Look on My Works Ye Mighty and Despair!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Not a lot of questions at the border, just the expect Saturday-night delay from Detroit-area partygoers. I did take a bit of ribbing from the border guard, though, when I said I was going to a Scrabble tournament. Most of the travelers he saw were going to the strip clubs. Not a bad idea, of course, given the differences between Michigan and Ontario in that regard, and I did end up stopping at a club called Leopard's, but it was lame, so I left after about 15 minutes. Ethnic restaurants in Toronto, London, and Windsor tend to be open pretty late, and the line of Chinese restaurants on Wyandotte were no exception. I try to avoid eating so late in the night, but I was still tempted. This is only noteworthy because I used to shun Chinese food except for when I was with a group. But several months of having little choice but to patronize Lucky's Chinese restaurant in Twin Lakes, WI, had caused my taste to change to the extent that I actually experienced moments when I craved chicken fried rice and egg drop soup. I guess it you expose a human to something for long enough, he will get used to it. Gay sex in prison is a good analogy.

Drove about 56 kilometers east of Windsor expecting a service area, but instead of the usual service area all I found was a truck-stop type gas station. I did not expect to easily find an inconspicuous place to park between Tillbury and London, so I decided to take my chances in one of the parking spaces behind the station's convenience store. In all my trips to Canada, I had never been bothered during the night, and that night turned out no different.

Funny thing, when I woke up in the morning and headed back out to the 401 I noticed a carpool area. In the U.S. I probably would not have wanted to park there because the cops are nosier, but in Canada I doubt a patrol would be checking all the cars in the lot.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Almost bitten by the time change again, but thankfully I just happened to glance at my phone while hanging out at a Starbucks in London. Once I realized I had lost an hour, I had to pack up and rush off. Good thing Ontario drivers tend to drive about 80 on the 401 one. Made good enough time that I was able to stop at the Starbucks in the Kitchener Chapters for another photo (and coffee) and reach Squirrel Tooth Alice's with loads of time to spare.

Shaun Goatcher up first, and when he played SUBSIDE/(ZIT)I on his second turn for 103, I sensed my luck was not going to change dramatically like I was hoping. ATEMOYA gave me hope, but Shaun came back a couple of turns later with DERIV(A)TE, and my hope dimmed. Two blanks unseen, and I was sure Shaun must have drawn one. After much deliberation, I decided to gamble pretty much everything on NUCH(A) to leave IRN, and I drew into REPINN(E)D. I was unsure, but it's not like I had a choice but to try it. I still trailed significantly after Shaun's 38-point FIR(R)Y, but I had a blank. My odds were still slim, if Shaun had the other, but amazingly I drew that second blank, and all of a sudden I could breathe.

After the game I pointed out to Shaun that I questioned his play of LOLLI(E)S. After countless Quackle sims, I know that it would never give up the S and increase its chances of drawing the Q just to block a bingo line. Shaun disagreed with my analysis, insisting that he needed to block the most dangerous lines (E, T), but sims of the five different racks he might have had (ILLLOS plus another tile) bear out my position.

D - DOLL - 76%, G - LOLL - 60%, N - LOLL - 64%, O - LOLL - 64%, R - ROLL - 64%

Annotated Game

Anyway, I was greatly relieved to pull out that first game. My attitude going into the tournament, after a 490 mile drive, was pretty much "I'll go crazy if I don't go crazy on the field tonight." Losing that first game would have set a dire tone for the rest of the tournament.

The division was expanded to 8 players, which was not the 6 I'd hoped for, but still better than the 10-player division from February. That meant I had to play Kevin Turner who, though just 1460-rated, managed to upset Max Panitch in the first round and eventually came in 2nd with four wins. The game started out bizarrely, and troublesomely, with three exchanges in my first seven turns. I commented that it was like playing with one arm tied behind my back. Until the 11th play, when Michael finally gave up his momentum with a 7-point play, I had no reason to feel confident that I was going to win.

Annotated Game

I saw my best tiles of those first three games when I needed them most, against my strongest opponent Max Panitch. An opening bingo SHOALED gave me a momentum that Max's REsEA(S)ON could not match, and double-double CRU(D)ItES a few turns later gave me enough of a lead that I played the rest of the game without worry.

Annotated Game

AARRGHH!!! Headed up the Chapters Starbucks during the break, and I forgot to reshoot it as I had hoped. Bad, bad, bad--as my 37th birthday approaches every mental slip seems like a bigger and bigger deal.

Fourth round, Tim Anglin, also undefeated. Gave up the most equity since the Thanksgiving tournament in Elmhurst, 170 points, but the bulk of that was due to having the blank and failing to find lower-prob bingos for five consecutive turns, during which I was still scoring well enough to stay well ahead of Tim despite his 62-point bingo. Even if I had never bingoed, it would have been hard for me to lose that game with those tiles.

Annotated Game

#5, 1655-rated Jason Ubieka was on a tear at 4-0, and surely dreaming of a 1700 rating. He almost pulled it off, too. Though I took the early momentum with ZaX for 55, Jason managed to nearly catch up by getting down the first bingo on a really tight board. Could have gone either way, and with the second blank I might have won it even without a bingo, but I put a lot of time and mental effort into my MM play, and it payed off. I point this out for two reasons: A) it is very common and important situation when you must decide between giving up points to increase the chance of a bingo or trying to win the endgame without a bingo; B) I'm not sure I like the decisions Quackle often makes. Quackle likes (H)IM best, which I think is ridiculous. It gives up a lot of points and, leaves me with an M on my rack, and does nothing to open a new line. The only way I could see giving up that many points would be to open a new line, and in this case I decided the risks were to great. By scoring 17 with MM I am in the position that if I can't bingo off the N, I am at least not going to be that far down if Jason manages to score big. Which he did, 37 for ASP.

Actually, let me revise that. Quackle's initial choices did not include M(E) at K6 for 4 pts, nor MO(B) at D8 for 10 pts. M(E) sims highest, and I could agree with Quackle there, but I still decided that I preferred to take the extra 13 points rather than gamble everything on a bingo. A bird in the hand, you know...

Annotated Game

Final game, a chance for my second undefeated tournament of the year, and, as I expected, Jason Ubieka again. Unlike our first game, which nearly came down to the wire, this one was essential a walkover from the word FANGY*. I knew in about 0.737 second it was phony, but I still had to hold and look for an eight with my CEINRTY. Really wanted to try CENTI(A)RY*, but I played it safe with CRY, then drew into ATONIES followed by FLAUN(T)Ed to maintain a healthy lead for the entire game.

Even before starting that game I'd already worked out my new rating. 1839--MAGNIFICENT. A new peak. The only downside, the realization that if I had not had that brief hiccup in Plainfield I would have ended up with a spectacular rating. Even going just 3-3 and dropping a few points in Plainfield would have left me around 1860. Still, I had played five events and stayed above 1800 in four of them, proof positive that I'm truly a 1800+ player. Certain others, others who hit that 1800+ mark but proved unwilling to defend it, can hardly say the same.

Actually, there was one other disappointment, the fact that I had not played Tony Leah. Without playing him, my 6-0 record was a bit tainted no matter how much rating I gained.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

And Wussy Boy gets his comeuppance!

Opponents' Bingos (Main Event)

My Bingos

Missed Bingo Turns


#1 - W - Goatcher    
0 ZIT  
0 TUX  
3.4 (J)AWAN  
0 (J)AUP  
0 (C)HOIR  
12.3 OVerFAR (O)F???
0 (E)M  
#2 - W - Turner    
2.8 -AIIMUW  
4.3 YAH  
0.7 GA(I)TED  
0 -EEQ (DEIN)  
0 DI(V)iNELY  
0 Z(E)E  
0.9 -LNOOOOQ keep N
0 R(EL)AX  
6.4 JAWS (kill last easy line)  
0 QU(I)N  
0.7 CROON  
0 VOLT  
0 ORB  
0 (ZA)RF  
#3 - W - Panitch    
0 FAB  
0 MAYA  
2.9 -NNNT (CRS)  
2 CRU(D)ItES CUR(D)IESt (unsure),In(D)UCERS
7.4 BIRO  
3.2 D(I)NT  
0 VIG  
0 ZIN(G)ER  
13 G(N)AW  
#4 - W - Anglin    
12 HE  
0 QI(S)  
14.7 EF CAvEF(I)SH (was looking for F(I)SH words but didn't know it)
38.4 DAH A7 CADDISH (only 90+% sure--not worth risk)
20.6 R(E)FUND uND(ER)FUR,ReFUND(E)R (no idea),FRoND(E)UR
3 (D)I(V)E  
#5 - W - Ubieka    
0 KOJI  
2.5 GOLD  
0 BREN  
12.2 ZaX  
2.1 EVE EVEN (OUT leave worries me)
7.7 SIN  
5.2 U(L)NAE  
0 GOY  
5.3 MM  
0 (N)EGATORs  
0 WI(Z)  
0 REE  
#6 - W - Ubieka    
0 DRIB  
0 SL(U)M  
0 (T)AJ hA(D)J
2.3 B(E)N  
4.7 KOS  
4.7 TAV DAVIT (why risk opening with 114-pt lead???)
10.5 (G)UID  
14.7 (R)IDE  
0 QI  

#1 - 1635 - W - 3.1 (34.2)
#2 - 1460 - W - 1.5 (24.2)
#3 - 1831 - W - 2.4 (28.5)
#4 - 1683 - W - 13.1 (170.5)
#5 - 1655 - W - 2.9 (41)
#6 - 1655 - W - 5.9 (82.4)

Avg: 4.8

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