Scrabble Player Profile: César Del Solar

cesarCésar Del Solar, best known in the Scrabble community for his study program, started playing the game on Yahoo! Literati (a now-defunct Scrabble clone) in 2000. He became good friends with Gabriel Wong, Jesse Matthews and James Leong (2007 National Champion). James convinced César to attend an LA tournament in 2005, and after that, he was hooked!

César’s other big hobby is programming, which often takes away from his Scrabble study time. He’s also good at Mario Kart and enjoys Zelda, Pokemon, running, soccer, and playing the guitar and ukulele.

Scrabble Player Profile: Diana Bowen

bowenDiana Bowen, who is playing in her fourth Nationals this year, started playing Scrabble when she was growing up. She and her mom would record their high scores on the inside of the box. Her highest was 503 and she still has the box lid!

Diana’s other skills include doing math, growing watermelons, playing Dr. Mario, and swiping right. She also appreciates good puns, especially with countries: “I’m mad a gas car still exists,” quips Diana. She enjoys outdoor activities, such as camping, hiking, and mountain biking. Her nickname is “The Joker,” and if you’d like to know why, just ask to see her driver’s license picture.

Scrabble Player Profile: Jason Vaysberg

vaysbergJason Vaysberg of Plymouth, MN is the top seed in Division 3 at Nationals. He has been playing tournament Scrabble since the age of 12, but he’s playing in his first Nationals this year, ten years after his tournament debut. His favorite play was CRAZIEST for 275 points, scoring a 692 in the game — against his poor mom! Besides Scrabble, he is also skilled at poker, Settlers of Catan, Super Smash Brothers and music trivia. He enjoys sushi, Legend of Zelda, classic rock, tea and other caffeinated goodies.

Scrabble Player Profile: Lila Kay Crotty

Screen Shot 2016-08-09 at 4.25.03 PMLila Kay Crotty started playing Scrabble as a child with her sister, May Kay, but didn’t find time to play seriously until after her children were in college. She also played Literati on Yahoo! — meeting a number of other Scrabble players — she was encouraged by former National Scrabble Champion James Leong to attend her first official club session in Metairie, Louisiana, and the rest is history!

Fukawa-Connelly and Crotty Crescent City Cup team

Lila now directs the Metairie club and co-directs the annual Crescent City Cup tournament in New Orleans in January, along with Kate Fukawa-Connelly, and their husbands, the two Tims — Tim Crotty and Tim Fukawa-Connelly. Both Kate and Lila are glad that their non-Scrabbler husbands are so supportive of their passions for the game.

In addition to Scrabble, Lila enjoys event planning, crafts, calligraphy, cooking, and spending time with her family. Lila’s daughter, Lindsay Crotty Bahra, is also a competitive Scrabble player and Lila hopes to encourage her granddaughters, Lea and Penny, to follow in their footsteps as NASPA members and tournament players.

She looks forward to welcoming players to Louisiana in January 2017 for the Crescent City Cup, and in July 2017 for the North American Scrabble Championship!

Scrabble Player Profile: Clay & Knox Daniel

Knox Daniel (right) and Yanni Raymond
Knox Daniel (right) and Yanni Raymond

Knox Daniel (often incorrectly identified as Daniel Knox), a sixth grader from Charlottesville, VA, has been learning the Scrabble ropes from his father, Division 1 player Clay Daniel, and this is his first Nationals.

Knox and his partner, Yanni Raymond, came in third at the North American School Scrabble Championship in both 2015 and 2016. In addition to Scrabble, he enjoys math and sports, and he can do a headstand for over a minute! You can hear more about the 2015 School Scrabble Championships on an episode of the NPR program, On Point.

Clay DanielClay was excited to play CLAYIEST on the way to winning game 7 of this year’s Nationals. He enjoys trivia, most word and board games, teaching, writing, and composing and performing raps! Clay considers it “a huge privilege” to be playing in the Nationals alongside his son and he’s having a great time.

Scrabble Player Profiles: Marlena Cannon & Tom Tremont


tremontcannonMarlena and Tom are a happy Scrabble couple who recently moved to Santa Rosa, CA from the Chicago area.  Tom started playing tournament Scrabble in 2006, and Marlena started playing in 2009. They have Zyzzyva to thank for their first official date two years ago. Marlena was looking for some help in using the app on her phone, and Tom suggested that they discuss it over dinner.

Tom was the director of the La Grange Park, IL Scrabble Club for over 7 years until their move out west, and now he and Marlena are working to get a new club going in Santa Rosa. This is Marlena’s first Nationals and Tom’s third.

Scrabble Player Profile: Zach Ansell

Zach AnsellZach Ansell is twelve years old and hails from Los Angeles, CA. He started playing tournament Scrabble after reading Stefan Fatsis’ Word Freak. He and his partner, Noah Kalus, won the 2015 North American School Scrabble Championship in Pawtucket, RI, taking home $10,000. Zach enjoys baking, fencing, piano, tennis, and playing with his dog, Coco.

photo courtesy of Stew Milne/AP Images for Hasbro

Scrabble Player Profile: Sue Tremblay

Sue TremblaySue Tremblay is a tournament director and she is assisting as a NASC staff member this year. She started playing Scrabble about 14 years ago when her sister-in-law heard about the Ottawa Scrabble Club. She got hooked and played in her first tournament in 2002. She and Jason Broersma now partner up to run tournaments in the Mississauga area, and started an annual Niagara Falls tournament that has grown in popularity over the past few years.

Sue and Jason are avid travelers and Scrabble sparring partners. They just returned from a trip through the South Pacific, during which they stood on the edge of an active volcano, snorkeled on Tuvalu, and played over 70 games of Scrabble against each other. When she’s home, she also does a lot of yoga, cooks, and spends time with her daughters.

Sue was just elected to a two-year term on the NASPA Advisory Board to represent Canada, and in this role, she hopes to promote unification and growth in the competitive Scrabble scene in North America.

Scrabble Player Profile: Kevin Leeds

Kevin LeedsAustinite Kevin Leeds used to play Junior Scrabble with his mom, and real Scrabble with his grandmom and various aunts. His grandmom used to get impatient waiting for him to play but when he did finally make his move, Kevin tells us, “she would erupt in a shower of amazement, and … tell me my score was really, really good.” With that early encouragement, he has been playing in NASPA tournaments since 2003 and plays regularly with the Austin Scrabble Club.

Scrabble isn’t Kevin’s only game — he’s a world champion Worfu player. He’s also an Indiana native, so Fort Wayne has been “like coming home” for him. He hopes all players who traveled a distance to get here purchased carbon offsets to help address climate change, and he encourages you to read this NY Times article about the subject.

Scrabble Player Profile: Marc Booth

Marc BoothOphthalmologist Marc Booth hasn’t played much organized Scrabble recently, so we’re glad he was able to come to the NASC! He was part of the Crawfordsville, IN Club for some time and enjoyed playing with the people there.

His fondest Scrabble memory is playing FLINGERS for his first BINGO in his first tournament game. He was profiled in Cornelia Guest’s “The Last Word” newsletter after winning division five at that tournament with a perfect 7-0 record. This is his first tournament since that event back in 2013!

When he isn’t performing eye surgery or studying words, Doug enjoys spending time with his two-human, two-dog family, and encouraging his daughter, Charlotte, to “explore new avenues in the world.” They play a couple of games of Scrabble a week at home.

Marc is rooming with expert Doug Lundquist who is competing in Division 1 for the first time ever! They went to high school together at the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy in Aurora, IL. Go Titans!