Marsha, Marsha, Marsha!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

HOLY MAGNETIC MONKEY BISCUITS!!! That's what I thought when I woke up and saw that the time was 7:12, because I felt like I'd hardly slept at all. Couldn't really think of a reason for it. I hadn't had a lot of coffee. I wasn't anxious at all (just a minor one-day even with rating not that important at the time). It wasn't that cold. I'd found a perfectly find place to park. So why I spent so much of the night sleepless, I've no idea.

I wasn't sure, of course, of just how much sleep I had missed, but I quickly got a clue when I went over to the Starbucks in North Haven. I waited in line and first bought two of the new Starbucks cards and then a grande coffee. I then went over to the condiment bar for sugar and realized I had forgotten to ask the barista to refill my cup of water. Got back in line, had the water refilled, went out to my car, and realized I had forgotten I buy oatmeal and juice. Went back inside, got back in line, waited in line, bought the oatmeal, went back out to the car and promptly realized I had forgotten to buy the juice.

Jeez!!! One minute I had clear in my mind what I needed to buy, and just a few minutes later I was drawing a complete blank. If I didn't wake up before I started playing Scrabble, I was going to be killed.

Finally got on I-91 towards Manchester and realized I had not actually put the sugar in my coffee. Set the cup between my legs and quickly felt the hot coffee through the cup. Not really a pleasant feeling. I can't remember who told me that putting a hot cup of coffee between my legs while driving is supposed to feel like having sex, but I think that dude lied.

Reached Manchester with plenty of time to spare, over 15 minutes, and that allowed me to stop at Starbucks and check on the progress of the crazy thread I had started on Starbucks Gossip. By coincidence the new Norah Jones song I had heard the night before on The Colbert Report was playing, and I was reminded to download it. I quickly found it highly infectuous, and it felt like definite contender to be a magic song. Here's a high-quality live performance.

Left the Starbucks with what I thought was enough time to stop at one of the cafes on Main Street and get breakfast. I chose the Landmark Cafe, up the street from the Army & Navy Club. I could see the cafe was busy, but it still took way too long to get a simple order of eggs and biscuits out. A note to those who might be getting tired of reading about my breakfast, at least I'm not tweeting it like half the people who discover Twitter. Heck, I could even text my meal reports straight to your phone! Good thing I'm not self-absorbed like that. Anyway, the delay did not matter, because, unlike the last Manchester tournament I played, when my clock was started, this one was nowhere near starting on time.

Apparently the coffee, the drive, and the magic song by Norah Jones had not served to wake me up. After breakfast I went into the bathroom to brush. When I finished I turned around from the sink and unbuttoned my jeans to kiwi, and a second or two later realized I was about to mark my territory on a door, not a urinal. That's happened before, when really tired--I catch myself about to kiwi in a garbage can or a sink. Scary to think that my mind can play tricks on me like that. A minute later, when I pushed open the door to see what was behind it, I saw that it let to the bar. Wow, that could have been an awkward scene indeed.

@#$%^&* 1583 and his stupid drug-induced video about how to draw tiles. I had not see the video prior to the tournament, but clearly his advice must have been "draw quickly before your opponent notices your phony." In this case, (U)R*, at a critical moment. No way he wins that game on that board if I challenge.

I really hate the way that rule is written. I don't know how it could be improved, but it seems against the spirit of the game to allow a phony to go unchallenged just because the opponent has tiles out of the bag already. It seems like a compromise might be to specify that if the new tiles have not been mixed, a challenge is still allowed. I don't see any logical problem with that.

Pretty much outdrew 1650, with a bonus phony at the end, (U)NENGAGE*, and then it was time for a rematch if tge gane U gad bkiwb with 1794 (from Vermont). I don't know the origin of his name, maybe French, and I'm sure it has an innocuous meaning, but I still can't help but wonder if 1794 was destined at birth to walk around with his butt cheeks clinched all the time. Actually, it could be his teeth, too. Or his fists. Maybe his fists the next time he sees me. Anyway, I ask those who know 1794 better--what body part does he keep clinched? If he gets famous, it could be a Jeopardy question one day.

Anyway, we played a darn good game, which he lost 438 to 581. That 438 was 13 points higher than the high loss from Vermont! After the game found out just how close I was to losing. Had I not had the E to take the K(I)NG hook on row 1, 1794 would have had a 45-point play that set up a 50+-point X play. Scrabble is fickle like that--just one turn can change the course of the game.

With my 581, I won the high-game prize for the second time in Manchester. But the best thing about the game--I played (C)O(R)SETING, my first 9 through disconnected tiles that did not form an easy suffix, like (A)G(E) or (I)N(G).

Annotated Game

Lunch was simple, but again I commend the director (Dave Carson) for allowing us to prepare our own sandwiches. The chips were not as good as those from Wilmington, but they were okay. And the mini Kit Kat bars were a nice touch.

Fatigue finally came into play after lunch, against 1496. My clock seemed to be losing minutes unusually quickly, but I knew full well that it was my mind that was running slow. I can't blame all my fuck-ups that game on time, but the clock pressure definitely factored into that loss. That made two winnable games already I'd lost despite both blanks--a damn waste.

Excellent tiles continued into my game against 1625, and afterwards he surprised me (never one to complain, that 1625) by sharing a mild complaint, that my recent streak of outdrawing him was growingtiresome. What can I say--I've been there. Notable and amusing plays were a natural BITCHES (natural ones are always better), UN(G)ENIAl (I like that one, and it drew a challenge), and my failed attempt at APt(I)VELY* (no idea what dark recess of my ass I pulled that one from).

Six round, finally, another crack at 1873. If I could beat him, I could still win the tournament, and I was sure I could beat me. I wasn't even remotely by 1873--I was convinced he had to be on a hot streak. As far as I was concerned, I'd never seen him demonstrate that level of brilliance. In the spirit of fairness, I'll concede that I myself have never demonstrated brilliant board vision nor played a great word. Still, I can't help but feel bitter that out of seven games, I drew extremely well in six of them, but poorly against the strongest player!!! I won't say I couldn't have won, because I hardly played perfect, but just one or two power tiles from another game shifted to that one would have been helpful.

Not only did a couple of power tiles, and the loss, cost me a chance at the tournament, but they also allowed 1873 to boost his number of tournament wins to 5, while I was stuck at 2. Grrr...

Annotated Game

My game against 1485 was extremely unusual, and the ending was just crazy. When I bingoed on turn six to take an 8-point lead, there were 47 tiles left in the bag and plenty of time left on 1485's clock. 1485 then proceeded to fiddle with his rack for nearly twenty minutes!!! In my thousands of games, I had never before seen a player let his time dwindle so much so early in the game. Once 1485 made a 2-point play, and I played for 28, I was sure that I was going to push him over time and win by a huge spread. Unfortunately, I focused too much on my opponent's clock, and I ended up playing very poorly for the rest of the game. In my zeal to deny 1485 any time to think, I missed a horde of easy plays, and despite having the tiles I barely won, by just 19 points after 1485's 20-point time penalty.

The penalty would have been 10 points higher, but my rush also caused to repeatedly miss a rules violation. For several turns after his bingo, maybe as many as five or six, 1485 made his play before recording the cumulative score. When I finally stopped the clock and alerted him to this, he definitely saved 15-20 seconds. He did not seem to know the rule, and I suspect that there are plenty of other lower-rated players who have forgotten, or never knew, this rule.

Regardless, I hope I learn a lesson from that game and find a way to balance pushing my opponent's clock with making the correct plays. On the other hand, had I not pushed 1485 over time, he might have seen the 49-point Q play that would have won the game.

4-3, crappy, and a certain ratings loss. I was not that worried about rating at the moment, but I do feel I belong in the 1800s, and I don't want my slump to last so long that I start feeling like a prisoner. Also, I drew 10 of 14 blanks, 37 of 70 power tiles in all, a pretty decent draw. To go 4-3 meant I squandered the type of draw that doesn't come along that often. Worse, I squandered the magic song, something else that doesn't come along that often. Norah, if you are reading this, please don't be mad at me for squandering the magic in your song. Oh, and I heard recently went through a breakup. I'm available, in case you're interested.

I had no time to dwell on my mediocre performance, though, as I needed to rush off to Clifton Park, NY, to see Metric at a club called Northern Lights. Because of all the time I'd had to spend trying to stay ahead of the Starbucks implosion in the last year and a half, I had been neglecting my love of live music. I was glad to finally see a show again, and Metric had fast become one of my favorite music discoveries.

Loyal readers know I try to keep my blog from straying too far from Scrabble, but I have to point this out in case somebody knows the answer. After waiting nearly 90 minutes for Metric to show their faces (there was an opening act, but I didnt care for them), I found a pretty good perch in an elevated seating area off to the left. Thirty minutes or more into the show I noticed a bespectactled and somewatch meek-looking and pudgy young woman rubbing or scratching the back of her right hand. Nothing unusual, except that she kept doing it, like, for a really long time. I mean, like 5-10 minutes. Furthermore, she kept lifting her left hand up to her mouth, licking her fingers, and continuing to scratch or rub at her right hand. I had absolutely no idea what she was doing, and the only thing that came to mind was that she was on some drug. Any ideas?

Opponents' Bingos

My Bingos

Missed Bingo Turns

Analysis (Main)

#1 - L - 1583    
9.5 P(A)NTS  
0.7 -GNTVW (ST)  
14.5 (L)EX EXERG(U)aL
0 KEG  
2.5 GYRE  
0 ENTIReL(Y) wINTERL(Y) (damn shouldn't have missed that)
0 BE(e)F  
2.3 MAUV(E)  
5.2 AA  
7.8 DOE  
0 AND  
27.5 B(R)AN desperation play
#2 - W - 1650    
0 WO(T)  
8.3 -CHLMQ (??) keep CH (seemed dubious)
0 wORRITs  
5.3 OX XI (not sure why)
3.6 MAW  
0 DOJO  
6.1 AAL  
0 BOZO  
0 P(E)  
#3 - W - 1794    
7.9 PI(N)IER PEREIA,miss A(VENUE) hook
2.8 WOG  
0 OY  
0 R(A)JA  
6.5 DI(T)A DA(T)A (keep CIOT vs ACOT for some reason)
8 T(I)L  
#4 - L - 1496    
7.2 POH 7H  
4.2 WI(N)  
8.2 RAG  
6.3 OXO  
6.9 CO(R)N  
2.8 V(A)I(R)  
43.8 have to challenge (M)INEABLE  
0 (RAG)TAG  
14 JU(S)T mistrack
20 lose turn ((T)E*)  
#5 - W - 1625    
0.7 JOG JIG (shoulda kept O to play under J)
0 UN(G)ENIAl  
35.7 lose turn (APt(I)VELY*)  
0 VA(M)PY  
0.3 BE(E)TLiNG  
1.9 A(K)IN  
8.4 CLAN  
2.1 REE  
6.1 O(l)IO  
9.9 (F)IR  
0 EX  
0 Q(I)  
0 WE  
10 ORALS  
#6 - L - 1873    
3.4 YUP  
0 AERA(T)IOn  
6.8 (I)KAT  
0.5 VI(S)IT  
0.3 ZO(A)  
8.6 (T)HY HY(P)ING (might have allowed me to win?)
0.7* NEIGH  
9.1 (S)UQ  
3 LI  
1 GOO  
#7 - W - 1485    
0 WOO  
8.8 TOTAL  
6.1 (C)RIS  
8.6 (T)AU  
4.5 H(I)D  
6.1 CAB playing too fast
8.2 K(OR)E ditto
8.7 AMIN focused on clock, not my leave
6.8 REV  
0 WO focused on clock, forgot (BOX)Y/(JO)Y
9.5 (TI)NY ditto
3.9 P(U)R(E)  
0 (WIS)E  

1 - L - 5.9 (82.5)
2 - W - 3.2 (45)
3 - W - 2.3 (25.2)
4 - L - 11.7 (163.5)
5 - W - 5.0 (75.1)
6 - L - 5.2 (62.8)
7 - W - 6.4 (102.6)

Avg: 5.7

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