The 2022 Scripps National Spelling Bee was one for the record books as Harini Logan, 14, defeated Vikram Raju, 12, in the first-ever spell-off on Thursday night. Barely taking a breath, Logan spelled 21 of her 26 words correctly – which bested Raju’s 15 of 19 correct words.
For her incredible efforts, which had many viewers (including myself) stunned, Harini Logan was awarded a coveted trophy and a check for $50,000. It was an impeccable run that started with the preliminary rounds on Tuesday, and continued with the quarters and semis on Wednesday.
This year’s Scripps National Spelling Bee took place at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center near Washington D.C.. It was the 94th installment of the National Spelling Bee and will be one we remember for a long time – after all, we’ve never seen a spell-off before!
Most Memorable Moments From the Spelling Bee
The National Spelling Bee has been around since 1925, which is when Frank Neuhauser became the first ever winner of the spelling bee. It might not sound like something you can turn into a national telecast viewed by hundreds of thousands of people – but that’s exactly what it is.
With that said, the 2022 Scripps National Spelling Bee was different from recent years. The competition was canceled in 2020 and came back in 2021 in a virtual capacity, so this year’s spelling bee was the first in-person spelling bee since 2019 – which was extremely exciting.
A lot of history was made during this year’s spelling bee and while it’s been several years since we’ve seen the spelling bee at its best, let’s not forget about some of the greatest moments to ever happen at the National Spelling Bee – hint hint, some of them might be from this year’s!
15. Napoleon Dynamite?
Dominic Ranz Ebarle Errazo, a 13-year old in the seventh grade, thought it would be funny to slip in a quick Napoleon Dynamite reference during the 2006 National Spelling Bee. The movie was released in 2004 and it was extremely popular at the time, which is why everyone laughed.
He was given the word ‘chinook,’ which he wound up getting right, but his “Do chickens have large talons?” reference stole the show – despite the judges not getting the joke. You can tell from the moment he received the word that he couldn’t wait to get that reference out there.
14. Drake’s Next Mixtape
Dev Jaiswal has an energy about him that just lights up the room, doesn’t he? The 13-year old eighth grader was making his second spelling bee appearance in 2015 when he was given the word ‘bacchius.’ He asked A LOT of questions, which was funny in and of itself, but that’s not it.
When Jaiswal asked for the word to be used in a sentence, the sentence he received was, “Rumor has it that Drake’s next mixtape contains a rap in which every verse begins and ends with a bacchius.” The sentence made everyone giggle, including Jaiswal, at how random it was.
13. Can I Have an Easy Word?
Charles Hamilton Jr. was making his first spelling bee appearance in 2015 when he was given the word ‘wensleydale.’ He started going through the motions and was asking for the sentence, pronunciation, etc. when he decided to give it a shot and asked, “Can I have an easy word?”
I would’ve been able to take an educated guess at the word, but chances are that guess would’ve been wrong. Don’t worry, he was a talented kid that not only played piano, but enjoyed figuring out puzzles and riddles – for fun! Oh, and his favorite all-time book is 864 pages long.
12. Karma Comes Back to Bite
In 2016, Jairam Hathwar and Nihar Saireddy Janga went head-to-head for 24 championship rounds before ending in a tie – naming them both co-champions. Among the chaos was this moment where Saireddy Janga got a little too cocky before spelling a word wrong himself.
Here’s a fun fact – Jairam Hathwar and his brother Sriram Hathwar are one of two sets of siblings to both be named champion of the spelling bee. Not only that, but Saireddy Janga won in his first spelling bee appearance – becoming the first to do so since the 2002 spelling bee.
11. The Mind of a Champion
Evan O’Dorney, a 13-year-old from Danville, California, was crowned the National Spelling Bee Champion in 2007 after 13 rounds when he spelled the word ‘serrefine.’ It was an impressive performance from the home-schooled wonder as he walked through the competition with ease.
In an interview with CNN after his win, O’Dorney gave you a glimpse of what it’s like to train for the spelling bee and it’s as grueling as you’d think. He got me when he said he studied the dictionary, but then he started to talk about coloring systems and that’s when he lost me.
This was an iconic spelling bee moment that occurred in the same 2007 National Spelling Bee that Evan O’Dorney won. At one point, 12-year-old Andrew Lay walked up to the microphone looking to make his Stanley Middle School classmates proud and he did – but almost didn’t.
He was asked to spell the word ‘negus,’ which is used as the title of the Sovereign of Ethiopia. The word is pronounced knee-gus and that’s how Andrew was pronouncing it, but you can tell he wanted to spell it a different way – one that would’ve been deemed racist immediately.
9. Jacob Williamson’s Confidence
Jacob Williamson, a 15-year-old eighth grader, was celebrating a little too early during the 2014 National Spelling Bee. He was given the word ‘kabaragoya’ and wasted no time in celebrating – saying “I know it! I know it! I totally know it!” – which would’ve been fine if he spelled it right.
He didn’t spell it right. He got the entire word right except the very first letter (he spelled it with a ‘c’ instead of a ‘k’). There’s just something about the way he walks off that kills me every single time I watch it. You can tell he 100% thought he spelled that word right and I can feel his pain.
8. The Energetic Rebecca Sealfon
At the start of the video, you would think Rebecca Sealfon had just finished spelling the word because of how excited she was. But no, she was only just beginning. You can tell exactly how confident she was that she had the right spelling of ‘euonym’ in what became an iconic moment.
After spelling each word with a level of intensity that even I couldn’t match, she jumped up for joy and didn’t hold back any excitement in her face. The way she took that trophy from the presenter and screamed, “Yeeeess!” like it was Game 7 of the Stanley Cup was priceless.
7. The Elite Eight
Much like what we witnessed in 2022, the 2019 Scripps National Spelling Bee was one for the history books as it was the first time we witnessed an eight-way tie for first place. That’s right, eight competitors were crowned co-champions, which broke the previous record of six.
The winners were Rishik Gandhasri, Erin Howard, Saketh Sundar, Shruthika Padhy, Sohum Sukhatankar, Abhijay Kodali, Rohan Raja, and Christopher Serrao. They were dubbed ‘The Elite Eight’ and three of them were sponsored by the Dallas Sports Commission.
6. Numb Nut?
This moment came from the 2008 National Spelling Bee when Sameer Mishra, a 13-year-old eighth grader from West Lafayette, Indiana, was asked to spell the word ‘numbna.’ The moment the word is said, the crowd immediately starts to giggle and Mishra’s face looks befuddled.
After a brief pause, he speaks clearly into the mic, “Numb nut?” before being corrected by the announcer. He immediately goes, “Oh, numnah!” in what’s one of the most iconic moments in spelling bee history. He ended up winning the whole thing that year in his fourth appearance.
5. The Infamous Faint
It’s easy to forget that these are kids – most of whom are 12-13 years old – being put on a national stage and some of them for the first time. With that being said, moments like these aren’t that surprising and while still shocking and scary, it’s good to know he wasn’t injured.
During the 2006 National Spelling Bee, Akshay Buddiga walked up to center stage and was given his word. Before he could fully repeat the word, he fainted on stage. What made the moment so special was the fact that he immediately got up, spelled it right, and sat down.
The 2007 National Spelling Bee was already infamous due to Evan O’Dorney’s interview and Andrew Lay’s ‘negus’ attempt, but Kennyi Aouad was the cherry on top when he was given his word ‘sardoodledom.’ I mean, let’s be honest, we all giggled a little when we heard that word.
It’s not just that he laughed, but that he couldn’t stop laughing at the word – legend has it he’s still laughing at the word. Despite a little doubt, he eventually gives the word a try and gets it right. I’m not sure how because my guess would’ve been much different than what he said.
3. How Do You Spell That?
During the 2005 National Spelling Bee, Katherine Morrison Seymour was given a chance to spell the word ‘incunabula.’ After asking for the origin, definition, and other information, she briefly paused and asked, “How do you spell that?” I mean, that’s why we’re all here, isn’t it?
She honestly spelled it how I would’ve spelled it – incanabula – but that ‘a’ needs to be changed to a ‘u.’ It was close, but unfortunately that’s not good enough in the National Spelling Bee. In fact, Anurag Kashyap from San Diego went on to win the 2005 National Spelling Bee that year.
2. Tabitha’s Milkshake Brings All the Boys to the Yard
Earlier, we talked about a moment with Jairam Hathwar, but now let’s talk about his older brother’s special moment at the 2014 National Spelling Bee. When Sriram J. Hathwar was given the word ‘feijoada,’ he asked the announcer to use it in a sentence and the rest is history.
The sentence he was given was, “Tabitha discovered that while her milkshake brought all the boys to the yard.” You can hear the announcer say, “Oh boy” and someone in the background go, “Stop, stop, stop,” in what was a hilarious moment that will live on forever – I’m still laughing.
1. The First Ever Spell-Off
And now for the final memorable spelling bee moment on this list, let’s take it to the 2022 National Spelling Bee when Harini Logan and Vikram Raju were involved in the first ever spell-off. It was an interesting display of speed, accuracy, and performance under pressure.
Logan ended up winning with 21 of 26 correct words, while Raju only finished 15 of 19, in the given 90-second time limit. Logan was sponsored by The Brauntex Performing Arts Theatre Association and representing San Antonio, Texas. She became the 94th winner.
Remembering All the Past Spelling Bee Champions
There have now been 94 installments of the Scripps National Spelling Bee and each one has been just as exciting as the last. For example, let’s not forget Zaila Avant-garde, who won the 2021 Scripps National Spelling Bee after ending the competition with the word ‘Murraya.’
Though it was canceled in 2020, there were eight joint champions in 2019 – for reference, there were never more than two joint champions in the same year before 2019. Karthik Nemmani was the 2018 champion and Ananya Vinay was the champion in 2017 with the word ‘marocain.’
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Some other recent champions include Arvind Mahankali (2013), Snigdha Nandipati (2012), Sukanya Roy (2011), Anamika Veeramani (2010), Kavya Shivashankar (2009), Sameer Mishra (2008), Evan O’Dorney (2007), Kerry Close (2006), and Anurag Kashyap (2005).
15 of the Hottest Chess Players Right Now
Chess is one of the earliest games that’s still played religiously to this day, but have you ever wondered who the hottest chess players are in the world right now? They’re the type of chess players that can make an average person like you and me look ridiculous at the chess table.
The game of chess originated in sixth century India with the introduction of chaturanga – a game that was played on an 8-by-8 board and used pieces similar to that of chess today. Over the next 10 centuries, the game spread to Persia, the Arabs, China, Japan, and Europe.
By 1500, the modern day rules of chess started to develop and it became a fixture of everyday life by the 19th century – with clubs, competitions, and tournaments happening around the world. In fact, it was 1851 in London that saw the first ever international chess tournament.
Who Are the Hottest Chess Players in 2022?
Chess has grown mightily since that first international chess tournament in 1851 and the hottest chess players of all-time played a large role in making that happen – and continuing to make it happen. Since 1886, the World Chess Championship has featured all of the best chess players.
If you’re not the reigning world champion, the hottest chess players are usually the ones that reach the ‘Grandmaster’ title, also known as GM. It’s the highest title a chess player can receive and is a title that follows the individual throughout their entire life – they’re Grandmaster for life.
There have been a lot of Grandmasters, a lot of World Champions, and a lot of talented chess players to grace the sport, but we’re here to talk about the hottest chess players in the world right now – in 2022. With that, we’ll need to take a look at the current FIDE player rankings.
15. Jan-Krzysztof Duda
Jan-Krzysztof Duda is a 23-year old Polish chess Grandmaster. As of April 2022, he has a FIDE rating of 2750 and is currently ranked No. 15 in the world. He had a peak FIDE rating of 2760 in December of 2021 and a peak ranking of No. 12 in the world in December of 2019.
Duda earned the title of Grandmaster in 2013 at the age of 15. In 2018, he won the Polish Championship and won the Chess World Championship three years later in 2021.
14. Viswanathan Anand
Viswanathan Anand is a 52-year old Indian chess Grandmaster. As of April 2022, he has a FIDE rating of 2751 and currently ranks No. 14 in the world. He has a peak FIDE rating of 2817 in March 2011 and a peak ranking of No. 1 in April 2007. His mother was a chess aficionado.
Anand is the first Indian chess player to ever earn the title Grandmaster, doing so in 1988. He became the FIDE World Chess Champion in 2000 and held the title until 2002. He won it yet again in 2007 and held it for another six years until losing it in 2013. It was a legendary run.
13. Teimour Radjabov
Teimour Radjabov is a 35-year old Azerbaijani chess Grandmaster. As of April 2022, he has a FIDE rating of 2753 and is currently ranked No. 13 in the world. He has a peak FIDE rating of 2793 in November of 2012 and a peak ranking of No. 4, which he achieved in July of 2012.
Radjabov was just 14 years old when he earned the title of Grandmaster – at the time, he was the youngest to achieve that feat. He’s a three-time winner of the European Team Chess Championship (representing Azerbaijan) and recently won the 2020-21 Airthings Masters.
12. Leinier Dominguez Perez
Leinier Dominguez Perez is a 38-year old Cuban-American chess Grandmaster. As of April 2022, he has a FIDE rating of 2756 and is currently ranked No. 12 in the world. He has a peak FIDE rating of 2768 and a peak ranking of No. 10 in the world – which he achieved in May 2014.
Dominguez earned the title of Grandmaster in 2001 at the age of 18. He’s a five-time Cuban Chess Champion and three-time Capablanca Memorial. He also won the 2008 World Blitz Championship. Dominguez competed in the World Chess Championship twice (2002, 2004).
11. Maxime Vachier-Lagrave
Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, also known as MVL (his initials), is a 31-year old French chess Grandmaster. As of April 2022, he has a FIDE rating of 2758 and is currently ranked No. 11 in the world. He has a peak FIDE rating of 2819 and a peak ranking of No. 2 – both in 2016.
MVL was just 14 years old when he achieved the title of Grandmaster in 2005. He’s a three-time French Chess Champion, World Junior Chess Champion, and five-time Biel Grandmaster Tournament winner. He also won the Sinquefield Cup in 2017 and most recently in 2021.
10. Shakhriyar Mamedyarov
Shakhriyar Mamedyarov is a 36-year old Azerbaijani chess Grandmaster. As of April 2022, he has a FIDE rating of 2771 and is currently ranked No. 10 in the world. He has a peak FIDE rating of 2822 in September of 2018 and a peak ranking of No. 2 in February of 2018.
Mamedyarov learned how to play chess from his father, who also taught him how to box. He’s a two-time World Junior Champion, three-time European Team Champion, one-time World Rapid Champion in 2013, two-time Tal Memorial winner, and one-time Biel Chess Festival winner in 2018.
9. Ian Nepomniachtchi
Ian Nepomniachtchi is a 31-year old Russian chess Grandmaster. As of April 2022, he has a FIDE rating of 2773 and he’s currently ranked No. 9 in the world. He has a peak FIDE rating of 2792 in May 2021 and a peak ranking of No. 4 in the world, which he achieved in April of 2020.
Nepomniachtchi earned the title of Grandmaster in 2007 at the age of 17. He started playing chess at the age of four and is a two-time Russian Superfinal winner, European Individual winner, Tal Memorial winner, two-time Aeroflot Open winner, and FIDE Candidates winner.
8. Anish Giri
Anish Giri is a 27-year old Russian-Dutch chess Grandmaster. As of April 2022, he has a FIDE rating of 2773 and is currently ranked No. 8 in the entire world. He has a peak FIDE rating of 2798 in October 2015 and a peak ranking of No. 3, which he achieved in January of 2016.
Giri earned the title of Grandmaster in 2009 at the age of 14 and a half. He’s a four-time Dutch Champion, Reggio Emillia winner, Reykjavik Open winner, London Chess Classic co-winner, and Wijk aan Zee co-winner. He also won the Third Edition of the Shenzhen Masters in 2019.
7. Richard Rapport
Richard Rapport is a 26-year old Hungarian chess Grandmaster. As of April 2022, he has a FIDE rating of 2776 and is currently ranked No. 7 in the entire world. Both his current FIDE rating and current ranking are career-highs as he continues to climb up the leaderboards.
Rapport started learning how to play chess at just four years old at the hands of his father and earned the title of Grandmaster in 2010 at the age of 14. He won the Hungarian Chess Championship in 2017 and is the fifth-youngest chess player to be named a Grandmaster.
6. Wesley So
Wesley So is a 28-year old Filipino-American chess Grandmaster. As of April 2022, he has a FIDE rating of 2778 and is currently ranked No. 6 in the entire world. He has a peak FIDE rating of 2822 in February 2017 and a peak ranking of No. 2 in March 2017 – just one month later.
So started competing in tournaments at the age of nine and quickly rose to dominance as a child. He’s a three-time and back-to-back reigning U.S. Chess Champion, current World Fischer Random Chess Champion, and three-time Philippine Chess Champion (before his transfer to the United States).
5. Fabiano Caruana
Fabiano Caruana is a 29-year old Italian-American chess Grandmaster. As of April 2022, he has a FIDE rating of 2781 and is currently ranked No. 5 in the entire world. He has a peak FIDE rating of 2844 and a peak ranking of No. 2 – both of which were achieved in October of 2014.
Caruana earned the title of chess Grandmaster in 2007 at the age of 14 years (11 months, 20 days), making him the youngest Italian or American to do so at the time. He’s a four-time Italian Chess Champion, recorded a 3098 at the Sinquefield Cup in 2014, a tournament that he won.
4. Levon Aronian
Levon Aronian is a 39-year old Armenian-American chess Grandmaster. As of April 2022, he has a FIDE rating of 2785 and is currently ranked No. 4 in the entire world. He has a peak FIDE rating of 2830 in March 2014 and a peak ranking of No. 2, which he achieved in January 2012.
Aronian earned the Grandmaster title in 2000 at the age of 17 years old and recorded the fourth-highest FIDE rating in history in 2014. He’s a two-time winner of the FIDE World Cup and three-time gold medalist at the Chess Olympiads. He’s one of Armenia’s greatest athletes ever.
3. Liren Ding
Liren Ding is a 29-year old Chinese chess Grandmaster. As of April 2022, he has a FIDE rating of 2799 and is currently ranked No. 3 in the entire world. He achieved a peak FIDE rating of 2816 in November 2018 and a peak ranking of No. 2, which he achieved in November 2021.
Ding earned the title of Grandmaster in 2009 at the age of 17. He not only became China’s 30th Grandmaster, but he’s the highest-ranking Chinese chess player ever and has won three China Chess Championships. He enjoyed a 100-game unbeaten streak, the longest streak at the time.
2. Alireza Firouzja
Alireza Firouzja is an 18-year old Iranian-French chess Grandmaster. As of April 2022, he has a FIDE rating of 2804 and is currently the No. 2 ranked chess player in the entire world – both of which are career-highs. He earned the title of Grandmaster in 2018 at the age of 14 years old.
Firouzja is currently the youngest chess player to ever record a 2800 rating and has been the No. 2 ranked player since December 2021. He won the FIDE Grand Swiss tourney, an individual gold at the European Team Chess Championship, and the World Blitz Chess Championship.
1. Magnus Carlsen
Magnus Carlsen is a 31-year old Norwegian chess Grandmaster. As of April 2022, he has a FIDE rating of 2864 and is currently the No. 1 ranked chess player in the world. He also has a peak FIDE rating of 2882 in May 2014 and first achieved No. 1 ranking in January of 2010.
Carlsen has been the top-ranked player since July 2011, marking the second-longest reign in chess history, and has the highest peak FIDE score of all-time. He’s widely regarded as the greatest of all-time and has been the World Champion since 2013. Will anyone dethrone him?
Who Are the Hottest Chess Players of All-Time?
Some of the hottest chess players in the world today are also considered some of the greatest chess players of all-time – with Magnus Carlsen being the obvious choice. Still, the sport has been around for so long that there are plenty of other greats that we didn’t mention above.
For example, Garry Kasparov and Bobby Fischer are two names that many consider the hottest chess players ever. Others include Emanuel Lasker, José Raúl Capablanca, Anatoly Karpov, Wilhelm Steinitz, Alexander Alekhine, Mikhail Botvinnik, and Mikhail Tal.
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Chess has been around for centuries and variations of it have been around even longer. Don’t worry, unlike other things in this world, chess isn’t going anywhere anytime soon and it’ll continue to be one of the most competitive, yet quiet and respectable sports in the entire world.
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