Back to NSC 2002 Live Coverage
NSC 2002 Commentary: Before the Tournament
Congratulations to our new National Champion, Joel Sherman!
Go to: Before the Tournament, Round 3, Round 4, Round 5, Round 6, Round 7, Round 8, 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 23, Round 24, Round 25, Round 26, Round 27, Round 28, Round 29, Round 30, Round 31, After the Tournament.
A total of 900 people were expected to show up for tonight's shindig. Measuring the lines at the various buffets, I think we reached that number! The foyer, which earlier in the day had served as a giant registration room, was transformed into the party space. To give us more mingling room, the breakfast area, Plaza Hall, was opened as well. Spouses, children, and friends, all with name tags that read "reception guest" were mingled in.
It's hard to pick the highlights, because depending on where one was in the room, the highlights differed! Lori Gaut (Valencia, CA) decided to give Diane Firstman (Brooklyn, NY) a run for the title as "tallest woman in the room" by wearing extremely high heels. Her legs, already nearly 6-feet long, were even longer. When she and Diane met up, they measured and Diane still won!
Stefan Fatsis (Brooklyn, NY) and his wife, Melissa Block, showed up with baby Chloe. For Susi Tiekert (Alpharetta, GA), Jan Dixon (Wilmington, DE), Mike Baron (Corrales, NM), and Kathy & Chris Cree (Dallas, TX), there was no doubt that this was their evening's highlight. Everyone took turns handing Chloe around and cooing at her perfect little features.
Travis Chaney (Van Buren, AR) has the most intelligent and interesting rationale for his hair design. As he explained it, the design is inspired by an American painter of the 1940s and 50s who worked exclusively in geometric designs. His wife, who has an artistic bent, made the precise designs on his closely cropped coif.
A funny moment for competing venders. Pamela Hunter (Ottawa ON) handed Sam Kantimathi (El Dorado Hills, CA) a camera with which to take a photo of her and a friend. Once Sam had the viewfinder focused, he found Pam posing beside Gene Tyszka (Mississauga ON)! I think two photos were taken with smiles for everyone.
The buffets were overloaded with everything from cheeses to sushi to stuffed mushrooms, fajitas, a pasta bar, several cool cakes with the SD NSC logo atop. Open bars serving wines, beers, and sodas were all over the rooms.
Ann Sanfedele, Division 2 word judge, said she had a real ball at the reception. Her nickname in the early days was "Fancy Deli" and all the players who knew her with that name crowded around and talked about the earlier days of SCRABBLE® in the Big Apple. Ann was one of the original players who used the Funk & Wagnall's dictionary as the word source. She played in the Game Room and was an original member of the first Manhattan SCRABBLE® club run by Milt Wertheimer (a past NSC game annotator who couldn't be here due to eye trouble this year) attended by old-timers like Charlene White (Kearny, NJ), Steve Pfeiffer, John Silber (NSC word judge), and Steve Tier (Rego Park, NY) among others.
Brian Knudson (Culver City, CA) dressed up unusually with a "nice rack" t-shirt and fluffy, high black furry boots.
Since the day was so lovely, many players chose not to register until the reception, so many staff members worked behind the registration desks trying to get the players registered. Everyone had great stories about their days at the zoo, on the trolleys, and around the Gaslamp District.
We are all looking forward to the games tomorrow!
The 2002 National SCRABBLE® Championship has begun! The contestents flooded into the playing room through six sets of giant double doors at 8:45 am. Anticipation and excitement radiated on the their faces. They oohed and aahed at the size and appearance of the Convention Center's swanky Golden Hall. The upper walls are covered in a black material with an overlay of large gold squares that reach up to an acoustically sloped ceiling. The lower walls are covered in a lovely wine-colored rough sisal that matches the three patterned carpet to a T. The colors and the architecture combine to give off an air of opulence.
The players settled into their tables and removed the cellophane from the games and set them up. A few minutes later, Laura Klein, the event coordinator, started her opening comments. First and foremost, she introduced this year's committee. And it is taking about 30 committee members and the NSA staff to pull off the NSC this year! Other comments included keeping the tiles at the games and where each round's paperwork was to go.
John D. Williams, the NSA Executive Director, made a few brief comments as well. He reminisced about the 1989 NSC where the prize fund was a mere ~$18,000 (in contrast, this year $90,000 will go out in prizes). The reception snacks back then were a bag of chips and some soda and now we are sharing stuffed mushrooms and sushi. He spoke about how we all share in the success of this event.
Then he shifted to a more serious note, introducing the new policy about inappropriate behavior in competitive SCRABBLE® play. The NSA Advisory Board, Hasbro Legal, and the NSA staff have been working for the past year to craft a document that will help directors address uncomfortable and questionable behavior (including foul or offensive language directed at players or staff, disruptive behavior, and/or intimidation) in competitive SCRABBLE® play. Directors will be empowered to handle situations as "they deem appropriate," as we adopt this zero toleranace policy. The policy will help us encourage the growth of an enriching, fun, safe, and nurturing environment whether we play at clubs, regional tournaments, or National SCRABBLE® Championships.
He ended his comments on a funny note, putting to rest the "rampant rumor" about Word Gear Protiles having three blanks to each set. Smiling, he said, "I can assure you that they only have two blanks each!"
Games began shortly thereafter and the tile bags were rattling loudly in unison.
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