WASHINGTON - The third try spelled success for George Thampy, who won the 73rd Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee yesterday.
The 12-year-old from Maryland Heights, Mo., took the $10,000 grand prize in the 15th round by spelling "demarche," which means maneuver.
After tying for fourth place in 1998 and tying for third last year, George returned to the finals this year intent on making it his last year in the competition.
"I wanted to win," said the seventh-grader, who like the second-and third-place winners, is schooled at home. "Instead of going back [home] like last year and studying all over again."
Among the tongue-twisting challenges that he spelled on the way to victory were "propaedeutic," "ditokous," "eudaemonic" and "quodlibet."
"Some kids are betting George is going to win," finalist Brianna Satinoff of Clearwater, Fla., said during the lunch break.
Spelling is just one of his many talents, according to his mother and home-school teacher, Bina Thampy. George placed second at the National Geography Bee last week, where he competed against 54 students.
George, who was sponsored by the St. Louis Post Dispatch, must retire from both national competitions after reaching the final rounds. He will devote more time to his regular subjects, he said.
Sean Conley of Newark, Calif., finished second and Alison Miller of Niskayuna, N.Y., finished third.