Thursday, August 13, 2009

What's n-e-r-n-i-w? Answer: w-i-n-n-e-r!

Bridge player Dave Wiegand (right) plays a match at the 2005 national Scrabble championship.

"Bridge players are the best Scrabble players," said a friend of mine while we were walking one day.

I don't know if that's true, but the 2009 national Scrabble champion is Dave Wiegard of Portland OR, and he's a bridge player. The 35-year old Wiegand is a Silver Life Master. In fact, he met his wife, Chris, playing bridge. She's also a Silver Life Master.

The national Scrabble tournament was held in Dayton OH, and first place paid $10,000. Not bad, for knowing the word O-P-A-Q-U-E-R. Is it a person who makes things opaque? Does it describe something that is more opaque? Don't ask me, but Wiegand knew and used all the letters in his rack, giving him a 50-point bonus called a "bingo."

One of his biggest coups was 10 years ago. His rack was: A-S-N-N-R-P-D. This is a bad rack because he had only one vowel. On the board, however, he saw A-G-O. Boom, he put out S-N-A-P-D-R-A-G-O-N. This was good for a bingo.

Are serious scrabblers geeks? Absolutely. Wiegand spends hours memorizing lists of obscure words, just in case. There is more to scrabble than this, says Wiegand. There is the strategy aspect. You have to play defensively, he says, and think about what your opponent can build on your words.

You can see his photo and read what USA Today said about him here.

The National Scrabble Association currently has his photo on the front page of their web site here. If you check out the web site, you'll see he also won in 2005. He is one of two players who've won the title more than once.

You can read what Wikipedia says about him here.

You'll find out that 500 players competed in the Scrabble championship and they came from all over the world if you read The Oregonian here.


  1. I've met Dave a few times, but only at World Scrabble Championships when my wife has been playing. She is currently #6 in the world ratings with Dave at #9.

    Scrabble and Bridge in America are similar in the fact that they dislike change. We see many complaints from locals and aliens about the restrictive convention charts in use at clubs and tournaments.

    There are fewer complaints about the Webster-based Scrabble dictionary in use in American tourneys, but the rest of the world uses an International Dictionary (of which the American is a subset) and this definitely hampers the prospects for Americans at the World Championships.

    Dave has yet to register for the Worlds in Malaysia in November, but I expect he'll be there and put in a good show ... but hopefully not as good as she who must be obeyed.

  2. You need an "odd" category

    That's certainly how I refer to scrabblers.