The seventh Canadian National Scrabble Championship was a disaster for me. I finished with eight wins and ten losses with a spread of +426. My fingers were I and U magnets however in one memorable play I found such clunky vowels quite intoxicating. My average was 404 versus my opponents’ 380. I couldn’t even crack 500 as my highest score was 498. The dubious distinction of being the Tuff Luck “winner” is my only bragging right; I lost six games by the smallest combined point margin of 110. The one-point loss was definitely winnable yet the four-point loss only came about because of my opponent’s lack of time to find the outplays.
Here are my bingos during each round and interesting notes about some games. My bingos will be listed first with my opponents’ following the virgule:
1) elONGATE / DINGERS by Allen Pengelly
2) TENONED ALTERING FLINTeD / RESTAGE by Betty Bergeron
3) TOOTSeS CITIFIED / EUSTELE DISAGREE by Robin Pollock Daniel
In this game I had to struggle with the rack of OOSSTT? with an open TWS row, provided I found a word that began with S or had an S in second position. Triple duplication is not difficult to anagram yet these letters threw me since I figured that there must be something that either began with S, or TS-. I could only see TOOTSeS, which opened another TWS row. I used the TWS I opened up to play my X for a 48-point play after. Robin checked for other 7LW with OOSSTT? and there was only one, TOSSpOT. My final rack was CDEFIIT, DEFICIT, but with nowhere to play a 7LW I didn’t spend any time even to find it on my rack. I had decided to play FETID for 51 but wasn’t so hasty to lay them down. Shaun Goatcher, my first Scrabble mentor, taught me “always look for a better play”. I had good reason to, as a bingo lane was still open and the blank was unseen. I thought of blocking that bingo line with CDEFIIT. The only letter to build through in this bingo lane was another I. The reason I avoided that lane was that my rack already had two of them. Then I saw it: CITIFIED. It fit perfectly, and sealed the win. After I had played all my tiles yet still on my clock, Robin said aloud “I can’t believe you don’t have the blank. I left the blank in the bag.”. I reached in and pulled out the last tile: the blank. Robin had a 50% chance of picking it when she made a one-tile play previous to my CITIFIED, and she missed it.
4) none / ERRANTS SERVIcE by David Boys
5) LARGISH UNSTEEL / NATTERY# LAUDABlE DIArIES by Ron Hoekstra
6) LONGERS / RESOfTEN triple-triple for 113 by Dielle Saldanha
7) RETCHING GAUDIEST / MEDICARE ALLUSION EXTErNAL by Ross Brown
8) TEnDONS HAYRIDE / DECORAtE by Andrew Golding
9) ELUANTS GENERATE / INVOKEd RATTInG by Andy Saunders
10) MARaUDED FANCIEs / RETINAE PONDERS by Yvonne Lobo
11) ARENOUS MELDERs / INGESTED by Jeff Parsons
12) CoNFETTO / SCANTIER HEELINg by Michael Lancashire
This is my one-point loss at 338. My last move blew it: had I played ZIGS for 30 instead of ZIG for 26, I would have won. I kept the S hoping to slap it down after ZIG to play a word to the lower right TWS, but Michael bingo-ed out and got 26 points off my rack. I was plagued with a horrid QXZ rack at the very end of the game. These high-point tiles revealed themselves at the end of the game, as I was not hoarding them. I felt that Michael’s chances of bingo-ing were remote since I concluded that he had to have at least one of those letters on his rack. When the QXZ found themselves all on my rack, it was impossible to play them off in two moves (i.e., no open A for ZAX). I was just lucky that I had a place to dump the Q. Sacrificing the lowest-scoring tile, the X, I could only hope that Michael wouldn’t bingo out. And when he did, he got the value of my X plus more. He earned 26 points off my last rack to win by one. Had I played ZIGS instead of ZIG, I would have been up four points and Michael would have earned only 24. Sometimes it’s hard to give up the S for so little. This time, that four points made the difference between winning and losing.
13) AGONIzER* cRATONS / ALIENER TWEEDLING by Shan Abbasi
Shan’s TWEEDLING, for 82, was played through the L and G. It was the most spectacular play in any of my games. I challenged it (unsuccessfully) out of “Broersmaian principle”.
14) GARDyLOO WEIGELIA dAIQUIRI / BLANCHES NAPERIES NOTARIZE by Marilyn Wilkins
This was my favourite game of the tournament. Not a baby bingo in the bunch (okay maybe NAPERIES) but no 7LW bingos. The board stretched to all corners and it was a delight to play. It was a great game, and no disappointment for losing. It was one of those bingo-busting boards and how can you complain when you see such words on the board? All three of my bingos were in consecutive turns. My final bingo pick was IIIQRU? and I bemoaned my bad luck after getting down GARDyLOO and WEIGELIA in my two prior moves. Then I saw the open A… and another A… There were no available D’s, yet I had two spots to play dAIQUIRI, and I would turn an otherwise trade-worthy rack into a 70-point bingo. Marilyn played the high-point-consonant-heavy BLANCHES and the seal for her win, 104-point NOTARIZE. Sometimes you lose games and have a darn good time doing it!
15) FAgOTED CASTeRS / REGAINED by Vera Bigall
16) RIPTIDES rEBATOS / none by Jeremy Hildebrand
17) AUGITES PReDRIED MANIPLES / SeTTLOR BROWNIES OVERSANG* by Shaun Goatcher
I honestly thought that OVERSANG* was acceptable, and did not even hold him. I was happy to extend BROWNIES to BROWNIEST on the bottom TWS row. I would have lost this game by far more than four points but Shaun was so low on time he missed going out in two with his clunky CVY. With no time pressure myself, I scanned the board looking for any open A’s. When I realized Shaun could not play CAVY, I blocked his more profitable V place. In this endgame, there were fortunately for Shaun two places to drop a V. With his CY, he could have gone out in a second move by playing it onto -ME to make CYME, or made a play of CRY, which also would have made Ye. It’s hard to see what the blanks represent when your clock is ticking below ten seconds. I was lucky to lose this game by so little.
18) BEtROTHE* / ASSErTS against Chris Bonin
My phony bingo became legitimate when I hooked a -D onto the end of it. I spent far too much time writing down possible spellings of BETROTH, including the correct way and also a wacko form with an -OA- diphthong. Howcum my sense of proper spelling went out the window with this word? Chris used up all the good stuff in one single move: AESSST? for ASSErTS got him 70 points.
From Thursday night to Monday morning I had houseguests CNSC III winner Ron Hoekstra, Matthew Tunnicliffe, Jesse Matthews and Eric Tran. It was a full house of fun (with only three of this group ever staying at the same time). We spent Sunday night at the Imperial Pub across the street from the host hotel playing the Game of Things with Chris Lipe, David Wood and Juraj Pivovarov. We stayed till they closed the joint at 02.45 this morning. Only Jesse and I teetotalled yet we were laughing so hard you’d think we had drunk three pitchers of beer each.
While my friends watched the Finals at the hotel, I watched the games on-line as I had to go to work today. Congratulations to a true gentleman of the game, the author of the first Scrabble book I ever read and one of my first Scrabble heroes, CNCS VII champion Joel Wapnick!