Game 7, Duke PBMT Scrabble tourney, 1/17/2015

January 23, 2015

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Jan. 23, 2015

My seventh game on day one of the Duke Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplantation Program benefit Scrabble tournament was a bloodbath. There’s no better way to put it.

My opponent was S., an older man who seems to be a terrific player.

Let’s jump right into the meat of things. I spent my early turns struggling to balance my rack (EGIIOVW, ADIOQUW, ADIOQTU). On his third turn, meanwhile, S. busted out SKEINED/VOWS 84. I challenged, but the word was good, so I forfeited my fourth turn. S. put down MI/ME/ID 23 for his fourth play, leaving him with a healthy 144-32 lead.

On turn 5, I played QUOD/QAT, a 56-point play, which made the score a somewhat respectable 144-88. Alas, that would be my biggest score of the game.

On turn 7, S. played RAIDERS/ZITS. Nothing to challenge there — that was a cool 74 points, giving S. an intimidating 260-138 advantage.

As it happened, I was in the middle of a decent four-turn stretch at the time. I followed QUOD/QAT with PION 21 and DEATH/NE 29. After S.’s second bingo, I was able to play off letters from a difficult rack (ACEGRTY) by putting down CITY 36.

But that was pretty much all that I had — the rest of the way, I would record only three scores that exceeded 10 points.

On the 10th turn, S. played ReFALLEN. I challenged; it was a valid word; I lost another turn; S. gained 80 points. He took a 365-191 lead. I was donezo. (Interestingly, even S. himself hadn’t expected either this word or SKEINED to be good.)

S.’s very next play was ENVOiCE — that’s right, he picked up both of the blanks. I challenged — I’d heard of invoice, but envoice? And anyway, my situation could hardly get worse at that point. My challenge was upheld, and the 76-point move was voided. That was S.’s last stab at a bingo.

I made a feeble stab at respectability in turns 12 through 14: AHA/ALONE/HE/AN 26, OF/OF/FA 31 and JO/ORE 28 brought the score to (cough) 391-276.

I’ll spare you the rest of the carnage, but for mentioning that S. got both blanks and all four of the Ses. Final score: 466-303, a 159-point loss.

Tournament record: 3-4, putting me in sub-.500 territory for the first time. Cumulative margin: minus-191.

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