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Bay Shore High School junior seventh at World Youth Scrabble Championship
Tim Bryant spent nearly six hours a day during the summer studying word combinations to prepare for the World Youth Scrabble Championship in Birmingham, England, earlier this month.
Not only was the Bay Shore High School student one of three Americans to compete, but he placed seventh, making him the highest ranking U.S. competitor in the tournament.
“I feel pretty good. I hadn’t played a tournament in a year,” Bryant said. “They were by far the best players I’ve ever played with. It was so much fun.”
Bryant, a junior at the high school, was one of 86 players younger than 17 to qualify for the international tournament, according to the competition website. The tournament consisted of 24 games played between Dec. 6 and 8 at the UK Britannia Hotel.
Bryant began playing Scrabble in sixth grade when he joined an after-school club at Bay Shore Middle School, coached by speech and language pathologist Susan Goldstein.
Goldstein, who ran the club for 13 years before retiring three years ago, said she saw immediate potential in Bryant, who is now 16.
“He was just extremely dedicated,” she said. “He would be walking around in between classes studying lists and lists of Scrabble words.”
Goldstein, who lives in Hauppauge, said to really excel at the game it takes enthusiasm and commitment, as successful players have large vocabularies and memorize all two- and three-letter words, which are essential to success.
Goldstein said Bryant consistently scores above 400 points per game.
“The average person would be very happy to score 200,” she said.
His mother, Dr. Genny Lambert, a Selden pediatrician, said her son’s ease in playing games and solving math problems has been apparent since he was a child.
“Since he was in first grade, we wouldn’t play Scrabble with him because he’s too intense,” said Lambert, 55, of Bay Shore. “He’s an incredibly hard worker.”
Goldstein said Bryant has always been successful, “blowing away” the competition at local tournaments and coming in second place at the National School Scrabble Championship in 2010 in Orlando, Fla. In England Bryant received the “Best Novice” award for competing in the World Youth Scrabble Championship for the first time.
Bryant said that he had to push himself because there was no particular reason in high school to stay competitive in Scrabble. He hopes his success promotes more competitiveness in America so there’s more of a chance to reach first place at the tournament.
“As of now, we don’t have a great Scrabble tradition, but I hope that people are more interested in building a better program in the future,” Bryant said. “You just have to motivate yourself.”
Above: Bay Shore High School junior Tim Bryant, here with his mother, Dr. Genny Lambert, finished seventh at the World Youth Scrabble Championship in Birmingham, England, Dec. 6-8, 2012.