Sunday, September 13, 2009

And then there were three

Posted by Brad Mills
Congratulations to Lisa Green, who has joined Chris Ross in becoming an apprentice NASPA director at our club. Like Chris, Lisa has chosen me as her mentor and is now authorized to co-direct club and tournament activities under my supervision. When I feel she has learned enough, NASPA will be notified and Lisa will become a director in full.

Lisa has already successfully directed her first club session - our September 2 meeting at Los Agaves - and professionally and fairly handled an unusual pairing situation which occurred during that session. Kudos to her for a good job keeping us in line and keeping things moving.

One of the things about being a Scrabble club and tournament director is this: it's truly a labor of love. It's not a paid position, it's a lot of work, and all eyes are upon you for leadership and guidance. You've really got to give it your all to be successful at it. I'm happy to see our two new directors stepping up to the plate of their own accord despite these obstacles, and I'm glad I've been able to provide an example they think is worth emulating.

Stay tuned, folks, as our club continues to evolve and grow.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

A new director in town

Posted by Brad Mills
Congratulations to Chris Ross, who has passed the NASPA director's test and is now an apprentice director at our club. Chris is now authorized to co-direct Scrabble club and tournament activities under supervision of a mentor. When his mentor feels he is ready to fly solo, NASPA will be notified of such and Chris will become a full-fledged director.

Chris has chosen me as his mentor. I'm very pleased by his effort in getting the test completed so quickly - less than 24 hours from ordering it to passing it - and with only three missed questions. I hope to train him well.

There are quite a few learning opportunities for our padawan over the next few months, including the Mountain State Open, a possible inter-club showdown against Lexington's NASPA Club 637, and the 5th Annual WV Scrabble Tournament (details of which will be announced in the near future - has it been five years already?). And, of course, our regular club meetings - two or three of those each month.

Awesome job, Chris - your club is proud of you.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

In memoriam

Posted by Brad Mills
Scrabble friends:

Our club was officially started on May 24, 2005 with three founding members - my wife Martha Mills, her father Arnold Keaton, and myself as director. Arnold instilled in Martha a love for this game, and she in turn instilled it in me. So had it not been for Arnold, our club probably would not exist.

From these humble beginnings, we have met many interesting people, made lots of good friends, and had several successful tournaments. We have passed the love of the game along to numerous new people, encouraged other new clubs in the area, and made contributions to the Scrabble community regionally and nationally. We have seen one of our members and friends go on a whirlwind Scrabble tour. We have ridden the ratings curve (both up and down), we have watched the coming and going of Scrabulous, and we have transitioned our club and members over to NASPA, the new player-run organization.

We truly owe it all to this gentle man.

We lost Arnold on Sunday to pulmonary fibrosis. His passing leaves an empty spot in our club and in our hearts.

Thank you for everything, Arnold. You will be missed.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

WVA vs. WPA Smackdown results

Posted by Brad Mills
Twelve players met in Clarksburg, WV today for the first ever WVA vs. WPA Smackdown. West Virginia was represented by six players and Western Pennsylvania was represented by six other players. Over seven rounds, each team member played everyone from the other team once with a king of the hill final.

Here are the results with cash prizes awarded to the top three finishers. Dollar amounts won follow players' seeds and team designations below - class prizes were awarded to those who didn't finish in the money.
  1. 6-1 +547 1051 1083 +32 Aaron McGuffin (#4/WVA): $120
  2. 6-1 +183 819 899 +80 Martha Mills (#7/WVA): $70
  3. 5-2 +340 1104 1116 +12 M W Schroeder (#2/WPA): $50
  4. 5-2 +171 1116 1125 +9 Brad Mills (#1/WVA)
  5. 4-3 +60 792 805 +13 Zosima Gingerich (#8/WVA)
  6. 3-4 +170 572 590 +18 Rafael Barker (#12/WVA)
  7. 3-4 +115 903 888 -15 Tina Totten King (#6/WVA)
  8. 3-4 -339 773 775 +2 Joe Larson (#9/WPA)
  9. 2-5 -239 1079 1027 -52 Ed Vith (#3/WPA)
  10. 2-5 -274 707 698 -9 Sarah Burroughs (#10/WPA)
  11. 2-5 -379 594 594 +0 Michelle Gaynord (#11/WPA)
  12. 1-6 -355 930 872 -58 Stanley Angrist (#5/WPA)
High loss: Stan Angrist, $10
High win: Brad Mills, $10
Most average finish: Zosima Gingerich, Bananagrams

West Virginia won 27 games while Western Pennsylvania won 15. Joe Larson brought one of his famous Scrabble sculptures as a trophy for the winning team, and it has come home to the house of the winning team's captain to be displayed prominently until next year when we (hopefully) do this again.

My thanks to all the players who participated, and thanks to co-director Terry Schroeder for helping plan the logistics, keeping me sane, and entertaining us with her poetry.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

4th Annual WV Scrabble Tournament - final results

Posted by Brad Mills
Here are the money winners, and our website has full results.

Division A
  1. 11.0-1.0 +1126 1545 1741 +196 Daniel Stock (A12) $420
  2. 8.5-3.5 +515 1823 1844 +21 Brian Bowman (A2) $195
  3. 8.0-4.0 -225 1629 1686 +57 Kelly McKenzie (A8) $120
Oddball prizes in Division A
High play: AMBIANCE for 158, Marty Gabriel, $10
Mystery letter (H): THREATEN for 95, Jeff Cook, $10
High loss: 439, George Viebranz, $10
High win: 543, George Viebranz, $10

Division B
  1. 11.0-1.0 +993 1476 1583 +107 Tyler Hannan (B2) $375
  2. 9.0-3.0 +421 1439 1499 +60 Jack Eichenbaum (B5) $180
  3. 9.0-3.0 +176 1447 1495 +48 Gary Perman (B4) $100
Oddball prizes in Division B
High play: SHAKIEST for 107, Robb Griffith, $10
Mystery letter (P): SENOPIA for 88, Bruce Shuman, $10
High loss: 431, Katya Lezin, $10
High win: 557, Karen Smith, $10

Division C
  1. 10.0-2.0 +761 1100 1191 +91 Justin Bailey (C4) $320
  2. 8.0-4.0 +445 1134 1159 +25 Susan Blanchard (C2) $165
  3. 8.0-4.0 +121 1085 1112 +27 Cecilia Huber (C7) $90
  4. 8.0-4.0 +69 1039 1078 +39 Joyce Stock (C10) $65
Oddball prizes in Division C
High play: REHOUSES for 158, Noah Lieberman, $10
Mystery letter (V): VISITOR for 97, Nandini Dickens, $10
High loss: 452, Aaron McGuffin, $10
High win: 535, Noah Lieberman, $10

Division D
  1. 9.0-3.0 +317 800 846 +46 Peggy Grant (D3) $245
  2. 8.0-4.0 +960 746 802 +56 Jason Luci (D7) $120
  3. 8.0-4.0 +455 721 804 +83 Robert Stanton (D8) $65
Oddball prizes in Division D
High play: JENNIES for 105, Joe Larson, $10
Mystery letter (V): DEPRIVES for 85, Zosima Gingerich, $10
High loss: 396, Joe Larson, $10
High win: 473, Joe Larson, $10

Thanks again to everyone who was a part of this, regardless of how large or small a part you played. Looking forward to seeing everyone again at the Mountain State Open and at our 2010 event.

4th Annual WV Scrabble Tournament - round 11

Posted by Brad Mills
Things are running smoothly here so I have time for a quick update. Dan Stock is leading Division A. If Stock loses to Jeff Cook and Brian Bowman beats top seed Marty Gabriel, Bowman could catch Stock in the last round. Tyler Hannan is facing Jack Eichenbaum in Division B and looking at a Gibson if he wins it. Divisions C and D are very close races - Justin Bailey is leading C and Jason Luci is leading D.

Looks like the Stock and Cook game just finished, so we will have answers very soon.

4th Annual WV Scrabble Tournament - round 9

Posted by Brad Mills
Today is the final day of the tournament and the players are in round 9. We had a few morning announcements, a few show-of-hand votes on our future events, and the revelation of the winners of two of our side contests. Jack Eichenbaum won the Great Gas Giveaway prize of $32.99, which was computed by assuming a 15-gallon tank and this morning's price of $2.199 as reported at the Chevron station a few blocks from the hotel. Jack announced he doesn't even have a car, but since the plan all along was to give the cash equivalent of this prize anyway, it's all good.

Brian Bowman won the Speed Scrabble contest last night after 4 rounds of elimination brackets. Brian will become a NASPA member through December 31, 2010 and added $20 of his own money to get a vanity number (which I shan't reveal at this time).

One final note - Linda Hoggatt does not feel well this morning and has dropped out of the tournament, so there is now a bye in Division B. I've been told there could be a bye in Division C in the last round too, so it looks like the last day is going to be interesting, to say the least.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

4th Annual WV Scrabble Tournament - round 8

Posted by Brad Mills
Official play will soon be wrapping up for the evening. Here are a few notable plays I've been asked to take note of over the last couple of rounds.

In Division A, Jeff Clark made SUNFLOWERS through OWE. I didn't catch the score. Given the board he was playing on at the time had bright yellow Protiles, not only was it a beautiful play in its own right, it was quite apropos.

In Division B, Dave Moersdorf made YAWP and PREHEATED for 78 points by laying down a single P on the triple word score square at A15. Katya Lezin was his victim, and she was as thrilled to see the play as Dave was to find it.

Speed Scrabble tonight starting at 8:00 with five minutes of play per side and one point per second penalties applied for overtime. Traditionally Marc Broering has won this contest, but since he's unfortunately not here this year, someone else is going to get a crack at it.

4th Annual WV Scrabble Tournament - round 6

Posted by Brad Mills
Slight delay in the start of round 6 due to three games being recounted and the milling about of the next opponents patiently waiting for the recounts to conclude. During the lull, Jeff Clark pointed out to me the current high word for both Divisions A and B is the same word - ZOISITES. The score in Division A is 114, and the score for Division B is 104. Just for kicks, I checked the words for C and D as well - they are ZEALOTS for 100 and SCOLDER for 95, respectively.

Everyone is once again bent over boards, so it's time for me to check the candy table again - thanks to Tina Totten King for providing sweets for this event. And thanks to Dallas Johnson for providing interesting color and Internet coverage at his events, from whom I was inspired to provide same to you, dear reader.

4th Annual WV Scrabble Tournament - round 4

Posted by Brad Mills
A correction to the previous posting - Jack Eichenbaum has turned in a score of over 500. Katya Lezin has not. The score slip received had the players' scores reversed and has been corrected after consulting with the players in question.

Round 4 is in progress and some of the result slips have been turned in already. A break for lunch will follow, then games 5 through 8 starting at 2:30 this afternoon.

From round 2, I saw FIStULAE and ROULETTED in the game between Pete Zeigler and Brian Bowman and patted myself on the back for knowing the blank was a T. Looks like I remembered something from high school Biology after all!

In Division D, Rob Stanton from Huntington, WV and Peggy Grant from Columbia, SC are tied for first place and duking it out to see who will emerge as the morning's leader. They're near the end of their game, and from what I saw, it looks like they're currently separated by only six points. It's going to be a close one, for sure. Meanwhile, in Division A, Dan Stock remains undefeated and is playing George Viebranz.

Good competition and good times - that's what this game is all about.

4th Annual WV Scrabble Tournament - round 2

Posted by Brad Mills
Round 1 results are in and the players are hard at it in round 2. Three players - Margaret Yoder, Katya Lezin, and Steve Grob - have already posted scores over 500 and are strong contenders for high win. The tourney is young, however, so anything can happen at this point.

George Viebranz is chugging Mountain Dew as he plays Jeff Clark in division A, and caffeine is in abundance this morning with at least 16 caffeinated beverages at last count, including at least one green tea, one huge Starbucks cup, and one coffee mug with Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer on it.

Early bird results from last night are posted at our web site, and live coverage updated at least once per hour can be found at - pop in and see how things are going.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

A club by any other name...

Posted by Brad Mills
Followers of this blog - and visitors to our website - may have noticed a few changes starting yesterday. In addition to now being NASPA Club #620, we are now the Kanawha Valley Scrabble Club, a name chosen and voted upon by our club members.

(Edit: To clarify, the correct way to pronounce Kanawha is ken-AW-ah. More frequently around here, the last syllable is dropped - so ken-AW is also acceptable.)

Several candidate names were submitted, and these names were then ranked by our club members in a Schulze method election. Kanawha Valley Scrabble Club emerged as the winner, defeating every other name except one, which it tied.

When I proposed this contest, I stated that the winning submission would get NASPA membership courtesy of me (as opposed to the club's treasury) through 2010. As it turned out, Martha submitted the victorious name. Naturally, I disqualified her from winning the prize to avoid any impropriety, but I gave her the option of deciding what should be done. She suggested that I should have a random drawing in which everyone who submitted a name got a shot at winning the NASPA membership. This, to me, sounded like a fair way to resolve this outstanding issue.

So last night, at our first official meeting as a NASPA club, I assigned each submitter's name (except Martha's) to a Scrabble tile, put those tiles in a convenient container (the purse of one of our members), and drew one out. And the winner of the NASPA membership is... Tina Totten King.

Thanks again to everyone who sent in a name, voted, or otherwise helped with this fun contest. I'm looking forward to our new role in the world of NASPA, and for those of you who haven't joined yet, please do!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

NASPA membership

Posted by Brad Mills
So I have officially joined the North American Scrabble Players Association, the new organization for tournament and club Scrabble in North America. NASPA is a player-run organization formed as a result of Hasbro no longer funding club and tournament activity, and by extension, a large part of the NSA's responsibilities as we've known them. The NSA's new focus will be on outreach, casual play, and School Scrabble. Thus, the responsibilities formerly under the NSA umbrella are being transitioned over to NASPA - a process which should be completed by the end of the year. In a nutshell, NASPA is the future of organized Scrabble in North America.

Right now I'm one of only 40 NASPA members, and the first member in West Virginia to my knowledge. My membership number is AA000044. That's a vanity number, for the record, and it cost me a little extra... but it was worth it for me to have a 44 at the end of it. (I've got kind of a thing about the number 4.) And, I believe it was a good thing to provide a little extra startup money to the new organization.

As of July 1, NASPA membership will be required to participate in sanctioned Scrabble tournaments - similar to how NSA membership is required currently. Also, on July 1, NSA clubs will become NASPA clubs provided the proper fees have been paid. This fee for a club to exist is a new requirement - and yes, I'm going to pay it, so we're going to become a NASPA club. I don't know if we'll have the same club number as before, or if we'll even have a club number at all... calling ourselves "NSA Club 620" was always a requirement of the NSA and Hasbro. For all I know, we might become the "Charleston, WV Scrabble Club" or something appropriately descriptive of who and what we actually are - imagine that!

So although there is uncertainty about the specifics, things are moving, and I believe they're moving in the right direction. I like the idea of us as players deciding our own fate - I dig it philosophically, and I think it fits the "spirit of the game" better than being at the financial mercy of a big corporation.

If you want to learn more about the corporate history of the game, pick up Paul McCarthy's Letterati: An Unauthorized Look At Scrabble - a rather underrated book, in my opinion, which takes an unapologetic look at the NSA-Hasbro relationship and examines the effects it's had on organized play.

Monday, February 23, 2009

WVU Scrabble club?

Posted by Brad Mills
A few years ago I found mention of a Scrabble club at WVU. I emailed some of the contact people listed at the time, ran into a lot of dead ends, and finally gave up.

Today... Nessie surfaced from the loch as I discovered a link to the famed WVU Scrabble club.

No content at the link, unfortunately, but a tantalizing prospect nonetheless. Could somebody please plumb the depths and see what treasure is buried therein?

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Huntington meeting #6

Posted by Brad Mills
Four people showed up at Java Joint for Saturday's meeting of NSA Club 767. Aaron McGuffin was out of town so I acted as guest director.

Here are the results:

Brad Mills 3-0, +243
Leah Gingerich 2-1, +69
Shelley Schiavone 1-2, -83
Brad Smith 0-3, -229

Bingos played were as follows:

Brad Mills: SAUNTER (68), LUNATION (59), ASTERIA (79), REASONS (65), SELTZER (89)
Leah Gingerich: STORAGE (82), SOUNDED (95), ARRIVED (83)
Brad Smith: MISTING (85)
Shelley Schiavone: GLORIES (75)

Highest non-bingo play was by Brad Smith - QUOTES for 61.

I hereby nominate Brad Smith for "phoney of the year award" for getting NN* on the board, and because his opponent (who shall remain nameless) didn't notice it until after Smith had drawn, it stayed!

Hope to see everyone in Huntington again soon.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

ROFLMAO is not good

Posted by Deadpan Alley

Meeting canceled tonight

Posted by Brad Mills
Tonight's Scrabble meeting at Los Agaves has been canceled due to the bad weather. It's been snowing nonstop since I got to work this morning and it doesn't look like it's going to quit - the National Weather Service is forecasting up to five more inches.

Stay home, stay safe, stay warm. We'll try for another Wednesday meeting later in the month.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Let them eat cake

Posted by Brad Mills
Two of our local Scrabblers have birthdays today, so before I even get started, happy birthday to Shelley Schiavone and Jim Merrill! If it seems unusual that two people in a group share a birthday, it really isn't. In fact, it only takes 23 people in a group for the chances of this happening to exceed 50% - and only 57 people for the chances to exceed 99%. (I like counterintuitive math problems.)

Since Aaron McGuffin's birthday is tomorrow, and NSA Club #767 met today anyway, it was turned into a birthday celebration complete with Scrabble cake. Here are a couple of pictures for those who missed the fun at Java Joint.

Here's the cake. It was a very dense chocolate sponge cake with gooey icing in the shape of a Scrabble board. It even had tiles atop which read: "HEY HAPPY BIRTHDAY SHELLeY". The cake board underneath was a real Scrabble board - one of the cardboard ones, which I'm told is now ruined.

Here we see Dr. McGuffin making an incision into the patient. Please note the Scrabble logo peeking out at the bottom left of the photo - the aforementioned cake board.

I don't know what the "tiles" were made of, but I think it was something close to 100% pure sugar. I think I heard someone say there was cream cheese in the icing also. If so, I certainly blew my calorie count for the day - but it was fantastic.

Kudos to Jason at Java Joint for creating this masterpiece, and kudos to Amber for serving us with her usual aplomb and grace.