Game 8, Duke PBMT Scrabble tourney, 1/17/2015

January 24, 2015

By Matthew E. Milliken
Jan. 24, 2015

In my eighth and final game of day one of the Duke Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplantation Program benefit Scrabble tournament, I faced D., a very familiar foe. She lives locally (Chapel Hill, I believe) and is a regular participant in the Sunday-afternoon casual Scrabble contests in which I’ve frequently played over the past three years.

I was feeling some pressure in this game. My loss to S. in game 7 had given me a 3-4 record on the day, the first time I’d been below .500. I really wanted to finish on a positive note going into the second and final day of the Duke PBMT main event.

But D. got an early lead on me, and she extended it methodically in turns 4 through 8. Each of those plays was worth at least 21 and as much as 26 points. D. held a 170-93 lead by the end of this stretch of the game.

For my eighth move, I traded a single tile. This worked out great: After exchanging a V for a U, I was able to play SQUArES, a 94-point bingo, in the ninth turn. That gave me a narrow 187-180 advantage.

D. re-took the lead immediately after with a parallel play to start the 10th turn: SERIES/AS/rE/SI 32. I could muster much in response, at least not with a rack of FILNNNT, so I played INNS for a paltry 8. S. led, 212-195, going into the 11th turn.

Then D. tried to play a phony, ZAW* 26. I challenged, and the move was voided.

I kept on trying to balance my rack with modest plays. On turn 14, D. played ZAG/AG/GO 32, putting her up by more than 50 points, 277-225.

Slowly but surely, however, I was getting my rack in order. I’d picked up the second blank after playing INNS in turn 10, and five turns later, I had a collection of tiles that formed a bingo. My HAUNTEd was worth a cool 89 points.

D. challenged — because I didn’t record the cross-words, I’m honestly not sure why she did so — and my play was upheld. Because I’d drawn CDDRRTU, I used the free play to trade three letters. I didn’t take note of what I traded in, but my rack got worse, because I drew CLM and wound up with the admirably bad CCDLMRU.

(Presumably, I kept my C because I had some kind of use for it, although I don’t recall what it was.)

After my trade, I led 314-289. D. was able to narrow the margin with LOX 18 and DOT/DO/OX 18, although she never retook the lead.

My last big play was CURD/COX/UT 30 in turn 18. I was up 364-338 at that point. But I could only score 7 points the rest of the way; D. recorded 22.

It wasn’t quite enough for her, however. I escaped with an 11-point win, 371-360.

Tournament record: 4-4 — back to .500. Cumulative margin: minus-180.


4 Responses to “Game 8, Duke PBMT Scrabble tourney, 1/17/2015”

  1. Rainman Says:

    I appreciate the insight into tournament play. How do you keep record of the things that you do?

    • memwrite Says:

      Thanks! I’ll post something about keeping score over the next few days. Try searching the web for “Scrabble score sheet” if you’d like to find a template to download.

  2. Rainman Says:

    I just read your game six explanation. That sounds quite difficult!

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