Life + Arts

FIVE MINUTES OF FAME: Scrabble champion pockets thousands

Erika Moyer: What did you do this summer?

Orry Swift: I worked at my old high school installing new computers and doing tech support. I needed something to start off on until I could get a real job.

Moyer: Do you have any hobbies?

Swift: I play Scrabble, but not your ordinary, grandma Scrabble tournament Scrabble. It’s been somewhat lucrative. So far, I’ve made about $5,000 this year.

Moyer: Wow. What’s the highest you’ve placed?

Swift: I won the Texas state championship and came in 11th place in the national championship.

Moyer: How do you study for something like that?

Swift: It comes from years and years of experience with spelling in competitions and combing the dictionaries.

Moyer: Do you use anything else?

Swift: There’s a great computer program called Zyzzyva that I use to study the words. I’ve also made about 5,000 flashcards, with 20 to 25 words on each covering all the two to eight letter words in the dictionary.

Moyer: What’s your most embarrassing moment?

Swift: That would be in high school. We were doing an experiment that required acid and there was a beaker of it left on the counter. I thought it smelled really good, so I took a slight sip of it.

Moyer: Did you swallow any?

Swift: No, it didn’t go very far before I spit it out.

Moyer: Did it hurt?

Swift: It burned a bit. (It) melted part of my braces and took the skin off my lips. I got laughed at, but it made for a good story in my valedictorian speech when I graduated.

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