2008 Whirlwind Scrabble Tour: Burning River Blowout

Even though the event itself was planned and executed so, so well, last weekend's tournament in Elyria, Ohio was "off" for me in a lot of ways.

It was the first time I'd taken the kids with me but not Eric. My sister, Anna, and her friend, Cher'Ron came along to watch the kids and spend some time with them. Though Anna is 19, she's put off getting her driver's license for so long it's become sort of a phobia for her. Cher'Ron, our designated driver for the four non-Scrabblers, developed a bit of a fear, herself, of driving the kids very far from the tournament site. SO, keeping the kids occupied and happy for the weekend was somewhat distracting. They did have a good time, but it took a lot of adjustment and coordinating.

As for my Scrabble games, the first day ended "okay" with a record of 3-and-5. On Sunday, I started by drawing the bag against Cecelia Huber. (If you don't know, "drawing the bag" means that I got pretty much all the premium tiles during my turns.) You know, everyone draws the bag sometimes, and can beat a much better player. I figure I'll get the bag drawn on me, too...so it'll even out.

Well, instead...I was absolutely demolished in three out of the next four games. I mean, I didn't just get beat. I got beat like I stole something. In those three games, the nearest I came to a win was a 144-point loss. Funny thing is, the fourth game was against the number one seed and I came within 9 points of him (a guy who admits not being very good with adding the score). Given the stakes, the need for a mental boost, and the closeness of the score, I would have normally requested a recount. Problem was, I had to run out and get the kids from the hotel before check-out time. So...no recount for me. Instead, another loss.

Are you ready for the best part? During my third-to-last game of the entire tournament, I was so frustrated that I accidentally messed up the drawing of the last several tiles (incorrectly thinking the bag was empty). As a result of this, the director had to come over and spend several minutes reconstructing the last few plays and making step-by-step rulings based on each play. (The director and my opponent, coincidentally, are two of the nicest people you could ever meet. Neither of them did anything to make me feel bad.) So my frustration with myself, combined with the building disappointment about my low success, finally peaked.

Sitting there as poor Dallas had to make determination after determination about my play, my eyes welled up so fast there was nothing I could do to stop it. There was no whining, no sobbing...nothing like that. Just me, sitting across from my fun, gracious, and sweet opponent, silently soaking up a fountain of tears with the sleeve of my sweater. And it was no tiny, single teardrop. These were the steaming-hot, spigot-turned-all-the-way-on type of tears.

When Dallas finally walked away, I looked at Pat and said, "I'm sorry" for having caused such a problem. Pat cheerfully reassured me that it was just not a big deal. Terri walked over and offered comfort by rubbing my shoulders. Linda sat down, let me cry on her shirt, and made me laugh. She told me no less than two stories of crying over Scrabble games, both as a relatively new player (like me) and as an advanced player.

In the end, my record was 5-and-10 and my rating went down just a little bit. Let's hope this upcoming weekend's Triangle Tarheel Trifecta will be the upturn. But, you know, even if it's not that, it will be a weekend spent with my dear friend, Martha, and her husband Brad. They don't get to attend as many tournaments as I've been doing (maybe because they're somewhat more sane), so this weekend is special.

In conclusion...

(1) There may be no crying in baseball, but there obviously is crying in Scrabble.
(2) Dallas Johnson is a wonderful tournament director and the extra effort he puts in really make the events smooth and fun.
(3) I'm really happy to have gotten to know so many nice, fun, and smart people in this regional Scrabble tournament circuit.
And, (4) You have three days. Start sending positive anagramming vibes now (and you can go ahead and throw in some good drawing-the-bag vibes if you want).

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