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June 15, 2004
New Orleans, LA — It may be a game of letters, but the numbers tell the story as over 800 word experts will compete for the $100,000 cash purse and the $25,000 top prize at the 2004 National SCRABBLE® Championship (NSC). This 5-day high-stakes battle of words brings SCRABBLE enthusiasts ages 12 to 93 from 40 states and 5 foreign countries with the finals being taped for an ESPN telecast in the fall. This event is July 31st through August 5th at the New Orleans Marriott.
“This is the largest and most prestigious competitive SCRABBLE tournament anywhere,” says John D. Williams Jr., Executive Director of the National SCRABBLE® Association, which organizes the event. “Everyone will be playing seven hours of SCRABBLE every day - it’s a perfect balance of intensity and fun.” Many top players have memorized the Official SCRABBLE Players Dictionary, which contains over 120,000 words and often spend several hours a day studying word lists or practicing against a computer. Most competitors know useful words without vowels such as CWM, (a deep-walled basin), words without consonants, AI (a three-toed sloth) and words with Q but no U (QOPH, a letter in the Hebrew alphabet).
On the final day of competition, the top two experts will play a best-of-five match, which will be telecast on ESPN this fall. The defending champion is Joel Sherman of the Bronx, NY. It comes on the heels of the well-received SCRABBLE tournament documentary film WORD WARS from this year's Sundance Film Festival as well as the best-selling book WORD FREAK by Wall Street Journal reporter Stefan Fatsis, which has been optioned by Academy Award winning director Curtis Hanson (8 Mile, Wonder Boys, L.A. Confidential).
“This is a testament to how large the SCRABBLE Tournament scene has grown,” states Mark Blecher, Senior VP of Marketing of event sponsor Hasbro Games. “Ten years ago there were fewer than 400 players participating, which we have more than doubled. Even better, we expect a dozen kids from our School SCRABBLE® Program to compete against the adults.” For over a decade the School SCRABBLE Program has earned praise from educators who cite improved vocabulary, spelling, dictionary and math skills among its benefits. Currently, over a million students play in more than 20,000 schools nationwide, culminating in an annual National School SCRABBLE® Championship.
Over 40 million people play SCRABBLE for the fun of it. There were over 6 millions hits following the action of the previous championship on the NSA website. For more information on the event and the tournament SCRABBLE® scene, visit the NSA website at www.scrabbleassociation.com.
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