So as you may have gathered I have not been doing my 5 hours a day studying recently...
As it is
1) now raining quite heavily so I am stuck indoors
2) I have done my anally retentive gardening for today in the drizzle of rearranging all the orange/yellow/red violas to one bed and the white/mauve/purple ones to the other now that they are flowering
3) it was only seven games and
4) I won
I decided I would blog the tourney. I had said that 7 games was a lottery but now, of course, it was all down to skill...and I got more than my fair share of blanks...
Allan had arranged to get here some time between 7.30 and 7.45 yesterday morning. And actually arrived just as the pips went for 8.00 on his car radio. I was waiting at the bottom of the drive. We arrived with 20+ minutes to spare.
Game 1: Margaret Harkness W: 376-524
A slow start for me, replying with OVUM on my first move and was hit with TAJ. I was forced to change so was about 80 behind after Margaret's third move, but had picked a blank and the Z. (W)IZ for 35 and a nicely balanced rack. EX from Margaret for 30 and I bonused with HaPLITE to level the scores. From AAEQRRU I opted for the turnover with QUARER rather than QUA(I)R for a few less point and was now hit with SAINTLY for 90. But I had picked the second blank, and WARDmOT(E) gave me back a small lead, immediately extended with (N)ANDINAS from the bag. We traded 33 point triples with C(A)VED and H(Y)LE. We both balananced on the next move, BI(Z) from Margaret and U(D)O from me. I was rewarded with (D)ONARIES to make the game safe. A neat two move playout of INFO and BYE increased my spread.
Game 2: Kate Surtees W: 355-366
A game I struggled with from start to finish. Kate opened with BAUK and with a clunky consonant rack I replied with V(A)W. Kate exchanged three tiles and I decided to try to avoid the totally blocky board type of game so played LIC(K)ED. TRAYNES hooking it from Kate, but it was playable anyway so I didn't feel so bad. My pickup could have been better, still consonant heavy so J(A)NN from me. My rack was not developing well, and DETEsTS from Kate on move 6 saw me 109 points behind. I started chipping away at her lead, and my bonus of FIgMENT on move 9 got me back within 20. After 12 moves each our scores were level. Coming onto the last rack, 23 behind, I held AEILOWZ to Kate's DEIOOPR. I spent a couple of minutes trying to find a two move playout that scored enough and couldn't see one. Finally I opted for OW and hoped for a miracle and got one. I may spend a little time examining this end game to see if there is a sure win without time pressure. My clock stopped dead on 0.
Game 3: Ray Tate W:477-417
I opened with ANALoGY. Ray got back-to-back bonuses on moves 3 and 4 with a face value LOUSI(E)ST and MODIsTE to take a small lead, but I responded with DEARIES on move 6, AX for 37 and then (L)IBELANT on move 8 to go over 100 clear. ZO from Ray for 64 got him back within a bonus but I started blocking the floaters and was not going to let that lead slip.
A break for lunch. I think I was in second place, with three players unbeaten.
Game 4: Philips Owolabi W: 495-418
Two Ss and one vowel on my opening rack, so WARMS seemed like a good option. Philips just dumped (R)EW. I had hoped for a Helen-friendly L but dumped JOUR(S), keeping ANS. (W)AIVE from Philips and I opened my bonus account with DANNIES. He replied in kind with FARSING. With AELNORY I opted for (F)OY, unfortunately not blocking Philips' ZOEAE for 72. Another nothing rack for me of AAELNRT and no friendly floaters so I dumped LA, hoping for one of the many unseen Is. Philips balanced a consonant heavy rack, and with my pick of the X and another consonant I played AX for 52 to almost level the scores. Philips continued scoring well, but I hat-tricked on moves 8, 9 and 10 with aPOLUNE, dIVISIO(N) and, perhaps greedily as I think POUT(Y) was actually a much better play, OUT(C)APER. Luckily for me Philips' last rack of ENTICED did not play...
Game 5: Simon Gillam W: 308-412
Simon started, and for the second game I responded with VAW, although this time I also played the A. DELTA from Simon and ABLY from me, a worrying play leaving 3 consonants. Simon dumped QI, but I had picked well to take the triple with (Q)UAT. I picked the first blank, but with an awkward consonant combination of B, F and P I just dumped F(A)B for 8 on my next play. I now had SYNAPT?. Given the options of TYmPANS, SYNAPT(E)s which I wasn't 100% sure took the S I actally opted for PANTY for 42, keeping back S?. It worked out well when I bonused the next move with EVO(C)aTES to go 100 ahead. I went for turnover on my next play, WOODI(N)G for 30, keeping an E. My next play was a no-brainer from a rack of EEIIUUU, and I picked the second blank. Again I turned down a bonus that I wouldn't bet my life on as KEN kept be 95 up with a good core rack leave. I wasted a lot of time on the next move, trying to find a bonus starting with a C or T, before giving up and playing E(C)HiDNAS. With rubbish left in the bag I knew the game was now safe.
Game 6: Allan Simmons: W 335-412
I was replying for the fourth time, but it worked in my favour with the 4x sUG(A)RING for 86. A comment from Allan re me having a blank... I maintained a 70-80 lead over the next half a dozen moves, extending it to over 100 when Allan exchanged all 7 tiles on move 7. I hit him again on move 9 with SCARLET, opting for a lower score but more controllable board position. I now just set about closing the bonus spots, not worrying too much about non-bonus dangers. Allan made an opening with NO(G), leaving one in the bag. I would still win even if he had a bonus, but with AEIINWY? unseen I saw the possibility of ANYWIsE so blocked with P(IsO). And was proved correct when I picked an I...
I was now the only unbeaten player and my spread was such that barring a disaster I would win the heat.
Game 7: Julie 'The Giant Killer' Tate: W:402-321
A vowel-heavy opening rack and I dumped PIU. XU from Julie for 34. Still vowel heavy, I risked COURIE. pIErAGE from Julie for 60. Hmm. I had picked an S, so JIVES for 54 and staying in touch. I was pegging the lead back with some steady but not outstanding scoring, and overhauled Julie on move 6 with (I)NFIRM for 45. We were then swapping the lead move on move, heading towards the end game. I had a tough decision with AAAILNS. There was still an unseen S and the Z to come. Julie had just played (O)TTER. After a lot of thought I opted for NAIL and promptly picked both the S and Z, and raced across the line. The score really does not reflect the closeness of this game, the only one where I was never even close to getting a bonus.
So, 7-0. And possibly the first time I have completed a blog report before John G. has got the ratings published :)
The trials and tribulations of a life of leisure...
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