Tuesday, May 18, 2010

NST Spell It Right Experience: Final Round

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The final round of this state-level competition was a very heated affair. The eleven preliminary round winners, me included, took our place on the stage. This time, there was money, newspaper coverage, TV coverage and a ticket to the National Grandfinals up for grabs, so no surprise that all the finalists were fired up to do their best.

I felt that I was at the wrong place, a mismatch in other words, as before the finals, the other contestants were frantically looking up words in the dictionary, much unlike me. I took things way too lightly, but that’s how I like it to be.

The format for the finals was a little different from the preliminaries. We would all be given three words, irrelevant of whether we get it correct or wrong. The contestant who gets the most points would be crowned the state winner. But you could guess that one wrong and there goes your first-prize dreams since the level of competition was very high.

The finalists... ready for the finals to roll on

This time round, the words were freaking tough. Yeah, I say freaking tough! I was hoping for a word that I knew. And God bless my luck, I got a word that I knew: ‘Scintilla’. All sorts of things started coming into my mind. A winning start would be great. As the correct spelling played in my head, for all the reasons unknown to me, I spelt out ‘Scintella’. Holy cow!

I was very angry at myself. The stage had got the better of me. I screwed up something I knew as I had spelt it correctly many times before. First place was out of reach. Probably second and third too. As I was called up on stage for the second time, I tried to keep my composure in check.

The presenter said it was a mathematical term. Finally, after giving the meaning and stuff like that, he asked me to spell ‘Parallelogram’. I had gone through this word numerous times during my practice sessions. For a moment, I thought I was going to screw this one up too but goodness gracious me, I got it correct.

At least there was a chance for me to nick fourth or fifth place now. I was confident going into the final round of the finals. But then, disaster struck. I got a word I had never heard of before: ‘Pernicious’. I tried to get what the presenter was saying, and instinctively I spelt ‘Pernicious’, which was actually correct.

But guess what happened next? As I finished spelling the word, I paused for a second or two. The presenter was silent. I thought he was going to say that was the end of the road for me. Thinking I was wrong, I quickly changed my spelling to ‘Penicious’. Upon hearing this, the presenter straight away said that I was wrong, and my first spelling was correct! Imagine what was running through my mind at that time.

The creme de la creme

My story at the Spell It Right competition ended there. I got joint-sixth or join-seventh if I am not mistaken. The prizes were for the top five finalists only. That moment was probably one of my most frustrating, upsetting and exasperating moment in my life. It was a case of so close yet so far. I made an error at one word which I knew how to spell, and changed the spelling of another.

If I had gotten one of those correct, I would have got fifth place at the very least. If both of those correct, then third place at the very least, and a shot at the top honours. Such was the margin between winning and losing, between the correct and wrong spelling, so fine that it punished the slightest mistake I made.

Anyway, I am still happy that I made it to the final round, and I have my aunty, teacher and parents to thank for preparing me by shooting me with all sorts of peculiar words. It could have been better, no doubt, but I guess it could have been worse too. On the bright side, at least I can now spell everyday words such as ‘Embarrass’ and ‘Privilege’.

To read my experience during the preliminary rounds, click here.

A video on the Selangor Spell It Right
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