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Tough words, little drama, familiar champ in virtual bee

"Horace Kyle" (2020-06-10)


The upstart ex-spellers who launched an online spelling bee to fill the void left by the canceled Scripps National Spelling Bee had little trouble running an efficient, and sufficiently challenging, competition. Replicating the drama of the ESPN-televised national finals wasn't quite as easy. Thursday night's winner, Navneeth Murali, was no surprise. The 14-year-old eighth-grader from Edison, New Jersey, came in with the most extensive spelling resume of anyone in the bee.

PusakaQQ: Situs Judi Online, Dewapoker, Nagapoker, QQDewaWhen the two other remaining spellers misspelled words back to back before his turn, victory in the closest thing to a national spelling bee in this pandemic-disrupted year was his for the taking. He didn't back down. Navneeth went through the motions of making sure he understood everything about the winning word, Karoshthi - an ancient, cursive script of Aramaic origin used in India and elsewhere in central Asia - before he started to spell.

He plowed through it quickly and confidently, as he had all night. "That is correct," SpellPundit co-founder Shourav Dasari told the assembled spellers over Zoom, "so, yeah, you´re the champion of the SpellPundit Online National Spelling Bee." In a video grab provided by SpellPundit, Navneeth Murali competes in the SpellPundit Online National Spelling Bee from Edison, N.J., Thursday, May 28, 2020. The 14-year-old eighth-grader, who won the event, came in with the most extensive spelling resume of anyone in the bee.

When the two other remaining spellers misspelled words back to back before his turn, victory in the closest thing to a national spelling bee in this pandemic-disrupted year was his for the taking. (SpellPundit via AP) "Thank you," Navneeth deadpanned. Then the digital confetti fell - sort of. Shourav, a high school junior just three years removed from his own close call at the National Spelling Bee, shared his computer screen, which briefly flashed a silent, pixelated image of confetti falling.

A few clicks later and he brought the confetti back, this time with fake crowd noise. The SpellPundit bee concluded on the same night Scripps would have held its grand finale inside a packed convention center ballroom on the Potomac River outside Washington. This year's bee was canceled because the coronavirus pandemic made large gatherings impossible. Scripps has said it will not extend eligibility or hold an alternate competition for this year's eighth-graders, the best of whom have spent years studying for hours a day to master their craft.

The National Spelling Bee has always been limited to kids in middle and elementary schools, which means Navneeth and six other finalists in the SpellPundit bee will be too old to compete next year. This was also the end of the line for Simone Kaplan, the charismatic runner-up in last year's unusual Scripps bee, which ended in an eight-way tie for first place. Simone bowed out in fifth place Thursday night. Nidhi Achanta, who tied for second in the SpellPundit bee, is also in eighth grade, but the other runner-up, Harini Logan, is a poised sixth-grader who ought to be formidable when the Scripps bee returns.

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