I entered the tournament seeded near the top of division two and feeling good about my chances. I had a winning record against the top of the field who were mostly from Chicago. Still after the meltdown I suffered at the Arden Cup, I was a little nervous. I seem to implode when I don't draw well and my opponent keeps a closed board by playing off tiles one or two at a time. I've described this style as someone playing the game by taking little constipated shits all over the board. It's just no fun for everyone involved.
After some reshuffling to balance the divisions, I was ranked 2nd of twelve. With thirteen rounds this meant there'd be a round robin followed by a two round king of the hill, which is a nice fair format. At the end of the first day I was 5-2 +359. I grew impatient in the first loss and tried hooking an S onto the end of HEATING to get down TELSONS. After that came off, I had SONLIEST* challenged off as well. I should have known that SONLY didn't compare since I would have seen one of the forms, but since AUNTLY compares, I played it. In my second loss my opponent drew JX??SSSS and I saw stuck making 20-30 point plays with bad racks on a closed board. Despite the losses, the low point of the day may have been playing M(I)AOU for 25 while holding AAEMOSU. I knew there was something there. Sure enough, during my next turn I saw I had missed MAUSO(L)EA.
Entering the second day, three or four of us were at 5-2 and two games behind Tom Kowalik who stood at an impressive 7-0. For the most part, the top of the field had not played each other so there was ample opportunity to gain ground. I played Tom in the first game of the day and needed to win if I was going to have a shot at winning the division (this would become the motif of the tourney for me). Before the game I admitted to Tom that to get myself psyched up for the game I had printed his photo off of cross-tables. I then taped it to the wall and spent half an hour that morning staring at it and growling. I find this really helps me get prepared mentally. The game was close until I got down my second bingo. I managed to put the game out of reach two turns later when I hooked a Y onto HOOT for a 54 point play. My next game was a messy loss where my opponent drew ZX??SSS. I managed to play my way out of some ugly racks to make the game close before exchanging too late and losing big. My next opponent had a reputation for playing closed boards so I vowed to keep things open. Before the game she jokingly asked me if I was ready to lose again. I won by 240. During the game, I was all set to play F(A)IRWAYS when she blocked my spot. Fortunately, she just played AFT and it still went down, though for less points. In the end it worked out better since it set up MILKY for 55 on my next play. In my final game I willed my opponent to play (Z)IN to empty the bag and open the last plausible bingo lane so I could go out with DEPOSED for a 208 point win.
After the round robin, I was one game behind Tom and tied with another player at 8-3 . Since my spread was ~800 points higher, I would play Tom needing to win the first game and win or tie the second. We both scored well with our first few turns, but after he got down UNCHAIN(S) for 101 I was in a 114 point hole. I slowly closed the gap before pulling within 13 with EVuLSIO(N). I had vowel heavy racks the rest of the game and ended up down 41 holding EIOOMUR with one tile left in the bag and ADEEGRT? unseen. I had earlier played CAMP with the P at 11H hoping for an I hook down to the TWS (I had forgotten about CAMPO). Because of a later play, the word would now need to start with a T. Seeing no other chance, I played (T)IMOUR* for 45. I was thinking this may be a base for TIMOROUS (note the correct spelling which I realized after making the play). Shockingly, Tom let the word go and then missed an out bingo of GARTE(R)ED (I didn't know it either). The last tile in the bag was the blank and I had a 17 point out play for the win. I'm still not sure why he didn't challenge. My best guess is it's because we've played many times at club and I've always played words he doesn't know yet. I also have a reputation for not playing phonies. Though maybe that's just when compared with aibretty. He's shameless.
We were then set for a true championship game with $500 going to the winner and $300 to second. Third place was around 200 spread points behind Tom and ~600 behind me. I opened with TROWELS and two turns later he got down (E)NSURInG to pull even. But over the next five turns I incrementally outscored him and built a 70-50 point cushion. With a blank and an S unseen I spent the next few turns closing most of the remaining lanes. Tom tried hooking a T onto the back of CHOP but had it challenged off. Fortunately, I had finished the fives a month before and knew it wasn't good. With two left in the bag and EELNRSTU? unseen, I was holding a 45 point lead and AEMNOOK. There were two open bingo lanes. One required hooking an S on CHOP and the other needed to start with an A. I played KO(P) to make it impossible to bingo through with the available tiles. I emptied the bag and drew the last blank. After Tom's play, I bingoed out with AMNiOTE to win by 118. Luckily 128 was the magic number and he was able to stay in second. To be honest, I briefly considered "not seeing" the bingo so as to not knock Tom down to third. I didn't know what the spread was from the other game, and in the end decided it was unethical to manipulate results in that way. I'm glad Tom was able to finish second and feel like an ass for stealing the tourney from him on a phoney. He's developing into a great player and will undoubtedly be rated above me before the end of the year.
Despite some frustrating losses, I felt like it was a good tourney. I finished 10-3 +1139 while averaging ~425 a game. I was actually outdrawn by opponents too seeing 25/52 blanks, 12/26 Ss, 8/13 Xs, and 3/13 Zs. The J and Q don't correlate with winning in quackle sims, but may do so at lower levels. I saw more of these, drawing 6 Js and 10 Qs.
And now the obligatory bingo lists...
Mine: EQuINES, STEPPEd, SpOONED, (H)EROINEs, BUSTIEST, OUTcAST, ASTERIA, ROUtING, GROUND(E)R, AERATIN(G), USEABlE, CATTIER, NoISIER, HERDING, F(A)IRWAYS, ELAPSEd, DIARIES, LATIG(O)ES, DEPOSED, EVuLSIO(N), TROWELS, AMNiOTE
Theirs: IRONIEs, HEATING, AIRIESt, FANLESS*, SeLLERS, DIETERS, UNSHApE*, TISANeS, STORERs, SILlIE(S)T, PLAQuES, BOATeRS, OUTaGES, St(R)AINER, sUNNIER, UNCHAIN(S), (E)NSURInG
I was pretty sure UNSHApE wasn't good, but amazingly, I maximized my spread by allowing the phony bingo to stay on the board. I'll post about that game later