When Words Collide

It was the mother of all spelling bees; the 1971 Chiefs-Dolphins of word competition. In case you were for some reason watching basketball on Saturday, two young contestants in the Treasure State Spelling Bee in Billings, Mont., slugged it out for four and a half hours — 25 rounds — before a champion was crowned to move on to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in May. Actually, contestants Anna Rose Wright, 13, and Tim Best, 12, endured 41 rounds of gruelling human spell-check, the first 16 serving to winnow out the other 63 contestants. Wright and Best then went mano a la mano for 25 rounds, spelling like four kinds of crazy, until young Tim finally cracked. That's him the the photo, silently spelling the words "bathroom break." We're not sure of the word he got wrong, but the word that gave Anna the upper hand was "mumpsimus." We won't comment on it further except to urge Barry Bonds apologists to look it up.

By the way, did you know that these things actually draw protesters? There is little in life that's funnier than picket signs at a spelling bee; even people in line to see Lord of the Rings think that's nerdy.

Young Spellers Duel In 4 1/2 Hour Contest [Billings Gazette]