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Round 31

[board photo] Division 1, Round 31: Arnie Horowitz 401 vs. Luise Shafritz 388. Luise says of this game, "it was really quite winnable and my mistake(s) are like a sore tooth. I got HINGERS down on my second move followed by 54 points for ZOWIE when he got DAUBERS and the score was 173-137 after 4 moves each. He pulled ahead to 215-190 with OYEZ and JOEY and I'm sitting with GIIORST on my rack. That's when I played RIGOSITY (close to RUGOSITY and RIMOSITY but totally unknown to me). He held me but didn't challenge; the R was at A2 and he blocked with AH. Here's the crucial point of the game. My rank was AEIKNRW and I can play WONK for 30 (AEIR leave) but I suddenly spot the HINGERS and immediately think of WHINGERS#, convinced myself it was good and played WINK for 39 (ARE leave). I was delighted when he challenged but of course not quite so delighted after the ruling. [She lost] So that loss of tempo was crucial and we are now dead even all the way into the endgame with NO blanks showing! I get one finally along with ADELNT but the board is totally closed except for an O at H1 but DELATION and LENTANDO of course won't fit. He plays away an E for 8 points. Score is 356-345 his favor. There's only one tile left in the bag but my tracking shows 10 unseen: DEEEIIOPTX? Not enough time to retrack. AR is sitting at A1-A2 and that's when I foolishly played ARDENTLy for 27 points, hoping to go out quickly with the two remaining tiles and catch him. Totally backward thinking! He plays PREXEs for 45 points O10-15 and is uncatchable. I needed to play off one letter -- the D I think -- let him play PREXEs first and get SALTINES down for the win! Hindsight is 20-20."

While we've been figuring out the final rounds, division 3's computer died. Jeff Widergren tried everything and couldn't get it going. Finally, in desperation, he tried the ol' Fonzie on the Jukebox routine and hit it three times. Voila! It worked! We are now back in the money.

I can hear Diane, Flo, Howard, and Jeff discussing senior prizes, last gasp prizes, and divisional winners. The NSA is busily trying to keep people out of the room while the results are tabulated. The Discovery Channel is here, interviewing some of us in little vignettes. SCRABBLE® will be a featured game in a show they are creating.

Laura Klein is trying to compile the leader information. John Chew is helping us, across the Internet, from his office in Toronto.

Jim Geary is sitting here, sighing. I guess his last game wasn't a total success. A direct quote might be better, "the worst choke of my life. God gave me everything I needed to win and I spit on it." He was playing Jere Mead and was in a generous mood. He gave him $4,000. He says he has never lost that much money in one night of poker in his life.

Joe Edley has wandered over while the room is being taken down to give me an overview of his general impressions. He talked about looking back to when he was, 4.5-7.5, then finishing 18.5-12.5, good enough for 17th place. He says he had an average amount of luck, just a lot of bad concentrated at the tournament's beginning. He says he gave away 5.5 wins because he just wasn't focusing like he usually does at tournaments, though he admits he can't complain about his luck. He says he learned a little more about preparing this time around. He let his body go [He looks in fine shape to me! I even spied him doing t'ai chi between rounds twice.] before the event and started to get it back into shape a bit too late. Joe said, "I was delighted with Brian winning, he played a great tournament. Trey is very impressive and if he sticks with it, despite having a wife who is two months pregnant, he will be a champion some day." Joe continued, "He is such a nice young man. I'm looking forward to having some sessions with him. It was also good to see Sammy Okosagah do so well. He and Iffy Onyeonwe show just how strong the international contingent really is. I can see in a few years there will be a lot more parity between the countries." Changing directions, Joe went on, "This tournament, with 540 people was somewhat of a nightmare for our staff because of complicating logisitics, but the players were not aware of this for the most part. Everybody had a fun time, it was wonderful."

Susi Tiekert tells me that she ended the tournament with a total of 9 wins in Division 1.

Eileen Gruhn (WA), from division 2, just had her best game of her tournament career. She said, "I just played DISCERNs through an R for 167 points!" Her opponent, Betty Cornelison (OR), earned 334 to Eileen's 531. She ends the tournament 15-15-1.

Charlie Merlis told me that in division 2 he played Natalie Liebman twice and both times they tied!

I had the tables turned on me as this round wound up when Cheryl Cadieux approached me for a quote. I'd been so busy capturing everyone else's comments that I was suprisingly devoid of anything interesting to say myself!

Evan Berofsky, the pride of Toronto, tells me he won the Protiles in his last game and finished the tournament 19-12 in division 3. The score was an amazingly close 373-372, with Evan beating out Stuart Levinsky, also from Toronto.

Kathi Cann (KY) stops by to tell me that she went from 1st place at one point in the tournament to ending up in 20th place in Division 4.

Joey Mallick told me that this tournament was the best fun he'd ever had (except for their last two games). He says, "I got really got close when I was 16-7, but ended up losing 6 of the last 8 to end at 18-13."

The highest-placing woman in division 1 was Rita Norr, who came in 8th, with a 20-11, +352 record. Lisa Odom, who had been the 2nd highest-rated woman, came in 24th, with an 18-13 +458 record.

Thanks to all the committee members who helped John and me in this first-time endeavor. The computer guru's printouts and updates were enormously helpful. The word judges' challenge stories and the interns picture-taking ability were so helpful! I also want to thank the NSA's permananent staff, too, for all their suggestions and assistance. John, Joe, Jane, Kathy, Yvonne, and Patricia really went out of their way to make this possible. Thanks again. [And thank you, Sherrie, and the rest of the committee from me too! -- jjc]

-- Sherrie Saint John, Internet Reporter, NSC98

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