I arrived Friday evening, and I was treated to an unexpected sight: a furious thunderstorm. Not what I expected on my first day in the desert. Wind gusts of 70 mph, golf ball-size hail in some places, and downtown Las Vegas was flooded in some areas.
On Saturday, I got off to a terrible start. Game one was against Stefan Fatsis, author of "Word Freak," and after a close game, I thought I had the game with a late bingo of RETINAL, but immediately he laid down an out bingo of REALISTS to win by 21.
I lost my next four as well, staying close but not close enough. Against the No. 3 seed, Robin Lewis, I played a nine-letter bingo through two unconnected letters: RENOUNCED, with the first N and the D on the board. That was fun.
In game 6, my luck turned dramatically. On my second turn, I played ZOUNDS for 32, then drew the first blank. I played OUTBRAG for 89, then drew the second blank and played SHAKEUP, also for 89. After challenging off a phony, I played VAIRS/SHAKEUPS for 64. After that, I scored in smaller chunks, winning 503-245, my spread of 258 wiped out my accumulated negative spread.
Game 7 was similar. I played REDOLENT for 72 on turn 6 to take the lead, then two turns later, I found UNCREATE for 83 on a triple from the U. That left the E on a triple lane, but my opponent decided to open the board further, playing CAID elsewhere for 27. With AIILSTV, I played VITALISE to that open E on another triple for 86. I then played PEWEE to block the best triple lane, and opponent challenged. On his next turn, opponent, short on time and holding both blanks, played LISTAGE*, which I challenged off. Opponent finally bingoed out with the nice WATERAGE for 60, but I won by 171, 467-296.
That was one of my craziest tournament days ever. I wonder what Day 2 will bring.