This report is not going to be as comprehensive as previous ones as I did not photograph any of the boards. The tiles were cleared away too quickly in the first few games, and then after a bad start I decided not to bother...
I set off for Coventry before noon on Friday and arrived around 5 p.m, doing my John Wayne impression as I got out of the car. There were quite a few players already there, sitting out in the sun. I checked into the hotel and then went out to join them. The tournament itself was starting the following morning.
I got a reasonable night's sleep - my room this time was facing the carpark rather than the main road.
Game 1: Femi Awowade
This was a game with mistakes on both sides of the table. Femi took an early lead and on move 5 I played IONIZES down from b9. Femi then tried the phony PETAL(I)SE as a 4x. I decided to block the easy L(IONIZES) triple and not worry about what bonuses he had missed. Femi then tried (S)PAETSLE from o8 across to the triple. Off it came. I missed the bonus from BEEILNT from the same S. having seen the anagram that didn't fit. Femi then failed to play any of his playable bonuses. He bonused a couple og moves later, and I took the triple he opened with (A)VINE. Unfortunately this gave him the N he needed for LIMItI(N)G. I picked the second blank near the end but Femi could block both the bonuses I had.
Game 2: Tom Wilson
I was always in control in this game after bonusing on moves 2 and 3, and scoring a healthy 75 on move 5 with SEXTON. Sitting with DEIIPRT on my final rack and Tom gave me a place to play out to further increase the spread.
Game 3: Wojtek Usakiewicz
Wojtek had come over from Poland just to play this tourney. The board got pretty blocked right from the start. I knew it was not going my way when Wojtek played sUQ for 64 and I had AAEINRT and no suitable floaters. I dumped an A, Wojtek played the J for 35. I had picked the X. I dumped (R)AX and picked two more Ns. I eventually got a bonus to get back to level. (V)IEWING from Wojtek at a4 across, and I was hanging on to PR but never got an E...
Game 4: Maureen Chamberlain
I bonused on move 1 and again on move 4. Maureen eventually bonused on move 10 but I was never in trouble.
Game 5: Moira Conway
Moira bonused first on move 3. We exchanged bonuses on move 6, but then I had a series of good scores and bonused again on move 11 to take control. Moira bonused out at the end to reduce the spread.
Game 6: Sandie Simonis
Sandie bonused on move 2 but I was scoring steadily to get us back to level by move 7. I managed to move slightly ahead and hold on to the finishing line.
Game 7: Elisabeth Jardine
Again I started with a bonus, with another on move 5. Elisabeth tried SQUAlIE(R) from a1 and I bonused there instead. SEQUoIA from Elisabeth elsewhere but I was still 100+ ahead.
Game 8: Brian Sugar
I had to change on move 2 but got the bonus on move 3 to take the lead. A balancing play on move 4, and another bonus on move 5 to counter that from Brian. Brian's pickup was obviosuly not as good as mine as he then changed 6 and I moved ahead. Another bonus near the end from me to seal the win.
Game 9: Jason Carney
I was determined to not fall into the trap of a blocked board although it was tending to go that way. When Jason bonused on move 8 I could counter with some heavy scoring, including a bonus of AUTO(p)eNS. I then set about blocking. Jason gave me something to worry about with his play of WE leaving 3 in the bag. I eventually opted to block it with OB/O(WE), using my only vowel, rather than scoring on the triple but emptying the bag.
Game 10: Azu Ogbogu
I bonused on moves 2 and 3 to take a grip on this game. I let Azu off with the phony DUMVIR but hit him when he tried to extend it with an I.
So, end of day one and I had to be pleased at 8-2, after losing two of the first three games. A couple of drinks at the bar and then a reasonably early night. I didn't sleep quite so well as the night before as I had forgotten to open my window so the room was quite hot.
Game 11: Robert Richland
Robert changed on move 2 and I bonused on move 4. Steady scoring by me and Robert's bonus on move 9 was not enough to overhaul me. I bonused a couple of goes later to get some breathing space and hold on to the end.
Game 12: Stewart Holden
The game was nip and tuck until near the end. Stewart played GRACE at m9 across, using the last E to get within 3 points and leaving 7 in the bag. There was still an S, blank, Z and bonus-friendly tiles unseen. I had DFHMOOR, and decided to take the chance with FORDO for 44 points. I picked the S, Z and blank. OU(K) from Stewart to open the 9-x on the left hand side, ZH(O)Mo for 84 points...
Game 13: Di Dennis
I was stuck on scoring 26 for the first 3 moves. Neither of us were getting away at the start. I changed on move 5, and Di moved ahead. I hit back with a bonus on move 9 to retake a small lead and followed it up with GRENZ for 43. The board was getting blocked but Di got a face-value bonus on the last available place just in time to take a 9 point lead. I took the triple off with CHOL(I) to take the last three tiles and crossed my fingers. Di was close to a bonus but luckily for me not close enough.
Game 14: Jake Jacobs
Jake got away to a flier, scoring heavily and bonused on move 3. Although I hit back on move 4 I was still 94 down after Jake's response. I then started to make some headway and a bonus on move 8 I was back in touch. The board was getting tight and I almost blew it when I missed (O)nCOMING. Coming to the end game I was 31 down, had AIIONT? with 4 in the bag. The board was not conducive to scoring to reduce that deficit so I needed a bonus. An 8 starting with an O or V, or an 8 with U or X in 6, 7 or 8 was needed. There were three Rs unseen and I was rewarded with one of them when I dumped an I. Jake blocked the V and O, but I played out around the U.
I was now two games clear with two to play...
Game 15: Martin Harrison
A dream game - just what I needed. Everything just fell into my lap. Z(O)OOTIER for 54, QU(E)Y for 62 and two easy bonuses while Martin struggled throughout.
Game 16: Wayne Kelly
It was just as well I didn't need to win this one. Wayne hit me on move 1 with the 4x LOIT(E)RER and followed it with VOyAGES. I was looking at ESUWYYZ. I had cleared it in a couple of moves with WEY and YUTZ. A bonus from me on move 7 and I was getting back in it. REMINDS taking the last 7 tiles, and I had miraculously taken the lead. Wayne had RAMJeTS with nowhere to play it but unfortunately for me had a two-move playout that scored enough for the win.
Many thanks to Len for his work in organizing the tourney, and to Amy, John and Linda for running it. I banked the cheque this morning and am now dreaming of what to spend it on. I think I can buy half an Italian lava stone table for my soon-to-be patio :)
The trials and tribulations of a life of leisure...
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