Thursday, August 10, 2006

Copy Editor Finishes Second at Scrabble

Austinite wins $10,000 in national Scrabble competition

He never graduated from high school but loved words, family says.

By Claire Osborn
He never graduated from high school, but Austinite Geoff Thevenot placed as the nation's No.2 word nerd Wednesday, winning $10,000 playing a popular game that he learned only a few years ago.

Thevenot was the runner-up in the U.S. Open Scrabble Championship in Phoenix. The national finals attracted more than 700 players to the Arizona Biltmore hotel.

'Swound' and 'sacraria' weren't enough for Austinite Geoff Thevenot.

Thevenot showed an affinity for words when he started reading at age 2, his mother says, and he got his copy editing job after winning an adult spelling bee.

The last three games, which matched Thevenot, 36, against veteran Scrabble player Jim Kramer, also had Scrabble junkies following every move on the Internet — complete with online play-by-play.

Competitive Scrabble may lag far behind the breakout popularity of televised poker — a national sensation celebrated with the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas this week — but the Scrabble set is just as devoted to its heroes.

"We've had nearly 3 million (web) hits today," National Scrabble Association Executive Director John Williams Jr. said during a break between games Wednesday.

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