Never Leave the Ring

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Ever since signing up for Elmhurst I had been dreading the event, the stinging memories of 2008's event still fresh in my mind. I was glad that the field was stronger than the year before, and that the ratings system had been fixed, but as I neared Elmhurst I was still frought with anxiety about the power that the scrubs have to outdraw the real players.

So what happened? My greatest fear was realized in my very first game, against Tom Kowalki, and I was left crying out "STELLAAAAA" (that's my nickname for the power tiles). Perversely enough, I might have won that game if I had not made the right play on turn 9, when I took 50 points for EXAM instead of the more defensive KEX. Besides having failed to detect that Tom had a bingo, I had made another mistake--I waited too long to put on the ring, meaning its power had not kicked in yet.

Annotated Game

A couple of phenomenally stupid misses aside, I was outdrawn again, by John Fultz this time, and I would have lost the game had he not failed to block my out bingo.

By my third game, however, the ring had kicked in, and I walloped Harriette Lakernick to the tune of 195 points. Big margins in my next two games as well, against Melissa Routzhan and Lisa Slankard. Regarding the latter, not much to say. She just wasn't ready for my jelly. My tiles were too bootylicious for her, and there was no glee to be found on her racks.

But my game against Mel was interesting. Coincidentally enouhg, in my blog for last week's Manchester tournament I commented that I had not ever made a play demonstrating brilliant word knowledge. Well, this can be debated, but I think that my back-to-back combo of AR(C)HAEA and LAND/(ARCHAEA)L for a combined 105 points and extra turn might qualify. At that point in the game, I was probably going to beat Melissa Routzhan anyway, but you never knew. She was just 34 points behind, and how many times have I seen a healthy lead evaporate because my racks turned to crap. This time around my racks held, and I managed a nearly 200 point win, and a nice bit of revenge, against Melly-Rou, aka Melly-Roo (when she hops around), aka Smelly-Rou (when she doesn't shower), aka Jelly-Rou (when she binges on donuts), aka Belly-Rou (when she sidelines as an exotic dancer).

Of course, not long after writing the above words I discovered that I had missed EXAR(C)H and the N hook for ARCHAEA. Bah. So much for brilliant.

Annotated Game

Time was short for lunch, so planned to go to the Salvadoran restaurant that was closer on North Avenue, but I never saw it. Not sure why, although the fact that my eyes were mostly on my simming might have played a factor. Next thing I knew, I had reached Melrose Park and Cafe Cubana. Oh, well, the food was better, albeit waaaaay overpriced. On top of that, the owner/bartender, like so many others across the country and the world, left a sour taste in my mouth by giving me an impatient look when I asked him to take back the plastic bag and reuse it because it was bad for the environment. It was clear he just didn't care. And people wonder why I want to kill everybody.

At this point in my Scrabble career, I should know better than to fish when I can score modestly. I won't be too harsh on myself for trying UNDEFT* for a few extra points over FUD. I doubt Scott Garner knew that it wasn't good. He was probably just guessing, and it could have gone either way.

The ring continued to work, but I proceeded to fuck up the chances I was given. Despite his extra turn, Scott was not able to bingo for five more turns. Because he seemed to be fishing, I convinced myself that I had to bingo because he was about to. I could have scored 26 points with WIDENS and had a fair chance of drawing another S or a blank, but I made what I knew, even as I did it, was a bad play, D(A)W for 7. When I drew VU to my EINST, I should have applied the theory of sunk costs and abandoned my fishing, but I tried again and drew QK. At that point I had to play QIS and break up my good rack, and the game went downhill from there. I should have known better, that FISHING IS USUALLY BAD!!!

Final round of the day, Jeremy Cahnmann, now with 33% less can, and another game I should have lost. Not because the ring wasn't working--far from it. I had the tiles, but I gave up two perfectly good turns, and I allowed Jeremy to almost catch up. With better endgame tiles, he should have won, but he missed the right plays, and I escaped by one point.

Annotated Game

I could hardly believe how early it was, barely 4:30, when we finished. I don't know why we didn't play 8 rounds. Regardless, I had plenty of time for Skin. No, not what you are thinking, you dirty bird. I'm referring, of course, to the film about a true story of apartheid in South Africa. Like Precious the week before, this film deals with real social issues, racism in this case, and caused me to spend a couple of hours flirting with homicidal rage.

It's nearly 2010, and science is more than advanced enough to be able to pinpoint the primary causes of racism. The human propensity to fear the unknown is one such reason, but we cannot effectively tackle that in the short run. A second reason that should be obvious, and surely supported by scientific evidence, is that children learn from their parents, and racist parents will raise children that have a higher likelihood of being racists. I guaran-damn-tee you that somewhere in this country there is some parent teaching his child that niggers are untrustworthy and prone to thievery, that kykes are greedy and insular, that spics and beaners are out to put real Americans out of work, that the towelheads want to bomb us all. I swear to you this is happening in households all across the country, and similar scenes are being played out across the world.

I know that educated people understand and accept this as fact. So it mystifies me how these same people cannot make the logical leap to the obvious, rational solution to this problem. How hard is it to see that people who exhibit a certain degree if racist (or prejudice in general) should not be allowed to raise children. The very fact that the population at large does not seem to get this is disturbing in an of itself. Or maybe people do realize this, or at least the educated people, but they are all afraid to say it because the issue of regulating procreation is so explosive. That is perhaps the most frustrating thing, that there are people who can see the light but refuse to acknowledge it publicly. I suppose part of he problem is that most educational systems (that I'm aware of) do not teach people to think logically. If they did, people could make the connection between allowing a racist to inculcate his children and the subsequent fact that racist attacks have risen since the election of Barack Obama.

On the topic of disappointments, I continue to hope in vain that President Obama, who is well-known for embracing technology, will also embrace hip-hop and present his weekly Internet addresses in rhyme. For example:

I'm Barack Obama and I got's mad flow
My health plan is cool like an Eskimo.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Okay, check this. The sky was overcast on Sunday morning, so there was no point in trying to take photographs. I was just a few miles away from the hotel, and I should have arrived with plenty of time, but you won't believe this. Exited I-290 at Mannheim, headed north, and began my search for a grocery store. Nothing along that road, nothing along North Avenue all the way to the hotel (Route 83), so I continued westward. At Addison Rd I turned right and headed north to Lake St. My map showed many restaurants along Lake, so I expected there would have to be several grocery stores, right? Maybe not. I was getting pretty close to Route 83 again, and all I saw was a Food Harbor, apparently closed. Near 9:00 AM--say what what what? How much of this Elmhurst area was a grocery store desert, I wondered? Finally I spotted a Jewel Osco, but it turned out to be a ghetto-ized supermarket, by which I mean that it did not have a section of organic dairy food. For those of you unaware, there are vast swathes of inner city across the country, areas that I would call ghettoes, that do not have supermarkets. The entire city of Detroit might be one such area. An effect of this is that lower-income residents (aka people who shouldn't exist) lack many options for healthy eating, let alone organic or environmentally-produced foods. Jewel Osco is big enough that I would expect organic choices, and the fact that that particular location did not would indicate to me that there is not a market for it in that area (because if people were asking for it, the store would comply).

Seriously, I don't think Elmhurst is the ghetto, but the fact is that supermarket deserts do exist, and I think it is criminal on the part of the goverment to allow this. Specifically I'm referring to allow communities that do not have healthy food choices (whether from a store, self-grown, a farmers market, or some other source). Okay, fine, from a libertarian perspective, if adults want to subsist on junk food, it makes rational sense to allow them to do so. But it is not in the interest of the greater good allow children to be raised this way, and it is negligent on the part of government to allow children to be born and raised in places where healthy food is not readily available. But I can't easily attack the government, so I had to expend my rage on another target.

Anyway, by the time I finished vandalizing Jewel Osco's bathroom in rage, I had very little time left to get breakfast and coffee. But, like on Saturday, the days games did not start on time, I was able to play Jason Brooks with a full clock and a fully-charged ring. Without bingoing, I managed to keep the momentum for the entire game, even after his SEVERIT(Y), and at the last possible moment I got down MAnWISE to further boost my spread.

I then made a critical mistake. Unused to wearing a ring, I had been taking it off and putting it in my pocket while I washed my hands, and when I sat down to play Steve Hartsman, one of my least favorite outdrawers, I forgot to put the ring back on. Oh, what a huge mistake. By turn nine he had played five power tiles to my one. Despite this, I managed to keep the lead with double-double OREOD(O)NT plus good a good Z play, but my excellent bingo ended up hurting me. OREODONT was the only bingo line open for Steve's pedestrian NESTLES, and with the board tight and just 13 tiles left in the bag after his bingo, I saw no choice but to challenge. The word seems like it could be an adjective, but it takes the S, and I was sunk. To add insult to injury, my attempt to open up the board a turn later gave Steve the hook for a third easy bingo, TANNERS. That's just ridiculous.

I did not realize I wasn't wearing the ring until several turns into my game against bottom-seeded Elizabeth Berman. I started to get the idea that something was fishy when, after my 40-point phony double-double THO(R)ION*, RURALI(T)E, TAVERNA, and a 31-point X play, I was barely 30 points ahead thanks to a series of lucky-ass plays on her part. Just as I started worrying if I was once again going to suffer the curse of the scrub, I realized what was missing from the equation, and I quickly slid the ring onto my finger. It took a few turns for the ring's power to kick in, and I had to fumble with the Q in the meanwhile, but eventually I got down the 86-point double-double (A)VIaNIzE, and I cruised to a big win.

After a 20-point loss to Alan Where-Did-He-Come-From Helfgott, I could complain about not having gone first, not being able to bingo early, and Alan's two easy bingos, but all my complaints would ring hollow in light of my having challenged GEST. Completely fell flat on my face with that one and blew my chance at 1st and a ratings game. What a way to waste the power of a perfectly good magical ring. Ugh. But here's the really annoying thing. Earlier in the week Kate had posted about how she needed to brush up on her 3 to 5-letter words, and I mentally scoffed at that, feeling sure that I was strong enough on those. Apparently not.

Annotated Game

Opponents' Bingos

My Bingos

Missed Bingo Turns
ELYTRoN (miss hook)
INDENT(O)R (unsure)


#1 - L - Kowalki    
2 SLEW  
0 NOUN  
0 ADZ  
2.2 TITI  
0.5 (H)IVE  
3.2 VI(E)W block b/c suspect opp. bingo rack
0 EXAM shoulda play the more defensive KEX
0 YO(L)K  
4.5 (J)A(R)L  
2.1 EBB REBE(C) (dangerous to open board given tile pool)
34.3 DE Quackle likes bingo leave, but no lines
19 TU(R)N  
2 (PAR)R  
#2 - W - Fultz    
0.7 VARA  
5.3 (G)RAND  
10.3 DANS BOO(E)D to leave ANS!!!
4.2 (D)OOBIE  
19.5 (B)UY WHY (phenomenally stupid miss)
2.4 OW(N)  
7 HOM(ED) DOM(ED) (keep ?HTW over ?DTW)
4.2 WIT  
12.6 L(OW)ED  
9.3 -LMQUU (T?)  
2.1 JU(N) TAJ (wud have lost)
#3 - W - Lakernick    
3.9 O(G)EE  
9.9 (R)APID  
0 (O)UZO  
0 (S)HEAF  
0 (H)EMIC  
8.3 (K)ING  
6.5 YE ELYTRoN (din't see (PAW)N) hook so didn't look
10.2 T(I)  
0 OLD  
0 ReNT  
#4 - W - Routzhan    
0 TO  
0.5 LO  
0 AKI(N)  
6.1 NIF(T)Y  
1.5 VENOM D1 miss V(OE) hook at 1K
0 XI  
0 B(IS)  
5.7 J(I)VE J(I)VES empties bag!!!
0 B(R)AD  
#5 - W - Slankard    
0 JE(E)R  
1.2 NIB  
0 PA(I)K  
0 (C)OZY  
1.1 (C)OZY  
0 WAVE(D)  
0.1 DUG  
4.8 BOTS  
0 FIAT  
0 SIE(G)E  
0 YU(P)S  
#6 - L - Garner    
1.7 CARP  
0 VIAL  
56.2 lose turn (UNDEFT*) DEFUND!!!
5 FUD  
6.7 D(A)W  
0 VU(M)  
16.1 QIS 11E QIS/S(CARP)
8.9 (I)NK  
6.8 GROT  
--- EXPO  
5.1 LO(R)E  
10 (L)ILIES  
0 (G)O(R)E  
#7 - W - Cahnmann    
7.2 UNBE  
6.8 ZAS  
28.9 lose turn (CON(N)NATES*) OCTANES
9.2 AC(E)TONES TACNO(D)ES (didn't even look at new D)
2.1 PEAGE PEAG (keep EIV)
34.3 lose turn (V(E)GI(N)G*)  
0 (A)M(I)NO block
9 WAGE  
#8 - W - Brooks    
1.9 GLUTS  
2.6 NORI  
1.3 (T)AUNT  
0.7 ADAGE  
0 X(U)  
0 Q(I)  
#9 - L - Hartsman    
0 OPE  
41.7 DIN INDENT(O)R (didn't like it)
17.1 WAN(E)Y WYLE(D)
0 E(X)HALE  
0 ZA  
0 TOTE(D)  
2.2 (AN)GULAR  
33.3 challenge (OREODONT)S  
3.1 CAB  
11 VIED  
0 tOG  
#10 - W - Berman    
1.6 -BKMOVY (T)  
0 THO(R)ION*  
9.5 OXO  
1.4 BUC(K)  
0 B(I)S(O)N  
0 Q(U)A  
0 (A)VIaNIzE  
0 PLOT  
0* WYT(E)  
13.6 OGEE miss (VAN)G hook
1 OUT  
#11 - L - Helfgott    
0 JIG  
0 DUAL  
41.8 challenge  
8.8 NOO  
0.8 (R)EINTERs  
6.2 SL(I)D SK(I)D
6.2 T(OE)D K(E)P(IS)
2 P(AX)  
4 (I)VY  
3 KA  
0 N(AB)  

1 - L - 4.9 (73.8)
2 - W - 7.7 (107.6)
3 - W - 4.5 (58.2)
4 - W - 2.8 (42.1)
5 - W - 1.2 (15.3)
6 - L - 9.0
7 - W - 13.8 (179.9)
8 - W - 6.4 (83.2)
9 - L - 8.7 (113.5)
10 - W - 2.1 (27.1)
11 - L - 5.0 (79.6)

Avg: 6.0

More Confessional