D.C. student on 2nd-place team at national Scrabble championship

The Scrabble culture

Kathy Stewart | November 14, 2014 6:37 pm

WASHINGTON – Scrabble-mania ran wild in D.C. on Saturday, the second and final day of the 11th annual National School Scrabble competition.

Eighty-nine two-member teams of fourth- through eighth-graders from across the county and Canada battled for a $10,000 first prize at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel. It’s the first time the competition has been held in Washington, and Sam Masling, an eighth-grader from Alice Deal Middle School, in the District, was half of the second-place team.

The team of eighth-graders Kevin Bowerman and Raymond Gao, of North Carolina, won the event and the $10,000 first prize. Masling’s teammate was Thomas Draper, a seventh-grader from New Jersey.

Competitive team Scrabble is about the words, but it’s also about math, strategy and getting along with your partner.

Andy Hoang, of North Carolina, was on the winning teams in 2009 and last year. Now he’s coaching his younger brothers, 13-year-old Kenny and 10-year-old Eric. He says he’s proud of his brothers, especially since siblings don’t always get along.

Andy Hoang says he and his own Scrabble partner, Erik Salgado, have grown to be very tight friends. “When we play a game of Scrabble, we don’t have to talk about the plays – we just know.”

Stefan Fatsis has 40 kids from D.C. public schools playing in the tournament, including his 10-year old daughter. He says he would have been happy to see a Washington team win, but he says, “What I’m thrilled about is that we have as many kids playing as we do.

“I’ve been running school Scrabble clubs here in Washington for six-years now at Janney (Elementary) and (Alice) Deal (Middle School). And we’ve expanded to other schools in city. That’s what makes me happy.”

Some of the words played this weekend included yuan (a Chinese monetary unit), paeon (a metrical foot of four syllables) and kudu (a large antelope).

The School Scrabble Program has helped more than a million kids in more than 20,000 schools nationally.

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