NATIONAL HARBOR, MD. — “It’s all good,” 13-year-old Abhinav Palle said, shortly after learning he isn’t among the 41 spellers who will advance to Thursday’s final rounds of the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
Earlier Wednesday afternoon, the seventh-grader from Abington Heights Middle School correctly spelled wolfram — a Germanic word that refers to Tungsten — in Round 3 of the bee.
But successful spelling onstage doesn’t guarantee a spot in the finals.
Of the 452 spellers who took part in Round 3 on Wednesday, 130 were eliminated when they misspelled. The remaining 322, including Abhinav, then had the results of a written spelling/vocabulary test from earlier in the week factored into their standing. Most of the remaining spellers also were eliminated, which guarantees a shorter final competition.
“It was great to get this far,” said the local speller, who earned the right to represent the area at the national bee when he won a regional bee sponsored by the Times Leader newspaper and The Medicine Shoppe pharmacy. “For a lot of people, this is their last year, but I still have one more year (to be eligible to compete) and I feel I can improve on vocabulary.”
As for Wednesday’s Round 3 words, which came from anywhere in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, some seemed much more difficult than others.
Consider multiloquious (talkative), wharfinger (operator of a commercial wharf) and simulacrum (an insubstantial form or semblance).
You might say the array of words was vertiginous (capable of causing dizziness) or unbridgeable (too wide to be crossed). They might even make you feel porcupinish (defensive, like a porcupine with quills raised.)
But other words seemed downright fun. Can you say fiddledeedee (an old-fashioned exclamation of impatience or scorn) or slickenside (a smooth often striated rock surface) without smiling?
And some of the words seemed actually commonplace.
After all, most spellers have probably seen menus that include gelato (a frozen dessert) and panini sandwiches.
And, since this year’s group ranges from age 8 to 14, they probably know both juvenile and adolescence apply to them.
The word a speller is given is “basically luck,” said Abhinav, of Clarks Summit. “I was lucky I knew wolframite is a mineral, and that wolfram comes from that.”
The final competition can be viewed on ESPN2 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday and on ESPN from 8:30 to 10:30 p.m.