Friday, February 6, 2009

As usual, finding the correct balance between how many hours I worked and how much time I allotted to the drive was tricky. When I left shortly after two, it appeared that I would have plenty of time for a pre-tournament massage and Colombian food. As soon as I started driving, however, I knew I was going to have a problem, because my power inverter would not work. It had been malfunctioning in extreme cold, but the weather had warmed up considerably, and I had not expected a problem. Being unable to use my laptop during a drive is almost unbearable, so getting power was fair important. First step was to pull over and check the car's fuse--it was fine. Next, I stopped at a Best Buy that was along my route (after missing the entrance and losing 5-10 minutes), but they were out of 75 or 100-watt inverters. Target was out of my way, but nearby, so I headed over there and finally found a 100-watt inverter, but when I tried it out... nothing. The problem had to be the car, then, and there was nothing I could do. I still had time to spare, and the Honda dealership in Gurnee was on my way, but Friday's are really bad days to try and get rapid service.

I had no choice but to resign myself to a laptop-less drive, although I was at least able to use it up until the massage I schedule, under the assumption I'd be able to charge it at the office (in this case, a town house). That worked, but I was extremely disappointed when I saw that in the 40 or so minutes I was there the battery's charge had only been boosted from around 60% to 75%. Why???

I regretted the massage almost immediately. It had not been very good, and though the house was not that far off the interstate, traffic on Lake Cook was slammed. I lost way too much time, and when I got back onto the freeway the radio was report serious traffic delays along all my routes. All my spare time was gone, but I was really craving Colombian food. What the heck, I said, and I went for the food.

By the time traffic cleared, when I exited I-94 onto the Chicago Skyway, I was looking at a 12:00 to 12:30 arrival at best. That still left enough time for 8 hours of sleep, but I soon started feeling really fatigued. That, on top of my headache and sore throat (something going around at work), prompted me to call Dan and let him know I was going to setting my alarm to the last possible moment and possibly be late.

At least I made pretty good time, and felt no worse, and I reached the service area just 25 miles from the Rocky River exit at 12:25 with hopes of getting my eight hours.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Like I had told Dan might happen, I had trouble sleeping late into the morning. I gave it up 8:28 and went into the service plaza for fake Starbucks and fake Panera. Actually, it might be inaccurate to call any Panera locations "fake", because I think they follow the more common franchise model, not the company-owned model that Starbucks uses. Anyway, I had plenty of time to reach Rocky River, even after missing my exit to I-90 from the turnpike. How did that happen. I noticed the sign stating the exit was 1 1/2 miles away, and the next thing I knew I was seeing signs for the next exit. Was I even awake in those 1 1/12 miles???

Crap. Still no wi-fi signal accessible from the playing room.

Up first, Jeff Cook, and after my two early bingos, P(L)ACATES and Ov(E)RSOAK, he just couldn't get anything going. After the game I told him he should not have made a play that blocked one of the few bingo lines remaining. He said that he had given up the game at that point, but it was waittoo early for that--there were still 39 tiles including a blank and an S unseen. Dude, you can't give up that early.

Up until she lost a turn trying (R)EGUNNED*, Elaine Glowniak was getting some good scores and almost keeping up with me. I never lost the momentum from the extra turn, but had she bingoed, I could have lost, and the fault would have been mine. Why? Because I let OSAGE* go. I didn't even think to hold--I was sure it was good. I was wrong.

On the heels of my OSAGE* good, George Viebranz hit me right REIC(H)* right away. "WTF", I thought!!! I should not have any doubts. I should not have any doubts!!! Nevertheless, I was unsure, and nervous as I challenged it off, but I quickly took advantage of the situation to slap (TILTH)ING* down there. It stuck. So, I had challenged off a phony and played a phony of my own--that meant I was going to rout George, right? WRONG!!! There is no justice in Scrabble, and George drew back-to-back RESInIN(G) and VALE(T)ING. Then 32 for WOP to block a bingo line, HINDE(R) for 33, and then JEE for 31 to block my phony NONSALE*. I was sure I was sunk, but I was able to draw double-double eRIN(G)OES for 88 to nearly tie the game, and then it came down to a really tense pre-endgame and endgame.

Annotated Game

Besides needing more coffee, I had to head over to the Starbucks to get online. Stopped at the Sunoco to reheat my leftovers, but its "convenience store" was tiny. No chance there was a microwave, I figured, and when I mentioned this to the cashier he gave me a funny look that implied there was a microwave, just not for customer. I quickly asked if I could use it if I bought gas, and he actually let me do it. I was a bit amused by the bemused expression on his face as he took my container.

I guess I should have felt a bit bad at knocking Lisa Slankard out of first place, given that she was kind enough to let me have her copy of the issue of The New York with the Scrabble article. But the truth is, I was anticipating a 7-0 finish more and more with every victory. Of course my eagerness was tempered by the memories of my losses to Clark and Fiszbein in Ortonville. Both were perfectly capable of spoiling my party.

Of course, I was perfectly capable of sabotaging myself with poor play, and I have to admit that it was probably tiles that compensated for my poor play against Lisa. And against Pete Ziegler--only the double blanks allowed me to win after I so stupidly gave up my momentum. I had started great, with DYSP(N)OEA, but two turns later I tried to hook and N. My next play, GURRIE(S) for 16, was a needlessly stupid waste of good tiles, and had it not been for Pete's trying to hook an E to DYSP(N)OEA to let me recover some momentum, I probably would have lost.

Annotated Game

Played pretty well on top of great tiles for a decisive win against Jeff Fiszbein, though I confess the game could have gone south because of my uncontrollable urge to push the limits of my (and my opponents') word knowledge. In this case my attempt at P(AR)KET* allowed Jeff to take the lead. And unnecessary risk for two reasons. First, I saw P(AR)GET but wanted the extra points. Second, I could have gotten the extra points with P(AR)KER. Bah.

Of course, PARKERS is a top 20000 word, and, if it were good, PARKETS* would be too. The word that Jeff challenged is top 5000. After the game I expressed surprised that Jeff had challenged BENISON and said it was probably top 5000. Jeff said he hadn't gotten that far. "Motherfucker," I thought. "You've beaten me waaaaay too many times to be telling me you don't even know the top 5000 7s." If true, that just pisses me off. Working my way through the top 20000, I should not be losing to the likes of him.

Final round, against Jeff Clark, and I played my best game of the tournament. Good thing, too, because a late-game mistake allowed Jeff to take a lead and threaten a win if I did not play the endgame correctly. To make matters worse, I was able to recount during the game and discovered my score 2 points too high--that really put the pressure on, but I was able to find a winning out-in-two.

Annotated Game

In my first game of the Danbury tournament, I opened with RINGDOV(E) against Rod MacNeil, a word I wasn't even close to knowing when I won Stamford and subsequently hit a peak rating of 1833. I expressed my frustration, but Rod commiserated not a whit. I think I was justified to be frustrated over having dropped to 1595 despite having learned quite literally tens of thousands more words. To add to my frustration, I kept playing games in which my opponents played bingos that were barely in the top 2000-3000 while I kept losing for failing to find really deep bingos.

Well, I finally saw a payoff for all my study, and it felt damn good!!! Ov(E)RSOAK, OvARIO(L)E, eRIN(G)OES, DYSP(N)OEA, (K)ITtLESt, mEDIGAP, and possibly BENISON. These are words that I would not have know, or known but not found, two years ago, a year ago, six months ago, even, for some, three months ago. I can't describe the sense of satisfaction I felt now that my word study was finally coming together.

My new rating was probably going to be in the 1830s, 1835 or better. A new peak. Certain players, wussy players, would have taken that rating and sat on it for a while. Not me--all day I had been considering traveling up to Guelph, and hitting a new peak was not about to deter me. Fatigue, and a 180-mile detour to some Starbucks I needed to visit might get in the way, but no way was I going to be the type of player to hit a peak and then decide to wuss out and skip events.

Opponents' Bingos

My Bingos

Missed Bingos


#1 - W - Cook    
3.3 OI  
7.4 (S)WIG  
0* (G)HAT  
0 ID  
0 TR(A)M  
8.2 F(A)R  
0 (BA)IZA  
28.3 JI(N) JIN(N) (WHAT???)
0 N(U)  
#2 - W - Glowniak    
0 GORM  
0.9 AsSORT(E)D  
0 VOWIN(G)  
0 (B)EEP  
0 FED  
0* DAK  
0 HA(I)LER  
#3 - W - Viebranz    
5.9 OF  
4.2 ROW  
6.2 MU(N) DUMAS (saw DUMA but didn't think to give up S)
7.5 ROD OD (to leave ANORS)
0 Q(I)  
3.8 ANOLE  
0 eRIN(G)OES  
3.6 DAK  
4.6 FET  
7 DEY  
1.3 EX  
22 MAU(V)E  
0 TIC(AL)  
#4 - W - Slankard    
0 YIRD  
0 GLOP  
3.9 (Y)UCA EAU
9.2 BUR  
7.1 (R)EE  
13.7 AV(A) (M)AVIE
0 WO  
0 (T)WEED  
0.4 PEAK  
3 (V)IAL  
1 (MO)D  
3 (N)U  
#5 - W - Ziegler    
3.2 JURA JUGA (don't want to leave double Rs)
44.1 lose turn ((DYSPNOEA)N*)  
14 GURRIE(S)  
0 FINO  
0 (C)ULL  
4.9 (I)NDRI  
12.5 VAT(U) know Pete's rack--avoid counterplay
8.1 (R)AZED A(D)ZE
6.1 HUMS  
22.3 V(A)W  
1.1 (K)ITtLESt  
4 FIN  
#6 - W - Fiszbein    
0 XI  
6.7 HA(E)M miss A(GOUTY) hook
0 TW(I)G  
6.7 -LPQ Q(A)T
4.2 DiZEN (A)DZ (would rather take pts and block spot)
43.7 lose turn (P(AR)KET*) P(AR)KER
0 TSK  
2.3 O(R)B  
3.3 Q(I)  
0 MOOL(A)  
#7 - W - Clark    
5.7 F(O)X  
0.8 FAN(G)ED  
0 YIP  
0.7 BON(D) BETON (don't want to give up E)
2.7 ACTIN gotta keep the scoring pressure on
2.2 VENUE  
6.1 WORM  
0 GIsT  
0 LOT  

1 - W - 1471 - 5.4 (85.6)
2 - W - 1509 - 1.4 (16.5)
3 - W - 1533 - 4.4 (66.1)
4 - W - 1540 - 5.0 (89.7)
5 - W - 1645 - 10.7 (150.3)
6 - W - 1666 - 4.9 (67.9)
7 - W - 1705 - 2.3 (27.3)

Avg: 4.9

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