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2000 NSC

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Back to NSC 2002 Live Coverage

NSC 2002 Commentary: Round 30

Congratulations to our new National Champion, Joel Sherman!

See also: video clip 1 (2 MB), video clip 2 (2 MB). (video courtesy Roger Cullman)

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.

Round 30

As I walk by table 1 in division 5, I see that Scott McDougall (Williamsburg, VA) is playing Gina DuMez (Elgin, IL) at board 1 and Mary Becker (Madison, WI) is playing Leland Fidler (Waltham, MA) at board 2. And then I walk up to division 1 to watch the end-game in what turned out to be the tournament winning game.

And, it is official, Joel Sherman (Bronx, NY) is the 2002 North American SCRABBLE® Champion. He defeated Nigel Richards (Malaysia) this round to clinch the berth, 445-363. The division 1 cage was reduced today to three tables and there was barely a square of carpet left to stand upon around table 1. Nigel and Joel played along, cool as cucumbers. At the end, Nigel held FRANCGR with more than 13 minutes on his clock. Joel held WAXTOES with 38 seconds on his clock. Nigel was incredibly quiet and methodical over the next five or so minutes. With his face resting in his left hand, the only thing that moved was his eyes, back and forth over the board, and over his tracking sheet. Neither player made much effort to hide their tracking or their scoresheets. I guess when you get this good, you know you don't have any inside info on your opponent. The five minutes went by slowly, quietly. The flower that Eve Wengler, Nigel's annotator, had behind her ear, began to go limp as the clock clicked down. Occasionally Joel raised his eyebrows and sighed quietly, waiting for Nigel to play. And, with a bit more than 5 minutes left on his clock, he did: EF/FRANC for 20. With 20 seconds and counting on Joel's clock, He shuffled his tiles and put down WAX across to the top right triple, announcing 46 and nailing the win. Nigel played out and the game was over, 445-363. We all were quiet, watching them do their paperwork in silence. Finally, the sound of one person clapping slowly, but loudly was heard. I looked up and it was Stefan Fatsis (Brooklyn, NY). Soon everyone in the cage joined in and like a wave, the whole room began to clap. In seconds, there was a thunderous applause in the hall. I'm sure that some in the back of the room didn't even know who had won, they were just joining in the celebration.

In a class act, Dave Wiegand (Portland, OR) paused the clock in the game between he and Brian Cappelletto (Chicago, IL). Brian covered his rack with this scoresheet and made his way over to Joel to join in the congratulatory hugs that began with Ann Sanfedele, moved onto Stefan, and Brian, and etc., etc., etc. Joel was a bit stunned and he looked slightly disoriented. As the victory began to sink in, Joel raised his arms in victory and a huge smile crept across his face.

Soon the cameras were rolling and the interviews were taking place between the reporters and Joel. He spoke about his Mom giving him SCRABBLE® Jr. when he was 6, beating her by age 8, and then beating his father, a very proud Mike Sherman (Bronx, NY) by age 11. About the game, he said, and I'm quoting loosely, "The thing I do best in life is SCRABBLE®, and it is a way of measuring up in a crowd of intelligent people." He was referring to his friends in this room.

As Nigel rose from the table, sliding his "lucky" green tile rack into his pocket, I asked him if the media glare bothered him. He assured me no, that he'd never seen quite so much media before, but that he was able to keep his focus on the game despite their presence.

Despite the intense attention a foot or two away, Brian Cappelletto (Chicago, IL) and Dave Wiegand (Portland, OR) went on to continue their game. They were 384-321, in Brian's favor when they resumed their game.

I talk to the annotators and they tell me that Nigel played INARABLE through the B for 64 and Joel played OUTBOxED through the U for 63 and TENUREs for 77. I guess Joel held Nigel when he played HELICOIDS, but he didn't challenge.

I run over to division 3 table 1 to find that Susi Tiekert (Alpharetta, GA) lost to Doug Brockmeier (Yorba Linda, CA), 511-326. Susi started with JEHAD for 48 and then the game was the "Doug Show." He got down OVERLIE for 89, ASTERIA for 74, CONTUsE for 71, and then CORDITE for 94.

In division 4, it looks like Norbert Saldanha (Richmond BC) defeated Dave Zimmerman (Baton Rouge, LA), 447-336. I read their paperwork in their absence to see that David played NEsTLED for 78 and Norbert played INOSITE for 70 and gLITTERS for 57.

I run by table 1 in division 6 to see that Dielle Saldanha (Richmond BC) clinched the title withe a 402-293 win against Jesse Cromer (Waxhaw, NC). I see the bingos TOtALER and SLaINTE on thier board.

Then I run (not kidding) across the room to division 5 to see the board that clinched the win for Scott McDougall (Williamsburg, VA) and it was picked up. Through gritted teeth and a smile, I asked Scott to tell me a bit about his win (that we will never be able to see!). He opened with DOILIES for 68 and that turned out to be the game's only bingo and he won, 419-301.

Back in the cage, Robin Pollock Daniel (Toronto ON) lost in a "stiff game" to Jakkrit Klaphajone (Thailand), 365-328. I see her TOQUETS and his YEARENDS through the second E. She almost blocked that bingo by playing JET, but didn't and was expressing regret. While she pulled out her PDA, Jakkrit was thumbing through his well-worn OSPD III.

Zev Kaufman (Toronto ON) in division 1 tells me about his game against Komol Panyasoponlert (Thailand). I guess Komol played the double-dboule IMPENDS for 111. Then Zev played NOISETTE for 59 followed by PALIKAR for 84, which Komol challenged. He then picks the blank and plays QUOtA down the triple lane for 84 to catch up. Then Zev cements his victory by playing MENDIGOS through the O for 63 and NUCLEoLE from the N. Final score, 497-387, Zev's win.

Division 2's table 1 has Chuck Armstrong (Saline, MI) defeating Sal Dijamco (Margate, FL), 414-365. I see Sal's REALISER for 62 and Chuck's BuRGONET for 83. In order for Sal to get the 1st place from Chuck, he needs to win his next game by 200 points!

The Joel Sherman (Bronx, NY) vs. Nigel Richards (Malaysia) game that decided the championship this round will be analyzed in the next issue of SCRABBLE® News magazine.

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