Back to NASC 2016 Live Coverage
NASC 2016 Commentary: Before the Tournament
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, Round 19, Round 20, Round 21, Round 22, Round 23, Round 24, Round 25, Round 26, Round 27, Round 28, Round 29, Round 30, Round 31, After the Tournament.
Greetings from the Grand Wayne Convention Center in lovely Fort Wayne, Indiana! Players have been milling in all day, gathering their red welcoming bags, name badges, and event folders. The whole convention area is in full "welcome" mode with letter-themed throw pillows on the foyer furniture and letter-themed artwork everywhere (including inside the convention rest rooms!). Dallas and Sue Johnson, our event organizers, have the well-oiled volunteer machine working efficiently. Players received a set of NASPA tiles, a long wooden rack, and a chance to enter to win the two pairs of tickets being raffled from the Jim Gaffigan comedy show later this week.
At 7:30, the players who had rsvped were invited to the opening reception across from the convention center at the Legacy Ballroom in the Courtyard Marriott. Connie Creed (Philadelphia, PA) once again outdid herself by ordering up a smorgasborg of great food: pulled pork sandwiches, hamburgers, cheeseburgers, flatbreads (one was "Philly Cheese Steak"), and fresh vegetable crudites! Tables were adorned with fresh berry parfaits and brushed aluminum cocktail tables were perfectly positioned around the room. The room was hopping with happy players already regaling friends with stories about great plays and the like.
Artist and SCRABBLE expert, Jeremy Hildebrand, unable to attend this year, has once again outdone himself by designing our event T-shirts. See if you can spot one in the event photographs! Hint: the skinny character is Johnny Appleseed!
Art Moore, formerly the leader of the NASC's division 4, is now the incoming director (yes, he will be directing next year's NASC with wife, Diane Moore, who will be assisting directing). He tells me that he is missing his "peeps" and promises to go around and give hugs to the players later on today. He and Diane are learning the ropes from Dallas and Sue who have so beautifully run our past five nationals.
So many of us are on media this year! Patty Hocker is back doing the photos and Kate Fukawa-Connelly is on social media (look for her photos/posts on the NASPA Facebook page, etc.). About five minutes ago, Jesse Matthews, approached me with his iPhone doing a live Facebook video feed (Hey! I'm used to being behind the keyboard!). I stammered through something, not used to be being part of the story! He and Robin Pollock Daniel will be doing live commentary of the board 1 game. Both top tables in Division 1 and Collins will be annotated live so you can play with the top players (and see them if you watch the video feed!).
All the way from his club 44 in Los Angeles, Alan Stern (Shadow Hills, CA) is once again our Master of Ceremonies and he is now at the microphone (boy is that static loud!) getting us all into our places before he starts telling us his trademark jokes! He joked about Dan Quale (our vice president who once famously had trouble spelling the word POTATO) being from Indiana. He pointed out many other famous Indianins: Larry Bird, David Letterman, and Jane Pauley. He also told us NOT to play HOOSIER* should we find it on our racks, but instead to look for an open C and play cHOOSIER or its anagram: IScHORE. He told us about this year's format creating 31 "meaningful" games for all players (we had tried a playoff system last year to limited success). And, then, to create some work for us all to do later, he suggested we try to find the 310 TWL and 404 Collins words in FORTWAYNE.
Pulling the short straw, or so I thought, is Michael Early (Fort Worth, TX) at annotated table 1 in division 1 against David Gibson (Spartanburg, SC). Before they began, David confessed he was 1-3 against Mike, so this game might be more exciting than I thought! Mike bragged that he once even had a 500 game against David.
Terry Kang Rau (Rhinebeck, NY) lucked into playing right beside spouse Stefan Rau (Rhinebeck, NY) this round. Stefan and Mark Francillon (Marlboro, VT) are already battling with three plays on the board, two bingos: PATERAE# and BLaSTER.
Also in Collins-land, School SCRABBLE champ (from a few years back) Kevin Bowerman (Chapel Hill, NC) is playing Manop Phiphatboonserm (Thailand). I see EMIGrATE played to the E and POUTIEST played from the P as early plays. A little later, I walk by and see SUNBUrNs and Manop slap down DISCERNS through the first S.
Two players are late arrivers and I see Rafique Khatri (Pakistan) waiting for his game to start. A long way to come to not be able to start right away: Pakistan! Welcome Rafique! Collins director, Jason Idalski, tells me that Brent Weil (Washington, DC) should be arriving at 9:30 after an airline snafu and Brian Bowman (Villa Hills, KY) is due imminently as he'd suffered a punctured tire en route.
I think I see a bye player in division 1 as Max Panitch (Toronto ON) sitting alone, but then I notice his opponent's clock running. John Karris (San Jose, CA) is running late. A few minutes later, his hair all windswept, I see John run to his chair.
Almost unrecognizable now that he is a young man and not a tween, Mack Meller (Bedford, NY) squared off against Siri Tillekeratne (Calgary AB) this round. I see Siri's INSPIRE (fitting) and DOmINIE for 73 (put down as I watched). Fun nonbingos so far: KEYNOTE and HANGOUT. I'm drawn to the game and I can't figure out why until I spy the tiny bat on the blanks. They are playing with BAT protiles from the annual Boston Area Tournament!
Dan Stock, division 3 leader (once again our largest division), has a new enormous purple hat. He left home without any of his headwear and the convention folks told him about a nearby shop called Stoners. Well, he found an at least two-foot high mad hatter type hat in lovely shades of purple. And then, the convention folks had a fun purple baseball cap made just for him. Favoritism!
After working at the last few Nationals (including a few Canadian Nationals, too.), Jackson Smylie (Toronto ON) is here to dominate division 2. I see him playing Paul Mishkin (San Francisco, CA). Glancing over Jackson's scoresheet, I see he has played SERIFED and BETORCH for a cool opening 80 points. Jackson is sitting back in his chair, legs crossed, ELLORS? on his rack. As he writes his racks down onto his scoresheet, he uses in iPhone as a cover (face down and unused) so that the racks aren't visible to Paul. I look more carefully and see the back of Jackson's phone is covered in colorful stickers of camels!
The best goody item the players received this year (staff, too!) is a reusable water bottle with each player/worker name on the bottle! What a great token, so useful, so personalized. Thank you to the Fort Wayne Convention Center and the great folks who have welcomed us here!
I catch his trademark bandana-clad head across the room: Crayne Spanier (Toronto ON) is playing Elizabeth Davis (Dayton, OH). I see AUdILES (blank L, too) on their board and then not much else as the game wraps up. A 384-299 win for her.
Division 2 leader, Bryan Pepper, and his assistant, Kristen Chew, are looking over boards and plays and points out table 22 with the word PAINTIER on it. Did I think it was good? I was dubious, but it is!
And the other table he wanted me to see was between Flora Taylor (Chapel Hill, NC) and Chris Schneider (Chicago, IL). I knew Flora was going to be here last night when I checked out command center. Sitting there in the middle of the confusion was Flora's favorite wooden chair with the straight back on it! She had traveled here with it in her car! Nothing like making sure your back survives 31 games! Their board had HEAThENS, RETINUED, MEDIANTS, and WATAPE on it!
Jason Keller (Highland Park, NJ) walks up smiling. He is such an orange fanatic, he instinctually brought his division 1 winning slip up to the orange table cloth data input table (that is for Collins only!).
School SCRABBLE player from way back when, Andy Hoang (Cary, NC) is back this year! He is playing in division 2 in his button down shirt, looking super professional, as always. I see GALICOGS on his board with Steve Anstandig (Commerce Township, MI).
John Chew updates me. We have 415 registered players and the ones we were wondering about: Betzy Collins (Vaughan ON) and Brent Weil (Washington, DC) (of delayed flight from Chicago) are here. We are still waiting for Brian Bowman (Villa Hills, KY) and his punctured tire.
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