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NSSC 2009 Commentary: Round 5

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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 5

We began the second game today, round 5, with some brief comments from Hasbro VP Phil Jackson. He talked about Hasbro's 15 years of involvement in School SCRABBLE and how delighted the corporation is at the growth of the program. He mentioned many stars, including LeBron James, Ellen Degeneres, Oprah Winfrey, Kurt Schilling, Jimmy Kimmel, etc., all of whom claim that game play was a large part of their development and that it led directly to their successes as adults. The players enjoyed the thought of being like the stars. He congratulated them on taking part in the 7th annual School SCRABBLE Championship and then he told them they could begin the round!

Today The Providence Journal featured a piece on the NSSC that appeared on the front page of Section B. A large photo of Western Hills Middle School (RI) was flanked by a smaller photo of a Katie from Our Lady of Victory Baltimore #2 (MD) and a crowd shot of anxious parents and coaches peering over the velvet rope at the happenings on the game floor!

Joe Edley's favorite play early into the round was POLYMER that went down in a Bloomfield Public Library (IN) vs. Janney Elementary School #2 (DC) game.

At table 1, Windham Middle School #1 (NH) is playing under the glare of lights, cameras, and a lot of attention. In stark contrast to the stress that this amount of focus might create for another student, Bradley Robbins is sitting with his legs crossed, looking off into the distance as he ponders plays. This kid is one cool cucumber!

New West Charter (CA) is playing St. John Lutheran School #2 (IN) this round. Their coach and a team parent sit on the sidelines and watch quietly from a distance. They've all come from Los Angeles, so this was a long trip to play SCRABBLE! Before I talk about the New West rack, I need to emphasize that there are a total of six Ts in the game of SCRABBLE. As I walked by, the New West rack was ZITTTTT. They played off a few tiles and their next rack was IUDTTTT. I wanted to admonish them for poor rack balance, after the game was done, but when they said they won, 457-268, I decided that they probably did all the right things in that game!

I watched Somers Middle School #1 (NY) vs. Glenfield/Collins Elementary Schools (NJ) for a bit this round at table 3. At one point, holding IIINR?, the Somers team opted to trade three Is and score zero points for that turn so that they could more quickly work toward a bingo. On their board, I see UNTRIED, SLEIGHT, and RATDOGS*.

Ridgefield Library #1 (CT) and Atlanta- Pinckneyville Middle School (GA) are having a heated game this round. I see Ridgefield's OUtDARED played to the D for 83 and Atlanta's EVASION for 92 points. As I watch, Atlanta places a late-game bingo down: INSTATE, which hooked the A to create AGIN for 71. Continuing in their undefeated way, the Atlanta team won, 393-332.

A nonbingo, but pretty outplay was made by Our Lady of Victory School Floral Park #2 (NY): WARRIOR played to the R, front-hooking PAL to create OPAL. Despite this nice play which stuck their opponents with a full rack, Eastern Greene School #1 (IN) won that game, 391-227.

On a North Clay Jr. High Team Red (IL) vs. Bear Branch Bingo #2 (TX) board: BANGErS and HITTING.

At the Princeton Day School (NJ) vs. Belzer Middle School (IN) game at board 9, all four players get up suddenly. The play REJOINT/TRI* has been challenged and they have tromped off to the machine to check it out. The play came up.

Most of the games finished this round, Mount Pleasant Christian School #2 (MD) and Cascade Heights Public Charter School (OR) take their time picking up the tiles from their game and putting thme into 5x5 blocks in the corners of the board. I think they are moving slow because they know we have lunch before the last game and that is 15 minutes from now.

Franklin has been giving away Franklins every round to 8 lucky players and coaches chosen at random. Some of the winners so far have been Danie Lavios, Katie Nissen, H.N. Heiny, Parker Sutton, Holly Denman, Michael Hubbard, Sara Heiny, Jon Zachary Forbes, Marty Dawson, Max O'Connell, Maya Leete, Kyle Rohmer, Even McCarthy, Allison Fisher, and many many more. Thanks to Franklin for these valuable and wonderful door prizes. The kids squeal every round to see if they've been chosen!

Committee member, Donna Paul, is the SCRABBLE Lady in Oregon where she runs School SCRABBLE events. She has been sending highlights from the NSSC to her fans and followers back in Oregon. Her most recent letter mentions that all eight that traveled with her, arrived in good shape. She highlighted that Trevor Swope from Winterhaven (OR) is here for his third year. In his first year of play, he came with Quincy Cerabino-Hess, who is now part of the Windham Middle School #1 (NH) team. Two other students from her stable are here for the second time, the Walagua Jr. High (OR) team.