Monday, October 24, 2005

GuitarGirl's Excellent Scrabble Adventure

I can't imagine recreating the wheel when I have chicken soup on the stove and an impossible lace pattern on the needles already driving me crazy (not to mention Miriam is out of school and Yona has half a day), so I will update you on this past weekend's excellent Scrabble adventure simply by cutting and pasting portions of an e-mail which I had written to my Scrabble brother, Seth Lipkin. More on him later.

Background: This weekend was the Nor'Easter Scrabble tournament in Lake George, New York, where I was able to meet and mingle with roughly 100 Scrabblers from all over northeastern Canada and the US for several orgiastically magnificent days of unabashed board game play.

There is no way I could possibly top Stefan Fatsis's accurate, colourful depiction of this fascinating scene in his best-selling book, Word Freak, so instead I will suggest that you go to your local book seller and pick up a copy and also a highlighter. Within the first few pages you will find yourself making lists of the juicy words so that you can be ready for the next tournament.

And who knows? One day you might find yourself -- as I have -- in the midst of this borderless, family-like scene. There are English-language Scrabble clubs throughout the world, including the world's largest club, which is in Jerusalem, and was modeled after Toronto's hugeous club. Of course, if you are a Scrabbler, you can contact me and tell me on which list you might find the word HUGEOUS.

Without further ado, here is a selection of my e-mail to Seth Lipkin. If you don't know about Seth's accomplishments, I urge you to check out his Scrabble stats website at for a real treat. I'm in there, too. Hey, you could be, too. :)

Division 5 highlights...
...I had two ties (!) which turned out to be with two guys from Ottawa who were roommates. Does it get any freakier? The one game with our division winner, Chris ten Den, was a real yawner. Such a dull, dull game, we both agreed. At the end, we decided to do a recount. That was far more exciting. I was up two points which I had missed, then a vile little miscount put me at three points behind to lose the game by one lonely little point. This put Chris ahead by 1/2 game, thanks to my other true tie with his roommate, Dean Porporo, which was also recounted and remained tied after the recount (reporter's note: Incidentally, after that recount and in the spirit of true Scornsmanship, I did go around referring to Chris as Chris Ten Point Five Den until I felt better).

There was another vile discrepancy which I did not catch, but fortunately my math "consultant," expert player Paul Avrin, did. As he looked at the standings which were posted, and then at my own personal record sheet, he noticed a HUGE gap of more than a hundred points in spread. The posted mistake put me neck-and-neck with what seemed at the time to be my next closest competitor -- Dean Porporo -- at least according to the posting. In fact, Chris Lipe, who would take third place, was actually closer to me in our cumulative scores.
When Paul and I trotted the paperwork over to our data entry mavin, Vernon Jones, he went into the files and noticed that one of my point spread entries had not been saved in the program. Therefore, my true record was not reflected in the posted standings. Whilst this probably would not have affected the final outcome for first place, it certainly could have put me in third place rather than second. And since I was so fuckin' close to that first place spot, I was now educated and eager to have the mistake cleared up for all comers to see.

Joseph Bowman of Toronto, despite his two bingos to my none, lost to me by 50 points. He took third place, and what a fun game that was, no matter the outcome.

Ida Scaglione had studied up the top 15 stems list. She had opportunity and ability, and played REaGENTS to a triple and then LEARNeRS to another triple and took the game. She tried ANNEARS*, which I challenged, but again, I pulled the IOU and clunkers and lost by 45 pts.

In the deciding game with Chris ten Den (pictured, above. That's Chris in the orange sweater and your humble GuitarGirl in her faceless, silver haired, sinister-pawed, black-sweater-clad glory), he opened with AI and then played two more twos before we finally got started in the game, when he played SCANTiER for 80. I countered with PORKIeR, which he held and then let stand. After that, it was his draw vs. mine, with me pulling the all the IOU and clunkers while he got the bingo prone tiles. I pulled the Q at the end and was able to play QAT for 35 pts, so I did give a good fight to narrow the spread. All my little plays were pointy, and so were his. But we really three'd and four'd our way to the end of the game, which he won by 63 pts.

My significant bingos (and biggies):

AXILLAE (challenged)
URINOSE (challenged)
STONEMAN * (anagram is MONTANES, but hey, sometimes you forget)
ZEAtINS (challenged)
Opponents' bingos:
I am ready for my next challenge of killer word lists, or risk languishing in lower divisions for life, where nary a board is left with a lonely A looking for a cheap date.

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