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Congratulations to the 2001 World Champion, Brian Cappelletto!

Back to WSC 2001 Live Coverage

WSC 2001 Commentary: Final Game 4

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 4

Full from lunch and anticipating a great match, we begin.

Brian went first and held AAIOV??. He quickly found OVArIAn for 74. Good start.

Joel has a CIIIILY, but got himself out of hot water with a play of ICILY for 17.

Brian picks AEEEIRW and played VIEWER for 24 through the V, keeping AE.

Joel next had PIEFITS. He played FOP for 22 points.

At this point, we got audio from the room says Steven Gruzd (South Africa) and we could hear the rattling of the tiles and not much more.

Brian AAEGJOM and played GAJO for 33. That word means "one who is not a gypsy."

Joel then held EIISTTT. The crowd tittered and hoped he would milk this rack for the most points he could get. (nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more, Steve says). He cleverly double-doubled from the W with WITTIEST for 94 points.

Brian had ABEEUSM. Joe Edley (United States) thinks he may be looking for 9s. He plays IMBUE for 36.

Stefan said that it was a good thing that this game started on time since Joel locked himself out of his room last worlds in Melbourne and almost didn't make game 4.

Joel's has ADDRRNG, almost GRANDDADS says Allan Simmons (England). Should he dump 5 or 6? The gallery players are wondering aloud. Is the E on the bottom line a threat?

There is discussion about a misscore, Brian only gave himself 33 for the play and it was actually 36.

Joel plays DARG for 19, which means a day's work (British only). Desperately trying to balance we think.

Brian has ACEILSU. He is holding his head in his hands, concentrating. It has gotten quiet in the room and Allan asks if we are concentrating. John Luebkemann (United States) suggests AULIC over the ST of WITTIEST. Other suggestions are IGLU, but he did play AULIC for 21.

At this point, Brian leads, 188-152.

Joel has an interesting rack: OBDMNRY. He plays BOGY for 42 along the triple lane through the G, keeping MNRD. The crowd seems to agree with this play.

Brian has PDDLERS and quickly slaps down PADDLERS through the A of GAJO. The play is challenged. Charlie puts on his eyeglasses. He gives the thumbs up. The play scores 74 points plus 5.

Joel takes the triple with MILDS (British only) from MILDNRT. Brian challenges back and the play is good.

Brian now holds AAOQHES and the score is 267-229, Brian is up. Allan asks if he should play off the Q? The room murmurs. He dumps the Q with a few vowels, taking out the possiblities for 8s, by playing AQUAE for 18 points.

The cameraman seems to have fallen and the image gets all jiggly. Someone thought the cameraman had had a martini or two at lunch.

Joel has ANNORTT and it looks promising. His head is in his hand. Joel is 50 behind and can still catch up. He plays ANT under the Y of ICILY to the to the triple for 14 points. In a straight voice, Allan annnouces that the play was not challenged.

ZHONTVS is Brian's rack. VOZHD (a supreme leader in Russia especially applied to Stalin, British only) at d1 has been spotted by the gallery. He makes the play for 50, the crowd is pleased. As strange as this word may seem, it was pretty well known in this room of expert players. Randy Hersom (United States) says that more than the room probably knew it.

Joel has GNNORTU and is a bingo down. He shakes his head, takes a sip of water. They both seem to have a lot of time on their clocks, about 12-13 minutes each. He plays UNGOT top left corner for 12.

Brian, holding ENNRSTW, throws down STREWN for 32. Score 367-255, his favor.

AOUHKRN in Joel's rack, he plays HUNK creating UTU and ASH for 31 points.

Brian has FEENOOS. Brian played FOE (blocking three bingo lines) for 18 leaving one tile in the bag. Lead of 385-286. Joel needs some magic and we all feel it in the room.

The remaining tile is an R.

Joel has AEEOORX. I hear Allan say that we need to concentrate on a bingo for Joel. There aren't any suggestions coming up. Allan mentions that he wishes there were a threat of ANOREXIA, but it doesn't quite work. We all want to see it go down to the wire, to the last move in the fifth game.

Joel played off one tile, ZO/TO for 13 points and pulled the R, passing up a 52-point X play points out Randy in the hopes of a miracle bingo coming out of that bag. The bag is now empty. His last rack is AEEORRX.

Brian plays SINE under PADDLERS to pluralise VOZHDS. Brian has had 2 blanks and 3 Ss in this game. The crowd is as frustrated as Joel - they would desperately love a 5 game final, but it looks unlikely from this point. He played OXER for 39.

The crowd begins to clap. The applause grows.

Brian plays EON under HUNK, for 20 points, to go out.

Final score 447-338 Brian.

He succeeds Joel as World SCRABBLE® Champion, and bags the $25,000 first prize.

Brian becomes the third player to win both the WSC and the North American Nationals - the other two being Joel Wapnick himself, and the now-retired Peter Morris.

They are chuckling over the post-mortem. Sherrie has left this room to congratulate the players in their secreted away location.

Steve takes over the keyboard now (Sherrie edited the remarks).

This moves Brian ahead of Joel in the all-time SCRABBLE® money winners' list. Brian won 21 out of his 28 tournament games.

Allan wonders if Cappelletto-styled Hawaiian shirts will be sold outside.

Brian is being interviewed on the CC tv at this moment. When asked how he felt, Brian said, "When I play the US game, I strive to have the perfect game."

When asked about the luck factor in his games, he admitted that getting both blanks on his opening rack was lucky. He then pointed to VOZHD and admitted that he didn't even know what it means. He remarked that it is a long journey that requires effort and dedication.

When asked what kind of reception he was expecting to receive in his home town of Chicago, Brian laughed and said he wasn't expecting much. It wasn't like when the Bulls won the championships!

He went on to say that he honestly didn't know what his chances were of winning coming into the event, but it sure felt nice.

Perhaps the most touching part of the media interviews was when Brian was asked about Joel. His respect and admiration shone through everything he said. He mentioned that this was Joel's third trip the WSC finals and he had nightmares about how many 5-point penalties he was going to rack up on British words he didn't know and would challenge. He mentioned Joel's phenomenal word knowledge and legendary studying.

The room erupted in applause when Brian made these comments, showing their complete agreement with his sentiments.

More applause in the room, and all agree Brian is a worthy winner.

We await the final presentations.

Sherrie entered the room and announced loud enough for everyone to hear that Brian was coming. People rushed forward with their cameras, some stood up, and all applauded when he entered the room. He was followed by a pack of camera operators. While people applauded, he shook hands and made this way to the giant board.

John D. Williams, Jr., the National SCRABBLE® Association's Executive Director, expressed all of our thoughts when he said that we'd just witnessed extraordinary SCRABBLE®. He said, "Thanks to all, Joel--your legacy is intact!

Then, John called up Hasbro's Mark Morris to help present the giant check for $25,000. He mentioned that "in the trade, we call this the grin and grab." The check was handed out, the photos were snapped and then we got down to some personal comments.

First up was Joel. He said that it was a tremendous tournament and an incredible experience. He congratulated Brian twice! He said that he was not that sad and was happy to have made the finals and play decent SCRABBLE®. "I made mistakes, but that is okay because that is how I play. I've no regrets."

Next up: the 2001 World SCRABBLE® Champion, Brian Cappelletto. He said, "Okay, I'm in shock. I'm so glad my mother made it here--that was great." And he talked about once driving through the desert for 10 hours with his mother to get to a tournament with their flight was cancelled. Brian thanked Hasbro, John & Jane Williams, and everyone at the NSA. He said Vegas was a great venue. "Since I started playing SCRABBLE® 16 years ago, the game has really grown," said Brian. He thanked all the people who gave him encouragement including Chris Cree, Mike Baron, Stan Rubinsky, and Joe Edley. He recollected Joe telling him once long ago that you've got to really want it. Someone shouted out, "You got it!"

Taking the microphone, John quoted 1993 WSC Champion Mark Nyman, "Brian is at a rare loss for words." He said, we are going to give out the other prizes quickly, then we can go play more SCRABBLE®.

Brian moves off the stage, shakes more than a few hands, and takes a seat next to his mom, Holly Cappelletto.

Sherrie tells me she was criying, and a wreck! The prizes were then handed to the top 20 finishers. See results.

As the players filtered out, Steve, still at my computer, got a few final words from various players. They follow:

There was talk about big regional events for 2002, perhaps in Malaysa and the 2002 PANASA African SCRABBLE® Championships in Nairobi, Kenya in October. People are saying goodbye.

I just had my picture taken with Robin Pollock Daniel (Canada) - SCRABBLE® goddess extraordinaire. We were kissing each other for good luck through most of day three. Going into my last game, I said, "I really need a win." So, she blew me a big kiss.

The NSA bumper sticker says it all - I'd rather be playing SCRABBLE®!

Many people are swapping addresses and email addresses.

Some final words from Harshan Lamabadusuriya (Sri Lanka). "I had a great time and would very much like to come back and hopefully improve next time." Then Brett Smitheram (England) said in an Arnie voice, "I'll be back." Naween Tharanga Fernando (Sri Lanka) said, "Hasta la vista, baby."

Randy Hersom (United States) says, "I can't wait to do it again and I hope I get the chance. The finals were very exciting - interesting to see them make the same mistakes we make. I did see BALNEARY, STEWPOT, and RESOJETS, but not STRAPPY, or DOUM." I asked him if he would have coped under the pressure. He said, "Time is the real pressure. "

In his classic, upbeat way, Charlie said, "No final words. All is well. There was no controversy. I enjoyed directing."

Trevor Mark Hovelmeier (South Africa) said, "I was glad to get a 12-12 record. I had some rough games, and I'm aiming for the top 40 percent next time. I'm gonna study in the plane on the way home."

Keiichiro Hirai (Japan) said he was glad to win 12 games with a good spread. His best plays were: HIGHROAD for 82 and a 9-letter natural ALLIGATOR thru LI.

Elie Dangoor from England who came all the way to watch said, "I had a great time, the event was very well orgnaised, and it is a shame a Brit did not win, but the winner was very impressive." He saw Brian and Robert Felt (United States) testing each other on difficult British-only bingos like FOEDARIE and ENTAYLE and each spotted these words in seconds. Elie himself was struggling to find these plays in a lexicon that he's been using.

Brian's Mom, Holly, said, "I never doubted it for a moment!" She said Joel was a great champion and that Brian felt privileged to have played Joel. She also said to Brian, "win or lose, we'll be there for you when you get home."

I'm crying!!

Scott Pedersen, an independent filmmaker said,, "it was really fun. I've decided on a name for my new venture--Triple Word Score Productions." I asked when we'd see SCRABBLE®: The Movie and he said, "It will be called Scrabylon."

Sherrie takes back the keyboard. I think I'm out of a job. While I took photographs and fawned over the new champ, Steve sat and typed and typed and typed and got all these great impressions. I know I speak for him all when I say thanks.

We're all a bit sad to say goodbye. It's been a great great few days.

HASBRO is the owner of the registered SCRABBLE® trademark in the United States and Canada. © 2001 HASBRO. All rights reserved. "SCRABBLE® Brand Crossword Game" is the proper way to refer to this unique group of word games and related properties marketed by HASBRO. "SCRABBLE®" is not a generic term. To use it as such is not only misleading but also does injustice to the company responsible for the trademark's longtime popularity. All we ask is that when you mean SCRABBLE® Brand Crossword Game, you say so. 

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