Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Here We Come A-Quackling

You will be happy to know that, contrary to what you might have thought from the lack of activity from this blog, that the Scrabble couple has not:

  • died (old Scrabble players never die, they just constantly draw a blank.)
  • retired from Scrabble (perish the thought!)
  • broken up (ditto!)

We've just been incredibly busy. So, a quick update on our doings:

1. Elyria: Ah, the Burning River Blowout. Always a fun tournament. Heather finished first, 11-4 with a +666 spread. (Yes, 666. I'm not quite sure what to make of it, either.) My record also included a 4 and 11, although not quite in the same position. It was enough to make me wonder if I shouldn't be out campaigning with Pete Zeigler instead of playing Scrabble. Heather goes from 1037 to 1061. I meanwhile go from 900 to (eeeghh) 829. Sigh. 829. Alas.

2. Rocky River Local Club Tournament (aka Stockjobber:) How does a Scrabble player celebrate his birthday? With a Scrabble tournament, of course. Initially, this was supposed to be an unrated, just-for-fun tournament, but at the last minute, Dan Stock asked if we wanted to make it a local club tournament. A good time was had by all. I played decently, if predictably, losing to the aforementioned Mr. Ziegler, Jeff Clark, Mauren Kennerk (no good draws whatsoever); Heidi Nemeth, and Kevin McCarthy. (Let's just say this about my game with Kevin: Some day, somewhere, someone will play the word CLOGGIER on you. You will think you should challenge it. Don't.) However, I did manage to beat Cecilia Huber twice, which I consider an accomplishment as I consider Cecilia a pretty strong player (whom I had never to this point managed to beat in a tournament.) I gain six ratings points.

Meanwhile, Heather is awesome (but I could have told you that), beating both Messrs. Zeigler and McCarthy despite being significantly lower ranked than them, and gaining ten ratings points.

3. Battle Creek Cereal Bowl: I go 3 and 4 in Division C, for those of you keeping score at home.

Meanwhile, Heather gets "knocked up" to Division B as the tenth seeded player in a 10-person division. This does not deter her from going 6-1 (or 6 and Knapp, if you like) and winning the division. And picking up 150 ratings points. And getting to 1220. And no longer being a novice. And having a boyfrend who randomly exclaims for the rest of the weekend, "1220! Do you realize what you just did?!"

OK. So one half of the Scrabble couple has this game down pat.

That would leave me. I am absolutely thrilled for Heather and couldn't be prouder. I would like to eschew mediocrity.

So, here's the thing. It's not that I think my word knowledge is lacking. While I woudn't pretend my word knowledge is stellar compared to even midlevel players, I am satisfied with my studying and my learning words. It seems my strategy is off.

Enter Quackle. Quackle is a program where you enter your racks, your plays, and your opponent's plays, and the computer suggests what it would have done. The hope is you learn why. It's very interesting -- and a little intimidating. It's not so bad when you see words you didn't know (for instance, I had no problem in having missed SUASION the other day -- I didn't know the word) but it is a little scary when you realize the plays you missed wth words you know.

Anyway, I just started. One of the challenges is that you have to keep track of your racks so that you can tell the computer what you have, and it can tell you what you missed. I started doing that tonight at club, and have already noticed that it tends to focus your mind for both looking at your rack and tile tracking. Anyone else noticed this?

As a side benefit, I'm also hoping this wil allow me to provide a slightly better overview of my games for this blog when I play in the Cleveland Classic this weekend. (Heather has a friend visiting in Ann Arbor and will thus be unable to attend. I will miss her, and will probably have to fill my Saturday night...I don't know, perhaps blogging about how I did???) It's fifteen games, which makes me really happy. I like the longer form tournaments.

PS: Speaking of which, it was decided tonight: The Scrabble Couple is headed for Albany. What better place to spend New Years? :)

1 comment:

John Spangler said...

Good morning, Michael!

Nice to see that you log, too.

I'm adding a link to yours on my infant blog site ( so that I can keep up on what you and Heather are up to.

Good luck on your games today! You and I should be playing in one of them.