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Dream diary: The Scrabble challenge and the TV producer

April 29, 2020

By Matthew E. MillikenMEMwrites.wordpress.comApril 29, 2020 From the dream I had this morning before waking up: I am playing a Scrabble tournament game against a smart young player. He (?) plays FORCE for a significant number of points. It looks good at first glance. But… Rather belatedly, I notice that FORCE isn’t a legal play. […]

Aug. 25, 2018, mall Scrabble recap, part 3

September 2, 2018

By Matthew E. Milliken MEMwrites.wordpress.com Sept. 2, 2018 I was riding a three-game winning streak going into the seventh round of Saturday’s tournament. The task ahead of me was a rematch against D—, who had narrowly beaten me in the final game of the early session. Playing first, D— got off to a terrific start with […]

Aug. 25, 2018, mall Scrabble recap, part 2

August 31, 2018

By Matthew E. Milliken MEMwrites.wordpress.com Aug. 31, 2018 The three games of the tournament’s early session had been scheduled in advance. Upon resuming play around 1:30 in the afternoon, we commenced playing in “king of the hill” battle — the top two players faced one another; the third- and fourth-ranked players played one another; and […]

Aug. 25, 2018, mall Scrabble recap, part 1

August 30, 2018

By Matthew E. Milliken MEMwrites.wordpress.com Aug. 30, 2018 The opening game of the Aug. 25 Scrabble tournament pitted me against S—, the older North Carolina player who had handed me a 100-point defeat around the start of the summer. I had a modest lead of 64-30 midway through turn 3 when, playing second, S— put […]

June 2018 Scrabble tournament: Part 4 of 4

July 3, 2018

By Matthew E. Milliken MEMwrites.wordpress.com July 3, 2018 I kicked off the fourth and final session of my June Scrabble tournament with a game 13 rematch against M.K., whom I’d beaten in my third game Saturday morning. Since then, he’d taken off on a tear: His record entering our rematch was 10-2, leaving him well positioned […]

June 2018 Scrabble tournament: Part 3 of 4

June 30, 2018

By Matthew E. Milliken MEMwrites.wordpress.com June 30, 2018 I opened the second day of the Scrabble tournament with the final three legs of our 11-game round-robin, all against North Carolina players whom I’d faced before. First up, in game 9, was N—, whom I’d narrowly defeated in the spring. Playing second, she built up a modest […]

June 2018 Scrabble tournament: Part 2 of 4

June 29, 2018

By Matthew E. Milliken MEMwrites.wordpress.com June 29, 2018 The big rout I’d experienced in game 4 left me feeling tense as I wrapped up my lunch break and sat down to play the fifth game of the tournament. My foe this time out was CC, who’d beaten me in January 2017 in part because I played DESPAIR […]

June 2018 Scrabble tournament: Part 1 of 4

June 28, 2018

By Matthew E. Milliken MEMwrites.wordpress.com June 28, 2018 About a month after this year’s pokerpalooza concluded, I participated in a week-long Scrabble tournament. I was seeded third in the 12-person C division, which contained the lowest-ranked group of competitors after divisions A and B. The event opened with an 11-game round robin, meaning everyone in […]

April 15, 2018, mall Scrabble recap, part 3

April 24, 2018

By Matthew E. Milliken MEMwrites.wordpress.com April 24, 2018 The tournament’s seventh round pitted me against N.C., the leader in B division. The game got off to a relatively tame start, with the highest-scoring play in the first four turns being my XI/XU/IT 31. I head a modest 85-73 lead in turn 5 when, playing first, I swapped out […]

April 15, 2018, mall Scrabble recap, part 2

April 23, 2018

By Matthew E. Milliken MEMwrites.wordpress.com April 23, 2018 During the lunch break, I walked home, refilled my water bottle and noodled with my phone until it was nearly time to return to the tournament. I picked up and scarfed down some pizza before sitting down to start the afternoon session, which would consist of five […]

April 15, 2018, mall Scrabble recap, part 1

April 22, 2018

By Matthew E. Milliken MEMwrites.wordpress.com April 22, 2018 I returned to competitive Scrabble play at Northgate Mall on a mid-April Sunday. My first game was against my most frequent opponent, J—, whom I’d faced 17 times in official competition. We exchanged some hefty early blows: J—, playing second, put down HEXAD/EH/DE for 40 points with his […]

Late-bird event, games 4–5, Duke Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplantation Program benefit Scrabble tournament, Jan. 15, 2018

February 4, 2018

By Matthew E. Milliken MEMwrites.wordpress.com Feb. 4, 2018 My third-round victory in the late-bird tournament left multiple players with two wins and one loss. Due to the spread tie-breaker, K— remained atop the table at plus-263; I was second at plus-22; the tournament organizer, my friend D—, was third at minus-18; and C— was fourth […]

Late-bird event, games 1–3, Duke Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplantation Program benefit Scrabble tournament, Jan. 15, 2018

February 3, 2018

By Matthew E. Milliken MEMwrites.wordpress.com Feb. 3, 2018 After finishing third in the two-day main event, I played in the five-game “late bird” event that closed out the Duke Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplantation Program benefit Scrabble tournament. My first opponent was C—, a young man whom I’d defeated in both of our previous meetings. Entering turn […]

Duke Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplantation Program benefit Scrabble tournament: Session 4, Jan. 14, 2018

January 22, 2018

By Matthew E. Milliken MEMwrites.wordpress.com Jan. 22, 2018 I started the second and final afternoon session of the Duke PBMT benefit Scrabble tournament with a chance to hand a loss to C—, the division’s top seed and leader. C— and I swapped leads through the first five turns of the 13th game, with the biggest play […]

Duke Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplantation Program benefit Scrabble tournament: Session 3, Jan. 14, 2018

January 21, 2018

By Maajthew E. Milliken MEMwrites.wordpress.com Jan. 21, 2018 I finished Saturday, the first day of the Duke PBMT benefit Scrabble tournament main event, with a six-game winning streak. I even got a good night’s sleep that evening! So I felt fairly optimistic as I sat down to open the event’s second and final day of play with a […]

Duke Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplantation Program benefit Scrabble tournament: Session 2, Jan. 13, 2018

January 20, 2018

By Matthew E. Milliken MEMwrites.wordpress.com Jan. 20, 2018 I ran a bunch of errands over the lunch break before returning for the second session of the annual Duke PBMT benefit Scrabble tournament. I felt like I’d had a respectable morning overall. Yes, my two losses had been annoying, but to be fair to myself, I’d […]

Duke Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplantation Program benefit Scrabble tournament: Session 1, Jan. 13, 2018

January 19, 2018

By Matthew E. Milliken MEMwrites.wordpress.com Jan. 17, 2018 I arranged the evening of Friday, Jan. 12, so as to get home and go to bed at a decent hour — and the plan worked out. Unfortunately, my brain and body didn’t cooperate, and it wasn’t until sometime around 5 a.m. that I finally fell asleep. […]

Aug. 26, 2017, mall Scrabble recap, part 3

September 5, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken MEMwrites.wordpress.com Sept. 5, 2017 My foe in game 7 was L.B., a veteran player I’d never encountered before. She was seeded seventh and had begun the day with a 1029 rating.  To that point, her only loss on the day was a 538-351 defeat to A.H., the top seed, who’d beaten me […]

Aug. 26, 2017, mall Scrabble recap, part 2

September 4, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken MEMwrites.wordpress.com Sept. 4, 2017 Despite getting off to a 3-0 start with a win against the tournament’s highly rated third seed, I knew that I’d have a stiff test in the fourth game, which would close out our early session. I was to play F.T., the fourth seed in the field, […]

Aug. 26, 2017, mall Scrabble recap, part 1

September 3, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken MEMwrites.wordpress.com Sept. 3, 2017 I plunged back into competitive Scrabble play last weekend with another tournament at Northgate Mall in Durham. I knew it would be an exciting day: Stanford football would kick off its 2017 campaign in Sydney, Australia, that night, and I was planning to drive up to Northern Virginia […]

June 3, 2017, mall Scrabble recap, part 3

June 9, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken MEMwrites.wordpress.com June 9, 2017 The seventh round of Saturday’s Scrabble tournament was a repeat match between me and O—. It turned out to be incredibly dramatic. O—, playing first, had a bingo with her second move, MUTATING 65, which put her up, 89-11. I had a sound answer, however, in KEX/EM/XU, a […]

June 3, 2017, mall Scrabble recap, part 2

June 8, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken MEMwrites.wordpress.com June 8, 2017 The fourth game — and the final one of the tournament’s morning session — pitted me against N—, a North Carolinian whom I’d beaten a few months ago in our only previous meeting. I began with a rack of CEGHLTT and started the game by playing TETCH*, a 28-point […]

June 3, 2017, mall Scrabble recap, part 1

June 7, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken MEMwrites.wordpress.com June 9, 2017 I returned to Scrabble tournament play at Durham’s Northgate Mall last Saturday. Despite having had another night of abridged sleep, I was feeling pretty excited about the day ahead of me. The event started with my facing S—, an older North Carolina player whom I’d beaten in […]

March 25, 2017, mall Scrabble recap, part 3

April 8, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken MEMwrites.wordpress.com April 8, 2017 Two straight defeats had dropped my record to an unremarkable 3-3, and my seventh game would hardly be a walk in the park. My opponent was to be K.L., the event’s second-highest-seeded player. Playing first, K.L. began the game with IODINE 16. My response, PEONY, garnered 15 points […]

March 25, 2017, mall Scrabble recap, part 2

April 7, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken MEMwrites.wordpress.com April 7, 2017 Coming out of the lunch break, I was pitted against my friend D—, whom I’d beaten 395-344 in Delaware in December. (Our only other previous official encounter had been a 355-310 decision in his favor in September 2012.) Playing second, he took a 51-42 lead in turn […]