Eric Harshbarger's SCRABBLE® Website

If you are interested in learning how to play Scrabble competitively, you should vist the website of the North American Scrabble Players Association.

17 days, 7800+ driven miles, 75 tournament games of Scrabble... oh, and I pass through all 48 contiguous U.S. States...

This is really going to happen (assuming I don't end up dead on the side of an interstate in Montana or somewhere).

I've been playing tournament Scrabble again for almost a year now. I started right after the 2013 Nationals that were in Las Vegas, and Up until a day ago my answer to that was "no".

I'm actually not a big fan of the format of the National Scrabble Championship. Thirty-one games is certainly a good amount of playing, but I really do not like that only seven games are played each of the first four days (with only three on the last day). Typical tournaments have eight games a day. And while I know the 5-day event can get taxing, I would much prefer as many games be played in a day as possible (I go to Scrabble tournaments to play Scrabble, not to sight-see, etc).

I actually really like the rarer "marathon" style tournaments wherein many, many games are packed into a single day (case in point: I have always been planning to attend Dan Horowitz's "Madness Tournament" the weekend after Nationals).

So, I'd written off attending the NSC in 2014 (even though at about 500 participants, it will be, by far, the best attended tournament of the year).

But then something silly happened.

I saw someone's article about what the optimal driving route is to pass through all of the lower-48 U.S. States.

A number of things crossed my mind at this point:

  1. I have always liked to drive long distances (my first major haul was a 36-hour drive from L.A. to Auburn, AL -- my hometown -- when I was 17 years old).
  2. Auburn, AL (where I still live) happens to lie along this optimal driving route (Auburn is just off I-85 between Atlanta, GA and Montgomery, AL).
  3. I could do this.
  4. I should do this.
I started to consider how feasible this really would be to do. The main issue is that while I live along the driving route, I don't live anywhere near either of the endpoints of it. That is when I decided to devise an optimal route that was a circuit that began and ended in Auburn.

None of this was supposed to have anything to do with Scrabble, but after several hours on Google maps, I realized that such an optimal route happened to pass through both Buffalo, NY (Nationals venue) and Wilmington, DE (Madness venue).

So... why the hell not?

I plan to drive from Auburn, Alabama to Buffalo, New York via Spokane, Washington; play 31 games of Scrabble at the National Scrabble Championship; then continue on to Wilmington, Delaware to play 44 more games of tournament Scrabble. Finally, I'll take a day and a half to get back to Auburn, at which point I will have traveled over 7800 miles, passed through all 48 contiguous states, and played 75 intense games of tournament Scrabble.

Unless, again, I end up dead on the side of the interstate in Montana or somewhere...

(Also, if I end up bombing and losing some crazy number of games and ratings points, I think I'll have a pretty good excuse... the whole, "I've driven hundreds of miles everyday for the past week," argument.) -->

Personal Bests

A list of some of my personal records from tournament play:
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