The trials and tribulations of a life of leisure...


Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Cardbox 34227

I reached my target of the top 15500 7s and 8s this afternoon. I had also added a few more suffixes - WOOD, WORT, LAND.

I have met the criteria to qualify for the Scotland team for the 2009 WSC along with Allan Simmons and Neil Scott, Scotland gaining an extra place after their performance in the previous WSC.

I end the year on a highlight having also regained my top internationally rated female spot due to a poor showing by Suanne in the WYSC rather than by my own doing. It is good for me that Suanne is providing me with more motivation to keep studying :)

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Bring on the New Year

So Christmas is over. The opening of the stockings in the morning, eating of duck at lunchtime, opening of presents after the Queen's Speech, and a night spent watching BBC1 on the box - just had to avoid the two episodes of Eastenders...

On Boxing Day we and the dogs were invited over to Reg and Diana's. After lunch we took the dogs out for a walk across the fields. There had been no deer spotted on Christmas day, unlike the last two years, but this was remedied. Two deer running along the next field and two excited dogs. Jen a little too excited as she tripped Diana up. And then a few hands of bridge with a short break for tea and to let the dogs out again. I was mortified when I saw Poncho tracking muddy paw prints across the carpet but Reg said not to worry. I fear we won't be invited again...

Back to normal yesterday. Saw another three deer running across a field on the dog walk but this time the dogs didn't. 

The duck will go into the soup pot today. Still got Christmas cake and pudding to finish off amongst other things.

I managed to keep my cardbox under control, although my brain doesn't feel fully in gear. Train ticket booked down to Coventry for the UK Open at the start of January - Allan can give me a lift back. May struggle to meet target of top 15500 7s and 8s - still 200 to add.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Almost Wrapped Up

Shopping for Christmas is complete. With just the two of us the fridge is not bursting at the seams. 

I braved the crowds in Berwick yesterday. With free parking and the first nice weather for a while I had been fearing the worst. Actually it wasn't too bad. 

Then on to M&S with more vouchers. This was another story. Armed only with a basket in I went. Got a packet of apple, sultana and apricot stuffing. Then spent another 20 minutes or so fighting my way up and down the aisles. They no longer had the deals on from last week, switching from 'buy one get one half price' to '3 for 2' so I went into my 'I'm not paying that and I don't want 3' mode and made my way to the express checkout and freedom.

We collected the duck this morning - large as ducks go but we will not be eating it into and beyond the new year unlike the families who buy the biggest turkey that will fit (or not, as the case may be) into their oven. We succumbed to some onion marmalade. On to Jean's for coffee.

MIL obviously couldn't keep her end of the no presents deal - a box had just been delivered as we got home. A miniature rose bush, bottle of wine and box of chocolates in a little wicker basket. A very nice surprise - I've told Paul the rose is his :)

After lunch one final trip to Morrisons with a shopping list for the last few things we needed - or more truthfully wanted. And this time we pretty much stuck to it. It took us a while to track down salted peanuts, and they have obviously done a deal to only stock tins of Quality Street. But this just meant we bought a smaller box of Roses and fewer peanuts.

A few cards still to deliver and presents to wrap and it will soon all be over for another year...

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Causeway Challenge Reflections

I am not going to go through all of my games - there are just too many and I only photographed a few of the boards.

I got of to a very bad start, being slaughtered by 131 by Victor Chua (SG). I rallied in the next game against Saidu Ayorinde (NI), and the following two. I should have won game 5 against Jin Chor, missing a simple bonus to play out when he blocked my outplay bonus of pREPRI(C)E but set up a place for a 7 ending in A. I have no excuse other than there had been nowhere to play a 7 so hadn't been looking for one and I was low on my clock. I won the next game against Ferdy Anthonius thanks mainly to him playing a phony with a blank mid-game so I started blocking. A few moves later he tried another phony with both blanks. I could see fREEfOR(M), although I wasn't 100% sure, but blocked it. Asked at the end if he had missed anything I told him, and then he said I was lucky he hadn't played it!!! Another tight win against Sherwin Rodrigues, playing for the Asian-stars team - this game has been annotated the wrong way round. I finished the day on a downer, losing firstly to Edward Okulicz (Au) in a very strange game and then to Thacha Koowirat (Th). So 5-4 at the end of day 1, with one game blown but one game given.

Day 2 and I started against Mohammed Zafar. Another let-off in this game when he slotted NAStIER under AJEE making a phony hook of (TEE)T missing several easy 9x around a U in fourth which I then blocked. I then lost a tight game against Naween and then a horrible blocked game against Joanne Craig. I followed this up with another big loss against Henry, which was a little unlucky when he followed up MATTOiD with (N)ARTJIES for 116. I recovered after lunch with a win against Gerry although he was steadily pegging back my early lead. Another three losses followed, although I should have converted a loss by 1 to Sam K. into a draw. I finished the day with two wins against Albert Hahn and Cheah to avoid the day being an utter disaster, but was now only 9-10 with my tougher matches still to come.

The next day news was coming through that the situation at Bangkok airport was getting resolved and flights were getting back to normal. It was a huge relief and it certainly made a massive difference to my concentration. I won eight games out of ten on day 3, losing only to both the New Zealanders I played (Jeff Grant and Howard Warner). My games against Andrew Fisher and Marlon Prudencio being annotated this day.

In the evening there was a banquet given for us all, hosted by the mayor of JB. I had about 10 minutes after my last game to rush up to my room and change into the one skirt I had packed. When I got back down to the ballroom most players were already there and a band was playing. It was probably another three quarters of an hour before the local dignitaries arrived and the many speeches started.

Between each course we were given a display of dancing. Team Nigeria were keen to get in on the act :)

And then also songs. And this then turned into a karaoke night.

Some players had made an early exit and around 10 p.m. Amy and I also decided to do a runner. A quick drink in the bar (there is only so much orange squash you can take) and then an earlyish night. I gather there were about another four courses at the banquet so we probably made the right decision.

Before play started on day 4 Michael Tang waited until everyone was in the room to make an announcement. It had been brought to his attention that someone may be cheating, and in clear terms stated that if anyone was caught cheating that they would be thrown out of the tournament and never be allowed to play in anything he organised again...

Day 4 started well for me, with a rare victory against Pakorn. WIN near the end may be sub-optimal but I couldn't resist it. Next up it was Chris May. We were a few moves into our game when Michael grabbed the microphone. Mohammed Zafar had been caught cheating and was told to collect his belongings and leave the room. We were all told to neutralise our clocks while this was happening. And then security was called to escort him out... I lost the game.

Next up was Akshay. Interestingly the quackle analysis is telling me the best move after Akshay's phony of STRONDE(D) is (P)UMY, which will give him DR(Y)STONE as a 9-timer! I followed this large win with another against Adrian Tamas - you know things are going your way when holding IILNORU he gave me a floating B :)

After lunch things didn't go so well, and I lost four of the next five. I almost pulled off a great comeback against Tim Adamson but it was not to be. However, I finished the day on a high note with my first ever victory against Nigel Richards. There is a mistake in the annotation in this game - SEE was played one square higher than shown.

Day 5 and I was realistically out of the prizes unless I had a dream day. Losing the first game against Amit killed off any hope. A draw against David Eldar in game 2 which should have been a big win, but given the choice of challenging David's last play which I was pretty sure was phony meant if I was right a win, if I was wrong a loss and if I let it pass a draw. If I was still in with a shout I would have challenged. Three successive wins after this game, and then I played like a drone against Tony Sim in the last game of the tournament letting him off with a phony bonus.

So, I finished 24.5-19.5 with my win against Mohammed being voided, as close to my expected result of 24.7 as physically possible. Congratulations to David Eldar on an impressive win, Edward O. in second and Harshan in coming third, and to team Australia on their clear victory. Team UK finished in second place, well above their seeding. My silver medal will be displayed on the trophy window sill.

The experience has left me wanting to make the team next year. Michael's organisation of the event was superb. Our only real complaint was the live music in the fifth floor atrium going on until late into the night/early morning. The earplugs given to me by Harshan were invaluable.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Extension Part 25

No-one was here when we took the dogs out this morning.

About half an hour after we got back Tom senior (I have been corrected - plain Tom, Tom senior being his dad, as opposed to Thomas, his son and the joiner. We get lost as there are at least 4 generations of Tom/Thomas's) arrived to tell us that unfortunately flu has stopped play.

Work should start again on January 5th 2009 - hangovers, weather and health permitting - and it should be all speed ahead to get the job completed by the spring.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

White Without Sugar

Disaster struck last night. 

The last of the milk that should have seen me through till our next food shopping expidition went off.

No coffee!!!!!

How was I going to survive this morning?

And then as I was brushing my teeth I remembered that I had pocketed a spare creamer from the flight home. A quick rummage through my trouser pockets and I found it.

Paul is now on a mercy trip to the Chirnside Co-op...

Monday, December 15, 2008

Hah! Bumbug!

I am still waiting for my USB cable. It has been dispatched...

Life has got back to normal now. Back in the zyzzyva cardbox swing. Getting past my comfort zone now on the 8s...

I have not missed much on the extension - very little progress made while I was away. Snow stopped play. The windows are due to be delivered on Wednesday. Watch this space.

Started thinking about Christmas. 

We are having a Bah! Humbug! Christmas this year. No-one coming and we are staying put. 

Duck is on the menu as there are just the two of us. Also a trip to M&S later this week to stock up on a few treats using Paul's bridge winnings- another £80 of vouchers won this weekend :)

The Christmas tree is not being unpacked - with the back of the sitting room still fenced off there is nowhere to put it. And last year the fibre-optics 'oooh - pretty' stopped working after we had a power cut. We do have a small pre-decorated tree that may make an appearance to show willing. 

Paul's side of the family has made a pact of no presents, other than the nieces. Unfortunately I could not persuade my sister to follow suit, but I have been armchair shopping this afternoon and they are now done. God Bless the internet.

Just need to sort out Paul now...

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Back Home

On Tuesday I slept in but Jane was waiting to feed me when I got up :)

I got back into study mode in the morning after catching up on my email. After lunch Jane and I played some more pool - I now knew she had won some trophies for this activity. I managed to win a couple of games - again through Jane fouling the black but I was getting better, having cleared most of my own balls. 

Gerry got home just after 2 pm and we packed my bags into the car and set of for the Harrow International school to pick up Charlie and Charlotte. Then on to Toy's (wife number 1 - mother) about an hour out of Bangkok. She made me feel very welcome. 

Gerry, the kids and I took the dog (Brady - retriever) for a walk to the  garage a couple of kliks away to get a few cans of beer to go with dinner and when we were almost there Gerry phoned Toy to pick us up to get home again. As guest of honour I got to sit in the front and Gerry, kids and dog all squeezed in the back of the car.

I was treated to the works - full roast lamb dinner with all the trimmings, followed by chocolate brownies and mango. Yummy.

Gerry and I left around 9 p.m. and we got to the airport around an hour later, where we said our goodbyes. 

The plane was about three quarters of an hour late, but as I had about a three hour wait in Amsterdam I was not too concerned. Once we got in the air I settled down to sleep - I was not at all bothered about staying awake for the 'meal'. I could not believe that I slept so well, waking up with only about 3 hours to go.

When I eventually got into Edinburgh there was no sign of Paul. I left a message on his mobile. Ten minutes later I decided to try to text him. Young people look away now...

I had foolishly thought that texting would work the same way as searching my address book to get the required letters, but no - it kept trying to complete my words with the wrong one. My attempts at 'I am' kept getting changed to 'I big...' Eventually I managed the amazingly to the point message 'I at airport'!

Anyway, Paul arrived shortly after having been stuck in traffic on the bypass, the journey in taking almost twice as long as normal. Getting home was uneventful. 

After the initial excitement  from the dogs life is settling back to normal. Paul has ordered me a new USB cable for my camera once I tracked down the part number in the documentation so hopefully in a couple of days I will be able to download some photos from the Causeway...

Monday, December 08, 2008

Chilling Out in Bangkok

When Bangkok airport reopened Jakkrit started sorting out getting the majority of the Thai team home by air rather than repeating their 36 hour+ trip home by road and rail (Pakorn is going on to play in Penang). I asked him to also get me a flight and I am now having two days chilling out at Gerry's before taking my originally planned flight home on Tuesday night (I hope).

Jane has just slaughtered me at pool - the only game I won was when she fouled the black. 
She also keeps trying to feed me - tucking into melon as I type :)

I will cover the highlights and lowlights of the scrabble when I get home. I will, however, say how much I enjoyed the event. 

I feel that I played badly on the first 2 days - I think it was more to do with worrying about how I was to get home rather than jetlag - my focus/concentration was severly lacking. Lack of sleep was suffered by almost everyone. Harshan gave me some earplugs on Tuesday evening so I probably got more sleep than most - I could even keep the air-con on in the room as the sound was sufficiently dulled.

I think the strength of the field meant it was harder than the worlds despite the top U.S. and Canadians not being present and a severely diminished team from Thailand, and at 45 games was the toughest event I have ever played in. Despite playing so many games the scheduling was such that we had the evenings free after eating. Unfortunately I cannot post any photos as I think I have lost my USB cable - I can't find it anywhere in my baggage :(

The U.K. team outperformed their seeding, and we got second place behind an unstoppable team from Australia.

I will be trying my hardest to get in the team for next year. Michael probably wants me to make it too as everytime I tried to pay him he said later - and then as we were preparing to leave for Singapore airport I tried again. 'Pay me when you come next year'.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Johor Bahru - Part 2

Well, there are a lot of people here now. Team Nigeria arrived yesterday. I was pleased that Wellington Jighere remembered me for beating him in the last WSC :) The Australians are also here, and spotted Sam K at breakfast. As I wandered past reception on the way to this internet cafe Narween and Odette were checking in. Team Thailand is somewhere in transit - train and coach trip so God knows if/when they will get here and not even sure who is actually coming now.

Been keeping up with my cardbox and even added a few (very few) new words in.

After first night's good sleep the last two nights have been horrendous. Last night I could hear some kind of repetitive mechanical noise and I just couldn't get it out of my head. It stopped around 3.15 a.m. when I could then here a lot of people/cars/motorbikes - presumably the workers of whatever the machine was going home. By this point I felt awake again although tired. Just hope it gets better tonight and during the tourney - it is a tough field so need to be at the top of my game.

Going to see if I can find my schedule - still not sure where exactly we are playing or at what time...

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