So why did it go so horribly wrong???
I came out of day 1 shell-shocked. Only 2 wins. I have looked at the two annotated games. I didn't play that badly - indeed, I played a lot better than Naween. And I was unlucky to lose by 1 point to Howard in the last game of the day - a strategical decision to score that would have given me a narrow victory in the vast majority of cases rather than block one of the two bingo lanes...
Day two started a lot better but collapsed again in the afternoon but at least I had won more than I lost, 6-4 for the day. I was very pleased with PAR(V)OLIN(S) against Mohammed Sulaiman, a game where I got 5 bonuses.
Day three and I had all the top seeds to play. Target was to win half my games but I failed by one, only taking the scalps of Pakorn, Moses Peter and David Boys. I played a near perfect game against Nigel but to no avail.
Day four and I managed to scrape a majority for the day including a cracking game against Komol. This game was annotated but has not yet been posted on the website.
I needed to win all 6 on day five to maintain my rating. Well, I failed that at the first hurdle. And the second.
I should also have fallen flat on my face in game 3 of the day as well against Nsikak Etim. He started humming on my opening move so I asked him to refrain. On move 2 he played GIRNIES with the only playable bonuses through a D which I duly blocked. He then started to play SIGNIE(U)R until he realised it didn't fit and spent the next 5 minutes squirming. He was no longer humming. However, five moves later he had picked the first blank and pulled back some of his deficit. He got the second blank and mEATLOA(F) saw him take a 42 point lead leaving three in the bag. I held EFIRSTV and gave myself a chance with two Es and 2 Us unseen made an opening dumping the F, leaving a spot for a 7 with S in sixth. Nsikak played parallel to his bingo and I played out with REVUIST to win.
Game 4 against Chris May. This game was also annotated but has not been published yet, but I don't need to see it to know how poorly I played. As I sat down to play game 5 against Nathan Benedict I realised I had missed ODOMETr(Y). I probably missed a lot more too. Nathan did not take pity on me.
So on to the icing on the cake. David Boys said after this game that he guessed I was being slaughtered as he could hear me laughing, and it would have been very bad manners to do so if I had been winning. I had said to Adam as we sat down that this had been a tournament from hell for me and he said he hoped to continue the run, but I think even he was embarrassed by his 5 bonuses in the first 7 moves interspersed with two 40+ plays :)
My perception of the tournament was of how many games I was playing catch up from the very start, with my opponent bingoing on move 1 or 2 of the game (Chinedu, Marut, Joel, Naween, Edet, Dennis, Mohammed, David E, Brett, Pakorn, Moses, Brian, David W, Nigel, Theresa, Patrick, Bob, Ron, Jakkrit, Komol, Jason, Joanne, Chris, Nathan and Adam - 25 games out of 45). Naween and Brian both opened with a double, Komol with a hat-trick, Joel and Nathan with three out of four, Nigel two out of three and Adam - see above! I had four other games where my opponent played three-in-a-row bonuses against me (Marut, Panupol, Mikki and Robert Linn).
My blank count was 35/90.
So an extremely disappointing 19/45 and 38th place. Would I do it all again - of course, but maybe next time I will spend more time in the bar in the evenings!