Saturday, January 25, 2014

Steve's Akron Experience

Since I spent well over 30 hours last weekend playing Scrabble last weekend (at the Scrabble Marathon in Akron, OH) I thought it would be worthwhile to post a few thoughts.

Overall, it was a very well-run tournament, and as it appears the director plans to make this an annual event, I'd recommend it for anyone wanting to get a bunch of games under their belt in a short time.  Consider that Nationals is the same number of games, spread over 5 games.  Although I wasn't sure how I'd hold up myself under the intense format (Main Event consisting of 13 games each on Saturday and Sunday, plus a 5-game Late Bird on Monday), at the end of it all I was quite pleased, both with my results and the fact that I still had enough energy to make the 5-hour drive home Monday afternoon.

As for the tourney itself, I made a deliberate change in my strategic plan, to play more conservatively than I have in the past.  This was after Knoxville a month ago, in which I averaged well into the 400s but still only won about half my games.  From analyzing those games, and then studying annotated expert games on cross-tables, I began to realize that I don't play defense, or at least play with a board-control mindset, nearly as much as I should.  So I decided to make some adjustments, and so far at least, they appear to be paying off.

Here are some stats and random thoughts:

1) Main Event: 15 wins, 11 losses, spread of +410, 5th place overall.  I narrowly missed 3rd place thanks in large part to an overdraw in the last game, in which the penalty left me stuck with an unplayable Q in the endgame.  Even so, considering that this was Division A and that I was 9th seed, I was very happy with the overall result.  My rating jumped from 1605 to 1695.

2) In hindsight, I should have quit after the Main Event, but I had to go back for more.  Unfortunately, fatigue began to catch up with me, and I managed only 1 win and 1 tie against 3 losses in the Late Bird the next morning.   I blew an endgame and had noticeable difficulty finding even pedestrian plays.  Even so, with a final rating of 1680, not bad.

3) Back to the Main Event, then.  :)  The first day was by far the best...9-4 record, 2nd place at that point if I remember correctly.  I had very good stretch of games with good draws that day too, which certainly helped.  Even the second day, 6-7, was better than my (statistical) expected wins, especially considering that I ended up playing the #1 seed (Brian Bowman) 5 of those games.

4) I was especially pleased with how I did against the top seeds: 13-8 against players rated higher than me, including 4-2 against #1 Brian Bowman, 2-1 against #2 Chris Cree. 

5) I found 48 bingos to my opponents' 43.  Some of my favorites included HABITATS for 102, REINJURE for 116, and RIGATONI for 77.

6) I also did well in the realm of challenges and phonies.  To wit:

Plays by me:
Unchallenged phonies: FEUDIC 39, UNSNARE 80 (wasn't sure about either, but felt fairly confident I could get away with them.)
Challenged phones: WIREABLE 92 (I knew it was phoney; BEWAILER wouldn't fit.)
Valid, but challenged: TITTLES 70

Plays by opponent:
Unchallenged phonies: TEATOTUM 61
Challenged phonies: LOR, CLEAVINGS 56, BANTIED 84, ANICE 16, IRONLESS 82
Valid, but challenged: None (yeah!)

So, this adds up to 8 in my favor, 2 against.  I'll take that any day, especially against this field.

Not sure when my next tourney will be, but looking forward to it, regardless!

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