I Pimp With an Elephant Fist

Sunday, October 22, 2006

I had meant to arrive early, but, as is often the case, unforseen circumstances got in the way. This time it was a Sprint PCS store, near a Starbucks I was trying to reshoot. I had been keeping my eye out for Sprint PCS for weeks so I could have the name on my account changed. The process took just minutes, and I would have reached Tomato Thyme with a good 10 minutes to spare... except that got on Highway 17 heading north, not south. Yes, I had been to three previous Los Gatos tournaments and knew the route like the back of my hand, but I was also retarded. Retardation never helps.

It was okay, because John Karris was running behind and in need of ratings. I helped out with my handy-dandy list, and then I rushed across the parking lot to the FedExKinko's to download Quackle onto my new laptop. I actually had my old one in tow as well, and with twice as much simulating power, I was able to finish simulating all six games very quickly after the event. I've heard it said that simulation can be most useful if done immediately after a game, so I figure the quicker the better.

My first victim was John Karris, who had given me no shortage of difficulty in our last two dances. This time around, I struck first with a bingo, ANDIRON, and though John came right back with his own bingo, he chose S(P)ENDERS instead of hooking the BUNA that I had left on the triple. This allowed me to hit the same spot with the two blanks I had just drawn, TILInGs. John challenged, and with a 132-point lead after my extra turn, I ended up winning by 200.

Next was Felix Kwok, who might be on the rise. He had been besting me in club, and he possesses a couple of dangerous qualities--he is willing to play phonies and he is willing to challenge phonies. And he likes to strike with early bingos--in this case, IMIT(A)tED through my opening KRONA. Thankfully, I had my own, DGLORV?, though I gave up equity by being unsure of the play through the I and taking the A play instead. A few turns later, a poor play gave Felix a hook for HANGERS. The rest of the game was closer than a cupcake, but I managed to eke out the win. Actually, 50 points is more than eking, but it would have been closer if Felix hadn't challenged P(Y)LON.

Third game, and things just couldn't come together for Isaac Apindi. 50 for Q(U)AINT plus oVERRUD(E) plus ToMENTA put me so far ahead that by the time Isaac bingoed with LOADS(T)AR and won an extra turn for my challenge, I was still up by 101 and it was just too late for him to come back.

Scott Anderson gave me an advantage right away by overdrawing and showing me his JOX. I took the X, and then I altered my play. From ADENNOS, I was trying to remember, from the nearly two years of simulation, whether Maven/Quackle would take the points or choose the ADENS leave. Given that Scott had the J, I decided that the short play was superior for not opening up a DWS. As it turns out, Quackle chooses the short play even without knowing the opponent's rack. Anyway, my leave yielded MAIDENS, and I was off and running. But a few turns later I missed In(T)ERIOR, and that led to my undoing. In(T)ERIOR would have been the safe bingo, but instead I gave up a turn with (T)ORII for 6, and then all I could find with AEENPR? was PANdERE(R) at B1, which gave Scott S(P)EC for 33, which I would later regret. A few turns later, my best play (Q)UOD gave Scott SALTERN along the triple (though he had it elsewhere), and two turns later my best play WOW for 28 instead of blocking a bingo line gave scott TOT(A)LING for the lead.

At this point, BEAST was an obvious choice for a 36-point lead, and from that point if Scott had made his best plays and I mine, I would still have won by at least one point. See the following for the rest.


Had I been 4-0 going into that traditional fifth game against Jerry Lerman (because he and I are always #1 and #2), I might not have made that first equity-leaking play. Under his OBA I played IDYL to try and avoid opening any lines even though it left me AAC. I intentionally passed up ACIDY, but my gamble was wasted as Jerry bingoed anyway with ARENOsE, and I groaned. Two turns later I had OLEATES, but I wasn't sure, I let the squirrel first take over and played ETALO(N)S instead. But after Jerry bingoed against with TAILERS, I knew timidity was going to lose me the game, and I unleashed the elephant fist with the phony AGEN(T)IZE*. I guess it was plausible enough, close enough to words Jerry had seen, that he let it go, and I cut his lead to 17. Jerry immediately started to pull away again with 41 for E(D)IFY, and once more the elephant fist came to my rescue, and I somehow saw the bingo in AGNMORU to take a 33-point lead. A blank remained unseen, so I was far from relaxed, but I managed to beat Jerry to the S hook on the phony AGENTIZE* to keep my lead, and in the end he just couldn't draw the vowels he needed to go with that blank. Whew!

Jerry had had a bad tournament, which meant instead of seeing him in the final round like in the previous three events, I met Felix Kwok, and I could feel his nervousness mixed with a burning desire to shackle my elephant fist. Opening with STARING was definitely a good way to go about it, and I had to think long and hard about what to do with my AGIMNRZ. Finally I went with the points, MIRZA(S) (though ZINGAR(I) would have scored better), even though I was unsure of whether it was spelled correctly (or MIZRAS*). But when your opponent opens with a bingo, the squirrel fist ain't gonna cut it. With scores of 38 and 36, I stood positioned to take the lead, but I squirrelled up and misspelled (A)CROLINE*. I then saw another line, through an H, but Felix blocked it with (I)MiTATES (imitating his play from our first game), and I knew I was in trouble. Besides the fact that I'd blown my chance to take the lead, I still didn't know the correct spelling. (A)CROLEIN or (A)CROLIEN*--I could have gone either way, and thank heavens I got it right. But two turns later Felix bingoed a third time, CREAtU(R)E, and then immediately scored 49 with FOB. The game started to look pretty hopeless.

This was a critical position.

Down 91, I had to decide whether I could win without a bingo, by drawing the X and final two eses, in which case I wanted to score as much as possible (FATE for 37), or whether I needed to give up some points with FOG for 32 in the hope that AEIT would yield a bingo through the wide open R and L on the board. I decided I had to bingo, and I drew ADEEIPT. DEPI(L)ATE I was sure of, but Felix had blocked it. I did not see PI(L)EATED, and I was completely unsure of EPI(L)ATED. It was a tough call, but ultimately the only way I was going to win was with the elephant fist, so I had to go for it, and I took a one point lead. It was anybody's game, and with the X and two eses unseen, plenty of volatility remained. Felix wasted no time in playing XU for 42, and for the third time things looked bad. And with the game almost over, only a miracle was going to save me. My next play was critical.

I was pretty sure that PIVOT or PIETY would sim highest, but either would give up a counterplay and prevent me from making up the deficit. I needed volatility and luck, and so I went with YIP for 29. And I caught a break. Felix played LYSE at 15A for 31, to go up by 43, but YIP gave me VERST for 41 and then OW for 17 and a win (1 point) no matter what Felix did. Had Felix hooked YIP, I would have lost, but I had the elephant fist on my side.

After game, Felix would ask how I could have misspelled ACROLEIN (but not in a snotty way, like some other players might have). I explained that I have never seen the word in real life, I've never seen it played against me, and I've never played it myself. Given that I only see it on a list a few times a year, I'm not going to beat myself up over that one. Same thing goes for MIRZA (vs MIZRA*), though now that I've got the memory of Felix holding to associate with it, I'll hopefully never be unsure about that one again.

I managed to boost my rating to a 15-month high by pimping with an elephant fist, and I was greatly relieved for it. Of course, I would rather have pimped with a gorilla fist and gone 6-0. Of course, gorilla fist is nothing compared to the 15-0 record posted by some dude named Kevin Hales in Raleigh that same weekend. I would say that qualifies as pimping with dragon fist. And then there's Brian Cappelleto, who went 14-0 at the Dallas Open. Despite the open format of the event, I would call that golden dragon fist.

All fisting aside, my new rating put me in the same unenviable position as Jerry Lerman, whom I had just leapfrogged. Unless more of the Bay Area's higher rated players (yo, Sam!!!) started showing up at Berkeley and Los Gatos, I was going to have to keep winning 5 just to stay even, and 6 for marginal gains. Stupid expected wins table.


4.7 A(D)Z  
1.3 VIM  
0.2 DIBS  
0 TILInGs  
2.8 MIB  
0 QI  
10.9 YA  
10.4 LO(P)  
4.5 F(R)EE  
22.8 LAEVO seems high
0 CO(A)X  
2 W(E) W(EEL)
17.2 PROF  
1.8 (M)IGHT  
9.9 CO(A)TI  
4.1 I(C)IER  
16.8 ASE(A)  
0 QIS  
2.6 DU(P)ED  
4 BOW  
0 JUN  
10.9 CLEE(K) (V)EN(A)L/(MIX)E(D)/L(A) would have been sweet
0 ES  
2.8 EX(P)AT  
3.9 JUN(T)O  
0 WAUK  
0 ITEM  
0 Q(U)AINT  
8.9 F(E)H  
15.4 S(T)OVE  
0 oVERRUD(E)  
15.8 lose turn  
8.8 (H)ERRY  
0 SNE(E)ZE  
7 EON  
0 NO  
3.5 GOO(F)ED  
3.7 (M)AZY  
3.2 (C)EPE  
0 QA(D)I  
0 (Q)UOD  
5.4 (U)VEA  
0 WOW  
0.2 BEAST  
66 DYE missed Scott's (SPEC)ULATIVe
1.8 IDYL ACIDY (keep tight cuz Jerry bingos too much)
5.7 A(R)EIC  
38.8 ETALO(N)S OLEATES (unsure)
0.4 DOGE  
0 CH(I)P  
0 (H)ID  
24 NOWTS  
0 (F)OE  
3.6 MIRZA(S)  
0 JEW(I)NG  
0 THI(G)H  
38.8 lose turn  
19 LA(K)E  
0 FOG  
13.7 YIP (need the volatility)
0 OW  

Average Equity Loss Per Turn (using Quackle 0.93)

1 - 4.7 (75.3)
2 - 5.0 (74.9)
3 - 7.2 (100.7)
4 - 7.7 (100.3)
5 - 6.8 (81.1)
6 - 8.7 (104.5)

Avg: 6.7

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