Wednesday, September 9, 2009

On winning

A funny thing happened to me at my last fully-rated tournament. I won.

To wit, I went 11-2 at Dean S's Cornerstone of Hope fundraiser tournament. This was sort of a big deal for me, insofar as I'd never won a tournament before, and doing so was something that was important to me.

Heather and I differ on this. Heather focuses on her ratings, and picking up points, almost to the point of disinteres in whether she wins. She says she doesn't really pay attention until the last few games as to where she is. If she can win, she's pleased; but she's much more excited about gaining points.

To me, winning a tournament was important. I think it may be a guy thing. I had this need to feel like, at one given tournament, a bunch of people showed up and played Scrabble, and for that brief shining moment, I was the best of them.

So there. I was better than all of you. Ha ha.

[end feigned egotism.]

In addition to being an achievement, as well as profitable (and who doesn't mind collecting $150 for one's Scrabble labors?), I also found winning this tournament was somewhat fascinating. I say fascinating, insofar as I learned a great deal about my Scrabble games. Some lessons, below.

1. I can do it: Not just win, but win with a pretty good record. Going 11-2 in a field where I was seeded seventh was quite an accomplishment. I had to work pretty hard to keep from thinking that I couldn't keep it up...but somehow I did.

2. Don't panic: For whatever reason, I did not have the sense of impending doom that sometimes comes over me when someone plays a bingo. It was more a sense of, "I can deal with this." And, usually, I could. Just as surely as my opponent found a bingo, I could usually look to come back with a thirty or forty point play. Speaking of those...

3. Even somewhat insignificant fours help, much though I hate to admit it: I've been studying fours in straight probability order, just to keep things simple. I have found this rather frustrating, insofar as it's often easier to remember a word when you see a random W or F out there, and there are so many potential combinations of letters with just A, E, I, R, U, T. Some anagrams have become the bane of my existence (AOST comes to mind.) But they do come in handy. I think what won me the tournament was a 30 point play with the word GETA in my last game against Walter Konicki. Knowing words does help in this game. And speaking of Walter...

4. Avast, Ye Demons!: If one must be plagued by demons, one could not hope for nicer ones than Midge Skwire, Walter Konicki and Stan Angrist. They are perfectly nice people and fun to play against, but I was a combined 0-4 in tournament games against them going into this tournament. Both Midge and Stan kept the games close to the end and probably took a few years off my life. Walter, however, was in a class by himself. I won a thriller in our first game on Saturday; lost our second game on Sunday; and won the battle for first place against him right aftrewards. I have a lot of respect for all three of these folks as players, and it was a personal accomplishment to be able to hold my own against them.

5. Stupid Mistakes Can Come True, It Can Happen To You: Everyone makes mistakes. I just am not in favor of the ones where you want to bash your head in again. Such as tracking that all the O's were gone, deciding there was no chance of being hurt with the J in position next to the triple word score, and then kicking myself when my opponent used the blank. Oh, duh...

Winning was a lot of fun; I also had moments where I felt I was looking at the board in a different way and playing better than ever. Can I keep up with my new rating of 1081? (1083 after last night's club tournament?) Stay tuned...


Liz E. said...

Congratulations! Eric and I have just started playing board games as a couple and he beat me at our first Scrabble a lot. You two and I might have to talk strategy sometime so I can win the rematch!

Dean S. said...

Michael, I whole-heartedly agree. I have always been much more interested in winning and winning prize money than what my rating is.
My rating and 50 cents won't even buy me a cup of coffee at Starbucks!
I have never understood why some people are so obsessed with "Playing Up". My thinking is you can gain just as many rating points playing and beating players in your own ratings neighborhood.

Qlesspatty said...

Ew, zee game is maddening!
...from the only opponent who can outdrink you... :-]

Ronnie55 said...

Great overview of the year. I particularly enjoyed reading about the highlights. I enjoy every Scrabble game, but those games with a special highlight or a very exciting finish or unlikely play or unlikely word are what really keep me addicted to Scrabble. Gotta love those moments.

But usually when playing Scrabble Online the other opponent doesn't share in your excitement if you steal a game with a last minute Bingo for example. So for that I reason I like playing with friends and family sometimes.

Jocel Fullido said...

great really have done it well..glad that you really have made it..its not easy on winning to a scrabble game.

2 letter scrabble words