year, when he took to the microphone, which made us all laugh. He thoroughly enjoyed working with his assistant, Sunshine Lewis, and he had all good things to say about Jessica Barnes, who ably handled the division's pairing and standings. Fred Oswald (Lansing, MI), Ben Lam (Toronto ON), and Brian Wagner (Ashland City, TN) were unable to stay for the awards ceremony, but we clapped for them just the same. At 6 feet tall, Piengkamol Intarasuwan (Oakland Park, FL), who won division 3, was exceptional for many reasons: for being the only Thai player to come in the money (about ten competed this year), the only female to win a division, and at just 19 years old, another success story in the "young ones meeting great success" at this year's NSC.
Next up was division 2's Bryan Pepper. As he was fond of mentioning, his division was the largest this year. Credit had to be given to Emily Goodman for her terrific assisting and to Amie Karp for getting the division's pairing and standings done first every round. He took great delight in mentioning that he's been counting John Chew's errors throughout the event and he got to three. His favorite being the last one whereby he had THREE players who had to be Gibsonized (1st, 2nd, and 3rd were finalized before round 28 began). This statistically aberrant occurance actually ground tsh (the event pairing program) to a momentary halt. While most directors would have been troubled, concerned about getting the division's pairings done, Bryan licked his finger and dragged in down in front of him. Yes! Another error! And, he even mentioned it at the Awards Ceremony.I do think that war has been officially waged and when Bryan left the hotel with his division's prize info (that only he had), John returned the favor by asking all event workers (and probably a few players, too) if they had seen Bryan with his stack of important and forgotten papers. Anyway, all 9 prizewinners were present in division 2 and each player received a resounding applause. As the "youth take over" story continues, the well-deserving Conrad Bassett-Bouchard (Moraga, CA), at 18 years old, had a terrific event and it was so fun to see him up there with his platter, getting blinded by the photographers.
And then there was Mary Rhoades, division 1's director. When Mary speaks, people listen. She speaks softly, but she gets our attention. She thanked Sue Hoehn, for whom she would not have been able to run division 1 wihout. And she said, "If I couldn't have Amie Karp as my computer person, I guess I was happy enough to settle for Jeremy Brooke." This was meant entirely tongue in cheek, because she adored working with Jeremy, who saw that all divisions were run with precision. And he is just so easy-going. He did the whole event in a leg cast due to a pulled achillies heel, and he didn't complain once. Mary mentioned what we'd all noticed; this even ran like a well-oiled machine. Of the eight prizewinners in division 1, only 6th place Ian Weinstein (Coral Springs, FL) could not attend. The room grew more and more boisterous as the finalists were called up. By the time 2nd place Brian Cappelletto (Chicago, IL) came up, the room was standing. He was cheered for his great effort and great second place achievement. Then it was time for the low-key Nigel Richards (Malaysia) to make his way to the front. People created an aisle for him to walk down and though I knew he heard the thunderous applause, he remained composed and made his way quietly to John D. Williams, Jr., to collect his winning trophy cup and to pose for all of us. He managed to have his eyes closed in more than half of the photos I took, which made me giggle, so I included some of them in the awards ceremony photos. Amidst the calls for "speech, speech," he made his way back to his seat and was intercepted by the be-goggled Daniel Stock (Rocky River, OH) (Daniel wore purple snorkeling goggles for most of the event since they matched his mostly purple-themed outfits to a T), who showed Nigel his latest board creation in honor of Nigel's victory.
John D. Williams, Jr., took to the microphone and explained that Nigel was quite at a loss for words and preferred to not make a speech. He thanked us all for coming, the workers and the players alike and then singled out two people, John Chew & Sherrie Saint John, for their hard work. John and I hugged, partly out of celebration but also to relief that we'd lived through another one! See many of you at next year's Players Championship in Ohio if not sooner!