Saturday, August 2, 2008

NSC Diary Day Two - Famine or Feast

I mixed up my GLB racks. It turns out that my opening rack in this game was the one that spelled GHIBLIS. I played GLIB. My Game Eight opponent, Cynthia from California (I had my days mixed up too - Connie from Philadelphia starts Day Three), bingoed with ARrOWING. I came right back with HALIDES. CHAFE for 48 put her back in the lead while I exchanged seven. A few turns later I played SOONERS, a word I knew was good because of the discussion that surrounded my play of SpOONER the day before). Cynthia challenged and lost her turn. I next played the appropriate REJOICE to open a 59-point lead. The lead shrunk to six by the end, partly because I allowed LEON*, knowing I could win even though I was about 99% sure it was phony. Final score, 402-396. Overall, 2-6, -233.

In Game Nine I played Luise from Nevada. She whipped me in New Orleans at the 2004 NSC. The outcome this time was much the same. I tried SEMIOTE* to open. (SEMIOTIC is good.) She challenged it off, but still I led 87-38 after she exchanged five. On her next play, an 80-point bingo of LIBRATeS gave her a 118-87 lead and she never looked back. She followed with VARIANCE and OsTEOID to build her lead to 326-179. I played enough U's and E's to get 300, but lost 309-473. Overall record, 2-7, -407.

The lopsided final score of Game Ten against Adrian from Illinois belied it being another potential giveaway on my part. The first nine turns were a defensive struggle. I got by far the best play with ADOZE for 77 and held an 18 point lead when Adrian played SHAD after a long spell of thinking. While Adrian had been thinking I decided "no matter what" that I would play QAT to block the top row. SHAD set up EDDY for 30, and I foolishly abadoned my strategy to take the points. Of course, Adrian bingoed across the top with AIRLINEr for 74. To amplify my pain, he then bingoed out with LODeSTAR and a 428-272 final score. Overall, 2-8, -563.

After the first ten games I was in no mood to apologize for my good fortune in Game 11 vs. Joe from Pennsylvania. After Joe bingoed with PINTOES, I came back with the double-double (a word covering two double word score squares) bingo MISBRAND for 102 points. My draw was terrible. I threw it all back and two turns later made SERENELY for 86. Joe fired back with WeTLANDS for 86 of his own. The next post-bingo draw was much better. I found HOsIERY and hooked it to MISBRANDS for another 95. Joe's cylinder was empty; I still had FYCE (48), RAW (31), another bingo RAGOUTS (63) on my next three plays and closed with TOPH for 48, which Joe inadvertently left open while trying to minimize my score. Final score, 565-412, my highest score ever in an NSA-sanctioned tournament game (or club game for that matter - I've made 597 on line). Overall, 3-8, -406.

A Californian, Mary Aline, was my opponent in Game 12, but my hot "streak" ended at one game. She made two easy bingos, ATTIRED and RENTING. I fought back with words like QUEUED and JOIS(t), but fell 19 points short, 376-395. Overall, 3-9, -425.

I still bear the healing bruises of Game Thirteen vs. Stan ("The Man") from New Mexico. The game resulted in the extreme longshot sight of two non-Philly-area-based players wearing Philadelphia sports gear (my Phillies cap; his Eagles jersey) at a Scrabble board in Orlando. Stan said he just liked the Philly teams. He didn't even know where the Delaware Valley was. He knew how to play Scrabble, bingoing on three straight early turns with PIASTER, WIsEMEN*, and RAVENiNG. I tried ROOTINGS*, but Stan challenged it off. After the run of bingos, Stan continued a barrage of 30-plus point plays. I held on, june bug versus hurricane, to quote Lucinda Williams. Final score, 270-512. Overall, 3-10, -659--possibly my low point of the tournament. I stopped checking the standings well before this game.

Game Fourteen, the last game of Day Two, was with Larry from Florida. I had my big game in New Orleans vs. him, so I felt pretty confident, despite the recent thrashing from Stan. Things went my way early as Larry challenged PRETOLD, which is good. Later I played CLAImING. Larry found URANOSE, but I carried the game to win 417-334. Overall record after two days of play, 4-10, -576. Three wins on the day offset by three trouncings wasn't great, but it was a far sight better than my Day One record. On to Connie and Day Three.

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