Word warriors

May 4, 2009 

The title "national champ" is one that not many people ever get to claim. So let's be suitably impressed by the achievement of Andy Hoang and Erik Salgado, both 11-year-olds who live in Cary. Their specialty? That enduringly popular board game Scrabble. Can't you feel the clickety tiles? It's all ingenuity as you fashion words from the letters you've drawn.

OK, it's a different kind of thrill than blasting aliens in a video game. But Andy and Erik, with the $10,000 prize they'll share for winning this year's National School Scrabble Championship, probably will find it a little easier to indulge in computer gaming or any other hobby. They'll enjoy the rewards of Scrabble superiority -- a skill that requires deep vocabulary, facility with numbers and coolness amid the fire of board-game battle.

Salem Elementary, where the boys are fifth-graders, has a Scrabble club, started seven years ago by media specialist Sandra Wagner. Now the club can boast that two of its members have won it all. And Wagner -- well, for a club sponsor, she's hit the equivalent of a triple word score with an X and a Q.

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