Accentuate the Positive

Sunday, November 5, 2006

One would think that a tournament start time of noon-o'-clock would be sufficiently late in the day to assure all participants a fair chance at on-time arrival. Unfortunately, life always gets in the way. This time it was a midnight screening of the original Alien in Palo Alto combined with a random glance at Oakland magazine. The magazine had been sitting on a table at the game store It's Your Move, where the Oakland club meets on Saturday's. The club does not seem to get the same calibre of player as Palo Alto and San Francisco, and as a result I was paired with a much weaker player. My mind started to wander, and when I spotted the magazine, a "best of" issue, I immediately grabbed it and started looking for recommended eateries. As soon as I saw the blurb for Mama's Royal Cafe which reported that breakfast was good enough to drawn weekend lines, I knew I had to go.

Though I tried to hustle upon waking on Sunday morning, there was good wait upon my 11:00 AM arrival at Mama's. To-go orders are not accepted on the weekends, so my only option was to wait for a counter seat and ask for a box with my order. Made it out of there just in time to speed (subjectively speaking, on these Oakland/Berkley streets) towards the tournament while wolfing my food down with one hand and calling a message ahead to the director with the other. But it was worth it, as the eggs were above-average, the sourdough toast was yummy, and the truly fresh-squeezed juice was heavenly. The Italian sausage, while worth having just to try something other than bacon, was decent, but not entirely to my liking. But there are plenty of other options to try upon a return visit, like pork loin. Oh, and the waitresses--young and attractive, though with just a little bit too much attitude.

I know better than to speed (excessively) through Berkeley. The town may be liberal with its homeless, but I have seen too many drivers pulled over to hope they'd be liberal with their traffic regulations. The upshot was I needed to call ahead to ensure my spot. But in validation of Scott Adams' assertion about humans, I had still not put either of the Johns' numbers in my phone. I suspected The Original and Tomato Thyme were getting tired of this frazzled Scrabbler calling with a message for the director, but I called anyway. What the heck do I tip them for, anyway?

Just two blocks from The Original a vehicle pulled out of a parking spot just as I approached. Even though the fucker was driving an SUV (unnecessarily, in all probability), that act of random kindness earned him the title of Blessed Angel of Heaven (but just for the day).

Felix Kwok, whose ability, at least against me, seems to exceed his rating, is fast becoming my most-frustrating opponent. To be sure, I have to blame myself for the sequence of events that let do my downfall. First, with KOTO and GR(O)UP on the board, MUST leaving ARV was a bad play. As I played it, the H hook passed through my mind, but three turns later when I held ADDHOOV, I saw HODAD but no place to hook it. This failure allowed Felix to play REPLIEs/(MUST)s. Funny thing is, had he hooked MUSTH, I would have let it go. But I had to go and challenged MUSTS, when I could have played MYNA(H) to tie the game. Instead, one domino knocked down another, and my game collapsed. I believe the Eastern cultures call that the "great chain of being".

Next was Bruce Ward, who is competing with Felix for the title of Winter's Most Frustrating Opponent. But again, an early bad play gave Bruce a bingo, DISHIE(S)T, and from that point I made too many mistakes to recover.

I raised my game against Jerry Lerman and played one of my best ever, with only 7.5 points of equity loss. Unfortunately, Jerry had the goods, though I have to give him much credit for jumpstarting his game with mOJARRA.

It was inevitable that Isaac would get me--I just wish it hadn't happened when I was already smarting from an 0-3 record. And given that it was a 7-point game, the game was clearly winnable.

At the beginning of the tournament, I was pleased to see that Kevin Fraley had brought his precious ratings points to Berkleley. But after three losses it was clear I was the one that was going to be leaking points. Beating Kevin would have staunched the bleeding, but my play, while not as bad as the first two games, wasn't quite good enough.

Final game, and it's a funny thing. I don't remember being deathly afraid of losing and going 0-6, though I should have been. I don't think I've ever lost all my games, which is about the worst thing that can happen to a Scrabble player. By contrast, one of the best things that can happen is to break a personal record, which I did by posting up a 593 (incorrectly scored as 594) against Isaac. My tiles were part of the reason for my high score, but I also posted up some pretty good equity numbers in the second half of the game to win by 199 (200).

So I left I knowing my rating was going to tank, but with the consolation of having broken my personal high score. And later, when I simmed the Lerman game, I was further heartened by the knowledge that I could play at a very high level if I just put enough work into the game. But how high?


0.8 KOTO  
14.6 MUST  
0 ZI(T)  
8.3 OVO(I)D  
35.2 lose turn  
0 MYNA(H)  
8.5 AHA  
11.4 DIES  
10.6 (L)AWN  
8.3 CAN(E)D  
0 JOG  
22.4 IL(K)  
0 DEFE(R)  
8.5 SHOAL(Y)  
0 W(I)NNIN(G)  
10.8 RA(S)PY  
7.4 (A)RF  
4 (G)RUB  
0.3 SULK  
6.1 MOR  
35.6 (B)AD  
10.7 VOE  
12 MEW  
4 (D)uNCE  
0 QI  
2.7 WIGAN  
0 ADVE(R)B  
3.9 MOL(A)L  
0.3 UNAI  
0 FEW  
0 WIZ  
0.5 OX  
0 P(E)AVY  
0.1 GOD  
11 DO(Z)Y  
10.3 SINEW  
26.2 H(ER)B BuD(WO)RM
0 AX  
0 TRI(A)D  
0 AGUE  
4.4 ME(L)TY  
2.1 MUG  
3.1 RAGA  
7.9 PLEATE(R)  
3.5 LOSE  
0 QI  
0 KIP  
10.8 BET(H)S  
11.6 AIDE  
4.7 RIG  
3.9 UNION  
10.7 (D)OORLESS  
0 WIFE  
10.3 TE(N)ORITE  
6.7 ZI(N)E  
0 P(O)W  
0 VAN(I)sHED  
0 TAX(I)  
0 Y(E)AH  
0 J(A)R  
0 T(A)T  

Average Equity Loss Per Turn (using Quackle 0.93)

1 - 8.6 (120.1)
2 - 10.1 (121.6)
3 - 0.6 (7.5)
4 - 6.8
5 - 4.2 (50)
6 - 3.3 (39.1)

Avg: 5.6

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