As well as the usual cannon fodder, there are at least twenty plausible finalists from the list of SCT/(WSC) contenders shown here
, including a couple who are likely to come through from the Qualifier (Nyman, Okosagah). The list is also incomplete - for some reason Nigel isn't shown - nor is it particularly well formatted, with the absence of country affiliation, a couple of known interlopers, at least one duplicated name and some missing surname information. A bit disappointing at this late stage.
For my part I will spend the remaining few days looking at fours, fives and power tile words. Great flight from Melbourne straight to Prague via Dubai, and I should arrive around midday on Saturday 30 November which will give me time to acclimatise and check out the city's winter offerings.
The camp was in some disarray following Edward's withdrawal due to an indisposition (perhaps it came on while he was out carousing on Saturday night), so Peter Kougi had been summoned as a replacement. However, Peter didn't find out about this until he emerged from an extended slumber, so couldn't get to the venue until approximately game 4.
My first two were against Naween, and all was evenly poised until I made a perfectly reasonable play into the triple lane, only to get GOETHITE in response for 131 (where my MORTICES 158 would have gone). He salted my wounds with another bingo while mine failed to land. In the second matchup, I was always behind after his early DRUTHERS + two more in quick succession, but made quite a good play to equalise with the setup QUOP 45, leaving one in the bag. Here my rack matured to CDFGNYY on a horrendously blocked board, and I was resigned to another loss until I realised it wasn't easy for Naween to play out either. His time trouble helped me enormously (I played one move too quickly for him to respond before the flag fell), and amazingly I was able to finish in four moves and win.
I twiddled my thumbs while waiting for Peter, then he had a good run against me to secure his opening win.
My next rounds were against Joanne - at some point I had noticed her attempting TRINODE* against Trevor, a curious choice - and I was fortunate to get a floating O which delivered OXTONGUE, sufficient to control the game. The second was similar with an earlyish bingo that she was unable to respond to.
Last of the day were against Howard Warner, who had sportingly made the trip from Auckland. I watched an earlier round of his and thought he wasn't really on song (e.g. missing his best opener JOUAL, plumping for JIAO instead, and later overlooking the seven from AEIOSU?), but of course he is a skilled and combative player. Pretty close in the first encounter until he tried the dodgy MULTISEX* with EILSUX?; I bingoed instead, and while his later bingo was kind of inevitable, he left me another opening to go out and win. Then he started very strongly in the return fixture, opening with RESKUED, FOXY 41, a change and then FRIEZES 76 to leave me 150 in arrears. I was fortunate enough to draw the two blanks in succession, then the final S which I was able to set up virtually unblockably for a third bingo that gave me the win.
5-2 on the second day put me second overall, I think. behind the soaring Alastair. For: PRATIES, RUNNIER, NATIVES, AIRIEST, RUSTABLE, OXTONGUE, OCEANAUT, FILASSE, FAIREST, LONGERS, NOTATED, FEGARIES, TOLERANT, REEARNED, REGULATES, OBLIGEES, MAIMERS; against: ELECTION, GOETHITE, SAIDEST, DRUTHERS, RINSERS, NAIVETE, RADIANT, STONILY, MODULUS, AERIFIED, WRESTING, DETESTED, VELURING, OLEINES, RESKUED, FRIEZES
Now I just need to get my revision schedule done within the next few weeks.
Karen had arranged a double round-robin for a few of the WSC contenders, including two Kiwis (Howard flew in from Auckland, but Joanne didn't have that far to come from Sydney). Our initial thoughts were with Michael Cameron, who has fallen gravely ill and is in hospital in Adelaide - at this stage he may not be permitted to fly to Prague assuming he pulls through, so our team might need to be rejigged.
We were each to play two games against the same opponent, then moving on to the next contender (it didn't always work out due to departure and arrival times). A tough format, with ten games on day one and eight on the second. The first game against Alastair was an excellent clash, annotated here: http://www.cross-tables.com/annotated.php?u=16015#0#
I also got the better of him in game two, aided by his opening change, my TOWPATH 86, a rare phony on his part, and my NEOPLASM 98 giving me a 184-0 start. He made heavy inroads into my lead but couldn't overhaul it. Another good beginning against Michael McKenna, with VARIABLE, QUICKEN (115) and CONICAL hitting my rack early on.
Shared a couple with Esther (I enjoyed hooking BYNAME to the front of her nice ETHOXYL, and my bingo find with ACESU?? onto an M in eighth, getting the C in fourth position). Then shared a couple with Trevor - a heated moment arose after he delivered a fairly belated challenge of an accidental phony, when I had already drawn replacement tiles. At least he got fairly heated until it was sorted out. I didn't play well in that game, refusing a higher-scoring ORGASMED for the phony MODGERS which I had thought was OK, but recovered in the second matchup.
I was able to sweep Russell 2-0, partly thanks to a dodgy ACAROIDS* and a helpful NETTLIER 131, then finished the day with a loss to a rampant Michael.
Bingos for: UNSOLEMN, TUNDISH, TOWPATH, NEOPLASM, VARIABLE, QUICKEN, CONICAL, SCOOTED, SAECULUM, RINGWISE, DIASPORE, PREBUILT, VITRINE, ACAROIDS*, NETTLIER, NOTTURNO, ORBITAS
And against: LAZARETS, LEEBOARD, OVERNICE, ROSEATE, ORANGER, ETHOXYL, TEDDIES, BIPLANES, THEORIES, TALLIED, LORETTES, RESHONE, DUSTLIKE, TINDERS, IDEALISES, BLEATING, DOMIEST, UNVAILES, TOEBIES, CLOVERED, BLANCHED
7-3 after day 1.
It seems I hadn’t played face-to-face since June, though the EA Scrabble app takes up too much of my time (wish they would enable tracking on the phone version). So I attended the AGM tourney at Box Hill, a freebie as usual to encourage attendance. A solid 521-347 win over Dianne Gibson to start, then I was up against Norma Fisher – my first rack was ADHJKNO and I rued that she had the start, unable to place KHO(D)JA anywhere around her CRÈME. Soon enough I held seven consonants and she decided to start colonising all quarters of the board with bingos – three in a row using up most of the good tiles, then another a couple of turns later, while all my attempts to help myself out turned sour. A huge loss, 356-548.
I restored my equilibrium with a fortunate 5-bingo run against Michael Rubinstein, though he did manage 440 himself, and after the late start it was already time for lunch. I had a vegetable soup from one of the Asian food stands in the shopping centre, an unusual salty mix of noodles, tofu, broccoli and quail eggs in a chilli broth. It was billed as ‘medium strength’ but by the end of it my lips were aflame. I enjoyed that the vendor was calling out the order numbers in Mandarin, so I had to rely on a bystander to help.
Then another 500 against Marj Miller. Interesting choice to start this one, holding AADILNT – I felt a two-tile play was preferable, but couldn’t really decide between LA/AL and DA/AD. Using the D seems to sim better but I went for LA, and indeed drawing EO would have given me an easy bingo following her underlapping OLE/LO/AL. I spotted DEALATION quickly, though stupidly didn’t see the horizontal play and went for the vertical which dangled right over the TWS for fewer points…but after fighting through a few tough racks I was the first to draw an S to hook it.
The AGM took place at this point...
Another lucky game against Nick Ivanovski, nabbing three in a row after dumping the Q on move one. He matched the first two but had to succumb to a change after my third, and I was able to control things pretty well thereafter. This led me to a game with Trevor Halsall – an interesting encounter, with a modest lead for me but very strong tiles unseen towards the end. I elected to empty the bag, leaving only terminal A and penultimate I as floaters, which he was unable to capitalise on, so I got the win with a sub-400 score.
And finally...a game with Harry. He bingoed first with AGUIZES, but happily I was able to respond with a 102-point BATISTE; his easy X play followed by two easy J plays put me in arrears, but I came back with PARURES; with ACDMPVV I had to get rid of VAV but still struggled for a while, then he got down INSOFAR to go 43 ahead with five in the bag and a blank unseen. Hmm, not a good position to be in:
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O Harry ??????? 395
------------------------------ -> Andrew EEILMST 352
1|= ' = ' D| Tracking AHGINNOOOTY? 12
2| B " " D I|
3| R - ' ' W O P|
4|' O D A L ' - E F '|
5| N M A X - P E |
6| C A G U I Z E s A T " |
7| ' ' Q R E I |
8|= ' W A U R U N =|
9| ' ' I R ' S |
10|V A V H I D " E O |
11| T B A T I S T E S F |
12|J O U L E N - A '|
13|O N - ' G ' - R |
14|K Y R E L I C - |
15|E ' E ' =|
I had to score a few points and keep the S for E3, so MELT O12 was my choice (hoping for consonants, and the Y for O8). Simulation prefers MEET which I guess I agree with. My draw was HNNY – no blank, but quite pleasant in the circumstances. He went for GOV A8, and in the keen desire to secure the win I decided to spurn SHINNEY (not 100% under pressure), after some thought plumping for YIN at O8 to go nine ahead. He thought he was blocking my outplays by choosing TOeA at M12 from AIOOT?, but I finished with NESH 9D to win an important game by 27.
And if I had gone for SHINNEY, I would have won the tournament, instead coming second to Norma on spread. Hey ho!
I saw a link on Facebook to a blog by Tomas Rodr, the Czech rep at the last WSC. He's recently put up his post
about that event, which is a fun read - it looks as though he is prey to seething emotions and desires, and isn't afraid to write about them (in some depth). I was kind of flattered to be portrayed as 'a handsome bearded guy with a conspicuous Roman nose' in his overview of the finals. Looks like we will see him competing in Prague shortly.
I won't be the oldest member of the Australian team at the
SCT, Esther being my senior by a few years (here's the team
). Three of us made it through without even bothering to notch a result in one of the qualifying trimesters, which is indicative of something. So we'll have four in their early-to-mid twenties if all show up, one below twenty - good to see that Michael McKenna snared a place on merit as well as via the WYSC - two around thirty, a thirtysomething and a couple of somewhat older reps. There's kind of a question mark over Michael Cameron, who has never been overseas, but apparently Adam Kretschmer is proposing to accompany him and take part in the side-event. Michael is gifted but a bit erratic, and I wonder whether he is a worthier rep than Trevor who just missed out this time.
My European break put a sudden halt to my revision program, then I had kind of a disappointing Victorian Championships (losing the last two games and dropping to third), so I need to pick it up again soon.
Looks like I failed to post anything last month, but I did have a fun scrabble experience when visiting Sweden for Eurovision. Ed Martin, now resident near Lund north of Malmö, had decided to host a small tournament (billed as the Eurovision Scrabble Contest – what else) and invited me along with fellow Eurovision-goer Chris May, David Webb, Terry Kirk and Lewis Mackay for a WESPA-, ABSP- and Swedish-rated event. Chris couldn’t make it on Friday, so we did a double round robin of five players that day with one sitting out, followed by a double RR of six on Saturday.
The weather was beatific, with warm sun kissing the burgeoning fruit bushes and pots in the rambling garden around Ed’s charming home. We stayed indoors throughout.
I seemed to be on reasonable form in games 1 and 2, pipping Ed by a few in both. Here’s one of them: http://www.cross-tables.com/annotated.php?u=14567
The second hinged on my outplay of PRIGGED – wasn’t 100% but went for it, and all was well. I then shared my games with David, overlooking BONGRACE in the second (and I note that he bingoed with that word in a recent event reported to UKS, so the reminder may have been helpful) but I could afford to miss it. Similar story against Terry, with one game flowing nicely (BOTFLIES/WAREZ/FERNBIRD furnishing a big lead) and the other stuttering.
I had only played Lewis once before, at a Causeway event a few years ago in which he drew the bag and plonked down about five bingos. Well, he did much the same in the next pair of games, finding five in the first (including a double and a triple) and three in the second, the last of these being the nine-timer TITRABLE. So after a solid start I ended the day 4-4, David and Terry coming out on top of the pile. I then had to race over to the Malmö Arena for the Jury Final of Eurovision (effectively a dress-rehearsal, not televised but running in exactly the same order as the following day’s final). Sadly our seats were rather poor, at the back of the stage obscured by some lighting arrays, but it was highly enjoyable.
Our second day of scrabble began, and I faced Ed again. Now it was my turn to draw everything, securing EXODISTS for 199 immediately round the S of his MULLETS and logging a 594, and then getting three in a row in the follow-up, the third of which being the outrageous DIAZINES for 203 (641 the final score). My luck continued against David with five bingos, but he bested me in the return; I then lost two close games to Terry, shared my two with Lewis (yay! My maiden win against him), and finally lost two even closer games with Chris, the last by a solitary point when his final two-blank rack was too powerful. So my performance was the below-par 4-6. Chris had confessed to feeling unprepared and unmotivated at the start of the day, and naturally ended up winning all but one of his games. I suppose he is now top-ranked in Sweden.
No particularly choice bingos seen, but I could mention THILLER, HAUYNES, NONWAGE, FARINHA (immediately underlapped by Lewis’s ADENOID) and my opponents’ COOSERS, REGROOMS, UROLOGIC (with two blanks).
I guess I could have spent more time analysing the games, but I’ve had other things on my mind such as being sued in the Supreme Court by our neighbour, and going through a separate legal action with her to get our house renovation plans approved. She is something else.