Posts Tagged ‘Scrabble’

2019 Robb Griffith Memorial Tournament, part 3

October 17, 2019

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Oct. 17, 2019

As I noted in my last post, my opponents’ ratings were increasing as the day wore on. Round seven pitted me against the field’s No. 2 seed, D.L., a Durham resident who was returning to competitive Scrabble after a 12-year break.

His rating entering the tournament was 942, but he’d had a rough day, and his record stood at 2-4 with a spread of minus-190. Nevertheless, I expected him to be dangerous — he’d beaten me and a few other players during club play earlier in October.

However, I got off to a good start. Playing second, I turned my opening rack of ADEHIS? into SHADIEr/COWS, a 72-point bingo. Later, I put down ZEST/SCOWS for 43-points, which gave me a 168-57 lead after five turns.

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2019 Robb Griffith Memorial Tournament, part 2

October 16, 2019

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Oct. 16, 2019

As is customary when we hold Scrabble tournaments at the local mall, I took advantage of the midday break to walk home. After grabbing some lunch, I hopped in my car. I parked in a shady spot — I think the temperature got up to the mid-80s that day — in a very particular part of the mall lot that I picked out because it would facilitate my access to the highway I planned to use after the Scrabbling was done.

Upon returning to the tournament play area, which was roughly in the center of the mall, I saw that standings had been posted. Somewhat surprisingly, my 3-0 record with a plus-379 spread hadn’t been enough to put me in first place. That honor actually belonged to N—, whom I hadn’t competed against since June 2018. Like me, she was 3-0, but her spread was even better than mine: plus-435. I knew that I’d have to play well to stay in contention.

My adversary in round four was C—, whom I’d last played in April 2018. Playing first, I drew CJLSVXY and threw back everything but SX. C— put down WHALE 30, which benefitted from the double-letter-score bonus that amplified the W as well as the double-word-score bonus that automatically applies to the first word played in every Scrabble game.

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2019 Robb Griffith Memorial Tournament, part 1

October 15, 2019

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Oct. 15, 2019

It’s been more than a year since I last wrote about Scrabble. Those posts detailed my 4-4 record with a minus-53 spread that saw me finish sixth in the 10-person lower division.

Since then, I’ve participated in four tournaments that have until now gone unremarked-up on this blog:

• A 4-12 debacle in Wilmington, N.C., in which I finished 12th out of 12 in a single-division event in October 2018. I was seeded 10th but lost 12 games against four wins, with an abysmal spread of minus-1,036.

• A 9-7 performance in the January 2019 Duke Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplantation Program benefit Scrabble tournament. I was fifth out of 18 in the lower division and exceeded my No. 14 seed. I started out 3-5 but went 6-2 on the second and final day.

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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 JEWED! 48. (This verb conjugation is rightly considered offensive, as the exclamation point indicates in Scrabble notation.) Holding AAEEFOP, I was only able to retort with OAF/OE/AW/FE 24. D— added to his lead in turn 2 with JINGLED 32; my answer was PEA/PI/EN/AG 20.

My third move garnered a nice score: ZEALOT/FEZ/DE 54, which left me trailing 104-98. But that was the moment where it was all about to go off the rails.

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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 so on down the line in our 10-person division.

My foe in round 4 was D.D., a younger Charlotte, N.C., player participating in his third tournament. Like me, he was 1-2, having won his opener by nine points before dropping his second and third games by a total of 23 points.

Playing first, my rival got things off to a rousing start with HERTZ 54. His follow-up was DEACON/JO/IN 33, leaving me in an 87-22 hole after I’d put down JILT.

My big early plays were QI/OI 33 in turn 3 and REX/ZAX 31 two moves after that. But that still left me trailing, 150-134. (A zax is a hatchet-like tool, pluralized as zaxes.)

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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 down sENIORS/GUYS, a 67-point bingo.

I responded with AYE/As/YE/EN, which scored 28 thanks to its placement of the A on the triple-word-score bonus spot at center column–top row. S—’s riposte, BUNKO 22, minimized my gain. However, in turn 5 I played ZA/REZ/MA for 47 points, which gave me a 139-119 lead.

S— reclaimed the lead three turns later with DESIST/SWAG. The play notched 35 points thanks to its utilization of the TWS in the center row–far-left column and put my foe ahead, 200-195.

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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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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 my entire rack: ACEEEGQ. (Remember that last tile — it will return to our narrative.)

I got a nasty fright in turn 6 when N.C. played ARCANEs/AE/GIs, a 74-point bingo. But it sat wrong with me: Wasn’t arcane an adjective, I wondered, and as such would it not take an -S? I challenged, and the play was negated.

That proved to be the start of a strong four-turn run by me. My seventh move was HAJ/HAIR 36; I followed up with WAILS/HAJI 50, thanks to the triple-word-score bonus at center row–far-right column, and CLANGER/CRANER*, a 70-point bingo.

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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 games.

We’d be employing king of the hill format the rest of the way. Four players had perfect 3-0 records; of them, I had the best spread at plus-189, which put me in first place. I was paired with the No. 2 player in the standings, N.C., for the fourth game.

My foe was the division’s top seed, having entered with a player rating of 1013 — substantially higher than my 931. N.C. and I had played just once before, in June 2017. That encounter had gone poorly for me — a 506-288 defeat, my first after two wins in that single-day tournament. Obviously, I was hoping for a much more competitive battle this time out.

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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 first move. My reply was the phony BIBLET*/BA/ID 47, which put me ahead, 69-40, midway through the second turn.

J— tried to leapfrog me with his second move, SUlFURS/EHS*. It made for a 69-point bingo, but I correctly recalled that EH did not take any “back hooks” and challenged the play off the board.

J— actually jumped ahead, 144-111, at the conclusion of turn 4 when he played RETURNEd for 68 points. But I had a few nice plays in my pocket: KA/KEN for 33, thanks to the five-point K on a triple-letter-score bonus, and ZAG 39, which utilized the triple-word-score bonus in the board’s top-right corner.

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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 at minus-142.

Game 4 saw me face AZ, the Canadian player whom I’d beaten twice in the main event. She was in fifth place in the six-player division, having just defeated J— in round 3 to go to 1-2. (Poor J— fell to 0-3.)

AZ, playing second, took a 93-23 lead in turn 2 on the strength of a fantastic bingo, UNTINTED. This formation used an N from my opening move to swing a rare double-double. Because the play used two double-word-score bonuses at once, the total base value of the tiles (nine points) was multiplied by four instead of two — hence, 9 points × 4 = 36, which when combined with the 50-point bingo bonus yields a handsome sum of 86 points.

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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 3, I held AEEIISU and trailed, 46-24; I traded out everything but the S, but instead of getting a balanced rack, I wound up with one that contained no vowels: DFNSTTV.

I was able to begin creeping back into contention with my sixth move, BEAST/FINDS 35, which left me trailing, 93-83. But I fell even further behind when C— responded to my ONO 9 with EX/NE/OX 38. The score was 150-92 at that point.

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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 being my second move, HuRT/EDH 41. I hadn’t wanted to use the blank for a relatively modest play, but I was desperate to prevent C— from hooking an -S onto ED and exploiting the available triple-word-score bonus spot near there. I was on top, 139-115, entering turn 6.

That’s when C— sprang what would turn out to be the biggest play of the game: LUNARIA*/FA, a 64-point bingo. I considered challenging, and in fact C— later confessed that he was unsure if the word was valid; unfortunately for me, I didn’t, and it isn’t. That left my opponent with a 179-139 lead.

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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 rematch against TS.

The tournament’s ninth game got interesting in turn 5 when, playing second, I played ZAG/GLUTE, a 39-pointer that put me ahead, 92-91. TS parried with ToNNeRS/SI, a 64-point bingo that pushed him out to a 155-92 lead. This play wasn’t quite as bad for me as it might have seemed: It came relatively early in the game, it didn’t score a ton and it required my opponent to use both blanks and an S.

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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 drawn badly at times: namely, OOQ in my opening contest against J— and OOQX in the second game against TS. (It wouldn’t be until the following week that I’d realize my ZOEAE/ZOEAS miscue in the latter encounter.)

At any rate, the fifth game saw me playing B—, a sharp elementary school student. I felt some pressure to beat B—, and moreover to beat him by a sound margin. That was because I knew B— had lost his first-round game to the top seed in the division by 300 points, and a player who kicks off a competition with such a big spread has a huge advantage over the rest of the field.

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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. This, alas, was prior to an event for which I needed to get out of bed around 8 a.m.

Despite this, I felt surprisingly normal as I showered, dressed and prepared to head out to the Duke medical facility that serves as the venue for the annual Duke Pediatric Blood and Marrow Transplantation Program benefit Scrabble tournament.

I was playing in the lower of two divisions. Our group featured eight players, each of whom would play eight games on Saturday and eight more games on Sunday. Because of the size of the field, we were scheduled to play all seven of our opponents twice — a double round robin format — before games 15 and 16 determined the final standings — a king-of-the-hill format.

The opening contest of the tournament matched me with a very familiar foe: J—, a local resident whom I encounter several times a year in Sunday-afternoon club play. Over the course of 14 official meetings between us, he had an outstanding record of nine victories against five losses, including a six-game winning streak. His rating at the start of the weekend was 1051, markedly higher than my 932.

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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 to start the afternoon session.

I got off to a rocky start. L.B., playing first, opened with GRADED 22. My rack was awful, IILRRUX; I played off LURID 7 and drew AADO, which left me with a similarly puzzling rack of AADIORX.

L.B. used my L to play QUALE 30. (You can read the definition of quale here; I won’t claim to understand it.) I answered with RODE 15 and drew EIS, which gave me AAEIISX. Once again, these were not stellar tiles.

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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, who began the day with a rating of 1394. We’d played once before back in March, which had resulted in my sustaining a 49-point loss.

F.T. opened with DIDY 18, which was not positioned so as to enable me to convert my rack of AELLMST into the obvious bingo of MALLETS. (Didy, alternatively spelled didie, means diaper; its plural is didies.) I settled for MALL/MY 14.

F.T.’s second play, FUMY 14, didn’t cooperate with my rack of AEEIPST. (Fumy, of course, means emitting or full of fumes.) I settled again, this time for APE/LA 17, which left the score 32-31 in my foe’s favor.

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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 as soon as the event ended.

I didn’t get a great night’s sleep, but I felt pretty sharp in the morning. I’d already packed most of my bags. I woke up in timely fashion, showered, and walked over to the mall, arriving 15 or 20 minutes ahead of start time.

The field was small, only 12 contestants; I was seeded ninth with a player rating of 922. I was a little nervous about my first opponent, C—, a Scrabble veteran with a sixth seed and a rating of 1080. C— is a Carolina resident and shows up to all of the Durham tournaments, so I knew him a bit, but I was a little intimidated by his extensive experience and higher rating.

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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 66-point play utilizing the top row–center column triple-word-score bonus that the bingo had exposed.

Two turns later, I had a bingo of my own: rEFINERY, also a 65-point play, which leapfrogged me ahead, 143-118.

Then my lead started to grow. After she and I exchanged 20-point plays, O— had a power outage, making seven straight words that scored as little as 4 points (on two occasions) but no more than 12 points.

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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 phony. (TETCHY, TETCHIER and TETCHIEST are valid.)

N— answered with a 28-pointer of her own, COOEED, which I challenged — unwisely, as it turned out. Cooee is, per Dictionary.com, “a prolonged, shrill, clear call or cry used as a signal by Australian Aborigines” that has been adopted by that country’s settlers; it can also be a verb meaning to utter the call cooee. Upshot: COOEES, COOEED and COOEEING are all valid, and I forfeit my second turn. The score remained tied, however, as N— used her next move to swap out all seven of her tiles.

The two of us played a nip-and-tuck game until turn 9. I started the round with a rack of AILOSV? and played VOE 9, which tied the score at 146 apiece. N— responded with CORSETE*/LATE, a 65-point bingo.

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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 our only two previous meetings. Playing first, he swapped out five tiles, letting me open with LOVE 14. S— then used the O to put down a 70-point bingo, PIMENTOS. I considered challenging but opted not to, which is fortunate; PIMENTO (referring to spice) is valid, and its plural can be spelled with either -S or -ES.

My second play, FAILED/FA/AN/IN/ES, garnered 36 points. But S— answered with a nifty 47-pointer, CROAK/CLOVE/RES/OD, which I challenged because I was unsure of RES. Since that three-letter word is valid, I forfeit my next move. I trailed, 117-50, entering turn 4 — hardly a great start.  Read the rest of this entry »

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