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 one...one 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 bingo...so 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.