Thursday, October 30, 2008


I went 2-2 tonight at Scrabble club. And if I just sucked a little less, I could have gone 4-0. The two games I lost were by a combined less than twenty points. I have really got to learn some five letter words. Oh and hooks for things. If I knew what went after Haen or Hame I would have been rolling in victories. Oh, crazy words I learned today: Ginep and brith. Yeah, not birth - brith. Fortunately, both were in this game against this guy who I used to beat all the time before my stupid six month hiatus and now he plays the insanest words just to get me to challenge. But I don't cause I know he wants me to. Although, he bingoed on me with renoted and I should have challenged because it's no good. I bingoed on him THREE TIMES and ended up losing by the stupid tiles on my rack. Stupid c. Arrgh. Oh, but one of my victories was against a woman I have never beaten before. Apparently she found out her aunt died during the tournament and had a bad night. Now, before you judge me, as I sat down across from her she was "oh, good! I'm playing you." And she broke into a huge grin. And then when I beat her, and by a lot, it was all "Dead aunt." My other victory was against a young woman from Korea who just didn't know how to play. She played toast using an s and a blank for ten points. Dude. So I basically played all manner of phonies and try to run up the score against her to protect against the dreaded negative spread. There's a tournament in Queens this Sunday. I may play in least it'll motivate me to study for the next two days.

Friday, October 24, 2008


I will confess that the two times I had to play "dirty words" (cunt, titties) I counted the points up before I did it, cringed, put them down really fast, closed my eyes and drew new tiles superfast.

via petitedov

Thursday, October 23, 2008

How to play the game

Woody, a guy at my Scrabble club, played "assholes" on a triple/triple! He scored like a bagillion points and won the "lipstick on a pig" award for word that most reminds Joel (our club director) of Sarah Palin.
It was my first time back at the club, it's such a different place than the one I left in April. I managed my usual 2-2 record...although I beat a woman I have NEVER beaten before and got beat by a guy I always used to beat. What's that phrase about winning some and losing some? I learned a bunch of new words: kiva, odin, curr. Don't ask me what they mean, although in the case of "curr," it means you challenge and then he comes back at you with "colinear" on the triple word score, which you also challenge, only to find out that his "last girlfriend was named Caroline." Dammit.
I bingoed with gestate though, which was a cool non-blank using find. I also played salined and got away with it! (Only real bingoes in the rack are denials and snailed.) I'm gearing up for my next tournament in a couple of weeks...I need my rating to go up by twenty points, so we're back in insane practicing mode. The other thing I'm trying to do is less fishing and more five letter word playing...unfortunately I don't know that many fives, but I found prawn today with the p on the triple word square and the w on the double letter, for a boatload of points. I also played quins twice on a double word score with the q on a oduble that's progress.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

On the inside

I finally got an invite to the private monthly Scrabble tournaments! I had been hearing rumors about this game for about a year. It’s held in a posh UES apartment with posh people…one woman is Colin Powell’s cousin! I was far and away the worst player there…although, now that I know that I am exactly the 132nd best Scrabble player in New York, there was one woman ranked below me. My first game was against this jerky brash dude. He likes to needle and mind game you into making bad challenges/letting phonies go. I mostly try to ignore his antics and play my own game…a strategy which was working. I bingoed on him twice early and ignored a lot of words I know he was playing just to bait me…I wish I had taken a picture, so I could remember them. It was all going swimmingly until he played doux for 52 points, with the x on some power square going two ways. Now, I had recently studied all the short x words and I just couldn’t remember ever seeing it. Never. The guy was also really quiet instead of his usual “blah blah blah blahing” when he knows he’s played a valid word, so after about a minute I challenged. It was good. But he wasn’t sure about it, which is why he was quiet. I lost my turn and the sad part is that I could have played through his x on the triple word score line with “roux.” Anyway, I came back to play your under his fur to hit the other triple word square, with the y on the double letter square going three ways, so I made back some ground. But then I hit three racks in a row with no vowels (I played Brrr…tried to play cwm…”) but nothing materialized and I lost the game by 12 points. He said that he had a rack of all vowels he ended up playing animi through the m I was looking at for my cwm. Oh, I bingoed with megatons--- that was a cool find. Anyway, one loss.
I then played a woman that crushed me and sent me home to mama during the Big Apple tournament. It was a very close game. We were playing a lot of tightly packed three and four letter words and the board was very closed down. I ended up bingoing with aidless (fast becoming my favorite Scrabble stem…the words are so crazy, that they mostly get challenged every time.) The both of us were having terrible clock management problems and as we dumped off our last tiles, she maybe had 20 seconds left with four tiles, I had like a minute. So I just kept playing off tiles as fast as I could without much attention to points, hoping to get her to go over. Sure enough, she went over by 1 second. And I managed to win the game by nine points thanks to her ten point penalty!
I also won my next game. This woman was brutal with fives and sixes. She didn’t bingo once, but she would play like “seizes with the z on a double letter and then hitting the triple word box to make me cry. I thought I was going to lose, EVEN THOUGH I BINGOED THREE TIMES, that’s how good she was, but instead, I managed a one point victory because I went out before her and got the two points for her last tile! Whew.
I also won my next game against the host. She is super competitive and it’s her house, so I tried to be on my best behavior while playing her…even though her oft-times nasty comments made that difficult at times. But whatever, I sooth my pride with the knowledge that I won.
I dropped by last two games in bad crushing fashion. I mean hundreds of points, giving up midgame, not even keeping score anymore crushing. But, I finished with a winning record, albeit a negative spread, so hopefully I’ll be invited back.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

My rating went up!

I'm almost at a 1000. Woot.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Not so random question (Dawn)

I have played in four Scrabble tournaments over eight days, why do they choose the one day I have overslept and show up to the game looking like crap to take my official NSA photo?

Sunday, October 5, 2008

The End

First off, hahahahaha. Hi, Karol. HAHHAAHHA.

Today was the last day of the tournament and I learned a new lesson that is not often imparted to new Scrabble tournament players. Here is that lesson: You cannot win a game if you are sleeping. Literally. Game one of day three started at 9:30. I opened my eyes in my bed in Brooklyn and the clock said 9:41. Well, it actually probably said 10:02, but that’s because all my clocks are fast by some arbitrary number so I freak myself out by 1) having to do math and 2) thinking I’m late. Sadly, no amount of subtraction was going to make me not late today. I pulled on jeans, brushed my teeth and ran to my car. I then made it from Brooklyn to Manhattan is seven minutes, for some idea on how fast I was going…well…fast. Anyway, by the time I made it to the Midtown loft where the games were being held, the director told me I missed my match by 1 minute and they had to call it a forfeit. I was sad, but didn't fight, it was totally my fault. I played the beneficiary of my exhaustion in a fifteen minute game for "fun," before my next match. She seemed easily flustered and I probably could have beaten her...made all the more painful by the fact that I did beat my next three opponents, for a final record of 9-6. I think I came in seventh or eighth. My ranking should probably hold though, which was my biggest concern going into this tournament as unprepared as I was. Unfortunately, I didn't do my rating any favors...which leads me now to my latest obsession with playing the Lake George tournament at the end of October...if only I could guarantee that I would study...

Saturday, October 4, 2008


Ugh. I had a strong start...3-1 going into lunchbreak...and then sploosh. But, hey, my first game was against a little boy, he's like nine or so. I was afeard he'd be some kind of Scrabble prodigy and would crush me. But then he played cui and I challenged it off and started to relax. And then he played azo vertically under my ox on the line next to the triple word score. I had isatine on my rack, one of those was a blank, but I don't remember I tried to pluralize azo (making xi, azos and isatine) he successfully challenged it off. I missed a turn, bingoed isatine next to sun for suns and isatine...he inexplicably challenged suns and I got another turn. I picked up nolmtig. Yay! Molting...hmm...where to put it...I went back to the azos spot and played molting horizontally. Bingoing down the triple line, making:

It was awesome. He kinda gave up after that.

I won my next game, by letting the guy beat himself. He had terrible clock management skills. By the third round he had like seven minutes left. When he finally bingoed, he played raiders alongside oi, making ois and raiders. I instantly challenged and he wasted another five minutes looking for a new bingo spot. So, I basically, kept throwing back any crap tiles and sending it back to him until he was minus four on the clock. He ended up negative seventy. I won by eighteen.

Then I won a super close game against a guy that bingoed on me three times...but his third bingo teeings, was a phony and I challenged. He then tried to play some other crap on me which made the word "dost" ...I challenged the whole play and it was no good, so I'm not sure what the bad word was. BUt I ended up winning by three.

I won the first game after lunch against this mamas boy that had beaten at a tournament I played last year in Queens. He challenged AIDLESS! A scrabble stem anagram that I had learned at lunch. He had smart assed me earlier in the game when I challenged wizes and it was good.
"Yeah, that's a tricky one. It can be spelled whizzes or wizes, but the weird thing is wize is not good. You really just have to study." So when he called "hold" after I played "aidless" I prayed and prayed for him to challenge...after wasting a full two minutes, he finally did. And after the computer validated it, I was all "huh, it's so weird that you would challenge a stem's LADIES plus, 's.' Buuurn.

Thus endeth my good times.

My last three games were devasting exercises in girl that is good at Scrabble meeting people who are great at Scrabble. Although, one guy, a British dude I met at Scrabble club who also plays poker, I had beaten every time I ever played him. Of course, while I have been off doing lord knows what, he has been playing and studying Scrabble. I knew I was in for a baaad beating. I was doing okay, even picked up satiren and did my little "ooh, is it satine plus r or satire plus n, ooh, what do I do? where do I go with my nine bingoes," and then I opened a stupid bingo lane above the triple word line and he punished me with isolead. Plus I challenged him. Sad Dawn.
The next woman I played never scored less than 30 points on each turn, or she's exchange. It was disgusting. Got so bad I tried playing "gooseing" on her. She challenged. I lost.
My last game was against Adam, who was a member of the Scrabble crew, he is super competitive and had just lost to someone who was ranked below him. So he took it out on me. TUX with the x on the triple letter square going two ways. Lez/zin on double word scores two ways. Crushed.
Hate Scrabble.
Never playing again.
Until tomorrow. I'm 6-4...need to win all four tomorrow...but hopefully, my crushing this afternoon means I'll be playing the bottom of my division. And hopefully, I can win.

Not so random thought (Dawn)

When I'm a famous poker player, I'm going to play Norman Chad in Scrabble while he asks me five questions in that episode of the Nuts.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Coming home to Scrabble

Okay, so I have certainly played more Scrabble than I’ve posted about…but that’s more a function of my having posted nothing. After Saratoga I immediately signed up for every Scrabble tournament in the New York area. I was determined to get the taste of my “so close, yet so far” bubble finish out of my mouth. Instead (Satine plus d, bitches!) Life got the taste of Scrabble altogether out of my mouth. All my Scrabble nemeses refused to play me anymore, Hasbro killed Scrabulous and I just couldn’t go back to the Manhattan Scrabble club, so it seemed I was all done with Scrabble. Except for the three day October tournament in NYC. Unlike all the other tournaments I signed up for, I actually paid cash monies upfront for this one. So, I was going to play. And I would eventually get back into the swing of things. Or so I told myself in April, and then May, and then June and July, definitely for sure by August, I mean, I was recovering from emergency surgery what else could I possibly do!? Turns out lots. By September, I was in real trouble. I hadn’t learned anything new AND I had forgotten everything I did know. Luckily, okay, I already know this is the wrong word, you are about to find out why. Luckily, an old woman from the club had surgery and it left her homebound. One of my old Scrabble crew friends called me to see if I could play some games with the woman at her house. I figured this was a good way to both get back into the game and pay forward all the people who came by my place to play Scrabble with me when I was all post op. Janey – the old woman—is an excellent player. She has crushed me pretty much every time I ever played her at the club or in informal matchups. I would say every time, but I think I beat her once…or I only lost by double digits to her, which I also count as a win…
Anyway, her operation was on her hands, so I had to count all the points and do all the clock hitting, but otherwise she functioned ably.
I was super rusty, so I didn’t expect very much from the game. Lo and behold I won. It was definitely very close and I must say it was more a function of great tiles than any strategery on my part.
I then won the second game, by a bigger margin this time, but again I think I drew lucky at key times AND Janey underestimates me a great deal, so she left some spots open that I don’t think she would normally leave and I capitalized.
She was super cranky after that and so we only played one more game…which we never finished because she was getting tired. I was ahead though. Grin.
I went back to her place every afternoon for the next few weeks and actually won the majority of games. This did not in anyway motivate me to study though, so today, the day before the Big Apple tournament began, I was on my phone with my completely unhelpful friend Karol, trying to relearn satine, satire, toners and ladies. Not to mention my fracking threes, which still elude me!
“Did you know mim is good? And MIB?”
“I don’t care,” she would callously reply.
I found some secret words that I figured I should learn…this is always how I get an edge on people who have been playing longer than I have, I learn new words and hope to draw challenges.
So, ready or not, there I went.
My first game was supposed to be a bye. I am ranked fourth in my division and my fourth from the bottom counterpart didn’t show. But there were 23 participants in the tournament, so one bye was already built in. Instead, we both had to play each other. I was nervous and didn’t know what to expect from my opponent. I played very conservatively, building three and four letter words. She played the same way and very quickly we had an ugly closed off blockish board. But then she did a strange thing. She played heads for 17 points!!! An ess for 17? I mean sure she got the h on a triple letter, but dude! So, I started to loosen my tile playing requirements an bingoed on my next turn with what I thought was a phony three, but valid bingo: I played bog/ginnies. Turns out bog is good (I guess it’s like ‘boggle,’ but ginnies is not.) She DIDN’T CHALLENGE EITHER!! Woo hoo!
Of course, whenever I underestimate someone, I start playing like a total fish, single digit turns until I get a bingo rack. Unfortunately, while I sat around with my line in the bag, she managed to bingo with outside using a blank. Ouchy. I had the other blank, but also every stupid r in the bag. I idiotically kept playing off one or two ars until she had a forty point lead on me and tiles were running out. In (what turned out to be) the second to last round in the game I had farit*d. I only had a bingo lane under tav, so I needed a word with an ess…I didn’t see anything, there were two tiles left in the bag, which based on my tracking weren’t any horrid tiles like q or j or y…there were a bunch of vowels and friendlier letters out…so I gambled. I played fa directly over the triple. I was hoping she take the bait on the triple and play down opening up two new lanes for me to bingo. Oh, and hoping the last two letters weren’t dupes. I played fa, and picked up me. My final rack was rited*m. I immediately saw remited… but wasn’t sure if that needed two tt (it does) but when she surprised me and played ideal under fa – instead playing fade all the way down to the triple like I wanted. I needed a bingo that, at a minimum, fit under her ide. So I had to end with ted. Again, I almost went with remitted, when I finally saw merited and quickly bingoed out on the triple to end up with by like 30 points. I felt amazing!!
My next opponent was a woman from Texas, who seemed to be in a bad mood after losing her first match.
“I can’t seem to beat you New Yorkers,” she said. Seems she had played at the Scrabble club the night before and had gotten bruised.
I smiled. I declined the invitation to say “I hope that remains the case,” or something equally snarky.
Instead, I wished her luck and drew.
Damn. I wished I had wished me luck: nynypbi.
Dude, WTF.
I ended up playing piny because I went first.
It was a close game until she foolishly played a word down to the triple line ending in d. I bingoed on the triple with sprained using my blank as an i. (basically I had the infamous ‘panters’ rack.) I went on to win by a comfortable forty points.
My last matchup of the night was with Nancy, one of the core members of the defunct Scrabble gang. She’s got wicked word knowledge and I couldn’t beat her on my best of days at the height of my Scrabble playing. I did not have high hopes for this game. Which was good.
She picked up both blanks, the j,z,x,s …bingoed twice, I think…ugh…it was brutal. And yes, while I did pick up three esses, I got them all at the same time. She challenged two of my plays off the board “unis” and “smatted” and that was all she wrote. I was blown out by 145 points and finished the night 2-1 with a -60 spread. I’m hoping that puts me at the middle/bottom of the division, so I’ll get matched up with weaker players tomorrow – instead of my commanding opening at Saratoga, which doomed me to a day two of the dominating best which I couldn’t overcome.
Anyway, here’s to tomorrow!