WASHINGTON – The Scripps National Spelling Bee is adding a new wrinkle this year in an attempt to stop a streak of ties for the championship.
This year, the top spellers will sit for a written tiebreaker test before they begin spelling words in the prime-time finale. The results will be revealed only if two or three spellers get through the final rounds unscathed. The speller with the highest score would then be declared champion. Only if the top spellers get exactly the same score will the competition end in a tie.
The bee has ended in a tie three years running. Last year's was the most improbable. The final rounds were more than twice as long, with harder words, and two spellers still ended up hoisting the winner's trophy.