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The Nation

Here's One for Scrabble Players

May 29, 2003|From Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Confident about your ABCs? Try your XYZs.

Tom Kasmer knows his. The 14-year-old national spelling finalist who attends school in Belmont, N.C., got a word that sounded like "zistee" during competition Wednesday. Standing alone before the judges, Kasmer made it look easy: "xysti," as in an open portico.

One by one they strolled to the microphone, all 251 youngsters in the 76th Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee. Each got a word in the one-and-done mistake format; 175 got them right.

The rest drew a single clang of the bell, signifying it was time to be escorted to a comfort room of snacks and consolation.

Among the most impressive feats: "chrysochlorous," "sphygmogram," "leptocephalid," "foliicolous," and "serictery."

By noon, the audience was asked to leave the room, but only briefly, as staff members prepared to give the survivors a group test of 25 words.

The results, announced hours later, cut the field to 84.

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