Sunday, December 18, 2011

Phillip Edwin-Mugisha "The Phenomenon" 10th Causeway Experience (Part 2)

(It seems that the CSC 2011 website is no longer working. Good thing that yours truly was able to save the fantastic story of "The Phenomenon"...)

The Phenomenon Final Wrap

Hiya folks,

If you want to know more about what I thought about the 10th Causeway's management, whether its the overall administration by Michael Tang, the tournament software operation run by Barry Harridge, the venue Zon Regency in the picturesque Johor Bahru seaside setting and the standard of play by 200 of the classiest creatures God created and put on earth, all of which I thought was world-class and excellent, then I suggest you head to the Causeway website where I have rambled on about the above. I have no intention of covering old ground in this posting. Dear wise reader, a powerful warning. This is a report of my 45 games. If you want to read about dazzling Collins words, brilliantly worked out set ups and excellence in our Sacred Sport, then by all means turn away! Go back to what you were doing, finish that novel, complete that crossword, put the kids to bed, make love to your supermodel husbands and wives. Anything but this.


MOSES PETER ( NIGERIA ) I had flown into Malaysia 4 days before the event to acclimatise, beaten off an eye infection and the flu. I felt positive I was ready to capture my birthright and become the undisputed best Scrabbler on earth. I shall admit as the tiles dropped I started to get real tense.
Moses Peter has close-cropped hair framing a brown oval-shaped face. He is a calm, relaxed fellow, economical with his movements, the antithesis of what I thought Moses Peter would be. I balanced first with OVATIONS and he hit back with ROYSTED (87). The consolidating TITUP (27) put me in a strong position and I was surprised when he tried UNBAILED* when AUDIBLE was at his mercy. Perhaps the nerves were mutual. I blocked AUDIBLE with my PLOY (18) before landing GREX (44). In trouble, Moses fought back with QIBLA (32) and DEVELING (73). But I wasn't LETTING (68) him off the hook. I was annoyed that I held an unplayable INSOFAR and missed, using the N of DEVELING, FRANIONS. 



I felt pleased. I had beaten one of the numerous higher ranked players in the elite Premier Division. This was only the beginning, I was going on a winning run just like England's Calum Edwards at the WSC who rocketed into the Global Number One ranking. His provisional rating at one stage was 2400, higher than Quackle or Maven on either side of the Atlantic! But unlike Calum who held this rating for only a couple of hours (sucker!) The Chosen One was going to maintain his. I was already mentally spending the $10 000. A high-end laptop, tickets to the next hot Anand Buddhdev dance concert... 

Chollapat has been in the news Worldwide lately. The guy is shortish, studious, mild-mannered, with a mop of dark wild hair. I find this intelligent mathematician is quite a nice guy though a shadow crossed my mind when I remembered he hammered me in Causeway in 2009 wth RIGAUDON. Definitely no repeats! I went on a WALTZ (29) as Chollapat fumbled with HEREDIST*, missing the straightforward HEISTED by a million miles. Then it was my turn to blunder as I missed SPINALS! Oi, oi, oi. In an ominous sign Chollapat got rewarded for his faux pas by finding he could play the baby bonuses STEEPER (64) and LEDGIER (80). I got punished for my error with obscene stuff like MUCID (20) and MONOAO (25). 



This is the story of the missing D. Firstly, the tiles were 100 before the start of this match. For obvious reasons people, at least in the super-pressured Premier Division were fastidious about that little detail. My opponent Komol is a handsome, self-contained young man with a clear, smooth complexion and piercing dark eyes that must make the ladies swoon in noisy Bangkok shopping centres. This is the very same global superstar Calum climbed over to get to his Heavenly 2400 and I intended to do the same. I went first, balancing with the humble GALA (10). Komol, after thinking deeply planted DYSTAXIA first move for a barnstorming 107. I know the word but I promptly stopped the clock in shock. As we went to confirm Komol pointed out a tile on my side of the adjudicating laptop lying face down on the plush 5-star Zon Regency carpet. He asked whether it was mine. I told him he must be joking, I had my 7-tile AHLONRT on my rack. We went back with Komol suggesting the tile could have accidentally come off my clothes. To me at that moment that was ridiculous. 

Now in Komol's defence I had on a heavy Ralph Lauren coat. This was originally meant for the Poland WSC as most of you will remember that The Destroyer of Worlds, Neil Green, had cursed that country with horrible wintery, snowish weather. I have not played Scrabble with this coat before or since. But from my last sojourn to Malaysian playing halls I knew they put the AC too low for a guy like me from the Equator. In 2009 Ghanaian Christian Mensah and superstar Allan Oyende of Kenya were up in arms. Later on in this tourney my Scrabble Siameze twin Rodney Judd from Pakistan was to fiercely hug his arms to his body exclaiming he was freezing his cojones off. Actually he said nothing of the sort but you catch my drift. 

Anyway we pointed out the tile to Michael Tang who picked it up as we got back. I believed it belonged to some other careless pairing. I also believed I was going to win this game as I responded to Komol's opening DYSTAXIA with the double double ALTHORN\GALAH for 99. Komol came with COOZE (39) and I slowed down until I decided to MUTATE (20) with IVORIES (77). After Komol's JIZ (33) and REEF (44) an interesting endgame situation. I am 10 points behind. 4 tiles left in the bag. I just know the chap is sitting on his second blank. My opponent tells me a tile is missing. Behind the curve, I track and discover this wonderful fact. 

Flipping dejavu. 
Komol suggests we call over the TD. I tell him the TD will probably put the missing tile, whatever it is, back in play. Michael Tang (if I recall correctly) wonders whether he should bring over the tile he picked up by the adjudication laptop. I tell him what are the odds they are one and the same. He looks at the board, my rack, Komol's rack and concludes that was the missing tile. He puts the mysterious object back in the bag. Zippity doo dah. Emotions are put on hold as at that moment I am thinking of how to pull off this endgame. Nigel is collapsing to back to back defeats, remember. With 5 letters now in the bag I am going through the 12 tiles at play and it isn't good. I ignore the one spot where he must begin with a G as unlikely. There's a QUEY down the far left of the board but he must begin there and hook through an N? Komol was to offer me friendly advice later that I should have played QUEYN and something there but I realised I have to seize initiative and score. If I don't score, with his blank and lead he buries me in 2 easy moves anyway. So I play the percentages, empty the bag elsewhere with UNDiNE. I can't believe what I pick. The guy has the most flexible combination possible and he hits me lala salaama last move with SIDENOTE\QUEYS with the blank. I ask Michael what tile it was he put in the bag and its the D. I cover it well but I am livid. Steaming. Fit to be tied. 



Game 3 derailed my mental composure but even worse this is the moment the stomach bug decided to arrive to make my life a living hell. At the last African Scrabble Champs (ASC) where one Sam Kanthimathi was TD we had high-definition, digital cameras planted on the 4 walls. Everyone felt contented knowing this fact. As the last word in Scrabble excellence I must say this unfortunately is where high-powered Scrabble is going. At the ASC in Ghana the Global Number One ranking was on the line as well as regional pride and National bragging rights. And of course the small matter of prize money of over $20 000. I would have been happy if we could have gone back and revealed a digital image of my heavy coat snagging a D and carrying it 30 feet to the laptop. Don't tell me about tiles traveling even further and ending up at dinner tables. Yes I concede I have seen tiles end up in the jean turnups of my opponents. Once during evening practise a missing R jumped into my unzipped bag next to me and traveled 15km home with me to be discovered the next day. Now, the digital footage of a tile falling mysteriously out of the face of the game's pockets just before he lands ALTHORN for 99 would have looked mighty suspicious to bystanders but I wouldn't care what others think, its about what what I think and what I know. So I would have been much happier about Scrabble to actually see this footage. Call me mentally weak but on Day I never recovered from Game 3. Akkarapol is a passionate, young turk going places, full of big dreams. The future of Thailand. He hit the ground running with his DESTINES (86) and DENARII (73). I was suffocated by stuff like BIVVY (20). I dazzled him with HIELAMAN (84 + 5) but after he cunningly blocked my ORGASTIC I was doomed. 




My 4th Thai in a row and I couldn't take a game off them. How does a Tottenham supporter look like? Well, Gerry has a lined face that suggests he has been around the block and bought the t-shirt. Or is it just too many White Hart Lane cigarettes? I was in control after REUSING (76) PASTIES (81). What! LOATH (32) to lose, Gerry, who sports a frosting of grey on his crown giving him a distinguished peer's persona fought back with OUTRIDE (76). He would still have said ADIEU (14) to this game if I hadn't imploded with TOER*. Sigh. 



ERIC KINDERMAN (UAE) I took one look at Eric's Wespa rating and chuckled to myself. Walkover. I decided not to hammer the guy too badly, after all, he is a fellow Liverpool supporter and wore the team jersey to prove it. I am not a short guy but this guy towers over me with the hunky, muscular build of one who regularly sees the inside of a gym and Trevor Hovelmeier-like legs that could punch through brick walls. He started ANNOYED (78) and I started with GONZA*. He planted VISIERS (84) and despite my SEAZING (68) I was seeing stars. He had me OVERDONE (67) as I then allowed the smelly WANKLED*. I couldn't RELY (40) on my IXORA (24) and INERTIAS (66) to save me from an ass whupping and a half. 




He was back. This was the game I have described elsewhere; I could only land AUNTIES (70) amidst shocking rack combos, he played FENG* shui but comfortably walked it with COLDEST (69), WELKT (28), SINUATE (71), BOATIES (70) and COXAE (70) thrown in for good measure. 




Rodney walked into my life to stay. He is a nondescript chap of average height, a wry expression, with a bit of a forward shoulder stoop and a mind like a steel trap. My cockup in this game was to play AIRLINE (74) in a dangerous position instead of INERTIAL for face value, in a bid to create future opportunities for myself. My spread was going south, I was figuring I needed to start thumping some of these guys in the bedroom before I made my way to Table 1 where I belonged.. The bloke showed he was no WUSSY (38), sparking to life with LETTERS (68). He then delivered the neat FANTODS (71) on a blocked board but I think its his hooking HOME to my careless AIRLINE for 51 that clinched it for him. 




The last game of a day I couldn't wait to end. Kukiettikulchai is a polite guy with a quietly-modulated voice, soft hands and a smooth easy manner about him. There's an exotic gold earring lodged in his left ear. Obviously a love child of parents from the free-wheeling seventies hippy generation. He stroked SINTERS (69) but I put a red flag to his CAROIL*. When an opponent makes an error you are supposed to punish them so badly they cry for their Mama. Instead, after KELPY (28), CHIRK (28) and ONEROUS (71) I got so comfortable I tried SIMILATE*. I had surrendered initiative. I got punished for my error by only scraping together ARIETTA (71). He got rewarded for his Ferrari CAROIL* with RAcLOIR (35), DEX (49), ZO (73), ADIPOUS (73) and RELOANED (77). 


DAY 2 

GAME 10 


The wires were burning with the news the Eagle was stone last. Muema Mumbi thought the TD Michael had swallowed a hallucinogenic substance before posting the results. How does Michael Tang look like? Well, there's an air of authority around the fellow who seems to have a pretty toned body under the shirt, obviously a member of the iron pumping brigade. Like me he is myopic, as blind as a bat and wears thick glasses with spiky black hair sticking straight up from the scalp beneath an expressive face. A man of the people. Kukiettikulchai has a nasty habit of sprinting ahead which he did with INSTARS (77). But Africa's largest vocabulary EROTIZED (68) with FEEZING (45), QUOTE (53) and DANSEURS (68) to have the fellow on the ropes. He scrambled for ORIGANE (68) but really had no business taking this match as I ran into time management issues and mental retardation to overlook to play a simple PI to block his come-from-behind devastating endgame JOR (67). 

GAME 11 


I had lost 9 in a row to equal my personal "best". Ralph Lobo had disciplined me in 2009 so I was ready for him. Ralph is a genteel, warm, fatherly figure with a charming face beneath a bald pate. I commenced with JAFA (28), DELATING (62) and VIBEX (30). He riposted with GINNELS (76) and DEPRAVE (39) but a couple of missteps cost him the game as I went NEUROTIC (80). 


GAME 12 


I truly believed I had turned the corner. Health wise I was feeling better. It was time to win 20 in a row! Eric Kinderman didn't think so as he pummelled BODGERS (83) and LLANERO (63) back to back. I limply played one of only THREE accepted phonies in the 45 games, VANWARDS*(84). VANWARD is a blocking adjective. 


GAME 13 


Vannitha Balasingam is a true sportswoman, giving me words of encouragement and advice I couldn't seem to take. World Scrabble record-breaker and holder Vannitha is as youthful as she was last decade (superstar Allan Oyende will be interested to know). She looked 18 in 2009, she looks 18 today and she will look 18 in 2016. This is what I tell the Australopithecus Afarensis crowd who ignored the Sacred Sport to play chess, poker, basketball and football which currently pay up to 100-200 times more. You may have great wealth but its useless if you are old before your time. While barely in your prime your faces will look like papyrus parchments from the pyramids. You are doomed to age faster than a fruit fly. While Scrabble proves categorically that it keeps cells on the face and especially those between the ears Eternally Youthful. A shocking defeat to Rodney. I played SERIATE (77) he played IMBICILE* to amazingly go on to get gifted by the Tile Fairies in a tight affair with ACQUIT (34), VANNERS (64) and HEXES (45). 


GAME 14 

RALPH LOBO (UAE) The promised resurgence was yet to happen. Ralph came with PENNILS*. Yes, I played the scandalous LOUE* but then our fortunes go off in wildly dways. He plants GABLETS (97) and DOURINE (76) back to back. After my MAZY (38) REMINTED (77) things get STICKIER (74) for me. 


GAME 15 

Routine victory over Rodney Judd. I wrote ESERINE (79), ERGATOID (86), STINGIER 68) and HANCH (39) for 485. He exploded with BOWERIES (90) and SERIATE (87) to ZAP (34) me with FAJITA (37) for 451

GAME 16 

Routine victory over Rodney. I was powered by CENTAURI*(70) -ANURETIC couldn't land-, FERNY (41) and UNALIVE (33) for 375. He WAXED (32) with SLASHES (56) for 345.

GAME 17 

RODNEY JUDD (PAKISTAN) Routine victory over...Wait, what the heck happened? After RUSTIER (82) the man EVERTED for a rollicking 100. Hey wait up! I chased after him with TIDINGS (70) and ERINITES (77) but Rodney's DEARY (45) proved he could beat me TWICE (42) as he exposed all my AGONIES (66). 


GAME 18 

Rodney said he realized he needed to score 500 to beat me. He didn't reach there. I crafted IDOLISER (68) and BAWDIER (77) for 437. His SULTANS (64)and CHARD (35) helped him to 397.

GAME 19 

No Rodney 500 here either. OQUASSA found SQUEG (30) and FORCATS (87)-website calls it FORCADS*- for 419. Hot Rod opened with SOUTANES (59) and went downhill from there for 309.


GAME 20 

TAEWAN SUTTHASIN (THAILAND) Taewan, who sounds like he should be from Taiwan but is one of the Thai Wave, is a cool and collected customer who hit the front with REPTILES (74). I balanced HIMBO (27) for TARGETS (78) and drew even with YAAR (46). His LANKIER (65) canceled out my TROELIE (71) before he cleaned up with EQUATED (48). 


GAME 21 


If you are getting tired reading this magnus opus, feel for me who is typing the wretched thing. I could be reading the new Collins words. Why am I torturing myself, I didn't even win the blooming event! Ah, I ran into Richard Jeremy from Down Under who I never played. What a surprise! I half-expected a dwarfish gnome, a social misfit, a total bookworm with hobbit-like ears, flesh as pale as the underside of a fish as it never gets to see any sun. Instead I met a tall, tanned, graceful sporting gentleman. Surprising strength in his handshake. From his past University captaincy of the rowing team? From a flowing golf swing earned at the million-dollar country club? Nah, I reckon its from twirling beautiful women around posh society ballrooms. Elegant manners, graceful long fingers, a piano player, I hazard? What looks like a frosting of grey around the temples giving him those dashing Hollywood film star looks. Hot Rod went ZOOEY (54) on me first up and I replied with SALTIRE (68). He racked up OVERAGES (74) and went QUAINT (68) as he explored the ZAIRE (28). I scrambled GIUSTED (87) and JOBE (29) but my nemesis was in inspired form to hit me upsides the head with the 4 timer SAPPILY for a stunning 125. My MINX (44), GONIFF (21), UNCOPE (38) and INTRUDER (38) were just a waste of time. 


GAME 22 

My 8th collision with Hot Rod. The man was murdering my ratings! Iain Harley took time out to denounce this "farce." Let me respond. If I was in the midfield in contention for the ultimate crown I would have no problem facing an opponent multiple times over 5 days. It would be in my interests to have World Champs cannibalizing each other repeatedly on Table 1 during King of the Hill repeats while I sneak in to steal the whole shebang. You can call me selfish if you like but I go to International events to win. Of course Rodney and I were the worst players in the field for long stretches at a time. I think we are not entitled to rant and throw the blame on anyone but ourselves for repeatedly ending up at the bottom of the Premier ocean as sediment. Its so bad we were lucky there wasn't a relegation system halfway through the Championships, we would have found ourselves in the Masters Division getting depanted by Michael McKenna and Tan Jin Chor! Obviuosly in a tournament of less than 45 games multiple repeats do tend to be more of a drag. Another rough defeat. ENAMELS (73) and OBELIZES (116) consecutively set up a JEED (36) Hot Rod who then looked to shut this one down early. I snuck in EPIGONE (77) and INDAGATE (79) but the man was proving impossible, putting me in a pitiful FLUSTER (71). 


GAME 23 

Routine win over Hot Rod. ETERNIZE (82) and LEVATORS (76) put me in a pretty strong position for 420 while Hot Rod made out like a TZAR (32) with SANDIER (67) trying to hit me for SIX (35) for 409.

GAME 24 

Routine win over Hot Rod. I ran hard for dear life with HAZIER (36), EXTERNE (84) FAGOT (34) and COOMY (43) for 388. Hot Rod nearly gave me a heart attack threading BINGOES (83) through the eye of a needle for 380. So it actually wasn't routine...

GAME 25 

Routine win over HR. 4 consecutive scores of GRUNDY* (30), REEDIEST (86), OVERBITE (76) and FRITZ (51) before balancing OzAENA (16) for INTERNAL (60) set up my 506. He struggled producing just VANS (46) and NAILERS (78) for 328.

GAME 26 


The Number One Fan Sulaiman Gora, doing very well in his Division came up to me, a big smile splashed across his face. "I hear you got smashed," he said. Yeah, well I think I knew that already. Alex is an earnest gentlemen with a tendency during nervous moments to run his hands through his wavy, lustrous, silky hair like a male model in a shampoo commercial or a male lead in a soapie suffering a moment of romantic angst; "Should I date Betty-Lou my innocent childhood sweetheart who is a bit of a dependable homebody or Sarah-Jane the vixenish neighbour next door who is fiery and passionate and will inevitably shatter my heart into a thousand smithereens?" No indecision about Alex's game as he punished me with PUTTIES (68) and CHAYA (37). The best I could do was throw NOiNTED (32). I WAILED (39) ENOUGH (28) as he MARRED (28) the Man of Destiny with JETON (56). 


GAME 27 


Canadians are a nation of deception. A bunch of total liars. Why should such a strong sweeping statement be made? Well, we officially hear and believe Canada has signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. This means they possess no nuclear weapons. So why then do they have an Atomic Bombshell in Dielle Saldanha? A stunning mixture of Beauty (she would look hot in sackcloth) and Brains (one of the many who totally dominated The Phenomenon as we never even crossed swords on the board! Its like we were at 2 different tournaments, on 2 different planets. My problems in this game began when Taewan landed SIBLING (74) in the process blocking my cumbersome NECKTIE. A miserable affair, I threw DRAGEE (27) to balance for TRENISE (63), he added DARZI (64) to pile on the agony. 


GAME 28 


Crucial match up between 2 East African neighbours. The loser would end up in the Abyss of Scrabble Purgatory. Nic is a member of the elite Kenyan brigade who have tormented Ugandans on countless occasions in the past. He is a stylish player, very difficult to get under his skin and rattle him as the dreadlocked one is just so maddeningly unflappable. He was telling me he was shocked he was only winning a third of his games, in Kenya when people are paired against him they start to quake, getting into damage limitation mode. I know what he meant, in Uganda I was number 1 (going into Causeway) being regarded as pretty hot stuff. We certainly weren't supposed to be cannibalizing each other in the bedroom but there you have it. My BS racks continued, opening move of AIDOI (12). I had to offload UPBY (20) next move while he UNTIDIED (62). After his TWICER/RITZ (73) I was 130 down. I decided not to WILT (27) as I landed the difficult HABITUES (63) for only face value. Nic was waiting to ambush me with zAGS (42) and AIRHOLES (86) on a widely open board. I was back down by 130. The choice was to WEEP (27) or begin chasing again with FOREDATE (64) and ERELONG (74) consecutively. Suddenly I had a sniff but heartbreak was around the corner as I picked up the JQ and X in the endgame. I could only offload QAT (32) and FLEX (44) dying with the J which Nic, with a range of more flexible options, chewed on after his SCAnNED (33) TRIKE (47). 


GAME 29 


I bumped into Michael McKenna. The last Tables in the Premier were dangerously, perilously close to the first tables in the Masters. (Relegation!) I had no idea Michael was such a live wire with a thatch of fiery red hair on his head. McKenna is a CARROTTOP. Should the Mc- have been a hint? Its good to put a face to some of these famous names one encounters. Eric was MOODIER (78) with JAUPS (44) and in frustration I played my 1st bad word in 15 games of hard Scrabble, the unspeakable, ungodly TOZY*. Yeah I know, these are not words played at Tahmoor Scrabble Club. When I produced SQUILL (37) Eric was waiting with SQUILLA/NAIRA (40) I couldn't survive the man even after he allowed my crappy move DECENTRA* (83). Its obviously DICENTRA. I was crumbling again. Kinderman was not treating me the way one Liverpool supporter should treat another. 


DAY 4 

GAME 30 


What ho, only Day 4? When, in the name of sanity, is this report going to end? You, dear long-suffering reader, must be also be asking, but what about the leaderboard? Who was on Table 1 coz it certainly wasn't you? Well, there was a brooding character called Jakrit Klaphajone who at one stage went 3 games adrift. The gifted Marut Siringwaso (who might soon have to join Kinderman and Tang in the gym) and the pride of Singapore, Ming Hui Hubert Wee were hanging about as was Pakorn. Oh yes, and there was a certain Nigel Richards fresh from Poland where, in the notable absence of the most potent player in the game, he won a World Championship and a Hair Growing Competition. Rodney was competitive with CONCHED (86), JAGA (33) and FLOATING (83) but for a change affairs went my way as I found AUSTERE (71), TERMLESS (89) and RETINOL (81). I was on course to cross 600 and shatter the High Game record until I stupidly slowed down chickening out of HIDROTIC. And I know the anagram, TRICHOID. Ye gads! 

GAME 31 


The jovial Sunday Oshodi was hosting a bunch of his cronies to his wisecracks and he turned and asked, "You think you are going to be World Champion 2013?" Obviously people don't know who they are messing with. Martin is a determined, strategically gifted Scrabbler who takes his game very seriously. (Tip to young single ladies around Kuala Lumpur: the boy ain't ugly). He started off with BANDH (28). This is the game in which holding a blank I shamefully missed DAIMIOS/MAFIOSI. Very serious. I came next move with ASTERIA (64) but I had committed a cardinal sin. Martin went on to tie me up in knots in a war of attrition and basically played more GROWNUP (70). 


GAME 32 


Tony Hunt decided to call this the Australia-Uganda Grand Showdown. His words not mine. I feel if an Australia-Uganda Showdown should take place it should be in more auspicious circumstances than in the Causeway kitchen amidst the smoky chappattis. Tony is an interesting, charismatic man, with birdlike movements, an engaging warm personality and a trustworthy weather-beaten face that speaks of too many nights out carousing in the Outback. Character. Backbone. Just like Chris Hall, the sort of Aussie you would follow to the gates of hell and back. If I had bothered to find out that Tony was a nearly 2000 rated player I would have fought hard in this game. Instead I chickened out of GUPPIES. I had written so much garbage I was in a state of paralysis of analysis, I didn't know my ass from my elbow. Luckily I was able to plant RETITLES (82) and to choose INDOORS (68) over SORDINO. Tony hunted for me with JOULE (44) and difficult combos like MURVA (20). His misstep in this game was missing the high probability SEABORNE. This comedy of errors was put to bed with my 9-letter zinger DETenTION (63) and Tony's SVELTER (69). 


GAME 33 


I have to admit it would have been nice to have met Toh Wei Bin who had a stellar WSC as he announced his forceful presence on the Global stage. I also missed Stephen Mooney Pursell, the Terror of Tasmania. I did a double take as Sam Kanthimathi withdrew with like a week to go. He very surprisingly beat me in '09's WSC and so I owe him one. But Sam is no great loss, I was really, really looking forward to crossing paths with the Secretary of New Zealand Scrabble, the all-dominating, all-conquering Rugby World Champion and a GARDENFFUL of bonuses, Liz Fagerlund. She wiped me off the map in Causeway with UNSTABLY which I still can't forget. Instead I had Hot Rod pounding me into the dust with NOSHERS (77) and WADINGS (77). I played a lame UNVetTED (39) and CALLINGS (76). 


GAME 34 


Sandy is a waiflike creature with classic features and hair parted from the centre of her scalp falling in 2 silky, ebony curtains down past her shoulders. She is from California and I had to wonder whether she worked at Google as she tapped one of their pens rythmically on her notepad when deep in thought. She complained her picking was simply atrocious. Join the club. Bad picking was not responsible for my abominable blunder in playing PETLIKE*. Obviously I haven't mastered compound words, like the Royal Duke of Kenya I have to read. I played HIVED (39), SPUG (35) and SNNOTTIER (89). Sandy battled throughout, washing her rack twice and coming up with QANAT (28), ACIDIC (26) and CURLIEST (70). An undeserved victory. 


GAME 35 


I found myself explaining to Richard Jeremy and the talented, skilled and gorgeous Esther Perrins that I would be a barefaced liar if I didn't concede I had thrown away at least 7 or 8 games. They both stared at me as if I had grown a 2nd head. The games they had let slip? 3 tops. Hot Rod was like a boomerang, he always came back. My elbow was going to develop arthritis trying to throw him far away. What I liked was when he got the polished Muhammed Sulaiman to take a picture of the 2 of us together to prove to Mrs Judd that he was indeed somewhere playing Scrabble for a whole 5 days with 200 loony competitors including 17 games against the maddest hatter of them all, the crazy Meshugge. Thoughts of his better half seemed to inspire Rodney as he decided to WHOP (40) me with BANDAGER (72) and DIALERS (79). I had to dump GUGA (12) and throw PAWNOR (33) before finding LATHLIKE (85). But after GEEZ (46) and JINX (36) I totally missed ENDWAYS. Rodney punished me with VASTIER (86) and QUOINS (70). My DEIONISE (77) and ARABIN (27) was too little too late. 


GAME 36 


I kept bumping into Simon Walton but not on the board, I wasn't worthy! He is a quiet, courteous, well-bred enigma of a fellow. I sense hidden depths. Something in the persona I can't quite put my finger on and the Beetles beard tells me he sings for a thoroughly rebellious underground rock band that's about to blow up. Anybody know different they are free to tell me. I want to get on the ground floor of the next cultural music phenomenon. I started with ABORTED (74) but Alex was quick to draw even with DEPICTS (77). I then hit the front again with HOODIA (28), JETE (50) and JUVE (42). He ran into TAUIWI (28) trouble but got out of it with PLOSIVES (66). My last move CERNING (91) was crucial. 


GAME 37 


No chance in this one. This is the game I described elsewhere where Alex played LAE* but was propelled by EMBOWS (33), SOLATION (68) and WORDGAME (97). I only managed RIDGERS (82). 


GAME 38 

Routine win over Hot Rod. I crafted YEX (38) and DUNNIER (77) for 395 he wrote KARATES (86) and GREASILY (74) FOR 381.

GAME 39 


The graceful Sandy was WEARY (30). She wanted to put up her feet and rest. My MANET (39) led to HOSTLERY (95) while she played INULASES (73) and ELOGIES (74) to just fall short. 


DAY 5 

GAME 40 


Phew, the finish line. Why didn't I lose some of these games they way I usually do? I have miraculously kept EVERY game the entire 8 000km from Kuala Lumpur. Things looked good for me as I opened with OVERFAST (101). There goes the soap star running his hands through his luxurious hair again. Is it a sign of nerves? A relaxation technique? Oh no, it must be the latter coz he has just thrown down SPEEDERS (67). I used the first S of SPEEDERS to land INSEAMED (86). He came with WARBY (29), I polished matters off with GREINS (24) and QUEEN (56). 

GAME 41 


A classic encounter. East Africa's Alpha Male started with ZATIS (48). Martin decided to DECREASE (64) my hopes. I dumped HeRITOR (22) chasing goodies and it worked as I came next move with KULAS (60 + 5). Martin slowed down with EUOI (19) before accelerating with JOW (51) and BREAMed (36). I joined the party with FORDOING (74 + 5) then dumped VeTTING (24). In the endgame I knew Martin held a blank. Open board, his bingo was inevitable. I had the option to play MYELINE and take a lead of 115 but it would expose the triple lane. A dozen tiles are out including Q,U,X. If he has any of these he probably can't land the triple triple, I win. If he doesn't have them and lands a 9 timer, as long I pick the X I still win. If I pick the Q with the U I win. If I pick the Q without the U but with the X I win. I duly play MYELINE (82 + 5). The E is in the awkward 2nd position for the triple triple word. When he challenges I know the chap is in deep doodoo, he doesn't have the combo but I pick the Q without the U or X. Tension mounts as he gets frustrated shuffling his rack for a minute or two. He lets out the exultant yelp I had been dreading and lays down DECaGONS for 149. If that G didn't land I would still have won. He goes on to pick the U,X and S. I lose narrowly having to dump the Q for 11. Wasn't my week. 


GAME 42 

Win and last encounter with Hot Rod. I land UNCAPING (97) and VERSICLE (78) for 431. He plays VAPIDEST (69), JEFE (57), ZIBET (45) and BEARERS (72) for 417. Goodbye Rodney Judd of Pakistan, husband of the lovely Mrs. Judd. You and I redefined the expression "getting to know you."

GAME 43 


I canceled out Tony's ARABISE (70) with TRUDGERS (72). I had to throw LERNEaN (14) but couldn't keep up with his GAZED (40) and HOUF (31). His defensive ASTELIC (75) nullified my DETAILS (76) and EAUX (56). 



I came from the last lunch of this marathon Championship and there was the dignified, bearded Barry Harridge, quite a friendly down-to-earth character, the kind of gentleman who will be playing Father Christmas in Oz this December. There was a twinkle in his eye. He told me "Phillip, you are in for a surprise, look at the pairings." My mind was on other things but I was alarmed. "Not Rodney Judd again?" I thought I had despatched him for good. My eyes caught the pairing. Total calmness. Michael Tang passed by. "We are giving you the honour of playing the Causeway Champion." "Honour for who, him or me?" I retorted to some bemused laughter on the sidelines. You have to understand, I was getting better and better as the tourney progressed. Only 3 games thrown away since game 15. No games thrown away since Saturday Lunch and pretty flawless Scrabble on Sunday. Whoever meets WESPA'S Shining Light when his mind is right in is trouble. I took my seat on Table 1 where I always belonged and looked down on the 200 lesser mortals. Pakorn took his sweet time to get there because (a) he was busy receiving congratulations after getting crowned and gibsonized or (b) excruciating anxiety at having to face the Eagle. Dear wise reader, I leave you to draw your own informed conclusions. When Pakorn arrived we didn't have racks. Tsk, tsk. It seems some of the people whose asses he was kicking on Table 1 were so upset they resorted to childish acts of sabotage. They say its lonely at the top. Thanks to Pakorn scrabbling around his bags under the Table we get racks. Ready to play. There was a gaggle of people delaying their own games to take in the sight. Why is he on Table 1, Nsikan Etim wondered aloud. People, get with the program, I was thinking. I remember after one of the most important matches of Pakorn's life got underway Dokun Esan was leaning in his ear provocatively telling our fresh Champion, "Go ahead, thrash him, show him dust," accompanied by a contemptous glance of the shoulders and a smirking expression at me. Very dangerous, it only steeled my resolve but I repeat, people don't know who they are underrating. I am a force of nature who goes beyond merely winning dead rubber contests. I was delighted Esther Perrins had kicked his heinie to the moon and back. Ah, what does Pakorn look like. He is a short man with an unruly thatch of hair, the wiry frame of a rock climber and piercing commanding eyes locked behind glasses. He has a dynamic, magnetic personality whose sheer intelligence draws and holds people's attention. You should see him at the centre of a devastating Thai Scrabble wolf pack meeting, he is the born leader, the font of wisdom, the man who more than any other has aggressively advanced Thai Scrabble, pulling lesser beings up towards his level by sheer force of will. In many ways he is the Obi Wan Kenobi of our sport. In Kenya his counterpart would be someone like Dr. Michael Gongolo. This is an annotated game on the Causeway website, nevertheless I shall delve into it. I am your willing and humble servant. I have 2 blanks on my opening rack and take my time. AEQUORIN and numerous other combos work their way through my ice-cold mind. I settle on ROU?IN? on 8D declaring the blanks as P for Pakorn and G for Gondwanaland. He plays ZAG (28) to come next move with DEGAMES (69). DEGAMES gives me KAYO (28) and MODAL (42). He plays arIEL (5 + 5). ARIEL the Mermaid? The friend of the Caribbean singing lobster Sebastian? I am in such an aggressive mental mode I produce the only challenge of this contest and of course he is up to mischief coz he has balanced for LINEAGE (64) next move. Of course I spot the ADHARMA/HARAMDA high scoring dump but go for BRASH (38). LOOIE (20) is opening a troubling hotspot but I don't care, I am scoring and dumping useless vowels. I refuse to carry unbalanced racks in this contest. My fears come to fruition as I have given him JOW (61). Scores move back and forth and he hits the front with BRAVI (37). My Robert Richland RR type of investment in the future pays off as I am able to land DELATION (82) to draw level. Now its a lack of vowels which are a headache, I opt to play FaCT (23) short of the TWS with 2 Ss still out. Obi Wan Kenobi plays VAUTE (29) where I might have dumped my WINCE. As it is I play WINY (28). Pakorn and I run out of time and there follows a frantic minute and a half as we try to beat the clock. In a flurry of activity I, mindful of the 2 unplayed Ss go defensive with CURIE (20), he plants PONT across my WINY for a painful 43 while I stab down BRUX (39) and he breathlessly goes out with RED (23) with seconds to spare eating 4 points off my rack. By the way, cruelly for him, the last 2 tiles I pick are the Ss. Game over but who won, a bunch of onlookers ask? Neither of are too sure and we have to go back over the marks. Its a narrow one for moi. I get congratulations up and down the 3 Divisions, a lot of back-slapping and hand-pumping. Everyone is shocked except me. I know I picked nearly everything in this game, I had the 54% advantage of starting, Pakorn was entitled to have switched off as it was effectively a dead rubber. Folks should not have been surprised I won, they should be asking why I only squeaked it. Sam Kanthimathi put on sackcloth, sprinkled ashes on his head and moaned loudly to anyone who cared to listen about gibsonisation technical details that were irrelevent in this case. I shook the Champion's hand, congratulating him coz nothing should take away from his moment of triumph. He got an even greater and far more satisfactory congratulatory message from The heartbreakingly ravishing Girl via a romantic kiss on the mouth. I realized Nigel had his beard and backpack, I had my silly ailments and a backpack, Pakorn had The Force and The Girl. In the absence of Panupol, Brett Smitheram and Andrew Fisher, Pakorn's only other serious rivals Big Daddy Nigel and The Phenomenon never stood a chance, Cupid and the Love Godess Aphrodite had rigged this event before it even began! 


GAME 45 


Back in the caboose, an anticlimax. Martin won. 



The Musician Chris May is in such blinding form his stats are about longest game streak without missing a bingo. Mine are more dire than that. 

Longest Streak Without Throwing A Game: 15, between Games 14 and 29 

Longest Streak of Throwing Games: 4, on nightmare Day One 
Bingo Average: 1.5 as opposed to Pakorn's 2.4 
Game Average: 400.2 (can you spell ANAEMIC) 
Equity Loss: A gazillion 
I threw away 6 Games and $10 000 as early as Day 1. Games 2,5,6,8 and 9. 
I blew 3 Games on Day 2. Games 10,11 and 14. 
I threw away Game 29 on Day 3. 
I blew 2 Games on Day 4. Games 31 and 35. 
12 Games in Total. This is a tutorial to young players On How NOT To Play Scrabble. I lost a whopping 160 WESPA ratings points. Only Adventure Boy Tony Hunt might have done worse. 

I have expressed my grief elsewhere so I shall move on to say my Scrabble has always been on an upward curve. When I drop from 139th in the World to 283rd its time to reconsider my future and think about other pasttimes. When the World Youth Champion Anand Bharadwaj, an 11 year-old, is ranked above me, when even Sam Kanthimathi is above me then retirement has to remain on the cards. Especially when you consider who I am. I am at a crossroads in my life.







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