Archive for December 30th, 2016

Delaware Scrabble recap, 12/26/2016 (finale)

December 30, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Dec. 30, 2016

All of my games thus far in the Delaware event had been scheduled in advance by Dan, the tournament director. For the first seven rounds, we were playing round robin — that is, each of the eight players would face everyone else in the division once and exactly once.

The eighth and final game of the day, however, couldn’t be scheduled until the results from the first seven rounds were in. That’s because the eighth round was “king of the hill.” In this format, the top two players in the tournament standings face each other; the Nos. 3 and 4 players in the standings play each other; and so on down the line.

In this case, I was atop the standings with a 7-0 record and a plus-587 spread. The No. 2 player in the table was RB, my round-five opponent, whose only loss in seven games had been to me. She boasted an excellent spread of plus-675.

RB and I would play each other in the eighth and final round. If I won, I would be division champion with an undefeated 8-0 record. If she won, we would be tied at 7-1 apiece, but she would be champion by virtue of her superior spread.

In other words, my friends, the pressure was on me to continue to perform at a high level!

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Delaware Scrabble recap, 12/26/2016 (part 2)

December 30, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Dec. 30, 2016

I returned from lunch to face RB, the third seed in the division with a rating of 880. (I was the fifth seed, having begun the tournament with a rating of 810.) RB, going first, had a modest 77-74 lead after four turns.

Fireworks were about to erupt. She led off turn 5 with ErASERS/HOBS 69. I responded with ZONAS*/ZA/OM, a triple-double that had the 10-point Z occupying a triple-letter-score spot and the S taking a double-word-score space. All in all, this phony was worth a rather impressive 103 points.

(Zona, the membrane around a mammalian ovum, is a real word; however, the plural of zona is actually zonae. Those pesky Latinate words!)

But RB didn’t realize my error, so after five turns, I held a 177-146 lead. She (ahem) erased her deficit in turn 6 with KIF/KA/IS 34, but my GRUNT 14 was enough to put me back ahead, 203-180.

The game stayed close the rest of the way. The only big-point plays came in turn 11, when RB played FEW/EM/WO 31 and I replied with QI/IF 32. That left me with a 285-279 edge.

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Delaware Scrabble recap, 12/26/2016 (part 1)

December 30, 2016

Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Dec. 30, 2016

On Monday, Dec. 26, 2016, I did something that I’d never done before in my life: Played in a Scrabble tournament outside of the state of North Carolina.

My pal D— and I had decided to attend the last three days in a five-day holiday Scrabble event at a Delaware hotel located on an isolated piece of high ground amid the swamp that surrounds the New Castle airport and Interstate 95. Each day featured a single one-day tournament, split into two to four divisions of eight players apiece. On our first day, there were four divisions; D— played in Division C, while I was in Division D, featuring the lowest-ranked octet of players.

My opening game was against EM, a wiry older fellow and former New Yorker, like myself and a lot of other participants in the event. EM, going second, took a 111-78 lead in turn 3 when he played SEEDiNG/PLAINS 76, which included the 50-point “bingo bonus” a Scrabble player receives when she or he empties her or his rack.

But EM’s next two plays were negligible: TI 7 and an exchange of five tiles. (Trades don’t net a player any points.) Meanwhile, I had YA 21 and JAM 34 in turns 4 and 5, which actually put me ahead, 133-118. My sixth play, FEZ 41, gave me a 174-118 lead.

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