Archive for April 15th, 2016

Mall Scrabble: Interlude

April 15, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
April 15, 2016

After the third Scrabble game, it was time for our first and only break of the tournament. I rooted through my knapsack, pulled out two pieces of fruit and headed for the mall exit. I wanted to have a productive break — I had an errand to run.

I walked out through the Sears, crossed the part of the parking lot that leads to a strip-mall annex on mall property and began treading the sidewalk. I was getting hungry, but I decided not to have a snack until after I’d done my shopping. I didn’t have any napkins on me, and I didn’t want to go into a store with messy fingers or a messy face. However, I hadn’t brought a bag with me, and I found it awkward to juggle the fruit (an apple and a pear, I think), so before I hit the shop, I stopped off at my house and put down the fruit in order to free my hands.

I started walking away from my house and then began to double back because the sky was ominous. The morning’s downpour had yielded to sunny skies, but now they seemed to be threatening again. After some hemming and hawing, I decided to try and race the rain.

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Mall Scrabble: Part 1

April 15, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
April 15, 2016

Because I’d gotten less than three hours of sleep the night before, I was nervous. The circumstances gave me a built-in excuse for performing poorly in the Scrabble tournament I was participating in on Saturday, April 2.

It didn’t help that the competition was taking place in a fairly unusual venue: The middle of Durham’s Northgate Mall, at a broad junction of corridors. People were walking past and gawking. There was no barrier between us and the rest of the mall, so nothing shielded us from the surrounding conversations or noises, including those of blenders at the concession stands and what sounded like occasional construction sounds.

I had every reason to perform poorly. But I didn’t want to have to fall back on excuses, so I resolved to do my best.

My first game was against L—, a new player and apparent middle-school student. (I later checked and found that this was only his second tournament.) I quickly fell into a hole when L— played EX/EX, placing the high-value consonant on a triple-letter-score space going both ways. That gave him 52 points for the turn and a 57-24 lead after just two moves.

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