Saturday, June 28, 2008

Grind's Cafe 1 (27 June 2008)

The group have found a new venue for Scrabble activities here in Dubai Grind's Cafe located at Manazel Bldg. in the corner of Mankhool Road and Kuwait Road I think. A nice place to play the game. Eight players came and we started the game around 9:30 AM. The first 5 rounds were Australian draw (no repeat) and the last 3 rounds were KOTH with repeats. This is the first UAE rated tourney.

This was my pose at the entrance of the Grind's Cafe. I wore my green WSC 2007 shirt.

The glimpse of the venue inside the cafe.

Players looking at the menu to order for lunch time while waiting for the first pairing - an Australian draw.

Round 1 vs. Nikhil
I started the game with a bingo TOROIDs, scoring ZA 48 point in move 3 then getting another bingo REUnIFY. Nikhil countered with INVERTE(D) but I was still leading, 211-133. His phoney play of REP(A)NNED* cost him the game as I nailed down another bingo, WAISTED for a healthy win. W 536-313

Round 2 vs. Ishtiaq
I got down UPWARDS (81+5) and DZeRENs (88+5) against his AVERSION. I was in command of this game from midway til the end. W 454-287

Round 3 vs. Akshay
I had tEAPOYS (89) on my 2nd move. Later, Akshay responded with SIRRING (86) to take a slight lead, 144-158. From here, we were very much close in scoring until he laid down bRUNETTE (66) and he regained the lead 241-276. My play of EXO/OBA gave him a counterplay of FES/FA/AX/SOBA (42) and maintained his lead in the endgame. L 307-422

Round 4 vs. Madhu
Madhu's bingo of rOUTINE (69) was countered by my TEnEBRAE (80+5). In her move 8, she exchanged all the tiles which gave me another bingo, STEVENS (76+5) to lead 316-185. Her OUTLIES/ICHS (76+5)reduced my spread but I still won. W 438-375

After 4 rounds, I had 3-1 win loss record and this was my lunch meal.

Round 5 vs. Makbul
I had LITOTES (75) with his own MINDsET (70) in the early going. But the open M gave me a four-timer for REFRAMEs (98+5). Later on, I played UPTAKE (32) to make the game wide open. Mak holding EIINSST laid down SIETINES* instead of the correct anagram. Anyway, he was able to bingo with INOSITES after 3 turns. I continued to pour on scoring and won convincingly. W 547-319

Round 6 vs. Akshay
This is the start of the Straight KOTH. Akshay had a clean slate, 5-0 before this round. My first rack ?EEEINT gave me a bingo. Then another one in move 4, SILTIER e6 much safer than RILIEST e1 which would open up two TWS to be ahead, 204-98.I was holding on to the lead even after his EXERT (62), 268-228. But after he played down TEASELED (80), my score was overtaken, 313-333. But then, I was able to connect a bingo on the tight board, RAtIONS (68) to beat Akshay for the first time. W 433-378.

Round 7 vs. Akshay
Both of us had a 5-1 win loss record but he had a better spread. In this game, I was totally shut off with his three bingos, NOURSLE (66), GOORIEs (71) and BREEDErS (74) against none for me. This is my all time low. L 252-440.

Round 8 (Last Round) vs. Akshay
Before this round, Akshay informed me that I need to win this game with at least 98 points spread for the championship. But I thought it would be a tall order as he was starting. All I had in mind was just to win this game no matter what would be the outcome of the spread. Akshay started with AZURN 8d 30 pts. I held ADEEGOT and laid down a nice bingo overlapping five (5) tiles for 83 pts. I was comfortably ahead 154-87 after my EME play until he hit an excellent four timer VERITES for 106 pts! In move 5, I was able to score with my X, IXIAS doubling the X and hitting the TWS for 60 pts. I was again leading 265-226 when Akshay laid down another bingo on a tight board, he played iSOTONIC for 68pts. Then after few more turns, the board looked like this:

Ronald: Turn 10

I was trailing by 15 points, I need 98 pts spread to win. My rack ACEIPN? can play a bingo! PANIClE 4a 80 pts was my first choice but based on the unseen tiles, I thought that he could score back or worst scenario for me could he hits a nine timer. So, I opted for another safer lane. Based on my tracking sheet, I saw WWQ which I presumed he got one of these and it would be very difficult for him to catch up. I no longer thought of winning 98 pts., I just want to win this game even for a 2nd place finish I would be happy, so I decided to play the high scoring PElICAN 2b for 88 pts. taking the lead, 415-342.

In what a turn of event, I drew QWWD. Akshay holding the UUTSREA rack slapped down a bingo hooking S to AB. I was terribly surprised as I saw AUTEURS on the board! I told myself, no matter how dreadful are the unseen tiles, I should have analyzed further as even a slimmest probability, there is always an element of surprise in the endgame.

Going back to the board position above, I simulated using the Quackle. And based on the "Ask Championship Player" command, I discovered the following:

Move Score Win% Valuation
4A PANIClE 80 99.39 59.3
2B PEmICAN 88 99.24 60.2
2D PICANtE 79 98.86 57.4
4A PICANtE 80 98.48 56.9
2B PElICAN 88 97.73 74.1
4A CAPrINE 80 97.73 71.5
4A PInNACE 80 97.73 67.9
4A PINCAsE 80 97.73 57.8
4A PINnACE 80 96.21 63.3
4A INsCAPE 76 95.08 60.0

All of the bingos ranged between 95% and 99% winning percentage! My PElICAN had the highest valuation in terms of scoring but PANIClE has the edge over the Win Percentage giving 99.39% while 97.73% for my PElICAN. However, there is no 100% chance of winning for me here, so I guessed even if I played PANIClE, there is a probability that the 0.61% chance of losing could be possible. I did no longer check the combination of 7 seven tiles from unseen WWQTADERSUU. I leave to the readers what is their comment on this.

I therefore conclude that in a Scrabble endgame like this example, most of the time, a player with a greater word stocks have always got the edge over the other average players. Because in this type of endgame, calculation of probability of what would be the best rack combination of your opponent and how to minimize his chances of winning through your word knowledge spells the big difference in winning and losing the game.

This was the final board position. L 415-453

Final Standing after 8 Rounds

1 Akshay Bhandarkar 7 wins Spread: +666
2 Ronald Credo 5 wins Spread: +395
3 Nikhil Soneja 5 wins Spread: +309
4 Robins Magaki 5 wins Spread: +109
5 Leo Capuno 4 wins Spread: +106
6 Ishtiaq Chishty 3 wins Spread: -23
7 Madhu Soneja 3 wins Spread: -683
8 Makbul Manji 0 wins Spread: -879

Most bingos : Akshay 17 in 8 games
High game score : Nikhil 607 pts
High word score : Akshay 106 pts VERITES (round 8)

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