What would happen in a theoretical spelling bee between two equally matched competitors? The answer is not longer hypothetical -- the spelling bee would run out of words:
Highland Park fifth grader Sophia Hoffman and Frontier School of Innovation seventh-grader Kush Sharma brought their A-to-Z game on Saturday, trading correct spelling after correct spelling until officials were forced to declare a temporary tie, said Ilker Yilmaz, the principal of Principal Frontier School of Innovation.
“It was overall really mentally and physically challenging,” Kush told NBC News, adding that the bee lasted four hours.
Most spelling bees don’t exceed 20 rounds, Yilmaz said, and organizers were forced to crack open a dictionary after they used all of the words on their prepared list.
Granted, they didn't literally (ha!) run out of words in the English language -- there are more than 132. Organizers just worried that going off the pre-approved list would result in someone getting an unfairly easy word.
Now the bee will go to a tiebreaker in a few weeks, though the seventh-grader is already trying to intimidate the fifth-grader:
Kush’s strategy for the tiebreaker in a couple of weeks: “learn the etymology of the words,” he said, and he advised his competitor to do the same.
“Prepare yourself,” Kush cautioned Sophia, although, he added, “for a fifth grader, she really scares me.”