My trip to Reno for Scrabble Nationals.
| From July 20th to the 24th, a special event was being held in Reno, Nevada. 2019 NASPA Scrabble Nationals! As an aspiring scrabble player myself, this year, I decided to go and check out how it worked. After competing in it, I can confidently tell you that there is no other Scrabble experience like this one. I have been to a couple of other tournaments outside of my school, but we played a maximum of 6 games at each of those tournaments. At Scrabble Nationals you play 7 games a day for four straight days, and then 3 on the last day, for a grand total of 31 games! As mentally taxing as it was, it was probably one of the best experiences of my life. After playing in those matches, I walked out everyday feeling as if I had become a better player and learned something in that day's matches. But Scrabble isn't the only thing that goes on there.
After a grueling day of 7 matches, scrabble players have a couple of options for what to do to blow off some steam. They could go back to their hotel room to relax, head into another room to play some more scrabble, or head out to another organized event. In the after hours scrabble room, players play more games, but that's not all. They also hone their skills, playing mini-games like anagrams, or by studying esoteric and obscure bingos. So, I know what you're thinking. Was there literally nothing in that tournament except for Scrabble Yudhith? That must have been SO boring!
Well, good news, my trip to Reno was not entirely scrabble based. On the second day of the tournament, Josh, one of the Scrabble community's best players, hosted a musicale. An event where scrabble aficionados could go showcase their other musical talents, and go see everyone else's. But a night filled with wonderful music was not enough for Josh. He also organized a riverside basketball game. You thought we scrabble players were only good at scrabble and music, huh? All of this only goes to show how multi-talented our wonderful scrabble community is. On another night, an A-Math tournament was organized, played by creating sentences out of numbers and math signs. Much like scrabble, except with numbers.
Overall, my scrabble nationals experience was a great one, but the highlight of my trip didn't have to do with any of the activities mentioned above. The part of my trip that affected me the most was the people. Everyone at the tournament were so kind, and willing to help. That it had made me think that I was in another dimension. On a particularly bad day, I was quietly sitting at my table and brooding, waiting for my opponent to show up when I was approached by one of my old opponents. She gave me some excellent advice, and it really helped me turn the day around. It wasn't just about opponents who gave me advice though. So many of my opponents could sense that I was a bit nervous about being at nationals, and instead of taking advantage of it, almost all of my opponents tried to help me with it.
Right before the tournament started, there was a kid who recognized me from my adventures in the Spelling Bee world. His name was Cooper, and while my parents and I were registering, he had come up to me and said "Yudhith?" At first I was a little apprehensive, but we quickly moved past that. "Hi, I'm Cooper. You were in the South Asian Spelling Bee right?" Apparently, he had been tracking those spelling bees for quite some time, as he was a speller too, and had recognized my name on the registration sheet. Unfortunately (Not for him of course) he was in a higher division than me, so I didn't have the pleasure of playing against him, but that meeting is one that I will cherish for a longtime.
All in all, I don't think that there is any other experience in the world that even compares to attending Scrabble Nationals. The people, activities, and the community that you meet are ones that make an impact on you for a lifetime. I may not know all the words that are acceptable in a scrabble game, but there is one thing that I know for sure, and that's the fact that I am definitely going back to nationals next year!