The trials and tribulations of a life of leisure...
Thursday, January 18, 2007
Bangalore Experiences - Tournament
I had been told the minibus would be at the main gates of the Bowring at 7.30 so that's where I was. There was one other player waiting there, Karthik, but no sign of the minibus. After a few minutes a young American chap, another player called Scott, came and told us the minibus was actually waiting inside and led us back to it. Everyone was there except Gerry and Pakorn. However, they arrived about 5 minutes later - they had been to breakfast...
By the time we were on the road the traffic had begun to build up. Pakorn had brought a set with him and we had a left-versus-right audience participation game on the bus. This made the journey seem shorter, but it was still around 9.00 when we arrived at the venue.
When we signed in we were each given a small rucksack with some scrabble goodies inside and the all important meal vouchers. There was breakfast provided, including sandwiches. I handed over my breakfast voucher and got a cheese sandwich. I then spotted some fruit juice and went to get some. There was a little confusion as the man wanted my breakfast voucher and didn't understand that I had already handed it in.
There was a brief welcoming ceremony and introductions. A part of this included a mention that India had been invited to bid for this years World Scrabble Championships.
I met a very bubbly young lady from Hong Kong, Jocelyn. It transpired that she had never played a tournament before, but had seen the tourney mentioned in one of the papers and had phoned Radhika to see if she could play. I then explained to her the process of playing with a clock. She said she knew the 2s but it transpired her OSW was version 4, the last issue before we switched to SOWPODS.
There were some problems getting the fixtures for the first round out, but eventually we all sat down to play the first game at around 10.30.
I was drawn against another woman, Hema, in round 1. The game was not going well for me, and after 8 moves I had not had a bonus and was slightly behind. However, on move 9 I bingoed for 85 and picked ANXIOU? from the bag. Hema bingoed straight back, but gave me a choice of the triple doubling the X or a double tripling the X. I chose the latter for 124 points and game over for what looked like an easy win but was not.
I drew Tony Sim (Singapore) in the second round. We have played a few times before and I knew he was a tricky player. He was ahead most of the game. Coming to the end I still had hope with one tile unseen. If Tony had had both of the unseen Us on his rack I would win. Unfortunately for me he didn't...
The next couple of games were fairly straight forward, although in one I tried MESOPON muddling it with METOPON, but I was already 100 points up.
Game 5 I played Vannitha (Malaysia I think). This was a tight game. Getting near the end on a very blocked board I played SHiVS onto a triple to ensure victory.
Game 6 was always under control, but I lost game 7 narrowly to Mohan (Ind).
Game 8 was against Suresh (Sri Lanka) who told me before the game that he was the highest unofficially rated UK player (with only 6 games). This spurred me on to record my biggest margin win of 249-555, and his lowest score for about 9 years.
So, end of day 1 with a 6-2 record and lying in 4th place. The minibus journey back to the Bowring seemed to take forever. I think we went out of our way a few times to drop people of at different locations. Gerry, Pakorn and I just went back to our rooms to dump our stuff and then met up again to eat at Koshy's. On the walk there Pakorn rescued me from walking into a large hole in the pavement...
After a reasonable nights sleep we set off again in the morning, slightly later than before as Scott had not turned up. Eventually we decided he must have made his own way there - he was not staying at the Bowring. We thought breakfast had finished when we arrived as there was no sign of it where we had eaten the day before. I was due to play Pakorn in the first game of the day, so we bought a coffee and something to eat at the canteen as there would be no premature starting of our clocks. We then found that breakfast had been moved to around the corner, but I preferred my cappucino. Jocelyn had decided to give up after losing all her games the day before. It had been a bit of a baptism by fire for her, and I hope it hasn't put her off playing for life.
I responded to Pakorn's opening play with a low scoring bonus. Two moves later and another bonus plus the rarity of a 5-point penalty from the challenge. Pakorn came back at me, and by move 8 was slightly ahead. I bonused again on move 9 to take a 57 point lead. Getting to the end Pakorn bonused back to regain a small lead and empty the bag. I played out with ELEGITS for a rare victory. I do not think I have beaten Pakorn in a tournament since the 1999 WSC.
I was then slaughtered by Sherwin in the next game -not quite a combined 1000 pointer. I won the next 5, including a narrow victory against Akshay. I lost game 16 against Lakshan (Sri Lanka) on countback. It could have been a lot worse - he missed a simple 9-timer play out. However, coming to the end game I made a mistake. With 7 in the bag and a slight lead I had a bonus that played in two places. I took the place for a 7, opening the 9-x with L in position 7. Lakshan would need an 8 to win. I had had a 20 point lead, and as Lakshan had just made the 2nd opening I knew he had bonus-like tiles. I should have just passed...
The schedule was slightly changed, and we played a ninth game. The king-of-the-hill format kicked in, and I had Sherwin again. This game started like the previous one - Sherwin was on 253 after 4 moves. I had managed one bonus myself, so was on 160. He then played OAKAGE which I held and then successfully challenged off. The game then switched to my favour and a series of good solid scoring saw me overhaul him and hold on for victory.
End of day 2 and I was 13-4 and in 2nd place. There was to be a dinner at the venue, but I had had enough of cucumber sandwiches and was feeling absolutely shattered. Gerry and I decided to hire a tuk-tuk and head back for an early night.
Although the traffic was bad we got back in just over half an hour. We raided the shop at the Bowring - Gerry needed a toothbrush as he had forgotten his and we had been too late the night before to get one. I just had cravings for chocolate. We also bought some other goodies to take home. I went back to my room and chilled out, finishing my Iain Banks's book and gorging on chocolate biscuits, a Mars bar, cashew nuts and a couple of the Indian sweets I still had. I went to bed about 10.30 and slept quite well compared to other nights. I felt a lot better in the morning, having no idea of the carnage that was ahead...
The traffic on the Sunday morning was very light compared to the other days, and we arrived back at the venue with plenty of time for breakfast. I spotted they had cornflakes - but when I got them they were soaked in warm milk :(( I also had a hard boiled egg and yet another cucumber sandwich. Scott had seen fruit juice and kindly got me a cup.
I had Pakorn for the first game of the day again. This time, however, after a bonus on move 2 I went through a series of non-bonus 1 and 2 pointer racks and was absolutely splattered.
Sherwin again. This game was unlike our others in being a lot closer all the way through, but a couple of good scores at the end by Sherwin was enough to see him win narrowly.
Akshay. I started well with two bonuses in the first two moves. Akshay bonused back on move 3 but I was still 50 up after my go and kept it at that margin until Akshay bonused again on move 8 to draw level. Another bonus on move 10 by him and it had all gone horribly wrong, and my third loss of the day. I suddenly felt very tired - this was confirmed by my lack of concentration in the remaining games. A sure tell-tale sign is that my tile-tracking went awry.
In the next game against Varisht I just had no ammunition at the start. He took a good lead with heavy scoring on a triple with the aid of an S. I made an opening and he immediately bonused on it with another S and blank. The board was very blocked by now and there was no way back.
The next game was no better and I was beginning to lose the plot. This can be a very cruel game at times. Game 23 and I was playing Tony Sim again. Luckily this went a lot better than before and I pulled out a bonus+ lead early on. Tony caught me back up with a bonus on move 6 and a good follow up score. Here we go again I thought. However, I got a bonus on move 8 to get some breathing space, and when Tony made another opening nearer the end I was able to capitalise on it.
Game24, and Lakshan again. This was a dire blocked game and I made a dreadful mistake allowing Lakshan to get away with a phony after holding for a while. I deserved to lose - there was no way I could win if I did not challenge. The only thing I can say is that I was very tired and after having had such a dreadful run I was not thinking straight.
So, I finished nowhere. I needed to be at my best for the last day - with a king-of-the-hill with repeats there were no easy games. A combination of playing off-form and very little luck saw me plummet from 2nd to 14th. I jokingly said to Gerry I would only have been a couple of places lower if I hadn't turned up for the last day.
We had all been given tee-shirts at lunch time and before the prize giving there was a group photo shoot...
I apologise for the quality of the next photos but it was beginning to get dark...
Pakorn had already won the tourney with a round to spare, which is just as well as he lost his last game. Akshay finished 2nd and Suresh 3rd. Gerry crept into the prizes with a run from behind to finish 10th.
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