By Jake Socia and Casey Platenik
What did you accomplish over the summer? Well, Matt O’Connor won a Scrabble tournament over the summer by beating nationally and world-ranked adults who have been playing longer than he has been alive. However, all O’Connor can say about Scrabble is that “it’s fun.”
The tournament he won was in Greenwich, Conn. at the end of August. He won eleven games, lost four and tied one. However, O’Connor is humble about his achievement. “That was alright. I did pretty good. I’m not going to be cocky,” said O’Connor.
During the tournaments and matches, people tend to get very competitive, but O’Connor stays positive. During his matches, if O’Connor is not getting the tiles he wants he still reminds himself: “don’t forget to have fun.” He was featured in an article on Business Insider on "extremely good" Scrabble players.
He will next play in a tournament over New Year's weekend in Albany. It's a five day tournament where he’ll play over 30 games and compete against opponents of all ages. He will be attending several more tournaments over the summer of 2014.
His training method to get ready for his competitions consists of studying seven letter words and reading complicated books. This helps him challenge himself and learn more ways to beat his opponents. According to his guidance counselor, Denise Becher, O’Connor does not practice against friends or family because it is not a challenge for him.
His mom is a big part of his Scrabble life because she taught him about the game when he was just 4-years old. By age 13 he was ranked 40th in North America, according to Business Insider, and now, at age 15, he says he is 39th. O’Connor has even beaten the no. 4 ranked player in the world. Even though they don’t play together, his mother and father are still a big part of his success because they take him to his tournaments.
Some of his fellow classmates, like sophomore Luke Rowe, have played against O’Connor. Rowe said when he played him in 8th grade that “[O'Connor] was using words that I have never even heard of.” Also, sophomores Grayson Burns and Jamie St. Amour said they were "happy for him but not surprised.” Burns said, “he’s practically a genius” and that he “wouldn’t expect anything less from him”. He is a legit player; I respect him," said Ms. Becher; “I could not beat him even while cheating."
O’Connor's next challenge will be tournaments over February break. The tournament is open, so you can partake if you are looking to have some Scrabble fun. “I look forward to going to play in these tournaments and having a good time,” said O’Connor.