VICTOR SUTTON OF AUBURN, ALABAMA, COME ON DOWN! Two rounds today, streaming online on ESPN3, and both are ding-and-you're-out.
There are two preliminary rounds today in which all 285 spellers will face the microphone, Dr. Jacques Bailly, and the cameras of ESPN3 online (in both "play along" and more aggressively chyroned versions). Spellers receive 3 points for each word spelled correctly today; add that number to yesterday's written round score, and the top up-to-50 spellers advance to the semifinals tomorrow.
You can follow along in a few places (in addition to here): the Bee website, and a few places on Twitter worth noting: @ScrippsBee, @PeterSokolowski @APBenNuckols, and hashtag #SpellingBee. And join our Hive on the Buzzworthy app -- the access code is 7EFA53.
[Last year, 223/281 of the spellers aced the first two rounds.]
8:27 am: 31/32 through so far, on words that all these kids should be acing. No one's saying sayonara upon receiving ... that word, and our triumvirate of Spellers From The North has survived. As for the one child who has erred so far, the story of how he got to National Harbor will break your heart.
8:47 am: 61/63. Marieke Western is given 'maraca'. Really? she asks Dr. Bailly. Yep. Nailed it. These are generally easy words -- flamboyant, philanthropy, samaritan, paradox. As usual, I hope the afternoon words are harder.
9:25 am: 115/118. "Zander Worm" sounds like the name of an extra in Starship Troopers, but he's through with 'bayou.' And our Yiddish Watch has begun: 'kishke.'
9:40 am: 137/141: Halftime. Dev Jaiswal asked Dr. Bailly, "Do you have an amusing sentence?" for 'bravura'. Also, he's wearing a bowtie. Awesome.
10:07 am: Two spellers have withdrawn from the competition. (HT: Amy Goldstein.) We are not going to speculate as to why. These are children. We wish them well.
10:33 am: 185/189. An eclectic mix of words for the erudite, as we accommodate an act of altruism with an AHN-tuh-rahzh plug.
11:35 am: The last 200+ spellers have been correct. I'm fine with that -- for one round. They all schlepped to National Harbor, often at considerable family expense, and deserve to have one shining moment each at the microphone. (One.)
11:40 am: Round's over. 279/283 advance to the afternoon.