NSA: Tourneys: 1998: CSC : Friday: Commentary
CSC98 Commentary: Welcome

A giant, billowing SCRABBLE®banner hung outside the building, greeting contestants and guests as they arrived at the Arts & Letters Club this evening. At 5:30, the reception officially began, but many players were here prior, taking in the art-lined walls and SCRABBLE®parphrenalia. Light appetizers and sodas were served in one of the three rooms. Much to John Chew' relief, every contestant showed up on time.

Before the tournament began John Chew and John D. Williams , Executive Director of the National SCRABBLE® Association, stood at the podium to orient the players with their brief, but important opening remarks. John Chew spoke first about the variety of players from five provinces and three U.S. states coast to coast. He thanked John D. Williams for attending the event, Hasbro Canada for their generous sponsorship, Donna Piasentini and her great tournament staff for organizing the event, and then he introduced the staff. The staff's names: Robin Pollock Daniel, Trevor Sealy, Mad Palazzo, Kate Doe, Evan Berofsky, Sherrie Saint John, and the runners--Emma Sharpe, Lindsay Beattie, Lauren Petroff.

John then went on to thank "Mike Wise, without whom this tournament wouldn't have taken place and without whom many of us wouldn't be playing SCRABBLE."

Already sombered by John's remarks, John Williams took the podium for a special announcement. Robin Pollock Daniel writes, "Holding up a beautifully framed plaque, John read to the silent crowd. The contributions to SCRABBLE®made by Mike Wise were noted at some length. As he came to the end of the plaque, John read with great pride and drama that, henceforth, the annual Director of the Year award will be known as the Mike Wise Director of the Year award. You can well imagine the thundering applause with which this announcement was met, along with the reaching for Kleenex and dabbing of eyes as a fine director and even finer man was remembered, acknowledged, and celebrated."

Saying that he had a tough time speaking after what John Williams had read, John Chew then went on to explain the logistics and paperwork system. He briefly mentioned his Swiss pairing system and how crucial result slips were to a speedy rematching of players. He stressed the importance of using runners and that players should call for them as soon as they had the completed their forms. And, he promised pairings would be announced within 30 seconds of receipt of the last slip. He then went on to mention that there would be prizes for high word each day, high game each day, cash prizes for players in the top 10, game prizes for the 11-15 finalists, game prizes for the best record each day not in the top 15, best Canadian word, and the newly established Mike Wise Sportsmanship award. This award will be determined by secret ballot after round 18. Each player is permitted to vote for one opponent they find to be most sportsmanlike. This "good sport" will get his or her choice of a Hasbro game.

In addition, he asked players to report any games or plays of interest to the CSC Internet correspondent and to be cooperative with the mainstream media covering the event. John promised to intervene should any microphone or camera get too close to the players. Lastly, he reminded all Board 1 players of the ongoing annotation of games for potential use in the NSA's SCRABBLE® NEWS.

Then the fun began. John decided to let players pick their first opponents. After breaking the field up into quadrants, he handed out the 2nd quarter's scorecards and had those players randomly draw their opponents from a stack of the 4th quarter's cards. Then he handed out the first quarter's cards and let them choose from the 3rd quarter. His only table requirement was that players assigned to boards 1 and 2 actually play at those physical boards. Everyone else can play anywhere they want. This system of random matching, according to John, is more fair to players at the top or bottom of a quarter.

Then the fun began as the players sat down and oohed and aahed over the special CSC protiles. The Maple Leaves, emblazoned on the blanks, were were a huge hit.

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