Cambridge Scrabble Club [2012-11-09]

Since relocating to the Boston area, I haven’t had any time to play Scrabble. My initial plan was to attend the Lexington Scrabble Club, but given the location and my work schedule I just never was able to make it out. Fortunately, there is a new club (Cambridge Scrabble Club #881) that started recently that meets in Harvard Square.

GAME #1 vs. Leigh Bernstein

I was a bit nervous to play my first game in a long time especially with people who I don’t know. As I was playing this game, I could tell I was rusty and out of “Scrabble shape”. For example, I had a difficult time seeing a bingo with ACIRT?? even though there are 77 seven letter words. Additionally, I confused the spelling of OORARI* (CURARI, OURARI, WOORARI).

Final Score: 404-394 (win)
Bingos: Me – TRACIng, SWAMPED; Leigh – QINTARS

GAME #2 vs. Evans Clinchy

Not much to say about this game. Definitely got fortunate with the tiles and a late bingo that I wasn’t sure about. Evans was gracious in the loss and gave me a very good compliment which I appreciated.

Final Score: 392-350 (win)
Bingos: Me – SOOtIER, wEIGH(T)ER; Evans – RETRACES

GAME #3 vs. John O’Laughlin

Got crushed by John. The combo of good (but not necessarily great) tiles for John and him being better than me led to a predictable outcome. He had an early bingo that scored for big points and just kept pouring it on. I noticed that he was able to score consistently with relatively simple words (examples: WOT for 37, TOPH for 41, YE for 30). If this trend continues, John might replace Vijay as my “Scrabble daddy” ­čÖé

Final Score: 604-271 (loss)
Bingos: Me – INOSITE; John – MENORAH (122 points!), TRI(P)LING, STRIGIl(S) (that’s STRIGILS), LOCAtER

GAME #4 vs. Cathy

For some reason I started to play very conservatively in this game. Maybe it was because I got shell-shocked in the previous game. I had some tough tiles early on but that doesn’t really excuse things. I had a chance at the end of the game for a late bingo but didn’t manage to find an acceptable play.

My tiles were: EEIMRST and I had to play through an R that had to be either the last or second last letter. I saw MERRIEST and TRIREMES but those didn’t fit.

Final Score: 358-336 (loss)
Bingos: Me – ELOINeD; Cathy – ASsAILS

In all, I think I played reasonably well. More than anything else, I was happy to get connected to the Scrabble community in Boston and play a few games. I’m looking forward to getting back into playing more in the near future. With the players at the Cambridge club, I expect to lose the majority of the games as I’m probably the lowest rated player. But, looking forward to the learning and opportunity to improve my game. Was glad to meet the folks who made it out on Monday as everyone seems very friendly.

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All quiet before the Nationals [2012-08-02]

I was fortunate to be in Mississauga this week and decided to join the club.

Game #1 vs. Shauna Petrie
Shauna is a good player. Give her some good tiles and she’s very dangerous. She started off quickly with GLOaTERS and AERIALS back to back and had me on the defensive early on. I did my part to try and keep the board open for a come-back, but high-scoring plays of AZOTE (72) and POKES (47) pretty much did me in. I struggled with rack balance so I wasn’t able to keep up. Nothing against Shauna as she played a very good game. Hopefully she’ll be in good position to win at the Nationals next week.

Final score: 477 – 296 (loss)
Bingos: Me – SNEEREd; Shauna – GLOaTER, AERIALS

Game #2 vs. Gene Tyska
Similar to last week, Gene wasn’t able to respond to my relatively conservative play. However, I did take some offence to his assertion that I was actively shutting the board down and that he was the only person trying to keep the board open. It’s not my fault if he doesn’t open up the board very well or that he isn’t aware of front/back hooks to words – I thought the board was wide open for most of the game. I only started shutting the board down at turn 10 when I knew he had the last blank and I was getting all vowels. Oh well, that’s just part of the game.

Final score: 331 – 313 (win)
Bingos: Me – SOOThER; Gene – none

Game #3 vs. Steve Ozorio
It’s funny, but I think I lost this game pretty early on. Steve played WICANS* and I held it and reluctantly accepted it. I recognized WICCANS but wasn’t sure if Steve knew an alternate form of the word. After that play, I felt like I was a turn behind the rest of the game. Steve made a good play of setting himself up with a bingo along the TWS lane. I didn’t realize there is a front hook to LATCH other than K and he punished me with a bingo plus the challenge. Still, the game was closer than I expected.

Final score: 403 – 306 (loss)
Bingos: Me – none; Steve – sILTIER, UpDATES

I’m back to the regular travel schedule for work so my ability to attend the club is greatly decreased. Good luck to everyone who is attending this year’s National Championships in Orlando, FL. I wonder if Nigel Richards will further cement his status as the world’s best Scrabble player by winning yet another championship. Hope everyone has a great time playing.

Unfortunately I can’t attend as I used up all my vacation earlier this year exploring the Rockies, Hawaii, and Vancouver. I’ve heard that next year’s Nationals will be in Las Vegas – I’m definitely planning to attend.

Vijay is my Scrabble daddy [2012-07-26]

Was able to head out to the club and get in some games. As always, I enjoyed the night very much even though the results weren’t all positive. Playing the games, I could tell I am rusty in terms of the mechanics of playing games but also in terms of seeing words.

Game #1 vs. Gene Tyzska
The thing I’ve noticed about Gene is that he absolutely hates when people shut the board down. I don’t think this is a secret as he admits this himself. Knowing this about Gene, I decided to play a relatively defensive game. Fortunately for me, I was able to build a small lead early on and was fairly fortunate with the tiles. This led to Gene becoming increasingly agitated throughout the game. I can sympathize with Gene as I don’t like closed boards, but I’ve learned to accept this style of play and deal with it. Not really much to say about this game except that when Gene tried to open up the board, I punished him for it. Actually, I think Gene didn’t open up the board successfully.

Final score: 431 – 315 (win)
Bingos: Me – ARSINES, UNDRApE; Gene – none

Game #2 vs. Priya Fernando
I’ve always enjoyed the games with Priya as they are close. Priya is a solid, solid player. I can’t really describe this game except to say that Priya does a great job of making solid plays each turn – she had a string of 30+ point plays (8 of 1o turns) that was impressive. Nothing flashy, but really consistent plays.

Final score: 364 – 312 (loss)
Bingos: Me – DEWIeST; Priya – CINEAsT

Game #3 vs. Vijay
I requested to play Vijay as I wanted to test myself. My goal was to make the game competitive and give him a “run for his money”. The short story is that Vijay is much better than me. Give him some good tiles and the result is not surprising.┬áVijay had this strong of turns that absolutely killed me: REALISE(D) for 72, NaZI for 45, YANQUIs for 100, and PORGIES for 94. I am not taking anything away from Vijay’s play and he deserves all of the accolades for his play. I just wish I could have given him more of a challenge.

Final score: 592 – 226 (loss – ouch!)
Bingos: Me – none; Vijay – RETUNED, REALISE(D), YANQUIs, PORGIES

The thing I noticed about my play is that I’m not able to put together a string of high scoring turns. Shaun Goatcher told me that I should be trying to average 30 points per turn to give myself a chance at winning. I find that my plays vary too much in terms of score and that I have too many sub-optimal turns.

Club night in Mississauga [2012-07-12]

I had a rare night in Mississauga on a Thursday so I visited the Mississauga Scrabble Club to play some games and see familiar faces. Unfortunately, I arrived a bit late and missed the first game. The room seemed packed with players which was great to see. I had no expectations of winning games given how rusty I am, but I still enjoy playing the game.

Game #1 vs. Andy Saunders
First, Andy has lost considerable weight – it’s great to see people lose weight and get more healthy. I guess I have no excuses to remain chubby…

As for the actual game, I had to exchange on my first turn as I had vowel soup. My tiles on turn #2 were: ACEENST. I recognized that there was a bingo in there but couldn’t see it (there are two actually). Fortunately for me, I saw an R on the board and made CENTA(R)ES. It probably wasn’t the best or highest scoring play, but I was relieved to find a bingo. The rest of the game was tight as Andy kept making really good plays. He seemed to get the Ses but didn’t seem to have the best tile synergy. I pulled with a sequence of plays : EbONITE (68), AMINE (43), and (F)ORKER (42), but Andy kept up with a late bingo SC(E)NArIO (not sure I would have seen that one). At the end, I was fortunate to get the X and score 39 points with it, otherwise, my final tiles of EILLNUU wasn’t going to win me the game.

Final Score: 396 – 390 (WIN)
Bingos: Me – CENTA(R)ES, EbONITE; Andy – SC(E)NArIO

Game #2 vs. Dave Krook
This game was very interesting and enjoyable. I don’t want to sound condescending, but every time I play Dave, I am impressed by how much his game keeps improving. Here is the most interesting play (at least for me) of the game. It is my turn to play (turn #9) and the score is 195-141 (my turn to play). What would you play?

[update] My tiles were:┬á┬áEITUXZ? – thanks go to Steven Karp for pointing out that I didn’t list my tiles.

2012-07-12.jpg

I saw the following possibilities:

  1. EX at 12D for 38 points (I don’t know how I completely missed XI right beside this play!);
  2. TZU(R)Is at C8 for 48 points;
  3. TUI at 6C for 9 points – this is only to get rid of the U and the I;
  4. (L)UTZ at E11 for 13 points (alternatively LUX or LUXE for a couple points less); and,
  5. ZI(T) at 3I for 22 points.

I *wanted* to play TZURIS as it would clean-up my tiles and score decent points (the word itself is pretty cool too). But, I was worried about burning my blank and also opening up a juicy bingo lane through the S. Given the score, I was concerned about keeping pace with Dave. Therefore, I wanted to try for a 30+ point play while trying to balance my rack without opening things up too much for Dave.

Any thoughts on what to play and why? Is the blank worth playing here?

I was doing my best to keep up but got some tough tile combinations. I got both the blanks, but Dave bingoed before me and I just couldn’t catch him. Good game Dave!

Final Score: 387 – 373 (loss)
Bingos: Me – eTOILEs; Dave: STRINGS, SERIATE

It was good to see all the familiar (and new faces) at the club. I hope to attend next week as I’m still on vacation. Hopefully I will be around more during the summer so I can play more games.

A visit to the Calgary Scrabble Club [2012-02-09]

Having a rare evening to spend in Calgary, I decided to visit the Calgary Scrabble Club and enjoy some games. I showed up a bit early and was warmly greeted by several members, including Siri Tillekeratne. He introduced me to Randall (who is apparently the club director) and we had a friendly game before the evening started.

Friendly game vs. Randall
This was a good game that we never had a chance to finish. He played a phoney against me that I thought was 50/50.

Final Score: 325 – 285 (incomplete – my turn to play)
Bingos: Me – COTERIE, (S)POoNING; Randall – (W)OODLICe*, VARLETS

Game #1 vs. Dorothy
Not much to say about this game. Dorothy played a relatively conservative game while I tried my best to keep it open given some of the challenging tiles I have.

Final Score: 379 – 326 (win)
Bingos: Me – ResTAGE(D); Dorothy – none

Game #2 vs. Wendy
This was a very low scoring game. I struggled with tiles all game and felt hesitant and anxious. I think it’s a sign of how rusty I am from not having played in quite some time. I accepted NOILE(D)* – ugh. Here’s the final situation that I spent several minutes evaluating before making my final play. I have the following tiles: ILOPSTY and the score is 280-257. The bag is empty and your opponent has ACIOR. Given the board position, what would you play?

I ended-up playing STYL(I) at 8A for 27 points. Doh! Gave her an out play.

Final Score: 299-284 (loss – ugh)
Bingos: Me – RINg(L)ETS; Wendy – none

Game #3 vs. Noella
Another game when my rustiness did me in. This game was close all throughout. I had six vowels on my rack for the last four turns and that pretty much did me in. Also, Noella plays very quickly and not having played in a while, that unnerved me and got me distracted.

Final Score: 406-385 (loss)
Bingos: Me – (T)ITRATES; Noella – cREDITs

I had an enjoyable night. Definitely showed me that I have to work to get in shape for the Nationals in August.

Pre-Christmas Scrabble [2011-12-22]

I had a rare chance to visit the club and decided to drop in. Turn-out was great and it was wonderful to see so many familiar faces.

Game #1 vs. Mark Edelson

Was not expecting much in this game as Mark is an excellent player. Mark played three bingos early (in four turns) to build a big lead. I had many of the power tiles but they just didn’t have much synergy for me to make big scoring plays. I had either too many vowels or too many consonants. Given that I haven’t thought about Scrabble since the Nationals in August, I wanted to focus on making good plays. Having forgotten about the score for several turns, I was pleasantly surprised to realize that I was down by less than 100 points (i.e., within a bingo). I was making scores as best as I could while Mark was shutting down bingo lanes. In the end, I just didn’t have enough. Still, it was an enjoyable game.

20111222-g1.JPG

FINAL SCORE: 426-395 (loss)
BINGOS: Me – hOA(R)IEST; Mark – RINGLET, STERNAL, INNUe(N)DO (great find!)

Game #2 vs. Sophia Ozorio

This game was close (as they always seem to be when I play Sophia) until a two play sequence at turn #10. I got fortunate with a Z play on a TLS combo for 65 points. Then I found REMER(G)ES which got challenged.

20111222-g2.JPG

FINAL SCORE: 465-380 (win)
BINGOS: Me – RETINAs, AnIMA(T)ES, REMER(G)ES; Sophia – OVE(R)PAYS (good find)

Game #3 vs. Yvonne Lobo

After opening with a bingo, my tiles got very tough – I had way too many Is. There’s only so much you can do to play off multiple Is until you either have to trade or find yourself falling behind. Given my tough tiles, I was forced to keep the board open. Then Yvonne pounced on an open F in row 1 for her triple-triple (149 points!). Good find.

20111222-g3.JPG

FINAL SCORE: 496-274 (loss)
BINGOS: Me – CABOOSE; Yvonne – ArOUSED, STU(F)fING

It was fun to be back playing Scrabble, but I could tell I was rusty. Hopefully I’ll have more chances in the new year.

Happy holidays. See you in 2012.

A start to the 2011-2012 season [2011-08-08]

I wasn’t traveling this week, so I made it to the club for a few games (Thursday September 8th). Apparently it was the start of the new season so all of the season’s stats were reset. For the 2010-2011 season, Craig and Sophia took the championships for Divisions A and B respectively. Congratulations to both of them! Also, I was told that I am now in Division A for the current season. I was about 6 games short of qualifying for the championship and I would’ve had a good chance of winning too as I was leading the standings. Oh well, that’s just part of how things are.

Game #1 vs. Brenda Solomon
Had better tiles and made good use of them. Brenda kept fishing and fishing while I was making plays. In the end it was just too much and she couldn’t make-up the ground.

Final Score: 501-260 (WIN)
Bingos: Me – BAYONET, RET(I)NUES, WAnTING, OL(E)ANDEr; Brenda – none

Game #2 vs. Yvonne Lobo
Had been a while since I played Yvonne so I was looking forward to the challenge. The game started off somewhat slow as she opened with VANG (8F) and I played V(A)U (G7). That double V combo created a bit of a dead zone in the center of the board. I could see that Yvonne was frustrated so I didn’t do much to open up the board. The game was decided on an interesting sequence of plays: I had DEBATES on my rack with a few options. Yvonne played JER(R)Y (46 pts @ 3I) and for some reason I didn’t think it was good. I think I was hoping to use the R to make DEBATE(R)S and got myself convinced JERRY was not acceptable. Anyway, I lost the challenge and Yvonne played PEG for 30 to further close off the top of the board. I played by bingo at a very precarious spot (N7) exposing the triple lane with a juicy E beside the TWS. Yvonne hemmed and hawed and then played TACHIER* for 106 at O2. Generally, Yvonne is pretty good at playing bingos so I thought about the play. The game was essentially tied 206-200 for her. She had made her 9th turn so the game was progressing to the end-game. For 106 points, I had to challenge – if the play is acceptable the game is over. Fortunately for me, it came off. I didn’t see any obvious bingos so I wasn’t sure that TACHIER* was an acceptable word (THERIAC is the only word in that group). I responded with COKES for 51to pull ahead. The rest of the game was me balancing my rack and then getting fortunate with a final bingo to finish the game.

Final Score: 415-307 (WIN)
Bingos: Me – DEBATES, (G)ENTRIeS; Yvonne – none

Game #3 vs. Jason Ubeika
I can’t remember the last time I played Jason and I don’t know if I’ve ever beaten him. Needless to say, I was looking forward to the challenge. The short story is that I lost this game and I think I know the exact turn too. Here’s the board situation:

2011-08-08-g01.jpg

The score was 177-165 for me and it is my turn. What would you play here?

Given the lack of vowels, I elected to play JE(A)N for 22. I considered JE(T)S as it was the same number of points and closed off the triple lane where someone could play (BOX)Y and get a good score. I also thought that JETS would close off the chance of a Q play. Needless to say, after I played JE(A)N, Jason played QUATE for 68. I knew I made a mistake right away – UGH!

It was catch-up for the rest of the game. I had a bingo on my rack at the end, but Jason played his bingo first (RETIREs), hooking PAGAN and closed of my only bingo lane. Good game. Can’t believe that I essentially lost the game at turn 6!

Final Score: 473-402 (LOSS)
Bingos: Me – ViKINGS; Jason – TRO(L)LIED, RETIREs

Might be a while before I get a chance to play Scrabble as I’m traveling for work again.