Spelling Bee champ crowned tonight

WASHINGTON -- That was tough. As in t-o-u-g-h.

After a difficult semifinals Thursday that saw the chairs on stage
empty one by one, 11 youngsters have advanced to Thursday night's finals of
the Scripps National Spelling Bee (ABC, 8 p.m. ET).

Those that qualified are Ramya Auroprem of San Jose, Calif; Serena Skye Laine-Lobsinger of West Palm Beach, Fla.; Kyle Mou of Peoria, Ill.; Aishwarya Pastapur of Springfield, Ill.; Kennyi Aouad of Terre Haute, Ind.; Kavya Shivashankar of Olathe, Kan.; Sidharth Chand of Bloomfield Hills, Mich.; Tussah Heera of Las Vegas, Nev.; Neetu Chandak of Seneca Falls, N.Y.; Anamika Veeramani of North Royalton, Ohio; and Tim Ruiter of Centreville, Va.

The 11 were all that were left from the semifinals that began with 41
spellers Thursday.

Only five were eliminated in the first round, then 20 exited the stage in an extremely
difficult second round that knocked out some of the returning

Among the words that stumped the spellers: "barbotte," a dice game with a
complex set of rules.

Five more were gone after the third semifinal round to produce
the finalists.

The winner receives more than $40,000 in cash and prizes.

The week began with a record 293 spellers.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.