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Player Profile: Lester Schonbrun


Lester Schonbrun

If competitive SCRABBLE® used superlative titles, there is no doubt who would be atop the Grand Master list: Lester Schonbrun <maxim@netcom.com> (CA). Legendary for his involvement in SCRABBLE® since the late 1950s, Lester will be competing in the expert division with 126 other top-level players.

Lester walks the perimeter of Lake Merrit on his way to work in Oakland, CA, where he earns a living working in an office full of lawyers. He manages to keep one of them very happy and earns enough flex time to travel extensively on the tournament circuit with his partner Joan Mocine <jkm@netcom.com>, who also works for the law firm. They drove through Colorado and by way of the Grand Canyon on their way to Chicago's Fairmont Hotel.

Lester is well-known for devising clever word puzzles that aren't easily solved. He used to publish them in Nick Ballard's loved, but no longer published Medleys. He says he was thrilled to hear that SCRABBLE® players enjoyed them. He now shares them with an online audience (see bottom of this page for a sample).

In last month's Reno showdown, Lester won the tournament and set the cumulative spread record going 18.5-3.5 +2,082. That is, he averaged just about 100 more points per game than his opponents in a strong expert field!

Lester, obviously busy on his next puzzle, sent this personal SCRABBLE® highlight: "I was 7-5 after two days [1990, Washington, D.C.], and felt pretty out of it, but I think I won 14 out of my next 15 games, and gained about 1200 points in spread, and beat Brian Cappelletto and Bob Felt <rfelt@annco.net> in my last two games, to take second. I remember with particular pleasure that Charlie Southwell <south@pop.dn.net> was up near the top, and had written me off because of my very slow start. When I saw him on the last day, he asked me sympathetically how I was doing, and then couldn't believe that I had passed him. He must have asked me if I was kidding about five times."

He's twice been a US representive to the World SCRABBLE® Championships: London 1991 and Washington, DC, 1997, and he placed 7th in the Superstars in 1996. Since no feature on Lester would be complete without some mention of his socialist tendencies, Lester says, "If you want to mention my, ahem, politics, say that I study the papers every day for any sign of the return of communism. I clutch at any straw."

Complete the Caption

A puzzle by Lester Schonbrun

Just as Dale entered the clearing and discovered, standing together,
the _ _ _ _  _ _ _ _  _ _ _ _ _ _ _, _ _ _ _ _ _ _, _ _ _  _ _ _ _ _ _
_ _ _ _ _ _ _, his camera jammed.

To complete the above Far Side caption, unscramble and use the first and last letters of the Official Word List (the dictionary used in competitive SCRABBLE®) words:

yirdtole waitsacs volemirk tidecoil shedbeat qatunnoo niceaits nasalcur moonchin leavegas jat gaitboil digsaloo cornsire cordfain coirgoas chiatine baashint aimchair
HINT: The answers can be ordered, beginning with LACUNARS, so that the caption is in sequence, reading down on the left and up on the right.

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