John opened with MEDOC* which I immediately challenged off. Just as well as it enabled me to get down the otherwise unplayable DRAINED on my first move to get off to a great start for the tournament. On his seventh move, John got down the bingo HAROsET but luckily I was holding the H to be able to reply with HAROsETH and WHOOP for 47 points. On his last move John played CILIATE for a 16 point lead leaving me with a full rack, but I was lucky to have available the out play of RAINOUTS to secure a lucky win.
Score 444 to 395, 0 blanks, 2 bingos
Game 2 vs Ivor Zetler
For the second game in a row I opened with a bingo, this time rIOTISE. I chose this word because I knew it did not take a D end hook, and hoped Ivor might try the hook. My second move was also a bingo, EVENTFUL off the E of RIOTISE. Ivor got down TORNADO on his fifth move and a couple of moves later I was holding a 100 point lead and UNTRIED with nowhere to play it - except onto RIOTISE. I admit I knowingly played a phoney hoping Ivor wouldn't challenge, and that is just what happened. At the end of the game I carelessly allowed Ivor to bingo out for 83 with CANNIEST, foregoing about 100 valuable spread points.
Score 508 to 354, 1 blank, 3 bingos
Game 3 vs Robyn Flynn
Robyn was going along like a train, so this was a danger game. Fortunately I was the first to bingo with TORULAE on move 5 to establish an 83 point lead, but Robyn replied one move later with ANESTRI to close the gap. CHEEKY onto KY for 36 and JIN for 56 late in the game enabled me to stretch the lead out for comfortable win.
Score 442 to 300, 0 blanks, 1 bingo
Game 4 vs Paul Cleary
Paul was leading by this stage so I needed to win this game to get to steal his lead. Paul played YONDERS on his second move, but I could only reply with QUAIGH for 38. Next he got down DISAGREE, but I was able to reply with NEWTONS to establish an 18 point lead after the intitial scoring spree. I maintained a small lead until Paul played BrOILERS on move 6 and then VOLUTIn 4 moves later to go on to a comfortable victory.
Score 365 to 460, 0 blanks, 1 bingo
Game 5 vs Rod Talbot
Rod played the early bingo of EqUINES and I was struggling when on the fifth move when I opened the top row with the vertical play of VOID, holding an A. Rod replied with TOAZE for 81 to go to a 125 point lead. This gamble had definitely not paid off! Rod rubbed the salt into my wounds with WEX for 48 on his last move to record an easy victory, adding further damage to my spread.
Score 276 to 397, 0 blanks, 0 bingos.
Game 6 vs Anne Drew
It was a long time since I had beaten Anne in a tournament game so I hoped I was due for a change in fortune. I opened with JOURS for 40 and Anne replied with the excellent CABOC. My LEAFED on move 3 scored 53 so that when Anne got down ROADSIDE for 65 on move 5 I was still 10 points ahead. I scored 57 for EX to reestablish a good lead but then Anne played PrOFIlE on move 8 to take a narrow lead. From that point on I was able to keep the scoring going better than Anne could and so secure a win.
Score 436 to 358, 0 blanks, 0 bingos
Game 7 vs Michael Hornung
As this was Michael's first trip north, it was my first ever game against him. On his second move he played ZEBRA for 57 and I could only reply with an ETAERIO dump for 9 points. My OUTLIED on move 4 got me to within 8 points of him, but soon after he got down QUEAN for 59. I erred in allowing him the opportunity to extend my HELIX to HELIXES for 34 late in the game. He was now holding a 46 point lead but I was holding a blank. An unfortunate run of V, W, Y and multiple Cs meant that I could not get the bingo I needed to steal a win. It was a win for Michael, maybe one that could have been averted.
Score 342 to 397, 1 blank, 1 bingo
Game 8 vs Joan Rosenthal
I opened with TORN for 8 but Joan could only dump IE allowing me to get down BENDERs on my second move. Joan's tiles must have been shocking, as she could only reply with OO. She recovered to play the impressive RINDLESS on move 6 but she was still 14 points behind. I nearly let the game slip when I incorrectly pluralised AHEM with the S of SWALLET late in the game, but my better tiles in the last few moves still enabled me to eke out a narrow win.
Score 341 to 316, 1 blank, 1 bingo
Game 9 vs Jean McGiffen.
This was the first game of Day two and I was secretly praying for a few more blanks, having only seen 3 on the first day. Jean played CEMENTs on her third move to take a 60 point lead, which I eventually overtook with the bingo TRANGLE. Jean then replied with ARAISED to get the sixty pont lead back, but I had now picked up the last blank and was able to play rEVAMPED for 92 for a 30 point lead. I was unable to maintain that lead to the end of the game.
Score 439 to 401, 1 blank, 2 bingos
Game 10 vs John Holgate
John replied to my open play of DHUTI with the impressive HAUDING to burn six tiles. On move 4 I played REVERENT to open up a sixty point lead and a nine-timer. Luckily John could not capitalize, and I retained my margin until John played SOREDIA to take a narrow lead after 8 moves. I then tripled JAIL by hooking the L to make SOREDIAL, but John came straight back with MaSTERY at n2 for 90. In hindsight he should have played the safer MYSTERy. Neither would have stopped my play of BRaIZES for 93 to take a 38 point lead, but then John replied with ELK for 45 to gain a 7 point lead. Luckily I now held the X and was able to play at 1O (top right corner) for 50 points, a move that MYSTERy would have negated. Pulling out the X at the crucial time won this game for me.
Score 425 to 405, 1 blank, 2 bingos
Game 11 vs Joanne Craig
Apart from the game 22, this was my next most satisfying win. Joanne challenged off my ReENROL* on move 4, but then left me a place to play LORiNER one move later, giving me a 140 lead. She then played JAILOR, TRAILED, FIX and VIAL in consecutive moves for a total of 190 points and a narrow lead. My VARNISH for 36 and her SQUID for 45 locked the scores, and when Joanne got down ZED for 38 I was 10 points down and holding ?NLTUU. I needed to play out to win and after 10 minutes searching the best I came up with was the vaguely familiar pULTUNS for 7 points. It was correct and the winning move. It was the first game in which I had seen two blanks, the second blank having won the game for me.
Score 377 to 370, 2 blanks, 1 bingo
Game 12 vs Chris May
Early moves of QAT and ZANTE kept my scoring going early, and when I played SEITENS on the fourth move I was 110 ahead. Chris's reply of RIOTINg for 63 still left me with a good lead. Another double ess bingo of SALLIES on move 8 restablished a 120 point lead, and again Chris replied with a bingo, this time woth rOULEAUS on to an S for 59. Now that was drek, and insufficient to really get back in touch.
Score 444 to 363, 0 blank, 2 bingos.
Game 13 vs Graeme Lock Lee
Things were going along well now and I was now back in touch having won all four games in the morning play. I was feeling confident as I got down TUNABLE on move 2, ZELANT for 48 and BEDUSTEd on move 7 to establish a 100 point leave with Graeme being bingo-less at this stage. Going into my final move I was 50 ahead and knew that Graeme was holding sCOURER. I chose to block a possible eight-letter play onto a T with KOA, with 11 minutes left on my clock. I had completely overlooked the other hotspot at the bottom of the board, being the S end of hook of NY, allowing Graeme to bingo out with sCOURER and take the game. That lunch I had at Greasy Joes around the corner had relaxed me just a little too much!
Score 369 to 390, 1 blank, 2 bingos
Game 14 vs Barbara Berlin
Barbara was the person who got me into Scrabble many years ago, but as she now calls herself a Melbournian, I didn't want to give her the pleasure of a win. My ROOSTED on move 5 enabled me to establish the lead I wanted and six moves later when I played ELATIONs I was 170 ahead. Her reply of DENTILS still left her well behind and with a couple more good late scores I was able to win very comfortably.
Score 483 to 318, 1 blank, 2 bingos.
Game 15 vs Sal Costanzo
This was one tight, drawn out, tough game, with only the blank getting me over the line at the end. When Sal played ABASINg on his move 7 he was 20 points ahead, a lead he maintained right up to when he played RIZ for 21 on his move 15 to go to a score of 310. His RIZ enabled me to triple score with VaNT (and RIZa) for 43 and a 30 point lead. He had to spend his vowels to erase my lead, but then got caught with consonants thus enabling me to play out with higher scores.
Score 381 to 347, 1 blank, 0 bingos.
Game 16 vs Peter Shaw
The final day had arrived and I was now lying in fourth place with 11 wins from 15. In our first 6 moves each, five bingos went down - three to me (TYRONES, SMARTED and BUNTIER) and two to Peter (OUTSTEER, AVOIDER). This left me 50 points up on a fairly closed board. We both had blanks at the end of the game, and I was able to use mine to best advantage and win easily in the end.
Score 495 to 399, 1 blank, 3 bingos
Game 17 vs Zina Costanzo Zina was my third Victorian opponent in four games. On my fourth move I was able to play GrEASES to establish an 80 point lead and after that the game did not rise to any great heights for either of us. When Zina placed played BEEF and placed a B in nine-timer territory, I was happy to be able to reply with NOMBRIL, a word I have always wanted to play. When I followed with a Z play for 50 the game was then out of reach for Zina.
Score 414 vs 299, 1 blank 1 bingo
Game 18 vs Karen Richards
Karen has had the wood on me of late so I was keen to exact some sort of revenge. I drew a blank in the first pickup but the rest were consonants so I settled for CH. I scored well with QIS and XI, still holding the blank, but then had my first change of the tournament on my fourth move. Karen too was struggling so when my gENTLER went down I was 60 ahead. Two moves later I played CROWDIES, being unsure of SCOWRIE for a higher score to still be in a commanding position. Karen got down AERATION but it was too little too late.
Score 458 vs 340, 1 blank, 2 bingos
Game 19 vs Nicole Findlay
This was the all important last game before the KOH rounds. I needed to win it to stay on equal wins with the leaders, albeit with a lower spread. Nicole had just beaten Rod so she was on a mini roll. I replied to Nicole's opening of AA with TUTTInG, but Nicole came straight back with DESOLaTE. The game flowed well after the original exchange and I gained an edge due to a better run of tiles to have a 60 point lead going into the endgame. Nicole played a G to empty the bag so theoretically I should have known what she had. But something had gone awry with my tracking and I could only account for INQRSU. I thought I was blocking her scoring potential with the Q when I played GAIN vertically onto the red square at 15H, but instead all I did was enable Nicole to make the brilliant outplay of INQUIRES for 130 points. I felt flattened and thought I had now forfeited any chance I had of winning the event.
Score 388 to 468, 1 blank, 1 bingo
Game 20 vs Rod Talbot
This was the first KOH round and I was lying in fourth place, 1 game and many spread points behind the leaders Michael and Paul. I just needed to keep winning and hope for the best. My opening rack of ILRUV?? was definitely a lucky pickup but it was after all only my second game with both blanks. I though VIRULar* was a word so I opted for it instead of VIRgULe. Luckily for me Rod did not challenge so that by the time he played his OUTEATS for 65 I was 100 ahead. When I played INCASED later into the game I found myself 100 points ahead again. Rod was holding NATTERS at the end which I successfully blocked to record a convincing win.
Score 425 to 319, 2 blanks, 2 bingos
Game 21 vs Rod Talbot
It was Rod's turn to start this time so a second win would be more difficult for me. Indeed his AERATION on move 2 sent him 60 points clear and things were starting to look grim. APIECE (35) and OCKER (36) enabled me to grind back the lead as Rod struggled with plays like BURR and TWIT. When I played NEUTrINO down onto the O of OCKER I found myself 65 ahead and in a healthy position. The second blank came along later in the game and I was able to play ELATIVeS for 86 to clinch a big win.
Score 457 to 339, 2 blanks, 2 bingos
Game 222 vs Paul Cleary
Paul had just won his two KOH games against Michael Hornung and would have been feeling fairly confident going into the last game with a one game and spread of 278 points lead, plus the all important start. I was convinced that I needed to start the game and bingo on my first move to have any hope of winning the game with a margin of 139 plus to overtake him, so losing the start was a blow.
This is how the game went:
a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o ----------------------------- 1|= ' L M O E ' J Z|1 2| - I " A R F E R E|2 3| - R C I D W E X|3 4|' G O E N P - D '|4 5| U T C O N S O L E D |5 6| L B A R " N Y O|6 7| ' A E L ' K ' M|7 8|R O T G U T A B A S H T I|8 9| ' S Q I ' E ' U T|9 10| " P Y I N " A N |10 11| V E E S - R I |11 12|' F A ' I E '|12 13| H A W V I D E O s |13 14|N A " O I t |14 15|U G ' = ' =|15 ----------------------------- a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Bob Total Paul Total Bob's lead ABASH 28 28 -28 PONKS 22 22 HEARIE 18 46 -24 CONSOLED 61 83 VIDEO 26 72 11 REDDY 36 119 (change) 72 47 QI 24 143 OMIT 23 95 48 PYIN 31 174 MAINOR 27 122 52 VEES 39 213 JEW 38 160 53 ZEX 73 286 VAW 18 178 108 FA 25 311 ORD 14 192 119 TUNIEst 76 387 HAG 23 218 169 NU 17 404 EF 32 250 154 CECAL 26 430 BET 24 274 156 GUT 6 436 ROTGUT 21 295 141 GULAGS 16 452 LIROT 17 312 140 OI 11 463 +1 464 -1 311 153
Obviously luck had a lot to with my win, but there were a couple of crucial plays. Continually scoring off the Q was helpful, then ZEX was the game breaker which also rewarded me with the second blank. I then had a chance to play FUGLEMAN in row 1 for a low score but opted for the good scoring FA block wanting to save the n column for a safer, higher-scoring bingo. This was immediately forthcoming with my TUNIEst move. Right at the end Paul was holding awkward letters and with the S in my hand, I was easily able to go out in the two moves needed to win by the required margin.
Score 464 to 311, 2 blanks, 2 bingos
Total blanks for tournament 20, total bingos 33