Another Amazing Club Game
Tony from Engadine is a very cheerful new presence at our Monday night club meeting. The 35 minute drive is pleasant and, hopefully, so is the gregarious competition we give him.
Novices at our club are automatically given a 200 point handicap. I was drawn to play him, and as scratch-marker I was sitting on -20 points. Tony drew the start and after some admirable moves by him I was still 234 points behind after 8 moves each. True to my status, I had been scratching around for points without any power tiles, while Tony cashed in with a SEXY play followed by ZO. Things were not looking too bright, particularly if Tony were to pick up the remaining S and two blanks. My cunning plan was to pick up the remaining goodies whilst manipulating my third bingo to catch him with tiles on the rack.
Well of course, the plan went like clockwork! As a prelude, I dumped JOG for 35 points before landing the rack CDRSTE?. CRUSTeD did nicely thankyou. My next rack of BFEEIOO wasn't too flash but a dump of OBOE for 26, then another dump of the F to make FART for 30 points propelled me to a rack of NRTTEEI. TENTIER went down vertically in the open spaces of the top central section of the board.
I was still 46 points behind and needed to land the "killer blow" of a bingo with the bag now emptied. As luck would have it, my final rack was CLTEIU? - many sevens and eights were possible - LEUCITEs and CUITTLEs sprang to mind - if Tony didn't block all the play-through letters.
Sensing the danger, Tony played PIE parallel to the ENT of TENTIER. This made PE, IN and ET as the possible pairings to play through to form a 9-letter word. I had nearly 7 minutes to find a winning bingo so I took my time looking for 9's.[ INdUCTILE is the only possibility but there wasn't enough room on the board.]
However, I remembered someone once playing a winning bingo against me by hooking an S in front of PIE. I mentally placed my blank above PIE to form sT with the T of TENTIER. Thanks to my Collins study, I immediately saw CULTIEsT but still pondered possibilities for a 9-letter solution - making Tony sweat for another couple of minutes. Finally, I delivered the coup de grace [ George Khamis prefers "killer blow" ] which left Tony amazed after his inevitable challenge. The final score was 468 to 449 in my favour. I "consoled" him by saying that he did the right thing by blocking as many bingo lanes as possible, with the additional coaching tip [no doubt fully appreciated] that he could have used his S to play SPIE himself to seal up the game.
As I've said before - Scrabble can be sheer poetry at times!