Anderson and Shin win at NASC

A WESPA Report

An amazing five days of Scrabble have ended in New Orleans, which served as the venue for this year’s North American Scrabble Championship.

Four divisions of TWL, joined this year by two Divisions of Collins (up from one the year before); over 300 players took part in an event that always excites. Indeed, many Scrabble fans from across the globe had reason to be interested with players from five countries (plus the hosts) taking part.

Whilst the international contingent were to be found predominantly in the Collins Division (headlined by World Number 5, Dave Weigand), the World Number 1 player, Nigel Richards was taking part in the TWL Division.

300+ players. 6 Divisons of Scrabble players. 5 days of action (4 days of 7 games and a final day of 3).

In addition to the extensive coverage on the dedicated event website, games were streamed live on Twitch (commentary by Conrad Bassett-Bouchard and Robin Pollock Daniel) with Facebook content ensuring those on social media were continually brought up to date.

For the first time, as a sign of innovation in tournament Scrabble coverage, a nightly summary show was streamed live via Facebook. NASPA Tonight was hosted by Josh Greenway (below), Conrad Bassett-Bouchard and Mike Gincel, as they fronted the camera discussing what had occurred that day, featuring player interviews.

Josh Greenway with the NASPA Tonight backdrop (Picture: NASPA)

At the end of Day 1, Alec Sjoholm (Lynnwood, WA) was leading in Division 1 with Collins Division 1 seeing two Australians (Carmel Dodd and John Holgate) leading the pack thus making for a 1v2 battle first up on Day 2. You can play through Carmel and John’s game here (including a crucial miss on Move 2). John Holgate would eventually finish 21st, with Carmel Dodd 26th.

By Day 2, there were some notable changes. Austin Shin had moved to 2nd in Collins, with Joey Krafchick (Atlanta, GA) the new leader. World Number 37, Evans Clinchy had moved from 6th to 3rd. Nigel Richards was sitting in a relatively low 10th in Division 1 as Ben Schoenbrun (Ardsley, NY) had moved up one position from second to be the new tournament leader.

Indeed, Nigel Richards’ run in the NASC this year included a series of losses at crucial times, but even so, he had managed to claw himself up to 4th by Day 3 end. Will Anderson (Croton, NY) had a 2 game lead at the top of the ladder with Ben Schoenbrun now back down to 2nd.

Evans Clinchy had gained the lead by Day 3 end in Collins though only by spread from Austin Shin. Dave Weigand was sitting 3rd, a game back but with superior spread over the two players above him.

Fans of Austin would have been able to keep up with his progress throughout through his Twitter feed; each game featuring the score, summary and notable words. They would have also caught up with his interview on the 3rd day’s NASPA Tonight, where interviewer Conrad Bassett-Bouchard noted that going 5-2 for three days straight, meant there was still a chance to win overall (a wise forecast indeed).

Any thoughts observers may have had that Nigel Richards could repeat previous years’ victories were cleared as he ended the day in 8th spot. Will Anderson had built on his lead into Day 4 and ended it being unable to lose this year’s title. Gibsonized by Game 28. Mack Meller (Bedford, NY) had made his way to 2nd, 4 games behind with Alec Sjoholm in 3rd.

Congratulations to Will Anderson, 2017 NASC Champion (Picture: NASPA)

Dave Weigand had a game and superior spread (+1974 to +1043) lead over Austin Shin at day’s end with Joey Krafchick edging back to 3rd after being a place further back at Day 3 end.

A new North American Champion had been determined already but the battle for Collins was not yet over. Dave’s win over Bradley Whitmarsh maintained his 1 game lead, Game 30 and a clash with Austin would be crucial.

You can play through Game 30 here - it was this game that brought both Weigand and Shin equal on games, meaning a head to head battle, streamed live on Twitch for Game 31 beckoned and the victor would be Champion.

The game started with an unchallenged phony, and continued with its twists and turns until SQUEaL (for 75) gave Austin the lead and another tight win…. And the title!!

You can see how he won it in Game 31.

There was one final twist in Division 1, as Nigel Richards was in striking distance of third place and a win over Alec Sjoholm would confirm that. You can play through their Game 31 here.

The 2017 National Champion had been crowned - Will Anderson. One of his quotes from his interview on NASPA Tonight was a personal favorite of Josh Greenway and was also retweeted on Twitter "I can trace the inflection point of my life getting considerably better and happier to the introduction of Scrabble"

The Collins Champion had also been crowned - Austin Shin.

And so, another NASC complete and an amazing event concludes… For some, thoughts turned to next year: as Australia’s Karen Richards noted “[next year] will be in Buffalo, on the first weekend of August.. Dates will be on Crosstables already..followed the next weekend, by a Niagara Falls event, where they are expecting up to 300 players”

Congratulations to Austin Shin, 2017 Collins Champion (Picture: NASPA)