The Myrtle Beach tourney included a four-game early bird, which had me the bottom seed in Division 2.
Game 1, against top seed Bruce Shuman, a longtime player and a nice guy:
I jumped to an early lead with a bingo, SINGLET, on turn 3, and I held it through most of the game, despite exchanging 3 U's twice. On turn 11, I made a fun 4, YIRR. Bruce made a late charge right after that, and on turn 15, he went up by 10, 351-343. I held LSUU. I was extremely short on time, and my only chance to win was to not go over on time. There was no place to play ULUS, so with 7 seconds left I played LUGS through a G for 10. Bruce went out on his next turn with a 10-point play, and that was the game, 363-353. Then someone pointed out to me that I could have gone out with SULU, hooking the S to YIRR. I never saw it. So running short on time cost me my first game, and poor clock management would plague me all weekend.
Game 2 against Matt Hopkins:
Matt got caught in traffic and arrived late, forfeiting his first game, and he was clearly rattled, but it didn't carry over into our game. He bingoed on turns 2 and 3 with AMENDING and AIGRETTE, then followed those with KANJI for 24 and PYX for 45 to lead 229-104. I finally answered with FUNKIEST for 82 and later played QuEST/ORCAS for 73, but it wasn't enough. Matt won, 415-372.
Game 3 against Susan Bertoni:
I played Susan last year at Nationals, and she is a gracious player. Unfortunately, I had the same result against her in this game as I did last year.
I opened with CANE for 12, and Susan exchanged. After I played CL(A)NG, Susan dropped BEA(C)HING for 68, the first of 3 straight bingos. I exchanged. Susan then played DOTTERS/CANED for 68. What I should have done was play WOAD to the triple, picking up WE, OR and AS for 49, leaving me only 57 points behind. What I did was challenge. DOTTERS? Never heard of the word. Now, of course, I'll never forget it.
Next, Susan plays WhIMSEY(S) on the triple, which of course she wouldn't have been able to play had I played WOAD. WHIMSEYS? Come on. It's spelled SY, and it pluralizes to IES. Challenge!
Well, what do you know, there's an alternative spelling!
So she plays IRES/SI/ER/YE for 28, and the score is 248 to 30. Can I go home now?
I finally did play WOAD, for 41, followed by DEXIE for 30 and MOSEY/BEACHINGS* for 37. Susan considered challenging the phony, but she wasn't sure and decided it wasn't worth the risk.
Somehow, I managed to reduce the final deficit to 71 points, 408-337.
Game 4 against Matt Hopkins:
Matt is 1-1 and I'm 0-3 for this King-of-the-hill finale, so I'm playing merely for self-respect. Things go better this game. I bingo with ROOTAGE for 61 on turn 5. Matt plays CZaRS on turn 7 for 75, but I answer with DEX/DO/EN/XI for 57. He plays RUDDIEST on turn 9 for 86 to get within 3 points, but I play STROWeD/URINALS on turn 11 to jump ahead again. Finally, a win: 442-385. So I finish the early bird 1-3, minus-67.