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Spellbound : Syracuse woman launches CNY Scrabble Club

Mary Carney, left, who founded the CNY Scrabble Club takes her turn as in Scrabble as Matthew O'Connor, 12, of DeWitt considers his next move.

Mary Carney, left, who founded the CNY Scrabble Club takes her turn as in Scrabble as Matthew O'Connor, 12, of DeWitt considers his next move. Photo by Ned Campbell.

— For Mary Carney, starting a local Scrabble club was all about filling a niche.

“Syracuse didn’t have one,” said Carney, who lives in Syracuse’s Westcott neighborhood.

“Scrabble is my favorite game and I was looking for people to play with,” she added. “When you play a lot of Scrabble, you learn more of the unusual words (ZA, QAT) that give you a big advantage, and you want the challenge of playing against people who know those words, too.”

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Matthew O'Connor considers his next move.

Carney got just that — a challenge — when she hosted the first meeting of the CNY Scrabble Club at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 2, in the Buckley Room of the DeWitt Community Library, located in ShoppingTown Mall. Carney faced off against Matthew O’Connor, 12, of DeWitt, a frequent tourney player who placed third with his partner, Seth Tilliss, in the 2011 National School Scrabble Championship last April in Orlando. Carney lost by 3 points — 342-345 — to O’Connor in their timed match.

“I was a bit intimidated,” Carney said. “Matthew’s a very serious player who clearly knows the tournament rules much better than I do. That said, we had a really good game. He only beat me by 3 points, so I’m definitely up for a rematch.”

The first meeting was a success overall, with Scrabble lovers young and old filling the Buckley room to near capacity.

“It was great,” Carney said. “I was really glad that we had a wide range of players and that everyone seemed to really enjoy the games. I knew there would be other people interested in this kind of group, but I’ve been really surprised at how many people have responded and are interested in meeting up.”

Two of those people were Dave and Madeline Bodner, of eastern Manlius, who are both retired. The couple had tried to start a Scrabble group at their home, but found that people weren’t willing to make the drive from Syracuse.

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