By Matthew E. Milliken
Jan. 26, 2015
Going into game 13 of the Duke Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplantation Program benefit Scrabble tournament, I had my worst record of the weekend: five wins and seven losses. Unfortunately, that would continue to deteriorate.
I was facing K., a very sharp woman about my age or a little older who appears to have become a strong competitive Scrabble player in a relatively short amount of time.
The game’s key play was in the fourth turn, when K. played HEPATIc for a 71-point bingo. (I considered challenging but didn’t, which was good: That’s a valid word.) My feeble reply was ALOE, a 12-point move. Entering the fifth turn, K. held a 120-59 lead.
In the seventh turn, K. added to her lead with KI 34. Facing a rack of ADENNOQ, I decided to turn in all seven of my letters. That left the score 166-104 in K.’s favor.
The game didn’t have many other dramatic plays. My biggest move was in turn 9, when I busted out ZED for 40 points and narrowed my deficit to 201-164. I had a pair of 30-point plays, XI 34 and QUEUE 31, but it was hardly enough. I didn’t help my case by challenging K.’s WIS, a perfectly valid 25-pointer.
Final score: 346-278, a 68-point loss.
Tournament record: 5-8. Cumulative scoring margin: minus-348.