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'Austin Chronicle' Spelling Bee

Five-time winner Geoff Thevenot wows the crowd

By Josh Kupecki, Fri., May 25, 2012

Geoff Thevenot
Geoff Thevenot
by Brett Rivera

It was clear blue skies as far as the eye could see at the 10th annual Austin Chronicle Adult Spelling Bee. Delayed a week due to a rainout, last Thursday saw the Threadgill's World Headquar­ters beer garden transformed into a hive of activity. Wordsmiths descended to participate in the charity event benefiting the Austin Public Library. After two preliminary tests weeded the contender pool down to 25, the remaining competitors took the stage, and the spelling bee began.

Five rounds of finals ensued, with contestants getting eliminated by James Bond's favorite card game, "baccarat," as well as succumbing to "enuresis" (an involuntary discharge of urine), and "vigneron" (a term for a winegrower). When the smoke had cleared, two men were left; five-time winner Geoff Thevenot, and upstart David Millard. Tension, and a bit of desperation, had seeped into the proceedings; it was evident that this was to be a battle heretofore unseen on the Threadgill's stage (it ended up lasting an unprecedented 13 turns). But no Chronicle spelling bee is complete without some sort of kerfuffle. In the midst of this two man spelling shoot-out, Millard misspelled "plattdeutsch," and it looked like Thevenot had it in the bag. However, Austin Public Library presenter Erika Allbright went on to spell the word, something Thevenot should have done to seal his victory. Thevenot was gracious enough to excuse the oversight, and the battle resumed. The two combatants continued to wage their spelling apocalypse for six more turns, nearly exhausting the word list, when finally, Millard stumbled over "opprobrious" and Thevenot stepped in to end it with "anthracnose." It was a well-won victory, which was evident on Thevenot's face as he basked in the glory of another notch on his belt. The much-needed money the Austin Public Library raised will go to beefing up their downloadable book collection.

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