It was a war of words that went on for 34 rounds.
But when the dust settled Saturday, 14-year-old Yining Lu of Richmond County emerged as winner of the 2006 Local Qualifying Bee of the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
What's his secret?
"I have no social life," the Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School eighth-grader said jokingly. "I spent the whole week studying for this thing."
Once the field of 15 competitors had been narrowed to just two, Yining and Aiken County's Jessica Kaczmarek enunciated their way through an additional 21 rounds.
They correctly spelled some tongue-twisters, including foolocracy, taphonomy and collywobbles, but it was a confounding word with far fewer syllables that ultimately tripped Jessica: trumeau.
The word, defined as a glass decorative feature used in 18th-century France, was properly spelled by Yining, who then spelled "armistice" to win the competition.
In addition to a $500 savings bond, he also won $500 in spending money for his trip to Washington, D.C., later this year to compete with other regional winners in the national bee.
"I've been to Washington before, but I'm looking forward to going back - especially with the spending money," said Yining, who will be accompanied by his parents, Jiayang Lu and Menghua Zhang.
Jessica, 14, who attends Paul Knox Middle School, will receive a $300 savings bond for her second-place finish. She also won second place in the 2005 competition.
Vipul Shekhawat, 13, who attends Lakeside Middle School in Columbia County, was the third-place winner, receiving a $150 savings bond.
The event, sponsored by The Augusta Chronicle and Busby's Heating and Air, was held at the News Building in downtown Augusta.
Reach Rob Pavey at 868-1222, ext. 119, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jessica Kaczmarek, 14, stumbled on "trumeau."