Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) With a touch of geography, the oral rounds of the Scripps National Spelling Bee are under way.

Thirteen-year-old Lindsey Zimmer of Notasulga, Ala., stepped to the microphone early Wednesday morning as speller No. 1. The eighth-grader who likes to play the flute correctly spelled the word "longitude."

A record 293 spellers including one from China are taking part in the 82nd annual bee, which culminates with a nationally televised finish Thursday night. The winner gets more than $40,000 in cash and prizes.

The competition began Tuesday, when all the spellers took a written test. The scores from that test will be combined with the results from the oral rounds Wednesday morning to determine who advances.

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Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.