“Star Wars,” Legos and an interest in word origins combined to prepare Vishal Narayanaswamy to become the 2010 Madison All-City Spelling Bee champion Saturday.
The 12-year-old from Jefferson Middle School rose to the top of a field of about 50 third- through eighth-graders during the competition on the Edgewood College campus.
Vishal clinched the win, and a trip to the Badger State Spelling Bee, by spelling “apparatchik,” a word of Russian origin meaning communist secret agent.
He wasn’t sure about the word’s meaning, but while studying for the competition he memorized the first four letters by remembering they were the same as the Tamil Indian word for “father.”
“And it sounded Slavic so I knew it had a ‘k’ at the end,” Vishal said. “I usually don’t hear the meanings. I just remember word patterns.”