A 13-year old Indian-origin boy has emerged as the winner of a spelling bee contest in the US in an epic verbal duel that lasted a total of 95 rounds, after judges ran out of words in a previous marathon round held in February.
Kush Sharma, a seventh-grader at Frontier School of Innovation spelled out "definition" to clinch the Jackson County Spelling Bee title in Missouri, and a berth in the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington in May. Saturday's 29-round competition was lengthy in comparison to other spelling bees which typically run for about 20 rounds.
Sharma won the title in two installments after the judges ran out of words in a previous round held on February 22. Sharma beat fifth-grader Sophia Hoffman, 11, of Highland Park Elementary to win Missouri county's annual bee contest on Saturday, before a packed Kansas City Public Library. Hoffman missed out after she misspelt the word 'stifling'.
Between the two, they spelt over 260 words, including 'barukhzy', 'muumuu', 'hemerocallis', 'jacamar' and 'schadenfreude' in 28 rounds with Sharma clinching the title after correctly spelling the word 'definition' in the 29th round, NBC News reported. As per his practiced routine, Sharma asked for the origin of the word, the part of speech and the definition of the word.
"The speller on stage asked for the word definition," the moderator replied to Sharma as an example of the word's usage. "Kush smiled, and the judges were trying not to smile," head judge Kaite Stover told NBC News after the competition. "Kush rips that one off like it's nothing, like we knew that he would."
Hoffman's parents had appealed to the judges, believing that the pronunciation of "stifling" might have confused her. The judges reviewed a recording of the proceedings and found nothing was wrong. As Sharma spelt the word correctly, Hoffman was first to clap for her friend. He patiently gave the moderator a handshake before hurriedly going to Hoffman and hugging her.
"It was a great experience and I'm happy for Kush," Hoffman said adding that she would be back next year. The duo returned to compete for the coveted title after the previous round ended in a tie with both of them getting every word right until the judges were left exhausted with words.
Last month, Sharma and Hoffman competed for 66 rounds before the judges were forced to turn to the dictionary after they ran out of approved words. Once the judges saw that the kids might last all day, they decided to postpone the marathon bee so that they would not risk picking an unfair word.