*MOUNTIES, MOLERATS and MAGGS on Monday
I'm pleased to see Jean Balmer back on Monday nights after a month and drew her as my first opponent. In the second rack I was holding OUNTIES. I know two things about this rack 1) it won't anagram to a bingo 2) don't put M in front of it - *MOUNTIES was challenged off to my surprise during my first year of Scrabble. Jean had played NY parallel to my opening play and at first I ONlY thought of the A front hook, but thanks to CSW I could now put my O in front on the way to playing COUNTIES. I played JEON (won't take an S) and Jean played EX (will take an S in front) and then I was able to use my O to play COTTENED. Needing a bingo to stay in the game, Jean took a few minutes shuffling her tiles to find a possible bingo. Finally, she played MORTAL - making me curious about which letter she retained on her rack. I thought that if it was an E she could have played MOLERAT - one of the compound animal names I submitted to this list many years ago (BULLBAT, CATWORM, DOGFISH ...). At the end of the game Jean revealed she had indeed kept the E. Of course, misses are usually punished and I soon had WhEELInG. Next I took a triple word score with BURROW, noting that -ERS or -ING to reach the TWS would be nice. Similarly, Jean had played SING on a triple word lane four tiles away from another TWS. It was somewhat pleasing to be able to finally play PLEA in front of SING on my 13th turn. Two turns later I was also able to add -ERS to BURROW for a neat 42 points while Jean struggled with poor racks.
What's a Monday night without playing president Natalie? It was her turn to win and this time she was able to play well within her comfort zone with plays like OX (39), EROTIcS (66), JET, QAT, ZA to build up a commanding lead while I struggled with poor rack balance, changing twice, and plays like HUIA, AE, BOH, GI before cashing in with CONSENt and RESOLVE, when it was too late, after setting up the R hook above IF.
Next up was lovely Lila who managed to find SNApPED for the night's highest word score of 89 when I tempted her with the puzzle of finding a word that front-hooked OX and also took the TWS on offer. I suppose the distraction plan backfired badly as Lila was now 127 points ahead after 5 turns each. I now had to take lots of risks to try to bridge the gap. QUIRE (51) got me closer and by turn 11 I was able to jettison just enough I's to be able to play DEICING ( it's what you put on de cake) to take the lead followed by ZEAL (33) and FEMAL (33) which I joked meant "a short female". GNAWERS got me over the 500 mark and a handy come-from-behind win. Nevertheless, I was annoyed to later discover I had missed the only bingo from EEEINRS.
Last up was Maggie (aka MAGGS), my happy conqueror from two weeks ago. After changing my first rack while keeping AR, I now held AOOMNR? and spotted MAROONs. Maggie had played PERT and I was pretty sure that it took an S but went for a parallel play of dOORMAN to be safe. I then played VANT which Maggie challenged then commented that she knew the front hook of A (now unplayable). RELIANT got me the lead and AZOTE (highest non-bingo for the night) for 72 afforded me a bingo size lead. This time it was Maggie who had to take risks in order to catch up. Her excellent FEIST play for 46 opened two TWS files and I snaffled one with AVION to fly away again. TIG opened yet another TWS and my EKES for 51 made the situation worse for her. Just for fun I went out with SCAIL through an A for 7 points to reprise my SCAILED play against Natalie last week. Maggie still won the 3rd place scratchie while I took 2nd and the high-flying undefeated Natalie took 1st.
Next week our club will be having a break while the Cheltons jet northwards for the Magnetic Island tournament, Natalie's husband undergoes a minor keyhole surgery operaton, and I celebrate my birthday. Such are the tribulations of a regional Scrabble Club!