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.
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!