Archive for the 'Diary' Category

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 to win the division. I knew that I’d have to play well to take him down.

Playing second, I had a narrow lead when M.K. opened the fourth turn with INSANEr/LUNES. His 69-point bingo put me in a 133-68 hole.

Two turns later, I reclaimed the lead thanks to a 70-point bingo of my own, COWIEST/EWE. Unfortunately, my foe had a comeback loaded and ready to fire: ERASION/ET 74, which left me down, 217-156.

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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 75-51 lead over the first four turns.

However, she exchanged all seven of her tiles in turn 5, allowing me to form ASSIzED*/TIPI, a 74-point bingo. (Assize, which takes an -S, is not a verb; it’s a noun meaning a court session, an inquest, law or legal edict or judgment.)

N— came right back with OUtDRAW/DO, a 75-point bingo that made the score 150-142 in her favor.

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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 instead of DIAPERS.

Playing first, I took the lead in turn 3 by converting AGHINY? into HArRYING, a 67-point bingo formed with the aid of an R on the board. (On its own, AGHINY? makes HAYINGS and NYLGHAI, the latter of which is an alternative spelling for nilgai, a large Indian antelope. In retrospect, HAYINGs/ZORIs probably would have been a slightly better play.)

I followed up with a trio of 30-plus-point plays: JOEY/AY 35, FEUD/OF/TE/SU* 31 and MENU/SUM/DE 33. That put me ahead, 205-103, midway through turn 6.

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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 the division played everyone once. That was to be followed by a five-game “king of the hill” battle. After 16 games staged over two days, the division’s top three players would receive small cash prizes.

My Saturday morning began with an opening game against D.A., whom I’d never faced before. Her rating entering the event was 991, a bit higher than my mark of 965. (My longtime local rival, J—, was the top seed with a rating of 1019.)

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May 2018 pokerpalooza: The rest of the mess

June 26, 2018

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
June 26, 2018

Following my elimination from the National Tournament of Champions Finals, I had a bite to eat before deciding to sit down at a $1-$2 no limit holdem cash table with $95.

I had a slow start, dribbling away chips. I got excited during one hand that I must have played from the blinds with decidedly inferior starting hand — say, seven-five off-suit.

The flop — 3-4-5, I think — gave me a pair of fives and an inside draw to a straight. I bet on it, and the older fellow to my left called. The turn was, I believe, a six, completing my seven-high straight (3-4-5-6-7). I bet even more; my rival called again.

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May 2018 pokerpalooza: Day 5, tournament 8

June 25, 2018

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
June 25, 2018

On the final day of pokerpalooza, my morning tasks included waking up, showering, dressing, breakfasting, brushing my teeth, packing, checking out and driving over to the casino, where I would be participating in what World Tavern Poker calls the National Tournament of Champions Finals. None of this was particularly challenging, especially because I’d done most of my packing the night before. However, there was a wrinkle thrown into my agenda.

Around the time I went downstairs to have breakfast, I received a phone call and voicemail message from an unfamiliar number. When I checked the message, it immediately became clear that I’d have to run an errand before going to the casino.

Remember when I deposited three hundred-dollar bills shortly after winning a tournament the previous afternoon? Well, I’d failed to retrieve my ATM card after completing that transaction. There had been a van behind me in the line to use the drive-up ATM; I remembering catching a glimpse of the logo on the side and thinking that it was a florist’s delivery van or maybe some kind of food truck. Anyway, someone had removed my card from the automated teller and placed it in the night deposit box.

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May 2018 pokerpalooza: Day 4, cash table stint 3

June 21, 2018

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
June 21, 2018

As previously mentioned, I came down from my tournament championship with a few hours of walking, tea-drinking, writing and relaxation in downtown Wilkes-Barre. A little before 10 p.m., after discovering that most of the places where I might have wanted to grab a quick dinner in the city center had closed at 9 or 9:30, I drove back to the casino to play holdem on a $1-$2 no-limit cash table.

I sat down at 10:10 p.m. with $122 in chips. I’ll recount a single hand, my last.

My opponent was a heavyset older man, maybe in his mid-50s, sitting on the far side of the dealer from me. He spent a lot of the (brief) time I was at the table cradling his head in his hands, as if he were extremely fatigued or grievously upset or maybe suffering from a headache. I actually found myself worrying on his behalf whether he was liable to make some kind of desperate wager that would cost him a lot of money.

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Pinball wizard or pinball gizzard? Tourney tales

June 15, 2018

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
June 15, 2018

I now interrupt my extended — nearly finished! — recounting of last month’s poker (mis)adventures (and my political-tweet interludes) to recount this week’s pinball (mis)adventures!

After getting hooked on pinball over the first half of 2017, I participating in a couple of Raleigh-based tournaments each month. However, I cut back on my competitive play earlier this year, since I felt that my skills were stagnating. But my friend K— began running pinball events on the second Wednesday evening of each month at Quarter Horse, an arcade that opened last year in downtown Durham. I wanted to support K—, and the event is about as convenient to my home as can be, so I’ve played in it regularly.

On Wednesday evening this week, I was running a little late and got to Quarter Horse just a few minutes before the competition’s scheduling starting time of 7:30. As we had 16 players, round 1 began with four groups of four players. My quartet was assigned to The X-Files, a 1997 Sega machine based on the hit television show. (The table’s development was apparently tied into the first X-Files movie, which came out in June 1998.)

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Cheeps and Chirps: Singapore summit edition

June 14, 2018

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
June 14, 2018

President Donald’s big summit, Twitter-style:

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May 2018 pokerpalooza: Day 4, tournaments 6 and 7

June 13, 2018

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
June 13, 2018

On Wednesday morning, I began playing in an event called the Patriot Poker Kickoff Tournament. I no longer recall much about this event, except that I did OK at my first table and then had a major flameout after being moved to a different table.

That afternoon, I sat down to participate in the fourth and final grinder tournament — my third go-round at this type of event. The event got under way a little after 3 p.m. with three tables of 10 players each.

Things began quietly before I started getting some cards and hitting some boards. A little past the midway point of the event, the equivalent of about $250 was sitting in front of me. One of the poker room supervisors, who was moving throughout the room and checking the largest stashes at each table, mentioned that I had the chip lead.

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