Eastern SCRABBLE® Championships
February 2000

Color Commentary

Sunday was unusually busy with the addition of a 32-person newcomer event in a separate ballroom. Initially, Susi, Roz, and I ran that event, but over time, everyone else cycled in, too. I guess it is fair to say that even the most even-tempered of us needs a break from looking up IX for the fourth time! :)

The Housatonic Valley Tourism Association generated a lot of excitement about this event and we had an impressive turn out. Between the rented clocks and protiles, we were almost outfitted with enough gear! The players came in with their brand new standard SCRABBLE® boards under arms and left with protiles, clock flyers, the NSA web site written down, and visions of deluxe turning boards!

For the first time in a long time, there actually seemed to be a lot of women in the expert division. Actually, there were only 10, but it seemed like more. Perhaps having one in first place, currently, makes it seem this way....

Judy Horn tells me of a game against Sally Ricketts. They were neck-and-neck the whole game, never any more than a few points separating them. In the end of the game, Judy found an 18-point play which was just enough to pull out the win, 408-405.

Remember the high win loss contest where Judy Horn and Rita Norr were tied with a 457? Well, they were both usurped today by the pesky Jeremy Frank, who lost one of his games with a score of 465: ouch. He had four bingos: HOOLIGANS, OFFICES, SOLITON, and RATIONED. Matt Laufer won with a 469. He had two bingos: SAUTERNE and AUREOLE. Jeremy confesses that he loused up the end game. And Laufer should have lost with a 477. (JF's words!)

Gregg Foster had a terrible day today, his worst ever in tournament play. Of the seven games he played today, his highest score was a 342 and his only win was against Pam Grazette, 294-258.

Division IV's Claudia Koczka has been having a tournament of big plays. She played FOXIEST for 118, QWERTYS for 100, and ADJOURN as a high-scoring double-double.

Cynthia Timm, who came in 7th in todays 32-person, 5-round Newcomer's division, played a 601 game in round 4. She ended up 3-2, but ate up her ovation from the directors and other players over her marvelous feat!

Some Monday stuff:

round 19:

Dave Mallick had a big win over Sal Piro, 588-349. Dave tells me that he got down BELIERS, MUNITION, OUtGAIN, and HOSTAGES, while Sal got down LORDINg. Dave also made these lovely successive plays: QUAI, 54, q on double; and QOPH for 54 on triple. He says he needed this win after losing so badly to Michael Wolfberg, 514-359, in Round 18. Now at 10-9, this game with Sal helped Dave reach another milestone: his first 500 or over tournament game. He'd managed a 499, 498, and a 497 up to today!

Judy Horn had a great round 19, too. She had a 575 to Audrey Trumbarello's 252. Judy had a big triple-triple I hear.

A funny pre-round 20, king/queen of the hill game, anecdote. Ron had given the top three expert pairs their contestant cards and then thought he'd wait a few minutes to dispense the others since many people were still on break in the hallway. About 5 minutes later, I took over handing out the rest of the cards. And we thought all was well. A few minutes into the final round, with tiles clicking softly in the background, Rita Norr came up to me mildly panicked: Where were her table's contestant cards? She and Bob Felt were up for 1st and 2nd and they had no cards. Rita confessed that she knew she could afford to lose the game and still win, but she needed to know by how much, so she needed to see Bob's spread on his card! We searched high and low, asked everyone nearby. Rita once again asked Matt Graham, who had been sitting at their table the round before if he had seen them and he assured her he hadn't. Still not satisfied, I looked around the Matt belongings and spied their cards INSIDE his duffel bag! Embarrassed, he admitted he must have picked them up and not noticed. Then the ribbing began: had he done it on purpose to give himself a better shot at the prize money? The joke didn't last much longer before everyone else, well into their games shushed us!

Turns out that Matt was in the money anyway!

Well, that's it. Great fun and I hear this year's hosting hotel, Ethan Allen Inn, was a cut above last year's, so maybe the event will return there in 2001!