Executive summary: Patrick finished 12th, getting to the seventh round. He simply hadn't heard or read 'mimetic' before, gave it a shot and went the wrong way. He was more than a little unhappy about it, but I thought he was great. For a naturally shy person in a room with hundreds of people in it, just keeping his cool through each round made me quite proud.
Here are the words he got, round by round:
mimetic -- X
My ex and I both noted that in rounds 1-3, 5-6, the person just before him misspelled. I felt badly for the kid in the first round, who I think was just so nervous he wasn't paying attention to himself. He seemed both confused and distraught at the bell they use to signal a misspelling. I hope he doesn't dwell on it, though. That's a hard thing, spelling in front of a large crowd of people under a spotlight.
There weren't too many words I thought were nasty. It's really all about composure and nerve. The second round got 11 people. Then after lunch, the decimation was on. Many kids were clearly tired, and I picked out a few who I think were happy just to be done with it. When it got down to the last 5-6 contestants, all were returnees from previous competitions. They knew how it went, had learned to relax. I hope Patrick eventually considers that and gives it another shot next year.
The boy does not like to lose. No one does, of course, but man. Not to be talked to, much less hugged for at least an hour. Where did he ever learn such high expectations of himself? I dunno how he can live like that.
By round, here are the words contestants were eliminated on:
Round 1: prairie, alcohol, capitulation
Round 2: hassock, libretto, confetti, virtuoso, credenza, bayou, greengage, poi, flamenco, mantilla, synergy
Round 3: beleaguer, macrame, fuselage, erudite, macadamia
Round 4: souvenir, accidentally, receptacle, viceroy, hasten, dismissal, asymmetrical, existence, precede
Round 5: silhouetted, penicillin, ventriloquist, gazetteer, conscience, bobolink (nasty), picaresque, provenance, prejudice, enunciate, temperamental, succotash, reticence
Round 6: valise, derelict, nepotism, tawdrily, basilica, stalag, elegize, iterative, consortium, antiphonal
Round 7: fiefdom, mimetic...after which I stopped tracking to go see Patrick, but this round knocked out 8 of the 14 remaining kids.
I found the details of the contest fascinating. The first three rounds come from a list of words the kids all receive well in advance. It was easy for me to see who had memorized the list (700 words, yikes) by the allowed questions. Each contest could ask for a definition, word origin, use in a sentence, and alternate pronunciations -- all of which might help a student remember which page of the handout they had seen it. A few kids used all the questions to make absolutely sure they understood the word. And in one case, it would have been ideal: the person who got 'fuselage' spelled it 'fusillage.' That was a strange one: I thought I heard 'fusillade' and wondered why she put a 'g' in.
The pronouncer got tired. There was a ton of nervous energy in the room, and while this gentlemen has been doing it for years and by all accounts doing it very well, mistakes happen. One thing I noticed: no one who asked for an alternate pronunciation received one, and there were 1-2 cases where I thought one was available. One word, "erudite," simply doesn't pronounce well ("air-you-dite"). Another time I thought the pronouncer went out of bounds, with "temper-a-mental." I've never heard anyone enunciate five syllables in that word. Twice he corrected a misspelling with another misspelling ("ellegize," and one other I forgot). Nothing serious, of course, nothing that changed the outcome. I wasn't the only spectator hanging on every detail and noticing minor things, but the crowd remained respectful of the entire process. Comparing that to parents at soccer games Patrick once played in, I much prefer this kind of crowd.
Funny tidbit. There was another Patrick in the competition, a nice, friendly kid, who also had a sister named Erin. He sat closest to the exit in the back row at the start, and high-fived everyone who left the stage. He went out the same round as Patrick did. Typical of my two kids, Erin introduced herself to them in the parking lot for no particular reason, and on learning they were also Patrick and Erin, immediately started a three-way game of chase. My son couldn't be bothered with distractions. All business, that one.
Finally, it was a hugely supportive and positive crowd. Lots of parents there (like me!) wished other contestants well and seemed to hope for each child to do their best. I didn't hear one negative expression all day. I can recommend this contest to any parent in the Sacramento area who just wants to know their child will be encouraged and treated well.