Albert Hahn is alive and well

Sunday, 26 September 2004 — 10:42pm | Scrabble

Isn’t it funny how every time I promise that my next post will be a dissertation on the subject of a cultural monument, I get distracted by not one, but several interjectory events?

Take, for example, this delightful eight-minute Flash film: “Craziest”, by VidLit founder Liz Dubelman – who, while not a former Scrabble champion, certainly tempted me to check to make sure. An anonymous reader dropped the link in the HaloScan comment box of my previous post, but I feel a need to highlight it, as it is a clever and resonant piece that struck me in more ways than one – all of them personal.

For instance, take the moment when expert player Albert Hahn dies of a triple-triple-induced heart attack. Funny that of all the experts that could have been featured in the short, she picked the one from Calgary. Fortunately, reports of his demise are greatly exaggerated (but at the same time, greatly entertaining). I see this as a good thing, because I spent most of the summer near the top of the ladder in the Calgary club where Albert kicked me around on a regular basis, and I do plan to beat him eventually. The closest I have gotten so far is nine points in the red.

There has been a discussion pertaining to “Craziest” on the competitive players’ mailing list, CGP, and it was amusing to see Albert emerge and post a response. That community caught wind of the link last Tuesday, but I somehow missed it completely.

Current listings for the Western Canadians next weekend indicate that I will be the bottom-seeded player in the 14-player Division 2, which means I will be playing all of them in the 17-round main event. Not so for Dan Lazin, who is one of four unrated newcomers in the 35-player Division 4, barring any drops or additions between now and Friday. Dan nearly scored his first victory against me earlier today when he bingoed out with RETOOLER* on a triple word score, only to have it challenged off.

Albert, currently the top player in Alberta with a rating of 1759, is seeded sixth in Division 1. Top-seeded is California’s Ira Cohen (1868), who walked away with two of the three Western Canadian Scrabble Championships that I have attended. No sign of perennial attendee Bill Kinsella (perhaps better known to Canadian literature buffs as W.P.), but we shall see next week.

My other excuse for not getting to writing about the Classic Trilogy DVDs yet – aside from schoolwork, Margaret Atwood and old lace – is that I spent much of the last two days with the annual UADS-hosted high school debate tournament, named for Lieutenant-Governor Lois Hole. At Friday night’s workshop, none of us participating in the demonstration round could remember Michael Wilson’s name. Wilson is the man behind the counter-documentary Michael Moore Hates America, and the case run by Crossman/Jacobs in the demo was that Moore should grant Wilson an interview for the purposes of the film.

See, everyone in the round also conveniently forgot that the film has already been completed and actually had its Dallas premiere two weeks ago.

The tournament itself, which was held on Saturday, consisted of three rounds in Canadian Parliamentary style, Western times. Word is that some of the beginning debaters had trouble filling eight minutes of speaking time apiece, though I did not bear witness to this phenomenon in the rooms I adjudicated. I judged the final in the Open category, where Will McClary and Joshua Sealy (William Aberhart) attempted to prove that “geeks are inheriting the Earth” on the Simpsons-themed resolution, “This house believes that everything’s coming up Milhouse.” While it was a highly amusing case that scored more than a few brownie points on account of its lavish praise of George Lucas, they did a better job of demonstrating why “values” cases (as opposed to “policy”) are such a rarity in impromptu rounds: they are incredibly hard to navigate without plunging oneself into definitional quicksand.

The Opposition team of Morgan Wheaton and Garnett Genuis (Old Scona) capitalized on that, taking the angle that those who make the decisions have a higher place in the world than those who make those decisions possible – in a nutshell, that we do not live in a technocracy. Buried under the rhetoric were some fairly broad and assertive generalizations on both sides of the house, but Opposition ultimately came out on top. Government, however, showed us all a good time.

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