Friday, April 3, 2009

Something a little different this time. Instead of leaving work at the last possible moment, I left very early so that I could reach the Harbor Theater in Muskegon to see Wendy & Lucy. I'd heard good things about the interview, and I like Michelle Williams from Brokeback Mountain, so I had been keeping an eye on the film's website calendar for an opportunity to see the film.

Though short, at 80 minutes, I thoroughly enjoyed the film--it was well worth the 80 mile detour. In fact, the movie drew me in within the first 5-10 minutes, when Wendy was woken up by a security guard and told she could not park in that lot. Obviously I could totally relate to that. I was a bit irritated, however by a couple of stupid decisions Wendy made later in the film. It's a pet peeve of mine, when people make stupid decisions. In this case, Wendy was caught shoplifting dog food and ended up spending a few hours in jail and paying a $50 fine, much more than the cost of the cans, even though earlier in the film we had seen her counting out what must have been at least several hundred dollars. Later, when her car is finally towed into a repair shop, she goes off into the woods to sleep at night and is accosted by a man. I, too, can relate to needing a place to sleep, but if I were in the same situation I'd either spend the money for a room or, more likely, look really hard for someplace out of the way (dumpster (can be dangerous), rooftoop, deeper into the woods).

After the movie I drove as far as Flint, to a parking space on Church Street just north of 5th St. Noticed a sign though, that I hadn't seen the previous time, prohibiting parking from 2-6 AM. Assuming the sign had always been there, I wasn't sure why I had not been ticketed, but rather than take a chance I drove around a bit more and found a nearby side street with no such prohibitions. That particular street felt relatively safe to me, unlike some of the nearby residental streets that looked a bit sketchy. It would be ironic, wouldn't it it, for me to be carjacked in my sleep just hours after criticizing movie character Wendy for her decision to camp in the woods.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Arrived around 9:15, plenty early and not even close to being the last one. When Kevin McCarthy saw me he exclaimed something like "I must be in the wrong place if you're here already."

I came just seconds away from being late, of course. Nearly missed the exit from I-75 to US-23 south. In fact, I had to cut across a lot of rough dirt to make the exit, and I'm going to guess that's what caused the flat tire I would later discover. If I'd had a blowout, I definitely would have been late.

Not that being late would have been a bad thing. Had I forfeited that first game, I would have ended up with a higher rating at the end of the game, and I wouldn't have left so pissed off despite my 6 wins. It's just that after the Bloomington fiasco, I was in no mood to see Nick Ball drawing two easy bingos early in the game, ETHE(R)EAL and (R)EADIESt, while I kept drawing drek, drek, and more drek. I eventually did bingo, on my outplay, a more difficult fit, vIR(G)ULES, but of course it was much too late. It really sucked to lose that game, because all of a sudden my mood went from hopeful to dour and angry, and fearful that that first game would set the tone for the entire weekend.

Second game looked to go the same way. Though I started off strong with (A)RRIVALS, Steve Grob came right back with A(L)IENERS. I had to burn a lot of time looking at all the possibilities in ACEHIKN (there actually was a bingo!), and when I finally settled on HAC(E)K, Steve immediately played double-double ACETOUS for 96. For the love of Christ, I thought!!! I had EEFILNS? myself, but Steve's bingo-bango put additional pressure on me to take the time to find the play that put the F on the DWS. A couple of turns later I drew the second blank, but before I could get a bingo down Steve had scored 28, 33, and then TERNI(O)NS for 70 to take a 36-point lead. The board was tightening up, and had I not managed to dtich DUD and draw into GITANOs, I could have lost a two-blank game to easy bingos.

Annotated Game

After years of losses to Randy Greenspan (though we haven't played that often), I finally got the better of him. I usually complain when opponents repeatedly bingo early against me, especially when it happens over and over like in Bloomington. But this time it worked out. After Randy's exchange, I scored 38 with ZAX and then 30 off his NEStLES to essentially tie the game. With the board immediately tight, it benefitted me to have drawn the other blank second. I just needed to keep up until I could bingo, and I did just that for a 60-point lead, which I was able to keep for most of the game.

Just like the previous Fenton, I took my lunch from the French Laundry. This time, however, I remembered to walk. As a Texan, my natural instict is to drive, and I have to remind myself to leave the car parked for such short distances.

Because of the time that had passed since the Fall Fenthion, I had forgotten that the French Laundry is actually a bit expensive, though part of the reason my lunch cost nearly $10 is that I ordered a bowl of chili when a cup would probably have sufficed, and because I ordered a scone forgetting that the chili came with bread. Truth be told, I would have ordered the scone anyway. Faithful readers know there are certain things I just can't resist, and good scones can be added to that list.

Not sure why I decided to try TOADILY* against Jeff Clark, but he wasn't having it. Fortunately I scored well despite the lost turn and managed hit DIALIST on my fourth turn followed by QU(A)TE for 48. Had our roles been reversed, I'm sure I would have been seething at my opponent's luck. ACANThi, however--that was no luck. I had to make one blank the H, to hit the TWS, and then go through each letter until I saw the word. Goodthing, took, because Jeff had first blocked my (S)ACAToNs with MELODIE(S) and then followed it up with (R)EUNIONS. At that point, scores were close enough that scoring 80 for my bingo version 60-something was important. As it turned out, I scored well enough in my next four turns that it wouldn't have mattered, but I'm still proud of the find.

Annotated Game

During the lunch break Matt Robin and Lloyd Mills were playing a practice game. Matt drew both blanks, and from what I could see he was drawing well. I warned him that he better not draw like that in our game, and I guess it worked, because I drew both blanks. Not that it was easy for me. Blank on my opening rack, DGMNSU?, but nothing that turn... or next turn... or the turn after that. In fact Matt bingoed before me with SOLANI(N)E, and I was fortunate that my V? leave had yield a 90-point bingo. From that point I scored well ennough to build a good lead, and I bingoed again, AMe(E)RATE, but my game was almost derailed by drawing VW as the last two tiles. With the V stick Matt came within 16 points, and I was worried there for a while. The obvious question is whether I should have played off a tile (instead of the bingo) to eliminate that possibility.

Annotated Game

Nothing much to say about my Epstein game. Got great tiles is all. Against Lloyd Mills, on the other hand, I think I actually raised my game a notch (on top of good tiles).

Annotated Game

My first play was obvious, but my second was trickier. My earlier self would almost certainly have played the higher-scoring M(I)RZA and hoped I wouldn't get stuck vowelless, but I took extra time to think about it and went with FR(I)Z. Next turn, my first instinct was MADE for 23 (missing MADRE), but once again I took some time to reevaluate various factors. The possible counterplay, leaving myself with no vowels, the difficulty Lloyd would likely have in scoring, and the likely strength of ADEMRT if Lloyd was forced to open the board. Decided on D(IF), and that was the play.

Can't exactly disagree with Quackle's assessment of my next play. I kind of whiffed and gambled too much on the ADERT leave when taking the points for MATT with the DER would have been just as good. Furthermore, M(O)T would have been better than T(O)M anyway, because I held both the E and T hooks on my rack. Still, I drew into the bingo. Didn't play it perfectly, simply because I was not 100% sure CYTON takes the S. Had no reason to believe it didn't, but I was so close to taking a good lead, I couldn't risk blowing it. Still, I managed gYRATED, better than the obvious sTRAYED.

Next turn was just lucky, with the second blank, but at least I made the second best play (again having to pass on (CYTON)S). Played more poorly for the rest of the game, too defensively, but my nearly flawless play early in the game had given me enough of a lead to withstand Lloyd's PRES(S)MEN (a better bingo than mine, for sure), and I pulled it off.

By going 6-0 I had continued the pattern I'd established in recent tournaments of tanking in one tournament and then doing great in the next, or vice-versa. If the pattern held, I would probably end up below 1750 after Sunday's event. Earlier, during the lunch break, Lloyd happened to ask what I thought my true rating should be (I think we were discussing the likes of Idalski and Bihlmeyer), and I replied around 1800. To prove it, I'd have to break the pattern and avoid tanking again. Could I do it? That was the burning question as I drove away.

Opponents' Bingos

My Bingos

Missed Bingo Turns


#1 - L - Ball    
2.9 PR(I)NTED  
3.7 J(A)M J(A)G (why is EEMNS better???)
18.3 HEN HE (to keep EEGINS)
0.2 MISSY  
0 WAB  
14.8 GA(R)AG(E) GEEGA(W)
0 KUDO  
5.3 INTI TIERIN(G) (no way--I need to bingo to win)
1.7 E(N)  
#2 - W - Grob    
2.2 PIA  
44.7 HAC(E)K ICEKHAN(A),CHE(E)K (more defensive but leaves AIN instead of EIN)
0 oLEFINE(S)  
0 (T)ULIP  
0 W(A)B TW(A)T (7 fewer pts to keep ?BDU--why???)
0 JUT(E)  
1.3 DUD UNDID (reduces chances of bingo),UNT(I)DIeD (unsure, not best anyway)
3.1 HEW  
3 OX  
#3 - W - Greenspan    
0 ZAX  
0 OMIT  
0 PUNA 5K PUNA 9L (3 more pts but blocks only good line)
6.3 DAB AB
0 WIRE  
0.2 LOCI don't want to get too far behind
0.3 WI(D)TH ULV(A)
6.5 Q(I) much more defensive than LEVEE
7.1 VEE block line
30.3 (U)H block while realizing Kenji and Quackle would probably hate it
17 A(N)E  
#4 - W - Clark    
8.9 lose turn (TOADILY*)  
0 YOD TODAY overlap
3.5 ZAG 10B ZAG 6F
1.3 QU(A)TE  
0 P(E)RP  
0 FOH  
0.2 X(I)  
10.8 W(E)B can't give up only vowel
1 (P)HAT  
0 JUB(E)  
#5 - W - Robin    
0 GUM  
4 AD(Z)  
0 B(A)LD  
0 GOX  
1.1 BARK  
8.2 TEAR A(C)ETA/A(SH)/E(L)/A(A)
15.8 AA TOA(D)Y (dang, I keep doubting that spelling!!!)
0 OY  
0 (JO)W  
#6 - W - Epstein    
8 ODEA A(N)OA to leave DEIO
7.7 AI  
6.5 JEW J(E)W (9 pts fewer to leave CEIPR)
0.2 COMP(O)  
18.3 FOR FE 2M (why not block lines just in case???)
#7 - W - Mills    
0 FR(I)Z  
0 D(IF)  
9.2 T(O)M gambled too much on ADERT
0.4 gYRATED unsure of (CYTON)S
2.7 sULKIER M4 still unsure of (CYTON)S
11.8 RUED  
5.8 AIOLI  
4.2 O(N)O  
1 JEE JEES (forget it doesn't take the A hook)
0 G(I)NS  

1 - 1658 - L - 4.3 (46.9)
2 - 1683 - W - 5.0 (55.2)
3 - 1752 - W - 5.0 (69.7)
4 - 1658 - W - 5.0 (65.2)
5 - 1652 - W - 3.9 (46.2)
6 - 1752 - W - 3.7 (41.2)
7 - 1804 - W - 5.3 (68.4)

Avg: 4.6

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