Wallace wins first place in Scrabble tournament

Wednesday, April 20, 2005
Naomi Wallace of Monette was declared Division Three first place winner in a National Scrabble Association sanctioned tournament. (Town Crier photo/Nan Snider)

Naomi Wallace of Monette was declared Division Three first place winner in a National Scrabble Association sanctioned tournament, held in St. Louis March 19-20, with an accumulative score of 601.

Wallace won seven games and lost three during the scrabble round robin, before reaching the final round to defeat opponent David Greamaund and win the day's division title. There are 10 games in the initial scrabble round robin paring system, with the winner of the last round to be named "King of the Hill." Players use a chess clock, and each opponent has 25 minutes to play. Going over time means a loss of 10 points each second.

"My very first game of the tournament proved to be one of the most interesting I have ever played," Wallace said. "My opponent played the word HEADMAN, which was a bingo, meaning using all seven tiles at once for an extra 50 points plus the value of the score. He expected me to challenge his play, but I chose not to, because I needed the "N" in his word to play all seven of my letters also for another bingo. If I had challenged his play, he would have had to remove his play and lost his turn.

"There are only two "N" tiles in the whole 100 and we both had one each to play. Another oddity was that we both bingoed on our first play of the game. Director Andy Yates came over and took a picture of us and the game to be used in the competition for unusual plays at the board. We had a lot of fun out of that game.

"Of the three games I lost in the beginning, I felt I had misplayed on one of them, but tried not to rehash it in my mind.I don't tile track, but I keep up with the "Q" or the "Z", because there are just a few words that you can make without them. You can play the word "ZAT" now. I always try to save an "A" or a "T" and hang on to a blank with dear life. The letter "Z" is easier to play, when you get down to the last. I also keep track of the four "S" tiles.

"When I sat down to play that last game, I didn't even know it was the finals. My opponent said, 'I guess you know we are playing for the championship?' and I replied, 'Oh no, you've got to be kidding.'

"My opponent was an excellent player and had already beat me once that day. He was drawing bad tiles that time and appeared to be frustrated. He played a bogus word, which I called, and he told me he had been desperate.

Wallace said she was very fortunate and drew good tiles during that final game. She used what she had to play as tight a strategic game as possible.

"I played the best game I had ever played in tournament play, but I had good luck with my drawing," Wallace said. "I have played a lot of games that I was dissatisfied with my playing, but not this time."

The top three winners were announced in each division, and Wallace was awarded a check for $230.

Wallace started playing scrabble in 1980, and has played in several national tournaments, which include Atlanta, Reno, Las Vegas, and Providence. She is making plans to attend another national tournament in August of this year.

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