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


Friday, February 19, 2010

Scottish Masters 2010

So almost a week has gone by since the Scottish Masters and I am just about recovered from the pain of it.

Okay, so I had had a two week study break but the tile gods really didn't have to be so vindictive.

I opened with a loss against Simon when he bingoed out at the end.

Game 2 against Ricky Zinger and he replies to my opening dump play with a bingo for 92. Luckily I could hit him straight back, but he followed up with a 40 and another bingo. I was hanging in with a 50 and 45 to be still 50 behind. A phony (FIREHAND) from Ricky let me claw some back and then a Q dump from him rather than blocking an easy bonus spot to let me get back on level terms. From there I raced to the line to win by over a 100.

Next a nip and tuck game against Alan Sinclair. I passed up a bonus with one in the bag, holding the last blank. If I had picked the unseen C I would lose. Instead I front extended EN(VAULTS) to the triple for a 7 point lead. He could not score enough blocking my out play and play out in two, so I won on count back.

Game 4 against Ray Tate. I started with consecutive bonuses and Ray seemed to go into super speedo mode. I was very pleased in this game to spot M(I)L(L)STONE when LOMENTS/MELTONS did not fit. A 200+ win.

Game 5 and Neil Scott. No vowels on my opening rack but a blank, and I had to blow my starting advantage with a change. EFRSTT? and Neil gave me an E on the centre square to let me hit the triple. Neil challenged and then hit me with the 4x QUE(E)NITE for 118! Grit my teeth and carry on. I open the right hand 9er at the top with a P for score and follow it up with (H)IMATION (challenged) opening the bottom right 9er to retake the lead. Neil dumps ZA killing the P niner for 46. I dump the X for 47 to balance, and Neil hits me with BA(N)aLEST for 140. (P)RODUCER from me and I am only 30 behind. A J play for 50 followed by a K play for 38 by Neil sees me 50 behind but my rack is maturing. RETAINY. Looking at what is unseen (about 18 tiles) every tile except one gives me a playable bonus so I duly dump the Y. And I pick... Neil blocked one of the bonus lines and was muttering on his pick up. I told him not to dare to moan about his luck in this game!

Game 6 Amy Byrne. Amy bonuses first. I catch back up. Amy bonuses again. Coming into the end game I am 50 behind and there is one open bonus spot. Two tiles in the bag and I need to blow two tiles to open the other side of the board. I spot I can play off O(V)A to give myself the outside shot of picking AN for ANTIGEN or NEGATI(O)N. Unfortunately I did not spot the possibility of picking MU for EMUTING* (oops) or, if only I had played A(V)O, UM(A)NGITE hooking G(LENT) for 177!

End of day 1 and 3-3 was not where I wanted to be.

Game 7 Ross Mackenzie. Even though we were nip and tuck I felt the game was under control. I was aware that the bag was very consonant heavy so when I picked the Q opted to play QU(A)DS keeping back my own A. Picking the blank and I felt happy. Ross played off the J to get back to level. I then made my fatal play of (J)AMB for 30 and did not pick a vowel. Ross played POI parallel to get level again. Hmm. Holding both Hs on an H friendly board I blocked an easy 30+ play of (ZA)TI with R(E)V. Ross limited one of the H spots. I had not picked a vowel, but the unseen tiles were AEEIDT and another couple of consonants. I needed to block a potential QADI on to the triple. (BAG)H/HaRK ticked the boxes. If I picked an E I had unblockable playouts of either HEFT or FET(C)H. As it was I picked the A. Ross found the great play of TED(D)IE (my only unsuccessful challenge) that killed all spots for HAFT.

Game 8 Billy Dott. I bonused early with B(E)MOANER and again on move 4 and set about blocking the remaining danger spots after Billy bonused on move 5. A good score on a triple from Billy to get back, but it gave me a G for A(G)ENISED from my unplayable ANISEED.

Game 9 Philips Owolabi. Philips was also having a mare of a tourney. I bonused on move 4 and Philips on move 5 but I was still half a bonus ahead. Philips showed me he had an S when starting to make a play but realising he had made a phony hook. He eventually made a dump play for 8 setting up the triple. I had a vowel heavy rack and could not block it, but could restrict it severely with IO/DEI/ADO for 10 and did so. Philips initially placed NOELS/DEIL/ADOS on the board and then changed his mind to play NETOLS instead. Challenge! My rack was still vowel oriented but I now blocked NOELS with another dump to now be about 60 up. I picked a blank. Philips now dumped an E for 2, making another opening. With ?AIRIER I opted for (C)RItERIA, leaving the opening which if taken would allow a response on a triple. As it was Philips never recovered and I won with a large spread.

Game 10 Wilma Warwick. Wilma opened with FAZED for 44 but this gave me the A to 4x with VATABLE for 48. Wilma bonused and kept scoring heavily. VITEXES for 93 from me to get within touching distance but she immediately scored 66 with JI(V)E on the triple I had opened. I had picked dross. Nearing the end I needed to score and then be lucky to bingo. FOLIOS got me to a bonus- behind, but it was Wilma who had the bonus...

Game 11 Allan Simmons. Allan had already virtually won, being two games ahead with a large spread advantage. He opened with ZONER for 48 so I was already playing catchup. He played GIFTERS on move 3, which I challenged off. NEEdLIE(R) from me to take the lead and stop him bonusing. He dumped but I was forced to change with my pick up. He bonused with TESTIER but my change worked well and I bonused straight back. Allan opened a triple line with a C and DAY(C)H from me to retake the lead. Allan hit back with a 50 score for EXEMPT but then had to change, allowing me to take a small lead. A vowel dump from Allan and I extended my lead. Allan bonused with SAURIES we were level after my response and I was feeling fairly happy with the scoring potential of my rack. Until I picked the Q near the end, with Allan holding both the Us and the last blank.

Game 12: KOTH. Neil had also not been doing well despite his earlier game against me. We were equal on starts, and as I was ahead of him on spread I got the honour. He bonused on move 2 but I hit back on move 4 with MEGABAR (challenged). He was perfectly happy to then plural it later in the game. I eked a lead which Neil overhauled with a bonus on move 8 but I responded with NITRIDS (challenged). I just had to be careful nearing the end. Neil scored 40 for AHED, opening a bonus triple line with LID leaving 3 in the bag. With an S and blank unseen but no other bonus spots I blocked to go 60 up. This was enough to hold on to win.

So 6-6 and a crash in rating. I reckon with 5 point penalty I would have gained another 100 points in spread!

Straight back on the horse though - been working hard on my fives all week...

Friday, February 12, 2010

Back To Work

So after a fortnight off I have got back into study mode... ish.

I have gone through the couplet 7s in the top 10000.

And I have created a couple of new spreadsheets for the 4s and 5s.

Sheet 1: blockers split between 3 letter word plurals and others. Others then split on ending letter.

Sheet 2: not blockers but no S back hook

Sheet 3: the rest

I have excluded all the 4 letter words + S from sheet 3 of the previous spreadsheet and made 2 sheets for blockers - hooks of 4s and not hooks of 4s.

I have beautifully coloured them.

Now I just have to print them off and study them...

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Leek and Potato Soup

Reg had brought us a couple of pounds of leeks when he came on Wednesday. I also still have quite a lot of potatoes from the veggie patch stored in a sack inside our defunct freezer. So I googled a recipe for leek and potato soup - and there were a lot to choose from. In the end I did my own simplified variation.

1 lb leeks
1 onion
1 lb potatoes
2 pints Chicken stock - I used Knorr chicken stock pot as recommended by Diana
2 ounces butter (I used slightly more as I had the remains of a pack and didn't think it worth saving half an ounce, but you could taste the butter. The least you can get away with the better.)

Gently heat the butter in a large saucepan (I actually used my jam pan)
Finely chop the leeks and onion and soften in the butter (about 15 minutes by the time I had done the next step with the occasional stir)
Prepare the potatoes - most recipes said to dice the potatoes and then either mash or blitz the soup at the end. Delia's recipe used mashed potato to start with! I actually grated them being the rebel that I am - much less hassle.
Add the potatoes and stock to the pan
Bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes
Season as required with salt and pepper

Most recipes said to add cream or milk, but this is unnecessary. Better not to if you are freezing the soup - add to individual bowls if wanted.

This makes enough for 4 people - we both had a good sized bowl of it for tea last night, I have filled and frozen a 600 ml container, and there is just about enough left for me to have a small bowl for lunch...

Friday, February 05, 2010

Another Action Packed Week

A week has gone by and most of the snow has departed from the lawn. But we still have thick ice on the drive - my narrow path has been well used.

Saturday watched Williams beat Henin. What a difference in physique...

Sunday saw Murray return to being Scottish.

Monday Paul came back via fixing Colin's computer.

Tuesday nipped into Duns to get and post birthday cards. My Aunty Margaret reached the ripe old age of 90 this week.

On Wednesday it was the first round of the Border Clubs knock-out (bridge). This is a handicap event with aggregate scoring played in people's homes. We (Reg, Malcolm, Paul and I) were defending the title. Reg picked us up about 12.30 and we drove on to near Melrose. We had a difficult task, giving away 2750 points over a 24 board match. The first 12 boards were pretty flat, and we only managed to pull pack about 1400 on the last 12. Oh well, that's that over with for the year but they did provide a nice tea.

Ros has asked Penny and me to play in the league for Berwick next Wednesday. A practice bidding session has been organised for tonight. I found an email from Paul this morning sent to us both asking us what certain bids meant...

Yesterday morning a man from Servico came to fix the drawer of the coffee table. It looks absolutely fine now. I also pointed out a small crack in the wood and a mark on the top of the table which he has also fixed. I am now a happy bunny.

Was very pleased to see two deer on the dog walk after moaning to Paul that I hadn't seen any yet this year. Even more pleased that the dogs didn't.

I have almost got Chip's Challenge out of my system. I have skipped a few levels - don't like the ones where you have to bounce around on ice mazes where it all looks the same. Even following a solution took almost all the time allowance. Level 141 though kept me failing for over a day before I gave up - I may yet go back to it. There should have been a warning for it - my left arrow key button came off with excessive use!

Almost 2 weeks now with no studying. It is the Scottish Masters in just over a week's time...

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