Saturday, December 19, 2009

My WSC ( Day 1)

My WSC 2009 ( Day 1)
Following Philip Edwing Mugisha and Neil Green`s phenomenal reports, I give you my WSC report "titled humbly and simply": The Conqueror.

Considering that I probably know twice as many words as I knew two years ago, I was feeling very confident about finishing in top 50 at the WSC.. Deep down, I was hoping for a top 20 finish. Well, to tell you the truth, I was almost sure that I would finish in top 10. Why lie to you? I had a feeling I was gonna win this one.

My WSC started extremely well. For Ron, that is. While I had to exchange tiles, Ron hit me with AERATED. I struggled with some awkward racks before playing TENURES. In the meanwhile, Ron kept scoring consistently. Towards the end of the game I got the first blank and played intrepidly, as I always do. I mean, INTREPID. And when I thought that there was still hope for me to win this game, Ron scored 280 points in four moves with ZITI, EXIT, NOVELLA and JOWARS. L:389-542


From the start, Suanne wanted to outrun me. Not an easy task, when you`re facing the strongest player in the word. I invited Suanne to join my friend NETWORKS. I only asked for 110 points in return. She must have thought it was a ripoff, but she accepted. Suanne took the first blank and played LAITIES. A couple of moves later she took the second blank to hit me with LOAMIEST.I considered myself lucky she didn`t have any high score bonuses with the blanks. In the endgame, I used my magic and pulled a REINDEER out of the bag. " Christmas is almost here", I said to myself, as I announced the score. W: 417-399


NIGEL RICHARDS started with INFLATE. From his facial expression, I knew he was extremely worried about the global economy. His poker face betrayed him this time. After missing the beautiful MORTBELL( a funeral bell) as a reply to his bonus, I took the first blank and played TORQUATE. I could see that he didn`t like that. "How about some WIENIES" , he asked me. "That would be 99 cents, thank you very much". I replied right away with UNGOTTEN. Then, the mischievous former World Champion, did something extremely disturbing. He let me think that he was going to play the nonvalid word HEC*. As i was getting ready to celebrate with a challenge, he changed his mind and played the beautiful word YCLEEPE( to call by name) for 101 points. My goose was overcooked. Next move, even though he had ZA for 64, he preferred
playing VIZSLA. As it turned out, he blocked my 86 point bonus DISOWNER. I had to settle for SWOONIER. It was payback time. I played the nonvalid word SWOONEIR*, announced the score and put my finger on the button. I didn`t press it though.
Well, not before rearranging the letters...I took the second blank, but on a closed board and with two Us, there was nothing I could do with it. L: 375-556

After three games, I think I was the player with the worst spread of the tournament. It was time for me to face the other best player in the world. It was the Phenomenon against the Phenomenal. The Phenomenon had a good start, but I caught up. He took the first blank and hit me with REJECTED. I didn`t know this word, but decided not to challenge. The Phenomenon is famous for his amazing word knowledge. I decided that it was time for theme SCRABBLE. AIRSIDES and AVIATION put me back in the game. I considered not playing TENOURS, since it wasn`t related to the theme I had chosen: air and airplanes. I must admit that I gave Philip 10 points from challenging PENE and SWEDE. Later, I found out that SWEDE is a common word in English. Well, excuse me, but I have never eaten a SWEDE before. Maybe one day... I`ve always wanted to visit Sweden. Anyway, if you`ve seen Highlander you know what happened between Mugisha and I.There could only be one. While I was filling in the result sheet, I could tell that Mugisha considered chopping my head off. He knew he would be kicked out the tournament if he did that, so he refrained. W: 453-443

Rohaina is one of the nicest Scrabble players I have ever met. Her atitude during the game reminded me of myself. An early phony from Rohaina, allowed me to see
she had a blank. Strategically, I think I played a good game, until my FRENUM play.. That opened the board and allowed Rohaina to play SOLDERS for a lot of points. From there it was nip and tuck. I took the second blank and played FLITTERN, only to see Rohaina play REBOANT. A very close endgame followed, and only my amazing brilliance saved me . W: 406-383

GAME 6: Adrian Tamas vs Patrick Litunya
Patrick took an early lead and it looked like this would be his game, when he started showing me his tiles. That helped me a lot. I realized that he was struggling with KGGU combinations. I can`t remember the played bonuses. I didn`t get the chance to take a photo of the game. By the time I was done taking the result
sheet to Barry, this is what was left from our game. Another close endgame, and I was on 4 wins and 2 losses, after a terrible start. W: 451-389

Against Vannitha, I started with GOUTIER. She replied with ANITRAPE*. Believe it or not, I spotted that now, when I started writing the report. How was it possible that my eagle eyes betray me? Anyway, I took the first blank and bonused* with GRAVIES. That was followed by SPINDLES, using the second blank. Vannitha was very gracious in accepting her defeat. W: 516-356

I started with AURICLE followed by CROCOITE, and never looked back. It was my luckiest game in a very long time. CROCOITE was followed by CILIATES. Then I drew the first blank and played THORNSET to block the triple triple that Blue had opened. I could have played ANOTHER for 10 extra points but chose not to. Blue is a real gentleman. Even when he was 200 points behind, he kept complimenting me on my play. I started feeling bad and wished for some bad tiles for myself.It didn`t happen. W: 552-290. At the end of the first day, I was 14th, with 6 wins and 2 losses. The Tile Gods gave me 9 blanks and offered 7 to my opponents. Not a bad start, I thought. I fell asleep at around one o` clock, while counting the money I was going to win at the end of the WSC. More to follow.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Merry Wives of Scrabble

For more than 60 years, wives have played a very important role in the history of Scrabble. Hundreds of thousands of husbands around the world had their Scrabble careers influenced by their wives. It all started when Alfred Butts invented this beautiful game. Even though he loved playing Scrabble, his wife, who was a much better player than him, made him realize that he should be sticking to what he knows doing best: making games, not playing them. This one goes to my wife, who hopefully won't be trying to convince me that it's time for me to quit playing this game,after all these great results I had:)


WIFE+D,S WIFING = to marry a woman
WIFEHOOD+S = the status of a wife
WIFEDOM+S = the status of a wife ( my definition for wifedom would be the territory where a wife is the supreme authority, that is, most households in the civilized world)
WIFELESS = without a wife
WIFELIKE = like a wike
WIFELINESS = wifely character or quality
WIFEY+S = an endearment for a wife
WIFIE+S = an endearment for a wife


ALEWIFE ALEWIVES = a woman who sells ale
HUSWIFE+S HUSWIVES = a sewing kit
FARMWIFE FARMWIVES = the wife of a farmer
FISHWIFE FISHWIVES = a woman who sells fish
GOODWIFE GOODWIVES = a mistress of a household
GUDEWIFE GUDEWIVES = the mistress of a household
KALEWIFE KALEWIVES = a female vegetable vendor
MIDWIFE+D,S = to assist a woman in childbirth
MIDWIVE+D,S = to assist a woman in childbirth
OLDWIFE OLDWIVES = a marine fish
SEAWIFE SEAWIVES = a bony fish
SPAEWIFE SPAEWIVES = a fortune teller
SUPERWIFE SUPERWIVES = a super wife :)
UNWIVE+D,S = to deprive of a wife

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Yew Tee 2009 ( Scrabble Report- Day 2)

Day 2 started with an easy game. I had to play Nigel Richards, the strongest player in the world. The game started very well for Nigel. After five moves, he was ahead by 100 points. I told him to wait for me, but he wouldn't listen! One thing I noticed is that World Champions tend to be a bit stubborn... Anyway, not even the two consecutive bonuses I took from the bag, didn't help me win the game. Nigel's bonuses were EVENTUAL, BRANGLED and LEPTOMES while mine were ROSULATE(no-S), ERASION+S and NIPTERS (ceremonial washing of the feet).


My next opponent was GOH JIANG PERN from Singapore. The final score doesn't show how close this game really was! I played ANGUINE (no-S like a snake), followed by LIFECARE+S. GOH JIANG PERN tried a phony which came off the board, but the next he used an E floater I kindly provided, to bonus with LOVELIER. A desperate late opening from GOH JIANG gave me a home for my ASTEROID+S bonus.


Now I had to play HUBERT WEE, another Singaporean. Hubert finished 7th at the WSC two years ago. I knew he was a very good player. The tile gods smiled to me this game. My first move was PARERGA (no-S a composition derived from a larger work). PARERGA was followed by TOILETED. I chickened out of SALTIES and almost got punished for it. Hubert played LIONIZER for 101 points and CURARINE+S ( a poisonous alkaloid). I hooked an S onto CURARINE, and when he challenged, I knew it was my game.


I was paired against TOH WEIBIN, a former WORLD YOUTH SCRABBLE CHAMPION, also from SIngapore. This time, the tile Gods were not smiling. They were laughing! And they only stopped laughing, when the game was over. I started with NAPOLEON+S ( a type of pastry). TOH WEIBIN replied with BEDSORE+S. And then followed what I like to call bonus flood. REMOUNT+S, ENDURES and LATERAD (no-S) from me, killed the game.


I had to play HUBERT WEE again. He started with ENDLEAF+S and never looked back. DIATRIBE+S, PANDECTS for 179 points( a complete body of laws) and GENETRIX from HUBERT gave me my worst defeat of the tournament! I played ETESIAN+S and ESTRONES to finish the game and catch HUBERT with 50 points on his rack, yet still lost by over 200 points!


My next opponent was Michael Tang, the popular organizer of the WSC and CAUSEWAY SCRABBLE CHALLENGE. I started with DELICTS followed by SIENITE+S, EBONISE+D,S and BORANES. I could even afford not to play a triple triple for 149 points I was only 99% sure of. Michael bonused with TREFOIL+S and LANIARD+S ( a fastening rope on a ship).


My next victim was HUBERT WEE. I started well and kept scoring well, while HUBERT was struggling. Then, towards the end of the game, I completely switched off, and played my worst game of the tournament. I bonused* with INFLATES AND TREADLES while HUBERT bonused with EUCAINS and DATCHAS ( a Russian cottage).


The last game of the tournament was against BOB LINN. My bonuses were SAURIAN+S and TELETRON+S ( a cathode ray- tube). Bob only had one bonus: COLLATED. He also played a three letter word phony that came off the board. Then we both tried to extend the word QUAFF, but failed...


I finished the tournament 5th. After 18 games, I had 10 wins and 6 losses. My average was 448 points per game while my opponents' average was 432. I had a good time and I hope to go back one day!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Yew Tee 2009 ( Scrabble Report- Day 1)

My first game of the day was against Ricky Purnomo, my host for the weekend. Ricky played the first bonus ( LAPWINGS a shore bird), after trying a phony the previous movie. I replied with ANTITYPE+S followed by INFESTER+S. It was my turn to play a phoney. Needless to say that it came off the board and it was followed by ADHESION+S from Ricky to win the game.


My second opponent was Shim Yen Nee, another Singaporean. While she struggled the whole game with terrible pick ups, I played two bonuses: UNSENSED and and REARGUE+D,S. Towards the end of the game, she bonused* with TOLTERS and AIRLINES, but it was too late for her to catch up.


Jocelyn Lor from Malaysia was my third opponent. She bonused first with LEAKERS, followed by the nonvalid word EDUCTING*, which later became DUETTING. I replied with the bonus TEAGLES and tried to balance my rack for another bonus. I failed to do so, and lost the game.


My fourth game saw me face my good friend TONY SIM from Singapore. Tony's opening move, gave me a T for SAXONITE+S ( igneous rock). HERNIAE and SMOYLING from TONY and GELLIES from me provided a very interesting endgame. Both TONY and I failed to see for a couple of moves, that my V was playable, which made NIGEL RICHARDS, who was lurking around, smile.


CHEAH SIU HEAN, another friend of mine, was my fifth opponent. He had a dream game against me. He had four bonuses: FIREPOTS, ROBOTIZE+D,S , DOTTRELS and FREEDOM+S, while I had two: ANOETIC and RIVIERAS.


In my sixth game, I played QUEK SIM Ho, a Scrabble veteran from SIngapore, who represented his country at the WSC a while ago. It was a very close game. I started with PITEOUS followed by his THEATER. WINIEST gave me a 40 point lead and when he opened with VILL, I hooked an I onto it to make VILLI/QIS for 44 points to win the game.


In game seven I had to face MIHAI PANTIS , my compatriot. MIHAI started with the suboptimal bonus TIERCETS, which allowed me to play CRAZED for 84 points! He had two more bonuses( OUTEARN+S, MOSSING), while I only had one ( CASEMENT).


In the last game of the first day, I had to play ROBERT LINN from USA. It's always a pleasure to play ROBERT. He bonused* first with VEILERS, while I offered him some CIGARETS. Robert took the second blank from the bag, but the board was already blocked, so there was no home for his bonuses.


I finished the day with five wins and three losses.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Causeway 2009 (Day 5)

Day 5 was a daymare. I lost the game against Anand missing an easy bonus ( ENTRISM) as an out play, I lost the game against Henry Yeo by 8 points after bonusing* and taking the last four tiles from the bag (EEER), I lost the game against Karen Richards by 7 points after challenging two of her words ( words I was almost one hundred percent sure of!), and another game where my opponent saw the word OAKIER on the board next to us, and decided to try OAKIEST for 96 points! That gave him the win!. In my last game of the tournament, Bob Jackman from Australia played EUIO* against me. I challenged it off. Bob is my friend. A part of me wanted to let him have another go, while the other one ( the player) look at him and said: " Sorry Bob". I know that in Scrabble, these mistakes don't go unpunished... I remember how last year at the UK Scrabble Open I wanted to play the word HANGS. After I pressed the clock, I realized that I had played the nonvalid word HAGNS!!! It was challenged off by one of my good friends, Phil Robertshaw. We' re still friends. Or so he thinks...
In the same game, Bob and I realized after we finished the game, that there was still a tile in the bag. It was my mistake, since I failed to find it, thinking that there was only one tile left! We didn't know the rules. Bob had another turn, and since he couldn't go out in one, I played the tile left in the bag for 8 points.
So the Causeway Challenge 2009 has come to an end. The same players who fought in the final of the WSC (Nigel and Pakorn) finished first and second, which shows that luck is just a part of the game!
On the way to the airport, Sanjoy Gupta, a Scrabble player from India, offered me a beer. At first, I thanked him and said that I wasn't a beer person. Then, I accepted his present. It was my first beer this year. After the firt sip, I remembered why I didn't like beer. It had a bitter taste. Just like the taste of defeat...:))

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Causeway 2009 (Day 4)

Michael Akonor (Ghana) Adrian Tamas (Romania)

Another good day for me. After two days of struggle, I made it back to table one. Just for one game...I didn't throw any games away today. On top of that, inspiration and luck gave me two nice wins against Michael Gongolo and Kevin McMahon, two of the strongest players in the open division. I also played a nine timer: ATRopINES for 149 points against Victor Chua, to win a very exciting game.
The last game of the day put me in a very interesting position. Michael Akonor, the leader of the Open Division, played a word that I challenged. He took it back right away saying that it wasn't good. He didn't even want to go to the computer for the adjudication. Even though I challenged the word, I was almost sure that it was ok, so I insisted that we should check it. It was valid, so Michael didn't lose his turn. He thanked me many times after the game. I said that I enjoy winning, but that I would rather lose than win games like that. Michael Akonor seems like a nice fellow. I hope he wins the tournament.

Life as a Single Wife: the End of the Road

As I told you before, being a single wife does not mean I am the only wife until further notice. It means I am a kind of semi-bachelorette until my beloved husband comes back. The happy event will take place in about 30 hours, so tonight I thought I'd take advantage of my freedom and I went out (for the first Christmas party of the season) with some friends.
Here's a photo of our dinner (I'm pretty sure sashimi is a valid Scrabble word, but you will have to ask the specialist if you want to be one hundred per cent sure).

After that, we went to my favourite bar in Japan, a small place called Michi (The Road) which has been in business since 1957. The owner is a kind and funny old man who chooses his customers and has a special price for each of them, depending on the degree of likability. Fortunately, I'm on the list of favourites. I strongly recommend it; it's right in the center of Osaka, near the Hozenji temple, and if you're lucky and the owner likes you, you can have many great drinks for a very low price.

I apologize if I haven't been very funny. After been awake for 18 hours, my inspiration has left me. But I'm sure Adrian will be here soon, with news from Causeway Challenge. As I suggested before, for the pancakes... attaaaaaaaaaaack!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Causeway Scrabble Challenge ( Day 3)

Day 3 was good, but could have been better! I felt that two of my three lost games where winnable. The third game was " whinable". I really need to work on my stamina. At one point, I almost fell asleep on the Scrabble board. When I "almost" woke up, my opponent was already filling in the result sheet. Tomorrow is another tough day, with ten games waiting to be played. Who knows, we might even have a winner by the end of the day...

"If Only" ( Scrabble)

"If Only" is a Scrabble variant invented by a player from UK. If you know his name, please let me know. Howard Warner from New Zealand introduced us to this game, a couple of days ago. Yesterday, the nine games of Scrabble were followed by three games of "If Only" against Martin Harrison. Since you have a blank on your rack almost every turn, it's easy to score more points and to come up with nicer words.

Game 1: Adrian Tamas 541 Martin Harrison 476

Game 2: Martin Harrison 528 Adrian Tamas 514

Game 3: Adrian Tamas 715 Martin Harrison 572

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Causeway Scrabble Challenge ( Day 2)

Today was a good day. For my opponents. I played my worst Scrabble ever to lose a won game against Waseem Katri, I "managed" a six game losing streak, and not even the 6 phonies played by my opponents couldn't end it! For lunch, I had a J served by Charnrit, the World Youth Scrabble Champion. That will teach me! Starting today, I will stop counting the " goodies".
Did I have enough? No! Tomorrow I'll be back for more!

Virus Alert: the Scrabble Bug

This is a very serious warning. The Scrabble virus has a long incubation period and the risk of contagion is extremely high. When the Scrabble virus strikes, it strikes violently.
The first symptoms:

 You are on the train with your friends, one of whom (hi, Chad!) is teaching you American slang. The only thing you can think of is “Are these valid Scrabble words?” You actually utter out loud the question and your friends cast pitying glances in your direction.
 You are in Nikko, one of the most beautiful and famous places in Japan, soaking comfortably in an open air bath. The sun is slowly rising and the steam turns into a delicate rose mist which floats around your shoulders.

A maple leaf falls into the water, near you, and you rest your head on a moss covered rock. All of a sudden, the water is rippling and you can feel the kraken (ha! I’ve read my pirate books!) lurking beneath: “Is rotenburoan open air bath—valid in Scrabble?”

I’m not yet sure about the second stage of the disease, but I guess I’ll be afflicted with an incontrollable shaking when I see a Scrabble board. After that… DOOM follows! If you want to prevent infection, the first thing to do is stop reading this blog.

Our House

In order to avoid misunderstandings, here is our house.

It does belong to the temple you saw in the photos and it is right across the street from it. Jean, unfortunately we do not live quite inside the temple, but very close to it. The invitation to come visit us stands.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Causeway 2009 (Day 1)

As I walk into the game room, I hear Harshan Lamabadusuriya say: "This is what Scrabble deserves. This is how it should be treated". I couldn't agree more. Michael Tang has taken this game to the next level!
Today was a pretty good day for me. I finished on seven wins and two losses. I took about seventy percent of the blanks which is no bad at all... My wife said she would wait for me with pancakes ( my favourite dessert) if I win. I remembered that, when I played the bonus NOCAKES against Esther Perrins! My first game tomorrow will be against Charnrit, the World Youth Scrabble Champion . The Open Division looks pretty strong too. I see Odette Rio, Martin Harrison, Kevin MacMahon and Cheah Siu Hean, are out of the top 20 at the moment. In my opinion, any of these players could win the Open Division!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Where We Live

A story to take your mind off Scrabble at least for a few minutes. Here it goes.

My grandmother has always been afraid of graveyards. A deep, inexplicable fear which prevented her from ever going to a graveyard alone or from passing one by at night. Now we live surrounded by graveyards. There are four temples, each with its own graveyard, on our street. The moment I step off the train, I smell the incense and within minutes I’m on the sacred street, which feels amazingly peaceful and safe. If I met any ghosts, I was not aware of it.
Our temple (yes, after three years here I think we can say “our” temple, despite the more than obvious difference between our religious systems) is called Gatsuzōji, more precisely 青陽山月蔵寺 and it has a 500-year history.

The Temple of the Hidden Moon. The Dwelling of the Gods on the Mountain of Eternal Spring. Now we are part of its history. We were here when the little boy who will (hopefully) become its 44th head priest came into this world and we shared all of his birthday cakes.
We traveled around the world with its head priest.
We took part in its annual events. I helped make o-hagi, and cold somen noodles, and bento boxes.
We witnessed ascetic practices and helped with the cleaning before and after the event.

Now we are all very proud that Gatsuzōji has become the newest attraction in the tourist circuit of Sakai City and almost 2000 people visited it in only five days.
The leaves of the maple tree are turning red. Autumn again, my favourite season. Don’t avoid us if you’re ever in Sakai!