Monday Night Bliss
With the 45-game Causeway Open tournament beckoning, I was keen to see focus on playing winning Scrabble at the Monday night WORDS meeting. First up was Jean. We both struggled with rack balance and it wasn't until the 8th move that we were able to achieve a score of any note - Jean with 33 for KA and me with 50 for QAIDS. I was impressed by Jean's unusual GIRON play and was tempted to sing the tune "Isn't it GIRONIC ...?" The game continued to be a struggle until finally I was able to draw away with METIF for 40 and JEElIES for 74. There is a 5-point penalty for incorrect challenges at the Causeway Open so I let Jean know that it might have cost her another 25 points margin for challenging TUNG, RAYA, METIF, JEElIES and WHIN.
My nemesis (INSEEMS, MISSEEN, SIEMENS) Rene was next up to the plate. We know each other's game pretty well after 13 years of Monday night clashes. She knows to outscore me with 3-letter words using high-value tiles whilst providing me with no profitable openings, whilst I know to open up the board early so I can use my burgeoning bingo vocabulary. This time she spoilt her own plan by bingoing on the opening move. I followed the plan by using 6 tiles to spell UNCURLS which subsequently allowed me play through the R to spell MISRULES to open a Triple Word lane. Rene reflexively took the opening with CREAMY but that let me in with EX for 50. I was still chasing Rene and it came down to the final racks - Rene had all consonants and a blank while I had all vowels and a blank. I thought she would be able to outscore me but my out-in-two play of OSE and AEONs allowed me to squeak home.
Keith was next in line and I began with the unusual fives - FUGIO then FOUAT. A Z, X and S gave me enough ammo to catch Keith before he regained the lead with tANGENT, hooking onto RUTH that he'd set up earlier. His first attempt was the feasible *REBURNt so I had to be wary not to provide an opening for BURNERs or URbANER. It seemed that I'd need a bingo to win and as luck would have it AEEK?SS appeared on my rack and I saw a free W to play WEAKnESS for the night's high word score of 107.
My final opponent was to be Val, who had brought *JAFFAS along to share. I made a mental note that JAFAS is a new Collins word but refrained from informing Val lest she ask me what it means (though she'd probably know the meaning). She exchanged tiles and I saw the French JEUNE for 40. We then exchanged a few 30+ scoring moves before Val played HAD which I knew took an S end-hook but wasn't sure if Val knew it. Because I had manage to assemble IGW??SS in my rack, I hooked an S elsewhere to play SWInGeS. Val took a Triple-Word square with GIANT but that allowed me to use her A to play SARDONIC. My luck seemed to be returning just in time for the Causeway and I wondered whether I could possibly summon another bingo without an S or a blank. After 2 more plays I saw EIIOLNT in my rack and noticed that the T of GIANT was still available. I saw TOILET but then one of those rare flashes of inspiration struck ... "IN the TOILET" is my way of recalling TOIL(IN)ET so I laid it down excitedly. Val took a minute to look it up in the CSW hardcopy and I raised my arms in victory when she replied in the affirmative.
Postscript: During the ensuing Causeway Open tournament I was amazingly able to play TOILINET again against an aghast Ghanian who had been winning our game comfortably. He was so stunned that he spluttered to a loss.