Aye, There's the Rubaboo

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Running late, as usual. No new Starbucks in San Francisco (yet), but the city is so visually interesting that I arrived in the Bay Area determined to rephotograph as many of the existing stores as possible. After picking up some gingerbread pancakes at a Guardian-recommended place named Zazie, I managed to shoot three stores before I realized it was 11:15 and I needed to boogie. From where I was, on Chestnut Street, Berkeley is only 14 miles away, but as the my path to the highway dragged on and I seemed to hit every light, I began to worry. And of course I did not have John Green's number with me--nooooo, that would have made too much sense. Heck, if I had any sense at all, I would drop whatever I'm doing and program the number of every director in the country into my phone right now. But sense and me don't tend to run in the same circles.

Thankfully, traffic opened up once on the Bay Bridge, and I reached the venue on time. For a one-day tournament site, The Original turned out to be an interesting-enough place for a tournament, as is downtown Berkeley itself. One funny thing about the place though--it used to be called "Mel's The Original", but then, in a story that, for some odd reason has never been reported, Mel went off and joined the Taliban like John Walker Lindh, and the new owners felt it prudent to drop his name from the title.

I started my first game with an utterly stupid opening pass, ADEMNOT, which I fully knew was stupid even as I dwid it. Lewis Martinez (not Yinez) of course passed, and thankfully I cut the inansity short and played MOANED. I built a gradual lead as the board tightened up, but it disappeared in a flash with Lewis' 48-point ZA, which came just as my rack appeared to fizzle. Playing (D)EV for 8 instead of seeing AEENRSV + R could have cost me the game, but I caught a break two turns later and was able to play my AEIMNRS to Lewis' Y. I played the second half of the game picture-perfect--that plus superior tiles led to a huge win.

My 162-point victory left me optimistic and ready to sweep the field, but the rest of the tournament fell apart rather quickly. Against Isaac Apindi I made the dual mistake of letting him get away with UpDRIVE* and then attempting to hook TENsIVE to it and having it challenged off. Despite those two mistakes, but I still had chances to win. Presumably 100% certain that I could not triple-triple even with my blank, Isaac slotted the S at O4 with RIALTOS. (S)TEEVInG would have scored better than N(A)IVETEs and prevented Isaac from using the triple. Three critical mistakes, and yet I still had one more chance to win, an excellent rack of AEELORT through a T. What's more bizarre is that I was about to play there, AEROLATE, but I backed off because I only had one T--talk about a brain spasm of the highest order. Grrr...

My first game, and meeting even, with the Word Freak great Lester Schonbrun, turned into an embarrassment. I was almost ashamed to have let Lester walk all over me like that. My first mistake was mental. After Lester opened with HOMEY, giving me no hook for the two bingos that I immediately saw in ACIKNY?, I spent nearly 5 minutes looking the bingo that did not exist. Failing to find the nonexistent bingo lowered my confidence level, and that in turn affected my level of play for the rest of the game. For example, the only thing I really know about Lester's game is that he's been playing a long time and must know beaucoup words. I have no reason to believe he is disposed to phonies. So there was no good reason, so early in the game, and holding a blank, to challenge RUBABOO. Lester followed it up with the phony UND(R)IVEN*, and I didn't even consider challenging given that I'd just lost a turn. For his next trick, Lester hit the bongo with (C)ONDuITS, and at that point I pretty much gave up. That's the only explanation for trying to hook GUNITeS to AWA. Even being unsure of whether it takes an S, there are few situations where I would have taken that kind of risk. But like I said, I had pretty much given up, which is too bad, because I went on to draw into two easy bingos, MEDI(A)TOR and (R)ELOADER, and who knows what might have happened if I had bucked up and played my best.

I fared no better against the indominable might of the K-B (no relation to the Kay Bee Toys fortune). Distracted by his manly prowess, I stumbled early, opening with JIAO (ACG) instead of JAG, which would have been obviously superior even to a lower-division player. My weak play gave Jason extra points for PLOD, and, realizing this, my mind was all gloom and doom as he then played cREAKIE(R). At that moment, I did not feel I could beat Jason without overwhelming superiority of power tiles. On turn 7 I managed to get down ATOMIES to cut Jason's lead to 21, and only then did I see the faintest glimmer of hope. Had I played perfect from that point, I might have won. But instead I continued to give up equity like a drunken pirate.

Meanwhile, there was a second drama going on, completely in my mind. On the way to Berkeley I had been listening to the Marty Nemko Radio Show, and the day's topic was male versus female bosses. Marty made the comment that males are more visual than women, and when faced with an attractive female, a male's gaze (especially a male with a high sex drive) may tend to drop below her eyes. Some women would consider this harrasment, but Marty suggests they should not be so sensitive.

So it turned out that a relatively new Scrabble hottie (codename: Hottie) arrived at The Original wearing a top that revealed just enough to draw any healthy man's gaze and arouse his passions. I had taken notice of this young woman before, as early as Reno '05 in fact, and the ol' gearcogs had been a-turning for weeks, but the newly-revealed voluptuousness of this vixen increaed my interest exponentially. I remained distracted through the afternoon as the young lady's sat at angles that revealed more or less flesh, and I had to wonder whether, when she looked at herself in the mirror that morning, she realized the effect she would have on men who are cursed (or blessed, depending on how you see it) with a high sex drive.

I spent much time that afternoon wondering how I could approach the young lady, who had thus far appeared to be a bit icy. I decided that, since I was planning on catching a flick or two at Shattuck Cinemas, conveniently located next door to Mel's, I could make an offhand remark about a movie, a pseudo-invitation if you will, that would allow me to gage her interest without having to suffer actual rejection. No convenient moment appeared during the first six rounds, but I resolved to make a move while the KOTH round was being paired.

My last chance to save my rating disappeared in an outdrawing particularly cruel because it started out so well. My opening rack was AAEFMT?, and while FErMATA and FE(R)MATAs came to mind, I just wasn't sure and passed them up. But next turn I found TAILBoN(E), and I felt a little proud of myself. I know that the the big boys wouldn't give even half a pat on the back for such a simple bingo, but at 1-3 I needed something to feel good about. When Bruce took the lead with REASONS, I didn't sweat it. I just played my PILAW for 32 and caught up. But then I proceeded to draw DDDHL to my leave of DM, and that's when I started to sweat. The rest of the game went downhill quickly, and one critical mistake was my undoing. H(O)LD was a decent enough play, but I completely overlooked the front hook. Actually, make that two critical mistakes. Because I didn't see the front hook, and thus no bingo lines, I did not even look for a bingo in ADDIMNO. Imagine my shock when Bruce hooked HOLD with SQuAT, using almost all the remaining power tiles. My jaw nearly dropped as I realized how badly I had screwed up, and I surely deserved to lose that game.

As badly as I wanted to try to talk to Hottie (code name), I had another mission to take care of during the break, an unusual one. Due to circumstances that will not be explained until the uncensored version of my (hopefully eventual) book is published, my barely-a-month-old pair of 501s had a rip in the crotch that rendered them wholly indecent. For the tournament I had pulled out my USSO jeans with a massive rip in the knee, tres chic, but I could not wear those to work. I had yet another pair with both a trip in the knee and a small hole in the crotch, which I considered both chic and edgy, but again not acceptable for work. An Internet search had revealed a Levi's distributor in Berkeley near the tournament site, Bancroft Clothing Co., and I decided to rush over there during the break so I could see a movie right when the tournament ended at 5:50.

Chic and edgy, tres chic, and indecent, not necessarily in that order.

I returned to the Original as fast as I could, and final-round games were only just getting started, but Hottie was already engaged, and Isaac was waiting for me. I hoped to play as fast as possible to catch Hottie before she left, but the game turned into a real battle, and racks that seemed close to a bingos (and sometimes were) sucked up my time. Despite being outblanked, I an easy bingo towards the end allowed me to win, and I was surely relieved that I would probably remain over 1700 (with Lester and Jason in the field). But by the time we finished Hottie was gone. That might turn out to be the only time in my life where I got the jeans but lost the girl.


26.5 PASS sims as top choice???
0.5 MOANED  
10.5 A(I)RDATE  
11.8 JO(T)  
1.3 OINKS  
0.9 LAS  
0 S(E)N  
0.9 FO(I)L  
0 WEB  
0 QI  
0 (YE)T  
2 GRUMP 8D  
0 HIM  
35.2 lose turn  
20.3 N(A)IVETEs  
5.1 YERK  
0 QA(T)  
10 W(E)ST  
16.6 BE  
22.1 WANE seems high
0 (C)OIN  
0 KAY  
48.1 lose turn  
5.2 FUCI  
34.4 lose turn  
24.7 STU(N)tING unsure of (HOMEY)S
9 JE(U) J(E)R(I)D
26.4 X(U) keep missing disconnected E I
1.9 FROW WOOF (slots F instead of W)
4.2 JIAO 8H  
0 HEX  
0.3 TAW  
13.3 SANG  
13.7 LENO(S)  
0.4 BA  
31.5 lose turn  
0 YE(P)  
3 O(D)E  
0 (D)E  
22.7 FAME  
0 TAILBoN(E)  
0 AVO  
21.6 (F)ROCK  
5.3 PILAW  
1.9 H(O)LD  
4.9 DEX  
0.6 C(L)ING  
0 TROY  
0 DUIT  
3.2 FAUN FAG (ENTU) - should have gone with 1st instinct
0 YOGI  
3.6 KOI(S)  
49.4 (M)U RUINATE/URINATE 4-tile overlap
0 JA(R)  
0 VOTE  
9.4 WEE(D)ING  
19 P(I)X  

Average Equity Loss Per Turn (using Quackle 0.92)

1 - 6.8 (102.4)
2 - 11.8 (165.8)
3 - 16.5 (181.1)
4 - 7.2 (108)
5 - 12 (132.4)
6 - 12.9 (167.9)

Avg: 11.2

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