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NSC 2008 Commentary: Round 5
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Fortified by lunch, the players have returned for the afternoon session of three games. The NSA's John D. Williams, Jr., took to the mic again and introduced the two players present who have been to all 17 Nationals over the past thirty years: Joel Wapnick (Montreal QC) and Steve Polatnick (Miami, FL). He also signaled out some of the School SCRABBLE Champions in the room and called out the two 1948 birth year players who were randomly selected to receive prizes in celebration of SCRABBLE's 60th anniversary. One player will be announced each session for the rest of the event. It pays to be 60 this year, literally!
David Gibson (Spartanburg, SC), eponym of "Gibsonization" (removing someone from the main pairings when they have clinched victory), uncharacteristically off to a 0-5 start, was seen shaking his head and saying "Now I've experienced it all."
Matt Graham (New York, NY) had a moster win this round, 609-352, vs. Nathan Benedict (Tucson, AZ), the latter kind enough to invite me over to see the game. Nathan's sole bingo was a good one, OVERLAID for a 98-point double-double. Matt had a total of five bingos; two sets of back to back bingos and an outbingo: REMOVInG to the G for 92 and CONIINES for 68, then later on, ADULATEd from the A for 77 and POLARISE for 74. His outbingo was MISSTATE from the M for 72.
School SCRABBLE players are in abundance this year. Aune Mitchell (Ridgefield, CT) was at table 1 in division 6 this round, playing Paul Rickhoff (Saugus, CA). She won their game, 389-336, and is now 4-1. Aune was one half of the 2007 National School SCRABBLE Champion team. Her 2007 partner (who also won the 2008 National School SCRABBLE title, this year with a new partner who hadn't aged out of the progam as Aune had), Matthew Silver (Westport, CT), is playing in division 2 and is currently 3-2.
Table 1 in division 4, a just finished game between Phil Wertheimer (Short Hills, NJ) and Chuck Riordan (Des Moines, IA). INHERIT for 72 was probably the play that gave Phil the win, said, Chuck, 439-324.
MuZJIKS fr 126! It was an opening play made at table 9 in division 5 by Jesse Inman (Columbia, SC) in his game with Maxine Saperstein (Aventura, FL). The play so overwhelmed him, he admitted he counted it a full three times to make sure he got it right! Other nice plays on the board: SMELLIEr and SETTLER. It was Jesse's win, 443-296.
Paul Avrin (New York, NY) has a style. It is, play hard for 50 minutes, then endgame analyze for another 50 minutes, with tiles spread all over tarnation. And it is in this state that I found him, glasses flipped up, bent over, focusing on the torn-apart board, his opponent long gone. Paul explains that he was undfeated up to this game against Charles Smith (Durham, NC), which Paul lost, 413-436. Paul points to Charles' opening play of SLIDERS and mutters. He is now slated to play the still undefeated Joel Horn (Reading, MA).