Friday, February 4, 2011

Will's Knoxville tournament

Here is my game-by-game overview of the Knoxville tournament. It's long, so I apologize in advance. I hoped to be able to just put a link here, but that's beyond my capability.

Here is the short form: I was the top seed in Division 2 and finished 8-7, +35, in sixth place. My rating dropped from 1409 to 1375. In three losses, I let go a phoney, and in each case, challenging it off might have changed the outcome. Ah, well. There's always the next tournament.

Here's my full report:

Will Scott's Knoxville Tourney, January 2011

Game 1, vs. David Meredith

Division 2 had 14 players, so the format was a round-robin for the first 13 games, then a king-of-the-hill matchup for each of the final two rounds. As the top seed in my division, I was to play the field in reverse order, from the 14th seed to the second seed. David was the 14th seed. I'd played him before and I knew he would be tough, but he'd had almost no sleep the night before and was visibly bleary. However, he managed to stay awake enough to hand me a loss right away. It didn't help that I missed the bingo MALTOSE. My lone bingo was SLATTED, but he answered with NONARTS, and two turns later he played ZEE/ZA for 63 points, and I couldn't catch him. Will 339, David 410.

Game 2, vs. Jacob Cohen.

Jacob is a very nice guy from Asheville. He has played tournament Scrabble for only a little more than a year, but he's a quick study and is rising. We had a closely fought game, and on turn 9, he extended END to ENDGRAIN, down to a triple for 33 points, giving him a 44-point lead. I held, thinking it probably was two words, but I decided not to risk it. (It turned out to be a phoney.) I held ELNOTVY and had decided to play NOVEL when I realized I had NOVELTY and a fat spot, so I played it for 96 points. He played BUR for 11, and I played RIOJA through the I for 28 points, extending my lead. Jacob played ION for 16, and I put down POSY, hooking the S to RIOJA, for 39 points and a 92-point lead. I drew the last tile, the Z, to go with EEI on my rack, and then Jacob bingoed out with ELOINER through a triple, hooking the R to ODE. It was the only possible bingo lane on the board. He took the 26 points on my rack and finished a point ahead, 389-388. I ask for a recount, but we find two more points for him, so it's a three-point victory for Jacob, 391-388.

Game 3, vs. Charlie Bond.

Another nice guy, Charlie was a longtime player who quit the game in the 1990s and returned a couple of years ago. I jumped ahead with ARSENAL, but he later played AUGITES to get within 9. From there, he won the battle of four- and five-letter plays, winning 380-311.

Game 4, vs. Margaret Swanson.

The action was in the second half of the game. I had built a nice lead, but on turn 9, Margaret played AGITATE to go ahead by a point. Two turns later I played DRUNKEST for 64, then ZA for 31. I almost blew the game by playing AGITATER*, which she challenged off, but two turns later, after she played SINUATE, I was able to answer with LIBRATE for 71. Finally, a win: 421-353.

Game 5, vs. Frank Schin.

With a rack of CDMNRXV, I opened by exchanging two. By turn four, I had a bingo: IRONERS for 71. Two turns later, holding EGOSTU?, I bingoed again with OUTGaZES for 68. Frank challenged, thinking I was trying a hail-mary because there was nowhere to play OUTAGES, but it came back good, and I built a 115-point lead. Frank kept chipping away and briefly went ahead, but I regained the lead with NICETY for 42. I win, 397-369.

Game 6, vs. Vicki Blizzard.

Vicki iss the co-director of the local club and the tournament, but I cut her no slack. I bingoed with BEACHING on my first turn, and maintained a good lead. On turn 8 I played STEIN through a triple, forming KAYOS, UT and RE for 58 points. Vicki then bingoed with LEDGERS, but I was able to answer with TiNGLES. Another win, 453-344.

Game 7 vs. Bill Snoddy.

Bill is the director of the Asheville club and tournament, and a pleasure to play. I had held a slight lead when he played ENTRAINS for 62, but I answered with TaNGOING for 68 to maintain the lead. He played EX for 42 and IF for 31, while I played OVULI* for 18 (I was thinking of OCULI, but fortunately, Bill didn't challenge) and TUBER for 24, and my lead was down to a point. But after he played DICED for 27, I was able to find IMITATEeS for 72, and Bill ran out of tiles. Will 417, Bill 361.

Game 8 vs. Yolanda Ushry.

For some reason, I always have a good game against Yolanda. I'm 6-0 against her, with an average victory margin of 106 points. This game was no different. I opened with the fun 6-letter word ZOUNDS (it's good only with the S), and after a 6-point play of UT, I made a string of big-point plays: 32, 35, 27, 26, QUARTO for 50, DUCKIES for 78, EYE for 34. She answered my bingo with her own, DERIDING, but I had built too big a lead and won, 430-337.

Game 9 vs. Aaron Finkel.

Just as I have Yolanda's number, Aaron has mine. He opened with VEALIER, while I, stuck with two Us, played GURU. Looking at my first rack now AAGHRUU I wonder if I might have been better off playing AARGH, keeping the two Us. A quick analysis by Quackle says AUGUR is the best play. Of course. Late in the game, just as I've clawed back to a three-point gap, Aaron drops SLINGER on me, pluralizing my earlier play of KENDO for 85 points. I finally get a bingo, STINGE(R)s, but it's not enough. Aaron 449, Will 388.

Game 10 vs. Mary Ellen Weisskopf.

In this back-and-forth game, I open with KITHE for 34, but I then get stuck with low-scoring plays, and Mary Ellen takes the lead on turn 4 with RADIANS for 71. I answer and retake the lead with SOUPIER for 89. Two turns later, Mary Ellen goes ahead with RESTABLE for 83, but I take it back with FOCAL for 49. After exchanging two of my three Rs, I find a spot for DRAGNET for 69, followed by ZEE for 49, and I win a high-scoring match, 456 to 403.

Game 11 vs. Gerri Bergeron.

As I played against higher- and higher-rated players in this tournament, I failed to raise the level of my game. After playing off two of my three Is with MINI for 11 points on my first play, I pick up both blanks and manage a bingo on turn 4 with (T)OstAdAS for 71 to take the lead. Stuck with two Us again on turn 6, I play my old standby, GURU, for 6 points, and then Gerri drops MISTRUAL* through the A for 70. I call hold. Hmm. I see MURALIST in that combination, but that won't fit. I dont like it at all, but I lose my nerve and decide not to challenge. Immediately after the game, I check it and find out the bad news. ALTRUISM, MURALIST and ULTRAISM are the good words in that combination. Later, I play ANOI(N)TED for 68, but it's not enough, and I can't manage any decent scoring plays after that. Gerri 388, Will 338.

Game 12 vs. Reid Warren.

Reid is a tough player, and he was 2-0 against me coming into the tournament. He opens with COX for 24, but I respond with ZOA for 45. That's my highlight of this game. On turn 4, he bingoes with VOCALES*, and it took me FOUR DAYS to realize that this was a phoney. The kicker is that I had studied this rack and I knew the only two anagrams: ALCOVES and COEVALS. Unfortunately, the door to that piece of information was shut on Sunday, when I needed it. I barely paused when he played it; I thought Id seen the word somewhere, so I didn't call hold and really scrutinize it. After that, Reid exchanged and then he played BRANNIER. That's the one on which I called hold, and it's the one I challenged, and it's the one that's good. Ouch. With his free turn, he played SENARII to go up by 136 points. I managed to play REdOL(E)NT for 68, but it wasn't nearly enough. Reid 453, Will 315.

Game 13 vs. Tom O'Rourke.

We both struggled to score early, and I burned a lot of time trying to find points in dreadful racks. Tom played MIRZA for 44 on turn 9 to open a 53-point lead, and I distinguished myself by playing five turns with single-digit scores. Still, by the end of turn 13, I was down by only 46. (Hey, it could have been much worse.) Then my luck changed. I drew both blanks, making my rack GINRS??. There was one obvious bingo lane through a double-word score. Tom couldn't capitalize, but he wisely blocked it with TAO for 13. There was one other possibility, however. I had seen it a few turns earlier but couldn't make use of it. There was an H on the board, leaving the possibility of an eight-letter bingo, but it had to end with the H and the seventh letter had to be S, to make SPA. While Tom deliberated before his TAO play, I plotted my move. Had he not played in that spot, I could have played REGINAS for 67. When he blocked that, I dropped GReeNIS(H) for 64. The bag was empty, so I took 8 points off his rack and won by five, 308-303. Whew. That almost made up for my two previous boneheaded losses. Almost. It was my lowest-scoring game of the tournament. I always try to avoid a sub-300-point game, and that is about the only goal I achieved in this tourney.

Game 14 vs. Mary Ellen Weisskopf.

In the first of two King-of-the-hill rounds, I was still in the hunt for fourth place, providing I had a blowout win and the fourth-place player lost by about 200. Didn't happen. What did happen was that I opened with OCTANES for 74 and two turns later played PLAISTER for 62, taking a commanding lead, if only temporarily. Mary Ellen played GLISTER for 79 to narrow the gap, I scored a total of 163 points in my next four plays, but then she played (D)eWiNESS to a triple for 83. Fortunately, I drew the better tiles in the final three turns and won, 432-381.

Game 15 vs. Margaret Swanson.

We played about even until she dialed up REDIALS for 77 on turn 7. I was able to stay close and finally got down a bingo, SONATaS, for 70 to take a 34-point lead. From the second A in my bingo, she laid down APOSTLES, but then she picked it up, fearing a strong comeback play to the triple-word score. Instead she played POST for 21. I couldn't close the board, but I refused to open it further, making two- and three-tile plays. It backfired. She bingoed (I forgot to record the word and I can't remember it) and I got stuck with all vowels in my final full rack. Margaret 399, Will 351.

Final notes: I finished 8-7, with a spread of 35 points, and my rating dropped from 1409 to 1375. Ouch. During the tournament, it seemed to me that I was plagued by Is, and I was sure I drew the lion's share of them. According to my tallies, I drew slightly more than half, and I often did have two or more on my rack, but part of the reason for that was my rack management, leaving an I on my rack while making a middling play. I also hurt myself by allowing two phoney bingoes in two straight games. Add it all up and it was a lack of focus overall. I can only hope to be better prepared mentally in my next tournament.

1 comment:

Steve said...

Nice analysis, Will. I think I'll do the same and post mine as well. I've found that doing so helps me think about how to improve, perhaps more than I otherwise would. I just finished Quackling my games today, so I'll try to get something posted in the next few days.