Still The Life

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Up at 6:37 (5:37 Central), about 20 minutes ahead of my last-chance alarm. The first thing I noticed was a snow-white seagull walking across the parking lot ahead of my car. Boy, I thought, those seagulls sure have short itty bitty steps. I guess flying is really there thing, though, not walking.

Not long after entering the Ohio Turnpike I was pestered by a big black SUV that wanted to follow me too closely as I was trying to maintain a safe distance behind the small car ahead of me. After many miles of this, the SUV suddenly put on a burst of speed and blew past both of us. I immediately followed (the other car didn't), and I managed to hit speeds in excess of 100 MPH without ever coming close to catching the vehicle. I had great hopes of banking 5, 10, maybe even 15 minutes when, just as suddenly, the SUV served across several lanes and into a rest area. I guess when you gotta go, you gotta go!

Ooh, interesting. My first time paying an Ohio toll with a credit card.

Wow, what an interesting coincidence. After February's NAST in Rocky River, I listened to an NPR podcast spotlighting up-and-coming female British artists, and I fell in love with a clip of a song by Scottish singer/songwriter Amy MacDonald. I liked the tune "This Is the Life", and the themes it echoed, so much that I named that week's tournament blog after it. Flash forward to this NAST, and who did Weekend Edition choose to profile in an interview and performance segment...? Amy MacDonald. And what song did she start off with? "This Is the Life". As I approached the tournament venue (a church, regretfully) I was hopeful of two things. First, that the interview with MacDonald, and her comment about touring 10 American cities, was an indication that her album would finally be released in the US. Second, that the confluence of NPR's playing the song after my first Rocky River, and then again before my second, was a good omen, positive indication that I was definitely going to win the event.

I managed to arrive minutes before 9:00, early enough that I was able to make a much-needed stop at the restroom. Fact was, I had consumed no fewer than four Starbucks DoubleShots in the previous 24 hours, and there was a price to be paid for that (by my bowels). My stomach also suffered--it had been unsettled for much of Friday, and it felt no better on Saturday.

On top of my queasy stomach and sore bowels, I started to feel fatigue right away, so it's a good thing I had an easy-as-pie 181-point game against Pat Hardwick. Nothing really noteworthy, except the obligatory first-round phony, CHIRR(U)* for 34, although I really should be ashamed of myself for not trying what I thought was a certain phony, NONWOoL. I just deemed it too silly to be real, but it's good. And I definitely should be ashamed for letting AHAS* get by. She could have just as easily played AAHS, and I continued to be surprised every time I see HAHAS on the list, so I thought maybe I was forgetting AHAS* as well. Plus, the play gave me a better-scoring aUTOPENS, so I instantly dismissed any thought of challenging. I later felt punk'd, though.

Okay, you wanna know what tired is? Tired is when you are holding a roll of toilet paper in one hand, a clump of soiled toilet paper in the other hand, and you dump the roll into the toilet instead of the soiled clump. And then you stand there wondering why there's a roll of toilet paper in the bowl. That's tired for you.

I will admit that, given my lead and the availability of 31 points for JO, CHIRR(U)* in my first game was gratuitous, kind of like the shot of Hally Berry's bare breasts in the movie Swordfish. But my next phony, FRIGH(T)ER*, was rather necessary. Granted, Christopher Walleck only took a small 20-point lead with INERTIA(L), I could easily have played conservatively and tied the game, but there was no way an 1100 player was going to challenge given that a second 3x3 had been opened. I mean, if you can't try FRIGHTER* against a 1030 player, who are you going to try it against?

Okay, let me state for the record that, had I gone first, I would not have played ZONDANS* against Walter Konicki, 1158-rating or not. That's just too egregious a phony, and I am not that reckless. However, once he lost his turn with MAXIE*, I deemed the time psychologically right to try the phony, and it worked. Then I got the challenge for hYOI(D)EAN (finally spelling it right), and I was off to the races and a 191-point win. Of course I would be remiss if I did not point out that I, too, lost a turn, for the stupid reason that DEERS is actually in the dictionary! What is up with that??? DEERS??? Come on now. I should also point out that, in the end game, Walter picked up his out play of TOIL(S) to play (J)OLT, but left the I. I immediately thought back to Charleston and Thomas Hall, who let a similar situation slide. Well, it is illustrative of the difference between his killer instinct (such as it may or may not be) and mine, because I felt compelled to challenge the play and take the extra spread points that ensued from being able to go out first.

Yay, yet more fun bowel action. I was spending almost as much time on the toilet as I was at the Scrabble board!

Dammit, I was about to go off on Dean Scouloukas for luckbagging me, but it turns out I gave up a significant amount of equity in my first three turns, enough to allow Dean to take the momentum and keep it for the duration of the game and eventually win by a mere 24. On the bright side, I managed to get a phony down for a fourth straight game.

For lunch, another repeat of February, back to the Rustic Restaurant with Steve Glass. I'd made it through the morning on little food, so I was pretty famished, but I was not even able to finish my burger because my stomach was so unsettled. It would't be more than two or three hours before I would regret not having forced myself to eat--I had to suffer hunger pangs for much of the end of the tournament.

Upon returning from lunch and seeing the results, I was, like, yo, yo, what's up, because both Pete Ziegler and George Viebranz were undefeated while Steve Glass and I had each lost a game. This cannot stand, I thought! I wondered if they were getting lucky, or if they had improved their skillz, but regardless I needed to make the world right again. QI for 38 plus BA(N)DYING got me off to a good start against George, and then I made a sweet play that might have averted a bad time, O(L)IVI(N)E through the disconnected L and N. Without it, I would have been stuck with two Is, and who knows what kind of trouble that would have caused. Instead, I had decent scores for my next three turns, and then the phony WOoDENS* (passed on DOWNErS, WONDErs, SWOoNED, and SWOuNED to extend my phony record to fives games in a row) to pretty much guarantee a win. My only chance to lose would have been to take 49 for MOXIE on the top row instead of taking 42 for MOXI(E) to block the triple-triple, and to have George 3x3. I knew better. I walked away very curious to see what Quackle would do.

Man, I was irked by my 6th-round loss to Steve Glass. After outdrawing, or at least decent-drawing, four of my five other opponents, I was left to deal with my strongest opponent with just three power tiles and no bingos. Worst thing was, an S and the second blank were the last tiles in the bag, and with either one of those the 8-point game might just have tipped in my favor.

Annotated Game

I thought Ziggy Peter was going to be up to his old tricks when he drew the early blank-bingo, hEROINE, but I had the comeback SYENIT(E)S, and I managed the better tiles for the rest of the game. The endgame got a bit whacky, though, when Pete decided to try REBIT(T)EN* at just the moment that, if I challenged and lost, he would then go out, I'd be stuck with the X, and he'd pick up enough to win. Let me make it completely clear that I had zero doubt in my mind that REBITES* is no good. But without having drilled the top 5000, maybe 10,000, 8s as many times as I've done the sevens, I could not be sure that REBITTEN* was not good for some freaky reason.

In the end, I just could not let it go--it was much too egregious, and I feared what people would say once Pete started bragging about how he got a ridiculous phony past me. Heck, Rebecca might even deem me unworthy of her affection and take up with Pete instead. No, no, no I had to challenge it off.

While my win was assured, I was still wary of spread, and so I used the ample amount of time I had to try and figure out if I could play off one or two tiles and draw into a bingo in multiple spots. Let me assure you that I found this a difficult task, to try and find all the bingos in a tile pool of AAEKLORSUX thru an E, R, G, or T. I finally saw that if I I drew a U, I would have AUR(E)OLES or ROSULA(T)E, so I played off my X. Drew an A. Rats. Not only did I fail to draw the U, but I gave Pete a crack at fishing, which he of course did. One tile left, so I tried again. The K. Rats!!! 2/3 chance of drawing the U, and I missed it. Not only that, but the U happened to give Pete UNBIT(T)ER, and my efforts to maximize my spread ended up being for naught.

Annotated Game

I'll add one more thing about the situation. Let's assume that most players are not Scrabble gods and have some uncertainty, even .0001% uncertainty, about REBITTEN*. Regardless, I should have made the decision to challenge in under 60 seconds so that Pete could not see what tiles remained in the bag. By seeing the AUK, Pete was able to fish for the U. Had he not known what was in the bag, fishing would have been a lot tougher.

Boy, talk about what went around coming around. As expected, I faced Steve Glass again in the final round, and I just wailed on him. I opened with WEENING, and even though I missed MAT(I)NESS I still bingoed on my next turn, (I)NCITERS. I was so far ahead that I decided to try (C)LOUDISH*, and even though I lost my turn and Steve bingoed with ORAN(G)IER, a couple of turns later PHONILY magically appeared on my rack, and it was once again up nearly 200 points. Victory was pretty much assured, so I screwed around some more and tried BOA/A(GAMP)* on the suspicion that even if Steve challenged, whatever he played would be likely to give me a bingo (I had ABEION? which plays thru beaucoup letters). I was right, and I got NIOBAtE next turn. Redemption for GOU*? Perhaps not, but I was nonetheless pleased.

Annotated Game

So I picked up first prize, qualification for the final, and $200. Subtract the entry fee, gas, and tolls, and I made about $100 profit. Dallas's TSH report showed me dropping 10 points, but I left hopeful that I'd get a feedback point from Pete. If so I'd have sold off 9 points at about $13 a piece? A fair deal? Not sure, but since I had not worked since May 2nd, I'd take it. Yep, still the life.


#1 - Hardwick    
23.3 LOWN NONWOoL (saw but no idea)
0 YO  
0 FARD  
0 CHIRR(U)*  
0 QAI(D)  
0 Z(I)NE  
0 (E)S  
0 BEND  
0 GEEkIES(T)  
0 NAPE  
0 OI  
#2 - Walleck    
0 ZI(T)  
0 KEEP  
0 MY  
0 FO(R)  
0 A(B)OVE  
#3 - Konicki    
0 hYOI(D)EAN  
0* GEE(S)E  
0* NIP  
0 TIVY  
0 QADI  
39 challenge (D)EE(R)S  
0 (Q)UID  
4 MOG  
6.2 ARC(O) wanted one more bingo for kicks
0 JEAN  
0 V(AW)  
0 L(E)T  
#4 - Scouloukas    
8.3 HOB RHINO,miss N(OPAL) hook
4 WAE  
12.6 Q(I)  
2 VER(G)E  
4.1 UN(B)E  
9 (T)OL(N)IC*  
0 OUT  
#5 - Viebranz    
0 YUAN  
0 QI  
0 O(L)IVI(N)E  
0* VIBE  
0 A(H)EM  
1.8 WOoDENS* ENDOW/(OUTVIE)D (pass up bingo for 45 to keep ?S)
3.7 FRO(T)H  
0.3 MOXI(E)  
12.7 J(E)RID (blocks both lines)  
#6 - Glass    
2.9 (J)ATOS  
0 Z(I)NEB  
0.3 ALEF EF (AELNT leave is better)
0* NE  
0 AE  
#7 - Ziegler    
0 CHAM  
2.3 LID  
4.3 OAVE(S) UVEA(S) (unsure)
0.6 BERG  
1.1 ZoN(E)S  
21.1 WH(I)R  
4.6 JEE(P)  
0 (F)LOWN  
0.6* X(I)  
1* A(GED)  
#8 - Glass    
33.6 (W)AMES MANT(I)SES,MAT(I)NESS (unsure)
0 YO  
44.7 lose turn ((C)LOUDISH*)  
0 (Q)UODS  
0 GU(N)  
20 lose turn (BOA/A(GAMP)*) counti on Steve to challenge then open board
2.9 TALC  
37.7 challenge KUD(U)  
1.8 (D)AZE  
0 WAT  

1 - W - 4.0 (55.5)
2 - W - 12.7 (139.5)
3 - W - 3.3 (49.2)
4 - L - 10.1 (141.6)
5 - W - 1.7 (20.2)
6 - L - 2.2 (28.9)
7 - W - 4.0 (52)
8 - W - 10.0 (140.7)

Avg: 6.0

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