I played the BEST group final (Scotland) against Neil Scott at his parents house yesterday.
I set off at 8.30 am and found that my sat-nav was sulking - it was refusing to talk to me. I stopped a couple of times to try to sort it out but to no avail. Luckily the screen was behaving so I only missed the turn into the road at the end and soon discovered my mistake. I was just checking the house number before I knocked on a total strangers door when suddenly it started telling me to 'TURN LEFT'. As I was parked right outside the correct house I switched it off...
For once I won the draw a tile to see who starts. And that appeared to be a big mistake...
I asked Neil if he wanted 5-point penalties. He declined :)
Game 1: 0-1
329 (12) DROPLeT (70)
406 (12) sWAMPED (86), Q(A)DI (72)
My big 'mistake' in this game was a neatly slotted play of EVEJAR for 43 to take a small lead. The only danger was QADI, but with only one I and D left unseen I took the chance...
Game 2: 0-2
402 (11) LI(B)ELING (72), CORDIAl (71)
476 (12) (D)ENUDING (89), TETANIES (62)
I missed CARDIOi(D) which would have taken Neil's spot for (D)ENUDING. At the end I needed to try a bonus to win with AILPRST, I opted for PLAISTR(Y)*. There was nothing.
Game 3: 0-3
394 (13) M(U)NIFIEs (74)
452 (12) OXO (53), POURIEs (75), GREASIE(R) (60)
I had to change on my starting move - no vowels...
We stopped for lunch. Neil couldn't believe he was 3-0 up. My head was spinning.
Game 4: 0-4
390 (11) TATtOOE(R)
400 (12) VIOLERS (73), ARCSINE (82)
Neil changed on his opening move. I thought at last I was going to get on the score sheet here, but Neil made a second opening leaving one in the bag. With ACEIINRS left unseen I could see the writing on the wall.
As Neil said his winning spread was coming down...
Game 5: 1-4
471 (12) BALOnEY (78), ELUTION (65), (M)ISRULED (86)
344 (12) bARRELS (69)
Neil had just blown an S. I could see no other bonus than BALOnEY (there is none), stopping one short of the triple column. Luckily he could just take the triple with YANGS. With DEILRSU I could see nothing when Neil gave me the M. Neil's rack after that move was DEILRSU!
Game 6: 2-4
403 (11) UREMiAs (94), (R)ETAINED (72)
398 (11) WHINGER (82), ZOOTY (51)
I had ALOXR?? on my opening rack but decided to not play the bonus I saw - eXORd(I)AL - as it would allow an easy 40+ response from Neil. I missed the 4x pROX(I)mAL which I should have played. It worked out as Neil's WHINGER set up UREMiAs on the triple. Things were not looking goo approaching the endgame. I was 17 behind after a neat UNDAMS for 46 from Neil. I was holding an unplayable CURLIES with two in the bag (AEGIOQSTV). I decided to gamble on a two move playout, playing CURSI at M1 across. I picked AE from the bag...
Game 7: 3-4
442 (13) GARNeTS (68), cR(A)MPING (74)
381 (12) S(C)HEMATA (66), REX (57), (R)ENAILED (72)
This game was a lot closer than the score suggests. Neil tried ROAD(R)ACE on his second move, but after that pegged back a 120 point deficit. RENAILED gave him a 14 point lead s he picked TIGER as the last 5 tiles from the bag. Luckily for me there was nowhere to play it and he tried GREIT...
Game 8: 4-4
439 (12) DI(L)UTIOn (82), (S)UBORNER (70), (G)AIEtIES (74)
Lucky here that Neil gave me the L for DI(L)UTIOn when I had been trying to decide what to dump. After (S)UBORNER I picked EEIIIS? and changed EII. Had not been too impressed with my replacement tiles of AIE - AIErIES did not play and then I noticed the G.
I was feeling a lot calmer now. Neil was going the other way...
Game 9: 5-4
434 (14) SIZEL (54), fOETIDE(ST) (70)
390 (13) TO(E)NAILS (62), GOLD(E)NER (62)
This game started slowly, both of us overloaded with vowels. I was pleased with my spot of fOETIDE(ST) on a blocked board.
A break for tea.
Game 10: 6-4
436 (12) SHALIER (95), JEON (58), BAPtISE (81)
370 (12) ELuTORS (82)
SHALIER on move 5 followed immediately by JEON gave me a 100 point cushion but I was not counting my chickens. BAPtISE on move 8 from H13 down - he needed to hook it straight away as I was ready with CREW. He did with ELuTORS, but I was so relieved to see the last unseen S and blank go together (I had the remaining S on my rack), and only three unseen vowels left in the bag.
I think we were both nervous wrecks throughout the day. It was tough on Neil to lose the way he did. I think we would have both been happier with a more nip-and-tuck match in terms of the sequence of the game results.
The draw for the quarter-finals takes place at the start of August. I am hoping to get one of the North of England region winners...
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