Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Matchmaking... When it works it's Dy-no-mite!

I just finished one of the most exciting games of Scrabble yet. It was on Scrabulous, the Facebook app against one of my college friends who'd looked me up online after all these years.

Turns out, by chance (though not entirely, I guess, as we selected each other as friends) we are pretty evenly matched Scrabble players. I've been desperately searching for even matches lately as Scrabble is one of those games where large skill differentials really make for a lousy game in which neither side wants a rematch. I'm not a tournament level player, but I have played hundreds of games against a good friend (and well matched opponent) over the past couple of years and have developed a decent sense of strategy and a nose for the sweet, sweet bingo.

Back to the game.

It really got interesting at about 2/3rds of the way through the game -- really just before the end game (last few turns each) was about to begin. I was comfortably ahead by 49 points and decided to open the board slightly in hope of gaining access to a triple word score spot. I knew I opened myself up for a late game bingo from my opponent, but decided "what the heck". Whoops. My opponent fired off an 81 point bingo. I was able to play the triple word and tie the score again, but my opponent scored a 32 point word to empty the tile bag.

I tallied up my remaining letters -- I had a bingo but no place to play it. I calculated a bunch of 2 turn exits and came up with two 18 point plays that could possibly win it for me if my opponent had a tough time emptying her rack and got stuck with some point letters.

After a further 12 point play from my opponent, I was down by 26 with only an 18 point play to make that would end the game. My only hope was that my opponent's last 2 tiles added up to 5 or more points (sadly I hadn't kept track). And, they did -- they added up to exactly 5 points ("stupid V" my opponent cursed after the game). Victory was mine.

The game was characterized by good back and forth in the early game, me starting to pull ahead in the mid game, a beautiful reversal by my opponent in the last third, and then a tense end-game that resulted in a 335-333 score.

We just started a new game and made our first plays. Can't wait to see what this one brings.

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