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Kids' spelling bee postponed because organisers ran out of words

The 11 and 13-year-old finalists left organisers choking on their dictionary dust.

A US SPELLING Bee ground to a halt over the weekend because there were no words left for the 11 and 13-year-old competitors to spell.

The pair were the last of 25 spellers standing after 19 rounds and a further 47 rounds later they were still going.

Sophia Hoffman, a fifth-grader at Highland Park Elementary School in the Kansas City suburb of Lee’s Summit, and Kush Sharma, a seventh-grader at Frontier School of Innovation in Kansas City, buzzed through the list of words provided by the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Then they tore through a list of about 20 additional words which officials picked out of their Merriam-Webster’s 11th Edition dictionary during the lunch break, The Kansas City Star reported.

“It was legendary,” said Mary Olive Thompson, a library outreach manager and co-coordinator of the Jackson County Spelling Bee.

Organizers were eventually forced to postpone the final showdown, deciding not to pull more words from the dictionary in case one speller might get a tough word and the other a relatively easy one.

Plus, Thompson said, at “about 2 o’clock, I think we were all really tired.”

In case you were wondering – or just dying to feel totally inadequate – “scherzo,” “‘fantoccini” and “intaglio” were among the words Kush correctly spelled in the late rounds, while Sophia had no problem with “schadenfreude”, “mahout” and “barukhzy”.

Both of them missed what Kush said was the hardest word:

A French word; I have no idea how to pronounce it. It was a long word.

With the prize of a place at the national spelling bee in Washington, D.C. in May up for grabs, both contestants were at the top of their game in the final rounds on Saturday, Thompson said

Sophia and Kush’s eyes were just bright and glowing. It was almost magical.

The contest will resume on March 8th at an undetermined library site.

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