North American Scrabble Championship, Day 1 – Cesar’s Report

Had an exciting first day at Nationals today. The tournament feels extra intense this year because only the first three days count to get to the final 8 bracket — so having a bad day can be super rough. Luckily I was able to save a 1-4 start by winning the last two and I’m ready to keep going!

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Div 1 at Nationals is always tough. Everyone is good, so one must make as few mistakes as possible. Will Anderson, who finished in the top 5 the last two Nationals, was matched against me in the third game and he played four bingos on me — but the first one hooked the new word SHEN with another S, making SHENS*. For a second, I considered challenging the play, but he had the bingo in a couple of other spots, and he wouldn’t have played it there unless he was sure! Unfortunately, I wasn’t 100% about it being a phony, so I felt like I had to let it go and the game pretty much ended shortly after.

My game 4 went as follows: http://cross-tables.com/annotated.php?u=21356. I plugged it into the computer trying to figure out what I did wrong. I shouldn’t have challenged OVERLEAPT, but it was a desperation challenge and if it stays I have too little of a chance to win. Oh well.

We got some deli sandwiches from Safeway. Note to self: deli sandwich people can take up to 20 minutes to make 3 sandwiches. I came back from lunch to another defeat.

In game 6, I’m at 1-4 and although I told myself that the tournament is by no means over, I started becoming discouraged and thought to make up a word against my opponent, “SUDATIVE”. He quickly challenged it, jumped out to a lead, and just when it looked hopeless, I drew the blank, and was able to bingo twice in a row and squeak out the win. My opponent was such a good sport about it as well, and it encouraged me to keep trying, and I won the next game as well.

What do Scrabble players do after games are over for the day? I eat Thai food. I went to a fantastic spot not too far from the casino called Thai Chili and stuffed myself. I usually don’t eat too much during the day at tournaments because I don’t have much of an appetite so by 7pm I was pretty ravenous.

We drove back to the hotel and ended up running into a couple Scrabble friends in the parking lot. We headed to a bar to discuss the day’s events over beers. We snapped a selfie as we walked past the large neon sign in downtown Reno, of course.

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Chris Tallman, Emily Dowgialo, Cesar Del Solar, Jesse Day

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Cesar Del Solar and Will Anderson

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Rafi Stern and Jesse Day

A Scrabble trivia contest was tonight but we didn’t end up participating. A number of teams competed Jeopardy style for a cash prize.

Here’s to a good day tomorrow, and good luck to everyone else at the tournament!

-Cesar Del Solar, Aerolith.org

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