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Friday, January 18 Local

Ridgefield Library Scrabble players win big at tournament

RIDGEFIELD — Players from the Ridgefield Library’s Scrabble Club dominated this year’s North American School Scrabble Championship, winning each of the three divisions.

Each of the players studied with their coach Cornelia Guest, who teaches classes Tuesdays at the Ridgefield Library. Guest said this is the fourth year in a row that she’s coached the championship team, but the first time that she’s coached the winners in each division.

“I was so proud of them,” Guest said. “They studied very hard and their hard work paid off.”

Guest said she was particularly proud of two teams that won all of their games, which is hard in any tournament.

A team including seventh-grader Jeffrey Pogue and sixth-grader Noah Slatkoff played in the Championship Division and won all nine of games. Pogue, who is from Wesport but plays at the Ridgefield Library, won the top $10,000 prize for this division.

The boys also won the prize for high win, scoring 614 points in their third game. Fellow Ridgefield Library players Joey and Jake Nadol, who are in eighth and fourth grades in Ridgefield, finished 10th in the Championship Division.

The second undefeated pair was Ridgefield fifth-grader Ian Whitehurst and his teammate, Kevin Zeng, who finished first in the Challenge Division.

“(Winning all the games) isn’t easy in any competition,” Guest said. “A fair amount of luck plays into it, with what tiles you draw, and it wasn’t an easy tournament.”

Guest said Whitehurst is also in the lead to be ranked as NASPA’s top elementary-school Scrabble player, as he was last year. The final rankings will be announced this summer.

Ridgefield seventh-graders Joey Archer and Spencer Soleiman finished fourth, and Ridgefield brothers Andrew and Will Knispel, in eighth and third grades, finished fifth in the Challenge Division. The Challenge Division was the largest at the event, with 56 teams competing.

Noah Kalus, a junior from New Paltz, N.Y., who has trained for many years at the Ridgefield Library, won first place in the High School Division.