ERIN HOWARD OF HUNSTVILLE, 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 284 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.
Last year, 279/283 of the students survived the morning round, and 214/283 of the students survived the day unscathed altogether, with 49 making the cut for Thursday's semifinals.
8:57 am: 56/63 correct so far, and with both Ponzi and glengarry coming in early, one wonders if David Mamet has joined the staff.
10:02 am: 123/140 correct, with this year's lone four-timer, who did not reach Thursday in any of his efforts, among the fallen. Seems like a sweet kid.
10:46 am: "Can you spell it please?" asks Abigail Pittman on RENT-guhn, RUNT-juhn, you know, that unit of x-rays which is named for a German dude. And Dr. Bailly won't, and she can't. Sigh.
12:18 pm: 251/284 survive to the afternoon.
1:30pm: We're back. (Sorry: work duties. I'll be intermittently involved this afternoon.)
1:44pm: 14/17 through so far, and the round doesn't seem any harder than round 2. Calisthenics, encyclical, impeachable, hallowed? I'd feel guilty even putting up the pronunciations.
5:00pm: About a 70% success rate this round (135/183), on words that may not always seem difficult to us (flagon, consulate, baklava), but it's the difference between a memorized list and a wide-open dictionary. There's nothing in this round that should prove problematic to the prime-timers, but there's a lot of variation in this round.