My First (and last) Scrabble Tournament


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Maggi's Memories
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Location: Michigan, United States
Blog Summary: I'm a native Austrian, but have lived in the States since I was five. I've been a pianist all my life and have been a musical director, orchestrator, choir director and accompianist. My day job is running a church office. I'm married to my high school sweetheart and have two sons and one grandson.
This blog has been active since: April, 2004
Post:My First (and last) Scrabble Tournament / 20.01.2008

My First (and last) Scrabble Tournament

This is the year I want to actually do all the things I have been wanting to do over the years. Attending a Scrabble tournament was one of them. My friend Mary and I have playing Scrabble weekly for 20 years. We have a reputation among all of our friends as being good players.

In fact, no one wants to play us. Last week, on spur of the moment I called her and asked if she would go with me to a tournament I had found online that was in our state. She agreed and we headed out early on a Sunday morning. I had only slept one hour that night, perhaps because I was so wired about the next day. It was an inauspicious start and did not foreshadow a successful experience.

The tournament was being held at a Holiday Inn meeting room. There were 16 people playing, including us. Most of the people in the room were a little strange. It seems that people who are so singleminded in their pursuit of something tend to neglect other things in their lives. At the risk of sounding too Paris Hilton-ish there was not a good haircut in the room (except ours, of course...) We were plunged immediately into the foreign world of tournaments. There was a sheet listing the rules of Scrabble Etiquette:

*Most of the time it is inappropriate to talk, cheer or make other noises or disturbing gestures while playing...
*When drawing tiles, please hold the tile bag at eye level or at arm's length away from the body, turning your head and eyes away from the bag.
*Here is the correct order of steps to take to complete your turn:
1. Place your letters on the board
2. Announce the score.
3. Start the opponent's timer.
4. Write down the cumulative score.
5. Draw new tiles.

Challenges have their own set of rules. It was mind-boggling to remember that there was only 25 minutes on your clock for the entire game, to start and stop the clock at the appropriate times, to compare scores with your opponent and to keep track of what letters had been played.

Some of the people had come in from out of state. They spend all of their spare time studying words. One of my opponents actually takes a photo of every completed board he plays. Another woman told me that these people were her the only family she has.

We played seven games from 9am to 6pm, with a break for lunch. I lost EVERY game. When Mary and I play our scores are from 300-400 a game. My games that day were all around 300 and I was being beaten by players in the 500-600 range. There were so many word played I didn't recognize. Of course we felt too intimidated to challenge very often. I did challenge once successfully.

When I got home I checked the spelling on three "bingos" (7 letter words) that had been played on me and they were all not acceptable words. So I feel our naivete was being taken advantage of. Not very nice, guys! But, hey, it is legal in Scrabble to play a "phony" as long as you can get away with it.

I think I'll stick to playing nice, relaxing, unstressful games with my good friend Mary.

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