By Matthew E. Milliken
Feb. 13, 2016
After acquitting myself fairly well in the 2016 Duke PBMT tournament, I decided to take one last bite at the Scrabble apple. I drove back to Duke on Monday morning, Jan. 18, to participate in a five-gave “late bird” side tournament.
I opened play against KE, the older woman whom I’d lost to by 24 points on Saturday but beaten by 76 points on Sunday afternoon. Playing second, she took an early 106-55 lead on the strength of her first two plays, MEZE 35 and UNMERGE* 71. (That bingo turned out to be phony, as I learned after the game.)
In turn four, KE put down REqUEUE/MOPER, a 66-point bingo. It came off the board after I challenged both words; as I later learned, MOPER is good but REQUEUE is not. (To prevent a player from gaining a competitive advantage, when multiple words are challenged during a tournament game, the computer simply states whether or not the play as a whole is good without specifying the invalid word or words.) Despite my successful challenge, KE led, 142-108, going into the fifth turn.
Things turned with my sixth move, SHIVERy/MOORS 74. KE responded with a 30-point play, YEH, but even so, I completed the turn with a 194-182 advantage. As it turned out, KE would not score more than 29 points in any single move the rest of the game.
Two things allowed me to pad my lead. One of these was VENT, my 33-point play in the seventh turn, which utilized one of those combos that tend to be high-scoring: The V was on a double-letter-score spot and the T was on a triple-word-score space. I was up, 227-198, following the turn.