Finals of National Spelling Bee begin with 40 elite spellers


Unlike numerous competitors who ask for definitions, word origins, parts of speech or for their words to be used in sentences, Kael in both the second and third rounds simply started spelling.

The remaining contestants were set to take a four-section, computerized test in a semi-final round Wednesday evening. It consisted of 12 spelling words and 14 vocabulary words. Her parents got permission from Scripps to let Edith spend some of her time offstage while waiting to spell.

Spellers could earn a maximum of 30 points on the test. Spellers that advanced to the finals needed to have earned 29 points to keep the number of spellers in the finals under 50.

Google determined the most troublesome words using search queries that began with "how to spell" and then the word.

The bee opened Tuesday with 291 spellers, the largest field in its 90-year history.

Fuller, who is homeschooled by her parents, qualified for the bee in March at just five years old, the age of most kindergartners.

Ria Sai, a 13-year-old student at Mechanicsburg Middle School, correctly spelled "psychomachy", a word the Merriam-Webster dictionary defined as "a conflict of the soul".

The final round of the competition airs from 10 2 p.m. today on ESPN2 and during prime time on ESPN from 8:30 to 10:30 p.m.

Miller said he hopes to compete again next year.

The bee's 6-to-15-year-old contestants include spellebrity Edith Fuller.

Haris Rana (right), an eighth-grader at Fort Smith's Chaffin Junior High School, and Pulaski Academy seventh-grader Parray Faizan were the top two finishers in Saturday's spelling bee. The sisters finished first and second in two previous competitions this spring, with Sophia winning the Buchanan County Spelling Bee, while Sylvia won the Northwest Missouri Regional Spelling Bee to qualify for the national event.