Less craziness today, but more wins. I went 5-2 to end the third day with a winning record, 11-10. Woohoo! After I started 0-5, that feels pretty good.
I saw more blanks today: 10 of 14. That always helps. In game 1, I squeaked out a 16-point win with a mix of guile and good play. Ahead by two midgame, I decided to take a risk, playing PESTING for 92. I doubted it was good, but to my surprise, my opponent held but didn't challenge. My next turn, I played FATED in a hot spot for 49. I was in control with a 115-point lead, but two turns later my opponent played KUDZU to a triple for 54 points, WAD for 33 and then LOONIES for 86 to take a seven point lead. With no tiles left, I needed points, and I found YLEM on a triple, parallel to the OONI in LOONIES, for 43 points, enough to win the game. Final score, 410-394. Whew!
In game 2, I drew both blanks, played two bingoes and won a challenge, yet I managed to lose, 434-396. I played VARIATE on turn 3 for 77 and later played DIPPABLE for 66, drawing the challenge, but I couldn't capitalize on a 76-point lead. Opponent scored 46 with the Q and 51 with the Z, sandwiching plays of 39 and 26 points. I had to waste the blank on a 14-point play late in the game, followed by three single-digit plays. Not the way to take advantage of a lead.
In game 3, I opened with ANTIAIR, drawing a challenge. Opponent bounced back, though, with SCENDING for 60 on his next turn. Later I drew a challenge on ANTICK, but opponent stayed close. Late in the game, I held a nearly 50-point lead, and opponent played HURTLERS in the only available bingo lane. I challenged it off, and I couldn't see how he could bingo in that spot with EHLRTU?, so I played elsewhere for points. Opponent tried again with CHURTLE and I won my fourth challenge of the game. I played off my Y for 23 points. Opponent finally played THUD elsewhere for 32, but the game was mine, 402-334.
In game 4, I had two bingoes, TAWNIES for 95 (I think that was my highest-scoring play of the tournament) and CINEOLE for 65, plus the high-scoring plays of HAW for 37, BARYE for 46 and ZONED for 45. Opponent had SOARING for 83, but I won, 444-328.
In game 5, opponent opened with AVOIDED. I answered with JOVIAL for 32, and two turns later I caught up with DOPANTS for 76. On turn 5 I played REALIZE for 219 a 57-point lead, but that was short-lived. After playing MUS/REALIZES for 40, I tried to play through a junky rack, then I exchanged, but it didn't help. I hurt my chances when opponent played OXY, hooking the Y onto CLANG. I held, but I thought CLANGY, CLANGIER and CLANGIEST were plausible. What I didn't do and should have was to arrange the letters as an alphagram. CAEGILNR should have triggered my memory that the "good" words in that combination were RELACING and CLEARING. Therefore, CLANGIER* was no good, and CLANGY* probably wasn't, either. A challenge there might have changed the outcome.
In game 6, game 21 of the tournament, I opened with FRAME for 28, with the F on the double-letter square, three spots in from the triple-word score. On his second turn, opponent bingoed with RESONATE for 62, but I answered with SIGNETS/RESONATES for 75.Three turns later, after opponent played COW in a great spot for 41, I played TOLUIDES for 70. I drew drek, though, and exchanged on my next turn. Opponent then played BED in front of FRAME to make BEDFRAME for a triple, scoring 48. My lead was down to five points. Three turns later, holding ACLORT? and with three spots to play a bingo, I put down SCROTAL through a triple-word score for 80 points. Opponent challenged, and I built a 105-point lead. Opponent closed the gap on the last few turns, but I won, 436-362.
In game 7, it was a close game for seven turns. On turn eight, down by 18, I played SKIRTING for 64. Two turns later, holding a 36-point lead, I exchanged five tiles. Opponent then put down UMPTEENS through the M, with a blank as the U, for 74. I held. And held. The plurals of many numbers are good, but UMPTEENS? I decided UMPTEEN and UMPTEENTH were adjectives and couldn't be pluralized, so I challenged. And I won the challenge. My exchange on my previous turn paid off: I played FARSIDE for 80, building a 116-point lead. Opponent then found another bingo spot, playing STEEPEN for 67. But I answered with AYE for 52, followed by a 42-pointer (I didn't record the word). By then, the board was all clogged up, and we took 17 turns to end the game, 435-339 in my favor. Finally, I had a winning record: 11-10.