What a load of B.Sc.

Friday, 16 June 2006 — 4:44pm | Scrabble, Tournament logs

I now have a degree. Well, that was easy. In fact, it was easy to the point that I’m not sure it qualifies me for anything.

Note that I’m not making any claims about doing well… that’s a separate challenge entirely, and one that is caught in a balance of pride and shame (as opposed to accomplishment and failure, which run along a very different axis).

Not long ago, I lamented that my knowledge of the U of A Cheer Song was limited to its recitation by tone-deaf student politicians, but after hearing it played by a wind band, I have to say that I’m quite taken with its splendiferous bombast. As readers have no doubt discerned from the foci of this here gonzo-guest’s maverick wedding journalism, ceremonial music programmes are something I like to see done right. In this case, what did the trick was a dash of Gershwin and a slice of Williams (The Phantom Menace, but with “Duel of the Fates” taken a bit under tempo).

Convocation was otherwise a nonevent, far overshadowed by the opening of the first new Pixar feature in a year and a half. Cars is wonderful, Pixar is a perfect seven-for-seven, you should stay for the credits, and I’ll go into detail some other time… maybe. First, I’ll see it again.

So let’s talk Scrabble.

If you want to read an account of last weekend’s Calgary Summer Tournament from a player and division from which you might actually learn something, I recommend the two-part Division 1 account located here and here. If not, then I guess you’re stuck with me. And not only do I make mistakes, I have a photo album to prove it.

As Paul says in his journal, “Bad luck and bad decisions are a lethal mix. You can win playing poor and getting lucky, and you can overcome bad luck with good play.” So when you miss easy bingos, lose an obscene number of challenges, draw racks like LRSSS?? with no open lanes on the board, and throw IIIIO back in the bag only to have to toss IIV later (and still draw four more Is to play off in the endgame), you can pretty much consider yourself screwed.

Take Round 13, for instance, where I was saddled with dreck on a tight board for most of the game when I gave myself an improbable opening with GNU, and held EEIGNS?. Since DOGY was in the way down the centre column and the only letter that goes at the end of GNU is an S, any seven-letter word I found would have to have an S in the fifth position in order for me to play it.

As it happens, there are two. The one I didn’t see was GENESIs. The one I did see was GrEISEN, and I was delighted to see that my opponent courteously left the spot open for me to play it. And then I realized that I didn’t remember if the correct spelling was GRIESEN* or GREISEN. It was an epic battle between the I-before-E-except-after-C dictum that never really works, and the chance that the word might be of German origin.

In Scrabble, you’re so used to seeing everything uppercase that sometimes, what I try to do when figuring out if a word looks right is write it down lowercase and see if it looks familiar. I tried it here, and it only served to confuse, since I’d never seen either one written lowercase before. Since I’m not a geologist who deals with altered granitic rocks, I’ve never had to use the word in a proper, contextual sentence.

Needless to say, I played the wrong one, and since my opponent didn’t know either one (and had a precious lead to protect), she challenged it. At the end of the day I was at 7-7 (-202), which should give you a sense of how bad my losing margins were compared to my winning ones. I also posted my lowest bingo count in any tournament in years. School’s out; time to start studying.

Musicians take note: in one game, I played QUARTAL*, absolutely convinced it was an acceptable word, and it was challenged off the board by an opponent who knew her Qs. At the time I suspected it was a word from mathematics, but I was actually thinking of quartal harmonies, which are chords built on successive fourths. Jazzmen dump them faster than a sack of tea in Boston Harbor on account of their utility in adding flashy sixths and ninths to just about anything.

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