I was looking forward to this tourney as it would be the last one using Sowpods. I managed to win narrowly with 5 wins and just 3 blanks for the whole day. There were also many close and hard-fought games, and several where my opponents lost the advantage by playing phonies or missing bingos. Tony's loss to Marcus on time cost him the advantage, and a good chance at finishing better.
Game 1 vs Yen Nee- Open with JIAO 8e, keeping AMI, but giving her JAZY(46). I get down MAUDLIN for a modest 66 points which quickly draws a challenge. She hooks it with MAUDLINS/VOLTS (35) which I just realized does not take S ! I have DIILRTU but the Y is in the wrong place, so DRUID it is instead. A few turns later, she plays sTIPEND(71), opening up a spot for my LAIK(35). She plays OHO to lead 206-187. I play BEANO(29) followed by INOsITE(71) to reclaim the lead. At the end, she gets down ANGARIES(80) to make the scores level at 335. I have the better tiles and initiative to win in the end.
Game 2 vs Andy- Start with DILL/ERN, perhaps RILLED would be better. He responds with GRIM(10). I hold CEINRSU and play SCUNGIER(65+5). He replies with CHORDS(24) and WYNS(20) while I draw BJMPQTY and make do with LYM, missing YMPT. He plays SPITTER(77). I hold EELOPQT but play TOQUE(18) instead of LEEP to block the triple-triple line. So he gets down GUARDIAN(158) next to lead by about 120. I play PRUNELl(A) next, allowing him BOOTH(60). I get RATIFIES(63) and WEXE(45) later while he tries ATAVICS*, but still lose.
Game 3 vs Marcus. Quite an interesting game to say the least. He starts with ZOOgELA which I quickly challenge off while I consider my options, with CENRSTU. It seems inevitable that a bingo reply is unavoidable, so I play ENCRUST(74), sure enough he comes back with ZOOgLEAE(86) but I score with A(Z)IDO (51) to retake the lead. He plays off EUOI(11), TONIC(14) and VUG(14) while I have WHIG(27), VIRGIN(22) and KEG(33). Then he bingoes with ACETINs (74), but I have VOX(46) to stay ahead. At the end, with no tiles in the bag, he has AEENRST and I hold ABELQST, leading by 91. There is a floating E and a N in first place. I could have blocked the E but it would not score and it would leave me with the Q. I play QATS(32) instead to take the sure win. He outs with SERENATE but it is insufficient to win as he is too far behind.
Game 4 vs Marlon- He opens strongly with SQUAB(38), I have DEEHIIN and play HIN(26). I play INDEX(26), PEE(19) versus his PAX(28) and AINE(28) before trying MIDSIZES* which gets challenged off (good without the S. ) He plays VELD(23) then CHOKERs(79) blocking my MADERIS(ED) (102). So I have to settle for SIDEARM(79) instead.. Then I play DOGY(27+5), missing a bingo AEGINORTY through EN, which I knew but wasn't looking at that spot. What a waste. Several turns later, he gets COLOrMEN(83) to lead by 90. I get down NITRILE(67) a few turns later but it is too late.
Game 5 vs Tony- I open with the classic QI/COONS, while he plays WINO(23) underneath. I get NOSTOCS(69) next, but change next turn. I get JIRGA(42), FADGE(27), ZANTE(48) and HELPS(41) over the next few turns to lead 270-184. Close to the end, I get down VERtIGO(66). I draw ABEHLOT, with EENRSUU? unseen. There are 2 spots, a T in 1st position and another starting with S. I decide not to block, playing HEAT(24) instead while he outs with TRUENESs(74). Curiously, there was nothing in EENRSU? starting with S.
Game 6 vs Tony- The first KOTH round, and it is Tony again. Tony opens strongly with ZAIRE(48), but I reply with DEXY(35). I play DADA(19) next to his VIN(20) and DOM(24) which allows me a very fitting CLARIES(87). I play YOWL(45), NEWT(35), GRAT(23) and BOATINGS(69) to his QuINIC(51) and JUPON(37). I also get LAKH by the TWS for a cool 60 pts. He gets a late BOTTlERS but is too far behind to win.
Game 7 vs Marlon- I play Marlon next who has just beaten Andy, by virtue of a late bingo. I start with AEIIIOS and change 5. He plays PEAZE(38) but I have SWEETIE(81), chickening out of the safer WEEPIEST. Sure enough he gets OX(55). I alternate between scoring 22 and 26 over the next 4 turns only to see him play another blank bingo, FANTeEG(77). Now I hold GIIINNU but no L for LINGUINI, so I change again. I get TAHR(47) and SURLOIN(76) to trail by 45. He scores well with DOGEAR(46) and NINJa(38) at the end.
Game 8 vs Marlon- Decider game. He begins with ZEE(24) with the Z on the star. I hold AEIIOSU and have to change again. He replies with a change also. I have CEIMRUV and play CUVEE(16). He responds with VARICoSE(76) . I dump MIAOU(23) while he plays off the Q for 15 points. Now I hold EIMORSX- a rack with good potential, I play off OX(45) then QUOTERS(48) while he plays DREG(31). I hold EIMRSTW and play WE(28), missing MISWRITE. However I get ORGANIST(80) to lead 266-215 and play HILLY(42) next to extend the lead. At the end, I slowly block the bingo lines and eke out a close endgame to win the game. Marlon could have won had he spotted NONaGON.
I am quite pleased to have won this tourney despite getting few blanks and several unbalanced racks. There were several situations where opponent blunders gave me the needed edge.
Record: 5-3 +89
Ave. score: 417-406
Bingos: 15-13 (1.88-1.63)
J: 4/8 (22/40 so far)
Q: 3/8 ( 18/40)
X: 4/8 (20/40)
Z: 2/8 (19/40)
S: 18/32 (97/160)
blanks: 3/16 (41/80)