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Runkle School SCRABBLE Club

[photo] Based in Brookline, Massachusetts, the Runkle School created its SCRABBLE® club at the beginning of this school year when a new teacher-in-training, Ben Loiterstein, joined the teaching staff. Loiterstein, or "Mr. L" as his students call him, placed first in division 3 at last Augusts National SCRABBLE® Championship in Chicago. He has been playing competitively for only two and one-half years and he's already earned himself a 1713 rating.
Mr. L and his team conferring on a play.
[photo] Runkle's SCRABBLE® Club meets weekly and includes players ranging from ages 9 to 13. During a recent visit there I met and played with David Madrid, Stefan Papius-Lefebvre, and Will Silverman (all 10-year-old 5th graders) and the two teams that will compete in Springfield: Tanya Moss, age 10, and Nick Silverman, age 11, both 6th graders; and Jessica Achbar-Coughlin, age 13 and in 8th grade, and Jesse Barron, age 11 and in 6th grade.
Runkle SCRABBLE® Team and friends: (row 1) Nick Silverman(6th grade), Tanya Moss (6th grade), and Will Silverman (5th grade). (row2) Jessica Achbar-Coughlin (8th grade), Jesse Barron (6th grade), David Madrid (5th grade) and Stefan Pappius-Lefebvre (5th grade).
[photo] During this visit, I had the chance to play on a team with Jessica and Jesse. Mr. L teamed up with the other students against us. It was a fun game and great learning experience for everyone involved. I unknowingly taught my team the wonders of bluffing when we played SPUrNED down hooking an S onto PHAT (truth be told, I didn't know PHAT was an adjective), and Mr. L took that opportunity to teach his team the wonders of challenging: SPUrNED came off the board. Two turns later we converted that blank to the lovely triple line play of INFArES for 83. After our group game ended, Jessica and I played a partial game against each other and she found RETRIES (and its anagram: RETIRES). Other teachers and the Runkle School's principal, Dr. Sleeper, visited our gathering and supported our games play.
Runkle principal, Dr. Sleeper, and coach, Ben Loiterstein, flank the two MSSC teams.
[photo] Moss/Silverman Blue Team Information: Tanya loves soccer and her best play as of yet has been CURLIER for 80 points. Her teammate, Nick, is a fan of basketball and basketball card collecting. He hopes to visit the Basketball Hall of Fame while he's in Springfield for the MSSC. Nick, a strong anagrammer, once played COAXERS for 110 points and he says, "My game has greatly improved since meeting Mr. Loiterstein."

Barron/Achbar-Coughlin Red Team Information: Jessica describes herself as "really into music." She takes voice lessons, piano lessons, and is in a chorus. Her most memorable SCRABBLE® play was a triple bingo, for 83 points. Describing a recent visit of SCRABBLE®-playing family friends Pauline and Jack, Jessica said, "They usually beat me, but this weekend I won both games!" She credits Mr. L for improving her game. Jesse, into soccer and ice skating, once played LADDERS for 80. About playing outside the club, Jesse says, "I play with my Dad. Since Mr. L started coaching me, I beat him all the time!"

Runkle Middle School finalists. (row 1) Red Team: Jessica Achbar-Coughlin and Jesse Barron. (row 2) Blue Team: Nick Silverman and Tanya Moss.
Late Breaking News: Tanya, Jessica, Nick, and Jesse may be on their way to becoming television stars! Among Mr. Loiterstein's many activities is hosting a weekly public access television program called "The Game Show." The 10 November show, which aired live on Channel 9 broadcast in the Cambridge area (CCTV network), featured the Runkle red and blue team players with Mr. L doing commentary on their plays. He said he was very proud and that they played brilliantly. The blue team of Moss/Silverman even found the beautiful natural bingo of SOLDIER.

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