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...