I Can't Believe I Lost to a Thirteen Year Old Girl! Kill Me Now!!!
September 2, 2004
I didn't arrive late, but I was starting to worry as I found myself still in Manhattan after 10:00 AM, delayed visiting new Starbucks, and unsure of what the traffic across the tunnel would be like. Once I got across though, the ride was smooth to Parsipanny and left me time to heat up my leftovers and hang out at Starbucks in Denville. But when I returned to Parsippany and approached the Sheraton I spotted a girl, cute, half walking/half running in the direction of the Sheraton. I thought about offering her a ride, but I figured she was going to the Sheraton, which was just a few hundred feet away. As I parked, I noticed she walked past the hotel, and I once again considering offering her a ride to whereever she was going, because you never know when a girl is going to be in a "friendly" mood. But it was 11:59, and I hadn't driven overnight from Farmington to miss my first game.
Funny thing is, the surprised me later by showing up in the playing room and turning out to be Matt Graham's girlfriend. I had met her in Reno but not recognized her. Boy, it could be turned out mighty awkward if I had offered her a ride and then decided to get forward and maybe even frisky.
I was surprised to see Karen Wilson Moss so far from Oklahoma. Turned out she was in the area with her daughter who would be attending Cambridge, and also playing in the tournament without ever having gone to club. Now that's chutzpah!
With Karen in attendance, I wasn't the only westerner in the field. I didn't count Ira Cohen, because California is not really the west.
Feelings of southwestern familiarity quickly faded as Karen turned into my first opponent, and I started drawing crap right away, having to exchange EIIIOU and then AAEOTTT. I ended up losing by 8 points, and I blamed it on those two worthless racks.
My worst fears were realized as I finally had to face Katie Devanney. The tiles gods being cruel masters, I knew they had humiliation predestined for me. True, I made one mistake that cost me maybe 10-20 points and some turnover, playing COR to try and block a bingo like because it doesn't take an S, completely forgetting about the other letters it takes. She had the bingo elsewhere anyway, and those 20 points were nothing in light of the 123-point loss. Most irritating is that she challenged two of my words, CATERANS and DYNES, and then lost another turn to a phony, DOwNINGS, but I lose as many turns to forced exchanges, three in all.
I was outdrawn again against Verna Berg, but this time a won challenge, BARRENS, allowed me to take a slight lead and then extend it with dECIARE. A couple of good plays, WRING for 38 and WAVY for 51, and I starting thinking about getting my spread into the positive. In the end, I was able to keep Verna away from a second bingo and won it by a good 124 to almost even out on spread.
Unfortunately, Marty was running away with it at three wins and would be hard for me to challenge. I was hoping 2-1 would be the best record. Furthermore, the pairings were already set for the last two rounds, a partial round-robin. No KOTH, which meant I wouldn't get another crack at the leaders. I felt this was to my disadvantage.
Didn't matter anyhow, because I was pulling crap anyway against Kay Patterson, while she was pulling gold, opening with VELARIA and then immediately DASHEEN. She hung the V above the TWS with the first, but I had nothing more than 21 points. That's the way most of the game would go for me until she set me up for INCITED/CRINGER. But she had the first blank, and with one bingo line, she played off an A for FA to set up another. I couldn't block both, and she got down LOUSIER, which pretty much described how my tournament was progressing. Still, running out of time, she gambled and set me up for the 66-point WIVED. I took the lead again, but she was holding the second blank to go out and win. What's so much worse than getting outblanked is having those blanks save your opponent from her blunders.
I noticed the first place price was a hefty $100. Great for the winner, but sucky for me, because it only made me think of what I would be missing out on.
I came away from that game thinking that if there was any fairness at all in the world, I would have to get killer draws during the main event and win the big prize. Otherwise I was going to have to use my mutant powers to blow up the world. I hoped the Department of Homeland Security didn't have computers out there searching the web for references to "blow up" and "world".
The last game didn't matter. My rating was already tanking and I'd the only consolation was bonus points if I did well in the main event. I guess my confidence was shaken, because I let Scott Kitchen get away with WHOS*, and those points plus the extra turn could have been the difference. Why was I making stupid mistakes like that?
I went off to dwinner in a sour mood, despite a small bit of good news, of a couple of hundred more dollars in fees for the use of my photos.