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August 15-18, 2003

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Back to SCRABBLE ALL*STARS 2003 Live Coverage

SCRABBLE ALL*STARS 2003 Commentary: Round 18

Go to: Before the Tournament, 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, Final Round 1, Final Round 2, Final Round 3, Final Round 4, After the Tournament.

Round 18

Well, words escape me. And I'm wordy.

Laura Klein thanked the committee members and everyone got an applause. Then John Williams took over the microphone and got a standing ovation from the players in the room. He said, "that means more to me than I can describe. In two days we've experienced what others will experience in about two months on ESPN. They are in for something special."

Then the games began. I ran up to get a photo of the first draw from table 2. Chris Cree (Dallas, TX) lifted the bag to draw and I got the shot. Then I noticed that he was misty eyed. He put his hand over his eyes, tilted his head down, and made an audible gulp. I'm told right before that, he and his good friend, David Gibson (Spartanburg, SC) shook hands. Then they shook with both hands, and Chris said, I don't think I can play. He tried to by drawing, but then, broke down. I moved over and realized that part of the reason Chris was crying was because David was crying, then Charlie Southwell was crying, their annotators were crying, and John Williams was crying. Laura Klein grabbed a box of tissues and brought them over. Everyone in the proximity of the game left. Jane Williams had to leave the room because she was so verklempt.

After the tissues were exhausted, they finally did begin. But the ESPN cameras weren't in the room at the time and they missed it.

I walked by a game between Robin Pollock Daniel (Toronto ON) and Joey Mallick (Cape Elizabeth, ME) and note lots of long words. Robin says, "like my play of GIRLISH?" It came from my three-I rack. I think she was losing.

So, with ESPN, Nickelodeon, and Hasbro executives standing around the first two boards, and tension so thick in the room that you could cut it with a knife, out of nowhere comes a voice from table 5. It's Marlon Hill (Baltimore, MD). He exclaims, "Same three!" I glean that he'd traded and picked the same tiles from the bag that the threw in.

As I watch David Gibson (Spartanburg, SC) and Chris Cree (Dallas, TX) play at table 2, it becomes clear that Chris Cree (Dallas, TX) is struggling. He passed EHIOOQ on his first rack and then passed UUITBC later in the game. In that time span, David played FELWORT for 86, UNSIFTED for 74, and then REBATING for 63.

Stefan Fatsis, clad in a black suit, circles the two top boards, pointing the ESPN camera toward good shots and writing on his clipboard.

At table 12, Randy Hersom (Morganton, NC) tells me about his opponent's bingo-bango-bongo and then some! Jim Kramer (Roseville, MN) played IGNIFIES to the S for 90, LOOPiEsT through the blank I for 59, and ANTISEX for 103. He then took a normal play and came back with a fourth bingo: REBAITED through the second E for 72! Randy got down INSANELY through the first N for 76.

Ron Tiekert (Alpharetta, GA) defeats chris at table 1 and David Gibson (Spartanburg, SC) defeats Chris Cree (Dallas, TX) at table 2. So, it is a Ron Tiekert (Alpharetta, GA) vs. David Gibson (Spartanburg, SC) finals.

Chris Cree (Dallas, TX) gave David Gibson (Spartanburg, SC) a good long hug congratulating him on his great play. It was truly touching.

Then the room was being torn down and we were relocating to two other new rooms and the finalists were whisked off for more interviews. Finals next!

This round's recorded game matched David Gibson (Spartanburg, SC) vs. Chris Cree (Dallas, TX).

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