2016 CNSC

May 13–16, 2016

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



John Chew is once again at the helm of the Canadian National SCRABBLE Championships. We arrived at the lovely Bond Hotel in downtown Toronto at 7:15am to find Mad Palazzo, CNSC assistant director, already in the parking garage, ready to start the day.

Mad and John got the room into shape for the day's first two events: The School SCRABBLE Invitational (10 teams) and the early bird (12 players). In short order, Gary Sagara, our data entry guy, and the School SCRABBLE co-directors, Vera Bigall and Sue Trembley, were in the mix, too. Soon thereafter, Josh Greenway, on social commentary, arrived. Over the course of the next few hours, we ran both events. Matthew Tunnicliffe (Ottawa ON) took the train from Ottawa yesterday so he could be here for the day's highlight: Simultaneously playing 10 games of SCRABBLE against all the School SCRABBLE teams right before their lunch break. He managed to win 8, tie 1, and lose only one game.

As the early bird finished up, main event players started to stream in. Many picked up their event gear bags and headed off for dinner. Players from the East and West coasts of Canada, converging somewhere close to the middle. I suspect there is a lot of poutine to be had!

We will be joined, soon, by a trio of annotators, listed alphabetically: Risa Horowitz, Lisa Kessler, and Jackson Smylie. Moments after I typed this, the dramatically taller Jackson walked by. I met him years ago through School SCRABBLE when he was really just a kid. Now he is a giant man!

As they arrived, the players grabbed their gear bags. This is an informal way of checking in. As we draw closer to starting time, we'll know who isn't here by the bags not yet retrieved.

Swag bags this year feature the event logo (the map of Canada represented in SCRABBLE tiles) and a pocket that includes a NASPA note pad (the better to write your name so you can tell your bag apart from the others!). Pinned to the handle, an event name tag. Inside the bag: A set of burgundy event tiles (with maple leaf blanks); a long, wooden NASPA rack; a red SCRABBLE T-shirt; and a SCRABBLE Twist game from Hasbro Canada.

So far, we've news of one car broken own en route from Montreal with two players inside. John has paired them against each other for round 1, and we hope they are here before round 2.

A car from Ottawa arrived and from within a giant suitcase emerged another suitcase: the CNSC trophy! Adam Logan (Ottawa ON) has been its steward for the past three years. It may well go home with him again if he has any say about it!

Since everyone (but Bernard Gotlieb (Montreal QC) and Andrew Golding (Montreal QC)) were here early, we started a bit ahead of time. John Chew made his opening comments, mentioning how he'd played in the first CNSC in 1996 held at the Arts & Letters Club, directed by Mike Wise. Since then, John has only run the event, not played. He reminded the players to continue the fine tradition of playing the game with great gusto and fun.

The early bird winners were singled out and and given prize money as they posed for photos with John.

Then, the tradition continued, John asked Fern Lindzon (Toronto ON) to come up and help him lead the group in O Canada (it blissful and enjoyable tune, I might add!). All the players stood and showed this American how it should be done. It was beautiful.

I might add that Sharmaine Farini agreed to be the main event alternate. It looks like we won't be needing her tonight!

The games are under way!

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