Special Programming

While the students are playing Scrabble, parents, coaches, and other guests are welcome to attend two talks in the Friedman Family Auditorium on the first floor.

Saturday, 11 a.m. (start of Round 2)

“A Brief History of Scrabble,” by Stefan Fatsis, author of Word Freak: Heartbreak, Triumph, Genius, and Obsession in the World of Competitive Scrabble Players

Scrabble was invented in the 1930s and ’40s by a New York architect named Alfred Butts. He thought he was creating a wholesome family game. He had no idea.

Stefan is also the author of A Few Seconds of Panic: A Sportswriter Plays in the NFL, in which he kicked for the Denver Broncos, and Wild and Outside, about a baseball minor league. A former Wall Street Journal reporter and NPR commentator, he cohosts Slate’s weekly sports podcast, “Hang Up and Listen.”

Word Freak will be available for purchase in the Planet Word gift shop. Stefan will happily sign copies.

Saturday 3 p.m. (start of Round 4)

“The Dictionary as Data: What the Online Dictionary Tells Us About English,” by Peter Sokolowski, Editor at Large, Merriam-Webster Inc.

What makes a person look up a word? When do you use a dictionary? Looking up a word in the dictionary is an intimate act for each of us as individuals, but the words looked up by millions of users tell us a surprising story about the English language.

Peter has written definitions for many of Merriam-Webster’s dictionaries, is active as a blogger, podcaster, and speaker on language, and has served as pronouncer for spelling bees worldwide. He was named among TIME’s 140 Best Twitter Feeds of 2013.