Lake George, New York, October 18-22, 2012

By Terry Kang Rau

For many Scrabblers, Lake George is a must-attend tourney synonymous with Fall, and this year, Annette Tedesco boasted a record turnout, with 164 players for the Main Event: 152 among six divisions with an additional 12 in the Open Collins division. 

The first of two Early Birds was held on Thursday, October 18, with 34 players in three divisions.  After seven rounds, Division One’s Jason Ubeika was in first place with six wins, followed by Michael Wolfberg and Winter, who each had records of 5-2.  Jason faced Mike in the king-of-the-hill round, while Winter played Greg Heidler.  Mike and Greg prevailed, each scoring exactly 510 to Jason’s 311 and Winter’s 339, respectively.  This meant Mike finished in first place, with Jason second and Greg third.

Meanwhile in Division Two, Linda Wancel got off to a rollicking start with seven straight wins, and a spread of +697, and was Gibsonized.  In second place going into the final round, Diane Brown played Nancy Wroblewski.  Nancy won to finish in second with a record of 6-2 +212 while Diane placed third.

Division Three’s winners were determined in the final round.  Samuel Austin narrowly beat Ruth Brower, 416 to 409, to overtake her for first while Ruth slipped to second with a 5-3 +354 record. Jane Marsh beat Ida Ann Shapiro to finish in third with a record of 5-3 +121.


Early Bird I winners (L-R): Mke Wolfberg (Div. 1); Linda Wancel (Div. 2); Samual Austin (Div. 3)

At noon on Friday, the second Early Bird took place, with 70 players in nine – yes, nine –  divisions, as well as an additional ten players in the Open Collins division.  Undefeated to finish in first place with records of 5-0 were Division 9’s Leslie Effman and Division 1’s Maddy Kamen, with Wendy Bath and John Stardom placing second in Divisions 9 and 1, respectively, with three wins apiece.  Leslie made a ratings jump of 133 points.  Karl Higby won High Game for Division 1 with a 572-308 win over Daniel Citron in the first round.  Division 9 newcomer Tracy Tabuchi won High Game with a 392. 

In Division 2, Sue Tremblay was undefeated after four rounds, having “pipped” Sal Piro 376-380 in game four.  Sue played Sal again in the final round and ended up tying at 421.  After a recount, the tie stuck, and Sue won with 4 ½ wins and a +100 spread.  The tie was good enough for Sal to take second place with 3 ½ wins and an impressive +355 spread.  High Game was won by Marc Carnegie with a 516-334 win over Yvonne Lobo. 

Division 3’s Olivia Durant was also undefeated going into the final round, but her loss to Dean Porporo meant Dean edged her out on spread, +177 to +138, to take first while Olivia held on to second place.  Jason Broersma won High Game honors with a 513-288 win over Siri Tillekeratne. 

In Division 4, Daniel Blake’s defeat of Ryan Chepita in the final round gave him the win, with a record of 4-1 +113 while Barb Kester finished second with a 3-2 record and a spread of +240.  Anita Rackham’s 508-294 win over Priya Fernando gave her High Game. 

Division 5’s Marwan Saadi was undefeated until he played Bernie McMahon in the final round where he lost big, 248 to 489, allowing Bernie to overtake him for first on spread.  Mad Palazzo’s 456-293 win over Linda Wancel was good enough for High Game.  Bernie had scored a 489 and a 469, but he had already cashed. 

In Division 6, Jackie Heller’s win over Wilma Pitzer in the final round allowed her to take first with a 4-1 +276 record while Wayne Yorra’s massive win over Henry De Young, 466 to 265, gave Wayne second-place honors with 4 wins +207.  Henry’s consolation was High Game, with his 483 win over Russell McKinstry. Winner Jackie had scored a 509 in the final round.

Tim Lutts had a brisk start in Division 7, with a 4-0 +344 record.  He faced Ginger White in the final game where a six-point loss kept him from going undefeated, and gave Ginger second place with a 4-1 +89 record.  Ed Turn got High Game with a 462-324 win over Nancy Wroblewski.  In Division 8, Pat Nahaczewski won the final game against Jamie De Jong to take first with a record of 4-1 +412.  Les Hipenbecker came in second with a record of 3-2 +170.  Carol Salvino won High Game with a 417. Pat had scored a 475 and Les, a 444.

Meanwhile the Collins folks were ten strong, including newbies Shelley Ubeika and Cornelia Guest.  The biggest upset occurred in round one when Cornelia, playing the first game of her very first Collins tourney, defeated top-seed Chris Lipe 358-352.  Chris regained his dignity by winning the next three games with scores of 447, 465 and 449.  Chris was in first going into the final round, where he managed to pip Jeremy Hildebrand 390-384. Winter came in second with a 4-1 +76 record.  High Game was won by Richard Buck with a 531-293 win over Cornelia in the final game. Despite this loss, Cornelia’s debut Collins rating was an impressive 1615!

That evening, players gathered for the first three rounds of the Main Event.  With the record turnout, Divisions Two through Six played in the main room on the first floor while Division One and the Collins players were moved to the lower level. Last-minute drop-outs had caused a bit of chaos, and one director decided to withdraw, leaving Kieran O’Connor to direct Collins and Division One while Ross Brown handled Divisions Two through Six.  Additionally, several players fell ill, including one – a cook by profession – who got food poisoning, so there was no shortage of drama.  Two of the Divisions became odd, and many of these players ended up having byes. 

Division 6 was won by Tracy Tabuchi with a final record of 13-2 which included 10 wins, 2 losses and 3 byes.  She had a bye in the fifth round, and again in the final two rounds since she had been Gibsonized.  As “compensation” for enduring the byes, she received some extra cash at the awards ceremony.  Tracy made a ratings jump from her initial rating of 500 to 701, and won $325.  Percy Fernando came in second with a 10-5 +572 record.  Carol Salvino was third with a record of 9-6 +584, followed by Josephine Lamantia who placed fourth with a 9-6 +394 record.

The finish was more suspenseful in Division Five, which was won by Dave Krook, with a record of 11-4 +716.  After losing only one game in the first 11 rounds, Dave lost three in a row on Sunday morning but won the final game big, 513-306, to take first place and $635. Close behind was Joseph Bowman, who won second place with a record of 11-4 +602, followed by Ginger, with 11 wins +81.  Rounding out the top five were Sylvia Polson and Les Hipenbecker, with records of 10-5.

Lake George Collins King Chris Lipe won both the Early Bird and the Main Event.

Division 6 winner Tracy Tabuchi

Division 5 winner Dave Krook

Division Four was won by 17th seed Mark Phillips who finished with a record of 13-2 +664, making a ratings jump from 1158 to 1309 and winning $650.  Going into the last game, Mark was a virtual lock for first unless Ellen Perr won big, but Mark won 443-424. Tim Lutts edged out Ellen for second place, with a record of 11-4 +367.  Tim had started with an amazing 10-0 record, then lost four in a row, but, hallelujah, he won the final game by six points!  Ellen, as 23rd seed, finished third, at 11-4 +308.  Don Drumm and Judith Stein Coleman were fourth and fifth, with records of 9-6 and spreads of +969 and +670.

L-R: Div. 4 winner Mark Phillips and runner-up Tim Lutts, who also won Division 7 of the Early Bird II (photos by Betsey Wood)

Div. 3 winner William Pizer

Div. 2 winner Terry Kang Rau

In Division Three, William Pizer, the 13th seed, came in first with a record of 11-4, +757.  Linda Wancel was second, at 10-5 +320, followed by Bernie McMahon, Kevin Turner and Ryan Chepita rounding out the top five.

In Division 2, Paul Avrin dominated the first two days with one loss followed by nine straight wins.  But just as the tile gods giveth, they also taketh away.  He lost the first four games Sunday morning and then faced Vera Bigall for the final round which he narrowly lost, 407-417.  Vera took third place with a 10-5 +678 record.  Roy Kamen finished strong with four straight wins to take fourth while Glenn Dunlop’s win over Siri gave him fifth place.  I won the final round against Matthew O’Connor despite not noticing, in the end game, that my clock was running during Matthew’s turn.  Even with a small time penalty, and missing a fairly easy bingo, I finished with 11 wins and a +833 spread.  Matthew took second with 11 wins +582.

The biggest upsets happened in Division 1 where first and second went to the 22d and 20th seeds, Mark Przybyszewski and Greg Heidler.  After 13 rounds, Greg was at 11-2 with a two-game lead over Mark and three games ahead of Jason Li and Maddy Kamen.  He lost to Mark 295 to 426 in round 14, so he would face Mark again in the final game.  Mark was a game behind, but had a spread of 810 compared to Greg’s 488.  At the very end of this final game, Greg bingoed, and it would have been enough for him to win; however, he was low on time and in his rush not to go overtime, he placed the bingo down in such a way that a few tiles were askew.  Several directors, including rules expert Jan Cardia were consulted, and the play was ruled invalid, and the bingo had to come off.  As a result, Mark won, with a final record of 11-4 +921 and an exactly 100-point ratings gain.  Greg was second with a record of 11-4 +377 and a 97-point ratings gain.  His new rating of 1784 was one point ahead of Mark’s new rating.  Jason Keller won his last two games to finish third at 10-1 +935, followed by Jason Li in fourth and Maddy Kamen in fifth.

First seed Joel Sherman had perhaps the most streaky record of the tournament starting with one win, followed by 6 losses, then win-loss, and finally ending with 6 straight wins; almost a numerical palindrome, if you will.  That took him from the bottom of the pack up to 14th place.

The 12-player Collins division was decided in the final round.  After 14 rounds, Chris Lipe and Joel Wapnick, each with ten wins and nearly identical spreads, would be facing each other, while Winter would play Carl Durdan, and Becky Dyer would play Jeremy Hildebrand.  Becky and Jeremy ended up tying at 411 so Becky finished fourth with a record of 8 ½ - 6 ½ +240, and the class prize of $100.  Winter beat Carl to take third with a 10-5 +450 record while Chris beat Joel to take first with a record of 11-4 +651 and the top prize of $370. Joel finished second at 10-5 +634 and won $195.  Winter won zero dollars for third, but gained enough rating to go over 1800 to 1823.

Div. 1 winner Mark Przybyszewski

Div. 1 runner-up Greg Heidler

On Saturday night, there was a buffet dinner downstairs.  The lines were long, but the food was better than last year’s offerings, and margaritas and beers could be had for cheap.  Ross Brown took the stage to handle the raffle presentation and announced the lucky winners, who received free entries and hotel stays for next year’s tourney.  This was followed by the team trivia game, led by John Robertson, assisted by Joseph Bowman and Ross Brown.  Alas, the team of Où est Bob l’éponge?, led by über whizzes Frank Tangredi and Jason Keller, did not win.  That honor went to the team The Seven Deadly Sins, captained by Sal Piro.  The other six “sinners” were Mark Przybyszewski, Judy Cole, Heather and Don Drumm, Judy Horn and Mike Wolfberg.  The Sins pulled it out with the final question, which was about the three celebrities who had died on the same day.  And no, we’re not bitter.  There’s always next year.

Five of the nine winners of the Early Bird II (top to bottom): Maddy Kamen (Div. 1); Sue Tremblay (Div. 2); Dean Porporo (Div. 3); Daniel Blake (Div. 4); Bernie McMahon (Div. 5)