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NSSC 2009 Commentary: Round 4

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Go to: Before the Tournament, Round 1, Round 2, Round 3, Round 4, Round 5, Round 6, Final Round 1, Award Ceremony.

Round 4

Before we launch into this round, a word about last night. At 7:30pm the Narragansett Room was opened. In the large L-shaped hallway outside the ballroom, the hotel had placed three ice cream stations with fresh fruit, several flavors of ice cream, toppings (cherries, chocolate, m&ms, hot fudge, whipped cream, jimmies, toasted cocoanut, etc.), and waffle cone bowls. One station was completely nut free for those students who are allergic. Inside the playing room was a game player's paradise. Dozens upon dozens of games were set up on tables all through the ballroom: Connect Four, Twister, Boggle, Pictureka, SCRABBLE, Jenga, Catch Phrase, Yahtzee, Pictionary, Battleship, etc. Students were playing with siblings, parents, coaches. They sat on the carpet, atop the tables, at tables and just let their hair down. The hotel offered bowls of fresh fruit for those who can't do ice cream!

Additionally, upstairs in the Waterfall 1 room SCRABBLE games were going on, too. Joe Edley played game after game with students in groups of two and three who dared to take him on. I checked after his sixth consecutive game and he still hadn't lost. The students gathered around him like he was a pop star and watched his every move. He was wonderful, playing at full tilt, but also sharing some of his insight. The kids were totally wowed. Stefan Fatsis and Ben Greenwood also took on teams of students at other SCRABBLE baords interspersed between the other games. Upstairs in the quieter room Joel Sherman was several games into his marathon series of student games. It amazes me how he and Joe just play until they can't see straight sometimes. Joey Krafchick was boldly taking on New York expert Jeremy Frank and his teammate, Allison was pretty clearly winning a match with their coach when I last saw them.

Several executives from Hasbro were mingling with the students and coaches, too. Everyone from students to siblings to coaches and families declared it a marvelous event. Members of the NSA even gave every attendee a festive shell necklace as they entered the playing area.

Saturday Morning

Everyone gathered for breakfast at the Convention Center: pancakes, bacon, sausage, yogurt, juices, coffee, etc. The students were wowed. Missing team shots were taken in front of the big board and now all teams have their photos up on the web site.

Joe Edley walked by and said, "check out board 10." And there it was, three moves in: FRESCOED. This was a Bay Shore Middle School A Team (NY) vs. Ridgefield Library #2 (CT) game.

I catch Dalton School (NY) with an insoucient rack style. Their tiles are upside down, sideways, backwards.... In their game with New West Charter (CA), they opened with MENDEN*. I wonder if it stayed on the board because their opponents could pay GUILTIEs* through it for 69. Tit for tat phonies! I also spot GRItTER for 78 and QAID for 42.

A high-point Q word! QuESTIOnS down the triple lane in a game between Eastern Greene School #1 (IN) vs. Our Lady of Victory Baltimore #2 (MD). Joel Sherman tells me that QuESTIOn went down and then SUQ/QuESTIOnS was played.

On a North Clay Jr. High Team White (IL) vs. Belzer Middle School (IN) board I see WELDERS.

On an Our Lady of Victory School Floral Park #1 (NY) board, I see HINDERS/COOLS for 81 and then later SAiNTED for 78.

On a Princeton Day School (NJ) vs. Bear Branch Bingo #3 (TX) baord, I see Princeton's SEISING for 75.

Back at table 10, both sides are dealing with fun racks. One team has SLAVIO? and the other has SP?NAGE.

In their endgame, Windham Middle School #1 (NH) found URIAL and played it down the triple lane. They also got down SPoTTIER earlier on for 72.

From the "just the kind of rack you don't want your opponents to have" department: Atlanta- Pinckneyville Middle School (GA) held ATONERS and slapped down SENORITA through an open I. They also got down sEALING for 79 and TRIAGES for 64. I watch their opponents, Winterhaven (OR), just shake their heads. It was a 471-336 Atlanta win.

On a Buckingham Browne & Nichols Lower School (MA) vs. Cascade Heights Public Charter School (OR) board I see DEFUSES and TRILOGY.

Their game just over, Randolph Middle School (NC) and Eastern Greene School #2 (IN) pick up and place their tiles into 5 x 5 grids on the board. This way, the next students to play at their table will know, at a glance, that all the tiles are there.

Philly ASAP #1 (PA) vs. Glenfield Middle School (NJ). The word UNAWARE just jumps off their board.

The play CWM (one of those no vowels threes) is in the middle of a White Plains SCRABBLE Club (NY) vs. St. John Lutheran School #2 (IN) game. St. John made the play, but lost, 245-349.

A heartbreaking endgame for Lexington MA SCRABBLE Club #108 (MA). I catch them and their opponents at the challenge machine and the play EYELEt/EFt is chalenged. It is acceptable. Mohini shakes her head and they walk by the table, the game over. Somers Middle School #1 (NY) just made that outplay down the triple for 32, going out to win the game, 389-346 (with tiles left on the Lexington team's rack). I see BEAMERs for 77, played by the Lexington team, but it just wasn't enough. I look over the scoresheet and see a series of high-scoring short plays: WIZ, XI, SUQ, DJINN for the Somers' team!