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NSC 2008 Commentary: Round 22
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Sunshine Lewis, division 3 assistant, told us about her evening last night. She and her husband, Herb Lewis (Cherry Hill, NJ), went to Universal Park and took in some rides and when they returned to the hotel he said, "I'm doing so badly in the tournament, will you play a game with me to renew my confidence?" This was, of course, his way of saying "I can beat you." Perhaps, Sunshine listened to the tile god chant by Hannah Lieberman (Charlotte, NC), because this game to restore his confidence turned out, 360-230 in her favor!
Tables 1 and 2 in division 1 are now behind velvet rope, to keep the SCRABBLE groupies at bay. Can't have them rushing Paul Epstein (Keego Harbor, MI) now, can we? At table 2, Nigel Richards (Malaysia) is playing Nathan Benedict (Tucson, AZ). As I look over my notes, I see that my clever "N" shortcut is serving me poorly now as they are both Ns..... The game's first bingo was ASHIEST by Nigel (I think), followed by NUCLEINs by Nathan. While I'm standing there, they both flex and each play a bingo, one after another. Nathan's NODDERS for 65 (putting him in the lead for the nonce, 311-222. Nigel then responds immediately with ARNOTTOS for 68. This gets held while Nathan turns the board and is released moments later. I see EKUELE on the board. At this point in the game, two-thirds in, they each take turns carefully counting the tiles in the bag, flashing a blank palm before and after they go into the bag. Seems so unnecessary at this level since neither of them would do anything to blemish the pure beauty of games played at this level. Nigel is holding the second blank with FAVDHA? on his rack. I saunter by John Chew and ask if there is a bingo. He looks at me and shakes his head as if to ask if I'm crazy. This from the man who thinks that words like EOLIPILE are "normal." I saunter back over (John has these two games situated feet from him, with the honly opening in right by his desk) and see Nathan play JAUP, pulling to LGI, his next rack is FLAGIGI. I am loving this close observation, but fear they will soon tire of me counting their nose hairs, so I walk off. About half an hour later, I see Nathan walking around, hands behind his back, head bent foward; clearly in deep thought. I dare to break in and he sighs and says he lost. He then said, "It is hard to play perfectly and still lose." I nod sympathetically, but keep the chatter down as he needs to arm himself for his next "easy" opponent, Brian Cappelletto (Chicago, IL) at table 1.
Bradley Robbins (Windham, NH) vs. Peggy Grant (Columbia, SC) at table 1 in division 6. WAIVIeST* goes across the triple lane, creating a triple-triple for 167 points. It took about a minute of counting for Bradley to annouce the score after scribbling in the margin of his scoresheet a few times. She held and ended up challenging. Up it came. I see PLANTER on the board. In the end, Bradley won, 512-191. She got down SLEEVEs for 68 and played the beautiful 9-letter-word URBANIST for 81. It even drew a challenge!
A tense game is under way at table 1 in division 2. Conrad Bassett-Bouchard (Moraga, CA) is playing Brett Haughney (Chicago, IL), who pulls his clipboard close and puts his hands over the sides of his eyes, his forearms adding a level of defense from all outside interfernce.
The Horns are one table apart in division 2. Judy Horn (Reading, MA) is playing Andrew Friedrich (Aurora, CO). I see JILTING, BANISTeR, and CANaPES. She lost to the youngster, 321-406. At the next board, Joel Horn (Reading, MA) is playing Judy Levitt (Los Angeles, CA). He put down ANGINAS and she deadpanned "that hurts." Funny, Judy!
Susan Bertoni (Clemmons/Winston-Salem, NC) is trying her best to take down Phil Wertheimer (Short Hills, NJ) at division 4's table 1. Phil is looking fetching in his pick and white striped oxford shirt. I see IN?TATE and ORDINEs on the board.
I catch Piengkamol Intarasuwan (Oakland Park, FL) and Geoff Tongue (Tacoma, WA) at table 1 in division 3. He has moved his tile rack off to the side while he does an intense endagme recount. Both players give off the sense of relaxed intensit. I see AU?ITED, SCRALET, and GAMETE? on the board.