SINGAPORE - Justinian Guan, 11, won this year's RHB-The Straits Times National Spelling Championship - with the word "zeitgeist".
The Rosyth School pupil did so after his competitor, Sng Hwee Woon, 11, from CHIJ St Nicholas Girls' School Primary, misspelt the word during her turn in the finals' seventh round.
The finals, also known as The Big Spell, was played intensely, with the third round being the decisive factor. Eight of the finalists remained after their compatriots tripped over words such as "isosceles" and "labyrinthine" in that round.
By the fifth round, only the top three finalists - including Neil Goh Ken Tze, 11, from Anglo-Chinese School (Primary), the eventual second runner-up - were left.
Held in ITE College Central in Ang Mo Kio, Saturday's event had 22 finalists spelling a range of words, including "porraceous" and "eglantine".
It was the culmination of seven weeks of competition, in the fourth edition of The Big Spell.
The Championship is organised by The Straits Times and RHB Banking Group, in partnership with the Ministry of Education. It is supported by the Institute of Technical Education College Central and the National Library Board; the venue partners were Sports Hub Library and Suntec Singapore.
The final was graced by Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong, who encouraged the pupils to go beyond just the competition.
"Do it for the love of the language. Work hard consistently at it every day. This is the kind of attitude and discipline that will put you in good stead in the future," he said.
The top pupils of today's competition will also be invited to compete in a cross-border spelling competition, slated for November this year. The RHB Spelling Masters, as the friendly competition is named, will pit top Singapore spellers against Malaysia's champions from its Spell-It-Right competition.
Follow the action of The Big Spell at www.straitstimes.com/bigspell