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About the Author

Stefan Fatsis is a staff reporter for the "Wall Street Journal" & a regular commentator on NPR's "All Things Considered". He has written for the Associated Press, the "Village Voice", & "P.O.V." magazine & has appeared on "Good Morning, America" to discuss the 2000 National Scrabble Championship. mostrar mais In search of a story idea in 1997, Scrabble amateur Fatsis challenged the head of the National Scrabble Association to a game & won. He has since traveled the country playing in Scrabble tournaments & achieved "expert" status, & he currently ranks in the top 10 percent of tournament Scrabble players nationwide. (Bowker Author Biography) mostrar menos

Inclui os nomes: Stefan Fatsis, Stefan Fatsis

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Obras de Stefan Fatsis

Associated Works

Upon Further Review: The Greatest What-Ifs in Sports History (2018) — Contribuinte — 36 cópias


Conhecimento Comum



Outstanding. Fatsis' embedding of himself in the culture of competitive play is engaging even if you're not a Scrabble fan. The mental game he so carefully examines of both aspiring and top players reveals how many layers of emotion and calculation go into playing at higher levels. How can you do well at such a specialized pursuit without flirting with mania?
Kavinay | outras 41 resenhas | Jan 2, 2023 |
Wall Street Journal sports reporter Stefan Fatsis gets assigned to cover Scrabble™, and explores what it means to be the best at a competitive activity. Fatsis follows the Scrabble™ careers of such characters as “GI” Joel (not veteran status, but gastrointestinal problems); Marlon from Baltimore, black and unemployed but a word genius; and Matt, who would be banned if Scrabble™ players were drug tested. Fatsis finds himself getting gradually drawn into the world, memorizing word lists and unscrambling anagrams for fun. There are asides about Alfred Mosher Butts, the inventor of the game; and about its publishing history (moving from handmade in Butt’s living room to semi-handmade by James Brunot in an old schoolhouse to printers Selchow & Righter to big businesses Coleco and Hasbro). It’s noted that after Selchow & Righter, the companies that owned Scrabble™ never seemed to be quite sure what to do with it, especially in the age of computer games. Fatsis gradually gets better and better, moving up in the rankings – and eventually playing with almost Zen-like detachment.

So what does it mean to be a “world class” Scrabble™ player? You’re never going to get to do celebrity product endorsements (although the concept of Scrabble™ athletic shoes does seem mildly amusing). You end up with a small circle of fellow players as friends – all interesting people, but rather single-minded. But you’ve accomplished something that took brainpower and hard work, even if only other players are impressed. An interesting and enlightening read.
… (mais)
setnahkt | outras 41 resenhas | Feb 1, 2022 |
Stefan Fatsis’s Wild and Outside: How a Renegade Minor League Revived the Spirit of Baseball in America’s Heartland offers a fascinating look at the inner workings of the 1994 season of the Northern League, which was one of baseball’s premier independent leagues. And while Fatsis certainly has a good feel for the on-the-field aspects of the sport (and particularly the grassroots heart and soul of the game), it’s his keen affinity for the business end of the things that sets this book apart from other baseball books. This was the second season of the league, which was still not quite on firm footing. The insights into the precarious finances of the franchises, the motivations of the fledgling owners, the backstories of the harried managers, the decision-making, the headaches, the successes and failures: it’s these facets that set the book apart. Adding to the intrigue is that independent teams are comprised of reject players: those who couldn’t cut it in the majors or their affiliated minor league systems. These are players who are just barely hanging on, looking for one more shot to play well enough to be noticed by an MLB scout and a chance to picked up by a major league organization.

Fortuitously for the narrative, the 1994 season set up a serendipitous juxtaposition: in August 1994 MLB players went on strike, cancelling the remainder of the major league season, and leaving independent ball as the only baseball being played in the country from that point forward that year. While MLB shut down amid its labor strife, the heartland’s Northern League played on, firmly and staunchly independent (albeit with its own internal issues to deal with). The Duluth–Superior Dukes, St. Paul Saints, Sioux Falls Canaries, Sioux City Explorers, Winnipeg Goldeyes, and Thunder Bay Whiskey Jacks carried on. Fatsis doesn’t belabor the point, but merely presents the facts for the reader to contemplate the dichotomy. Wild and Outside reminds us of the pure joy and entertainment value in baseball. It is more than a game; it is a part of America’s deep- rooted culture to be celebrated.
… (mais)
ghr4 | 1 outra resenha | Dec 21, 2020 |
Word Freak was lent to me by a person who I was losing pretty badly to in Words With Friends. Perhaps he thought it would help me raise my game. Fatsis is a journalist who in short order, about two years, became an expert division one Scrabble player, attaining a rank of 1733. His book has chapters on the history and origins of the game, its commercialization and continuing success, and a number of the more colorful characters or "freaks" who are among the upper echelon players and who serve as coaches and mentors for Fatsis's own trajectory from journeyman to top flight tournament player. This "it takes a community to make a champion" vibe reminded me of all the players who helped prodigy Beth Harmon face the Russian chess masters in the popular Netflix documentary, The Queen's Gambit. Fatsis himself draws other parallels between the two games: the fanatic devotion, the innate talent, the tens of thousands of hours of study, the strategizing. But if top flight chess players are often depicted as veering on the edge of insanity, Fatsis's fellow gamers are more like high school misfits and nerds. At the end of the day, I learned a lot about how Fatsis improved his game through incessant study of dictionaries and word lists. Through anagramming, playing tons of games with his new friends, entering tournaments, studying games played, analyzing key moves, creating anamonic phrases, and much much more. That said, this book, did not make me better at Words with Friends. But it was an amusing and enjoyable glimpse into a world filled with zany and passionate and intelligent word freaks. They were great company.… (mais)
OccassionalRead | outras 41 resenhas | Nov 29, 2020 |



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