Soap thief! A dog story

January 11, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Jan. 11, 2017

The other day, over the phone, dearest Parental Unit told me this story about Lucky the dog.

On a recent Wednesday morning (that is, last Wednesday morning), my parent was scheduled to get a blood test but was considering skipping it because P.U. had been feeling poorly for several days.

Still, in an effort to make the appointment, my parent soldiered onward and got showered. Alas, P.U. emerged from the shower to find that Lucky had gotten herself into some trouble.

My parent had evidently left the door to the walk-in closet slightly ajar, enabling Lucky to get her ever-hungering jaws on a brand-new bar of soap.

P.U. noticed the empty box in the bedroom and immediately (and understandably) assumed the worst — that the Labrador retriever had consumed an entire bar of soap.

Read the rest of this entry »


Delaware Scrabble recap, 12/28/2016 (finale)

January 5, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Jan. 5, 2017

Going into the final round of the Delaware tournament, I had some bad news and some good news.

The bad news was three-fold. One, I was not guaranteed to be the division victory; two, in the final round I’d be facing a skilled player; and three, that player, RB, was someone who had beaten me out for the division title on Monday afternoon.

The good news was two-fold: One, I’d beaten RB twice in three matches; and two, I had a big spread — plus-611 against her plus-389 — so unless she beat me by a massive score, I would still wind up with the championship.

Fittingly, the score was fairly even early on; playing second, I held a 50-46 edge after five moves.

Read the rest of this entry »


Delaware Scrabble recap, 12/28/2016 (part 4)

January 5, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Jan. 5, 2017

Although it felt as if hours had passed since I’d begun my game against Lady Persistence, I still had two more contests left to play. I convened my seventh-round match against KB, whom I’d beaten by 200 points the afternoon before, as hastily as I could.

Although I was 6-0 and atop the standings, I felt like I was behind badly, largely because everyone else already seemed to be halfway through their seventh-round games. (Well, everyone else except for Lady Persistence and her opponent, of course.) Playing second, I took a first-turn lead with ORIGIN/LO/AR/MI 20. That would prove to be my highest score through the first 13 plays of the game.

One of the issues was that I was getting horrid tiles. In turn 3, with a rack of CEMSTUW, I swapped out everything but the S. KB traded three tiles in turn 4, but my rack was still horrid: AHIIOSU.

“Well,” I said, “I had so much fun the last time, I’m going to do it again. Trade six.” The resulting rack, ELNRSST, was still unbalanced, but at least it gave me something to work with.

Read the rest of this entry »


Delaware Scrabble recap, 12/28/2016 (part 3)

January 4, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Jan. 4, 2017

In game 5 on Wednesday, I faced off against RB, who had bested me in Monday afternoon’s king-of-the-hill round to win the tournament.

Beginning with AGGLRRS, I made a modest play, GAR 8, which RB — to my surprise — challenged. (A gar is a fishagar, incidentally, is a product of certain seaweeds.) My second play was KAY 10, but I trailed 19-18 after two turns when RB put down LIRE/KI/YE 19.

I took a substantial lead in turn 5 by playing BLOWSY/GAUNS* 52, going up 105-70 after RB’s AG/AL/GO 16. My draw was lousy — AAONU, giving my AMOORV? — but I was able to play it off in turn 6 with VROOM/MAL* 22. (Vroom, which I later learned is also valid as varoom, is a motor noise; incidentally, both take an -S.)

RB had a lousy rack and traded in four letters with her sixth move, leaving me up, 127-70. I extended the lead in turn 8 when I used a vowel on the board to turn AHMNPU? into PAnHUMAN 80. RB’s response was FID/FA/ID 25, which left me holding a big advantage.

Read the rest of this entry »


Delaware Scrabble recap, 12/28/2016 (part 2)

January 3, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Jan. 3, 2017

In game 3 on Wednesday, I faced SF, a player whom I’d never met before. She went first and ended up leading, 122-107, largely thanks to her seventh move, LEZ/LID/ED 35.

I struggled with unbalanced racks early in the game — DFHIRSU, BINNSUY and AEINOSU, to give a few examples. In turn 10, my hole got deeper as SF led off with QUASI/SPA/ION 39, which left me trailing, 200-148. Facing a rack of ABEEOSU, I tossed back everything but the S and drew AELY??.

In turn 11, I scored 30 points with YEZ and drew RS, leaving me with ALRSS??. SF responded with WET/YE/ET 26, putting her up 238-178.

I needed points, and I needed points fast. But where, and how?

Read the rest of this entry »


Delaware Scrabble recap, 12/28/2016 (part 1)

January 2, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Jan. 2, 2017

I slept solidly my third night at the hotel, so I was feeling much better at the start of Wednesday’s competition than I had the day before. My goal for the day was to improve on Tuesday’s third-place 5-3 finish, preferably by at least matching the 7-1 second-place showing I’d had on Monday.

My opening-round game was against EM, my first-round opponent from Monday. Going first, EM jumped out to a 91-16 lead midway through turn 2 by playing OUTGOeS/BOS 65. I reduced the deficit to 91-67 by playing EX/eX/OE, which was worth 51 points because my eight-point X occupied a triple-letter-score spot.

But EM finished the third turn up 112-67. While he played LOWE 21, I swapped out all seven letters on my horrid rack — BNPRRRW.

This turned out to be a good move for me, as I drew AEGMRU? Using the T from OUTGOeS, I played ARGUMEnT for 70 points, putting me up 137-132 after four turns.

Read the rest of this entry »


Delaware Scrabble recap, 12/27/2016 (part 2)

January 1, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Jan. 1, 2017

I was a little disappointed that my 3-1 record after four games on Tuesday wasn’t as good as the 4-0 mark I’d had the day before. But more woes were in my future.

In round five, I faced LT, who was seeded second in the division with a 1004 rating. Playing second, she leaped out to a 90-42 lead when she put down DoILIEs/MICE, a 73-point bingo. She added distance from me in turns 6 and 7 with FROST/POURS 31 and JEE/THINE 34.

Read the rest of this entry »


Delaware Scrabble recap, 12/27/2016 (part 1)

January 1, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Jan. 1, 2017

After our first day at the Delaware Scrabble tournament, D— and I had some more-or-less family-friendly adventures that I may write about in a future post. It was fun, but regrettably, I had a bear of a time falling asleep afterward.

I tried going to bed a little before 2 a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 27, but abandoned the effort after only 10 or 20 minutes and headed down to the hotel lobby for more than an hour to finish writing my post about La La Land. But when I returned to the room, despite being tired, I still had trouble entering dreamland. Oblivion finally overtook me after 4 a.m., but I woke up around 7 or 7:30.

I went back down to the lobby for a bleary-eyed early breakfast, grabbed a bit more shut-eye in the room, and then hurried to shower and dress in time for the start of Tuesday’s Scrabbling at 10 a.m.

In other words, my nerves were a little jangled when I sat down to play JC in game 1 of Tuesday’s stand-alone event. Still, I was determined to make a good showing for myself, especially after finishing 7-1 and in second place on Monday.

Going first, I took a modest lead in turn 3 by playing OOZING/OW 37; after JC’s QI 11 completed the turn, I held a 68-47 edge. But my foe went back ahead on the strength of a pair of 34-point plays: SIX/HALTS in turn 4 and SANDER/SO in turn 5.

Read the rest of this entry »


Stanford tops UNC, 25-23, in Sun Bowl nail-biter

December 31, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Dec. 31, 2016

Stanford football closed out its 2016 season with a down-to-the-wire 25-23 victory over the University of North Carolina in the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas.

Fittingly, the game played out like a revue of some of Stanford’s 2016 highlights and lowlights. Among the latter, the opening-series three-and-out struck a familiar chord, and the team’s inability to score a touchdown in five red-zone trips called to mind the Cardinal’s offensive futility of the for much of September and October.

Among the former were a few dynamic, if isolated, moments from the passing game as well as the elusive quickness that backup running back Bryce Love had flashed a few times throughout the season and the surprising toughness that he demonstrated when he got the start for an injured Christian McCaffrey in Stanford’s 17-10 win at Notre Dame.

In the end, the Stanford squad won the exact same way it had in the opening weeks of the season: Thanks to the contributions of a salty defense that stepped up when the offense faltered.

Speaking of McCaffrey, he was absent from this game, too, having declared his intention to enter the NFL draft after the Rice game and subsequently opted out of playing in the Sun Bowl. He had to feel good about that decision after not one but two Cardinal players sustained injuries that at least one former athlete blamed on the stadium’s artificial turf.

Read the rest of this entry »


Delaware Scrabble recap, 12/26/2016 (finale)

December 30, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Dec. 30, 2016

All of my games thus far in the Delaware event had been scheduled in advance by Dan, the tournament director. For the first seven rounds, we were playing round robin — that is, each of the eight players would face everyone else in the division once and exactly once.

The eighth and final game of the day, however, couldn’t be scheduled until the results from the first seven rounds were in. That’s because the eighth round was “king of the hill.” In this format, the top two players in the tournament standings face each other; the Nos. 3 and 4 players in the standings play each other; and so on down the line.

In this case, I was atop the standings with a 7-0 record and a plus-587 spread. The No. 2 player in the table was RB, my round-five opponent, whose only loss in seven games had been to me. She boasted an excellent spread of plus-675.

RB and I would play each other in the eighth and final round. If I won, I would be division champion with an undefeated 8-0 record. If she won, we would be tied at 7-1 apiece, but she would be champion by virtue of her superior spread.

In other words, my friends, the pressure was on me to continue to perform at a high level!

Read the rest of this entry »


%d bloggers like this: