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Congratulations to the 2001 World Champion, Brian Cappelletto!

Back to WSC 2001 Live Coverage

WSC 2001 Commentary: Final Game 1

Go to: Before Round 1, Round 1, Round 2, Round 3, Round 4, Round 5, Round 6, Round 7, Round 8, Round 9, Round 10, Round 11, Round 12, Round 13, Round 14, Round 15, Round 16, Round 17, Round 18, Round 19, Round 20, Round 21, Round 22, Round 23, Round 24, Final Game 1, Final Game 2, Final Game 3, Final Game 4.

Finals Game 1

A day of great SCRABBLE® has begun! The tournament playing room has been transformed. The tables have been removed, the wall has been moved up, and most importantly, a GIANT screen projection screen is on center stage with the large board to its right. While Laura Klein puts up the words onto the board with giant tiles (with Craig Rowland's assistance), Stefan and Allan Simmons are providing commentary as the game goes on. Ben Loiterstein, hooked up with a space age looking microphone/headphone unit (he looks like a Britany Spears backup dancer/singer), is keeping the score on a white board, and James A. Cherry (Canada), with his laptop is simming the racks as we go. Sensing that James and his laptop were a permanent installation, the hotel has taped his power cord to the carpet to prevent tripping.

The game was simply divine. The play just could not have been better. The players both passed their first turns, exchanging tiles. Joel opened with ANALYSE for 72, Brian Cappelletto (United States) played IRATELY making ANALYSER for 77 plus 5 for a challenge. Then Joel Wapnick (World Champion) bingoed with ANTIGENE throughte second N for 74. Brian then was the first to not play a bingo. Next bingo was Joel's POLTROoN through the L for 68. Brian then responded with iNDUSIA which also made POLTROoNS. Then Brian played CELLARED through an L (he could have played a safer RECALLED for a few less points). They traded average plays until Brian with a QZ rack chose to play the Q for less points than he could have gotten for the Z, playing QANAT for 42 with the T hooking RUTH to make TRUTH.

With two tiles left in the bag, Brian played FRIZERS through an ER for 48 points leaving 3 tiles on his last rack. However, there should have been four tiles! He'd left a tile in the bag. The whole room groaned and started yelling " CHECK THE BAG!" Fortunately, they were far enough away to not hear. But sensing something was wrong, Brian reached for the bag, felt the tile and picked it up, all the while shaking his head that he'd missed it. So now his rack was ADOO. He had hoped to out with his last rack, but this was not meant to be. Joel played a terrific endgame play of CREW for 36, setting up an out play: BINGO. Brian blocked the outplay, but a different block would have won the game for Brian. Instead he lost the game by a couple points, 482-479. There had been a slight scoring error but it was corrected midgame, so this is the "right" score.

James Kramer (United States), who has helped me write this up, says, "this was a fantastic game and if this game is any indication of what's going to happen in the ensuing games, we should be in for a thriling day."

When the round began, I counted about 145 people here. Now ther are more than 200!

Finals Game 2

As the game begins, Stefan made a comment to the room and someone shouted that someone else had already said it. Stefan admitted that he'd borrowed the comment and joked that he hasn't had an original idea in years. Pretty funny coming from a Wall Street Journal reporter. Stefan is relying on James A. Cherry (Canada) and his simming program. He waits His partner in crime, Allan Simmons (England) is doing a great job. He is actually quite funny. In the last game, we had trouble seeing Brian's rack because the camera just couldn't get the right angle. At one point, during a lull, Allan said, "Okay, let us see if we can tell what his tiles are by the expression on his face."

I hear that Robin Pollock Daniel (Canada) is now doing a play-by-play for CBC over the phone on a show called "Breakaway." I wondered why I wasn't hearing her call out during the games! This leaves Leah Wolchok free to film other action in the room. Leah is a producer for Oxygen TV and and she is working on a profile for the newsmagazine show Pure Oxygen. Robin is now off the phone. You can hear her report on the Canadian CBC web site now if you want!

We see Joel Wapnick (World Champion) shoo away a reporter and Stefan mentions that he got shooed away from Joel's side about 5 times in Melbourne at the last WSC.

The camera is zooming in on Joel with his face in his hands, deep in thought.

The room is big quieter this round. Not so many bingos to spot.

Ah! I just heard Robin chime in! Someone must have given her a microphone. Robin has done this type of commentary for finals at the Canadian Nationals held in Toronto. She mentioned that Joel likes to keep the board open so he can make 9-letter plays. (Hello, Robin here now). Actually, what I said is that, since Joel is up by a bingo, he'll likely close the board a bit, but leave it open enough to allow a brilliant comeback, such as a 9-letter bingo. Which is exactly what he just did. But Brian immediately bingoed, closing the scoring gap, and Joel immediately went into open board strategy, as is his preference, opening the board with AUDIO. BTW, Brian missed STRAPPY off AUDIO, so that was lucky for Joel. Also, BTW, Hi everyone! Hope you've had fun all week, as we most certainly have!

Joel Sherman (United States) has joined Laura Klein up on stage, helping her reach high tile placements. When his services aren't required, he is laying down with his feet to the board, watching the screen and the big board.

The game is taking place pretty much south of the Mason-Dixon line in terms of board useage.

This game isn't starting out so brilliantly this round. The players have traded three plays and not a bingo in sight!

James Kramer (United States) comes up to talk about the game with me. Joel chose to play QAT on his second turn rather than the racier play of QUIM (British only for you OSPDers). On turn 3, Brian chose to exchange tiles rather than score about 25 playing HOE or HOI and leaving four vowels in his rack. On move 5, Brian chose to open the board and keep his S, but he could have scored 11 more points on a more defensive play. Unfortunately for Brian, Joel bingoed through the O of TOZE with CONDOLER for 72, which was challenged but was good. Five more points for Joel.

After that, however, Joel's racks went downhill while Brian drew both blanks. Brian played DRESSiNG from the D for 80 and late in the game played OXIdES for 66 with the X tripled and the word doubled. That sealed the victory. While Joel pondered his last play, Brian made sure to check the bag for any extra tiles, drawing a laugh from the crowd. At one point, the crowd started clapping in unison when they saw that Brian had arranged the OXIDES play on his rack. Final score: 410-372 in Brian's favor.

All in all, this game wasn't as exciting in terms of the words played, but it was still a close, strategical game. I think it is safe to say that this crowd wants to see five full final games.

Naween Tharanga Fernando (Sri Lanka) stops by to tell me that he is enjoying the finals. He doesn't mean to be critical but the last play of SAIGA wasn't perhaps the best in terms of winning the game. During the game, he was speaking to Brett Smitheram (England) and Harshan Lamabadusuriya (Sri Lanka) and there was concurrence that SAGO or OAR on the R of JERRID might have brought a new twist to the game. Mario Shalendra Ranasuriya (Bahrain) admits that he is a Cappelletto fan. I'm sure if I asked another random person, he or she would be rooting for Joel!

Ben Loiterstein stops by. He is keeping us all in the know about the score. He says, "in the first round, half the audience wanted me to record iNDUSIA as 78, but the players apparently had announced and recorded it as 77. I double-checked with the NSA's Patty Hocker who is my counterpart in the playing room, and she insisted they were going with 77. So I marked it with an asterisk and when they had a recount at the end, I was able to change it. It really was 78."'

Chris Cree (United States) stops by. He says, "these were two of the greatest games we've ever seen. Who would have ever thought that we could sit on our duffs for five hours and watch a board game and enjoy it so much!"

Steven Gruzd (South Africa) WOW!! These guys are good! I've never seen such a cheer when BCap pulled the D out of the bag in Game 1. Loving this!!! Game 3 is on ...

Charles Goldstein is here and he stopped by to say hi.

The tournament data administrator, RA Fontes, is handing player contestant cardds

Yesterday some visitor names were missed: Paul Nabutovsy & Paul Isakoff from the Las Vegas SCRABBLE® club and Sandie Simonis from England to support the British players.

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