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Last year, Anurag Kashyap tied for 47th place in the Spelling Bee final.

He is an avid reader and a straight A student whose favourite subject is science. The California student also participated in the state Mathscount and Science Olympiad competitions. He also represented his school, Meadowbrook Middle School, Poway, in the California Geographic Bee.

Anurag sealed his win in the 19th round, after both Aliya Deri and Samir Patel dropped out in the 18th, leaving him the sole contestant.

His final word was 'appoggiatura', a word derived from Italian that means 'an embellishing note or tone preceding an essential melodic note or tone and usually written as a note of smaller size.'

Aliya failed to tackle the French-origin 'trouvaille', spelling it as 'trouvail' while Samir misspelt 'Roscian' as 'Rossian.'

The win gives him $22,000, a $1,000 savings bond, a $5,000 college scholarship, one set of the Encyclopedia Britannica, one set of the Great Books of the Western World, and the 2005 Britannica CD (from Encyclopedia Brittanica), and a reference library from Merriam Webster.

Aliya plays the violin, viola, and piano and is a member of two orchestras. She swims competitively and also enjoys diving. Her other pastimes include Indian dance and Tai Chi.

Samir was the crowd favourite; blowing kisses, according to the Washington Post everytime he answered a question correctly. Though he is only 11, he is a Spelling Bee veteran, having taken part in three contests so far.

He tied for third place in 2003 and 27th place in 2004. He plays the piano, and enjoys playing chess and football. Samir told the Post he would take a fortnight off, then begin preparing for next year's Spelling Bee.

Aliya Robin Deri, also from California, joint second along with Samir Patel. Aliya, the Washington Post reported, 'was deliberate about winnowing out spellings by working the etymology of the words, asking about Russian origin, Latin phrases and French roots. Her mother, Chandan Deri, couldn't stand the pressure and hid behind columns, a potted plant or doors each time her daughter was up.'

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