Thursday, May 31, 2012

ROUND SIX:  Am I counting correctly?  Are we down to 21 spellers in this round?  Wow.

Wait.  We just lost Sumaita Mulk (#5) on quatuor.  So we're down to 20.  Speller #25 Jennifer Mong goes down on vellon.  She was the Canadian National Champ.  19 remain.  Speller #42 Vaidya Govindarajan is gone on polynee which is some kind of Swedish baked good.  18 remain.  Are we going to have enough spellers for the finals?

#44 Stuti Mishra has been rocking her words and continues to do so with capharnaum.

#49 Rachael Cundey is brought down by cheyney.  And #50 Simola Nayak goes out! And #79 Gina Solomito goes out!  Come on, Jamaica...

#89 Gifton Wright correctly spells Gleichschaltung!  What the heck is a Gleichschaltung?  In short, it is forced standardization or assimilation.

#92 Vanya:  She's gone!  The darling of the Bee is gone!   Pejerrey took her down!

#127 Kavyapranati Pratapa is also down.

#136 Jordan Hoffman gets heiau correct!

#141 Gokul Venkatachalam gets a word with Maori origin.  I don't think I remember a word with Maori origin being used in the Bee before...and he he goes down kahikatea!

We've lost 9 spellers so far.  12 remain...

#155 Nabeel Rahman is ousted on tirthankara.

They've just said that everyone who spells correctly in this round is moving on to the finals.

Arvind sails through on phrontistery!  Nicholas Rushlow is in with kanaima!

Lena Greenberg is freaking out.  Full of nerves.  So is her Mom.  I love it.  The word is cholecystitis -- a medical word made up Greek elements.  She gets it right!  The stress I feel watching her spell is out of control!  She looks as if she might drop mid-spell or as if her hair might burst into flames at any moment.

We lose Mark De Los Santos on himation.

And Vismaya Kharkar from Utah who is delightful is eliminated on pissaladiere which is an open-faced pastry topped with olives, onions and anchovies!

Nine spellers will move on to the finals!!!


  1. sconstant1:32 PM

    Love Sumita's smile.

  2. Samir Patel1:32 PM

    "quatuor" is extremely tricky, because if you look in the MW etymology, it says "from the Latin quattuor (meaning four)"

  3. Christy in Philly1:33 PM

    According to the Official Bee Twitter account, yes, 21 to start the round.

  4. Samir Patel1:34 PM

    So 20/41 were eliminated.  Essentially 50%.  Prototypical "knockout round."

  5. Marsha1:36 PM

    And we are now officially sans Canadians.

  6. Marsha1:37 PM

    I think Uncle Spike's fee just went up. Mazel Tov!

  7. lisased1:37 PM

    How many do we typically have for the evening round? Wasn't there a controversy last year about stopping the day's proceedings in mid-round?

    And, go Frank!

  8. Adam C.1:37 PM

    Nice job Frank!

  9. Christy in Philly1:38 PM

    It sure looks like things are trending that way!

  10. Adam C.1:38 PM

    And that's how I spelled it to myself, with two "t"s.

  11. Marsha1:39 PM

    Lisa, that was 2010. VERY controversial. And annoying.

    They're looking for 10-15. The controversy happened because there was a bloodbath in round 6 and they were afraid they'd be going to prime time with only 4-5 spellers.

  12. Adam C.1:42 PM

    So what is the protocol this year, in light of that? Do we continue through the end of the round or stop when there are ten left?

  13. Marsha1:42 PM

    Wow. I am in awe of Stuti.

  14. Samir Patel1:42 PM

    I think the "typing" method is helping spellers a lot more than the "writing" method, and here's why -- most vowels are formed in essentially the same manner [a, e, and o all have a circle].  But on a qwerty keyboard, "a," "e," and "o" are typed with entirely different fingers.

  15. April1:44 PM

    I'm pretty sure they've always stopped the round as soon as they get the correct amount. It definitely favors the spellers toward the end, isn't really fair but....that's the way it is.

  16. Samir Patel1:46 PM

    back to the kiss-and-cry discussion Shonda started: that camera needs to stop panning to Simola's face.  That's just cruel.  This is why the Comfort Room was good -- spellers could get cookies and consolation from the Bee staff and their parents, and there weren't cameras filming them crying.

  17. Julen1:47 PM

    Cutting away from a person getting their word and asking questions to focus your camera on a heartbroken kid does neither one a service, ESPN. It's a jerk move. Gah. 

  18. kenedy jane1:48 PM

    Do participants have to sit there until the next speller finishes?  I'm assuming?  So they don't affect their concentration??  It's horrible.

  19. janet1:48 PM

    And since the larger work was mentioned in the sentence, I have the opportunity to say that the "<span>Louange à l'Éternité de Jésus</span>" movement from Messiaen's Quatuor pour le fin de temps is my all-time favorite piece of classical music.

  20. Samir Patel1:48 PM

    The sentence for gleichschaltung: did they come up with it after Jack Pasche's novel twist on "idiosyncratically," or was it just a fortuitous coincidence?

  21. Marsha1:48 PM

    Holy cow, Gifton. Ho. Lee. Cow.

    (And I love his accent.)

  22. Samir Patel1:49 PM

    There are other [stronger] words I'd use to describe it besides "jerk move," but I believe we're keeping it kid-friendly in the interests of spellers, so.

  23. Adam C.1:50 PM

    Oh no. Oh no. Oh no.

  24. Samir Patel1:50 PM


    Pejerrey was a very difficult word.  ;'(

    Vanya will be back.

  25. Saray1:51 PM

    I weep.

  26. She is ONLY in fifth grade, and this was her second bid.  Many more chances. 

  27. Samir Patel1:51 PM

    This round may not be able to finish.  We're down to 13.  

  28. Samir Patel1:52 PM

    The remaining spellers look TERRIFIED.

  29. Vidya1:53 PM

    I wanted to cry when cute Vanya got the dreaded bell. She is so adorable, so sweet!

  30. Marsha1:54 PM

    The commentators keep talking about "talented spellers." I wonder - how far can you get in this thing with sheer hard work? If you're a fairly normal smart kid without an exceptional memory, how far does that take you? Can you brute force your way to a win - or even the finals - or do you have to have a special talent for it?

  31. Barbara1:55 PM

    So will they stop at 10?

  32. Samir Patel1:57 PM

    If you have a stellar memory, you can probably brute force memorize spelling patterns in various languages, roots, etc.  And then also memorize all the random difficult words you can find.

    However, I honestly have never had a great memory when it comes to random factoids -- which, honestly, perfectly classifies the spelling of random words.  That's where the "talent" comes in.  If you're GOOD at logical deduction and what not, you have to use your memory only for the words like "pejerrey" that don't follow the patterns.

  33. Julen1:58 PM

    I love it when the kids recognize the really hard obscure words. That look of "No, wait, I know that word!" is just so heartwarming.

  34. Samir Patel1:59 PM

    Fun fact: Phrontistery is also the name of a website dedicated to obscure words.

  35. Adam C.2:01 PM


  36. Samir Patel2:03 PM

    LENA!!!!!!!! =D  

  37. Marsha2:04 PM

    Lena just made me cry. I am so on the Lena train.

    The commentator just said "she is moving on to the finals," confirming what we already knew - this is the last round until tonight. Nick and Lena may have just saved us from stopping before the round is fully over.

  38. Adam C.2:06 PM

    Looks like we're going all the way through the round, huh?

  39. sconstant2:07 PM

    Wow.  With anchovies I assumed it would be "pisc".

  40. Marsha2:07 PM

    Vismaya is ridiculously charming. Who wants to lay odds that we see her as a commentator in the future?

  41. Samir Patel2:07 PM

    Awwwww.  Poor Vismaya ;'(

  42. Eric J.2:10 PM

    Samir - when you have a difficult word that you don't know, is it a conscious, linear process of deduction? Do you actually think in words "This is Greek, so the vowel is probably ae and the root is ..." or is it more an unconscious process, where the letters fall into place with the work being done in the back of your mind?

  43. Charles2:11 PM

    Does anyone know offhand how many of the remaining spellers are first-timers?

  44. Vidya2:11 PM

    Vismaya is just awesome. I hope she comes back next year.

  45. Marsha2:18 PM

    So, if I count correctly, there are 17 people (including our fearless leaders, Shonda and Adam, and a guy who would go down for insider trading, Uncle Spike) who chose one finalist and one non-finalist. But we have TWO people who have both of their selections in the finals - Marnie (Arvind and Stuti) and Bobby (Arvind and Snighda). So the pool (if I calculated right) comes down to Stuti vs. Snighda.

    And once again, bucking the Indian speller trend went badly for me.

  46. Lori Miller2:27 PM

    Looks to me like the first-timers are Frank, Gifton, and Emma.  Gifton has a tremendous poker face when he's spelling. On the flip side, I've been impressed with Frank and Emma's obvious preparation.

  47. Adam C.2:27 PM

    Not necessarily, Marsha, if I understood the scoring correctly -- one or more of the non-Arvind entries could still pull ahead if their speller goes deep into the night, but Arvind, Stuti and Snigdha all go out early.

  48. Not necessarily.  If Arvind goes down early, say, then lots of people can win based off their second spellers.

  49. Adam C.2:32 PM


  50. Charles2:32 PM

    Sometimes I wonder if it's getting tougher and tougher for a first-timer to have a chance at winning, but the Bee's inherent randomness seems to ensure that there's always an opportunity. That's one of the things I love about this competition.

  51. Lori Miller2:36 PM

    Charles, what year(s) were you in the bee?

  52. Anonymous2:36 PM

    Based on watching the last 5 bees in their entirety including today's semifinal, here's my rough estimate of each finalist's chances of winning: Discuss. 

    Nandipati -10%

    Cahill – 8%

    Mishra -5%

    Wright -3%


    Cierezynski -3%

    Mahankali -39%

    Rushlow -30%


  53. Marsha2:42 PM

    Fair enough.

    Am I still allowed to be impressed by the people who chose two? 'Cause I am.

  54. Charles2:48 PM

    Lori, I competed in 1986 (representing the Town Talk of Alexandria, LA--sadly, no longer a sponsor), and then I was one of the college students on the Bee staff in 1991, 1992, and 1993.

    I relished the moment during setup for one of the '90s Bees when I stood on stage and spelled my Bee-ending word correctly!

  55. Uncle Spike2:51 PM

    I was waiting for Dr. Bailly to use "idiosyncratically" at the end of that sentence...and I know a lot of people in the ballroom were thinking the exact same thing.

  56. Lori Miller2:52 PM

    I missed you by one year, Charles! 1985 was my one and only year.  What a great experience for you to have to work on the Bee staff!

  57. Adam C.3:09 PM

    A Google Docs spreadsheet I lazily whipped up for the pool. 

  58. Anyone whose sole remaining speller is Arvind is out, right?  Because Marnie and Bobby automatically beat them.

  59. Uncle Spike3:18 PM

    I was going back and forth between spelling with one or two "t"s, but waited for the etymology. Once I heard French, I figured it had to be one. (French for "four" is "quatre.") If it were Italian, there would be two "t"s (Italian for "four" is "quattro.") And pure Latin? I didn't view that as an option.

  60. Marnie3:30 PM

    Marsha thanks for being impressed. I'm pretty shocked that I picked two people who made it to the finals.  Makes up for me being completely wrong about the final four this year. Go Arvind and Stuti!

  61. He did mention Jack's name in it, though. I don't remember if it was part of an essential or nonessential clause. 

  62. When I spelled, I tried to ask for the language of origin first. That way if I heard a word and thought it would be Latin but then somehow its etymology was German, I could get the wrong ideas out of my head quickly. So yeah, you can start with "This is Greek," but that helps you more for consonants than some vowels. (Hi, chamaephyte.)

  63. Adam C.4:02 PM

    I think that's right, now that you mention it. I did say it was lazily done....

  64. isaac_spaceman5:34 PM

    Why do they all have a negative-percent chance of winning?