We did have time once for a geography bee in sixth grade. We had to give a place name that started with the last letter of the prior place given. (Bunkie -> Eunice.) If you didn't give a name quickly enough, started your place with the wrong letter because you couldn't spell or you repeated, then it was game over.
I was still in the hunt after an hour with three boys when one smarty-pants thought he had me with Schenectady. All three of them looked gleeful at my imminent demise. I promptly responded with Yemen. That took the wind out of their 11-year-old boy sails and I went on to victory.
So if I could win a game involving geography - my weakest subject - then imagine my spelling power when I was untainted by drugs and alcohol. Combine that pristine brain with a childhood spent reading encyclopedias and browsing dictionaries and I coulda been a contender!