North American Scrabble Championship Coverage

For those of you wanting to keep up with the North American Scrabble Championship we’ll be updating the website and our social media accounts throughout the entire tournament! We’ll be interviewing players and posting pictures and video. Stay tuned!

Snapchat: ScrabbleTV
Tumblr: ScrabbleTVLive
Instagram: @ScrabbleTVLive
Twitter: @ScrabbleTVLive
YouTube: @ScrabbleTVLive

We’re teaming up with Jesse Matthews to bring you consistent live updates on SnapChat.

Emily Dowgialo

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Scrabble Nationals and March Madness?

The North American Scrabble Championship is THE event of the year for the Scrabble community in the Americas. Hundreds of players from the US, Canada, and even places such as Thailand gather in some city in the US and play 31 games of intense, competitive Scrabble. This year’s championship starts very soon, on Saturday, August 1st, in sunny Reno, Nevada.

The championship has been held on a bi-yearly basis since 1978, and yearly since 2008. The top prize has been as big as $25K, although nowadays it is around $10K, mostly due to Hasbro withdrawing their sponsorship of the tournament. However, it is as fiercely competitive as ever, and for the first time, the North American Scrabble Players Association (NASPA) is hosting a March Madness style bracket contest.

Nationals this year is almost 2 separate tournaments; the top 8 players in each division after 21 games will be put in a bracket to determine the two finalists for the final day. The rest of the players will continue to play the last 10 games for other prizes. Although some players are expressing skepticism regarding this format, I am optimistic about the change and of course hope to make the top 8 in my division.

NASPA’s bracket contest, called “Bracketology”, allows NASPA members to pick who they think will make the top 8. Once the top 8 is set, the contest will change to pick the winners of the quarters, semifinals, and finalists. Those who choose best can win prizes such as entry to next year’s Nationals, or money to buy items from the NASPA store (tiles, racks, shirts, and other cool swag).

Check out my Collins Division Bracket -- who else should I pick?

Check out my Collins Division Bracket — who else should I pick?

You have to be a member of NASPA to sign up. Check it out here:
http://www.scrabbleplayers.org/w/2015_Bracketology_Contest

We’re very excited for Nationals to start this year and hope to bring you lots of cool coverage. Stay tuned!

Cesar Del Solar, Aerolith.org

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That One Time I Had Dinner With Nigel Richards

The entire world has been abuzz with news about Nigel Richards recently. In an almost unfathomable feat of mental dexterity, Nigel memorized the entire French dictionary in 9 weeks, then entered the World Scrabble Championship, in French, and won the whole thing.

We in the English Scrabble world are out of superlatives to describe him; he has won 5 US National Scrabble Championships, two World Scrabble Championships, and numerous King’s Cups (the biggest English Scrabble tournament in the world, held yearly in Thailand during the summer), among many other prestigious worldwide tournaments. Seemingly wanting more of a challenge, he decided to learn the 386,000 French words in 9 weeks – winning the 2015 King’s Cup in between – and entered this year in Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium.

For those who don’t believe he learned more than just the 7-letter words, he is known to have played a 9-letter word in Belgium. Even assuming he learned just 160K words (the approximate number of 2 through 9 letter words) that is an astonishing 2500+ all-new words per day. For reference, I usually study in 500-word chunks, and it takes me at least a couple of hours to go through one chunk, and these are mostly words that I have already seen before – it would take me significantly longer if they were all new!

In 2014, Nigel entered the U.S. National Scrabble Championship, a tournament he had already won 5 times; a friend of mine and his invited me and a small group out to dinner and I had a chance to sit next to and converse a bit with what has been described as an “enigmatic” figure. Of course, Nigel was a perfectly normal, nice, and witty guy. Much ado has been made about his “monkish”, “ascetic” or even “vegetarian” tendencies in the media, assertions he poked fun at as we enjoyed a delicious Thai dinner. Although I couldn’t let my fanboyism get the better of me, as I asked Nigel to take a selfie with me, I much enjoyed getting to know my Scrabble idol a bit.

The author's dinner selfie with Nigel

The author’s dinner selfie with Nigel

The tournament did not go that well for him; he missed a cash spot by losing the last game, one of only a handful of times in 10 years he had not gotten 1st or 2nd at a major tournament. There were assertions made by some about Nigel possibly starting to get rusty, or that people are learning to play against his strategy, to which I say it’s just variance. His dominating performance this year proves it. Although he’s not entering the US National Scrabble Championship this year, I am picking him to take the World’s crown again in Perth in November.

Cesar Del Solar, Aerolith.org

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