Cili, silly, and Scrabble on a Saturday @ Jean’s

A few of us got together for some Scrabble at Jean Barinque‘s this weekend. She (and her family) were gracious in having us over for essentially the entire day. We had a mini-tournament and then just had some casual games after dinner. It was a good turn-out: Tim Anglin, Mark Hamilton, Sam Hollington, Shan Abbasi, Charles Helewa, Michael Lancashire, Lou Cornelis, Jim Nanavati, Garth Hardie, Yvonne Lobo, Vera Bigall, Vijay, Sophia & Steve Ozorio, Mark Edelson, John & Ann Hayes, Troy Frost, Joseph Bowman, Geoff & Julia Grenville, and of course Jean. I think that was everyone and I hope I didn’t forget anyone. Here are some quick summaries of the games.

Game #1 vs. Garth Hardie

Garth just beat me. Nothing much to say.

RECORD: 0 – 1

Game #2 vs. Sophia Ozorio

For whatever reason, Sophia just seems to have my number. Not only does she seem to get the better share of the tiles, her style of play just frustrates me. I’ve been trying to just play my game, but it doesn’t seem to be working.

BINGOS: Me – OeSTRIN; Sophia – none
RECORD: 0 – 2

Game #3 vs. Jim Nanavati

Jim’s a really good player and so my margin of error was very small. I got into a rut of trying to bingo with a great stem (AENRS) and so I found myself playing off only two tiles at a time. Not surprisingly, I wasn’t scoring very much on those plays while Jim just kept on scoring. The game quickly got out of hand.

FINAL SCORE: 430-231 (LOSS – ouch!)
RECORD: 0 – 3

We had a short break for food. Jean made a great pasta and salad (not to mention all of the snacks and drinks).

Game #4 vs. Lou Cornelis

Somehow I got matched-up with Lou and was only hoping to keep things close. Lou is currently ranked the #45 top player in North America so he’s really good. He’s also a really nice guy who’s always willing to help out other players. He reminds me of Shaun Gautcher who was always willing to share insights with new and lower rated players like me.

In terms of the game, I had the better share of the tiles and so I was able to keep scoring. Lou was playing some exotic words like NAIRU and GIAOUR so I had to laugh and tell him that he “could make-up words and I wouldn’t be able to challenge them”. Charles was sitting next to me and he said it was like a cat playing with a mouse. There was an interesting position at the mid-point of the game. The score was 168 – 118 for me. I had the following tiles: AAEPTZ? and here was the board position:


I saw position #1 as a good option to play ZETAs (75 points) and then saw position #2 (52 points). Ultimately, I ended-up playing ZETA at position #2 because I wanted to keep the blank. Full disclosure, there is a bingo with those tiles but I didn’t know it (ZAPATEo). When I examined the play via Quackle (minus the bingo), ZETA is valued slightly more than ZETAs. I asked Lou about this position after the game and he would’ve played ZETAs. His reasoning is because there was almost no opportunity for the opponent to have a big come-back play. ZETA scores 52 (and saves the blank), but Lou came back with (Z)ETAS for 42 on the next play so the net was only 10 points. Using the blank nets something like 40-45 points (assuming Lou can find a 30 point play). I’m curious what others would play. Would you save the blank or would you take the points?

The rest of the game went by quickly and I got very fortunate with great tiles to extend my lead. Lou made a great play of TErEFAH (essentially at position #1) and then had a late bingo of ESQUiR(E)S for 86. While I’m ecstatic about the win, I was happier that I played a relatively solid game. Looking back, I think I missed some obvious high scoring plays like JORAM and JUNCO.

FINAL SCORE: 496-375 (WIN – and I am shocked!)
RECORD: 1 – 3

Game #5 vs. Charles Helewa

This game was close and came down to the end. Don’t know why/how I let this game get closed but Charles did his bit to shut down scoring lanes. I have to bow my head in shame as I let Charles play (C)ILI* on me late in the game. Regardless of the outcome, I had a fun game against Charles.

FINAL SCORE: 338-314 (WIN)
BINGOS: Me – TENANTS; Charles – none
RECORD: 2 – 3

Game #6 vs. Steve Ozorio

I don’t think I’ve ever beaten Steve, so I was hoping to play a good game. The most interesting series of plays occurred at turn #11. I played (O)NLOOkER at N1 and Steve challenged the play allowing me to pull ahead 338-269. I tried my best to block him from making use of the TWS and I made a big mistake as I forgot that RIM takes a Y. In my ignorance, I thought I blocked the TWS with RIM but then Steve played CAR(R)Y at 8K for 60 points. Doh! The rest of the game was just both of us trying to make plays to eke out a win.

FINAL SCORE: 395-377 (WIN – yes!)
RECORD: 3 – 3

Well that was it for the mini-tournament. Vijay won the tournament being the only unbeaten player. I don’t remember the standings or the other winners (class/division) but everyone had fun.Several people were playing some fun games (Steve and Sam were duking it out in a semi-serious game which was still full of laughter) and a few team-games were in full swing. I decided to get in a couple of games against Vijay, hoping to learn something while I played against him.

Game #1 vs. Vijay

Look, Vijay is good. Even with slightly better tiles, he was able to run up a big score. Nevertheless, it was good to see how he worked around the board by keeping lanes open while simultaneously managing to keep scoring. He finished the game off with a great find (APPOSES).

FINAL SCORE: 492-332 (LOSS – no surprise)

Game 2 vs. Vijay

I wanted a rematch so we kept playing. This time, I started first since Vijay started off the other. I opened with a bingo which was nice. I had the better share of the tiles and I was able to score with them. On one sequence, I was able to get two bingos in a row and was very happy with my find of ACROBA(T)s. With those tiles, I was originally thinking something like CARBONATE but that requires 9 tiles so I started to look for alternatives until I eventually found ACROBATS. I was also fortunate that Vijay made a mistake in tracking his tiles so I was able to make a final out-bingo.

FINAL SCORE: 486-415

Well since we were tied in games, we decided to play a tie-breaker.

Game #3 vs. Vijay

Vijay made a great find (in my mind) on turn #2: EXONyMS for 98 points. The scary thing is that he could have played OX/(ZA)X for 63 points and still kept his blank. Vijay kept scoring and was ahead by 100 for most of the game. But, I kept scoring and tried to keep within striking distance. On my last turn, I had ADEIRST and a few places to play. Vijay made a careless play and it allowed me to score 89 on my last play of DIASTER. Combined with 24 for his tiles, I was able to almost score the upset. We looked at the final plays after the game and while there was no way for me to win, I could have still made-up over 100 points.


I had to chuckle with the comment Vijay made after our three games. Basically he was trying to figure out why my rating was so low and why I struggled against lower rated players when I seem to play him and other higher rated players tough. Didn’t have an answer for him. Maybe I sometimes play to my opponents.

In all, it was a fun day and a great way to spend an afternoon.

One Response to Cili, silly, and Scrabble on a Saturday @ Jean’s

  1. Shan says:

    Those were some tough pairings, but you did really well!

    As for the play against Lou, I agree about playing ZETAs. Quackle prefers ZETA, but you have to consider that Quackle knows all the words… based on a human’s word knowledge, you are less likely to bingo the following turn than Quackle is. But anyway, you got the bingo and the win, so it worked!

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