For what they've done... they will have to pay the ultimate price!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

I knew it. I knew my early-morning dreams, multiple false awakenings, I knew that they were bad omens. Twice I dreamt that I had woken up at 9:15, late for the event. I also dreamt that my car wouldn't start. And I dreamt that I was having trouble keeping control of the car on icy roads. I should have listenened to the dreams and gone home--I would have avoided myself a lot of pain.

Instead, I arrived at the Marriot Courtyard with time to spare. My campground at Cicero & Diversey was not very far from Elmhurst, and despite slow traffic for half the distance, I had plenty of time to get coffee and breakfast. I even had time to stare at the menu for a few minute and salivate over the bacon and eggs. I resisted my urges though, and just settled on the pancakes. Less meat. Less meat. Less meat. Gotta keep telling myself, less meat!!!!

Perhaps I should have been telling myself something else--less Scrabble. As the date for the tournament arrived and the weather out west looked promising, I considered dropping out to take a Starbucks trip. I e-mailed Roberta asking if she had anybody waiting, but she did not, and I had promised that I would attend if there was no one to take my place. Of course, not everybody is as dedicated to keeping commitments as I am, and we had a dropout, Nick Ball. Rather than doing the sensible thing and cutting the top division to 10 players and altering the pairings, a weak player was moved up. I grumbled when I learned of this, because the effect on me was direct--a higher win expectation and thus a larger ratings loss after the disaster that was about to ensue.

Dropping out aside, I still might have been better off if I had playing in the bottom division. I couldn't possibly get luckbagged there, could it? But the real incentive of that division was the chance to chat up a couple of rarities, a pair of true hotties, newbies to the game. The two were the hottest two young females I could remember seeing in many, many tournaments. They arrived together, and while they might only have been friends, I preferred to imagine that they were sisters... naughty naughty Scrabble-playing sisters (the best kind).

But no, I was stuck in the worst of placers, a sort of purgatory. A nest of vipers, intermediate players who know just enough to take advantage of ridiculously good luck. The first such villainess was Linda Finn. My rack never saw anything remotely high probability, while Linda gets (D)RAINErS and then four consecutive gimme plays. I can't say that I had zero chance, but I would have needed to find some really low-prob bingos, none of which I've ever anagrammed.

A Fucked-Up Game (note: this game includes Linda's correct racks)

After that first loss, I truly honestly thought the tournament couldn't get worse. But it did. Three words. Three freakin' words that I didn't know, all in the same game. All in the same game against a 1400s player!!! Unbelievable. What are the odds that somebody in the 1400s is going to play R(HEME), NA(T)AnTLY, and BEe(SWING) all in the same game. Seriously, that has never happened before, at least not since I hit expert.

An Even More Fucked-Up Game

To make matters worse, losing those two first games effectively ended the tournament for me. I'd have to win the rest just to get over 1700, and even if I managed that I'd still not catch stupid Bihlmeyer. Knowing that had me numb, just two games into the tournament, and I knew that was going to affect my game play for the other nine games.

Ricky Gervais Sirois's opening TESTILY (after I had exchanged DMNOQRR) did not help my mood any. I had to gamble, playing F(L)ENSE for fewer points than FENN(Y) hoping for a challenge (or the R hook). Then I hung BRAWN out next to the triple column instead of taking A(W)ASH for 45, and that payed off, with RiCHENS for 97 plus the challenge. Good thing I got that challenge, because Ricky scored well for 4 out of his next five turns and was never far away from catching up. I really thought I was going to lose that one too.

The only bright spot of the morning session was Cafe Cubano, tostones and congri. Unfortunately, my meal was ruined even before I had taken my first bite when I discovered I had missed the T(HEME) hook for my bingo agains Jaqueline. That was an absolutely awful mistake, and the rest of my day was ruined no matter what. There would be no joy for in my near future--everything would taste awful until I could redeem myself.

Peoples is probably going to think I'm insane to say this, but I genuinely felt like getting ass-raped like Tom DuBois was preferrable to blowing that game like I had done. I've never been ass-raped, so I can't know for sure, but I figure it's so routine in prison that I'd forget about it sooner or later. Missing T(HEME) and losing to a nobody scrub, however--I would never forget that as long as I lived.

Oh, I guess I should clarify. Ass-rape is preferrable as long as the dude doesn't have the HIV. Even I will acknowledge that catching the HIV is worse than sucking at Scrabble.

Fourth round, more pain. Scott Garner managed TANGLE (easy), SEELING (easy), and UNmITER (easy) while I could not draw into a bingo to save my life. Actually, that's not true--I saw SUBOVAL, but I had no fucking clue. That's beyond 15000, man--all of Scott's bingos were sub-5000. How fucking fair is that? 1700 had become an impossibility, and I was starting to hate all intermediate players.

Yet Another Fucked-Up Game

Finally got a halfway easy game, and some easy bingos, against Harriestta Lakernick, but after three losses I hardly cared. Same went for my win against Melissa Routzhan. So what if I knocked her from first place and played a couple of phonies. Like I had said earlier, the taste of everything that day was fouled.

Final round of the day, Jason Brooks. I got the early bingo, an easy BINDERS, and I scored reasonably well the entire game, but the tile gods had a different form of punishment in store for me. The bingos were just falling off Jason's rack--SLANTED, SAPIeNT, INTiM(AT)ED, FORTUNE. Four bingos in 11 turns, all gimmes except for INtiM(AT)ED (though that one was one of the weakest available). What did I miss? VARIE(T)AL. Yes, I should have found it, but I guaran-damn-tee I would not have missed any of the gems bestowed upon Jason's rack.

Will the Fucked-Up Games Ever End?

My plan for the weekend was to stay down in the burbs after Saturday's games. Find some good food, maybe see a movie, go to Borders and catch up on some comics, maybe head down to Club O in Harvey. But as you might imagine, I was in mighty sour mood after four losses, and I had a major headache on top of that. I decided to get away and make the 60-mile drive back up to Twin Lakes for the night, and as I drove and simmed my games I tried to weave in and our of traffic as much as possible. With luck, I'd get pinched by the fuzz and have a good excuse to avoid Sunday's pain and perhaps even forget Scrabble altogether while getting repeatedly ass-raped.

And furthermore, if I got pinched, I wouldn't have to wake up early to drive back to Elmhurst. That was going to suck. Yo, Hartsman, if you are reading this, you can sleep in. I'm probably going to be exactly 29 minutes late for our game. Assuming I even show up at all. I may quit Scrabble altogether before morning.

No such luck. I made it to the house safe and sound, and there I had several hours to sit and blog stew. And to plot my revenge. The scrubs have to be eliminated from Division 1 competition one way or the other. I would suggested some rule like the following--any player who has been in the game for two years, maybe three (definitely five) and has not hit 1600 should be prohibited from playing in Division 1.

If that means a Elmhurst would have had a four-person Division 1 this year, so be it. Heck, I would have been happy to just play Marty Marcus over and over and sap his ratings points. Who reading this doesn't think I would wallop any 1600s player in an 11-game match?

Of course the NSA will never agree to this, so my only option is to appeal to supernatural forces. I need to get biblical on these evil scrubs who are sucking the marrow of life from my bones. I need to bring floods and earthquakes down on these people, the Finns and the Fyrs and the Garners and their ilk. They pervert the cause of fairness, the cause of justice, with their insidious luckbagging. Oh, they will pay a price for their transgression. For what they've done... they will have to pay the ultimate price. I will stand for this evil no longer.

Okay, this might be kind of mean, but I'm in a pissy mood. I'm not going to say who it is, but I've got two words for you... "GRANNY PANTIES"! Somebody's wearin' 'em, and they's a-showin'.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Because snow had predicted I had set my alarm for 7:30. Grrr... I hate alarms. I A person whould wake up whenever he wakes up, naturally. I strongly suspect that the person who invented the alarm clock was inspired by a demon.

Sleep, a shower, a change of clothes, plenty of coffee--none of these helped to wash away the stink of miserable luck that was clinging to me like certain Scrabble players like to cling to certain other Scrabble players. I must give credit where it is due--Steve Hartsman's (G)ILTHEaD was a good find. I think I would have missed it myself. Nevertheless, he got very lucky to win because by the time he played the second blank for mISTIME, Steve was down to just a few minutes left. If he doesn't draw ZEBU for 56, or manage to hook it with S(T)OOP for 30, I would have had a real shot.

Will the Rain Ever Stop???

As miserable as I was, I guess I had a little bit of sympathy to spare for Lisa Slankard who said she had not drawn a blank in six games. Oops, make that six, after our game. Though I wouldn't call it a blowup, double-blanks and three bingos definitely gave me the edge.

Unbelievable. Those who say there are no such thing as tile gods are denying the evidence. 11 games with tough tiles in most, I when do I get my best tiles, killer tiles? Against the bottom-rated player!!! Had I gotten just a bit of that luck against Garner, Brooks, or Hartsman, instead of Liz Behrman, I might have ended up in the money at least.

I managed to avoid an even more disastrous 5-6 finish... wait, I take that back. I didn't avoid it through my own action. Despite Marty Marcus' early RELATER(S), I came right back with 45 points for the lead and held the momentum for the entire game. Towards the end I held the case S, and after (C)IRCLE for 3 to go up 41 points I also held one of the blanks. I saw VI(R)AGOeS instantly, but I also sensed a potential problem. Yep, when I checked the bag there were only six tiles left. The pool: AEIIIIHORTTX?. There was definitely a chance at a bingo there, and VI(R)AGOeS would open up several probable lines. I considered playing it safe and just blocking, but there was also an open T at H8. After recounting the game, I worked out the worst case scenario. If I played my bingo to go up 102, and if I then drew the H and X, Marty would need to score 71 to pass me. He couldn't do that off the lines I would open, not with 1-point tiles, but he could score 77 off the T. There were more complicated scenarios involving Marty's slotting the H or X on the DLS and then hitting the DWS, but I did not work all those out. Fact was, I could not risk a low-scoring block of the R line because if Marty got the (T) line to the TWS, I would lose unless I bingoed back. Too risky. So I rolled the dice and played my bingo. And I immediately felt dismayed when HIIORX came out of the bag. I quickly confirmed that Marty would not score enough with ImITATE(S), but there was still that T. I didn't see the bingo, and I hoped Marty would not find out. Finally, he played ImITATE(S), and I relaxed. He immediately asked me "is this good?" and started to play off the T. I quickly rushed to my laptop and saw it--(T)ITAnITE!!! I felt a chill. There had been no reason for Marty not to try it, not unless he was trying to conserve spread to place 3rd or 4th. Marty flat out said he didn't know why he hadn't tried it. I guess he choked, and were it not for that, I would have dropped another 20 ratings points.

Finally, a Much-Needed Break

6-5 and a third consecutive drop was still pretty miserable, but there was one ray of hope to be found, an announcement on the NSA web site about revised ratings! With luck, this transition would be made permanent soon, and the era of evil rating-sucking subhuman scrubby nobodies would finally be over!!!

Opponents' Bingos

My Bingos

Missed Bingos


#1 - L - Finn - 1402    
6.2 TRONA hoping for challenge
2.7 BOA(T)ED going for turnover
0* EVIDE(N)T  
11.7 PER(V) EUR(I)PI
0 GEY  
6.7 INI(A) -IIU
0 (P)ULIK  
24.5 TOD (C)OULDeST,(O)UTpLODS (sure of pLOD and pORT but not pLOD),(O)UTScOLD
0 SUQ  
0* (J)ILL  
73 have to challenge MI(L)ER  
5 ZaP F(U)tZ/(I)F/t(O)/Z(A)
#2 - L - Fyr - 1450    
0.7 HET  
8.8 NAOI  
0 LEU  
57 (UN)RIG miss T(HEME) and R(HEME)
36.1 challenge R(HEME)  
4.6 TOYE(R)  
34.1 challenge NA(T)AnTLY  
11.4 SICK  
37.1 FOND miss (SICK)O hook
17.1 DOMS ditto
11.9 VI(G) block since opp has blank
35 (R)OC ditto
1 VET  
16.6 ZA ZIT(I) (opp stil lhas stupid blank so don't want to open board)
40 have to challenge BEe(SWING)  
0 (G)IE  
#3 - W - Sirois - 1456    
36 F(L)ENSE F(I)NENESS (desperately wanted to play but had no idea)
4.9 BRAWN  
1 (A)FIRE (A)FRIT (ERU better than RTU?)
12.4 -KUU  
0 BIZE  
1.3 WAVER  
0 AYI(N)  
0* XI  
13.2 E(H) UH (no way--avoiding Q is more valuable!!!)
1 VA(T)  
0 s(I)  
3 (K)I  
0 O(N)  
0 U(P)  
#4 - L - Garner - 1492    
5.5 UNWET  
0 HAAF  
2.6 RE  
4.2 LOADER (Z)OA for 12--gee, I gave up points to leave ADELR last time and got burned, so I should try it again?
0.6 QAT  
0 (Z)INCY  
84.5 LUV SUBOVAL (saw but no idea)
2.5 SOJA  
0 B(A)WD  
1.5 MIX  
1.9 YA  
23.3 I(C)E  
#5 - W - Lakernick - 1500    
0 -U (AEILNR)  
7.1 (I)NWRAP  
0 GUID  
0 KUES  
2.6 BO BE (?CEOR better than ?CEOR ???)
35.5 CRY (weak block) REEFY
2 YE  
0 ZE(E)  
0 CA(R)VER  
#6 - W - Routzahn - 1561    
7.8 PYA/(WHELK)Y trying for challenge
1.8 TEETER(Y)*  
7.5 (O)UZO  
0.1 CaRINAS  
9.7 JO miss O(CaRINAS) hook
0 NOVA  
0* G(O)O  
8.1 ADO  
36 AR(E)/R(AGGIE)* (thought it was good)  
#7 - L - Brooks    
5 DR(E)G R(E)G (DERNS better than ERNS???)
4.1 COZIE(S)  
5.2 FA J(A)R (give up 19 pts to leave AFLMR???)
6.1 J(A)W  
8.4 MEAL  
0 X(I)  
24.5 (F)RO ALI(EN)OR/(QUA)I/O(OH) (keep eyeing that spot but just couldn't see it)
0 OLIO  
--- AS  
--- AE  
#8 - L - Hartsman    
6.8 AWAIT(E)R (V)AW (but I've been burned by short plays so many times)
0 TW(I)LL  
0 DIOX(I)N  
0 KAN(E)F*  
0 QUA  
8.9 OF COOFS (burn the S at this point--don't like it)
3.4 SCOT DOC (to leave NSST???)
5.8 J(O)B V(E)G (hoping to ditch J and draw into bingo)
19.1 (QUA)G not trying for bingo anymore
5 O(P)E  
#9 - W - Slankard    
0.6 -OQ (EELST)  
1.1 F(A)UN  
1.8 (F)URZ(Y)  
3.3 GORP  
11.3 VITA  
2.9 JA(G)  
0 AWL  
10.9 VU(G)  
0* sPLIT(T)ER not highest win % b/c empties bag
35 (R)EI block one out play but miss the other
#10 - W - Behrman    
6.5 JOG JO(E) (really struggled with GHJORQZ)
1.3 ROQU(E)  
14.7 HE(R)TZ ZE(R)OTH (thought it was ZEROETH*)
1.4 FENDS FESTS (don't want to give up both eses)
3.3 INKER  
0* VINI(E)R  
11.1 (T)OWEL (T)WILL
0 BAIL  
#11 - W - Marcus -    
5.5 FEISTY FEY (leaves EIST, but give up 14 pts?)
0 TALK  
0 WAN  
5.1 QADI  
5.1 J(U)S EN(FEVERED) (didn't see it, but I would not have wanted to use one of last 4 Es)
0 PLEW  
0* VI(R)AGOeS highest valuation but lowest win % b/c empties bag with opp. bingo likely

1 - L - 10.3/5.5 (144.1) (66.1 before last-ditch challenge)
2 - L - 17.3 (311.4)
3 - W - 4.8 (86.3)
4 - L - 9.7/3.5 (126.6) (42.1 excluding SUBOVAL)
5 - W - 3.7 (47.9)
6 - W - 8.5 (110.7)
7 - L - 8.4
8 - L - 4.1 (53.4)
9 - w - 7.4 (95.6)
10 - w - 4.3 (51.1)
11 - w - 3.4 (37.7)

Avg: 7.4

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