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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: Final Round 1

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.

David Gibson wins the first round 394-345, bingo-ing RETRAINS, ENCRUSTS, TUTORiAL.

Finals: Round 1

It took us longer to start than we anticipated, but we are indeed underway!

The players are cloistered off in the Finals Room with a giant jib (a SCRABBLE® word!) camera (also called a crane) and two other stationary cameras focused on each player. I ran down to that room to see the crew preparing. There was a mist machine shooting out so that the light angles were more visible. The jib camera has a 14-foot arm and can swivel to virtually any angle in the room. When Ron Tiekert (Alpharetta, GA) and David Gibson (Spartanburg, SC) entered the room, they were both nervous. They sat at their appointed spots and waited for the jib to be lowered and the lights to come up for their pre-game handshake. I finally was given permission to squeeze off two digital photos when they weren't filming (flash photography is a BIG no-no here) and then I ran back to the Stadium Room.

Rod MacNeil, back for today, has counted about 80 people in the room for this first round and a good half of them are players. They are now shouting plays with wild abandon. Many All*Stars participants in the front few rows, and Marlon Hill (Baltimore, MD) and Jan Dixon are even standing up to get a better view.

The first few plays were hard, since the camera couldn't get the racks so well.

As I'm typing, Chris Cree (Dallas, TX) comes over to help me catch up. I was behind due to technical problems. The score right now is 273-217, David is ahead and ready to make another play. Up to this point, the game highlights have been David's three bingos: RETRAINS through the N, ENCRUSTS through the T (Chris says CURTNESS might have been a better play), and TUTOrIAL from the first T. Chris tells me that Ron has done well with the letters he's been getting, and he's only down a bingo, although three have been placed against him.

Ron's rack balance has been poor so far, but there is a long way to go.

If anything I type sounds intelligent, it is because Chris is feeding me the information.

"What Gibson does extremely well," says Chris, "is play defense. He is now blocking."

David just picked the Q and Rod tells me that there is at least a U left.

"We are getting down to the nitty gritty, but we don't have the Q out or the blank. Maybe Ron is hoping for a Q-stick."

The room is very loud with Jan Dixon, Joe Edley (Coram, NY), and Marlon Hill (Baltimore, MD) shouting out plays. Stefan Fatsis and Cara Capuano, the ESPN television personality, are trying to talk to each other and the camera with all this cacophony going on in the room.

"It is academic from here on out. Gibson just drew the last blank," says Chris.

The room is quiet, except for Jan. We're waiting for Ron to play. There are four letters left in the bag and he is down by 65 points, 337-272.

It appears that the cameras are getting better with the racks. :)

Joe Edley (Coram, NY) shouts out, "Can anybody think of a 9?" The room is quiet, thinking it over.

Chris thinks that Ron had to play FORB as a desperation play to open up the board and see if his opponent has the blank or the Q. He played FOR, is playing Gibson for the Q and a possible stick. So it is 337-296, with one tile left in the bag. Sadly for Ron, it looks like this is David's game.

"Ron has finally drawn himself a rack in rack 12" shouts Chris into the room. He holds MEDIANT.

The camera is focusing on the board and the players. Ron's got his chin in his right hand. Gibson's play of TOQUE takes a T for TOQUET. Had Ron drawn the E and not the N, he would have had MEDIATE and would have pulled out the win. But it doesn't work that way this time around.

Chris thinks David got away with bloody murder with that play!

By the look on David's face, he just figured out the play he almost let slip by! He raised his arms, puffed his cheeks out, and shakes his head on the plasma screen tv. The room erupts in a roar of understanding. He dodged a bullet there.

He is STILL shaking his head in that room. We don't have the audio to hear what they are saying, but we can all imagine what he's saying. Game ends, 394-345.

This round's recorded game matched Ron Tiekert (Alpharetta, GA) vs. David Gibson (Spartanburg, SC).

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