Hingham High School Student Takes S-E-C-O-N-D at the 2022 North American School Scrabble Tournament

James Donnelly

June 15, 2022 Submitted by Laura Donnelly

James Donnelly, a junior at Hingham High School, placed second in the North American School Scrabble Championship-High School Division, played at the Planet Word Museum in Washington, D.C., the weekend of May 14-15, 2022.

James played nine tournament rounds throughout the weekend, completing his first national tournament as the runner-up with a score of 383-415. The first place winner was Zach Ansell, a senior from California, who was the national champion in 2017 and 2015. James was awarded a cash prize in recognition of his success in the high school division of a tournament that brings over 100 Scrabble players in grades 3 through 12 and currently holds a North American Scrabble Players Association (NASPA) ranking of 1,105, which includes all ages and divisions.

James has been playing recreational Scrabble since he was eight years old, mostly against his mother and other family members.  During the pandemic, James found a competitive Scrabble community on-line, discovered tournament play and quickly gained NASPA ranking. In May 2021, James finished seventh in the virtual North American School Scrabble Tournament-High School Division.

Unlike other school-aged players, James is self-taught. He does not have a coach or access to a Scrabble club or team. James spent the pandemic honing his vocabulary and spelling skills by reading the Scrabble dictionary, practicing anagrams and studying strategic play. The game of Scrabble is more than a game of luck. It requires advanced math computation, strategy, spatial relations and probability skills to master lexical decision.

James looks forward to playing in the 2022 Scrabble Players Championship this July in Baltimore, Maryland. When he is not training for Scrabble, James is a member of the Hingham High School varsity crew team and chamber orchestra, as well as a volunteer at the Hingham Maritime Center.

The 2022 school tournament was sponsored by Planet Word Museum, Hasbro, Word Game Players, Scopely, Merriam-Webster, NASPA Games and GTP.

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