Friday, December 11, 2009

Back to Scrabble

Scrabble is so mean, man. You take, oh, say, five months off and you forget all your pretty steams and anamonics. You lose that crucial board sense. Time management? Ha! If you remember to hit the clock after your play, you're in good shape. Oh, and do you pick up any skills? Are you suddenly a natural anagrammer or have the ability to count? Are you a lucky tile drawer now? Nope. You still suck at what you sucked at and now you suck at all those other things too!
As I'm sure you gathered, I went back to Scrabble club after a long hiatus. I got caught up in wretched Lincoln Tunnel traffic, so I missed the first 10 minutes or so of my first game against my nemesis Adam. Joel stepped in for me. I walked in just as he bingoed with spirula to hand me a ten point lead.
Yup. Spirula. Totally EXACTLY what I would have played!
I drew seven tiles: O O E E I A A.
Adam played something, I exchanged four.
"Ooh, Joel is going to kill you," Adam said as he made his next move.
My new rack looked like this: S A T I R E O

I shuffled and shuffled, but all I found was Satoire and well, come on, look at it! That just couldn't be right.
Adam dumped an O. So did I.
He then bingoed down the triple line with secondi/quays
Me? Oh no, I drew a J.
I played off the J on top of the O, I just dumped for Jo going two ways.
And ignored Adam's stupid 97 point stupid play.
I drew an enn.
Of course, now there was NO PLACE to play it.
Adam was thinking for a long time, so I saw I could play my letters through an E on the triple line. It took an embarrassingly long time to remember the eight. Thankfully, Adam took longer to play his Gae.
I played stearine.
I was still behind and when he drew the next blank, I was finished, even though he went over by four minutes.
Boo. A Joel handicap and I still lose!
My next game was against a wispy blond girl. Maybe in her twenties.
When she challenged my arenite bingo, I was like "yay! An easy win."
Nope. She drew both blanks and going into my last rack she had a 76 point lead.
I had ANTISUS and lots of time, but I couldn't find anything but sinatus. Which I was pretty sure was good, but it woulda been an outplay and she woulda challenged, so I just wimped out and played stains down the triple line.
I discovered I had two bingos in that rack. Sinatus was not one of them.
My third game was against a kid, teenager, I think. Hope. I opened with sestina against him. He challenged! I COMPLETELY relaxed. Okay, Dawn, you got this!
No, no I did not. I started doing tha awesome thing where I get 7, 8, 9 points in a row fishing for "any ess or blank"! Dude!! Why do I retain the bad habits after a hiatus? Shouldn't I forget those too?
Anyway, the kid was scoring 30/40 points AND he drew both blanks. But still I kept it close, Then I drew the dreaded qm on my final rack of satin.
But the kid screwed up! He played tui on the bottom line. I was down only by 34 points. I can play qat on a double word score...I CAN. WIN.
I play qat vertical to the horizontal tui: 28! I am TRIUMPHANT! The stares at it, I am hoping for a challenge! PRAYING. I win easy if I get another consecutive turn. He thinks and then hits the red button...I think by accident because when I ask "you challenge?" He stammered and looked confused, but Joel had already heard me say challenge and came over. So the kid shrugged and said "yeah."
Joel was all "play is no good."
I couldn't believe it.
TUIT! Of course, TUIT's a word!!!
Tuit's not a word.
I lose.
At the end of the game, the kid goes "You coulda won if you had played qat across tui on top." (Making qi/qat still on the double word square.)
Double word CRY.
I was so glum.
This old lady came over and sat across from me. She goes "You lost all your games tonight"
I didn't even look up at her: "Yeah."
"Oh good! I hope I play you."
Now, I look up.
I do not smile.
She clearly does NOT know me.
Joel announces matchups and sure enough I am matched with her!
I don't think I've been so focussed on beating the living wits out of someone since...since...when was the last time I played Fisch?
I did some fishing until I bingoed with some stupid satine word, but then I just hammered her face with 40 point plays, my favorite was Booze with the B on a TLS going two ways and the Z on the DWS, for 54. Plus, I was playing SUPER fast because it was the last game of the night and I wanted to go home. This must have rattled her because she tried to play AF under the ZE in booze. I watched her counting it all up and write it down and when she finally said "42, did you write is down"? I said "you haven't hit the clock yet." So she hits it and goes to draw tiles and I insta challenge.
Oh, you hope you get to play *me*?
Ask about me, lady.
I proceed to crush her, but not so badly that we hit the 200 point mercy rule. 189 points. Heh.
Stupid Scrabble.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Meta Scrabble

My Albany tournament really didn't turn on my word knowledge.
In fact, I lost six challenges all tournament. And three were in one game - but that was somewhat intentional, and I'll talk about that in the context of meta Scrabble - the rest were in games against "weaker" players where they took a shot and happened to be good. (Like the challenge in my last game against a newbie who played "sickled" with the swiftness and fast tile grab of one who was trying to get over. (And actually, when I asked her, as we walked to the word judge, she said she wasn't sure.)) And one BIBICALLY ugly one which I'll write about later. Groan.
The other 20 or so times I found myself at the word judge I emerged victorious.
It's a good feeling being comfortable with my field and the tiles. However. Stupid howevers.
I am so weak at the nonvocabulary parts of the game.
My decision to play slower meant I had time to really think about the meta game, unfortunately, I really didn't know what to do when I ran up against these situations.

Some stupid ones first: In a game against Katya (who plays in Division three with her two kids - a girl about 11 and a boy about 15 - they are the cutest little Scrabble playing family you ever did see and I so want to stow away in their basement!) I had four tiles on my rack s a t ? I dumped three clunky tiles fishing and drew four more. When I realized I had overdrawn, instead of placing the four new tiles on the table, I put them on my rack - meaning I put my already possessed ess and blank at risk, sure enough she plucked my blank off (cause it was on the rack where *everyone* puts the blank when they get it) and threw it back in the bag. This was so stupid. First overdrawing was dumb, and then stupidly mixing them all was dumb. Chalk this up to exhaustion.
Then the three challenges in one game scenario:
I was playing this woman who was kinda spastic. So much so that I played cointer on her for 15 points. (These are very good letters and to burn them for 15 points tells you that I was not at all worried about her.) AND THEN SHE CHALLENGES It!! YAAAAY!
I then draw lstin?g. Jug is on the board and I know there are a billion words ending in gee that takes another gee, so I play listing/jugg. She holds the play and after two minutes, she challenges. It's not good, she plays arid. I then play listing/arids, she challenges. Not good.
I dump something, maybe gi and the game progresses. I end up playing toadies, she holds it for freaking ever, but lets it go. I am losing, so in a desperation move, with eight tiles left, I play darnels/uhs I actually think this whole play is good (it's not). She holds the play, but then lets it go. I draw my tiles and she says "no! Wait! Challenge." We call the director over and he says her challenge was too late. Whew. I then play "mim." She challenges. I panic. "Shit, mem is what I was thinking of." But turns out mim is good too!
I then play like something and mimo. She holds the play, but lets it go because I've opened up the triple and she scores big. No tiles left. I have alo on my rack. Only open letter is a t, I play alot. "8 and out." She challenges. I lose and I lose the game when she goes out.
The loss did not sit well with me. Ultimately, I decided that I shouldn't have tried jugg/arids because with a player that I have a substantial vocabulary edge over, I should just take my 15-30 points with words that I know are valid and wait to use my blank on some crazy bingo -but one that I am absolutely sure of. I should have been more patient.
The next meta issue is of the nature that I faced in the post below about what to do with the woman who played ioniser. In that case, I ultimately decided to challenge it off and play my own bingo in its place, hoping that since she couldn't find ironies/noisier after four minutes of shuffling, she never would. I was right, and on her next turn she burned off "ion" for 18 points. (Unfortunately, I played a vowel next to the dreaded TLS and she was able to hurt me real bad and play the ex on it going two ways. And I lost the game by 30 Blah.)
I faced pretty much the same scenario in my first game on day three. I had gone on a 6/7 tear in day two and was only three games behind the leaders, if I could tear it up on day three, I was back in it, and since I was in 20th, I should be facing weaker players than the leaders. My opponent was this dude who was kind of a stickler.
"Did you write down my score? 34." He barked at me after the third turn.
I wrote three and four on my paper and then looked at him coldly.
"Yes. I got it."
I then bingoed with a pretty eight letter word: estriols, which made four parallel plays. I was feeling pretty good about myself when he puts down quviet. He uses the blank for the u, with the kue on the DLS and the tee on the double word square. 54 points. I am 90% sure this word is not good. But he burned a blank for 54 AND the kue is now three squares to the left of the TWS and I have aid on my rack, for an easy 42 point response. I hold the play. I am still ahead even after his 54, plus my 42, I will be more ahead. Math says leave it. I do.
I take my 42 with qadi, he takes forever shuffling his tiles, then bingoes with unparted through my dee.
I hold, think of Moses and then super challenge. Unparted the sea? What the hell?
It's good.
He then plays suey alongside the unpa in unparted, down the triple lane for another 54!
I don't challenge.
I am now down 70 and my rack is all vowels, so I have to exchange. Going into end game, with three tiles left in the bag, I have inertia on my rack, but it doesn't play. I burn an i and hope. I draw the zee. That was that. I couldn't win.
He then blocks the last bingo lane with rum and takes the last of the tiles. I am down by 125 and I see no spot for my zee. Bad mazel, yo.
I have time, so I look and look until I find THE PLAY of my whole tournament. In closing the last bingo lane, he opened the TWS lane. Alongside rum, I play zeta, with the zee on the DLS, and the a on the TWS, getting zeta/am BOTH tripled! For like 93 points!! He was stunned. I still couldn't win, but I had protected the spread! I took a picture.

Of course, in deconstructing the game later, I decided that the only reason I should ever leave a word that I am more than 80% sure is a phony, on the board, is if I can triple/triple through a letter in it.
My next issue came in the third to last game. At this point we have entered the King of the Hill stage of the tournament, where entrants with near identical records are paired up for the epic battle for 22nd!
The death match for 31st!
Now, since these games depend on the outcome of the games before, they don't have a set start time: essentially, when your last game ends, at some point your next game will begin. I ran up to the room to pack my things, so that between this game and the next game I could run up, grab those things and check out. I am a time managing machine on the last day of a Scrabble tournament!
Anyway, I return to the game room and many matches were in progress. I look around for my opponent, but can't find her. I ask another woman if she knows who the lady I'm supposed to play is, and she says yes and helps me look. The lady is NOT in the playing area. I wait around some more and decide to just go throw the stuff in my car and check out now, because this game is obviously going to end *after* 11 (hotel checkout time). I go and take care of these things. I return to the playing area 7 minutes later and see that my clock has been started and it now reads 21:48.
"Oh, the director started your clock. Sorry."
I am all kinds of livid.
"Well I'm here now, you should stop the clock."
Now time generally isn't an issue for me because I play fast, but I was pissed because I guess I should have sat at a board and just started her clock when I got down there the first time. However, as we were playing for ooh, 27th place AND there were still two more games to be played, I saw NO reason to be a jerk about her absence. This is generally my attitude when it comes to Scrabble rules. I never hit somebody's clock back on them if they dont write down what their blank is on the paper first. I never yell at someone for confirming the score on my time. I have never called a director over for the purpose of assesing a penalty on someone for any of the numerous possible transgressions.
It's a game, and as long as the broad strokes of quiet and nonviolence are respected, I'm cool. I have never started or asked to have an opponent's clock started. I agree to makeup games when my opponents miss a scheduled match. I don't ask for recounts. I am not an asshole. I recognize that I'll be playing this game, with these people for as many years as I am involved with competitive Scrabble, why be a jerk?
Of course, I have had opponents do all these things to me, so maybe I'm just a sucker and need to put away camraderie and take my advantages wherever I might find them.
Finally, my last game of the tournament I am matched with a girl who I had played poker with the day before. She said this was her second tournament. I think I was in 28th place at that point, with 9 wins and a negative spread, so I was super relaxed about the game. Basically, picture me swinging in a hammock with a beer in my hand.
She played a bingo early on with her blank: mel?ing, but she hooked the em under the word un for melting/num. I waited for her to add it all up, announce her score and then I instachallenged. Her next turn she burned off her em and I bingoed on top of it. I had this game. Then she bingoes with insulter for 58. I am still in the lead and not worried. Her turn after that she plays "suq" down the triple word lane, hooking the ess on insulter, getting a tripling of insulters/suq!
I am out of the hammock and the beer goes down the sink. I have crap, but respond with a 30 point play to keep pace. She then bingoes with sickled, I challenge and lose.
She hammers me with a forty point play and just like that I am down by 98.
I have heating on my rack, but it doesn't play and I am sad.
I take my time though, and I realize heating uses a stem I just learned!
I dump the aitch under an ess, opening up a bingolane and cross my fingers that I pick good.
She doesn't block me and I decide the "craziest" word of my five options, is "tangier."
I chose wisely because she holds the play for three minutes before letting it go.
She then plays BA over the AN in my bingo.
I now have aeiotvz. I am still down by fifty something. I can get twenty five for za/aba, but a few more minutes shuffling reveals azote. I've never played the word before, but I'm like 65% sure it's good. And it fits snugly above ba for 41 points!
As I am weighing my options, she suddenly stops the clock and says:
"Your clock went to zero."
I look up and my clock reads 9:54.
"Oh, yeah...these mini Sam Timers are weird. When they get to ten minutes, it changes to all zeros before dropping the first digit and counting down from 9."
"Oh, ok," she says. She hits my clock again.
I decide to take the risk on azote. I need to score. She instantly challeneges! (I think she was still stewing in uncertainty about tangier.)
It was good!
I then played vain through the a in azote down the triple lane to take the lead!
She plays something and I play jo with the j on the triple letter.
We go back and forth until the bag is empty. I have three tiles left on my rack, she use the other blank and two tiles to play under my j to take a 13 point lead.
I have sog.
I can make sog and three parallel plays *on the triple word line* for 24 points and the win. My only problem is I was sixty percent sure sog was a phony. Plus, since it was an outplay, it was a free challenge. But if I didn't go out here with a greater than 10 point play, she could win. If I play my phony and she challenges it off, she definitely wins.
I decided to go for it.
Sog, 24 and out.
She turns her rack around and says "and you get 8 from me."
Yay! She wasn't challenging!
We fill out the score sheet.
"So the difference is 19?" I ask confirming the spread.
"No, you have to subtract all that time you went over."
"Huh?" I look at the timer, I still have 5:13 left.
"It went to zero. You're over."
I explain about the 10:00 -> 9:59 thing again.
She insists that I'm over.
I call the director. Maybe he'll have better luck explaining.
She had :21 left on her clock, so he says "ok, how about I hit your clock and we see what happens when you run out of time."
She agrees.
Sure enough, the timer shows a minus sign and starts ticking up instead of down.
"See? If she were over, her clock would have a minus sign. So I have to rule that she is not over."
I start to clean up the board, but she won't sign the sheet until she has hit my clock and the five plus minutes run out.
I wait it out. Again, upon reaching zero, the minus sign appears and the clock starts ticking up.
She sighs and signs the slip.
"Fine. But you know you were over. I showed you when the clock went to zero. This isn't fair."
I was kinda officially annoyed now and was tempted to point out that her winning move wasn't complaining about the phantom overages, but challenging sog.
But I thought better of it, after all, I am NOT an asshole!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Scrabble in the news

Ugarles sent me this article with the commentary the mom doesn't "know how badly she's getting served, a 9 year old keeps nailing her with a phony!"


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Today is my birthday!

Hilarious e-mail from Phil:

Solve the anagram:


(And no Ugarles, it doesn't have anything to do with a PhD...wait...right? My rating is in the crapper.)

Friday, July 3, 2009


I only lost one game today. I made some mistakes in that game, but ultimately, she beat me fair and square. Unfortunately, we learned a new word: keto. Actually, that game posed a question for me (and I confess I didn't do the math, I probably should have) and I want to lay it out here.

She bingoes with the word: ioniser. She places it right above the triple word line. I have the word natives on my rack which will easily fit under ioniser. She is ahead by 46 and with ioniser she would be up by 102. My natives would be 89. (Maybe a little less, I am not looking at a board right now.) Of course, ioniser is no good. As a matter of fact that is the senior stem which I think is a top five stem which she really should know at this point. (I've played this lady before, so I know she has been playing for a while.) So I had a decision to make...leave her with these letters (two easily findable bingoes) or accept the phony bingo knowing I had a response and hope to just outplay her to make up the difference?

I'll tell you what I did in tomorrow's edition after a healthy debate in the comment section! :)

Also, I am tweeting my stay here!

Thursday, July 2, 2009


When I tell you I did every single one of the things on my list, except win games or have fun, I am not exaggerating. Oy. Well, at least I can still beat Ugarles in Scrabble.

Back in the Saddle

I have been working hard on my Scrabble in the last few weeks.

The combination of having just accepted a position doing the most mindless, boring work on earth and the return of my original Scrabble nemesis have given me the time and motivation to really tackle new stems and esoteric word lists.
In addition to trying to finally get a hold on the threes(why did I think enn and fam were good until the last 48 hours?) I've also tried studying words with letters that I hate seeing on my rack together: wu, yu, bvu. Yes, I HATE the U. Unless I have the Q, but then I would have already burned all my Us on successive ulu plays.
My favorite ridiculous word: Ouabain! I wanna drop that on someone at Albany so bad!
Hmm, I've got five vowels and a bee and an en (not ENN!) Ooh I know, WHAP: Ouabain! Then I hope I get Coeloms on my next turn to hook that bad boy on back!
I have a bunch of goals for Albany:

1. Take my time. I play too fast, I miss things. I need to slow down, think about my options and make sure I've picked the best one. Too often I do something way too quickly (getting adeimnr and quickly dumping the em, hoping to draw a letter to complete the rained stem for a bingo. D'oh!) The worst part about these errors is not only do I make them and cost myself points, I also then dwell on them for the duration of the game/tournament and certainly cost myself games. It's stupid.

2. Play the game, not the player. Sometimes I get too clever by half. I start thinking "Well, this player probably doesn't know this word or he won't challenge that word because he just lost a challenge, so I'll go with some dumb fancy play or a phony, when some straightforward play of an ordinary word would score more points. I'll also tend to open up the board or fail to close it down because I think I'll be better able than my opponent to capitalize -- more often than not I am wrong wrong wrong. I need to stop relying on these flimsy "reads," and just rely on my vocabulary and sound Scrabble strategies.

3. Stop obsessing about bingos. I am good enough at finding bingos with whatever rack I have that I have got to stop fishing for one or two tiles. Just make the best five or six letter play that I can and hope for a better draw on the next turn. I don't need blanks to bingo! I don't even need esses: anergia! Sometimes, I don't even need stems!

4. Win games. My rating has taken such a beating in the last two months that I am back in the bottom division and I'm seeded in the middle. It sucks, but I need to take advantage. I think I'm better than my rating and I need to prove it. There is no game I can't win. (Yes, yes except Wordscraper against Ugarles. I meant Scrabble game.) I need to produce here. No choking!!

5. Have fun. Um...yeah...I really mean win this tournament, but figured that would sound jerky, so I oughta toss some touchy feely hippie goal on this list. But yeah, you know what would be fun? Winning my first tournament in America!

Wish me luck! Happy Fourth!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Not so random imparting of information

If any of you know a Scrabble enthusiast with a birthday coming up, you might want to consider getting me her him or her this fancy fold up board, racks and travel bags!

In blue. She likes blue.

R.I.P Michael Jackson

I think I'll be rocking "The Santer" in Albany.

via Scrabble Sense

Friday, June 26, 2009

Experts ain't so great!

It's been a sad night for me with the shocking death of American icon, Michael Jackson. (I KNOW, CRAZY! It's not like he knew me or anything, but I DEFINITELY felt like I knew him.) Anyway, I was glued to the TV waiting for word about his condition until a little past six, so I was late getting to Scrabble club.
The way it works is that when you win the intermediate division, Joel makes you play in the expert division. (I presume this is to learn ya to be all cocky about going 4-0. "You think you're so great at Scrabble? Prove it.") I missed last week due, as I expressly wrote, NOT TO FEAR, but work. WORK.
Of course, I was hoping Joel had forgotten about me and my winningness when I showed up tonight. And indeed, he paired me with Judy Rosenthal, a strong -- but definitely still quite in my division player.
She crushed me. About eight minutes in, I was wondering if I shouldn't raise my hand and remind Joel that I'm supposed to be playing experts. Hell, if I'm going to take a whupping, at least let me be able to say it was by the hands of former Scrabble champions or, you know, people with FOUR digit ratings. Facepalm. (Not to take anything away from Judy, who is a great player, that is probably underrated because she can't play multi-day tournaments due to Sabbath restrictions.) Anyway, I didn't even bingo in that game and my highest scoring play might have been some 30 pointer. Humiliating.
Oh well, I'd get matched up with some newbie and crush him. That'd make me feel better.
But no.
Joel remembered all right and on my next pairing I was kicked upstairs to face the big boys.
I cry.
I walked over to THE EXPERT TABLE and sat down.
"You're first, hon."
My rack was aeefiln. I knew I was going to lose, so I wanted to just get the pain over with: I played the longest word I could find: finale for like thirty. She comes back with flout for 8! WHAT?
My rack is an ugly gmpy?ew I play gamp through the a in finales.
Who has two thumbs and has been studying threes to make fours? THIS GUY!
I am leading. She makes another like silly dump play. I forget what I did next, but it opened up a triple line and she took it.
I just could not find a workable rack for my blank and just kept fishing.
I fell behind.
Finally, I bingoed with santera. She goes "nice play." I'm all, whatever dude.
I draw the second blank! Yay.
There are no open spots. I try to open one by playing "pun" through a u leaving a nice front ess hook for myself.
I draw great ne for a rack of: aennst? I have neatens or tanners (also inanest/stanine but they wouldn't play. Word had to end in ess.)
Of course, THIS IS EXPERTS. She played coins right through my clever, clever front hook setup and stuck an unhookable cee right up my craw! Stupid experts.
I dumped an enn.
Still nothing, I fished again burning three letters and drew uxo. DUDE.
I actually managed a nice find of "luxe" on the TWS.
I was down by forty and my final rack was aaeint? The board was closed, so no easy entasia/taenias for Dawn.
She was not very good about time management, so I had tons of time on my clock and I took it. I had to bingo out to win.
I saw I had space to the right of the l in luxe to bingo all the way across to hit the other TWS.
Something with an El?
It looked very much like my entailer rack from last time when I tried "lineeater" -- but it didn't play. Neither would the anagrams. Back to work. I had room around the ell. Something starting with an a.
So I sat there and just did permutations of words starting with al, shifting each of my other tiles in the third position and so on until something clicked.
It wasn't pretty and took A LONG time (I could hear the lady sighing, but whatevs, that's my clock!) Finally: ALIENATE!
I wrote it out to make sure it was the word I was thinking of cause, I didn't want another Zeroxing incident! NOT IN EXPERTS! That's Intermediate play.
I played my word! And she goes "oh, good find. 16 points and you get 14 from me...okay, I win by 11."
And I'm all "uh, no...that's a bingo. It's worth 60 points, I win by 20. Nice try."
I guess she was having a bad night cause she left right after that.
My next expert game was against a mid 1400 player. He was an asian kid, who spoke English with a thick accent. My opening rack was an unplayable JNTZSWV I dumped the whole mess and drew eeinrt. I knew there were a BUNCH of bingoes in that rack, but I could only find one: trienes. (YES, I KNOW! entries, entires, blah blah MICHAEL JACKSON DIED, people! AND JOEL WAS MAKING ME PLAY EXPERTS!) Anyway, kid opens with nog. Now, I'm flustered I KNOW eeinorts is a word. I KNOW IT. I take FOREVER looking. Finally, I give up and just play trienes under the no in nog.
He then freaking bingoes with exiling under my bingo under nog.
I cry.
I dump two letters, HE BINGOES AGAIN COYOTES. NO BLANKS OR NOTHING. JUST, Oh look a Y two ohs and a C? Okay, coyotes here YA GO! WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA.
I am flustered. I play "Ho" down the oy in coyotes for a stupid 20 points. Stupid because now I'm shutting down the board even though I am WAY behind. You know what he does then?
HE PLAYS ZORIL with the zee on the DLS and the ell on the DWS through my oh. MY OH! 52.
I might have burst out laughing at that point. Or I burst out laughing when I made my next move for a stupid 6 points. (I had drawn the blank and was fishing/trying to open the board. My rack was now ailrtv? The only thing I saw was travail and it didn't play. Then the kid plays venger with the vee right under the triple word line! ARE YA KIDDING ME???? WOOOOO. I LOVE EXPERTS.
BLAMO, I play my travail/avenger. I then reorder the tiles so that my real a was on the DLS instead of the blank. This move evidently flusters the kid.
"What did you say the blank was?"
He holds me.
I am now worried that travail is one of those stupid "sticky ess" words. Uh oh. What was I thinking! THIS IS EXPERTS!
He challenges the play. I am sad.
Larry says it's good!
I am happy!
The kid says he thought I was originally playing "trivial" using the blank as an i(didn't even SEE that possibility) so when I moved the natural a after the tr, he thought I had misspelled the word and challenged.) I capitalized HUGE. Making a 48 point play with paw on the TWS at the bottom of the board.
He couldn't come back and I won by 24! he sat there holding his head for a long time and then said "I had back to back bingoes and did I do this? Why did I challenge?"
I tried to make him feel better by saying "yeah, I do that all the time too. Now I prefer when I'm playing from behind in a game, that way I can't blow my lead."
I guess he did not find that comforting because then he said "Your opening rack? The word you were looking for is oneriest," and he walked away.
I was matched up with my last expert. This guy was wearing the fancy little Jewish hat and was evidently like 1500 at one point.
He opened with WRING.
I had a bunch of crap, but like good crap. Good letters that together, were crap ZEPFYSR I looked at prez, but it seemed like a waste of a zee. PLaying zeps looked like a waste of an ess. So I went with "fe" and hoped for the best. I picked up another ess and a tee. Doh.
I eventually played "spry/wrings" Using my spry he played amity all the way down to the TWS for 54 points. Ouchy. I always forget that words can be played horizontally! It's a flaw.
I decide to play zg through the i in amity with the zee and gee on DLS.
He plays wealth and then I see an amazing play. Under my zee in zig I play jato with the Jay on the TLS! It was so sick!
He plays vender, which I almost challenge (whew. It's good.) I play ho, he bingoes with continues (JEEBUS!) He is leading, I have the blank and my rack is beeirs? I see berries, but no where to play it. I look for something through the ess in continues, but seeing nothing I decide to take a 5 point play of reb and open up the board for myself. He doesn't block and I play olestra. HE INSTA CHALLENGES.
"That's a company!" and he hits the clock. I say nothing.
He yells "challenge! challenge!"
Joel comes over barely looks at the board and goes "it's good. Wait, what's the blank?" I roll my eyes.
It's a zee.
I win the challenge, draw the x play it on a TLS square going two ways! He does something, I play leer. As soon as I hit the clock, I was look "dangit! Why did I just hang an AR on the triple lane???"
But he played ulu for 3 way away from it and I drew: airline. WOOOOO
That was essentially the game.
Set em up, knock em down. Three experts, three victories!
Have I mentioned? I love Scrabble!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Albany 2009 Part Two

I've registered for the four day Fourth of July tournament.

Anyone else going?

Hmm...think they'll have a huge vanilla cake at the barbecue for any players who might have birthdays that week? Like any Division 3 players who might have Scrabble blogs and might have just registered for the Albany tournament who might be having a birthday that week? Such a person loves birthday cake. And an outdoor barbecue in Albany strikes me as a perfect place to have birthday cake.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Not so random assurance

Dawn Summers is not skipping Scrabble club because she is afraid to defend her title. She had to work late.

Saturday, June 13, 2009


I'm not going to lie, I got very very very very lucky to win on Thursday, although, I had been on quite a run of 3-1 nights.
Of course, that's the rub, isn't it?
That last win -- or, more likely, the first win.
Lately, Joel has been pairing me with Steve as my first matchup and Steve is ridiculously tough. He makes play after play of four or five letter words that don't take any, actually sometimes they take random i hooks or l hooks (tae...tael???? UGH!) But don't try putting any esses or dees on the ends of his words. You've got to bingo early and really open up the board for yourself, or you're just dead. So, usually I lose to Steve, get paired up with someone else that lost in the first round, beat them and go on to win my last two games -- unless, that game is with Ellen Perr, then it's the old 2-2 for Dawn. And Jean L. always says she'd rather be 0-4 than 2-2. Ouchy.
On Thursday, Joel announces I'm to play Steve. I frowny face. But then he changes it up and says I'll be playing this guy whose name I always let's call him Paul. (Why? I don't know.) Anyway, Paul has never beaten me. He is a good player, but doesn't have very good board sense, i.e. he misses easy hooks, falls for obvious traps (like when I hang ava next to the triple line, he'll try to play his ess bingo down the line making avas, even though I obviously wouldn't have done that if ava was hookable. He needs to play Steve more.) and he opens up the board in disadvantageous ways.
I felt very comfortable playing him. (Unfortunately the Scrabble club was out of tracking sheets, so I had to play the game blind. Wow, what a difference (and not in a good way) it is just playing without knowing what letters are out or the chances of completing a stem for a bingo if you exchange or play off a couple of tiles. Paul had his own tracking sheets from home, so that was the one way I felt a bit off kilter during the game.) He took a pretty substantial lead on me, but I wasn't worried. Sure enough I was able to play zaire for 50 points and then bingo with moisten under it to make moisten/zaires and I had taken the lead. I could see he was trying to put down a bingo, so I started to block everything up and he kept exchanging in frustration and I kept scoring. In the end I won by 114 points. (After looking up letters in the Franklin he said he had the word toonies which he could have played on top of cry (scry/toonies.)
"Hey, that has an anagram! Isotone," I said, evidently having now become that guy.
JC, who was playing his own game, but sitting next to Paul said Paul also missed another bingo "deities." He quickly added "Sorry, I don't mean to be one of those people."
(That's the difference between the weirdo Scrabble players and the regular Scrabble players. We are all geeky nerds, but the normal ones acknowledge it.)
Having dispatched with Paul, I was feeling good. Until Joel announced that I would be playing Steve.
Bleeping bleep bleep!
I opened with jailed. My last tile was a blank. I KNOW! Pout.
Steve took literally seven minutes before playing rete through my e for seven points. I didn't know what he was up to but I knew FOR SURE that rete didn't take an ess. Not because I know the word, but because Steve played it. (HA! I just looked it up, the only back hook is AN EM!!!! WHAT THE HECK??!!!!)
I drew really badly with my blank -- think vvchwi. I dumped the vees and made vav. Steve made some other small six point play to block me from being able to use an ess on vav, but he gave me an opening to play my newly drawn zee for 33 points. I took it.
He then took the triple word square for like 12 points or something, giving me the opening to bingo with canister through to the other triple word square. (It was the classic case of saving a penny, but losing a pound...or some currency saying.) I had a ridiculous lead on him. 140 to 66. But I have blown bigger leads, so I stayed vigilant. I drew the second blank. Then he bingoed -- but it was a 59 pointer. I was still okay. I played nit, giving me a chance to hook an ess either to the back or the front. Steve didn't block it and on my next turn I bingoed with frontes. That was game. I won by 180!!! But that wasn't even the luckiest part of my night.
Where fortune really smiled was that two tables away, Dulcet, a woman who plays for fun (though she is very very competitive and just doesn't study enough to be good) had taken down BOTH Jean L. AND Nikki - two of the stronger players in my division. So not only were two strong players out of the running for player of the night, but one of the weakest was now 2-0, just like me!
Sure enough, I drew her as my opponent!
My heart started pounding. Dulcet was CAKE. If I like playing Paul, I LOVE playing Dulcet. So, of course, my mind jumped to match number four which would likely be against Ellen, who usually slaughters me. But, my spread was huge, so hopefully, if no one else was 3-0 by the time I had to play Ellen, my spread would be the deciding factor and I would win.
Of course, while I was busy gaming the fourth game, Dulcet was busy beating me ragged in the current game.
She had drawn two esses already AND had bingoed. I was losing by 70 and my rack was garbage.
"Exchange six," I said, holding on to an e.
She then played "odours." Dulcet was raised in Jamaica and is infamous for playing "British words." I insta challenged.
It was good.
Luckily my exchanging worked out and I was able to bingo with arenites through one of her esses and hitting a triple word score. I was hoping to draw the challenge, but it didn't work.
She then played rave. I had drawn aeeilnt. There was no place for me to put lineate, so since she didn't challenge arenites, even though I KNEW by her face that she didn't know the word, I tried to play lineater (as in one who lineates) through the ar in rave. But the problem is that the word looks like "line eater" which just sounds too weird to be right. I saw that very thought pass across her face, but I hoped against hope that she would assume that I wouldn't play such a funny looking word unless it was good. Sigh.
"No good."
I pulled it back. I was now down by 56 points and running out of tiles.
But then she inexplicably played "fa" leaving the f just begging to get the e in my lineate on top of it.
"Here ya go, ef!"
Woot! I took the lead.
Dulcet looked disgusted. She then had four successive single digit turns and I was pounding her with twenty/thirty point plays. In the end, I won by 111.
Dulcet sat staring at the board and lamented that Dawn "knows all the stem words."
"I'll learn them eventually, Dawn. You'll see."
Joel overheard her and snorted.
"You think she knows stem words?" He starts picking out my tiles from lineater and reorders them until they read: entailer. He walks away without further comment.
I started asking around to find out how other people were doing.
" Nancy, did you win?"
"No, JC beat me."
JC, who plays "up" in expert level "for fun," is extremely good. When he first started at the club, last year, I used to beat him all the time because he still had the SOWPODS dictionary in his head and he was too proud to use Joel's cheatsheet for newbies. (Dude, if Joel would let me, I'd still be using the cheatsheet for newbies!)
But by the "'08 Big Apple tournament," it all turned around. JC would crush me every time. In word knowledge: (JC plays "Colinear." I challenge. Joel says it's good. JC goes "Its anagram is Acroline. My ex-girlfriend's name is Caroline." I want to punch him in the face.) In strategy, in word placement, in everything. He would crush me and crush me baaaaad.
So that he was 3-0 made me sad.
THEN I found out that Ellen Perr was ALSO 3-0! So, there went my spread-will-save-me hopes. Someone was going to be 4-0.
"Unless we tie," JC said unhelpfully.
Matchups were announced. I'm not going to lie, I was hoping for Ellen.
JC is actually one of my favorite people at club, so I always enjoy my games with him, except for the losing, of course.
As we put the tiles in the bag I begged him to play the worst game of his life against me.
"Come on. Pleeeasseee??? You're so good, it's only fair!"
Then I came up with an even more brilliant plan.
"Dude, don't you want to see if your worst game can beat my best game? I think you do..."
He laughed.
"I'm playing like shit tonight," except it sounded elegant when he said it because he's British and everything a Brit says sounds elegant to an American.
"Great, you're playing like shit, but you're 3-0??? Bite me!"
Ok, game? On!
We had both gone first twice, so we had to draw for first. I won.
I opened with evite for 17 points, hoping he'd challenge. He doesn't. Dangit.
He then plays whiny for 30, after toying with playing whiney. I am so challenging whiney! But he doesn't play it and whew! It's good.
I play mo because I have a blank, a crapload of vowels and an em.
He hits me with Joe for another 30. I am losssing! My rack is r d i t o r ?
I shuffle and shuffle, but I can't find anything, so I dump the or and open up another bingo lane for myself. I draw a stupid t and n. I find trident, but stupid JC plays lee under my or. (He originally was going to play eel, so I was happy, then at the last second, he switched it to lee...I can only assume, I was donktastickly leaning toward the board with all my tiles in the air, blinking the phrase "I am about to bingo under that word," in morse code.
Oh well.
I went back to work.
I saw nothing. The only spots needed words that started with an ess or end in a, but I didn't want to waste another turning fishing again. So, eventually I find nitrated through the e. It was like 60 stupid points, but I learned my "always play the bingo" lesson from Philly.
Scrabble rewards me! I draw the other blank! I am looking for something through the i in nitrated, because I am consonant heavy, but JC takes the spot by playing wind.
I shuffle and shuffle, am about to dump some consonants because I am already down to something like 11 minutes on my clock. But at the last minute, I see a place, through an ar to bingo again. "Handlers."
JC looks deflated. His chin is literally on the table, so imagine my surprise when he bingoes with dipteran.
Now, I have bingoed twice, gotten both blanks and I am ahead by only 18 points. RIDICULOUS.
I have drawn decent. A Q AND a U! Yay. I search for a good spot to play them and I see I can stick an ar or tee next to lee, so I can do quit on the double word score or...hmm is "quirt" a word...cause that would get my q on the double letter and the t on the double word for 52.
I stare at it for a while. I decide to give it a shot. I am like 62% sure it's good.
JC challenges!
Joel says it's good! Yay!
I draw the x and play it for 25, JC comes back with a big zee play.
I am in the lead comfortably though, so of course, I start fishing for a bingo that I DON'T NEED.
I play nag for three, then oka for 12 -- horrid. (Although, later JC says that my dumb oka play actually blocked his bingo...didn't make me feel better for missing the forty point play of "koa,")
I do get my bingo: soaking. But it's unplayable and then JC stabs me right in the kidney by playing "chef" down the triple line, front hooking the c on handlers.
He takes the lead.
THE LEAD! Did I mention the two blanks, q and ex that I drew???? JC is obviously in league with the devil.
I retake the lead with vibe, he takes it back with moaner. I play cons. Dawn is +9. We are in endgame. He takes a loooong time (he's got tons of time on his clock because I was playing so slowly in the early rounds.) and then he sighs and plays jot.
He is up now by 2, but I've got a 17 point play of jota/yea!
I don't know what he has, but when he finally plays area (scaring me by continuing to lay all his tiles out for areaoi) I knew he couldn't win.
"Does that screeching mean you won," Joel asked walking over.
Why, yes, yes it does!

Friday, June 12, 2009

We're not that innocent

Rules are evidently being "tightened"?

Another interesting rule that was reiterated was the “hold” rule, where a player can ask an opponent to wait before drawing new tiles after his turn to prevent unscrupulous players from “fast bagging” – ie, playing a phoney word (often deliberately), then drawing tiles (which validates the move) without giving their opponent a chance to assess the move and challenge the legitimacy of the word.

As one former Gulf player remarked following last year’s controversy: “Scrabble has lost its innocence.”

These have always been the rules since I've been playing, though.

via Karol

They said it couldn't be done!

DAWN SUMMERS IS INTERMEDIATE PLAYER OF THE NIGHT AT THE NEW YORK SCRABBLE CLUB! Hmm, and since there isn't another tournament till next Thursday, I'm basically Intermediate Player of the WEEK!

(I will write more about the Scrabble later, but thought I'd sharing this amusing post victory story.)

I've been playing Scrabble at the New York club since June '07.
It only took a mere two years for me to sweep the competition and win player of the night in my division!
To which my friend Matt replied "It took me two weeks."
My friend Matt is a jerkwad.
I'll save the Scrabble details for another post, but I had to get through two longstanding nemesii to win the night and by the end, I was bouncing off the walls.
So a bunch of my Scrabble crew went out after to celebrate. An annoying woman, who we all hate, tagged along.
The annoying woman, who is notorious for manhandling inexperienced players and then crowing for months and months about how she beat them and played whatever she wanted and then, HA, they challenged an obviously good word, aren't they so stupid. As you can imagine, I *love* her.
Well, a few weeks ago, I beat her in a similarly manhandling fashion, and so I took this opportunity to recount how she tried to play "raisinettes" on me. Except with a whole lot less letters for something that looked more like: raisents.
"What were you thinking?" I sneered, mocking her.
"I know, I know, but you've only beaten me twice, right?"
(She also keeps a running lifetime win-loss record for every opponent she ever faces.)
I shrug.
Nancy, Adam and Matt were also there.
"What's your record against Nancy, Dawnie?"
I rolled my eyes.
"It's Dawn. I don't know."
"Right, right. Sorry, Dawn. I keep doing that."
Yes. I've noticed.
She continued: "I'm 28-7 against Nancy."
I rolled my eyes again.
"Barbara, I don't keep track of wins and losses or game scores. I play Scrabble for the love of learning and the challenge of wordplay! Like for instance, if you were to ask me who won all four games tonight in the intermediate division, was named player of the night and had a mind blowing eight bingoes, I would be all I have no idea! Oh, wait, did I say *tonight*? Oh, tonight that would be me! I was player of the night with four wins and eight bingoes! But you don't hear me bragging about it and waving around my prize money," I said, starting to wave around my prize money.
(I called my mom to tell her I won and she goes "how much did you win?" I tell her and she immediately says "and how much did you lose last week?" I know what you're thinking, but N0! None of you can have her! She's all mine! So stop begging me, she's my mommy and that's how it's gonna stay!)
Adam is laughing now that I am rubbing the money against my face in Barbara taunting fashion.
"You know, Dawn, you should get a blog! You could write all this down and take pictures and put them up there."
I think I will!
I start snapping photos in the diner.
Adam asks to see the one of him and Nancy.
"Aww, we're so cute!"
I smile.
"Yeah, you guys should get married!"
Matt looks at the picture.
"Yeah... cute, you guys should have 14 children."
Everyone laughs.
"Nah, you guys are our children!" Adam says.
"Ha! Nice try, Adam. Now that I'm the 4-0 player of the night, with money in my pocket, you want to adopt me? Where were you when I was 0-4 and loser of the night."
Nancy started laughing.
"She's onto us!"
"I knew it! You adopted James last week didn't you! But now that I've beaten him he's out!"
"Yeah, that's how it goes."
Nancy tried to get me to agree to go with them to a Scrabble tournament on Sunday.
"Nah, I can't. I have a poker tournament at my place on Saturday."
"I'm going," Matt adds.
"How long have you been playing?"
"What? Poker? Oh, I don't. Is that the game with the dice?"
He laughs and adds "the hustle begins."
I laugh.
We finish up eating and I offer to give him a lift back to Brooklyn.
Nancy immediately says "oh wait till you hear the music Dawn plays! Oh my God."
"Oh, I already KNOW," Matt says, "she's taken me home before. It's crazy!"
"Yeah , it's like Barry Manilow and Billy Joel," Nancy says.
"Shut it! Besides, I have a BMW now...all music sounds good in my Beamer."
"Oooh, I'm going home in a're driving a Beamer to my neighborhood."
Hmm. Good point. I barely felt comfortable driving my Honda through his neighborhood.
"'s okay. I keep my Glock under the front seat."
We start talking about the payments and insurance for Prince Eli, when I disappear under the table.
"What's that?" Adam asks, when I reemerge holding my bright side, cylindrical case.
"It's my Scrabble clock."
Matt laughs.
"Clock?? I thought you said GLOCK! What're you gonna do when they come to carjack you? Say "wait, hold on...let's see how long this takes...ready, set, go! Wow! Impressive 1 minute 12 seconds!"
I keeeelllll yyouuuuuuuuuu.
Such utter disrespect. Doesn't he know who I am?

Humbly Yours,
-The best Intermediate Scrabble Player at the New York Club

Thursday, June 4, 2009

It's been a bumpy ride

I have had nothing but a string of losing Scrabble tournaments. There was the Boston Area Tournament where, I believe, I went 4-14 or 2-12, just something so horrendous and awful that I blocked it out and vowed never to speak of it again. Looking back, I realize I was playing terribly (though I also did get wretchedly unlucky at times. I played qis late in the game with no tiles left in the bag. I was happy to have a place to dump the q and for 24 points! I was leading by 41 now. My opponent has four tiles on his rack. Do you know what they were? A I S U. Do you know how many spaces on the board separated my q from the TWS below? Do you know what he did to my 41 point lead? Sigh. The worst part? I WAS TRACKING. No, actually the worst part? I WAS TRACKING ACCURATELY! But, but who sees that coming? I walked away from tournament Scrabble after that. Unless I was going to put in the work to study, I wasn't going to throw away anymore money.
So I have no idea what I was doing in Philly on Sunday. Well, I know what I was doing: Losing. But why? Oh, right I have a Scrabble problem.
I drove down with a woman, Judy, from the NYC club. I was studying on the way down and was surprised that I retained quite a bit of information. (Ok, still shaky on the Lister, insert and easter stems, but everything else I remembered.)
My first game was against Linda Wancel, who I beat when last we played at Bayside some months ago. Much to her chagrin. (She challenged acinose!) Anyway, I know exactly when I lost that game. It was when I had "tonners" but decided to play off the en instead of playing the bingo because it was "only 59" points.) Sucker. She bingoed in my lane on her next turn. I drew a y, then had to play off "yo" at which point I drew "wu" and well, hello 117 point loss. I know I must have sounded like a complete jerkwad when at the end of the game Linda was all "you got unlucky there." And I just responded "no, I didn't. I just played terribly."
My next game was against an african-american woman from somewhere down South. (And yes, that might mean D.C. Sue me, I believe NYC is the center of the universe.)
She thrashed me within an inch of my life BUT I made a valient comeback. It was so great a valient comeback that I thought I was going to pull out a win! I didn't. But I did double double with "inserted." Lost by 17 in the end. But considering I was down by 170 at half-time. I wasn't too unhappy.
Unhappy came in my next game. I played this woman that I think I've beaten before, but couldn't remember when.
She was not very good. (Never mind that my the end of the day she was undefeated and playing for the championship. So's my face.)
I bingoed on her very early on, then I got the j and played it on the double letter square making jade through the double word square. It was a little dangerous because it left the j on the Triple line. Sure enough she played ibe next to it for 26 points.
The game proceeded, I was winning so handily that I decided to fish around for bingoes when I really should have just been dumping tiles and shutting down the board. Anyway, I had four letters left on my rack at game's end, and decided to just play two, to rack up more points. She then proceeded to go out and I won by 11 points.
"Do you mind if we recount?"
I shrug.
She starts doing that thing where she's all "you play piano for 13 and then I play paltry for 11...blah blah blah." At some point she goes "you played something for 8..."
I shrug again and say "I don't write down the words I play...I can't help you."
She soldiers on and when she gets to "jibe" she goes "oh, that should have
been 39. I just doubled it instead of tripling it. Whew I think that gives me the game."
She finishes the recount and sure enough now I lose by two. Which, had I known that I was trailing by two would have totally changed how I decided to use those last four tiles. I am SO MAD. I really want to rail against these recount rules, especially since the error was hers, but she got to profit from it. I think there should be a five point penalty off any player whose score is discovered to be wrong after a recount -- so you'd have to think long and hard before requesting one AND it wouldn't save you if the game was close. (And obviously, if both players made mistakes, it would be a wash.)
Anyway, now I was down 0-3 when I got matched with the man I beat in Atlantic City to virtually lock up first place (unless I did something incredibly stupid like say that the blank was the wrong letter.)
I didn't remember him.
He remembered me.
He opened with helleri. I challenged cause DUDE? Helleri! WTF?
It was good.
I became even more deflated than I was. I bingoed with something easy that wasn't worth very many points to retake a small lead. Then he bingoed through my easy bingo with GOATLIKE!
(He got both blanks)
I gave up.
I did try to win the game with the heroic find of "violets" which I played on the triple line hooking the o on top of vas.
Unfortunately, ovas is not a word.
Hello 0-4.
It was a bad tournament for many of the Circuit regulars in my division Denise M was winless. I was Linda's only win. Ugliness. Nancy, on the other hand, was kicking ass and taking names. She (and recount lady) were head to head with perfect records for the championship. Nancy crushed her in the first game ("waa, if I had played ridotto I could've won," she whined after the game. "No, she wouldn't have," Nancy said under her breath. She beat Nancy in the second game, but Nancy's spread was unbeatable by that point even though they had the same record.) Judy, the woman who drove me down, also was undefeated and playing for the championship in her division. Leading me to dub myself the worst Scrabble player in New York. The only good thing was that, for some reason, the Philly tournament was unrated -- so it didn't hurt my already plummeting rating.
Anyway, I managed to finally win a game (two blanks and three esses will do that for you.)
But all in all, it was an ugly tournament.
Tonight at club Barbara asked me how I did. I glared at her.
"I didn't play raisents."
I won my first game against Steve tonight. I had belnrs? There was an open l on the triple line and then an open a on the line above the triple line. I kept looking for something through the ell and almost played off my own ell hoping to fish out something good. But Steve likes to shut down boards, so I knew I had to bingo now or risk not being able to at all. Finally I decide to take a shot and play berlins, hooking the b on top of aa at the other end of the board.
I was like 54% sure it was good.
Steve challenged and my certainty plummeted to 13%.
But Joel quickly said it was good!
The game was mine after that.
Then I faced Barbara. As usual she drew a blank and bingoed on me with disrobe. I came back with veritas using my blank as an e. SHE CHALLENGED. Joel yelled at her. I pointed and laughed.
Man, how I wish this story didn't end with me losing by five.
My next game was against a newcomer. I won by hundreds. (I played licensed, which I thought was cool.) She was a little spazzy. Like she'd slam the tile bag on the table after drawing and she'd talk to herself...weirdoes those Scrabble players are.
My last game was with a really good player. She kept play off six tiles for like 16 or 19 points (outlaid, aviated) the only thing I could think of to explain it was that she was hoping I'd challenge. But she's too good a player, I would always assume her words were good. I bingoed with hitless! And ended up winning by 40, for a nice 3-1 night.
Grr. Stupid Barbara.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Third place finish and a Barbara defeat!

I had a great day at club on Thursday.
Sure, I got stuck playing Steve in the first round even though that is a fate usually reserved as punishment for those who show up late, and I was totally on time.
I held my own for a long time. Steve plays a very closed board game which stretches my knowledge of esoteric hooks and five/four letter words to its breaking point. But sometimes he gets a blank and he bingoes, which happened during this game, but I had satine + p and came right back with sapient.
I was down by 16 or so when he exchanges. I dump a clunky w and u for 12 points and now I'm only trailing by four. And then he gets the other blank and he bingoes with "blintze" with the b on a double word score and the z on the triple letter score for a million/billion points. Ugh. The only saving grace is that I didn't challenge the word, even though the "expert" players who saw the board later, said they would have.
I give up at that point and cruise to an easy defeat.
THEN Joel asks Steve to move up to the expert level to even out the divisions. Terrific. Couldn't have done that *before* I got blintzed!
Oh well.
My next match was against Ed Moran, who usually plays one bingo phony on me, one four letter word for a bingo-like total and then beats me by thirty even though I bingo out and he has all the over 8 point tiles on his rack.
I have beaten him a couple of times, but I wasn't holding my breath.
Sure enough, he bingoes on me early, I fish for a couple of rounds, then bingo back, but he still has a sizeable lead. I don't know why, but I then decide to shut down the board. I Steved Ed and it WORKED! He ended up with five consecutive turns of eight or less points, while I was using my tiles for steady 20/30 points. He then bingoed with talkers hooking the ess on liri, so I challenged it off. I had slavern on my rack, but 1) I wasn't sure if it was good and 2) it didnt play, so I dumped off the l and v. I made "lev" and stuck the v in the middle of Ed's prior bingolane.
He then played talks on the triple line, Tee on Triple word square, K on double letter square.
I was down by 42 now, but my rack was aaenrss. I shuffled and shuffled but couldn't find anything. The bag was empty. "Man, if I had a tee, I could make...wait, a minute! "Talks!" I have a tee!!"
I bingoed out through his tee with santeras. He challenged. It was good. I got all the points for his tiles and won!
I was then matched up with Ellen P. She is really nice and was one of the first people whose names I learned because she has all her equipment labeled. Even her racks! I can't remember if I've ever beaten her. But for the last four months or so, whenever I'm doing well and am in contention to win, it is Ellen I have to face in the finals. And, well, you all know that you'd know IMMEDIATELY if I ever win tournament night at the New York club.
Anyway, I'm 1-1 and Joel announces I'd have to play Ellen.
"Noooo," I groan to the amusement of everyone in earshot.
"Gee, thanks Dawn," Ellen says.
Ellen always says she doesn't play rated one day tournaments because she is not a morning person and loses all her games in the morning.
"Okay," I offer, "How about we postpone this game till the morning?? 7 am! Yes, I insist!"
"Why, Dawn? So you can sleep through it?" an eavesdropping Matt says. Smart ass.
"Shut it! That only happened once...maybe three or four times."
I told him.
Anyway, I go first...I try to play a five letter word, but can only muster a four. We both go back and forth with little plays until I get the rack einorxz. I look around the board and there is an open g!!! Oh my gosh! My heart is beating so fast. I. AM. A. SCRABBLE. GOD.
Ellen plays away from my g and I can barely hold the tiles between my fingers, as I slap down "zeroxing" for 140 points!
"Challenge," Ellen says pretty quickly.
Ha! I KNOW it's good.
Joel comes over "No. But ambitious."
I take the tiles off this like that time you said "linkings" was good even though it isn't, I thought grumpily.
I got thirty points for my z and then set up an awesome spot so I could play the ex on a double word going two ways...Ellen didn't see it coming, in order to block, and I scored another 44. It was no zeroxing, but it would have to do. She and I exchanged bingoes and I was still comfortably ahead. I drew the second blank and bingoed again! Woo. There were only like ten tiles left, so I did my "no choking, no choking, no choking" chant. And I didn't! I beat Ellen! At night.
"I thought zerox had lost trademark status," I say to her as we're cleaning off the board.
"It did. But it's spelled with an ex."
"It's xerox. Two exes."
Oh. My. God.
I spelled "xeroxing" WITH A ZEE!!!
I can never go back to that Scrabble club. Ever.
As I was sitting there, thinking of where I will move to now that I was in the market for a new Scrabble club, Joel announced the final matchups.
I was 2-1 and he said the dreaded words "Dawn Summers/ Barbara Ep"
I groan internally.
Within minutes, the all too familiar voice descended.
"I think we're playing now."
"Yeah, that's what he said."
"Okay. You've only beaten me once, right? That one time."
"You challenged parsons," I said trying to move the story along.
"Right, but you haven't won me again, right? I played a phony on you and you took it. I played teglion, but it's only lentigo."
Awesome. Great. Shut THE HELL UP.
I smiled. "Okay, you ready? You're first."
It was annoying, she bingoed with the blank on her second turn and I had the promising eaetr followed by four consecutive turns of "aa" or "wp" and then "ee" COME ON, universe!!
WHY do you HATE me?! Finally, when I drew "br" I was ready to just give up the fishing and move on. But Barbara was taking forever to go and some bored shuffling brought up: rebater. I wasn't sure it was good, but I was down by 80 and when she finally played "mu on top of "en" I knew I had to try it. I bingoed with rebater forming emu/run on the end. She held the play for SIX AND A HALF minutes. I didn't say anything. Or look at her. Finally, she challenges it.
"It's good."
Woooooo. She starts her not-quite-under-her-breath carping.
"Okay, you got me. I shouldn't have challenged that. 'Rebater' I didn't know that one. You're good. Maybe you win this one. Blah blah blah"
I make my next move and take a 20 point lead. She then starts to play a bingo through an open a at the top of the board. She has THE OTHER blank, too! Grr.
She doesn't finish the word and pulls back her tiles. Another 7 minutes go by and she instead bingoes through the r. She plays raise?ts. She says "blank is an enn" 72 points, hits the clock with one hand and reaches for the bag with the other to draw replacement tiles.
"HOLD ON," I say grabbing the bag away from her.
"What is the blank?"
"An enn."
I write it out: raisents It's the nastier stem, one of the few eight stems that I know. There is only one word in that rack, and that ain't it.
I laugh. Out loud.
Joel comes over.
"That's an enn," I say.
He laughs too.
Barbara has a couple of bingoes that she could have played through that a at the top of the board, so I decide to block that in case she remembers them since it's obvious she couldn't find retsinas. I play wanting through the a.
She takes another 8 minutes with the tiles and then plays ?asiest hooking the blank on top of "avo"
"The blank is an ell. 75 points"
She hits the clock, I start laughing hysterically and insta challenge.
"You really have no respect for me."
I tell Joel the blank is an ell. He just rolls his eyes and walks away.
Now I shut down the r lane.
She is in full on tempter tantrum/whine mode now. She is already three minutes over on her clock. We play back and forth and then at some point I guess she forgets to hit my clock, so halfway through my turn she notices her clock has now run over four minutes.
"Hold hold," she screeches. "My clock was running and it's your turn. I'm not counting that. I'm only taking off forty points."
I was stuck with pretty ugly ending letters, q being one and unfortunately, no u or a. I had qis, but no place to put it.
"Can you be quiet, I'm trying to make my move here."
"I'm only taking off forty."
"Whatever, you won already."
I channeled my inner Adam.
She was finally quiet.
Fine, she doesn't care? I played qis under pst. I hit the clock.
"Challenge," she screeches, "That doesn't take an ess. Joel! Challenge"
I roll my eyes and take it off.
She plays off her blank for 4 points.
I play off as many letters as I could, accepting that she's getting 20 points for my unplayable q.
She goes out and calculates the score. She only subtracts 40 points from her score.
"You're over by 5 minutes. That's 50."
"It shouldn't have been running. It was your turn."
"Not my problem. Hit the clock when you're done."
"You already won, what's the difference, I took off 40."
I wasn't arguing with her anymore.
"Ok, okay fine."
She is like terrified of Joel banning her from club! Hahahah
I came in third in my division for the night. I also made the department of terrible cleverness for "rebater," because that's the *only* bingo in that rack!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

I beat Steve!

One of my earliest great memories of playing at the Scrabble club involved almost beating Steve. I opened with the bingo jennies and went on to amass a huge lead on someone that was once one of the top players in the country. Of course, he's still quite good and I had, then and possibly now, a very weak endgame, so he managed to beat me by like five or so points in the end. Still, it was quite thrilling to have come that close. Anyway, in the subsequent 20 months, there have been LOTS of "close to beating Steve" games. And they are most definitely, no longer a thrill. In fact, they were getting to be downright Jim Piazza level frustrating. Why can't I beat him? Arggh! Anyway, on Thursday, Steve was my first match because when you arrive to club late Joel punishes you. I arrived late.
I won the "see who goes first" tile draw, but then opened with "Jap" (I had japonll on my rack). Steve instachallenged. Damn. He then played "tae" for six points and I played jape through the e. He then played another silly 7 pt thing (eating up five minutes on his clock) and I made another 20 plus play. After six turns, I was well out in front and had drawn a blank and an ess. Trying to clean up my rack, I stupidly dumped an Fo on top of a y hanging next to the triple line for 18 points. Steve immediately came back with HEX down the triple lane for 52 points and an 11 point lead. Stupid, Dawn! My friends Jess and Javon had come down to the club to watch me play. (I think Javon really wanted to see why I am near suicidal every Thursday night and to verify that I was not actually playing Monopoly.) Jess was sitting beside me as I let Steve suddenly take the lead on me in the game. I was feeling rattled and mad that I was going to be on the wrong end of another close one with Steve. I has pretty good tiles ?ANGTSI but Steve also plays a hardcore closed board style, so there wasn't an obvious place for my bingo. I had a lot of time, since I was pretty much playing my whole game on his clock, and after a few minutes I found a spot for a play under a T. Anything ending in a, I or o would work. Ingesta for 69 and I retook the lead. I then went into serious defense mode and even though he drew the second blank and scored on the triple lane under my bingo with banks for 31, I held on and won by 22!
Woo! First Barbara, now Steve! I am slaying my dragons one by of these days...Jim Piazza!
There weren't that many people at club, so Joel was in friendly teacher mode. He talked to Javon and Jess about getting started in the game...though seemed alarmed when Javon said he had never played before. Joel also watched as Ellen brutalized me in a game where she drew both blanks, all four esses, the q, the z, the x, the j. I tried to open up a bingo lane by playing off an o leaving me with orient on my rack...I hoped for any one of the ten letters that combine with that stem to make a I played "no" for two points. Of course, I draw another stupid ar AND ellen takes the spot I have opened up and uses her blank to play triples. Bah. I then use her t and bingo with tritoner. She challenges it off. Later Joel shows me that I could have used my orientr on the other side of the board to bingo through an F with Frontier. Pout.
I decide to blame Jess and Javon because they had left for that game, whereas the other three games they stayed for I won! So, I have now required that they come cheer me on every Thursday, so maybe I could actually win my division one of these days. Hmmm...or, at the very least they have to come the next time I play Jim Piazza! I need all the help I can get.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Wherever you go, there's Scrabble

I took Lent off from blogging...but definitely not from playing! I'm not sure where to start...well, I guess I am officially a mediocre intermediate player an improvement over beginner, to be sure, but nothing to write home about...unless you've run out of everything else to which case an "oh, I almost won...again" note mightbe called for.
I've mostly been focussing on threes to make fours and my six letter bingo stems (though I have managed to cram in a handful of seven letter stems). This is what makes me an intermediate player - I bingo much more frequently cause I see way more openings on the board (and bingoes on my rack or through letters). However, that I barely look at anything else and so challenge words like foin or xenon is what makes me mediocre. After Saratoga, I was really quite burned out on Scrabble and pretty much just dropped out of the scene. That lasted...oh, thirteen days! But I definitely enjoy playing much more than studying. I actually managed to rack up a two week champion streak against Phil...I found the word tutelage through a tee for a triple word scoring bingo in one game and in another challenged off notarise ("hmmm...I know that rack, Phil, and that aint one of the words in it! Challenge!") But he destroyed me last week in horrifying 3D monster fashion. Ugh.
My friend got married last month in Arizona...I was going to be in Tempe for a few days, so, of course I googled Arizona Scrabble. I actually found a $3 buy-in tournament happening at the Tempe club! So my friends drove me out there (just to make sure the club really existed) and after one or two wrong turns we founf the community center. The tournament was scheduled to start at 1:15 , but at 1 the center doors were still locked. So my friends and I did donughts in the parking lot until they opened up. Heh. My first game went super poorly. In classic Dawn fashion I jumped out to a big lead and then...gag, gasp, CHOKE! I ended up losing by 112. I crushed my next two opponents (getting a challenge on isatine, which emboldened me to play anything I wanted after that oh and did I play some doozies! Hahaha...Actually this weekend I played in the Bayside tournament (I think I placed fourth, but the prize I won was for best phony: tealiest. I also played alinear, spinned and acenose...but only got away with the first two!) Then I had the game from hellopia! I think in the end, he bingoed five times, hit every triple word square and killed me by 300 or so points...and that's a conservative estimate. Groan. In the end, I came in sixth place and won a dollar, which I donated back to the Tempe club. Everyone was so nice and if you're ever out in Tempe, you should check it out.

Monday, February 23, 2009


I out tripled-tripled Phil.

Sunday, February 22, 2009


My blackberry stopped being able to scroll, so I wasn't able to live blog this tournament at all. I am currently in fourth...I feel like I'm playing poorly and am really just hoping to get out of this mess without destroying my rating. I feel like I'm done with Division C. (Ha! The way I say that you'd think I was in first and undefeated.) I had dinner with an expert last night and he very cleverly said "there is no half way house for Scrabble." You are either in or out...maybe it's back to back weeks of multi-day tournaments talking...but I'm not quite sure where I want to be.

Friday, February 20, 2009



I crushed my last opponent like CRUSHED. With beautiful beautiful crush-producing blanks and esses and kues and jays and zees!!! I would have felt bad for him if he hadn't tried to open with a bingo against me: hautier. Dude. Not. Born. Yesterday. OH MAN!! I couldn't wait to post a picture of this board!

In honor of Matt I bingoed with "slander," and then on my next turn...or maybe a couple of turns later, I bingoed down in front of it with "ingesta" Ha! My opponent didn't challenge though, I think he was feeling too beat up by the least that's how I was feeling all damn day.
And check out how our hero found the dee hook on top of rum to get the zee on the TWS!
I found quag to get the kue on the TLS...
I also was trying to bingo on the bottom lane with some word ending in ess or with ess in teh middle cause I know leasings is good, but I thought it might draw a challenge...he got the last ess though. Stupid tile rack. Grin.
In my second to last game I finally drew a blank and I almost cried. I am now debating whether to play in this same division tomorrow or go back to the kiddie pool. Fact is, as I've seen some Division 3 players arriving I suddenly remembered there are sharks in the kiddie pool too.

1-1 (early Bird saratoga)

Remember the woman who beat me after I thought I had won, but then we recounted and she won by three? I just played her again! I was drawing well...opened with a bingo (outseen), bingoed in the middle with inanest, but I kept "pulling a Dawn" and opening up triples for her and she hurt me bad each time...ugh, so she was ahead by like 50 or 60 with no tiles left in the bag. She takes like seven minutes or so to track (I am having a terrible time with my clock management in this division...I keep second guessing My own EVERY move...liek th second time I opened up the triple, I thought she had a bingo and the triple line would only fit five letters, so I thought I was safe...nope...she punched me in the gut with like "fiery" or something horrible.) Anyway, she has lots of time, she like retracks the game, my tiles are eeilrss, but I'm not sure that ireless is good and it would be an outplay, so it's like an automatic challenge. Anyway, I sit and sit and the best thing I can do is relies for like 26--and I would still lose. Then she makes her move and plays "tope" I AM SOOO HAPPY I NEARLY JUMP OUT OF MY CHAIR. Of course, she takes it off. (Why am I so dumb? It's like I have never played poker before! Which I have...and have a poker blog.... Anyway, she takes another three minutes, shrugs and says "okay, I know you got it anyway" and plays tope again. i bingo out with tireless!!! I win! And I tell her I didn't have it otherwise. She is sad. Almost as sad as if she'd won by 1 and then we recounted and she lost by three.
Of course, I looked at the standings, I am in last. My opponent in that first match had high game of the tournament and I have the worst loss. Seriously, it's just like last year.
I played the woman from charlotte who played "crepier" on me. She got both blanks and used them both for mid thirties point plays which baffles me. She bingoed twice potties and like some satine word. I thought I was done for, but then she hung an ar on the triple line and I bingoed through with retrains (learning the eights has been one of the single most rewarding of the mundane exercise of Scrabble study.) Then I got a nice sick 40 point play with woke and suddenly I was back in it. With no tiles left, five on her rack, three on mine she was up by 17. She used my woke to score 8. I found a 15 point play, with lave/lie. (My decision on this was (semi) interesting. I could have gone out with vine for 7 points plus the 3 tiles on her rack, but I knew they were only 1 pointers, so I decided to take my chances that maybe she couldn't go out and just scored as many points as I could.) She scored four more BUT INEXPLICABLE went over on her clock by ONE SECOND!!! It was BIZARRE. I go out with a six point play, plus her tile AND I win after her penalty!
Lost the last game. I no longer remember what a blank feels like...I only recognize them when my opponents drop them on my ass.
Lost another one. 2-3 AND I'm her only win for today. Hawesome. Still have not touched a blank. Good news? Still bingoing withuot them. Be fucking nice to play someone who doesn't get them both though. Tom Brady jersey coming off, There Will Be Blood sweatshirt going on.
PLAYING UP IS SOOO STRESSFUL!! None of my mind gamey tricks work putting down my letters for words that I'm not sure about and waiting to see if my opponent will write down the score, thus confirming that it's good. Nope. They stare at you the whole time untli you hit your clock. THEN they write or challenge or whatever. Not to mention the sheer word knowledge. WHAT THE HELL IS BLET!!!?!?!?!?
I have not made one challenge. NOT ONE. Too scared. (Good thing too, everything I have looked up later was all good.)
I am 3-3. Just had a CRAZY game where I got to play "lacings" and draw the challenge. Studying the pluralizable ing words has been the fourth most useful thing. I shoulda taken a picture of that rack was lacins? And I had to play horizontally over cay

So I was looking for sla something but the best I could come up with after oh...ten minutes was lacings. Eh. A win's a win.

Kick ass send off

So, do you know what you get for coming in second in back to back multi day tournaments? You get kicked up to the next division. You, consequently, know just as much as when you started. That is to say nothing.
I got crushed in my first game in Division B 501-218. I want to say it was because my opponent drew both blanks, all the esses, the kue, the zee, the aitches, the ex and the kay -- which she did. But honestly, I don't know that I could have beaten her unless the drawings were exactly reversed. I definitely feel over my head. My only consolation is that since the matchings are done in degrees of best matched with worst for the first few rounds, she is probably one of the best in Division B. But anyway, as I signed her card and got ready to leave, she goes "hope your next game is better."
I almost burst out laughing...except there were still twelve other games going on and that would have been rude.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


I really am playing the best Scrabble of my life right now. (Okay, I've only been playing tournament Scrabble for 18 months, so that's not really that impressive a statement, but whatever.) I went 3-1 at the club tonight. I took pictures of my boards because, well I was feeling really good about today. I decided to try out my Tom Brady jersey to see if it would fare as well as my personalized jersey (which I washed and packed for Saratoga!) My first game was against Dulcet, who used to be in the core Scrabble crew until it fell apart, but I don't think she's really been studying or anything, so I settled in for an easy win.
Yah. Fat chance. She opened with a freaking bingo on me: DEMENTIA! Arggh.

I played quip for some nice, she came back with hue hitting the triple to make equip. I HATE THAT DAMN WORD!!!!
Okay, focus Dawn. I bingoed with destain right about the triple line, she hits me with ZAP for TWS. Waaaa. Then she bingoed AGAIN (with the second blank...the freaking tile rack) But I never gave up...and actually, I never felt like I was going to lose. I kept hitting strong four letter plays for solid scorage, including my favorite play of the game: There was a double word square surrounded on three sides by e I had the ex and was desperately trying to figure out how to stick it in there for the ex going double two ways and then I cam eup with EXEC!
Dawn +74

My next game was with the guy I hurt real bad by bingoing out with osteoma. He had come back from a close win against one of the strongest players in our division, but he was telling me that he had missed a ess hook on creaming. I also told him I would have missed that too. So in our game when I played "coping" to get rid of some crap tiles and close down the board a bit because I had bingoed and I was ahead, I was so hoping he'd miss "scoping." Sure enough he played "raisers" hooking the ess onto lo making los/raisers I insta challenged. Then he tried to hook an ess onto ava -- Challange again. This time Joel gave him a look and he said "stop that, you're getting me in trouble!" I laughed. And then won by 197.

My third game was against Nicki, the first person I ever played at Scrabble club. She's very nice, but also very competitive. I have come close to beating her many many many times, but she always finds a way to win. Mostly by playing phonies on me that are too plausible for me to challenge (i.e. vyse) But my last game against her, I was making really good challenges and playing well until I "pulled a Dawn" and left my ex hanging next to the TWS. D'oh. I decided I was going to beat her. She bingoed on her second turn with linking. I bingoed right back with linters, which she almost challenged. Then she hooks an ess on linking to make boast/linkings. I insta challenged. I spent a cross country flight to Utah memorizing all the ing words that take esses. Linking, not one. Now, at the club, Joel is God. We don't have a computer for challenges, just his word. So he comes over, I show him the play and he says "it's good."
I lose a turn. I am mad at myself for evidently learning my list wrong AND now falling behind by a bingo. She then plays "axings" for 44 points, but I can't challenge it cause...well, it's self evident.
I bingo a couple of turns later with "whatever," an AWESOME find, if I may say so myself. Oh, look at that. I just did! We are playing closed board Scrabble, I am ahead by maybe 20 and I decide to open the board waaay up: rutile hitting the top TWS opening up five new bingo lanes. My last tile was an ess, but it wouldn't fit. She doesn't use it AND the Scrabble gods reward me with tenail. I have to play through a letter, so I choose the ar. I can't remember what nastier plus ell is, so I sit there and write out all the satine plus ell words and see if I can do "re something." Nope. I then write out al the retina plus ell words and see if that take esses: BINGO! rETINALS. She challenges! I win by 85.
I am 3-0!

Guess who else is 3-0? Barbara freaking Epstein.
She takes my card from me and goes "oh, you're 1170 now, so I'm only just a little bit better than you. I'm 1202. Oh, you have a big spread. blah blah blah." Her voice really is just the worst.
Anyway, I get off to fast start against her with "stander" I am leading the whole way and she is talking to herself and whining about tiles. I've got this. And then she says "exchange two," hits my clock, throws in two tiles and takes two new ones. I check the bag an dnotice there are only 6 tiles left. I call Joel and explain that Barbara exchanged when she wasn't allowed to anymore. Penalty? I get to turn over four of her tiles PLUS see all the tiles left in the bag and give her any four out of the combination of all the tiles left. I give her qbga. I was feeling pretty good until she played "qis for 38 points to take a pretty sizeable lead with only four tiles to play. And I just couldn't catch up. I lost by 14.(No picture, I was mad.) And took second place in the intermediate division.
On the way home, I was stuck in horrid traffic, so I pulled up my ing list and LO AND BEHOLD: LINKINGS IS NOT GOOD!
I was right. Joel was wrong.
Be afraid, people. Be very afraid.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Is there a Scrabble Club in Las Vegas? And I mean a real one, not the fake one at the Rehab Clinic that almost got me murdered last year.

Day Three

I got up super early, nerves I guess. I went downstairs did some blogging got some breakfast and readied myself for the day. The guy in first place (Dave) was playing the top seed (Russ) in the first game of the morning. If I could win my game, and Russ beat Dave, I would be in first place. I had lost a very close game to this woman opponent on Day 1. I think I underestimated her when she played an ess for like 23 points until I realized she was just one of those players that will always just play the best word they have at the moment with no “rack balancing” or “completing racks” stuff. Truth be told I have the hardest time with these players because once I see (what I consider) a boneheaded move like playing an ess for 23 points, I’ll go into fish mode and then I end up facing three turns of steady 20-30 points versus my three turns of single digit turns, so that even when I bingo I’m still behind. Of course, you’d think that once I identify this about myself, I’d change…but you’d be wrong. I never learn. Anyway, luckily, things went well for me in this game against her, I drew the blank and decent letters right away, so I only had to fish once before bingoing with piaster. I then drew indiies, she had played quip through my pee, so I dumped off one of my eyes next to the q making qi right by the double word square and giving myself a bingo lane. I drew a cee. She then plays stab next to the qi using HER BLANK as an ess for like 30 points. Seriously, drives me NUTZ!! But whatever. I actually find indices after a minute of shuffling and bingo down next to her bee. She makes a really nice like four letter word multi word parallel play, but I am too far ahead now and I basically barrel through the game…I might have bingoed one more time to really seal it. I won. ALSO RUSS WON! I was in first. Joel walked by and asked me how I was doing. I told him I had lost five games.
“Today?” he said.
“Uh, no, the whole tournament. I’m in first place in my division.”
His eyes bugged out of his head. I laughed.
My next game was against this new guy who was unrated and had never played a Scrabble tournament before. He beat me on day one. Again, his style was similar to that woman’s in that he played a very natural Scrabble game. He didn’t know stems or many “Scrabble words” and would just play his tiles. I was also drawing HORRIBLY. So I really felt like I could beat him. Dave was matched against a girl I hadn’t played or SEEN all tournament. I thought that was strange going into the home stretch that he should play someone who wasn’t even in contention for winning. But whatever, I had to concentrate on beating this guy who had only lost 1 game in all of Day 1 and was first going into Day 2.
Again, I don’t quite know what went wrong. I opened with zones for like 48 points, but he managed to get a big score with quip and then bingo on top of quip with loaners/equip using the blank as an e…bah…this game I freely admit he outplayed me absolutely, completely and thoroughly. Then when he played “re” through the TWS for reequip for 57 points. The game was over and all I could try to do was manage the spread. The board was completely closed, I played off the d from my satine + d rack next to an id to open a bingo lane for myself. I drew and e, but he came back with val next to my id for valid. I didn’t even hesitate; I played etesians down the triple line making etesian/valids. He held the play, but I think the sheer confidence I was projecting, stopped him from challenging it. Whew. Valids is not good. But I cut down my loss to a manageable double digit. Of course, Dave sliced through that girl like butter and so was back in first, with me in second. So we had to play again.
Once again we had pretty high opening sequence scores. He opened with zig, I came back with jane, then he bingoes with marasca making zigs and using the blank as an arr. WHAT THE FUCK is MARASCA. Once again I was in the same place with him when he played mureins. Does he mean maracas which wouldn’t have fit?? I had the bingo weaners on my rack and was getting ready to play it next to zig. Otherwise it didn’t play. I thought about playing off the w…but if I looked marasca up later and it wasn’t good, I was going to kick myself. Might as well bite this bullet now.
It was good. He went again.
I played off the w and drew another e. I decided to just try to score some points. He then played boniato which…what the fuck? But I can’t lose another challenge, so I let it go. I’ve got crap on my rack and exchange. He bingoes with tritoner, through the ar in marasca. I challenge it off. He dumps the to and picks up an a and a blank. How do I know? Cause his next turn he bingoes with retinas. Fucking fuck fuck!
The wheels have completely come off my game. I can’t even protect the spread anymore.
He is in complete control. He gets the q and the ex and I finally get a bingo isolate, but it doesn’t play anywhere…so I take a shot with isolater through his ar in that STUPID Marasca. He instantly challenges it off. Ugh. I just want to get out of this game. I finally do. I’ve lost by 200 plus. He is now in first by two games. I think Russ was now in second and I had dropped to a three way tie for third…though I had the best spread of the three.
I walked away from the room. It was lunch and went back to the room, looked up “boniato” and punched myself in the face.
I’m kidding. Ish.
I packed my things and valeted my bags because my flight left Charlotte at 4:45 and the last game looked like it was going to start at 2:45 meaning I’d have an hour to get from that conference room to the airport and through security. It was going to be close. I went back to the room to tell the organizer dude that I wouldn’t be able to make the awards ceremony because of my flight.
“Well, are you in contention for anything?”
I was surprised at the question and wondered how badly my back to back losses had left me.
“I thought so…I was in first for like six minutes this morning.”
“Okay,” he said shrugging “well, I’ll just mail you anything, if you win anything.”
Bah. If. I hate Scrabble.
I ended up playing a game with a living room player who was covering the event for the Charlotte club. I was going real easy on her, and on my brain. I was just playing like cat, run…whatever, just to pass the time, so the living room player was doing well. Not winning, but definitely keeping pace. We both had like 120/117 points going into the end game. One of the black women from the expert divisions walked by and watched me play for a bit. She wanted to give me some tips, but the living room player wouldn’t let her, like it was “cheating.” This, of course, triggered my unhealthy competitive spirit and I decided to stop fucking around and crush her. Which I did. She then wanted a rematch as if I’d just suddenly gotten lucky there at the end, I agreed, but decided to start crushing her right away this time and I did that until the post lunch matchups were called.
My opponent after lunch was tied with me in third. The first place guy was squared off against Russ. I had beaten her twice already. The first time pretty handily and the second time by a little because I had decided to shut down the board after bingoing on her twice. In four rounds. So I was pretty confident. I bingoed on my second turn, then played hay in a way that left the why hanging next to the vertical line leading down to the triple word score. I ALWAYS forget that doing that is also opening up the triple. She decided to take the spot by playing legs vertical and parallel down to the triple line. This was a serious mistake though, as it left a ess sitting right between two Triple word scoring possibilities against a player that sits there trying to build bingo racks and sure enough I had one and played creatins for another bingo. She exchanged. I started building another bingo rack.  She had a nice play with zoeae with the z on a DLS and the e on the double word square. Then she got her kue on the TLS above the I in my creatins. (I need to watch out of that more.) I then bingoed with nidates –which she challenged! (I love that word. It’s one of the “new” satine rack words, so a lot of players don’t know it, they see that it has all the letter of instead, so they figure it’s no good and challenge. They then learn a sad painful lesson.) Of course, we were running out of letters and I was still ahead comfortably. I then drew the second blank. I had a bingo, raiment/minaret, but it didn’t play, so I dumped the em on a TLS going two ways. There were 11 tiles left in the bag. She used her turn to exchange five. I decided to play off two letters to open another bingo lane that wouldn’t need an ess. Of course, then I drew the last ess…which made me comfortable that she didn’t draw a bingo. She dumped a couple of more letters. There were two spots for my bingoes, so I just decided to play off one letter. I now had satine and as the evil whys, q and jay were out, I knew I could keep playing off one letter until the bag was empty and then bingo out on her. That is exactly what I did. She drew the last two tiles, I asked if the bag was empty, verified that it was and then bingoed out with retains.
“Fuck! I just drew the ex.” She was maaaadddddd. I think she had been fishing for that second black.
I won by A LOT.
Dave also beat Russ by a lot, so he clinched the division by two games and didn’t have to play the last match.
I had to play Russ in the last match.
He was in a very bad mood. He was angry that he had been matched with Dave twice in one day and thought I should have had to play Dave because I was second. (This is when I realized that even with back to back losses I had the second best record in the division by a game. And even if I lost my last game my spread was twice the closest person with eight losses.) I felt like I had a pretty good handle on Russ’ game and knew I could beat him, but his mood was very much “I don’t care anymore-ish” I bingoed on him early, but he came back with back to back bingoes. I tried to play a phony “lorrains” on him, but he challenged it off and I had to seriously refocus. I found some cute internal plays, drew both blanks, and in the end was able to beat him by 40 to clinch second place.
And then I ran like hell to catch a cab to the airport.