The moment you have all been waiting for!
The worst play of 2013. But first, a (not-so) brief introduction and discussion.
I have always been aware of playing second fiddle in Scrabble. This started in Yahoo! Literati in the early 2000s as James showed his incredible prowess, almost hitting a rating of 3000 in speed games (probably one of the most difficult things anyone has done, as any loss was a -32 and any win often did not even give you a single point). I slowly moved up the ratings there, hitting 2500, 2600, and then briefly 2700 although Sellie beat me to it.
In late 2005, James convinced me to play a Scrabble tournament, and I quickly became hooked. I moved up the ranks, and made my first trip to Vancouver to meet my old Literati buddies, James, Jesse M. and Gab, where I was quickly put in my place, finishing 6-8 in division 2 and watching helplessly as James tore apart the div 1 field in Vancouver. Despite my exhortations for him to teach me, he could only proffer minimal advice as I am internally defective. However, I kept studying and finally at 2006 Nationals, I felt ready to cause a stir. I was even more buoyed by being selected for GI Joel's roto team, and vowed to do him proud.
I started 6-1 at Nationals, showing that I was finally improving. A lot of the young stalwarts were doing well at that Nationals too, including Conrad, Nat G., Doug, Carl, Orry, and others. Soon it was my turn to play them. My dream was quickly dashed as I went 1-6 the second day, starting the day by missing FEIRIE as an opening move vs Orry and having him play TENUITY. The rest of the tournament went similarly poorly, I played badly and languished away in mediocrity, playing third, fourth, fifth and maybe 73rd fiddle as my young friends ran the scores up at the top tables. Conrad spoke of playing SUBERISE as I missed CALZONES. Dielle phonied me 4 times in one game. Dougie had a ridiculous winning streak before it went downhill, although he still finished very well.
I went home in shock and vowed to learn all the words. With renewed ferocity I pored through flashcards, Zyzzyva, Quackle, whatever. I learned a few more words by the time the Players Championship in 2007 rolled around, and with a respectable rating I actually qualified for the first division! I roomed with my good friends James and Gab, hoping they would do well in their respective divisions. My first game was against Aaron Bader, and I watched helplessly as he bingoed with several difficult words, although I got away with CONFUSER* against him (this whole post is from memory). The next games did not go much better, and by the time lunch rolled around I was 0-4.
I vowed to put it all behind and salvage this tournament, but bad turned to worse as I played in lower and lower tables, losing in many conceivable (and unconceivable) ways. Meanwhile, my younger and better friends were tearing up the top tables. By the time the smoke cleared and the final day was done, I had just lost my final game to Mike Whiteoak after missing QUALM and many other simple plays, and James had won the inaugural (and only) Players Championship, with Conrad, Doug, etc having pretty respectable finishes. I think I ended up something like 10th from the bottom.
No matter, I thought to myself, days later, after the shock had worn off. I will finally perform well in 2008!
Well, 2008 started well as I traveled to Vancouver again and started very well. With a 9-0 streak I was on my way to winning my first real multi-day tournament. Although I had a dumb misstep against Rich Moyer, in which I tried JACOBI* (presumably the plural of JACOBUS) and he challenged it off, thus proceeding to win the game, I barreled on, and I was facing my old nemesis Dielle; my record was at 11-1 +1000 nearly and she at 10-2 with a negative spread! I just needed to win one game of the next two to seal my first multi-day victory.
As you may have guessed, dear reader, it was my turn again to play second fiddle to a new generation of players. Dielle proceeded to beat me both games; at the end of the second one with very little time on my clock I actually chickened out on ENSURED (thinking I was misspelling INSURED, and completely missing ENDURES), a move that would have put me at 80%+ to win. (In 2009 she then won the Oregon Tile and semi-retired for a while.) I still don't have that elusive multi-day victory, 6 years later.
In the summer of 2008, I flew to Orlando, Florida to compete in my first Div 1 Nationals. I studied many thousands of words the weeks before, and felt confident that I would do well. I started the tournament 6-1, beating some tough competition, and even getting on Table 1, where Matt Graham ended my streak in Game 7. The next day I played a murderer's row, including Cappelletto, Marlon, Wiegand, and JKB -- I didn't do too well or play too well, going 2-5 that day. I thought "That's ok, I am energized and will finish the tournament strongly, if I go 4-3 or 5-2 the next couple of days against average competition that is a strong top-20 or top-25 finish". I ended up 83rd out of 103. The new generation now included Nigel P, who had a top 10 finish, and Sam R who ended up top 20.
After all this heartbreak, I never had much Scrabble hope anymore. I languished in the 1800s, 1700s, and 1600s for a while, not quite figuring out the trick, watching as my young friends won or placed highly in big tournament after big tournament.
Let's fast-forward a little bit to 2011. Suddenly, I started figuring something out. I had a strong finish in the San Diego Open that year, followed by another strong finish in the CO. Of course, 2011 was James's year to crush all, but that's OK, I am finally doing something! Jesse Day made a huge splash at Nationals, almost winning the whole thing, while other young players like Scott J started doing very well as well. I ... did not do well. It's OK, though, because remember that I still had no real hope. Getting 6th place in an Open is OK but not a big deal.
In 2012 I finally did it. I hit 1900. I was invited to CALPAC and almost got 3rd. I qualified for Can-Am and BAT and could not make it, and I also could not go to Nationals, but that's OK. Nationals was mine in 2013. I finally figured out how to play and how to win. Although I had a big hiccup in the CO that year, my rating recovered almost immediately with a 28-3 run in the next few tournaments, or something like that, and I got up to 13th in North America. I wasn't too worried.
Which brings us to the present. I came into the 2013 Nationals with the highest hopes I'd ever had. I was seeded 11th in a ridiculous field, which meant I was almost expected
to cash! My girlfriend was coming with me the next few days, it was in a fun city (Vegas) that is close enough that travel was super easy and there was no jet lag, I got an awesome hotel room for cheap somehow, and I was focused and alert. I started 2-1, losing a ridiculous game to Scott Garner but bouncing back on Table 1 vs Carl. Lunch happened and I was feeling great.
Then, this happens.http://cross-tables.com/annotated.php?u=15122#18
The new generation is now Noah, Mack, Will, Rafi, and Kenji (although he's not playing anymore, I guess). I watch helplessly on the sidelines.( Read more...Collapse )