2013 CNSC

June 21–24, 2013

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Commentary: Before the Tournament

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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, Award Ceremony, Final Round 1, Final Round 2, Final Round 3, After the Tournament.


I headed out from Massachusetts to Toronto on Wednesday morning this week and lucked into an overnight at chez Daniel. When I arrived, Robin Pollock Daniel (Toronto ON) told me I'd just interrupted her Aerloith 12s: the kind of greeting only a SCRABBLE player could understand and appreciate! We enjoyed a late dinner, punctuated occasionally with very loud cheers (the Bruins were playing the Blackhawks on TV and this family LOVES hockey)! She's been studying fervently for the CNSC, taking occasional breaks to feed her family and attach name tags to her son's belongings (he's off to camp soon).

On Thursday evening I met up with John Chew and we brought the tournament gear to the Bond Hotel, our host facility again this year.

We arrived at 8:00 this morning and Mad Palazzo, John's codirector, had already been here for at least 30 minutes and she had most of the room set up. We worked on configuring the event's extras, where table 1 and the annotators should sit, where the screens displaying stats, etc.

John was interviewed by Space TV's Teddy during the down town between the Early Bird and the Main Event. He did a great job, joking about how Teddy could learn to crush his family members. He did a plug for the Ottawa SCRABBLE club, too! Toward the end of the interview I think Teddy asked John if he was the Jason Bourne of SCRABBLE. I'm not sure John didn't say no. :) John told his story about playing JUNKIEST for 266 and how the player he was playing resigned the game and never returned to tournament play.

Lisa Kessler volunteered to get a few of us dinner. We all pitched in a few dollars to get a Thai dish. When she came back she told us how exciting the streets of Toronto are tonight as the city celebrates the Luminda Festival. She said that there is live music, food specials at restaurants, and other happenings around the city. And, we are in the lower level of the Bond Hotel on this longest day of the year!

As players milled in and registered, Mad told them the lay of the land (be on time, fill your paperwork out right, etc.) and John pointed them toward the pairings being projected on the wall on the left side of the playing room.

Some players started games they weren't able to finish and others played enormous games of anagrams. I spotted Gabriel Gauthier-Shalom (Montreal QC) and Jackson Smylie (Toronto ON) at one table. I saw EMBARKTION, ISOGAMY, BEAUTIFY, before the tiles were scooped up in anticipation of John's comments.

John welcomed us to the 8th CNSC. He harkened back to when the event began all those years ago directed by Toronto's beloved Mike Wise. John finished 10th that year, the only time he's been able to play in the event. He asked new players to stand, then prizewinners, and then event winners. He handed out prize monies to the winners of the Early Bird today. All but two were present!

All the while, InnerSPACE cameras were rolling, even when everyone broke into the Canadian National Anthem!

Onto three games tonight!

Chris Lipe writes:

A line of Canadians snakes across the room, waiting to register for the main event. Players from all over the nation are waiting in line -- Logan, Sykes, Leah, a few Saldanhas, Tran, Smylie, Panitch. One by one these stars of Canadian Scrabble make their way through the lobby to take their place in the firmament. The greatest show that Canada has to offer is anearing, and I sit ringside to witness this moment in Scrabble history.

The trophy gleams on the table behind me, the legends of yore embossed into the side -- Logan, Wapnick, Hoekstra, Boys, Logan, Logan, Wapnick. Tantalizingly, a bare shield sits to the right of Wapnick's 2011 triumph waiting to receive the next name to be emblazoned into this pantheon. My this time Monday, a new Champion of the Great White North will have been crowned.

© 2013 John Chew. All rights reserved.

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