New Delhi, May 31: They had no facility of spell check or helpline like KBC. Still, for the last six years, Indians have won US National Spelling Bee contest. This year there were five of them in the last six.
Arvind Mahankali, a 13-year-old boy from Bayside Hills, New York is the Scripps National Spelling Bee, 2013 and it was German-Yiddish word knaidel (a kind of dumpling), got him $30,000 cash prize and a trophy. Other gifts were a $2,500 US savings bond from Merriam-Webster and $2,000 worth of reference works from Encyclopedia Britannica.
"I thought, 'The German curse had turned into a German blessing,'" he said of his victory. "It means I can retire on a good note." The German curse was that he finished third in two previous years, eliminated both times on German words. In 2011, he was eliminated on the word "Jugendstil" and last year he was floored by "schwannoma".
Arvind Mahankali, who wants to become a quantum physicist, defeated 10 other finalists. Asked what he planned to do during his summer vacation, he said he planned to study physics.
The second-place finisher was Pranav Sivakumar, 13, of Tower Lakes, New York, who attends Barrington Middle School. Sriram Hatwar, 13, from Painted Post, New York, and a student at the Alternative School for Math & Science, finished third.
Amber Born, a 14-year-old from Marblehead, Massachusetts, who is home schooled, was fourth.
Two Indian-origin girls shared fifth place - Vismaya Kharkar, 14, of Bountiful, Utah and Vanya Shivashankar, at 11 the youngest of the finalists. Vismaya Kharkar went out on "paryphodrome," and Vanya finished tied for 5th after misspelling "zenaida," a type of pigeon.
Finalists were eliminated on such words as "pathognomonic," a disease's characteristics, "doryline," a kind of ant, "melocoton," a grafted peach, and "kaburi," a land crab.
For the first time since it started in 1927, the contest included tests on vocabulary. Organizers said the new quizzes were part of the Bee's commitment to deepening knowledge of the English language.
Since 1999, 11 of the 15 winners have been of South Asian origin, including the last six.
Arvind Mahankali won a contest that involved 11 million young spellers at some point. A total of 281 aged 8 to 14 from all 50 US states, the District of Columbia and foreign countries took part in the Bee held outside Washington.
Words that Arvind got right to win the 86th championship.
Galere - a group having a common quality.
Crapaud -a large Caribbean toad.
Kaumographer - one transferring designs to clothing.
Dehnstufe - an Indo-European long-grade vowel.
Thonnier - a Breton tuna-fishing boat.
Trichocercous - having a spiny tail.
At 10.25 pm (US time), Arvind became the first boy to win the Scripps National Spelling Bee since 2008.
Arvind Mahankali had to spell two words correctly to clinch the title: his starter word was Tokonoma (a Japanese word meaning an niche in a wall.) That's after Pranav Sivakumar, the runner up, was eliminated. He came winner with Knaidel. The Knaidel is usually a mix of matzo meal, eggs, salt, and other foods, served in soup. They're matzo balls.
Arvind admires Albert Einstein and hopes to become a physicist. Arvind's father is an IT consultant and his mother is a doctor. The family is originally from, where relatives were watching live on television as the event was broadcast from a suburban Washington hotel.
His father Srinivas Mahankali cited a premium on education and language as reasons for the spate of Indian-American winners.