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VanRand 2024!

It was a joy to continue the tradition of the annual President’s Day Tournament in Phoenix, now named after the two people whose names are synonymous with Phoenix Scrabble – Barbara Van Alen, who founded the event in the late 80’s and the late great Larry Rand, Barbara’s beloved husband and “partner in crime” who made the tourney a must-attend event through the 2000’s and 2010’s.   We were so happy that Barbara was able to play in the tourney this year!

This year’s event included 80 players in four TWL divisions and one Collins division.  I organized the event and Juraj Pivovarov carried on the tradition of seamless direction.

Two players – Tony Boyle and Jeff Chappell played in their first tournaments.  Welcome to the community, guys!

The tourney featured two catered lunches – Toasted sandwiches and salads from Potbelly Sandwich Works and pizza, salads, and cannoli from Il Capo – the pizzeria where our local club meets on Tuesday nights.  The food got rave reviews!  With the hotel also providing free breakfasts, dinner happy hour meals, and free drinks, many people were set with all their meals covered on Saturday and Sunday!

The winners of all four TWL divisions were determined by the last game.  However, in the Collins division, Becky Dyer clinched on day two and ended up with a dominating 18-2 record!  Congrats to Becky on an impressive performance.  Congrats also to second place finisher, Mohammad Sulaiman and to Performance Prize winner, Paula Catanese.  There was no third place prize due to the small size of the division, but shout out to Gary Smart for coming in third!

In Division D, Blythe Camenson and Deborah Baggett entered the final game with identical 14-5 records.  Blythe took the final game to clinch the win and a $750 first prize.  Deborah claimed the second place prize of $500.  Marlena Tremont (3rd), Mark Nielsen (4th), and Charles Gray (best performance bottom half) rounded out the prizes.  Charles’s win was especially impressive given that he missed the first four games due to his wife having a medical emergency.  Thankfully, she is OK and he was able to return.  Congrats Charles and we’re all relieved that everything was OK!

In Division C, Noah Goldstein and Zana Anderson were also 14-5 heading into the final round.  Zana emerged victorious, taking first place of $800 with Noah, making the trek from NY to Phoenix, coming in second ($550). Miriam Gregory came in third and Scott Smith came in 4th with Mary Parrish winning the performance prize.

In Division B, Lynda Finn and Greg Harper entered the final round having 13-6 records with Jon Demeter and Mark Budovitch one game behind.  Lynda won the final game to take home the $900 first prize.  Jon moved up to second place ($600) with Greg taking third.  Local Phoenix player, Sarah King just edged other local player, Mark Budovitch (known affectionately by his nickname, ‘Dr. Love’) for fourth.  Bennett Jacobstein took home the performance prize.

In Division A, New Mexico player, Wally Schultz was up against Jon Shreve and needed to win by 145 points to take the victory.  Wally won the game in a 2-point “squeaker,” so Jon won the first place prize of $1000 with Wally taking second ($600).  Tucson, AZ’s Richard Spence took third while Northern California expert, Jerry Lerman got 4th.  David Weiss received the performance prize.  In his usual generous fashion, Jon donated his winnings back to WGPO.  This tourney and others owe a great deal to the generous boost in funding provided by the Carter Chapman Shreve Family Foundation.

Thanks to everyone who made this a fun and memorable tournament.  Hope to see you back next year!