Meaningless Victory

May 7, 2005

Another attempt to get my rating back to 1700, another race against time. My late decision to give Hudson a try, risky because of the one-division format, was followed by an even later decision to make stab into Michigan, as far as Flint. As a result, the 24 hours preceding the 12:30 start time of the Hudson tournament were frenetic, much driving and rushing, and very little sleeping.

It seemed like everything conspired to make me late, and had Chris not told me, when I called around 10:00 AM, that the first game wouldn't start until around 12:30, I would have been.

When I entered Room 200 of the Holiday Inn, I was immediately glad to see Jim Dodds, for his rating (and it's potential to affect my rating), who had done quite well in Pigeon Forge. A few minutes later Roy Dixon walked in--excellent. And Dan Stock too--enough 1600+ players to give me a decent shot at picking up good points. Of course I had to A) ditch my losing ways; and B) be paired against those players and not the novices.

First up was Midge Skwire, at 1120, the lowest-rated player I'd faced since the previous November. I started off well with the Z and the X, but she soon started to creep up. Then I cleared out my rack with LIBRATE (A) and drew the Q, a blank, and an S. Had I spent a few more minutes, I would have seen MArQUIS, but I was running low on time, and QUASI/LIBRATES for 58 (keeping the blank) seemed quite adequate. Once I killed the last easy bingo line with DRIFTaGe, the game was mine.

Nothing is guaranteed in these one-division tournaments, and sure enough Jim Dodds lost his first game. Not sure if Roy and Dan did too--it might have been because of spread, but I was paired with a 1076. Not what I wanted, especially when she struck early with the utterly pedestrian AUNTIES. A couple of turns later, I did a double-take when she challenged JEW!!! The extra turn got me within 20, but I just wasn't picking the tiles. I passed on AH/YAH and took RAH/EH for 8 fewer points and a better leave, ANRST instead of NRRST, but drew another RS into it. Then Carla overdrew, and when she put the five tiles on the table she showed me the A, C, and a blank! And she didn't mix them up! I thought about telling her, but I quickly decided the middle of a real tournament game for real ratings points wasn't the time to be teaching a newbie about overdraw technique. And given my crappy drawing, I wasn't feeling to sorry for her. A couple of turns later, she busted out with MARKeTs--she had drawn the blank back!!! I didn't feel bad for her at all then. Goddamn it!!! Both of them!!! I was really in trouble, with only one S left and the board tightening up. She continued to score consistently, not giving me a chance to catch up, and when I finally hit, EQUAL for 73, I was still down 32. CRAP!!! Not only did I lose to a 1046, but one who challenged JEW!!! Even if I won the rest of my games, playing those two low-rated players, plus the low-rated player I was likely to play in my third round for having lost that game, my opportunity to gain points was going to be quashed.

After the game, she came up to me and asked about JEW, not in her OSPD3. Ah, that's the reason--but isn't it on the list of 3-letter words given to newbies?

That JEW position is interesting for another reason. After both 2-ply and 4-ply sims to 1000+ iterations, Maven likes WARN at 2L, which only scores 14, by 3.5 equity points, and WORN at F7 by 2.5 points. I don't understand this at all. Yes, ERTS is a great leave, but I can't see giving up 25 points and allowing my opponent to score off that J.

Losing that game was doubly costly--I ended paired with another novice, 1054, in my third round. All I wanted was a fair draw, but instead, like killing a fly with a bazooka, I got a ridiculously unnecessary killer draw. Nine power tiles--WIZES/KINES for 64 plus an extra turn, eLAPIDS for 72, ENJOINED for 98, and NOWHERE for 83 to lead by 299 points. Then my racks kind of fizzled and I only ended up winning by 242, but still--who needs that???

Meanwhile, Carla was the only undefeated player. Grrr...

Finally, four rounds into the tournament, I faced one of the players I'd come hoping to play, Roy Dixon. The game started off hard-fought, with Roy following my RELINES with WOoLIEST. I scored 31 with COY, and then Roy busted out again with HEARTEN. But I got lucky, and JUBA overlapped nicely for 54 points to keep the lead. Then Roy contemplated his EUNRRS for a loooong time while I looked at my IOODDST. I had ODD in one spot for 19 and another for 21, but slotting ED next to the triple column with an H unseen. Roy double-doubled for 28 with RUNNERS and I went for the safe play. Then Roy scored 28 with OF hitting that that same TLS and leaving IF slotted next to that triple column with an F unseen--apparently he was willing to take the risk that I was not. Interesting. Then I held AEIOLST but didn't see the seven and instead fixated on the open R. I tried to remember if the anamonic for ALE-RIOT is "zen mvp cheered free beer" or "zen mvps cheered free beer". I decided to go for it and go ISOLATER* past Roy. But he came right back with WAKE for 36 to cut my lead to 3 measly points. Finally, when I the X for 50 he had no comeback and I began to extend my lead to the point that I could use the momentum to my advantage, stick him with the Q, and fish off an I leaving AINSTT with a tile pool of EEEGNTQ? to draw into INSTANT and bingo out.

Despite my win and 3-1 record, I had to suffer through another novice, Pat Hardwick. I never felt threatened.

Chris gave us over an hour's break, to make sure there was time to watch the Kentucky Derby. See, the one-day event was one of three tournaments aligned with the three races of the Triple Crown. A portion of the entry fees from each event would go towards prizes for the players who performed best across all three events.

I headed to Brecksville for dinner, because there was a Starbucks I wanted to rephotograph. I spotted the Mill Street Grille and popped in. It turned out to be a bar, and I don't really care for pub grub, but I hadn't the energy to go elsewhere, and I wanted time to get online and figure out the potential gain or damage to my rating.

I guess one way to look at my sixth game is that I held Dan Stock to 11 (actually 10) despite the difficult tiles I faced. But I didn't care about that, because with 2 losses, having played three players with an average rating of 1079, my rating was fucked even if I beat Dan in the final round to go 5-2.

Dan surged ahead to a quick lead with UNOILED followed by PRoTeIDE. His second bingo was particularly irritating because, after UNOILED, when I found myself unable to make good use of the triple with my ACMNRTT, I, after lengthy debate, decided TAM at 10L was my best play. I saw the possibility his hooking TAM, but I didn't think it too likely a bingo would play through (but of course two blanks makes it easier). Maven prefers a couple of plays, MANTRIC and TOMCAT, but I'm not seeing why. I can't see that the turnover makes up for the fewer points and reduced defensiveness.

My CNRT leave yielded OFTEN at 4E for 36, putting me within bingo range. Maven prefers OFT, leaving a better ECNR (and not opening the triple). I might agree, but I was so far down I didn't want to sacrifice points. Also, I needed to bingo, and sticking the N (or R) out there opened an additional line. Dan's ZING for 40 hurt, and pretty much forced my next move. Holding the unplayable ARCHIVE, I hooked it along the N I'd place to make ARCHIVER*. I had no idea, but I desperately needed the 87 points. Dan let it go.

I scored well with BLADE for 37 (BIASEDLY was my only missed (unknown) bingo of the game), then OXO for 39. Having to exchange AIIIUG (S) hurt, but ADVISE for 42 leaving two eses put me within 23 and gave me hope. Then I made one mistake that might have cost me the game, or maybe it was the right play. I was close enough that I didn't want to let Dan bingo, and the I, S, and E in the lower left were likely lines. FIL scored 23, but IF at 5K would have scored 25 and deprived Dan of the extra points he scored for AD (he only had low-point tiles).

GAZING for 22 was good play, and then final plays were pretty much out of my hands. Dan played RUE at N2, and I had to assume he held the final T. At this point, Maven's analysis seems useless--it doesn't even list any blocking plays. Given that the tile pool included the J and plenty of ways to score 61 points (an automatic game winner), it is beyond my realm of comprehension that anybody would not block that spot. IRID was the only block I saw.

Then Dan played LIE at 2B for 6 points, and it seemed almost a certainty that he did not have the J but was gambling for a bingo. Once again, it seemed like suicide to not block, but I couldn't see anything that reached with my EEONPSS. So I rolled the dice and played PENSES*. Dan let it go, but I drew AO to my O. Dan scored big, 37, with JEST, and I lost by 11 (actually 10 had I recounted). There's actually a six that would left me with an S instead of an O, and with AOS I could have gone out first and won the game.

Once again Chris' tournament employed a match format, so I played Dan again. This time I got a much better draw and quickly built a lead that I maintained for the duration to win the game and the tournament.

Chris had warned us up front that the prize pool would suffer because of the small number of participants, twelve. Nevertheless, first place earned me $70, which was almost as much as the payout of some other tournaments with equal or higher entry fees. And this was even with Chris's paying out $7 for 4th, $14 for 3rd, and $35 for second, and $41 going to the Triple Crown fund. Actually, I think he paid five places, but I'm unsure of the exact distribution.

Ordinarily I would have sped away in disappointment, but because of my exhaustion I didn't get any farther than the parking lot, where I proceeded to spend the next 11 hours.

The next day, when I had the energy to find a Starbucks and check my new rating, sure enough, I had dropped ten points! There's no misoverestimating the damage an 1100 player can do with a SATINE bingo and both blanks!

Average Equity Loss Per Turn

Includes total equity loss only if all turns were simulated.

8.6, 4.4 (69.9), 7.3 (88), 5.9 (77.1), 5.9 (76.1), 5.1, 6.5

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