(Sorry for another long post. I promise they won't all be this verbose.)
Game 1 vs Will Scott (L 396-366)
Will confessed to me after this game that this was a game he shouldn't have won, and I'll confess here that I silently agreed with him, as I thought my late mis-handling of bad racks cost me the game. It turns out though, that most of my plays were spot on (except for two critical ones), but his were just better.
My opening rack was BEIMORZ, and I was struggling to remember if ZOMBI was indeed good; I put the E on the end for good measure, leaving the B. Unfortunately, had I known BROMIZE was a word, I could have opened with 110 instead of 58. More importantly, I'm not sure Will would have been able to find a bingo with his AFLOPT? rack. So my newfound commitment to Quackling shows a huge miss on my very first rack of my first game. That's ok though, these are exactly the things I want to be revealed to me. If I hadn't written down my rack, I doubt I would have remembered it later to have even seen what I missed.
As it were, though, he hooked his F onto my E for a very nice play with FLAtTOP for 75. I followed with TYPY for 36, and played KNOW for 31 after challenging off his SLOBBING* play, opening up a decent 50 point lead. He nibbled it down to essentially even over the next 5-6 turns, when I played MANROPE for 73, to go up by 66, at which point I drew DEEEITU and things went downhill from there. He made nice plays with EH 26 and oXY 54 to close the gap, while I puttered around with with vowel heavy racks. His STINGER on the penultimate turn was an apt word, as it sealed the game.
So, here's a case where thanks to analyzing a game, I'm beating myself up less than I normally would. I can't kick myself for missing BROMIZE on my opening rack, it just means to study more words. But if I hadn't Quackled the game, I could probably find all sorts of ways to beat myself up for blowing the late lead. In reality, Quackle actually shows that even after the MANROPE play, I made the best play on all the subsequent turns and only blew it once. So, the lesson here is to learn more words (perhaps JQXZ 7s, in due time).
Game 2 vs Paul Seet (W 442-357)
I had some rough racks early, and had to exchange twice in the first 8 turns. I don't think Paul had much better, as the best he could muster was a 158-124 lead at that point. Then I laid down DERRIES for 75, and drew AEQTUY?, and set up one of my best plays of the tournament, EQUiTY for 81, a DWS with the Q on a TLS, hooking the T onto the end his NOW. It would have been an even better play if I'd kept the blank and played QUATE, but who's to quibble?
He did answer with 15C DIASTeR for 76 on the next play, but my MALINES for 78 two turns later basically clinched it.
Game 3 vs Rob Kearn (L 393-390)
I believe this game represents my biggest ever blown lead in a tournament game. I opened strong with 8D QUEAN for 48 after he exchanged, then followed a number of decent 3-5-letter plays for several turns, building up a 76-point lead by turn 12 with a very locked-up board. At this point my rack was ACKLOO?, and I made my favorite play of the tournament, hooking one of my O's onto FID, to make OArLOCK for 73 and a 149-point lead.
Unfortunately, 1) on the next turn he narrowed the lead by 57 in one fell swoop with ZERK in the triple lane, while 2) I drew AAAEJNU out of the bag, and thereafter struggled the rest of the way with dreck on my rack, making sub-20 point plays each time, fighting unsuccessfully to close down the board, trying to dump off my bad rack 2-3 letters at a time, while he kept taking big chunks of the lead away, most notably with 13F COLoRIST for 70. This is where Quackle showed a pretty big difference in what I should have done vs. what I did. Instead of closing things down, I should have been unafraid to either exchange, or dump 5-6 letters on a low-scoring play even if it meant keeping the board open. Had I done so, I wouldn't have been struggling with multi-U and multi-N racks all the way to the end.
The other problem was that poring over these lousy racks cost me a lot of time, which allowed him to get away with a phony 3 (TID*) when I had less than 1 minute on my clock (his clock was low at the time too, so I think it was an honest oversight on his part). Since he won by just 3, I think this was probably the deciding factor in my loss.
So, to me, the lesson here is, when you have a big lead, and get a bum rack, don't be afraid to keep the board open to rectify the situation. In the end, having a flexible rack is more important than trying to lock the board down.
Game 4 vs Wilma Pitzer (W 466-334)
In this game I pretty much outdrew my opponent with both blanks and 3 of the 4 S's, laying down 3 high-probability bingos (ENTAsIA, SOILUrE, and RATIONED), and as such it wasn't that interesting from an analysis standpoint. I won't look a gift-horse in the mouth though, cuz frankly I thought karma owed me a game like this (and frankly still owes me a few more, but I won't dwell on that).
Game 5 vs Frank Lee (W 425-293)
I came into this game somewhat intimidated by Frank's word knowledge, as I'd lost a critical challenge of a word he played on me in Lexington, which probably cost me that game. However my confidence got a bit of a boost in this game when he unsuccessfully challenged my play of OVeRNEAT. Moreover, he actually seemed to have poor draws most of the game, and whenever he tried to open up the board I seemed to have a high-scoring play to come back with. My 3rd favorite play of the tournament came with N1 UNISEX for 67, a DWS with the X on the TLS. Although UNISEX is a common word, I suspect that my study of JQXZ 6's contributed to me finding it in a game.
Game 6 vs Rob Kearn (W 460-400)
This was probably one of the highest scoring games of the tourney. It was a pretty wide open board the whole game, with 4 bingos being thrown down (FRONTES and ORGANISE by me, INDIGENT and CLEAVER by him). We were pretty well-matched in terms of draws, but frankly I just felt like I consistently found the best plays with what I had, and for once didn't make any big mistakes in a critical game. Here's the final board, in all its glory: