SCRABBLE fans can win money and help a good cause in a tournament this March.
It's Literacy Volunteers' eighth annual SCRABBLE tournament, which will be Saturday, March 19 at Radez School in Richmondville. Doors open at 8am, and the tile frenzy starts at 8:30.
The tournament is a major fundraiser for Literacy New York--Fulton, Montgomery and Schoharie Counties, which has volunteers teach adults how to read.
But if the contest is a fundraiser, the focus is on fun.
"People have a good time in friendly competition," said Jim Poole, board president of the three-county organization.
"And everyone has a shot at winning prize money, and even better--bragging rights."
Two-to-four person teams compete in three SCRABBLE games, all with different rules. Although most teams come with four players, there's no real disadvantage to having two or three.
"If you're a good player, two people are just as good as four," said Lisa Cardilli, Literacy Volunteers' executive director.
The team with the highest combined score in the three games wins $200. The next three teams win $100, and so that all teams have a chance, one of the remaining teams is drawn for another $100 prize.
The games don't adhere to strict SCRABBLE rules. Players use all the tiles at once to create high-scoring words.
"There's no SCRABBLE experience necessary to compete, because our rules are different," said Ms. Cardilli. "It's easy to play."
Teams can buy extra letters and also pay for a dictionary peek to score tough words.
Besides cash, players can win prizes in trivia contests between games.
There's also a high-end raffle, and as an incentive for teams to sign up early, the first 10 teams will each receive 10 raffle tickets.
Popular emcee Brian Dineen will return to fill that role again.
"Brian makes this tournament work," said Mr. Poole. "He's the best."
Last year's tournament included 22 teams and raised more than $12,000 for Literacy Volunteers.
"We're looking to do a little better this year," said Ms. Cardilli. "We want as many teams as possible."
Justine's of Cobleskill will provide a free continental breakfast.
The tournament concludes with an awards ceremony and is over by 11:30am.
Players must be at least 16 years old. In past tournaments, some teams have mixed teens and adults, and teams of co-workers and friends have challenged one another.
The cost to enter is $15 per person. To register a team for the March 19 tournament, contact Ms. Cardilli at 234-2577 or email@example.com.
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Literacy Volunteers has trained volunteer tutors who teach adults one-on-one in basic literacy skills. The service is free.
Many students are trying to get a job, get a better job or earn their high school equivalency diploma.
Although the service is free to students, Literacy Volunteers has expenses. Costs include offices in Cobleskill, Canajoharie and Gloversville, a small staff and materials for tutors and students.
Funds raised by the tournament comprise about 15 percent of the organization's budget.
"This is really big for us," Ms. Cardilli said, "but it's also fun at the same time."