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NSC 2000: Round 1 Commentary

After a lot of behind-the-scenes, last-minute pairing adjustments, 598 entrants flowed into the massive Providence Convention Center room ready to play SCRABBLE®. There were a few exclamations from players who hadn't yet taken in the special boards Hasbro created for the event, which feature a center double-word-score space that has a P and underneath National SCRABBLE® Championship. The event's Director of Operations, Laura Klein greeted the players and ran over procedures for pairing and recording game results. At one point she pointed out that it was necessary to renumber about 60 players in Division 4, which included changing their scoresheets and name badges. John D. Williams, Executive Director of the National SCRABBLE® Association, then took over at the podium and made his well-received brief comments which included thanking everyone for taking part in the largest Nationals in history. As he was winding up, he humorously said that it had become necessary to change the sexes of several players in division 4. After the earlier necessary administrative changes, this comment made the room roar with laughter, a good way to start the day!

The tinkling of tiles, always so soothing and melodic at the beginning of the sessions, is even more so in the giant playing room. If we'd had an aromatherapy burner sending lavender essences into the room, it could almost be aural therapy!

The first challenge of the tournament was in Division 5. A player tried the word ALOT, which was ruled unacceptable. As she was pulling away the tiles she said, "Oh, I meant to play ALOW!" Although we might see that play a lot, we all know it is really two words, right?

Marie Gier, division 4, lost her first game by 86 points, which hasn't caused her to despair. She's hoping she's worked the need for losing out of her system!

In the arriving fashionably late department, two division 1 players, on West Coast time, tie for the prize. Jeff Widergren had only 5 minutes left on his clock when he arrived this morning. He finished the game with 1:05 remaining and defeated Scott Appel, 449-253. Jeff admits to getting every tile. Like Scott, Steve Oliger ran into similarly bad luck with his late opponent. Adam Logan had only 40 seconds remaining on his clock when he arrived late from oversleeping. He went on to score a 480! After adjusting for going over on his clock by 3:55 (which meant a 40-point score reduction), Adam won the game 440-293. Steve jokingly said, "why couldn't you have slept in another half hour!?" Early on in their game Adam played TwITTING for 65 points.

Division 1's Rose Kreiswirth had a daunting first-game draw: NSC 1998 champ Brian Cappelletto. Tracey Maurer annotated Rose's game and Milt Wertheimer annotated Brian's. Brain opened with LETTUCE. Amoung his other plays: MEIOTIC, BEGRIM, DAWTING, and SERFAGES

In Division 3, board 1 had Varney Senii vs. Roy Dixon. As I walked by, I notice Varney playing with the board at a 45 degree angle.

The first game finished in round 1 was between Division 6 players Leland Fidler and Joy Nees. Unfortunately for the first time, 12-year-old NSC player, Joy eked out the win, 309-257.

In the "it doesn't happen at every tournament" department, twice the room broke into rounds of applause in the middle of playing round 1. It seems the engineering department figured out how to turn up the rooms lighting for which the players were thankful!

While the top seed in division 2, Rick Wong, was waiting for a word challenge adjudication, he leaned over to tell jme that his opponent, Marlene Boyda, had bingoed twice in a row and he was slowly chipping away at her lead. The score was 345-315 at that point. . .

Charnwit Sukhumratnaporn, one of the visting Thai players, ended game 1 with more than 12 minutes left on his clock. Unfortunately, he lost 448-292 to Albert Hahn. What was so fascinating about this game is that they both usually compete playing with another dictionary! Albert extended Charnwit's EXIT to EXITLESS to the triple and then played ScOUTING from the final S in EXITLESS for another triple. He also played KLaVERN.

Lester Shonbrun defeated Cynthia Pughsley, 451-376. He got down RURALISE and MOULDERS. Cynthia played FROgEYES and SOGgILY.

Daniel Goldman defeated Merrill Kaitz, 406-383. He looked so excited, he was almost levitating in his chair! He opened with PAROTID, then played FERNIEST and STRANGE. Merrill got down the lovely WALtZING.

At table 16 Akeganpun Erbprasartsook defeated Chris Cree, 426-347. Chris explained that he passed the Q early and then drew it again with the rack QPLANER. With 15 tiles left in the bag, he passed seven hoping to draw the remaining blank. Well, it didn't work out. I tried to congratulate Akeganpun, but I don't think his English was good enough to understand me!

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