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'Stiff competition' at Scrabble nationals



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Berofsky (click for larger version)
August 20, 2014 - Things didn't turn out as Evan Berofsky had hoped at the 2014 National Scrabble Championship last week.

The 38-year-old Oxford resident placed 20th out of 63 competitors in his division. He won 17 games and loss 14 over the course of the five-day tournament held in Buffalo, New York.

"People have asked me, 'Was it bad (Scrabble) tiles? Was it really good opponents?' It's probably a little bit of both," Berofsky said. "Really, you have to do what you can with the tiles you're given . . . I haven't analyzed the games. Once I analyze the games, I'll probably have a better idea."

Berofsky faced some "stiff competition" in Buffalo.

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Adam Logan, a former national and world champion, won Berofsky's division with a record of 27-4. He clinched the title with four rounds to go, so he was given a bye for each of them. Those byes counted as wins, so he was 23-4 in actual play.

Berofsky likened the nationals to a "marathon."

But instead of running 26.2 miles, he was sitting in one place, exercising his brain for seven to eight hours a day.

He played seven games daily over the first four days and three games on the final day.

Unlike kitchen-table Scrabble, this type of competitive play can be very taxing.

Even if a person gets plenty of sleep and refrains from overindulging in adult beverages, Berofsky said by the third day, "it's tough to play your best."

"I'm pretty sure at times, I didn't play my best," he said.

As result of his performance in the nationals, Berofsky's ranking in the world of competitive Scrabble dropped from seventh to 10th among players who use words derived from the world lexicon.

Competitive Scrabble players are divided between those who use the North American lexicon, which consists of 178,691 words with two to 15 letters, and those who use the world lexicon containing 267,750 words.

After 17 years of competitive play, Berofsky's record now stands at 1,277 wins, 800 losses and 8 ties.

Berofsky is currently focusing his efforts on competing in the world championship this November in London, England.

He's studying word lists every day.

"I know I didn't do my best (in the nationals), but come November, I'm going to be prepared," Berofsky said.

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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