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!




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: 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.


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


Cesar Del Solar and Will Anderson


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,



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