Scrabble Player Profile: Kaia

nana_kaia_AA004955Kaia is a middle school librarian who loves to inspire her students to reach high goals. She hopes to foster their love of Scrabble, as well!

Kaia appreciates the kindness of the Scrabble community. When her truck’s transmission blew up on the way to the Pittsburgh tournament last spring, players helped her get the truck to a repair shop, drove her around for meals, and someone drove her all the way home.

She enjoys “spoiling herself” with good food, kayaking and canoeing, and attending tournaments. She played her first Scrabble tournament in 2013 and this is her first Nationals.

Scrabble Player Profile: Josh Greenway

josh greenway
Josh Greenway and Risa Horowitz

In 2014-15, Josh Greenway played more NASPA rated games of Scrabble than anyone else in North America. In 2015-16, he has played a fraction of those games but he has become more involved in Scrabble than ever before – sitting on two NASPA committees, super involved in his local club, directing his own tournaments and getting hired to direct tournaments organized by others. He tells us, “It’s quite the shift but it’s been fun!”

Josh is a big TV fan — favorite shows this year include Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Game of Thrones, Silicon Valley, People vs OJ Simpson — and he has over 1,000 podcasts on his phone. Josh prides himself on being a community builder – he makes friends easily with his generous, outgoing personality. The thing he likes most about Scrabble is the people — especially the people who stay up late and like to have a good time.

Scrabble Player Profile: Mike Gincel

mike gincelMike Gincel is an extreme couponer (look for his self-published book in a few months) and an avid improv actor. He started playing Scrabble after watching “Akeelah and the Bee” for a psychology assignment in university and stumbled upon “Word Wars” on Netflix.

Mike enjoys reality shows like Survivor, Big Brother, and The Amazing Race, and his favorite places include Israel, Costa Rica, and the southwestern US.

TENACITY is one of Mike’s favorite words. He tells us, “I am super elated and excited to be competing here at the 2016 NASC here in Fort Wayne against some of the best Scrabble players in the United States and beyond and would like to thank family and friends for their support!”

Scrabble Player Profile: Ben Schoenbrun

Ben Schoenbrun (left) accepting a prize at the 2011 NASC.

Ben “Bnjy” Schoenbrun started playing online and got into the tournament scene after reading Stefan Fatsis’ Word Freak. His most memorable game was his first against Mack Meller, one of the top seeded players at this year’s NASC. Ben went over his allotted 25 minutes, both players were stuck with multiple tiles that wouldn’t play, and they ended up tying! His favorite play is OUTDEBATE, a nine letter word played through a DE on the board, which he found with a minute on the clock to steal a game!

Bnjy is a punster who enjoys trading card games, Pokemon, television shows Parks & Rec and The Office, and the movie Big Hero 6. And as he tells us, “I’m single. Come at me ladies.”

Scrabble Player Profile: Andy Hoang

andyhoang-nssc2012Andy Hoang is a two-time School Scrabble Champion (in 2009 as a 5th grader and in 2012 as an 8th grader). He was also the 2013 Division 3 Nationals Champion.

He first got into Scrabble in 5th grade when friends suggested he join them at an after school Scrabble club. As the school bell had already rang, he had a minute to decide between taking the bus home and going to the club. Looking back, he feels thaandyhoang2t he’s made the right choice.

In addition to Scrabble, Andy enjoys chemistry, economics, music and sports.

For every game that he wins at the NASC 2016, Andy will donate money to the Honduras Foundation. He’s tweeting from the NASC at @RealAndyHoang.

Scrabble Player Profile: Jason Keller

Jason Keller hails from New Jersey. He is the chair of the NASPA Tournament Committee and he’s playing in Division 1 at the NASC 2016.

Jason Keller

In one of his most impressive recent plays, in the World Championship tournament last November, Jason played LEZ in the triple line against eventual champion Wellington Jighere. He later extended it to K(LEZ)MERS triple-triple for 212 points and won the game 608-369.

Jason may wish he was playing in the CSW Division since it’s represented by orange — his favorite color. Other favorite things include the word NAARTJIE#, Law & Order on TV, and a nice pastrami on rye for lunch.

Scrabble Player Profile: Craig Rowland

Craig Rowland with the Chew family.
Craig Rowland with the Chew family.

Craig Rowland has been a fan of word games since childhood and he played in his first Scrabble tournament in 1993.

Favourite Scrabble plays include: stacking AIRTIME alongside THEATER to make seven two-letter words; being down by close to two hundred points and bingoing out with a triple-triple ZILL(I)ONS to win; and playing a 714 point phony-free game.

Craig enjoys learning endangered European languages, he’s a big fan of English songstress Helen Shapiro, and you can read his travelogues, book reviews, and other musings at

Scrabble Player Profile: Marcela Kandanka

marcela kandankaMarcela Kandanka hails from Toronto. She has two School Scrabble kids, aged 12 and 14. After a few Orlando nationals, they wanted to try adult tournaments. After spending eight hours on a weekend driving /watching, she decided to join them, “for her own sanity.” She adds, “Now, I play way more than advisable for anyone’s sanity, and certainly more than my kids, though my son Will Robertson, now 19, is playing with me in these Nationals.”

Marcela is multi-talented: people have paid for her paintings; she has completed three marathons without talking; and she makes a mean Pad Thai. Look out for her in Division Three – she may be the female doppelgänger of Louis CK.