I set out for Edinburgh just before midday on Saturday, and had an uneventful journey to the venue arriving about an hour before we were due to start.
Game 1: Robert Richland
Robert started with JANN, and I balanced with VINEW. QUIRES by Robert for 42, and I decided on a clear out with LEIPOA keeping another E rather than utilising the Q and leaving a vowel-heavy rack. This appeared to be a good choice when Robert's next play was OX which would have scored more where I had just gone. I had not liked my pickup, DEEIOV to go with my E but this was nicely, if somewhat dangerously, cleared with VOIDEE for 57. Robert took the triple off, but set up the Z I had picked for 56, giving me a 40 point lead. Robert changed so I just dumped an I for 11. Robert's change obviously did not yield a result as he dumped 2 As with AVA. I balanced with FOG and Robert changed again. I was pleased to spot GEODETIC from the G I had just played, although I was not 100% sure of it. Robert replied with TRENiSE to negate my gain, but I was still 70 ahead. GAUM extended it to 100. ACHY from Robert, and with a vowelless rack I decided the Y was not too dangerous, and played BURRY. Robert, with the second blank, now tried CRINOLYN* which came back with a cross, and I took the danger spot off with BULKY. Robert opened up the top of the board with LIONEL and down went my OPTANTS. ERA from Robert as a desperation opening at the bottom was taken off by my TEDIUM. Robert then tried a phony bingo, allowing me to play out with FOH for a convincing win.
* On checking afterwards this actually made NONLYRIC for a 9x...
W: 495-247 + 248
Game 2: Melanie Beaumont
I had never played Melanie before, but knew she had taken some big scalps in the past.
Melanie started with pITHEAD, playing it down stopping one above the triple. She had decided that her best chance was to gamble on getting an S before me. Unluckily for her I eventually spotted SUITERS to reply for 107. My pickup was ACDELMN, and I was ready to play M(A)NACLED but Melanie blocked it with BED. I switched to plan B, ENCALM(E)D. ALTERI(N)G in response from Melanie to get back to only 15 behind. JEEP for 64 from me, and a 50 point reply of VOW. GIB by me to balance, leaving RAIL, and I was not impressed by my pickup of GOU until I spotted the floating I. Praying it was still there. DIPS from Melanie. Phew! Down went OL(I)GURIA. I had scored 334 in the first 5 moves, but was still only a bonus ahead! Melanie did not take off the triple, so KETA for another 52. A late bonus of ACTIV(A)tE by me, hooking TRY, was extended with RE by Melanie for 42. Further good scores of 31 for the Q dump and 50 for OZONES at the end by Melanie. Our scores were not quite enough for this game to break the record for combined high-score, which I currently hold with David Webb at 1082, but was still pretty amazing considering there were no 9-timers in the game. It will be broken soon with all the new words from the adoption of Collins.
W: 598-456 +142
Game 3: Jill Bright
I started with QI. I hate this as an opening move, but feel slightly happier if I am keeping an S as I was. Jill immediately bonused with TOA(s)TIE. With AAENPRS I could only see a low-scoring PANAR(I)ES. On checking afterwards that was all there was available. Scores stayed neck and neck until I bonused again on move 5 with TERRITS. I gradually eked my lead out to a bonus+ and kept it that way until the end.
W: 441-363 + 78
Game 4: Mikki Nicholson
This game could well be crucial on deciding the final places. I was the highest rated player at the tourney (188), with Mikki(187) snapping at my heels.
I started by changing 5 tiles, not a vowel on the rack. Maybe I should have changed all 7 as I kept back TR and immediately duplicated them both and still only picked a single vowel, E. Mikki opened with FIE so I dumped V(E)RT, and picked 3 more consonants including a duplicating W. Mikki was not doing much better the other way from what I could tell, now dumping POI. MEWL by me blowing my vowel but at least splitting the Ws. I picked an A and U, and was wanting Mikki to give me an open O for OUTDRAWN or UNTOWARD but he did not oblige. At least he didn't block my play of UNWRA(P) for 36. Mikki then bonused with DAINTIE(R) onto the R I had just played, opening up a 9x. My rack had still not improved, and with DDEIOTU I took off the triple with OUT(D)ID to stay in touch. HAILY for 31 from Mikki set up BEZ/ZA for 50 from me, and Mikki extended to ZACKS for 40. I balanced on my next move and Mikki dumped the J for 28. At last I had a decent pickup and with DEOHNS? on a restrictive board played SHO?DEN, stating the blank as a D (not an L for S. Holden...), to take the lead for the first time in the game. Mikki took off the triple to get back to within 3 points, and again I balanced, holding an S. Mikki dumped the Q opening the triple, and having picked the last blank I blocked with VI(A)LS from J2 for 32 to retake a 24 point lead. Mikki then played a new 4, DRAC, one short of the triple line at the top right, and I challenged before my brain kicked into gear that I knew it as it took an O back-hook. Holding a face value bonus from the S of VIALS (SNOtTERY) I decided TROY/DRACO for 41 was a much better option. Mikki was still only 24 behind after playing GOAF to make an opening with reasonable tiles unseen. It was now or never time, I decided he could easily win without a bonus. I held my breath as I played (S)ANGUiNE from N2 and emptied the bag. With AEEPRSX Mikki did not have a bonus and I was home and dry.
W: 405-372 +33
Game 5: Steve Perry
I have played Steve quite a few times and know he is a blocker. I determined to keep the board open. He opened with GOWN, and holding EFILRR? I replied with RIFLER(s), leaving the dangerous T front hook for the triple. Steve missed it when he played MUFTI, but said afterwards there was not much he could have done with it. Having picked a vowel heavy rack I partially blocked it with EAU, and Steve took off the triple with COB/BEAU. Another 2 vowels replaced those I had played but this time with AAEILRU I could play AURELIA for 68 and a 90 point lead. I bonused again on move 7 with STEEPER, hooking MUFTI and now the game was firmly in my grip. I continued with good scoring and took the opportunity of Steve changing tiles a couple of times to balance. I was getting ready to risk STEEPERS (it is okay), when Steve removed the need. NOVICEs for 81 with Steve replying with STAIDER taking the last 7 which did not make a bonus.
W: 548-310 + 238
Game 6: Wayne Kelly
I always feel better now that Wayne has told me that I actually have a good record against him. I obviously only remember the defeats.
I started well with REWAX for 46. Wayne blocked any chance to extend it with ING. I picked the Q, and with a nice rack changed it. Wayne bonused with REASTIER for 77, and I responded with DOuBLE(T)S after spending a lot of time looking for something better. I was hit with (E)NQUIRE for 72, Wayne complaining afterwards that he didn't have another R/D/S. I told him not to be greedy. With ADIINVY the best I could see was DIVI for 30. I was then hit again with Z(I)MB for 52 and I was a bonus behind. I replied with ZA/ARY/MY for 37. I was still hanging in there. Wayne extended DIVI to DIVINER for 33. With AALNOU? I had been holding my breath - the R was still there for ANOvULA(R) and I was only 3 behind. I had pulled back to level on the next move with ZIMBI/YIN, and then ahead with HOED/UH/TO/TE/AGED for 37 but my rack was deteriorating although I had an S, which I burned on the next move of GOS/ZIMBIS for 32 and a 30 point lead. Wayne tried to make an opening with OLIVE, leaving 4 in the bag. I restricted it with CIT/OLIVET and picked the last S from the bag. Wayne briefly took the lead with PITCH, but with AJRR had no play out...
W: 439-418 +21
So end of day one and I was undefeated. Time for a large glass of red at the bar before retiring for the night...
The trials and tribulations of a life of leisure...
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