6 Diagrams





Sunday, December 16, 2007

Alarm woke me at 7:15, and as sure as the sky is blue did I want to go back to sleep. But Sam and Woody would be waiting soon, so I put drops in my eyes, turned on the iPod, slapped myself a few times, and rushed off to photograph the new Bay Ridge store and then find Sam's house. Was a bit late, 7:50 instead of 7:30, and 8:00 by the time I shifted around all the crap in the back of my car and figured out how to unfold the back seat. I had though 2 1/2 hours would be plenty of time, but now we had little more than two, and once I saw that the route out to Cedarhurst involved a fairly long and slow drive on surface streets, I started to worry. Besides the rain and slush forcing my speed down, the synchronization, if any, of the traffic lights was absolutely awful. Chimpanzees could have done a better job of synching those lights.

Fortunately the weather wasn't that bad, and soon we were cruising on the interstate trying to avoid being late. Cedarhurst up first, for a caffeine burst, then back up the road to Bagel Island where the Jews were stylin' (their yarmulkes). This was a kosher bakery, which meant.... you guessed it, no meat on the sandwiches!!! Yet another reason to hate religion. As if promotion of exploitation, suffering, and the general retardation of human progress and evolution weren't enough.

Drove to the Belt Parkway as fast as the dumbass slow drivers ahead of me would allow, and we were cruising once more. At some point I noticed Sam curled up in the bag trying to sleep. Aw... how cute, I thought. Kids sleeping are always cute (in part because if they're asleep, they're not yapping). Reminded me of when I was a kid--I'd always fall asleep in the back seat. Unfortunately the bundle of junk he was using for a pillow included my camera, so I could not take a photo. Wouldn't have been as cute as this silver-haired bat, regardless.

Running well behind schedule, and the slick road wouldn't allow me to make up the time, so I decided we had to skip Patchogue and head straight to Port Jefferson. Still a couple of stores on the way though, maybe 5 minutes apiece if we were lucky. I called Joe Bihlmeyer and was pleased to learn they were still on the ferry. I was sure they weren't going to arrive by 10:00 which meant I had the time for the stop in Commack. Shortly before 10:00 Kevin called Woody (presumably because they knew my attention needed to be on the road) and reported that the start time had been pushed back to 10:30.

Once Sleepyhead woke up, I turned off the NPR and put some some tunage, treating Woody and Sam to an education of the latest Wu-Tang. To better set the mood for the sword-slashing I hoped to inflict on the field.

Excellent! I was able to stop at East Setauket too, and we still reached the venue before 10:30 and before the ferry passengers even!

Game 1 could have turned into another North Salem Catanese, as Richard Ferrarra first denied me the D I needed for EEILTUY and then got the easiest bingo in the world, SATIRES. But I raised my game, first finding (A)ORTIC to hit the TWS and then BIO(C)IDES. Richard dinked while I built a lead, and then he tied the game with (F)OOTNOte. With the X, Z, S, and a dangerously stickable Q (no Us, few Is), it was going to come down to endgame, and probably be close. So it probably wasn't the best of ideas for Richard to try DI(V)INATE*, and he paid for it. I kept my plays short to avoid the Q, got lucky and drew the Z, X, and S, but then Richard managed to get that Q down for 29, making it very close. One final critical play, letting (W)AFERY go (too risky to challenge), and I managed to eke out a 19-point win.

Other than David Koenig, Steve Tier was the only other player I considered a real threat. Thus I was relieved, after played CITED instead of TINCTED (and fearing I had passed on a good one) to find the blank on my rack. My relief quickly turned to dismay as I suffered through BEEETU, EEEENO, and EEENOO while watching Steve bingo first with VALISEs. And then again with SULF(A)TED. Didn't look familar. Crap. Should I have seen it in the top 5,000? I didn't like it, but I had 107 for ANNOYEd on a hot-spot, and if I lost the challenge and Steve took the spot, the game would be over. And I guess I can thank that board configuration for saving my ass and preventing the challenge. I was still down, but 30 points plus 44 for PIX got me back into it, and then I caught a huge endgame break, 58 for KIRS. Whew!

Meanwhile, my predictions from the earlier Port Jefferson were correct. The attractive blonde who had won a copy of Starbucking had presumably watched the film, and her demeanor towards me was much changed. She had been friendly and chatty in June, but now it appeared that I had become a non-person, a ghost, invisible. Of course, besides the film, I might have offended her by forgetting her name. Never a good move, and a violation of mine own rules of romance. I've collected a few now. Once I have enough, I should write a book. For example...
1 - Don't forget the bitch's name.
2 - Don't call her a bitch. They don't like that.
3 - If she doesn't mind being called a bitch, be on the look out for signs of low self-esteem.
4 - Avoid women with low self-esteem. They need to be in therapy instead of a relationship, because one must learn to love oneself before attempting to love another.

I should put more effort into this. The world could always use another book of relationship advice.

Against Sam Moch I had to raise my game yet again, though my first play was questionable. I knew Quackle would favor HAVEN over VANNER, but I factored in the possibility that Sam might not know the word and either challenge or hesitate to hook an S. And, as a matter of fact, Sam chose to play FEsTI(V)AL for 76 instead of hooking FETIALs for 78 (or he didn't see it). It was my next play, though, that was one of my best of the tournament... ISOHY(E)TS. Sam immediately commented, "how do you find these words???" I replied blandly, "lots of anagramming." Later, after cleaning up my rack, I had either LEANEST or the safer ETE(R)NALS. Unsure of the latter, I had to pull the tried-and-true trick of laying down LEANEST first to give Sam more doubt about whether to challenge ETE(R)NALS. Unfortunately, Sam reads my blog, which means I will not be able to use that trick against him again. Coincidentally enough, my blog could have come into play during our game. While mulling over Mark Berg's PAXILS* play I thought back to VALIUMS*--I think Cecilia played it against me, or vice-versa. Not sure. Regardless, had I not forgotten to mention this in my blog, Sam would have read it, and he would not have played VALIU(M)*. I was almost certainly going to win anyway, but the extra turn helped my spread.

"Now with success I've become a target
They wanna set me up, I guess mo' money equals more problems
They wanna get me, wanna hit me, strip me of my riches
They want to cut me up in pieces, leave me deep in ditches
And I can't take it, but I'm gonna make it"

My dreams of 7-0 were shattered by my inability to hold off Kevin McCarthy's two blanks, DRAInER and BLuRTING. Both bingos were modest, just 61 each, and this allowed me to stay close without ever bingoing, but, despite two exchanges, Kevin managed to score enough. In the end, my play of ANGERS, an attempt to go out first, and the best play, yield NO VOWELS!!! Just like against Bihlmeyer in North Salem. My heart gently wept. I crumbled, and I decided I had to challenge (HEH)S to have any chance at all, even though I knew I was probably just giving up spread.

Later I would discover that at the point that Kevin played (HEH)S, I had undercounted three different plays for a total of seven points. Had I know that I was just three points down, I would have tried to find a winning combination, which there was. Dammit, dammit, dammit!!! I could have had the seventh diagram! That's two, maybe three, games I've lost in recent memory due to miscalculating my score.

Next up, the long-awaited rematch with Doctor Bailey. Would my increased skill compensate for her penchant to strike first? Well, it did, but I had to raise my game. My earlier self would not have found the stylistic (if suboptimal) B(LAT)ANTLY. Unfortunately, I gave her JOLT(Y), which she followed with AVIONiC for a big lead. I held AEIMNRT, but a weak bingo wasn't going to be enough. I had to keep looking, and I found the right play--TRAI(N)MEN. Bailey continued to score well, but I managed to draw the other blank for nEG(R)OIDS and run away with the game.

On the flipside, my play of DOWEL missed the higher-scoring ADOWN, and I suspect that years ago, when I was studying fives heavily, I would not have missed it.

"You thought you'd find my weak spot, but still, you failed."

I kept my favorite opponent Joe Bihlmeyer waiting as long as possible, the better to make him sweat, and then sat down with a look like, "dare you to try to find my weak spot." Well, I found his weak spot right away, phonies, starting with (O)VERDATE*. But I immediately exhibited a weakness of my own. Unable to block AVERTED with CCEETUU, I somehow imagined that my C would give him (C)AVORTED or OVERA(C)TED (I know, that makes no sense), and gave up points by choosing to exchange rather than leave myself a U. Since he was going to bingo regardless, I wanted to improve my chances to bingo back.

Two turns later, Joe's weak spot resurfaced in the form of the utterly stunning BALISON*, and my reaction was akin to that of Coach Taylor when he picked up his daugher Julie outside the bar--"You've gotta be kidding me." Yes, I was feeling irritation, that Joe was drawing well despite playing poorly, and I was thinking something akin to, "bitch, I swear you better not win this game playing like that or I'm going to throttle you!" But I couldn't block ALBINOS, though I at least positioned my OILIEST so that his bingo was forced into the 3x3 column. I actually missed the higher-scoring (R)OILIEST, but had I seen it, I wonder if it still would have been better to force him into the 3x3. (R)OILIEST scores 13 more, but then he would score 3 more with his bingo. So for a 10-point difference I would get the triple line. Not sure.

As it worked out, I drew CABINED out of the bag, so I had to let him have the triple. But he didn't take it. No... instead he got JO for 52. @#$%^&. I expressed my displeasure, and I think I touched a nerved in the otherwise calm and polite Bihlmeyer looked at me more mike Michael Myers. "JO is lucky but a bingo-bango isn't?" he snapped. Well, CABINED isn't exactly the easiest of finds.

Anyway, TEE for 22 tied up the game, and from that point it was game on. Quackle doesn't like (R)APIER, preferring a small play to try for a bingo, but with two blanks unseen, I think it was the right play. Had Joe drawn the Q, or both blanks, I would have been toast. As it turned out, the game came down to the end tiles, and Joe's weak spot came into play a third time, with (E)YIR*. Not gonna happen, buddy.

And finally, the game of the tournament, against one of the few players that strikes fear into my heart. Interestingly enough, the only reason his ratings points were even up for grabs was that Bihlmeyer and I teamed up to sponsor his entry fee. For me, it was a no-lose proposition. If David won, he would pay me back, and if David lost, I would probably benefit from his points!

The board tightened up quickly, which meant that my early screw-up, OREBI* was particularly painful. David took the spot, bingoing with RALLiER, and I thought I was sunk. But I didn't give up. I opened the board, as was necessary, played for volatility, which I needed, and I managed to bring the SSSEXy back like Timberlake. EXING evened the game out, and then control of the remaining eses allowed me superior scoring! I won!!!

After the game, I confessed to David that I felt a little bad having won after having lost the turn, but he was gracious and said I played well. Later, he came over and complimented me on my H play. A few days later, on his blog, he complimented my play yet again. I was starting to feel all warm and fuzzy.

I speculate there are two good reasons for all his attention. First, David recently admitted that he was lonely enough to consider responding to a sexy spam ad. That's pretty lonely. Spam is evil and sucks out your soul. Next, during my third game I felt warm enough to ditch my undershirt, and I ducked into the corner where David and Kevin were playing, thus giving him a good view of my spectacular upper body and doubtlessly sparking passions that David never knew existed. I admit it's nice that somebody noticed the lifting I'd been doing recently, but why couldn't it have been the attractive blonde instead???

Anyway, I had better watch myself in Albany in case I play another good game only to find a my feet footsied with, a hand on my thigh, or some other expression of David's admiration under the table, if you know what I mean. Now let me make it clear that I am not knocking the lustful admiration that men can feel for each other. I myself was momentarily smitten with strictly heterosexual man-lust for O'Laughlin when he bingoed out with NIOBIUM against me in NYC. It's perfectly normal. Apologies in advance if you have trouble getting these images out of your head. Should you experience anxiety or sleeplessness, I have some spare Valium or Paxil I can send you.

On a serious note, while I appreciate the compliments, the important thing is to determine how well I actually did play, and what weaknesses are most critical. Clearly, misplaying OREBI* was my worst mistake of the game. I'm way too rusty on fives. I'm going to relearn those fives if I have to cover my entire body in them!!!

Crap. There's way too many Os that I don't recognize. I'm going to run out of room.


0 YULE  
0* (A)ORTIC  
10.8 A(R)IA intentionally keep J
2.3 JOUAL JUGAL (keep AO over AG???)
6.8 MM G(I)RDL(ED)
7.4 T(AL)L  
8 VET unnecessary defense
0 GIP  
0 OX  
49.5 W(AG) what was I blocking???
19 Z(A) irrational fear of nothing
0 SEED(Y)  
52.2 CITED TINCTED (unsure)
17.9 NAZ(I) qUANT(I)ZE
3.9 TUBE  
4.8 (T)EE  
0 (C)OOEE  
0* YOW  
0 GR(U)B  
0 PIX  
7.4 JA(R) R(A)J/(TUBE)R
1.7 (HE)FT  
0 KIRS  
17 PO(I)  
0 MA(P)  
0 L(E)A  
3.8 VANNER  
5.7 (H)OE O(D)EO(N)
0 COB  
0 U(L)U  
3.4 (A)X  
17.6 (Y)ET OUTED
12.6 DE (I)ODIDE
6.9 ODEON  
0 JAM  
6 HIC ACETU(M),(N)AUTCH,CHUTE(D) (not best),AECIU(M) (not best)
0.6 SAUTEeD  
0 G(OY)  
0 EXP(O)  
0 JUG  
1.4 DOM  
5 Q(I) AEON (should have taken the hotspot and saved Q(I) for later)
3.3 AREAE  
2.2 OOZY  
6.6 C(O)NN  
0 UTA  
27 lose challenge ((HEH)S)  
0 (EXPO)S(E)  
0 (E)F  
0 QI  
4.1 B(LAT)ANTLY couldn't resist style
9.6 RA(T)H weak
4.1 FAST F(i)DS (dangerous to leave S hook out there)
0 GAY  
7.4 MAW keep K for 12D K(N)EE
0 K(N)EE  
3 SURE  
0 IG(L)U  
0 WOW  
5.7 -CCEUU (ET)  
5 F(E)RRET  
3.1* LUNA(R)  
13.3 OILIEST  
2.9 GID  
0 EX  
1.2 PUG  
4.7* (R)APIER need to draw ? and/or S--L(OX) is useless b/c nowhere to bingo!!!
9.6 Q(I) GOAD
15.9 (JOE)YS  
15.9 OF Quackle likes F(OX) which opens a line--no way with ?EIRRMHY unseen. No bingos but lots of sixes.
0 GLAD  
1 (E)MIt  
0 DITZ  
12.5 RAMP unsure of (ZONE)R,PARAMO
0 WHO  
32.1 lose turn (OREBI*)  
0 FE critical play to create volatility
5.1 FE(A)T board tight and I have esses so take easily accessible hot spots 1st
3.5 TAS ditto (I have all esses so save those plays for last)
0 (WHO)SE it was time
25 H(I) WHo(P)S (unwilling to leave Dave's opening and risk making mistake)
8 YEWS YaWS (deprives Dave of DU(E) play)
0 oD  

1 - W - 7.1 (106.4)
2 - W - 7.0 (104.9)
3 - W - 3.6 (50.6)
4 - L - 5.0 (80.2)
5 - W - 4.0 (47.7)
6 - W - 5.2 (83.2)
7 - W - 6.8 (101.9)

Avg: 5.5

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