The Jinx

Friday, October 30, 2009

Given the strength of the players above me in the Cape Cod field, I drove up on Friday night fervently hoping for positive omens. I managed to find a really good massage for a great price in Hamden. The therapist might not have been a looker by any means, but it's been my experience that women with a few extra pounds tend to like to please. The same can't be said for Chinese restaurants, but that China Chef place I found down the street had a menu that suited me to a T. I had started eating Chinese food in Twin Lakes, WI, and there I could get a half order of fried rice and a small egg drop soup for a very reasonable price. I had gotten so used to this that I was shocked when I went off to Europe, and later traveled around the continent, and found that most Chinese restaurants do not offer these smaller portions. Moreover, every time I ask, the hostess/waitress/cashier looks at me like I'm a fool for even daring to ask. Definitely not customer-oriented.

Anyway, China Chef had a decent enough meal at a good price, and combined with the good massage I had to consider it a good night for omens. I mean, if a good rub and cheap fried rice didn't mean I was going to beat Joey Mallick, I don't know what else it could have meant.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Wow, this never happens, but I actually missed my alarm and overslept. And my phone's alarm is truly obnoxious--I don't see how I could not have heard it, but that's what the phone said. Regardless of whether I was in some seriously deep sleep or the phone malfunctioned, it was 8:00 AM when I awoke, with 78 miles along my shortest route, and I had to haul ass.

Managed to bank a lot of time by doing 80+ most of the way, except through Providence, and by the time I approached Plymouth it was barely 9:15. Sherrie called, and I assured her I would arrive by 9:30, and then I went and done fucked up. I missed the exit to Colony Place, where the Starbucks was. There used to be a Starbucks closer to the Hilton, right on the same road, but it fell victim to the Great Starbucks Implosion just a month earlier, on September 18.

Had to get my coffee, juice, and oatmeal though, but I lucked out and managed to arrive tobefore Sherrie had a chance to start my clock. I'm sure it was very disappointing for her.

When I opened with INHaLER against Richard Buck, I had a little more confidence that I had read the omens correctly, that my luck was turning around. Psychologically, opening with a bingo helped, but I really needed to keep that momentum for a few turns. Didn't happen, and Richard immediately got the double-double sTAL(L)ION. Crap. I shouldn't have gotten my hopes up. Despite the 49-point X play, my racks sucked, sucked, and sucked some more, and Richard soon took the lead. I managed another bingo, PREACTE(D), but it was too late. Shades of Louisiana so early in the tournament--not a good sign.

Meanwhile, at the next table, Kate was complaining about having missed easy finds like EXURBIA and ???. Despite this, she beat Jere Mead, and I found it really irritating that she was winning despite her misses while I had not made any major mistakes like that.

Kate and Jere sat down to play again, and it was only then I realized that the format was a double-round robin with games played in pairs. So it was Richard Buck again, and another early bingo, SEMiN(A)RY. Except this time I kept the momentum and won with a pretty big spread.

Meanwhile, I noticed Jere had tried to played XYLIC* against Kate. Wow. Wouldn't have expected to see a phony like that against two players of that calibre.

Jere Mead had lost both games to Kate, and I wasn't exactly hopeful given my mediocre 1-1 split against Richard, but finding (Z)ONETIME right out of the game helped (missing the anagram). A couple of turns later I got GASALI(E)R, but Jere kept right up with 45 for COX. Jeez, two bingos to none and he was staying even! Fortunately I had a third, MONERAN, and I managed to keep the momentum until the endgame. At that point I could have suffered a devastating loss, but I was just fortunate enough to be able to overlap TAWNIeR above Jere's surprise RO(A)DSIDE.

Annotated Game

I could hardly believe it as it happened, but I had an early bingo yet again, BEHESTS, to gain the early momentum. And just when Jere managed to start a comeback, my III exchange to leave AEST (tough call given I was just 16 points ahead) yielded (O)uTRAISE. But just as quickly as I recovered, I fizzled again with a lame rack. Had I not drawn the second blank, I would have lost that second game.

Annotated Game

Meanwhile, in the bathroom I shared an intimate moment with Bihlmeyer. I questioned him about why he was in Division B, because I thought he had chosen not to play up. I did not realize he had actually slipped below 1600. I felt a little bad for having thought ill of him (but not too bad), and I let him pour out all his concerns and frustrations on my caring shoulder. Then I washed my shoulder, because Tarzan-like long hair tends to build up a lot of grease and dust. But Joe says the ladies love the hair, so more power to him.

Joey Mallick was up next, and there was no way I was going to beat him given how I had managed two wins against Jere. But it happened! I got crazy good tiles for four bingos, including a bingo-bango-bongo punctuated with a sweet find (A)RMIGERO. Joey was not a happy camper, especially when he played POO(F) only to watch me score 110 with (P)OETIZES. I guess the rub and the fried rice were good omens!

Annotated Game

I'm not a cruel man, though, and I tried to comfort the lad by assuring him that he was going to slaughter me in our rematch. And so it was. After a promising start, an early LATERAD, my game collapsed. Only had two more bingo chances, but I could not see (and did not know) Cl(O)DDIER, and I did not see the hook for my out bingos (game was lost anyway).

Still, I was at 4-2 and feeling pretty good going into two games against the field's bottom player, Joel Horn. After going 3-1 against Jere Mead and Joey Mallick, I had an abundance of confidence, and opening with bingos in both those final games, and then going on to draw like a bandit, really helped. I ended up well ahead of Kate in spread, and eager for Sunday morning and our two games.

Annotated Game

Annotated Game

Heh, gotta love the Internet. By the time I finished with Joel I didn't see any one I might go to dinner with, so I sat down to continue my simming while I checked my e-mail. So guess who I saw online but Joey B, IM'ing from the business center around the corner. He came around and we went into central Plymouth and found Bella Piazza, a pretty decent play for pasta.

Not sure if I should have done this, but when I spotted Kate enter the playing room I hit her up for a practice game. As far as I can remember, I've never played a practice game with an opponent I was about to face the following day, and I hoped that I wouldn't do so poorly that I'd give Kate extra confidence going into our real games. After a good start, the game looked like it was heading in that direction. I pulled it out with a last-minute bingo, and I hoped the game would be prophetic.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. I pity those poor fools who had to stay at the hotel, limited to their boring rooms. I, on the other hand, had my choice of parking spaces in the Wal-Mart parking lot, where I could hear the rain pattering on my windshield and feel the occasionally gusts of windows. In the morningI awoke to the soothing sounds of the seagulls, and just a few hundred feet away from groceries at low, low prices. How can you beat that?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The previous night I'd noticed Persy's Place a few doors down from the pizzeria, and their sign advertised New England's biggest breakfast menu. Well, how could I pass that up?

In the context of not being in the south, the biscuits were decent enough, and the home fries had a good flavor, but overall I wasn't impressed with the bacon and eggs.

I hung out at Starbucks as long as I could, and then it was time to do battle. It was just a coincidence that Kate and I, in second and first place, were playing the final two games of the round-robin portion, but that added to the drama. More dramatic, however, was the subtext of our two-game match, given that Kate is a woman, attractive, and Japanese. The last part, the Japanese part, makes Kate exponentially more attractive, although I was disappointed to learn she is full Japanese, not a mix. My ideal woman would be half-Japanese, half-English, half-Irish, half-Scottish, half-Spanish, half-French, half-German, half-Indian, and half-Arab (but only the secular kind). Oh, and half-White too, maybe a little bit Asian, but not, like, too Asian. Anyway, getting back to Kate's Japanese-ness, and the fact that her family, in the future, will change their name to Fujikawa and partner with Stark Enterprises to create a global technology powerhouse, turned the contest, in my mind, into both a Wu-Tang vs Shaolin style swordfight and a battle of the sexes. If I could sweep Kate, those wins would make up for all the women that I had not bedded during the year. Well, maybe.

Unfortunately, within six or seven turns it became clear that I was to remain analogically unsexed, my sword broken in two, as I witness Kate playing UNGEnIA(L) and then MASkING followed b LOG(G)ED for 33. For a brief moment, a few turns later, I thought I might stage a comeback. I had DEIORST, a hook that I had just created, and it looked like Kate was about to play TAU for a few puts. Just as suddenly my hope evaporated when Kate finally saw the glaringly obvious hook and played AUSTERE. I got my bingo, but it was so late in the game that I would have needed divine intervention, like a bingo plus a Q stick, to win. The Hilton Garden Inn might have been located just of 34th Street (the secret name for Long Pond Rd), but there was no miracle to be found for me.

Annotated Game

Our rematch was a bit amazing, in that I played triple-triple uNSTA(T)ED for a bingo lead and then lost it a few turns later. The reason--trying to play UNRUiNE(D)* instead of the the three good bingos, combined with a 51-point play to Kate's (which the good bingos would have blocked) immediately followed by LEV(I)TATE. Fortunately my exchange (still missed a bingo) yielded 86 for double-double R(E)SCrEEN (unsure, but needed it). I led by just 32 after Kate's play, and a win was no means assured, especially given my rack--GIOUUY (and another tile). An exchange that turn could have lost me the lead, but amazingly, there was an A on the board for OUGUIY(A) and 26 points, and that made a huge difference.

Annotated Game

Drew an early blank against Joey, but that wasn't my real break. No, it was instead the fact that Joey let me get away with ReLATCH*! I really thought it was good, because I had anagrammed that rack just days earlier, but somehow LATCHER* and RELATCH* had gotten stuck in my head, instead of the real word. Damn, if Joey had challenged and I had lost, I would have felt like true putz. But he let it go, and I went on to score well enough to stay ahead, despite blowing a turn trying R(I)AN*. If Scrabble were just, I would have lost that game for my two mistakes, but I got lucky again and drew the blank on my next turn. Keeping that blank away from Joey went a long way towards keeping him from bingoing, and that allowed me to hang on to a surprise win.

And here I had been so irritated going into that match that I had been paired with Joey instead of Kate or Richard. Well, that settles it--any time I play a tournament with Joey Mallick in the field, I'm getting a massage and some fried rice beforehand. Better make that pork fried rice. Not sure if chicken or beef will have the same effect on my tiles (and ability to phony Joey).

Annotated Game

Meanwhile, Richard Buck had beaten Kate, which meant that my chances of winning the tournament had gone up dramatically. Or so I thought. I should have known better. For starters, the #5 player in the field, rated a couple of hundred points below the top players, had to be on a hot streak to be in second place. Also, his name was Buck, which rhymes with LUCK. And, after six turns, I was thinking that Buck rhymes with another word, which I won't mention.

I could have handled the double-blank double-double (E)NCEIntE, just two turns into the game. Plenty of time to recover. But Richard quickly ran amuck, scoring an easy 54 off the spot I could not touch, then 33. I was forced to try MUTINEE*, and though I got it past him, I immediately drew DEHRRRR--yuck. Pushing those kind of tiles is like walking through muck. Richard, on the other hand, scored 42 + 46 points off my play, and I was thunderstruck. I wanted to chuck. The game was pretty much over. I continued to pluck nothing but guck and find myself stuck. I played the rest of my game like a lame duck. I only dropped 43 equity points, so clearly I don't suck.

Annotated Game

As the game was winding down I realized I had continued trying for a win a little too long, when I should have been trying to keep the spread down. Some players feel they try to win no matter the effect on spread, but in my case there was the very real possibility that Kate would pass me for second place, and I needed the money.

Blast it, that loss marked the second time that year that a lower-rated player had snuck into first place and stolen my opportunity to win a 2-day tournament with a strong field. Sure, I lose to lower-rated players all the time--everybody does--but the loss hurts more when it's for first place! Felt like being hit by a truck, and that was a trend I needed to buck.

Couldn't rush off in disgust, because Sherrie tends to give a nasty look if I ask to take my prize and leave. I stuck around and clapped at the right moments, more or less. I'm told that I clap really loud, loud enough to startle Sherrie, which was kind of amusing. I guess it was worth sticking around for that, and for my hundred fifty smackers.

What to do with my prize? What to do, what to do? Well, the most obvious thing was to head straight to Rhode Island, where sex was about to be outlawed! Funny thing was, I had only just found out that prostitution is/was legal in Rhode Island about a week earlier, just seven days before the stupid retrograde legislature went and passed a stupid bill to ban it. I figured the stupid governor would sign the stupid bill on Monday, which meant there were less than 24 hours left before sex was outlawed!!!

Unfortunately, that second place prize wouldn't really go very far. Instead of this, I'd have to go for something like this. It just didn't seem that appealing, and doubly so when you threw in the "scrub-luckbag anti-Viagra factor" that sapped me of my manly desires. Really, what's the point of spending good money on sex if you're just going to go through the motions. That's what marriage is for.

Granted the thought of consequence-free sex and avoiding arrest in Providence was appealing, but I could also spend my money avoiding arrest in a different way, by replacing my indecent jeans.

I could also buy some shoes. I might have been as many as ten years since I bought my last pair of Doctor Marten's, and earlier in the year the sole had come loose off one. I had a tube of high-strength glue in the car (don't you), and repaired the shoe, but globs of glue that had dripped out were visible. When I got back to Houston after my road trip it occurred to me to cover the glue up with spray paint. It worked, and I was so proud of myself for my crafty skills. But then I went and placed the shoe on top of my car so I wouldn't forget it, and I promptly forgot it. Somewhere in my SW Houston neighborhood there is somebody walking around with one really odd-looking shoe.

I could also replendish my stock of Tradewinds tea. I was down to just two cases (of 12 20-oz bottles), and when I dip below two cases I start to get anxious. Tradewinds tea is the only thing that makes my life worth living, and I take comfort in the fact that if the apocalypse occurs, I will have at supply to last me a while.

One treat that I'd been planning regardless was a return trip to Haven Bros., a diner run out of a genuine dining truck operating in downtown Providence. I'd heard about the place on NPR, and when I had visited a few years earlier I had found the hot dog and fries excellent. With my prize money, I felt no compunction about adding a hot dog to my order.

Alas, either my initial evaluation was mistaken, or quality had declined, because there is no way that meal was worth $11 and getting lost wandering around downtown Providence.

No, the real treat of the night turned out to be free. My meal, though lackluster, was pretty large, and by the time I got down to the rest area in Connecticut I was sleepy even though it was just a little past 7:00 (8:00 before the time change). My supervisor was not expected in 'til lunch, so I figured, what the heck. I stopped at the rest area and had me nearly eleven hours of my favorite activity, sleep. It was beautiful.

Opponents' Bingos

My Bingos

Missed Bingo Turns


#1 - L - Buck    
6.6 CA(R)BIDE  
0 (a)X  
6.9 QI  
0 (A)WN  
0 GRUM  
0 FRU(G)  
0.7 WORK  
4.4 BOD  
0* (V)EE  
0 (WORK)S  
#2 - W - Buck    
1.4 LAW  
6.4 HIN  
6.2 (R)OAR  
3.4 OTTO  
1.2 DUIT  
0 I(D)EA  
5.9 ROU(T)  
4.9 E(C)HT E(C)HE
4.6 ANE don't want to give up triple column for his bingo
6.7 (R)EEF  
8.4 K(E)P  
28 (E)S played too fast to push over time
#3 - W - Mead    
8.7 (Z)ONETIME  
2.9 (M)OOR  
1.6 DEPOT  
0 GIRT  
8 TWIN  
2.8 JAVA  
7.4 V(A)U  
2.2 FOU  
#4 - W - Mead    
39.3 GOD STODGES (unsure)
1.4 BEHESTS J2  
2.4 WAN(E)D  
4.1 FA  
0 JOE  
0 (D)YE  
0 CU(K)E  
6.3 MU  
1.3 -III (AEST)  
0 (O)uTRAISE  
10.6 BRR(R)  
0 NAY  
0* VAN  
0 (T)oRRID  
#5 - W - Mallick    
0 TW(I)G  
0 J(i)NNS  
0 (C)RUX  
3.7 AA  
0 AIL  
#6 - L - Mallick    
0 -GOOU (AEL)  
0 AE  
5.9 LUPI  
8.6 (B)OONIE*  
8.2 AXE  
32.1 challenge E(VANISH)  
0 JOT(A)  
0 TOW  
30.3 lose turn (E)LICItER*)  
0 LI  
0 KA(T)  
23.1 (O)DD Cl(O)DDIER
0 (JOWL)Y  
71 HA ARCHIvE,ARCHInE (didn't see line)
1 CRImE  
#7 - W - Horn    
9.7 AXU  
22 -GNQW (AR?)  
0 (O)uTSWEAR  
0 Q(U)AG  
0 YIP  
7.7 (DO)NE  
0 VIEW  
0 (VIEW)ER  
0 M(E)  
#8 - W - Horn    
0 MHO  
29 DEJECta JA(UN)CED (double-double keeps blank)
5.4 REDOX see the risky REDOXeS but not the safe one
6.5 Q(AT) SQuAW
9.2 GRIEF wrong place
0 WI(G)  
0 VAC  
2.2 D(I)BS block
1.6 ASP  
0 DIN  
#9 - L - Fukawa-Connelly    
1.4 ZED 8G why would 8F or 8H be better???
7.6 NIX(E) (M)INX
0 C(H)EEK  
0 BLO(C)  
11.3 NU  
0.4 J(E)TE  
3.4 VOE  
5.3 (G)AY YIDS/(NA)Y/(MID)I/(AXE)D/(ZED)S for 51 pts!
2.9 QI  
21.6 (A)LT  
0 (A)W  
#10 - W - Fukawa-Connelly    
7.1 (K)EFIR  
0 OE  
0 uNSTA(T)ED  
0 GOAD  
48 lose turn (UNRUiNE(D)*) UNpRUNE(D),UNbURNE(D),UNtURNE(D)
19.6 -NUU (ENR) UN(P)RUNEd
0 QIS  
5.4 JIB(E)R  
0 FIX  
2 MIRR(O)R  
0 O(P)  
#11 - W - Mallick    
4.2 YEW HEW (leave LRY vs HLR--weird)
0 ReLATCH*  
0.2 OX  
5.6 (I)MP miss (AURICLE)D hook
1.7 (F)UG(U) miss (AURICLE)D hook
0 AVOID finally got (AURICLE)D
0 ANIS  
26.5 lose turn (R(I)AN*)  
5.7 NOG  
2.5 (V)AU  
0 R(I)TZ  
13.4* ADJ(O)IN  
26 a(J)EE not sure if Joey can bingo thru A or D
0 R(A)I  
#12 - L - Buck    
0.8 FEASE  
0 ALA  
3.9 WAIV(E) WIV(E)
6.9 H(I)RER  
2.4 DOOR  
5 OFT  
3.9 INTI  
12.3 JOE gave up E too quickly
3* (THE)RIAN frustrated

1 - L - 7.0 (90.6)
2 - W - 7.1 (106.1)
3 - W - 3.4 (37.1)
4 - W - 4.6 (69.1)
5 - W - 2.4 (26.7)
6 - L - 10.6 (180.2)
7 - W - 5.4 (76)
8 - W - 6.2 (80.4)
9 - L - 4.5 (62.8)
10 - W - 7.0 (91.4)
11 - W - 5.9 (88.7)
12 - W - 3.6 (43.2)

Avg: 5.6

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