530 Miles to Nowhere
May 20, 2005
Trouble on the Horizon
The drive was uneventful. Well, except for a dire discovery. I continued to quiz myself on LeXperts 3001-4000 sevens, and I reached AEDNRTX. EXTRAND* immediately came to mind. Tzuvachtia!!! Noooo!!! That's the phony Jim Kille played against me in Stamford! The real word is DEXTRAN, and when I looked it up after the game I truly thought I would never forget. Granted, I just looked at the anagram for a couple of seconds before clicking the verify button--in a real game I'd have thought about it more. But still, the mistake sends shivers down my spine. I'm reminded of a recent CGP post about how Noel Livermore had missed HARICOTS even though Jim Kille had played it against him two years earlier. After missing it the first time, he had said he would never forget it, just like I hang on to the firm hope that I'll never forget a word that comes up in a real tournament game situation. Let's hope that should AEDNRTX ever come up again in tournament, I'll get it right--if I don't I might have to quit scrabble.
I stopped for gas at Sheetz in Breezewood and decided to give their burger a try. Their menu did not include fries, so I figured I'd get some from some other restaurant. Well, my choices were limited, and I was forced to engage in the deepest of perversions, a trip to McDonald's! But just for fries!! Just for fries!!!
For some reason I had thought they would be thicker.
McDonald's was proven to be truly evil once more, as the 15-minute fry delay ended up causing me to be too late to reach the new Starbucks in Sandusky by 11:00 PM. Oh, it wasn't too bad--I just slept at the rest area and picked it up in the morning. I just like calling McDonald's evil.
Somewhere on the PA Turnpike, near mile 45, I saw something unusual to the south, a streak of smoke, like from a jet plane, but moving straight up. I couldn't figure it to be anything other than a rocket, but why would a rocket be launched from there?
The service plaza on the Ohio Turnpike had added Wi-Fi, but it is not free (AT&T).
Late May it may have been, but the temperature still dropped enough for me to break out my full complement of blankets. It occurred to me that the cave I formed with my blankets, with my curled up in a fetal position inside, was kind of like a womb. Womby? Is that what the word means?
I visited the Sandusky store and reached Farmington well before 9:00, which meant I could try and get a little more sleep. I parked in one of the spaces where the adjacent building's shadow was longest, next to a truck. I was about to crawl in the back and nap when I noticed someone in the car. I wasn't sure if he was just waiting for the library to open, waiting for Scrabble, or perhaps some type of creepy-creep. I didn't want him leering at me while I tried to nap, so I moved as far away as I could, next to a burgundy PT Cruiser. The shadow there was shorter, and it wasn't long before the sun hit my face and roused me from my half-sleep.
Later I'd find out it warn't no creep, just Chuck Armstrong.
I went inside, paid Carol, and went back outside, moved the car to the shade, and managed to close my eyes for another 15. I didn't sleep, but I still felt better.
Didn't help me against #2 Ron Hoekstra though--right away I missed FAQIR for 34 and played QAT for 21 fewer instead. Nevertheless, I hooked his HEMP with my GRIMY for 37 to take the lead, and the Z and J helped me stay ahead as Ron, holding eses, burned lots of time, presumably trying to bingo. Remembering his time trouble in our last encounter, I set out to push him right away, as well as to keep the board closed. By turn 6 he was down to 13 minutes to my 20+ but had managed to stay in it by burned two eses for 30 and 31 points. Then he wandered into WANDERED and turned the tables. I continued to score and started to creep up while managing the difficulty of trying to balance my rack, score, and block his scoring spots. I held a blank, but Ron beat me to it, dUNTING, and took a 93-point lead with the game almost over. I had GOBBL?S but no hook, so I played BILBO for 24 and drew IOCGRS?. Of course he blocked.
Later I discovered I also failed to take advantage of my Z, playing LUTZ for 26 instead of ZOUAVE for 56! Curse the bones of my folly!!!
I stumbled early again, against #1 Chuck Armstrong this time, tripping over a five that just didn't seem familiar, FRITT. He then I proceeded to blow me out. My most hopeful moment was right after Chuck played DAWdLERS to go up by 100, when too my time and found a bingo that hit the triple with my AEIOGR?, ARGOsIES, cutting the lead to 33. But Chuck played OX for 58 before I had even finished drawing tiles. And what were those tiles? Four Ns, two Es, and an L, requiring an immediate exchange only to draw the final N!!!
With five Es in the bag, a way to bingo with those double Ns occurred to me.
I ditched the M. But not only did I not draw the E I needed, but another N!!! Hope went bye-bye.
I had another chance to beat John Terrell when he stumbled early with UTTERAL*. Next turn he played the correct bingo, but the extra turn had allowed me to draw into cROONERS. I played well and maintained a 20-30 point lead, but then AEOQRRS forced an exchange that allowed John to pass me, and then a goddamn O to go with AILERS cost me a chance to hit the only probable bingo line before John beat me to it with bLUNGES. I still could have come back from a 44-point deficit, but John then scored 38, then 35, and I got stuck with the Q.
A Mystery Solved!
Carol had announced good news, that the library would be extending it's closing time to 6:00 PM. The change had not happened yet, so once again it was a rush to grab some lunch at the usual place, Big Apple Bagels. It think it had been more than a year, and the quiet cutie was still there, but with a change. She was no longer wearing that black collar-like thingie around her neck. Curiosity finally took over, and I asked what it was. Well, it was a piece of elastic from a pair of tights--I never would have guessed.
I returned to my car to discover that tragedy had struck! Loki, the evil god of mischief had paid a visit and caused my bottle of fresh-squeezed orange juice to spill on the passenger seat, on my batteries, and, worse of all, my new TuneCast FM transmitter that I allows me to broadcast tunes from my laptop to my car radio.
I was still in a rush to get back, so I'd have to wait to clean up the mess. Later, as I drove and looked at the orange residue, I wondered if I should just leave it. I'd heard once on the news a story about some guy who was trapped in a car for days and survived on crumbs and sauce packets.
I can't deny that I got some good tiles against Paul Epstein. Problem was, bingos kept raining on him. I opened with ADOPTEE, but I didn't feel proud because if I had seen a five that slotted the P on the double, I probably would have taken it. I didn't even bother to look for a bingo, and it wasn't until I thought about ADEPT, then ADOPT, that I saw the bingo. So I got lucky. And I got lucky again a few turns later when Paul played IGNIFIED. I might have challenged, except that TAUNTING fit right through it. A couple of turns later, Paul started to get close with GROOVIER. A couple of turns later I held a blank, but Paul beat me to it with CoRTINS, which I challenged, thinking CITRONS had no anagram. I still might have won, with Paul down to 3 minutes and me holding the blank, but of all the dumb luck, after SHARE (AB?) for 36 to come within 10, I pulled AUUBKL?. The tiles were almost out, so I hope to just outscore him in the endgame, and KIBLA or WAUKL
Afterwards, I got a real shock when I discovered Paul is an 1849 player! Stupid, stupid, stupid, that I never bothered to check his rating before we played! Had I known he was 1849, I never would have challenged a high-probability word that I knew had an anagram. What's worse is I held AAEBHR? with an E to play through. I wasn't sure of the word, but Paul's bingo should have motivated me to give the word a try. Anyway, I held good scoring tiles going into the end game, but Paul got down one more bingo, SILTIER, and that was that.
Against Jeff Fiszbein, my tiles were finally so good that I just couldn't lose. I opened with RETEAMS, won the challenge, and followed up with MIDYEAR (missing the higher-scoring six-tile overlay). I told Jeff not to worry, that the way the tournament was going I would find some way to lose. But after scoring 30, 29, and 26, and then 72 for FAIrIES, to go up 200 points, Jeff asked if I still thought I was going to lose. I had to admit it wasn't likely.
On his second turn Max Panitch tried to play SIZEY* against me. I'm fuzzy on those five-letter eses, but I suspected he might have been trying to take advantage of that. Or he made a mistake. Either way, after letting him get away with TICE* in Atlantic City, I couldn't live with myself if I let him phony me again, and I challenged it off. But then I screwed up and sacrificed 9 points and played FOE to leave myself AEOS instead of FOES/XI leaving AEO, and so focused was I on weighing the two options that I didn't realize I'd give Max SIZY/OES for 39. But from that point, I managed to outscore Max and keep him from that last killer bingo.
Steve Grob was always a step ahead and sent me packing with a mere 2 wins.
But because of the strength of the field, 4 1800+ players, I only dropped about 4 points, which was a relief. Still, I ended up having wasted the trip, neither back towards 1700 nor close to the magic 1599. Stuck in the no man's land that is Division 2. I wasn't really upset--I was confident that with a small measure of luck in Bayside, or a lot of luck in Stamford, I'd get right back up there. But I had to put Scrabble aside for the moment. In order to justify the trip, I needed to push farther west, as far as Chicago, and visit as many new Starbucks as possible, and then drive all the way back to work by Monday afternoon.
First though, I waited to see if Jodi would call and say she'd drive some ways east to meet me. We'd been having trouble, and I needed to see her. But the call never came, so I had to comfort myself with Starbucks.
Average Equity Loss Per Turn
Includes total equity loss only when all turns were simulated.
1 - 8.5 (102.2)
2 - 8.3 (107.6)
3 - 5.5
4 - 7.8
5 - 7
6 - 4
7 - 9.9