August 3–8, 2007
Dayton, OH

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PC 2007 Commentary: Round 31

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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, 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, Award Ceremony.

Round 31

Well, as everyone now knows, our Players Champion this year is James Leong (Vancouver BC). According to their annotators, the game was a close one with the players trading bingos on turn 3: James' PAGUrID for 72 and Jerry's QUIETUDe for 73. Opponent, Jerry Lerman (Foster City, CA) also got down ARSINES for 69. In the endgame, Jerry missed OTALGIC, which would have been an outbingo and would have given him the win. But it is no use dwelling. They both played marvelously to get to top table and battle for the win. The second he won, James totally disappeared. After a few minutes, more like half an hour, I asked his buddy, Jesse Day (New Haven, CT) about him. He laughed and said, "Oh, he is great! He is checking out of his room now." The glamour of winning the top tournament!

I've been asked many times about who this James is. And I made mention of it in earlier commentary. Well, to the rescue arrived an e-mail that I'm just gonna share pretty much as it came:

"I'm not certain if it is indeed you who is writing the marvelous commentary at the Player's Championship in Dayton; however, I noticed your comment alluding to not having much "inside info" on James Leong, and thought I'd rectify that in a small way.

"James plays at the Vancouver B.C. club, and has for several years. I believe that he was introduced to competitive SCRABBLE® by Judy McLean, our former director and a marvelous SCRABBLE® player, when he was a student of hers. James is about to begin his second year of law school at UBC. He is charming, funny, modest, soft-spoken and brilliant young man. He is a talented pianist and apparently quite the fancy footworking fellow on the video dance machines.

"James is always friendly to new players, and graciously shares ideas to assist them in developing their game. He has offered lessons as fundraisers to help defray expenses when our other stellar young player, Dean Saldanha, was attending Worlds. At social get-togethers, James is always genuinely nice even when he gets stuck playing losers such as myself (a 1300-rated player) and finds something to compliment in his opponent's play always.

"We are so proud of James!!! He is a marvelous ambassador for our club and for the game we all love. GO JAMES!!!!--Erika Werdal and all the gang at VSC"

I couldn't say it any better than Erika and I thank her for sending in the lowdown on our new champion!


As the players got ready to play this game, Chris Cree (Dallas, TX) asked them to hold up on starting. He wanted EVERYONE'S attention. Once he had it, he told them that about 1.5 months ago, Bob Schoenman called him to make a great offer. Chris proceded to do a Bob imitation: to the point, with a dry Southern twang. The upshot is that Bob shipped boxes of FREE Protiles to the Players Championship, enough so that the winner of each game could get a set of tiles. So, as the winners turned in this result's slip, they got to pick a set of Protiles. Many colors, were offered, too. Kudos to Bob for this terrific donation. If you didn't win a set, check out all the options at: protiles.net and get a set of your very own!

Marcia Wade (Muncie, IN) tells me, on her way out of the room, that for the many years she has played at these National events, she's never won a set of tiles. And when her late husband played, he never won a set either. But today, the tides changed! She won a set of Protiles! She was delighted at this change of fate and left the venue with a skip in her step.

Carlene Wallis (Sparks, NV) defeated Michael Wolfberg (Westford, MA), 437-399. Their board was covered in nice words: SANITIZE, ?ALIFATE, TOOTHERS, DIRTIERS, EUPNOEAS, and S?OALER.

A word I heard a lot as a child is on a Chris Bonin (Toronto ON) vs. Fraser Simpson (Toronto ON) board: TOWHEAD, and I also see BANTIeS, both played by Fraser.

Carol Ravichandran ran a division at the event, but her real calling, I'm certain, is as a stand-up comedian. As she was getting ready to turn in her black and white referee shirt, she deadpanned to me, "This is the only tournament I've ever been at where you have to them the shirt off your back."

Carol was one of the division directors, Matt Hopkins in div 3, the other, who had a chance to work with Kyle Widergren this event. Kyle is the son of Jeff Widergren, a well-known expert player and tournament director from the West Coast. Kyle flew here on Saturday, on standby all the way across the country, I was told, to help out. It didn't take long for us to find a spot for him! Kyle did assistant duties, such as checking result slips as they came in. All this is great experience for Kyle. He's recently passed the NSA director test and has interest in running touranments of his own one day. Matt told me that it warmed his heart to know that long after he was through running tournaments that someone else would have an interest in doing it. When he first arrived, I was surprised and concerned. Where would he stay? He assured me that he'd hooked up with a roomful of young buck players and he was staying with them. Nice to have you here, Kyle!

As I approached the end board at table 1 in div 4, which was between Mark Garrod (East Lansing, MI) and Kelly McKenzie (Newport, KY), their third at this event, Kelly said, "Oh a blind monkey would have won this game. It was a 462-309 win for Kelly. Oh, and Mr. Modestly also won his division with this win. Yeah Kelly!

I catch Jerry Lerman (Foster City, CA) talking to John Chew, after his round 31 loss. He admitted it was an unlikely word for him to miss: OTALGIC, as the word means "pertaining to pain in the ear." Jerry wears hearing aids in both of his ears and, as such, is more aware than most of us, about the vocabularly of the ear. He was philosophical about the loss. We all are going to miss words, it is just part of the game we play. He was happy for James and for himself for coming in 2nd.

A bet made before the event started, took on real meaning this round. Cecilia Le (Boston, MA) and Jesse Day (New Haven, CT) made a $1 bet about who would do better in the event. As luck would have it, they were matched up in round 31. It was Jesse's win of both the game and the $1, as he ended the event with a better record than Celia!

On her way out, taking our dear volunteer, Alba, with her, Teresa Schaeffer (Potomac, MD) tells me about a 9-letter word she made this event: PARDONING through the AR.

Joel Sherman (Bronx, NY) shows me his last round board with Stan Miranda (Albuquerque, NM). Joel played AGUEWEEDS for 64 through separated tiles: the U and the third E in the word. Wow!

Congratulations to all our winners!

This round's annotated game featured: James Leong vs. Jerry Lerman.