Flailing to Climb Mt. Fuji

Friday, September 7, 2007

Other than the choice of bingo with ACDEIN? through an O, my initial impression was that there was nothing I could have done to prevent Steve from that late bingo PARIANS that gave him the win. At least I didn't try ACtI(O)NED for 4 points over C(O)DEINAs--that would have been stupid. So I didn't feel that bad about the loss, except for the fact that I had to face Kefloober next, which meant that I was looking at a 1-2 night at best, and 0-3 at worst.

But miracle of miracles, I managed to outdraw Looby two of our last three games, and despite having sLENDER/(RETE)S* challenged off towards the end, I managed a 17-point win!!! After the game Looby admitted that he had made a mistake in playing YE (which created (RET)E), that he should have played COSY for 14 extra points. Thing is, had he done that, I would have had no choice but to bingo along the more dangerous line, and I would not have lost that turn. Funny how Scrabble works.

Up next, the Hungarian, who owes me for giving him such a a bad-ass nickname. But after the game, I ended up owning him, for a very cool act of sportsmanship. Towards the end of the game, when he was down and hoping to catch up, I almost made an illegal play by slotting JUN, then picking up the JU for JU(T) but leaving the N. Only his alerting me saved me from hitting that clock, thus demonstrating that Hungarians are good and decent people no matter what you might have read in a bathroom stall in Alabama.

I had missed a bingo against Looby, AAIORTZ through a U, and both Dan and Pete saw it right away. Pete expressed surprise that I had not learned my 5-vowel eights, and I protested that it made more sense to go in probability order. Nevertheless, the next day I put aside the list of 5s I was reviewing and tried to get through as many 5-vowel 8s as possible in case Pete decided to try a phony against me.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

It was probably anxiety moreso than the stupid landlord's dog and its stupid squeaky toy that got me out of bed earlier than I hoped, 7:57. That's earlier even than I get up for work.

Two-for-five basted chickens
The blood thickens
The plot quickens
I steal the kittens for their mittens
Steal the shitter while he's shittin
Never quit like Spiro Agnew
I need a squirrel to come and save me
From this pot belly that enslaves me.

Just like Wilmington of 2-3 years back, I stopped at the Marsh & Silverside Starbucks and asked about a breakfast place, and once again somebody recommended the Hollywood Grill.

First game of the day, an easier win against Engledave than in Philly, but that hardly matters. What is important is that I once again missed an easy opportunity for a disconnected nine. Once again I saw an A and E separated by a square, and with a T and D on my rack I used a lot of time looking for an (A)T(E)D word. With ACEL? as my other five tiles, there were two words I definitely should have seen. Rats! Deep down I understand that I have to be able to find those plays in order to move to the next level.

Poppa Popper

Third game of the day, and I took a second step on the long road to redemption and drew what I needed to defang the She-Wolf again. Unlike our previous dance, I did not make any obvious blunders and actually got me a compliment, "good game", this time.

La Tolteca, finally a half-way decent burrito.

While waiting for the next round, I made it a point to comment to Pete that I had been looking at those 5-vowel eights so as to discourage him from trying a phoney. I also asked him about homosexual dinosaurs, just to throw him off.

And I guess it worked, because Pete gave me a true gift. Holding both blanks, he passed hooking a bingo to LENO figuring he could score with OA(T) (for 16) and bingo anytime. I took the spot with SECLUDE, Pete felt he needed to challenge (LENO)S, and that was that.

Later I would confirm something that had chilled me to the bone when I realized it, that MIDGE takes a front S hook. I can only imagine that Peter did not realize this. I didn't see it myself until he slotted QI next to MIDGE, introducing the possibility of a triple-triple, ???SQ???. Yep, there's two of them! Don't know if he ever realized it or not, but that's why I played Z(A) there, to block that possibility. And with Peter down to a minute on his clock, anything to make the board harder to play.

There it was, a six-game winning streak, my longest in memory. If only I could have played Erica Norris next. But no, it had to be Joel Sherman, he who always scores like a fiend against me. On the heels of breaking my losing streaks against She-Wolf, Looby, Glass, and now Armstrong (the Younger), dared I hope to continue my streak-breaking ways?

Through my opening CAVIE he played IN(V)OLUTE. I caught up with AXE for 42, but he got down PO(ET)IZER for 58. FECKS for 47 kept me in the game, and I even drew into a bingo for having chosen the AO leave over playing (Z)EKS for 4 extra points and a ACFO leave. I wished more than anything for Joel to leave that E alone for my AGORSTT, but goddamn it he blocked with MORA(I)nAL!!! I did get a bingo down a few turns later, TUNNIES, but Joel had managed the second blank for YARDAgE and still led by 97 after his play. Under pressure to set up a line and maintain a good leave, I tried PENE* (AEO) instead of PANE (EEO) and blew a turn.

Finally time for Erica Norris. Couldn't say for certain that I had never beaten her in tournament, but my memories were of her consistently outdrawing me. And she did draw both blanks, making three blankless games in a row, but I managed to get the better of the tiles, NESTLED, then REFRONT(S) (thanks to Kramer for teaching me that one, the hard way). And finally, a 56-point gift of LEDGY when Erica decided to make a Hail Mary play. That got my spread up to 530, but Guria was still a couple of hundred spread points beyond that, in addition to the extra game. How was he doing it???

Thought I was going to have a good shot to not losing any more grand to Steve when Engeldave motioned that we were playing, but then She-Wolf told us to hang on, and the pairings were redone. There was speculation that there was unhappiness that neither Steve nor I had been paired with a high-rated player even though we were the leaders. So instead it was a Hungarian rematch (sounds like a Mexican standoff, doesn't it?)

Even though I started off building a gradual lead sans bingo, and then got down INlACES, and the 68 for QI off his INTERENE for a 147-point lead, I was not willing to relax. I had to balance scoring and closing down bingo lanes, and the Hungarian frustrated those efforts in royal fashion by bingoing through an IN, OUTgIV(IN)G. Then I tried to close off another line, scoring 24 in the process and leaving a not-awful INOS, but that gave the Hungarian a 3-tile overlap for FOISTED, 91 points, and brought him within four points!!! All of a sudden what had seemed like a sure win seemed completely uncertain. Had I not drawn the Z for 48 points, and had a playable bingo materialized on the Hungarian's rack, my day would not have been nearly as good as it ended up.

It was only when I determined that the Hungarian could not bingo that I finally relaxed and looked around to the bulletin board... and noticed that Looby had snuck up and passed me for second by a few dozen ratings points!!! Sneaky, sneaky! But Peter gave me a second gift and beat Luebkemann by just a few points to put me solidly in fourth place. Of course, with four games to go, and possible rematches with Looby, Sherman, and maybe Armstrong, there was only so much I could hope for. Best scenario would be to be paired with Guria two or three more times.

Outside, one of our group complained about the noise level and reported that another top player had reported difficulty concentrating because of this. On the one hand I agreed--the room was fairly small for the number of player, and having the snacks in the same room meant that people stayed inside to chat. On the other hand, I expected that the top players would have learned, with experience, to block out external noise.

When I got out to the car I checked LeXpert and confirmed that I had not been crazy. I had in fact see OOGONIA somewhere. What I had not seen, however, was OOGONIAS*. I was about to try it, and I actually slotted the tiles, but then I realized that it would be a five-vowel eight, and I had just gone through all of them earlier that day. My memory may not be what it used to be, but I definitely would have remembered seeing that on the list, so I pulled the word back. Could have cost me the game, had I not reviewed those 5-vowel eights. I guess I owe Peter thanks for having pestered me about them (but in a kind way).

After failing to find them at Borders (my preferred bookstore, because of the T-Mobile and availability of comic books to read) I stopped at the Barnes & Noble for some magazines. While waiting in line I glanced at my finger and discovered... blood! Oh, no--that demon from the previous week was still in the back of my car and attacked me again. Later, I realized that I had been digging around my car and found a spare razor for my Mach 3, and I had probably cut myself on that. Whew--that demon must have left after all.

What was truly daemonic was the cashier. First, she seemed to exhibit some impatience, and perhaps some judgementalism, as she retrieved the specified magazines from behind the counter. Then she shut the register in spite of the fact that I was obviously sorting out a mess of dollar bills to give her instead of the twenties. When I asked for a five, she said she couldn't open it back up. Finally, I specifically told her I did not need the bag, and she ignored me. I repeated that I did not need the bag, and she looked at me with disdain as she said she was "required" to bag the magazines. When I told her I cared about the environment, she made it clear she couldn't have cared less. Later, as I processed the incident, I decided I needed to go through the trouble of complaining to her manager.

Later I discovered that I had given myself a whopping 8 extra points for LEDGY against Erica. Given that spread was looking to be a factor, I wondered if I should point this out to the director. On the other hand, Guria and the other leaders probably also had scoring errors that they weren't going to discover, so why should I be the only one give up those points?

Sunday, September 9, 2007

No Scrabble dream that I could remember, and I seem to remember sleeping rather well. But that usual doing-well anxiety woke me at 7:00. I set my alarm for 8:30, cutting it a bit close, but I ended up giving up on further sleep at 7:41. Just too anxious about which heavyweight I would have to play first, and whether I would get pounded to pulp or not.

For the second day in a row I ran into Engeldave and Linda at the Hollywood Grill. Once again I had to beg off and take my breakfast to go. I wondered if they understood that I needed to continue studying, and that I had to order to go in any case so that I could enjoy Odwalla orange juice instead of the awful-tasting swill diners tend to serve. A more salient question is, of course, whether they even continued to exist at all once I left the restaurant. Does anything exist, really, outside the realm of my immediate sensory perception?

With apologies to KRS-1, I must say that, boy, do I love my iPod. I was running through some eights in to 5000-7500 probability range, more for protection against Joel than anything else, when I came across AADIFNRU. Seeing the unscrambled word triggered an auditory memory (am I using the term correctly) and I experienced an instant urge to hear the R.E.M. song. Thanks to my iPod, I was able to crank it up.

Oh, shit. My greatest fear realized--Joel Sherman up first. And sure enough, despite the encouragement of others, I can't play against Joel when he opens with EViCTEE and then draws the other blank for MESQUIt(E) and a 204-point lead before I ever see a rack that even looks like a bingo. Technically, I did have a bingo DEEHRTT through an obscured E, but I didn't look like it.

Another wild game against Armstrong...

But curse my luck, I had to play Luebkemann again instead of Steve who I had been lusting for! An early mistake, THULE* actually ended up helping me and putting me up by about 52. What killed me was (T)RiGONAL immediately followed by EXOdERM. To worsen the sting, I held ONERIER, and it ALMOST paralleled Looby's bingo three different ways, being off by one tile each way. That sucked. With a couple of lines open, the game wasn't necessarily over, but Looby scored 41 for BIDDY, then 36 for CANVAS to kill the easiest S-hook line, and then it was over.

Meanwhile, Steve continued his run, and it would be he and Sherman again, meaning I had to play Looby again. Damn, all had been dreaming of was playing Guria several times, and I got totally screwed. It was like the reverse of Stamford, where I got a relatively easy draw that final day. Instead, I got Sherman, Armstrong, Looby, and Looby! Fuck me.

The game started off rough, but I took a slight lead with LI(T)ANIES, and then I happened to hold CELOSIA just when John decided to play (Q)UAY to the triple. That score of 97 put me significantly ahead, even after his pARSONI(C). Unfortunately, he managed to score 66 with S(p)AZ , and suddenly it looked like I was going to lose. In retrospect, I was up 41, and FEED would have put me up by 76, but with a lousy leave GTU, so for some reason I went insane and convinced myself that I had seen FEEDGUT(S)* somewhere. I hadn't. Since I went on to lose by 24, that crazy mistake really haunted me. 9-5 still meant a ratings boost, but 10-4 would have been significantly better.

As if to add insult to my disappointment, the last person to use the toilet had failed to flush properly.

After seeing an excellent movie, 3:10 to Yuma, I thought again about the tournament and decided that I didn't feel bad about the outcome at all. Sure, it was disappointing not to have won that 10th game, but I felt I was playing more strongly and that I would do well in Baltimore.

Far from excellent were the flautas from a pseudo-Mexican restaurant across the street from the movie theater. The place didn't even claim to be "authentic". I mean, just the name, Mexican Post. And black olives in my flautas--what's that all about? Hey, I'm no expert on Mexican food, but in all my years ordering flautas, I have never seen black olives. I had a dubious feeling about the place right away, but I ordered because I wanted to save some time and see Shoot Em Up while I was already so close to the theater. Turned out to be a complete waste, because I left and asked for a refund after about 15 minutes--despite the presence of Clive Owen and Paul Giamatti, the movie didn't draw me in at all.

FUCK!!! FUCK!!! FUCK!!! According to the estimate, if I had won that last game I would have gone over 1800!!! FUCK!!! FUCKING FEEDGUT*!!!


2 FUND  
6.1 AVAST  
0 MO(V)ED  
0 ZYME  
0 JOWL  
0 SHOP  
7.5 C(O)DEINAs DAEm(O)NIC,v(O)IDANCE,C(O)mEDIAN,CAN(O)pIED (not best),(AWOL)S (not best)
7.6 HUB  
0* A(S)IDE  
8 (Z)E(R)O (A)CE/C(HUB)/(F)E
0 CU(E)  
0 EASY  
0 AGA  
0 WI(Z)  
0 AWA  
6.7 UN(W)IT  
0 TUFT  
20.1 lose turn (sLENDER/(RETE)S*) (ZORI)L,bingo along danger line
8.7 (WIZ)EN  
7.7 (C)OG  
53.4 DO(L)L RONDEL(L)e,RONDEL(E)T (way too dangerous)
0 MORNs  
1 (E)ME  
0.5 WOG NGWEE,TOWNEE (not best)
5.4 -CDGLRT  
8 JU(T) defense
5 Z(A)X  
0 NIB  
16.7 GAE defense
10.6 RES  
14.8 MO  
0 DENE  
0 RIN(K)  
4.6 OH  
0 QAD(I)  
3.2 TEN(D)ON  
0 G(A)PY  
11.3 M(I)TE defense against Z play
2 OI  
0* W(AVE)  
0 NAZI  
0 GAT  
5.4 AE(R)IE  
7.2 BRAINS brain freeze to play S
0 RAW  
0 JEE(Z)  
7.9 COACTO(R)  
0 GUI(T)AR  
0 MY  
37.1 B(RAW) BULlPO(U)T
14 H(E)LP  
1 OUTs  
4.8 BOXI(E)R  
1.4 BROS  
0 CaLK  
0 FRIZ  
4.3 PYE  
0 WANT  
8.8 FANNiNG  
12 IOTA  
28 T(I)TI miss S(MOG) hook
0 OS  
0 B(U)LK  
6.7 BA(B)ES  
5 LENO  
0 YA(K)  
0 (M)U  
0 (F)OE  
0 OPEN  
8.9 Z(A) block Q play or 3x3 (nonexistent)
18.3 IT block last line
11 VOX  
0 AI  
5 AXE  
4.9 FECKS  
0 GOT  
2.5 WRA(P)T  
33.6 lose turn (PENE*)  
7 PANE  
0* (S)OB  
5.9 QU(A)  
1.6* E(Q)UID  
0 YO(D)H  
0 ELA(T)E  
4.2 WRIT  
0 (W)IZ  
6.8 WR(I)TE  
0 COOT  
2.3 RAX  
14.7 (N)AMED block line
0 HAVE(N)  
4 SOT unsure of TO(LA)S
0 DORR  
0 GAE  
41 HEX SAX,EXArCHS (not best b/c of placement)
0 QI  
0 VAW  
5 MELD  
0 FIE  
0 FOG  
--- O(AT) block O line--Quackle is WRONG about bag-empty POO--R(O)SULATE loses!
12 OP K(N)OP
0 JA(R)  
0 OKE  
4.2 (C)OZ G(i)ZMO
7.4 -DGMQR  
6 DO  
1.5 (D)ACE  
45.1 lose turn (F(U)DGER*) (E)DG(E)/G(LAZILY)
6 F(A)RED  
0 (QI)NTAR  
42.5 (U)RIAL miss bingo hook
30.7 lose turn ((BLANKING)S*)  
0 BHU(T)S  
2.9 CESUrAE  
0.6 (E)X  
1.4 Q(i)  
1.6 J(I)NK J(E)RK
1.7 TA(J) RA(J)
16.6 NAIRU block 3 lines at once
0 FOUR  
4.3 -DDKNRR (S) RS a stronger leave?
10.5 LAW miss YAW N and L hooks
0 BHUT  
32.2 lose turn (THULE*)  
7.7 HUP  
0 QI  
12 FE(EL)  
14.8 AVENS  
0 (C)OOT  
4 MATER blocks NORTH extensions & scores better
0 OBE  
8 QA(T)  
0 WRAP  
14.7 (A)GAIN FU(J)I
36.9 lose turn (FEEDGUT(S)*) must have been crazy
1.2 FEED  
1.8 TIDING(S)  
2 ENdUE  

1 - L - 2.6 (31.2)
2 - W - 9.0 (135.3)
3 - W - 4.7 (70)
4 - W - 2.9 (41.2)
5 - W - 8.9 (115.4)
6 - W - 7.4 (96.3)
7 - W - 3.3 (49.9)
8 - L - 4.7 (60.5)
9 - W - 2.7 (35.3)
10 - W - 5.8
11 - L - 14.8 (192.5)
12 - W - 3.6 (49.9)
13 - L - 10 (110)
14 - L - 8.1 (105.9)

Avg: 6.3

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