Saturday, January 31, 2009

Sundays with Phil

I remember when I first started playing Scrabble with Phil. The games were always utter disasters and after five or six turns, the score would be so lopsided that he'd basically offer to play my racks for me...even then, he still beat himself pretty handily.
However, in early January I started to get up to a respectable 1-6 win record...and now only three or four of his victories would be outright blowouts. So, when we met up today (yes, I know, today is Saturday, but since I'm leaving town tomorrow, I'm calling this Sunday) I wasn't surprised that I won the first game. I had back to back bingoes (the first was entailer, one of my ever growing list of eights!!) and then with violate (which I can only remember by putting the tiles in ovalite order and then saying "Silly, Dawn! Ovalite's not a word don't violate the English language like that!" I kid you not. My head is a strange place to be. Although, Phil taught me four eights today using a similar trick...let's see if I can remember...the angriest rangiest something goes in the ganister...I missed one...but that's still three more eights than I knew this morning!) Anyway, so winning the first biggie.
But when I also won the second game...whoa! AND he had both blanks that was crazy. He said that I pretty much played perfectly except missing a easy move where I could have played ing under din for a TWS and playing dey instead of dye with the y on the triple letter square.
BUT THEN I WON THE THIRD GAME!!!! I think I got both blanks that game, but still UNPRECEDENTED! I played tasering on the triple line through a T...Phil challenged it off and I was mad. HOW IS TASERING NOT A WORD?? But ganister?? GANISTER IS GOOD!??!
But then he tried to play "outloans" and I was pretty sure I learned that it wasn't good...either by having it challenged off when I tried it or looking it up on my own after letting someone else get away with it. So I challenged that off and bingoed through that T with the one of the good words in that rack and went on to post my first ever three game win streak against him...actually...I think it was my first streak of any kind against him!
Of course, I was talking so much trash as we played the fourth game "I don't need blanks to bingo!" "I don't need bingoes to win!" "I'll go easy on you this time."
So obviously, he crushed me. And proceeded to crush me through the next two games after that. So at our dinner break (is it a break, if we play all through dinner? Hmmm) we played the "championship tiebreaker."
This game was RIDICULOUS: We both scored in the mid four hundreds. We both bingoed twice...well, let me backup.
I bingoed with ordeals, hooking onto weeped (I almost challenged weeped...cause dude, that many ees, it just looks wrong! But I didn't. Whew.) He came back with back to back three letter word plays, involving jays and hs (how do you spell H?) that basically equaled my bingo. Then I bingoed on top of rig with instates (I wasn't sure that giga was good...I started laying down satinet next to gig and tried to gauge Phil's reaction, but he gave me nothing! So I chickened out and played instate, even though it opened up THREE triple word score possibilities. Of course, (BECAUSE PHIL ALWAYS HAS IT!! No, really..I play ritz. He has a y and scores more. I play violate right above the triple line, he has an s and a c and zee and all kinds of high point scoring tiles!) He bingoes down the triple line with disuses...THEN I DRAW ZAX and play it on my own triple line for EIGHTY FOUR POINTS!!!!!!!! SOO SICK!
But then a few turns later...HE DRAWS THE SECOND BLANK and bingoes with Oblique!!!! ARRGGGHHHH.
That was pretty much game...I got some points back with cell...but it wasn't enough I ended up losing by 20. But I couldn't go down like that, so I called for one more game, WHICH I WON!
So then we had to play one more championship game....heee heeee.
Scrabble = fun! I am so ready to beat Jim Piazza!

Thursday, January 29, 2009


The Scrabble circuit attracts its fair share of "characters."
You know, people you don't quite believe exist until they are there sitting across from you shuffling tiles or hitting clocks. Barbara certainly fits this description. I've tried to describe her to my non Scrabble friends a billion times, until one day I just furtively took this picture.

Of course, the thing that is MOST distinct about Barbara is the VOICE. It's like a high pitched nasal combination of Steve Urkel and the Dana Carvey's Church Lady...but worse. Unfortunately, Barbara is also a TALKER. Nonstop. Before the game, during the game, after the game...blah blah blah blah...The first time I played her was in a bookstore when the "Scrabble crew" used to meet like everyday to play until 3 in the morning. I remember I played Ki right next to the triple line, forgetting that it took an ess front hook. I had been in the lead the whole game and she kept prattling on about how she couldn't believe I was going to beat her and she was asking me what my rating was (it was in the mid 600s hundreds then) and she was appalled that I was going to beat her and then I made that mistake and she was able to bingo out to beat me by ten points or so. Of course, afterward she wouldn't stop talking about how I almost beat her. And then the next time we played, she was prattling on about that time I almost beat her...constant nonstop...shove something sharp into my ears, please. (Evidently, she is a very nice lady outside of Scrabble...I wouldn't know cause I barely can tolerate her enough to deal with her in the Scrabble sphere.) Anyway, I always dreaded playing her because she would always start off with the irritatingly high pitched recap of our previous encounters "you've never beaten me, riiight? We've played four times and you've never beaten me."
"Yeah, you've never beaten me, riiight, we've played five times and you've never beaten me...yeah."
"Oh, Dawn...I heard you did good in Atlantic City. We've played six times and you've never beaten me, riiight?"
Anyway, tonight was club night and as usual my first game was against Adam. Seriously, every time! Joel thinks I'm exaggerating...but I checked the's always ADAM! Anyway, he ended up winning our game because I was a chicken and didn't take the chance on playing "plaiters" till it was too late and I lost to him by four points because I went over on my clock. The loss set me up to play a Barbara in the second round.
"Hi, yeah, you've never beaten mee, riiighhtt?"
I glared.
The last time I played Barbara I almost won, when I found a bingo late in the game, but I had to draw the last remaining tiles and she was able to go out before me and win by the tiles in my rack. I was bitter.
Of course, as we set up for the game, Barbara reminded me of the game.
"Yeah, you almost beat me the last time when you bingoed at the end...yeah...but you've never beaten me, riiight?"
In my best Scarlett Ohara, I looked at the sky and shook my fist: I SHALL NEVER NOT WIN A GAME AGAINST BARBARA EVER AGAIN!"
She opened with WAX, for 26. I played back with ZARF for 38 (AND I've always wanted to play that word, so it was doubly awesome). A few turns later I bingoed with parsons AND SHE CHALLENGED IT!! Joel laughed in her face and openly mocked is his way.
"You know all the weird words, but you don't know regular English?"
I got to go again and now the score was a lopsidewd 163 to 48. I was in the zone. She was panicking. She'd let her clock run for seven minutes AND then exchange. So I'd exchange and hit her clock right back. She'd do it again. It got the point where I had 22:00 to her 5:34. Then she opened a bingo lane with ref and I used it to bingo with isatine. She started mumbling. "I think you've got me. You've got me."
I started to tell myself not to choke. I tried to play as quickly as possible so that she would never regain her composure, but it cause my one error in the game when I played um next to the triple line because DUDE, (with both pees showing) it only takes ONE LETTER and the other em was already on the board. Of course, Scrabble rule #35: if there is only one letter than can hurt you, your opponent has it. She bingoed with madeira (oh and she got both blanks, which she always does whenever we play.)
But I held on to take a 156 point win! The dragon is slaughtered!

Of course, after the game she was all "so, you're one and six against me now, riiiighht?"

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Obama loves SCRABBLE?!?!?!?!

Among those things, were important facts such as "Number four -- in addition to enjoying basketball and cycling during down time, Obama loves to play Scrabble." In addition to the top five, Glor later added: "Now one more thing we learned that didn't quite make our list, Julie. Obama's job as a teenager was at a Baskin Robbins and to this day he does not like ice cream." Chen responded: "So rocky road is like his Kyrptonite?"

Oh man! I so wanna play President Obama in Scrabble! Though...I'd probably choke.

How Scrabble is ruining my normal person life

I was placing a telephone order and the customer service representative asked me to read the order number to her. The number was a sequence of letters and numbers which started with NAK, so I started off really easily "N as in Nancy, A as in Apple," then it got crazy "K as in...Kop...Kue...Koa?" Finally I just said "K as in Kay!" Oh man. Yes, someone has been studying her short Kay words. Even now I can't think of a normal word that starts with K, oh kitten! oof.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Here's a blog from a friend of mine from the NY Scrabble club...I've got to get him to show me how to post boards...

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Scrabble religion

This post reminded me of something I have been thinking about a lot recently: Scrabble rituals.

Tournament Scrabble is quite mysterious like many religions. Although widely played socially, is not known as a highly competitive game by many people.

* Scrabblers are often trying to 'convert' people. I am always thinking "who would make a good Scrabble player?"

* Scrabblers have strange meetings where they play a game with strict regulations and guidelines kind of like a church meeting.

* Scrabblers all learn from and recite a strange book, (like the Bible,) which can make or break a Scrabble game.

* Scrabblers have a belief that they will reach enlightenment if they memorize all the top 5000 sevens and eights.

* There are so called Gurus of the game have a strong commitment to the game like a priest's commitment to their religion.

* Some Scrabblers have strange rituals when playing the game. Some have to pick the tiles out of the bag in a certain way. Others have to use lucky charms when playing games.

* A naive young man once said of Scrabble: "It's more than a hobby. It's a way of life really."

Monday, January 19, 2009

Quote of the Day

"Now you're going to have to change your blog name to 'I could only use six.'" -Phil after three consecutive turns of blocking all my bingos.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

And now for another segment of things Joel says

So, it's my first day back at the club after my second place finish in AC and my new four digit rating. Now, I'm not expecting confetti or balloons...I mean, it's not like I came in first or anything, but I figure a "hey, good job" from our Director might be possible. Okay, I'm kidding, I didn't think that was possible, he is Joel, after all. However, when he says "Wow, you finally had a good tournament, what happened?" I smile and reply "got lucky, I guess." And without missing a beat, he says "I'd say."
Ah, that wacky wacky Joel.
Later in the night he yells at me for missing obvious bingoes in my rack. (In my defense I had ?litter, but the only space open for it was like a spot worth 59 points and I thought it was worth it to burn a play and give myself a chance for more points, so I just played off a t--which is what Joel saw-- and then I bingoed on my next turn with lustier. In Joel's defense, lustier didn't score all that many more points and it gave Jim a spot on the triple line to play zoon and basically halve my bingo anyway...what? Scrabble is hard.)
I had a 1-3 night. I won my first game against this guy, who I can't remember if I've played before...but he let me get away with bingoing with tiniests, so I dunno how often he's played, but the best part of the game was when I needed to find an outplay ending in a and my rack was aemost? I had been studying the solate stem all afternoon (though I couldn't remember the em one for the life of me...stupid maltose. Not that it would have fit...but still, what's the point of studying if you can't remember it during a game. Stupid maltose. Anyway, I had lots of time, so I shuffled and shuffled and shuffled till I found it! The only a ending bingo in the rack! Osteoma! (It was played on my ass during that "Scrabble Open" I did in Albany and oh, how it hurt then.) My opponent challenged it, but it was good and he said it was the most painful experience in his life...I said, it didn't even rank in the top ten things that happened to me during that Open, but that it did hurt enough that I will never forget the word. I also assured him that it helps the pain to play it on someone else. Heh.
My next two games were against people that I have never beaten, including the famous Jim Piazza. The first game against Baraba, I drew so horribly...blech, five to a stem racks and then I'd get a cee and a y to complete nothing...over and over again till I'd give up on the rack, play some four letter word and then draw a new five to a stem rack. Sucky. But she has absolutely no respect for my game, so I challenged off her phony bingo and when she opened up a bingolane on the triple line, I bingoed on her ass with ruinate. Unfortunately, there were still four tiles in the bag, so I didn't go out and she was able to dump her c and v for enough points to hold on to a eight point win.
Then I played Jim Piazza, I outbingoed him 3-0, got both blanks and he won by sticking me with the q in the end. Cest la vie. (The worst part is, when I had my first bingo, I had like satineq, so I traded in and put the q back. When I got my next bingo I had seaqrn?, So once again, I threw the q back. And of course, the last five tiles that are left in the bag when I draw them qrfat. Bah.
And then my last game, because he wants to reinforce the fact that I suck at Scrabble, my AC tournament results notwithstanding, was against Joel himself.
He got both blanks, bingoed on me twice, kept the board on absolute lockdown and then after blowing me out by 200 points, he said "HOS is a word, so it doesn't matter what else was on your rack, AH was an awful play."
I wanted to tell him that I KNOW HOS is a word! I FOUND OSTEOMA!!!!
But I don't want to get banned.

I'm like a 1100 player now!!!

OMG! In other news: I know eights!!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Woee is me

I confess that I’m still a little sad and in shock about what happened. But I am ever so slowly moving more and more from the “I can’t believe I choked so bad” mindset to the “holy crap I came in SECOND in a THREE-DAY tournament!” mindset. And I thank everyone who has been part of that “snap out of it, you did great” brigade. Now just so you know I’m really not just a big baby, I’ll say right up front that I lost the championship game because I said the wrong letter when announcing my blank. Instead of s, I said e. And as my little brother would say “Dawn, E is a whole different letter.” Indeed. So it was a big collapse at the end of a game I was controlling the whole way and should have won, after three days of playing the best Scrabble I’ve ever played in my life, which is why disappointment ranks so high on my emotion scale. However, looking back at entering a tournament as the 19th seed, having never cashed in any tournament in the United States, a second place finish at a huge tournament like AC, was huge. Plus, I ended up losing to the number 1 seed, so no shame in that. So, we’ll do a final writeup of the tournament in a more characteristically upbeat style. (Oh, and as it’s come to my attention that more players have found this site, I should also say I don’t mean any offense or disrespect by anything I write, this blog is just a collection of my thoughts on learning this game and starting to play competitively…I respect (and am mostly still terrified) of all my opponents and am in awe that you guys have been doing this so long and I hope to be able to have that kind of staying power.)

At the end of the second day I was 12-1. I was solidly in first place as the only person with only one loss in Division 4. I was flying…but I was also shaking in my boots. At Saratoga last year, I was in first going into Day 2, which meant that I would be playing the very best of my division that day and boy did it show. I think I only won one or two games in day 2 and I had a three hundred and fifty point loss in my second game. It was ugly. So, I knew Day three was going to be tough, Adam in particular, kept saying that the top three seeds were stronger players than I was and I’d probably come in third or fourth. So I was registering a high ten on the freakout scale. I was restudying my stems and my twos to make threes and threes to make fours until I fell asleep around two in the morning.
I got to the tournament room early and played a quick game with Adam where he taught me a valuable lesson about looking for your best play. My rack was plit?zs, so I was ready to just dump the zlp and bingo on my next turn, but instead, after looking at my rack, he found a play through a b, to make blitz for forty some odd points! It was a great thing to be reminded of right before the last day. My first opponent was one of the top five seeds, he had only four losses and was a strong player, yet I could see he was visibly nervous! Of me! It was so weird, I’m like “dude, I’m nervous about playing YOU!” I think I went first, I had a great almost bingo rack, so I dumped the junk: two ohs and an H to make OHO, I drew X, I, A and my rack was examins – for some reason, I thought this was a word…I don’t know, in the light of day, I now realize that it is not a word (and not just because my Microsoft word keeps correcting the spelling and underlining it in red and screaming “you moron, you need another e”) Anyway, I decided to take advantage of my opponent’s nerves and play examins hooking the ess onto oho (which doesn’t take an ess.) Well, turns out he wasn’t all that nervous at all and challenged it right off the board, but then he made a mistake and hung an “I” right over the double word square, so I dumped my m and x for like thirty points on the next turn and drew very well to complete a real bonafide bingo. “Stanine” I was up by like 70, when I drew another bingo right out of the bag, I played “boldest” under mix for boldest/mixt, I was now up by 150. I started shutting down the board and he started fishing for a bingo. He finally got one four turns later: stinter, but it was too late. I won the game handily. My next opponent was my first repeater of the tournament, a woman I had beaten in the fourth round and had beaten at the Philly tournament, the first time I ever played in a rated tournament. I wasn’t too worried about the game, but that was a mistake. She bingoed on me very early, AND I was drawing horribly. IIIUUOOO kind of drawing, I’d exchange and get WWYOOOA. It was horrible. I was losing bad and I knew that this was going to be the easiest game I would play on the last day, so if I lost this one, my chances would be bleak going into later rounds facing higher ranked players with better records, so I hunkered down into my “you don’t need to bingo to win” mantra and started making my best three/four letter plays. I was finally rewarded with a satire + p rack, and found a nice place to play pastier under jab for 82 points. I was still behind, but it was more manageable now and I had plenty of time. My opponent, on the other hand was already down to four minutes on her clock with forty-something tiles left in the bag. I had well over 20 minutes left (that’s the one good thing about having to exchange twice early…takes no time at all and puts the clock back on your opponent). I took a deep breath and went back to work. She was also a big talker during the game…like “oh, I didn’t need that,” “I know you’re looking for a bingo, I should block,” stuff like that, which is difficult to concentrate through, but since I thought it was eating up more of her clock, I figured it was a net benefit to me, so I didn’t say anything. I bingoed again to take a small lead (rewarded for studying my threes to make fours when I remembered that HAY took a front ess hook and made townies/shay), she then made a mistake and played a French word “mer” which I challenged off. I then started shutting down the board on her and blocked her bingos. I know this because she kept saying “you’re shutting down the board and blocking all my bingos” as she stared hopelessly at them as her clock ticked away. In the end I won by 70 points. I then had to play the top seed, Supriya, who was out of the top five because she had three losses already, whereas I only had one and the next three only had two, but she was the top rated player in the division and I had seen some of her boards, she was no joke. And sure enough, she took the lead in our game and never gave it up. She was a wicked defensive player and strong offensive player. I bingoed with manless, she came back with a bingo of her own. Bah! It was hopeless and I lost by thirty something points, but it felt like a blowout. I think my mind was set on that being the game I was going to lose, so I made it so. The loss dropped me back to second, because although I only had two losses, John’s spread was higher than mine, so he was in first now.
Once the King of the Hill began, I had to play John again. I was so laser focused. I opened with Dairy for 26, he had a nice counter with LEK for 27, it went back and forth for a little while, till I jumped out in front with a bingo: diaries. He exchanged and then I bingoed again with a blank: sinuate. HE CHALLENGED! WOOO!!! I had a comfortable lead now and I was in shut down the board mode, but then he played ort, blocking my sweet q on the double letter e on the double word square play that I had been setting up. I HAVE NEVER SEEN THE WORD ORT IN MY LIFE. I held the play and even though it was only 12 points and scrabble strategy says that when you’re up by 100 points, you don’t challenge 12 point plays when you’re not sure if they are good or not…I challenged. I figured I have been studying for weeks, playing for two years, how could I have never seen a three letter word that’s good. Well. It’s good. And now I’ve seen it. Awesome.
Anyway, He then bingoes with gallons and is within striking distance of me now with four tiles left in the bag and my rack a dismal: AEEHIRV I start to panic a bit. I want to get my h on some kind of power square going two ways, but my options are limited. I start shuffling the tiles like a crazy person, when I find a BINGO! Heavier!! OH MAN!! I look desperately for a place…but see nothing. I look and look and look and then I see the word TET hanging over a triple letter square and a wide open lane. I know the word ETH and NTH And had recently studied the Hebrew letters which often end in ETH. I did a bit of calculating and figured if TET took an H hook, The play is worth 87 points, I draw the last four tiles out of the bag AND there was no more bingo lanes for my opponent to go out on me with; if I was wrong, his next move might open up a place for me to score big with my h and maybe I could hang on to win by a little. Okay. Let’s take a shot. I played Heavier/Teth John INSTA challenged. TETH WAS GOOOODD!!!!!!!! He lost his turn, I drew oon and went out with goon, getting 38 points from the tiles on his rack because he had like both pees, a C a Vee and H. It was awesome! I won by 136 points.
And I was flying high cause I was now the only person with only two losses. Unfortunately, Supriya’s huge spread and the fact that she hadn’t lost a game all day leapfrogged her into second place.
So I now had to play her in a sudden death match for first. This time my mindset was totally different. I could beat her. I would beat her.
It was funny, we both opened with UGH. I played mine horizontal, she played hers vertical. This made the next couple of moves very hard because UGH only has weird ass front hooks, no back ones. So she played Vau going horizontal over the top of her UGH and I played PRY going vertical in front of my UGH, SHE CHALLENGED IT!
I was suddenly feeling better and better. I drew a blank and found a bingo, she blocked my lane, but I found another one and played entasia. I was in control the whole game (AND DRAWING LIKE A LUCKY SOB!)
She bingoed twice for like sixty odd points, but I still had the lead and then…choke job. I meant to play woes/zins for 37 points and instead played woee/zine for zero. Then I played wey for 27 points, but it was challenged off for another zero, plus she went out and got all the tiles on my rack wylo blah blah blah…who remembers, I blacked out at some point after saying e instead of ess…or evidently just before saying e instead of ess. Blah.
Second place. But my mistake notwithstanding, mad credit goes to Supriya, I literally drew every tile in the bag…maybe she got one blank, and she still kept the score so close that she could still win. I can’t believe that I managed to play Scrabble as well as I did, against tough as nails opponents, my big choke job in that last game really highlights how hard this game can be as the pressure builds and I’m just grateful that I didn’t have mistakes like those in every one of my games…though my examins play comes close.
Anyway, I had a great time in AC. I’m really getting to love the folks “on the circuit” and obviously, I love this game.
I was a big head hanging mess of "I'm a stupid choker" after the game, and everyone helpfully kept coming up with big chokers through the ages to compare me to: Buffalo Bills, Tony Romo, The Mets, some golfer guy I've never heard of. I remember saying "I'm a big choker and don't deserve to go back to New York. New York doesn't want stupid chokers," and Matt said "It's okay Dawn, when we get to border crossing we'll cover for you." I laughed. And then every one was like "hey, but you're second! That's amazing." And I said "Yeah...and it even has an Ess AND and E right there in the first two letters of the word!"
…Face Palm.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Obama's America

The roughest, thuggiest, gruff looking black guy you ever did see just beat me in a Scrabble game. I had been undefeated through nine rounds and the loss dropped me back into a three way tie for first and his win brought him up to the four way tie in second. As we both looked at the rankings to see how close the tournament was he goes “Yeah, baby. Dats what I’m talking bout. Ya heard! That’s Scrabble! That’s Scrabble!” And then he fist bumped me. If I weren’t so pissed about falling out of first, I would have been laughing so hard. Bizarre.


I typed in that title and blogger tried to auto fill the field with "12-12" which is what I ended up being in Albany last week...what a difference. I lost my last game before lunch,
then had my magical amaretto sour -- which I drank every day in Albany before going on my brief winning streaks -- and came back to win all my games after dinner. And these games were tough. I feel like I can honestly say, mostly because the guy admitted it, I lost my one game because I went completely tile dead, while he was picking up powertiles and laying them down like nobody's business. But even with the unbalanced distribution, I still only lost by 40...protecting the spread. I will also admit that I have been that totally annoying girl that is complaining because she lost her one game. Waa, poor me. (But c'mon, really, he GOT EVERYTHING! Pout.) Anyway, Phil actually set me straight at the end of the end when he said that no matter what happens tomorrow, I've accomplished something pretty spectacular. Out of 25 people most of whom have been playing for years, I sit atop the field. "We're not looking at anybody else's name here. We're looking at yours and everybody else is looking at it too." So, I will stop my carping (and try) to stop worrying about the last four games tomorrow. I have had all manner of games this tournament...close ones where the tiles were fairly balanced, close ones where I got nothing, but made lemonade, blow outs where I had every tile (sorry Nancy) and blowouts where my opponent had every powertile, yet I found a way to win each one (except that one), so hopefully I can keep that up tomorrow.

Plays of note today:

*While playing the second seeded player who also had an undefeated record at the time, I made sure to keep track of every tile in the bag. With ten tiles left, the q was still unseen and with my rack of piguini, I decided then and there to hold onto that u until I saw the q. My opponent then bingoed with pingier (which I challenged off the board) so I knew she didn't have the q. I played off my p, so I wouldn't open up any spot for her to play a real word if she found one, and picked up another i. She played off five of her tiles, but I still held onto my u and sure enough I drew the last tile out of the bag: Q. I quickly played quod on my next turn before she could go out. I won that game by 31.

*Playing my first game after lunch and soooo regretting my alcohol drinking decision, I am playing the last undefeated player in the tournament. We are neck and neck, there is one bingo lane left -- a front ess hook word on cot. My rack is a ridiculous inino??...I can't think of anything with those letters ending in ess, so I play off in -- there are 7 tiles left in the bag. I draw br. I am up by sixty. She bingoes with listers/scot. I am all FECK. She takes a 13 point lead. I hold the play. I only have 4 minutes left on my clock and now my rack is ??binor, her el is standing right at the start of the triple line, so I start shuffling my tiles looking for a bingo through the el. Thankfully the obvious ing made my search easy and I bingoed out with laboring and winning by 21. (I also played a phony bingo in that game atresiae, which, while I knew it wasn't good, I also knew was way too plausible for her to challenge it. She didn't.)

*A dude tried to bingo on me with stroding and unsiked (with the blank as a d) Nuff said.

*My game with Nancy I had zesting, but since she opened with the unhookable duh, I couldn't play it. I was sad. I did get to play Fique on her, though! She almost challenged it too!


I am playing the multi-day Atlantic City tournament. When I had to wake up at 6 a.m. and drive three hours down to New Jersey, I was certain this was a mistake. When the first person I saw from the New York club was a woman who I have NEVER beaten AND she was in my division, I was doubly certain this was a mistake. When my first opponent didn't show and I was told to start his clock, but right when his time got down to three minutes, the director came over and gave me a substitute opponent and took away the time penalty, I was convinced that this was my worst idea ever. Oh yeah, I didn't even write about my 2-10 extravanganza in the "Scrabble open" after my 24 game Albany tournament polooza...bleech. So I was going to play this because I was here and all, but my heart wasn't in it...until my opponent used her blank as an H to hook onto my yea and make hay for a whopping 18 points. Is she kidding me? I quickly checked back into the game. And although she drew all the esses, managed to get a J on a triple letter going both ways on me, had both blanks and the zee, I won the game by more than 100 points. When I saw that I was being outtiled, I just kept telling myself I didn't need bingoes to beat her, a steady diet of nice three letters 20-30 point plays would more than offset her insane 7-18 point plays. My next opponent was the very first woman I ever beat in tournament play. I had, on a whim, driven down to play in the Philly day tournament, I went 1-8 and Joel mocked me mercilessly for "throwing my money away" when I returned with a dismal low six hundreds rating. But I had one win. And she was it. AND if there was anything I was sure of, I was way better than I was back then. Sure enough I bingoed on her early, I bingoed on her in the middle and I bingoed on her late. This game my mantra was "You don't need blanks to bingo!" Plus, I blocked her nice outplay to preserve my healthy spread. With two tiles left in the bag she was already muttering "yeah, this is your game."
I also played Ida, a woman from New York. She had such a bad game against me in Albany that she started to cry after, I felt bad, but I had to go hand in my "I won" slip. She has this habit of challenging my words off the board...mostly because I have a habit of trying to see what I can get away with against her...forgetting that she's been playing Scrabble since before I was born. Anyway, once again, I decided to dump out my letters and play what I like to call "plausibles" I played adeestt: estated. She held the play. I was already kicking myself, when she said "okay,"
and let it go. I thought I'd gotten away with something, but I looked it up. It's good. She also "taught" me a nasty lesson about nil taking front hooks, but then I taught her a nasty lesson about Dawn being able to guess about anil taking back hooks. Oh, how I love you letter e!
Anile was good!
Then I played this dude, who opened with key and my rack was ENTIRELY vowels, so I played Fetch through his e. He comes back with SOIREES using a blank and an ess and making keys: MOTHER BLEEP BLEEEP!!! Again, I still had all vowels, but I scored 40 points playing jolts with my j on a double letter and the ess on a double word. I was fallen hopelessly behind though with my lovely combo of crap letter drawings and his tile I decided to play a "plausible:" Goosing. He didn't even hold the play! (Turns out it's good...given my a 100% guessing at words record for the day.)
But the memorable thing about my game with him was that he was playing well and drawing well, yet I managed to play better. He played Lox for 24 points, hanging the x on the fourth line from the TWS. My rack was a dismal eiilnnn, so I was going to play off ni making nix for a few points, or exchange, when I saw that my best play was actually to play e i l so that I get that x on the TWS with ilex. His audible groan of disgust was ever so satisfying. Late in the game when I had an almost perfect bingo rack, I decided to play off my ess and lovely bingoeable tiles for a mere 18 points so that I could shut down the last bingo lane on the board.
"You're ahead Dawn, you don't need to bingo, you need to win." I played twins, taking the front ess hook spot on nit. When he pounded the table because he had wasted the last three turns drawing at the bingo I just blocked...mmm, priceless. He opened two lanes for himself, but I shut them both down by playing "craw" and sticking a lovely c right between his two lanes. It was probably my toughest game...though the game against Ida was also tricky as I drew the J and Q out of the bag on my last turn with one tiles left in the bag and she had both blanks at the time.
Sanksfully she had ??ewrld on her rack and had to play through an enn, so she couldn't find anything.
Whew. Today is another day.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Par for the course

I went 2-2 AGAIN. I lost my first game to Adam, I was drawing horribly, but I knew it was going to be a tough game, so I decided to take the 11 or 14 points for my two/three letter words rather than exchange tiles completely. I still don't have a sense of when taking the zero is your best play (except in the obvious all vowels or all consonants scenarios.) I have been studying the top hundred stems, but despite their *supposed* high probability, I didn't get 'em once in that game. (Okay, I did manage to get adeeils, but there was no where to play it, so I dumped the extra e and e! Having already wasted a turn drawing for my bingo, I decided to fish again. I dumped the e and drew...oh yeah, that's right, an e. But I kept opening up new lines, so I was finally able to play it. But he came back with a 50 point Zee play and that was that.
My second game was against a guy I had never seen before, I was drawing crap, but decided to play the craziest fours/fives I could in order to draw challenges. I played zincy, dawk, zoon...but he didn't challenge anything, plus he drew both blanks, all the esses...bah...I draw so bad, but still he only won by 32 points.
My first win came against a newbie who was still on the cheat sheet. He played two phoneys on me: barfers and voom. I was ahead by a lot and thought barfers might be good, so I didn't challenge; voom gave me a place to dump five tiles, so I let it stay.
My last game was supposed to be against Barbara (who is still telling the annoying story about how I played raisens instead of arsines) but when she saw she was going to play me, she said she was too tired and went home. Joel took her place. I was so not happy. I didn't need a 1-3 night. Luckily there was one game still going, so I got to play the winner. She was an intermediate player from Telaviv, so Joel let her use the cheat sheet for nonSowpods words. I opened with rex, she bingoed with "bingoed" I held the play and after thinking, I challenged. I vaguely remembered that bingoed is a famous nongo. I was right, I dumped a u under the x, and she came back with exuding, I bingoed with steeling through her g and then bingoed on my next turn with tortoise through the ess in steeling, she bingoed with ablation, but then I played za with the Zee on the triple letter square going two ways for 64. I owned this game. I was bashing her head in...and then, she played jigs/ablations for 90-odd points. Gross. I started fishing...I had saltini then saltinn then sartini...blech, she had taken the lead...then she played some word which made eel. I had just complete my satine rack, and played sinuate on top of eel. I wasn't sure seel was good, so I sweated it when she challenged. But it was good and she lost a turn, so I won by almost a hundred!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Conversation of the Day

Me: Well, that's like one of the most famous Scrabble games.
Karol: Why?
Me: Because 830 is the most points ever scored by a single player in sanctioned Scrabble play.
Karol: Really? So...I should stop telling people you score thousands?

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Androgny Tilt

My second match was “Miriam,” so I’m all looking for a girl. I see no girl. A guy comes up to me and says “Hi I’m Lulu. I’m playing you next.” I’m all…a boy named Lulu? Okay, whatevs, but…”no, I’m playing Miriam.”
“That’s me,” he says, “but I go by Lulu.”
Alllrriiighhtyy Then.
Lulu says he’ll she’ll be right back, he’s she’s going to the bathroom. I immediately want to follow him her to see which one he she really goes into.
I refrain.
Of course, as we set up the board there’s the usual “where are you from” conversation and he she says “I’m originally from California. San Francisco.”
OF COURSE you are, I say in my head.
The first word he she plays is “hard.”
I lose it.
Then lose the game.

Saturday, January 3, 2009


Well, if consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, I have a very very tiny mind. Once again, I finished the tournament at .500, which is where I've been after every tournament since my fast start in Saratoga last year. My word...has it been a year already? Yes.
Let's see...the last day flew by mostly because we had the last four games condensed into this morning. I lost my first two games and won my last two. My first game wasn't very memorable, I got whooped, but good. She bingo in her second turn, I tried to play off one of her hook words and make "roofy/yean." It was no good and she challenged it off. (Even worse, Nancy was playing her game right next to me and she had the crazy start. Her opponent opened with mothier. She challenged it, already knowing that my opponent's double double bingo of dressier was fine and good, I focused on the Nancy/Other guy challenge. MOTHIER WAS GOOD! Scrabble = RIDICULOUS. Anyway, right after that HIS NEXT PLAY was YARNING. Nancy challenges again! I think I was up there getting my "roofy" kicked off the board, so I got to see her LOSE ANOTHER challenge. He was up like 250 to ZERO. Again, disinterested in the butt kicking I was taking, I watched her try to bingo back with BELEAPS. He challenged this time. NANCY LOST! (The actual bingo in that rack is BELEAPS.) INSANE. I consoled myself through my beating with the knowledge that at least I wasn't Nancy.
My next game was interesting: if only for a VALUABLE lesson that I learned. If I knew how to underline I would. I was better than my opponent. She challenged oud, left spots wide open, just newbie player stuff (mind you, I'm only slightly one step above newbie...I'm like newishbie (CHALLENGE!)) Anyway, she bingoes with something, I bingo back with something else and we are neck and neck...maybe I'm slightly ahead, then she hangs a g right in the middle of the triple line, ie you go bingo with something ending in ing or something starting with G. It stays open for like three turns, both of us trying to use it. We're shuffling and shuffling and playing off one or two letters for single digit points and then finally I get deletin. But it's her turn. I am just staring at her. Waiting. And waiting. And she senses it and closes down the lane. I'm sooo piisssssed. She ends up winning by like twenty or so and at the end of the game she says "Did you have something there? I felt like you did." I said that I did and she said "yeah, you were so still." And it's true, I went from shuffle shuffle to..."hurry up lady I want to play my triple word scoring bingo word now, please." So I've learned to write down whatever bingo I find and then just keep shuffling my tiles like I do when I'm still looking. Stupid learning.
However, as if karma felt my pain for losing that game on such a silly amateur mistake, I won my next game because my opponent made a silly amateur mistake! I was losing by forty, no tiles left in the bag and my rack is aeelns? I have the worst time with double letters and blanks, but again, I had lots of time on my clock. So I shuffle and shuffle and find "leaners," I'm fairly sure this is good, but the only open spot on the board is next to na, so I really need something ending in e or n to hook on...but I just can't find it (turns out there are four for those of you playing along at home. Two are regular words, that I probably should have found...probably...definitely when I get to be an oldish player.) With one minute left, I decide, screw it, I've got to leave myself enough time to maybe play through something she plays, if she I play leaners/nas to go out. It's a free challenge, so she takes it...except on the slip she writes down "leaners" AND THAT'S IT!! Leaners is GOOD and Nas escapes unchallenged!!!! I win by thirty!! Hawesome.
My last game was with a really nice kid that I had beaten twice before. I don't even know why I was paired with him. Actually when he told me we were playing a third time, I might have very subtly said something like "aw man," which I think he took to mean "aww man, you're really good." But I actually meant "aw man, no way my rating is going to go up by beating you again, you're ranked below me." But when he assured me that I "was a good player and shouldn't worry," I didn't clear up our misunderstanding. I'm a jerk...just not that big of a jerk.
Anyway, he opens with "mazily" using HIS BLANK AS A Y for 38 points! (Huh?! WHAT?!), I play under word for my own 36 points. We trade twenty point turns and then he bingoes with unmates, I hold the play...but after "learning" remates yesterday, in that ever so uniquely awesome way of the computer screen flashing green after you challenge, I was gunshy and let it go. I had my own bingo ready to go, so I knew I'd still be in the lead. I bingoed back with sonsier, he held the play AND CHALLENGED!!!! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO (SONSIER is also Seniors, but you wanna play sonsier so that you draw the challenge. Hee) I then drew Urinatd, I played off the UD and drew IE. At first I was mad about the double i, but then I saw retinai -- I bingo again. I am feeling blowout -- when he mounts a NICE comeback, he bingoes with booting, I exchange, he then plays "jading" with the j on the double letter through a DWS for 50. I challenge, it's good and I lose a turn. He dumps two letters and I figure out that he has the second blank and is looking to bingo. I shut down the triple lane by playing cog under the ja in jading. He dumps another two letters. I count the tiles in the bag: eight left. I play savants under the ag from jading/cogs, hitting the triple, and leaving him with one tile to take even if he bingoes. The play pretty much killed his hope for the bingo and I won.
I was a grueling four days. So, there's no wonder that after all that I decided to enter the "Late bird Open" where all players are in one division. THAT'S RIGHT. ALL PLAYERS. EXPERTS, INTERMEDIATES, NOVICES AND ME!!! I. AM. NUTZ.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Penultimate Day

Jaybus this is a long tournament. I'm really starting to feel it...actually I felt it this morning when I crawled out of bed at 9:30. I so wanted to go back to bed. My first opponent was a nice lady. I was not my nicest self though, being that it was early and I was tired, but I felt bad about being a grump, especially after I mauled her by 190 points. Sawy. My next game was with a 14 year old, maybe even 13...UGH. UGH. He DESTROYED ME. First off, we were playing on the new "Diamond Scrabble" board which has all the new colors AND THUSLY SUUUUCCKKKS. I think they should be banned from tournament play...actually, I should have just refused to play on it. But I always try to be accomodating. Blech. He killed me. I mean, in my defense, he got both blanks, zee, ex, all the esses; but in my not defense I had seven turns in a row with single digit or less scores. Not my finest hour. He wiped out my positive spread. He was also frustrating to play with cause I think he has ADD or something and kept like jumping around moving tiles....BLAH. My next game was with another super nice woman from North Carolina. We each got a blank and bingoed early, but then I picked up the rack earlike and I knew that tealike was good -- didn't know about earlike (also didnt realize there was another bingo in that rack, but whatever) so I decided to fish for a tee. I KNOW. Dawn =moron. I used up two turns looking and it didn't come. When I did get another bingo: sealing, I stuck it under up making upe/sealing. She challenged upe. It was no good. I lost a turn and she managed to play on the triple for forty points and draw the last esses in the bag. That was the game. I just gave it away. UPE!!! ARRRGGHHH. That's how I learn.
I hate learning.
I then got beat in the next game by another lady who outtiled me completely.
At lunch my nemesis Adam kept saying that I can't blame the tiles, but I feel like I know when I've lost a game because my opponent is better than I am/I play like crap and when I've lost because the universe wasn't cooperating. Nancy also went into lunch having gone 1-3 in the morning. She was yelling "freaking q" all the way to the restaurant. We both hate Scrabble and are going to take up boggle now.

Thursday, January 1, 2009


Another win, this one also very close, although I jumped out to a huge lead early, Nancy who I play with all the time, managed to bingo to get back in the game. I had an almost perfect rack entriei, so I started fishing a bit to try to complete my bingo, so she caught up with her twenty plus points a turn compared to my one or two a turn. Finally I got the bingo entries, but it didn't play, I needed a word that started with ess, but I took a shot and played a stirene, Nancy challenged it and it was no good. She took the spot and bingoed with sculled! Using her second blank of the game (my last three opponents all got both blanks) I thought about challenging sculled, but I was only down by thirteen at that point and had a feeling sculled might be good so I let it go! (Whew, it's good.) I opened up lanes for myself, but she kept shutting them down, finally with one tile left in the bag I drew sanieri I knew there was a bingo there but couldn't remember what it was, again I had a lot of time left, so I shuffled my FINGERS off till I found it. Then for a place to play it, the only open lane was above rooks, but I didn't have a cee, so I contemplated trying to get away with srooks (what? If fricking smaze is good!) But then I saw the word cons right below the triple line!! I played senarii/icons! And won! Whew!
Tile God was merciful and I got both blanks And in Two separate turns! The first was tinniest playing off a t he dangled above the triple word square and the second was a tricky play with saline? Which had to fit its last two or two letters alongside quest so it very specifically needed to end in ins or its or ist something like took a looong time, but I found it! Hee.

A Bright Spot...Finally

I am playing a college kid from Michigan. I am scoring very well, I had three 41 point plays in a row. He then bingoes with the two blanks making avenue. I start to fall behind, but then he plays aid right under the triple line and I bingo on the triple line making booties/said. I am back in control, but my rack is all oooopar. Awful. I play troop for eight, he then bingoes with shadier hooking an Ess to the front of Maze, for SMAZE!! What the Bleep?! I insta challenge. It was good. Pout. He starts talking about how he hoped I would challenge that cause not that many people know it blah blah blah. I want to strangle him. He is now in the lead and its his turn. My rack is a now crappier ooocqsi and the board is closing in on me. I play off an con. My final rack with two tiles left in the bag and one bingo lane through an I is tirnesq I decide to play off the q for 11 and hope for the best. I draw a U. Of course. I am so mad at myself for not tracking. Blah. Game over. Tirunies makes nothing. He plays turd. I think and think and think (I have like ten minutes left) finally I come up with turniest or runtiest...turny...runty...ugh...I go with runtiest to bingo out for the win. He makes the challenge. He asks me if it's good. I shrug. I have NO idea! But... It is! Woo! First win of the day.

More Albany

Well, I am on yet ANOTHER hours long break. I hate to say it, but this is the worst run Scrabble tournament I have ever played in. I understand they had some problems with the weather, but the lulls between games is ridiculous. Yesterday's session started at like 2 and ended AT SIX! WITH AN HOUR LONG BREAK. COME ON! Frankly, the last two days have pretty much been wasted time, which equals wasted money on hotel room fees...although I did get tonight FREE because they didn't give the wakeup call I asked for. So, that's a win. Other than that I'm at 3-5. Two wins by byes. Not good. I can't say that I'm playing badly, though my first game today I opened up a bingo lane late in the game by playing crud which I didn't know could be pluralized, so I gave up a bingo and lost a challenge, after leading pretty handily the whole game, it was a sucky loss. Then I had the bye because a player is sick and then I just lost to this man...I dunno maybe I wasted two or three turns fishing, which was no I let him play gheer cause I figured it was some weird hook that I didn't know. Turns out he though the G was a C. Ap-cray! And now I'm on break for TWO more hours. SO retarded.
I don't think I'd do this one again. But we'll see how the rest of the day goes.


I have more forfeit wins than actual wins. 3-4.