Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Prague 2012

 I decided to go to Prague for the MSI Mindsports Festival after doing well (placing 6th and winning 100 EUR) in the 1st Romanian Open Scrabble Tournament (ROST) in October earlier this year.
[sorry for the lack of report on that tournament - it looks like my second hobby (dancing) is taking up all of my free time ;) ]

What I saw in Prague was a world-class tournament featuring the former world champion Adam Logan and the current champion Nigel Richards. The field was very international with top-class players from Australia, Singapore, UK, Canada and the United States.

I really enoyed the magnificent setting of the 5-star Corinthia Hotel playing Scrabble on the 24th floor with a nice view over the beautiful city of Prague. And I also witnessed the premiere of the first ever RFID Scrabble board worth 30 000 USD ( which is capable of broadcasting the Scrabble games live on the internet (almost) without any human intervention.

The tournament itself turned out a bit unlucky for me - I placed 31st out of 41 recording a record of 11-13 and -199. I'll blame this performance on 40% of the blanks I got and an extreme tiredeness on the 1st day when after a sleepless night on the bus from Lodz, PL (9 hours) I played 12 Scrabble games from 9 AM until 11 PM.

Despite this mediocre performance I still had my happy moments like winning a game by 537-504 and recording the highest combined score (1041) of the tournament:

This tournament will also go into records for me as the one with most 8-letter words played - 67% of my bingos were 8-letters-long.

Some nice words I have played during the tournament:

And finally some great piece of news regarding the two other Polish players who played in Prague, too.
Wojtek won 300 EUR for finishing as the top player in group E.
But the greatest surprize was an outstanding performance by a new Polish player Ewa, who won the "overseed" category by finishing in 26th place despite being ranked only as 40th. Ewa won 500 EUR.

Congratulations to both Polish players!

The next tournament of the Mindsports Festival series is taking place in Vienna on 16-18 February 2013.

Although this is very tempting I guess I'll need to pass on it, as I already have some dancing plans on the same weekend in Poznan, PL.

And I need to save money for the possible World Championship appearance in 2013... :)

Games won: 11
Games lost: 13
Spread: -199

Average for: 402.2
Average against: 415.3

Blanks: 19/48 = 40%
S's: 50/96 = 52%

Games won:
2 blanks: 3/3 (100%)
1 blank: 6/13 (46%)
0 blanks: 2/8 (25%)

Bingos for: 43 (1.8 per game)
Bingos against: 43 (1.8 per game)

7 letter bingos: 14 (33%)
8 letter bingos: 29 (67%)

Bingos with blanks: 14 (33%)
Bingos without blanks: 29 (67%)

Highest no of bingos in a game: 4
Lowest no of bingos in a game: 0

High game: 537
Low game: 296

Highest combined score: 1041 (537-504 for me)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Lucky in Berlin

Berlin has always been THE city for me.
I came here first when I was 11 years old - in February 1990 (after the fall of Berlin Wall but still before German reunification) and I 've been coming back to the city ever since. During those visits not only have I been experiencing the changes in the city itself but mostly in my view of reality.
This time I returned to Berlin to play Scrabble.
The occasion was the German English Scrabble National.
The event was organised by Peggy Fehily (who already hosted the 1st German Open in Mannheim last year) and featured a 10-round tournament played over the weekend (7-8.07.2012) on the 13th floor of the Internationales Handelszentrum high building in the former East Berlin.
There were 12 people playing - among them 7 people from Germany, 3 ladies from Ireland and 2 lads from Poland (Wojtek and I).
I rallied through the first day winning all 7 games - a lucky streak greatly aided by an unexpected spell of good fortune seeing me getting 57% of the blanks and 75% (!!!) of the S's. On the second day I beat Wojtek in round 8 which meant the tournament was all mine. In the final 10th game I played Wojtek again and he denied me a 10-0 tournament win by blocking my final rack bingo SENIORS with a naughty VROT.
Nevertheless I was happy to see Wojtek finish 2nd in the tournament - two wins behind me.
My final record was 9-1 and +834.
As anounced by Peggy this GESN tournament series is to be held annually and I'm really eager to come back to Germany next year to try to defend my first ever German title.


Games won: 9
Games lost: 1
Spread: +834
Average for: 431.9
Average against: 348.5

Blanks: 12/20 = 60%
S's: 27/40 = 68%

Games won:
2 blanks: 3/3 (100%)
1 blank: 5/6 (83%)
0 blanks: 1/1 (100%)

Bingos for: 21 (2.1 per game)
Bingos against: 10 (1.0 per game)

7 letter bingos: 8 (38%)
8 letter bingos: 13 (62%)

Bingos with blanks: 11 (52%)
Bingos without blanks: 10 (48%)

Highest no of bingos in a game: 4
Lowest no of bingos in a game: 1

High game: 496
Low game: 325
Highest combined score: 831 (465-366 for me)

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Clash of the titans vol 10 (Łódź, June 9th)

I met with Wojtek for the 10th Clash of the Titans in the place where the series had started 14 months ago - at the Park Źródliska in Łódź.
Despite a very cloudy sky in the beginning there was no rain and the warm weather made the play a Saturday afternoon joy.
This time we were accompanied by a curious spider resting on the edge of the board, a hungry squirrel looking for treats, two pigeons making noise high up in the tree and countless breeds of dogs leading their masters to the walk. At one of the other tables sat a group of friends who noisily discussed some interesting philosophical issues like the end of the world etc. But we didn't care and so we played, and we played...
In 7,5 hours without any breaks we squeezed in 15 games.
I'm happy with my overall performance, though (as usually) not with the final score. Despite getting half of the blanks and the S's and playing more bingos than Wojtek, I still lost the Clash by 6-9.
I will remember this match by some nice words I have played:
SHAIRNS directly followed by TWINKLE(S), DRA(I)SINE, FA(L)LOUTS, ZEoLITE and PA(T)TREss - a new word added in 2012.
And... most notably - both of us had played a word EURO - a good occasion to commemorate the current football event :)

I hope to do better next time we meet in Warsaw or Berlin (during the German National Championship on 7-8 July 2012).


Games won: 6
Games lost: 9
Spread: -229
Average for: 401.7
Average against: 417.0

Blanks: 16/30 = 53%
S's: 29/60 = 48%

Games won:
2 blanks: 3/4 (75%)
1 blank: 3/8 (38%)
0 blanks: 0/3 (0%)

Bingos for: 28 (1.87 per game)
Bingos against: 22 (1.47 per game)

7 letter bingos: 16 (57%)
8 letter bingos: 12 (43%)

Bingos with blanks: 14 (50%)
Bingos without blanks: 14 (50%)

Highest no of bingos in a game: 4
Lowest no of bingos in a game: 0

High game: 496
Low game: 320
Highest combined score: 901 (456-445 for me)

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Clash of the titans vol 9 (Warsaw, May 6th)

5 months after my last live Scrabble game, 8 months after our last Clash of the Titans we met again - former 2009 champion Bartek against the current 2011 champion Wojtek.
This has been our 9th meeting overall and the first one this year. Although it's a non-tournament year in Poland I decided to give it a shot as there is still some Scrabble to be played in 2012. In July I'm going to play in a small tournament in Berlin - the German Nationals. And then in October it's time to head to Bucarest, Romania (never been there before) for the first ever Romanian Scrabble Tournament. It is the second in the series of continental European tournaments after Mannheim, Germany in March 2011. And if all goes well, next year Poland will be represented at the 2013 Nations Team Tournament (former Four Nations) which will by then hopefully feature 8 teams including Poland and Romania.
As regards the Romanian Tournament in October it looks like all three of us Poles are going to play there: Wojtek, Rafał and I. This gives us a good chance to compare our strengths before the National Tournament in 2013.

Back to the present though.

Today we met (again after July 2011) in a romantic setting of Ganders Teahouse in Francuska Str. in Warsaw. The weather was awful as usual - rain and cold weather have become a trademark of the Clash of the Titans series. This time it was a mix of torrential rain and sunshine, cosy 20 degrees and chilly 12 degrees.

5 months of lack of match and word studying practise have taken its toll on me and I recorded my worst stats ever. Lowest average score, lowest average number of bingos, you name it. I won only 3 out of 10 games despite getting 50% of the blanks and 55% of the S's. I missed some unmissable bingos like TUNICAE and BASANITE but I guess I could say I was a bit unlucky with my racks, too. Imagine AOOOOTU, AABEEOO, EEEIIKW and FIINNUU on your rack and you'll know how I felt ;)
And yet my best bingo was played with an awkward combination of AEIIIRT. Thanks to Wojtek's R laid on the board I squeezed in (R)ETIARII, which made me a believer again.

All in all I'm content with my performance. I still remember (some of the) the words and my play is very focused.
I'm confident I can only go up from here. My goal is to get back to my Causeway 2011 level of play by the end of year and even improve on that. I only need some practise and the sky will be blue again.


Games won: 3
Games lost: 7
Spread: -332
Average for: 378.5
Average against: 411.7

Blanks: 10/20 = 50%
S's: 22/40 = 55%

Games won:
2 blanks: 1/3 (33%)
1 blank: 1/4 (25%)
0 blanks: 1/3 (33%)

Bingos for: 14 (1.4 per game)
Bingos against: 12 (1.2 per game)

7 letter bingos: 10 (71%)
8 letter bingos: 4 (29%)

Bingos with blanks: 7 (50%)
Bingos without blanks: 7 (50%)

Highest no of bingos in a game: 3
Lowest no of bingos in a game: 0

High game: 446
Low game: 288
Highest combined score: 926 (492-434 for Wojtek)

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Causeway Challenge - farewell to Scrabble (day 5)

I went into day 5 with the same positive mindset which brought me so much success yesterday. And the magics still worked plus it was aided by good fortune seeing me getting almost 60% of the blanks and 70% of the Ss (which is by the way almost the reversed stats of the dreadful day 3, where I got 40% of the blanks and 30% of the Ss).
So the fortune has been fair to me after all.
In the end I got 50% of blanks in the whole tournament and 44% of the Ss.
I won 4 games today and lost 2. The two games I lost were by 1 and by 30 points...

My highlights today:

where I thought I had won the game on the last move but was quickly brought down to earth by my oponent who advised me that there was still one letter left in the bag ;)

not a bingo but I was still very happy to play that off the rack DEIOSVZ leaving an S and scoring 40+ points.

simply a nice word to play :)

After the tournament there was the presentation of the prizes.
Premier division has been won by Pakorn Nemitrmansuk to the great joy of all players who probably wished him this win to make up for his missed WSC final in Warsaw.

After the presentation I got a nice white Causeway 2011 T-shirt and then hurried to the taxi. Unfortunately I wasn't able to do any more shopping in Johor Bahru as I had been hoping to and was left with 66 Malaysian ringgit which I exchanged for 26 Singapore dollars at the airport. Just a little less then 4 hours until a take from Singapore. I'll be flying an LH779 Lufthansa Airbus A380 to Frankfurt, then by plane to Poznan and from there directly to Lodz by bus.

This journey concludes a magnificent Scrabble year for me, in which I have played a total of 5 tournaments (1st German Open, Peterborough All'Nighter, Cock of the Northt in Coventry, WSC 2011 in Poland and Causeway Scrabble Challenge in Malaysia).
It has been a Scrabble year for me which which was sparked by the decision to hold this year's WSC in Poland.
I'm very happy to end the year on a high note by celebrating my 17th place in Masters division of the last ever Causeway tournament.

This concludes my Scrabble journey.

It's been 4 unforgettable years and I'm happy to say that the last tournament made me a complete player.

Without further word knowledge, I will not go any further...
And if I have no time to acquire this knowledge, I will not go any further...
I don't have time to acquire word knowledge...

The STATS for CC day 5:

Games won: 4
Games lost: 2
Spread: +308

Average for: 417.3
Average against: 366.0

Blanks: 7/12 = 58%
S's: 16/24 = 67%

Games won:
2 blanks: 2/2 (100%)
1 blank: 1/3 (33%)
0 blanks: 1/1 (100%)

Bingos for: 12 (2.0 per game)
Bingos against: 9 (1.5 per game)

7 letter bingos: 6 (50%)
8 letter bingos: 6 (50%)

Bingos with blanks: 6 (50%)
Bingos without blanks: 6 (50%)

Highest no of bingos in a game: 4
Lowest no of bingos in a game: 1

High game: 487
Low game: 378

Highest combined score: 842

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Causeway Challenge - the enlightenment (day 4)

What a day it has been. After an unlucky streak yesterday today everything has changed. And I have changed some things, too.
For a starter I decided to give my lucky charm (a nameless beagle mascott) a chance to show his magical qualities and pulled him out of my rucksack for the first time during the tournament. It seemed to work as I won the first two games comfortably. 
Another change: I used the free Thai scoresheets to record my scores as I had just run out of space in my Tilefish score book. And I used a pencil which made recording racks and scores so much easier than with my pen. Another change: in the first two games I gave up on tile-tracking just for the fun of it. And it also worked - I was more relaxed and I concentrated on my racks more. It also made some very quick and painless games possible.
Another change: I decided not to go to lunch today, as I remebered that yesterday I hadn't won any game after this meal. Instead I went to the shopping centre and bought some colourful scarves for my girl friends back in Poland.
Today something amazing has happened. After countless Scrabble games I had played before I finally managed to apply the rule which I had known long before. It says that this game is all about making each move the best possible. Full stop.
Thinking about needing to win, worrying about losing games, about opponent's rating, about his/her great luck - it all got me nowhere before.
Today I went into each game with a fresh mind and a thought: "I can play just as good as this guy. So why should I lose this game? If he's/she's luckier, so what, that's his/her good right, isn't it? I have also been lucky before. Would I rather never get lucky so that nobody gets lucky, too? Why care if he/she knows more words than I do. This just means he/she had spent more time learning them and deserves to win a bit more"
It's all that simple. But during my earlier games I seem to have always concentrated on the emotional aspect of this game. Emotions are good for spectators. When you're playing your game you need to concentrate on the game. That's it. You can enjoy the result afterwards, and this is what I'm doing right now. I'm just very very happy that I managed to achieve something.
Tomorrow is the last tournament day. It all went so quickly. I feel like I've just arrived and I already have to leave. I will miss the Zon Hotel and I will miss this amazing tournament.

Thanks Michael Tang for your great idea of organizing the Causeway Scrabble Challenge.
To be a part of this wonderful event has been an honour to me.


The STATS for CC day 4:

Games won: 8
Games lost: 2
Spread: +428

Average for: 429.0
Average against: 386.2

Blanks: 11/20 = 55%
S's: 16/40 = 40%

Games won:
2 blanks: 4/4 (100%)
1 blank: 3/3 (100%)
0 blanks: 1/3 (33%)

Bingos for: 21 (2.1 per game)
Bingos against: 14 (1.4 per game)

7 letter bingos: 8 (38%)
8 letter bingos: 13 (62%)

Bingos with blanks: 8 (38%)
Bingos without blanks: 13 (62%)

Highest no of bingos in a game: 4
Lowest no of bingos in a game: 0

High game: 526
Low game: 298

Highest combined score: 906

Friday, December 2, 2011

Causeway Challenge - day 3

[Appologies for the lack of daily reports. The challenging number of daily games plus the jet-lag contributed to the fact that I am no longer able to report as I need to have some rest...
I hope to report the games herein when the tournament is finished.]

Day 3 was just as amazing as day 2 because it started with two consecutive wins, one loss and another win. Then there was lunch and ... I have lost 5 games in a row. This has pushed me down to 48th place.
I have lost 4 of 7 games by a margin smaller than 40 points: -25, -25, -33 and -37. Another lost games were -56, -76 and -101. This means that despite negative record of 12-17 I'm still in positive spread of +332.
I was very unlucky in all of my endgames today but luck too has played its part. I got only 40% of the blanks and 30% (!) of the Ss.
You can't do anything about it and I accepted it without any grief.

I'm hoping for a better day tomorrow - for the third and last time we'll be playing 10 games. 

 The STATS for CC day 3:

Games won: 3
Games lost: 7
Spread: -144

Average for: 407.4
Average against: 421.8

Blanks: 8/20 = 40%
S's: 12/40 = 30%

Games won:
2 blanks: 1/2 (50%)
1 blank: 1/4 (25%)
0 blanks: 1/4 (25%)

Bingos for: 16 (1.6 per game)
Bingos against: 22 (2.2 per game)

7 letter bingos: 9 (56%)
8 letter bingos: 7 (44%)

Bingos with blanks: 5 (31%)
Bingos without blanks: 11 (69%)

Highest no of bingos in a game: 3
Lowest no of bingos in a game: 1

High game: 466
Low game: 355

Highest combined score: 901