Friday, August 2, 2013

Hasta la vista, babies

Posted by Brad Mills
Since there have been no posts here in almost three years, your club director has decided it's time to officially stick a fork in this blog. All existing posts will remain, but there won't be any new ones — and all commenting will be turned off.

Make sure to catch us on Facebook, Twitter (most preferably), or (heh) Google+ for the latest news and updates.

Thanks for the memories, everyone!

Monday, August 23, 2010

The art of getting away from it all

Posted by Brad Mills
After a lengthy hiatus and a sabbatical to Spain, Shelley Schiavone came back to club for the first time in quite awhile this past Saturday. Apparently the time away did her some good: she finished the session with a 3-0, +83 record and first place. We had a healthy turnout on Saturday with eight people, three of whom we hadn't seen in many months.

Sometimes it's good to take a break from the game. I, too, have been on a sort of vacation over the last year or so. In the past, I've hit about four non-local tournaments per year. Over the last year I've only traveled to one. I attribute my "vacation" to one of the most stressful periods in my life, ranging from a death in the family to workplace woes.

Things are running much more smoothly now. I've negotiated a career shift, I've quit smoking, I'm taking up some other hobbies, and overall, I see things much differently than I did this time last year. Of course, none of this was enough to beat Shelley in that last round Saturday, but hey... I couldn't think of a better way to welcome her back.

Thanks, as always, to the awesome members of this club for sticking around and sticking to it when I wasn't able to. And, a huge thanks to Chris Ross and Lisa Green for stepping up and running club sessions in my absence when I've not been able to.

Getting away from it all can be good, but sometimes, getting back into it can be just as rewarding. Let's see what happens next.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Posted by Brad Mills
On Saturday, July 24, we again met our Pittsburgh friends in Clarksburg, WV for the second annual WVA vs. WPA smackdown event. We were each only able to muster five players per team, so we played six games. For the first five games, each team member played everyone from the other team exactly once. The sixth game was a king of the hill final.

Here are the results with cash prizes awarded to the top three finishers. Dollar amounts won follow players' seeds and team designations below. No class prizes were awarded this year due to increased NASPA participation fees, but we did award a prize for most average finish.

Enough with the prelude - here are the results! (You can also see these at the page for the event.)
  1. 6-0 +579 1129 1065 +64 M W Schroeder (#3/WPA): $100
  2. 4-2 +287 1147 1141 +6 Brad Mills (#2/WVA): $75
  3. 4-2 +148 1154 1160 -6 Jack Lysowski (#1/WPA): $45
  4. 3-3 +198 764 744 +20 Lisa Green (#9/WVA)
  5. 3-3 +71 927 932 -5 Ed Vith (#4/WPA)
  6. 3-3 -268 586 559 +27 Michelle Gaynord (#10/WPA)
  7. 2-4 -81 872 893 -21 Martha Mills (#6/WVA)
  8. 2-4 -82 891 914 -23 Joe Larson (#5/WPA)
  9. 2-4 -212 794 811 -17 Zosima Gingerich (#7/WVA)
  10. 1-5 -640 765 794 -29 Christopher Ross (#8/WVA)
Most average finish: Ed Vith, Quiddler

Western Pennsylvania won 18 games while West Virginia won only 12, so the director of the West Virginia team begrudgingly surrendered the event trophy with a flourish - and vowed revenge for 2011.

Though perhaps I should mention... on the ride home, there was a brief mention of maybe doing two of these events per year, one in the spring and one in the fall. Something for further discussion, perhaps.

My thanks to all the players who participated, and again, thanks to co-director Terry Schroeder for helping plan and coordinate the event.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

5th Annual WV Scrabble Tournament

Posted by Brad Mills
We just finished our fifth annual tournament, the one I've often called our "big" event. With only 30 people in attendance, it was the smallest "big event" we've ever had. But, we pulled people in from West Virginia and nine surrounding states, gave away 100% of players' main event entry fees as prizes (yes, even in this age of higher operating expenses), and met several people who've never come to one of our events before.

So let's get to the results, shall we? First, the early bird.
  1. 3.0-1.0 +195 1336 1389 +53 David Moersdorf (A4)
  2. 3.0-1.0 +5 1693 1700 +7 Ryan Fischer (A1)
  3. 2.0-2.0 +41 1590 1586 -4 Brian Galebach (A2)
  4. 0.0-4.0 -241 1495 1459 -36 Dorcas Alexander (A3)
  1. 3.0-1.0 +180 1260 1281 +21 Cheryl Melvin (B3)
  2. 3.0-1.0 +159 1282 1299 +17 George Rhyne (B2)
  3. 2.0-2.0 +170 1308 1304 -4 Marcia Wade (B1)
  4. 0.0-4.0 -509 1173 1140 -33 Frank Schin (B4)
  1. 4.0-0.0 +369 1077 1131 +54 Jason Luci (C2)
  2. 2.0-2.0 +198 1021 1025 +4 Alex Greenman (C3)
  3. 2.0-2.0 +111 1149 1139 -10 Pat Hardwick (C1)
  4. 0.0-4.0 -678 910 882 -28 Tina Totten King (C4)
  1. 4.0-0.0 +699 679 746 +67 Rafael Barker (D3)
  2. 2.0-2.0 +62 838 826 -12 Joe Larson (D1)
  3. 2.0-2.0 -314 801 796 -5 Richard McHugh (D2)
  4. 0.0-4.0 -447 0 500 Pat Crowley (D4)
First place in each group of four won $50, the remaining $10 per group was used to offset some of our facility rental fees and NASPA participation fees. For the most part, we broke even for this portion of our tournament. That's a first for us!

And now the main event. I'm only going to list the money winners here since our website has full results (as does NASPA, thanks to John Chew's apparent inability to sleep).

Division A
  1. 10.0-2.0 +1477 2018 2021 +3 David Gibson (A1) $300
  2. 8.0-4.0 +391 1700 1727 +27 Ryan Fischer (A2) $115
  3. 6.0-6.0 -202 1651 1650 -1 Daniel Stock (A3) $75
Oddball prizes ($10 each)
High win: 489, Dorcas Alexander
High loss: 413, Brian Galebach
Mystery letter (P): PABLANO*, 78, Brian Galebach
High play: TIGHTWAD, 98, Will Scott

Division B
  1. 7.0-5.0 +324 1304 1310 +6 Marcia Wade (B2) $200
  2. 7.0-5.0 -86 1140 1182 +42 Pat Hardwick (B5) $100
  3. 6.0-6.0 +315 1299 1287 -12 George Rhyne (B3) $65
Oddball prizes ($10 each)
High win: 461, Dave Moersdorf
High loss: 399, Dave Moersdorf
Mystery letter (Z): ZEDS, 79, Dave Moersdorf
High play: DESTROYS, 158, Dave Moersdorf

Division C
  1. 10.0-2.0 +750 1027 1111 +84 Alex Greenman (C5) $165
  2. 8.0-4.0 +641 1031 1065 +34 M W Schroeder (C3) $80
  3. 7.0-5.0 +349 1001 1019 +18 Andrew Wade (C7) $55
Oddball prizes ($10 each)
High win: 495, Cecilia Huber
High loss: 402, Frank Schin
Mystery letter (Z): ZERO, 69, Joe Larson
High play: POACHERS, 107, Frank Schin

Division D
  1. 9.0-3.0 +295 798 830 +32 Richard McHugh (D1) $130
  2. 8.0-4.0 +746 745 770 +25 Lisa Green (D2) $65
  3. 7.0-5.0 +507 619 666 +32 Betty King (D4) $45
Oddball prizes ($10 each)
High win: 438, Rafael Barker
High loss: 384, Rafael Barker
Mystery letter (H): LATHERS, 83, Pat Crowley
High play: PIQUING, 93, Rafael Barker

Oddball prizes listed were awarded to people who didn't finish in the money. David Gibson technically had the high game in Division A (and the entire event) - a whopping 610 points - but since he took first place, he was disqualified from high game. That lets us spread the money around just a little bit more.

On Saturday evening, apprentice Chris Ross and new director Lisa Green stepped up to the plate and ran our traditional Speed Scrabble competition while I was delayed at dinner. Ryan Fischer won this contest and received a one-year renewal of his NASPA membership as a prize, meaning he is now a member through December, 2011.

My thanks, as always, to everyone who came to this event or played a part in it in any way. Let's do it again in 2011.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

High Contrast Scrabble in Need of a Good Home

Posted by Deadpan Alley
When my dad retired from his job, one of the gifts he received from coworkers was a high contrast Scrabble set, designed for people who have vision problems. He was a diabetic, and retinopathy made it difficult for him to see much of anything, much less play Scrabble on a regular board.

Sadly, my dad's health deteriorated rapidly after he retired, and he never got the chance to use the gift set before he died. Recently, my mother passed the set along to me, knowing that Scrabble had always been a very special pastime for my dad and me. So, rather than let this specialty set collect dust in storage, I'd love to know that it's being used and enjoyed. Do you know of any Scrabble players who could use it? If I don't get any takers, I'll probably donate it to a senior center.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

the scrabble ambassador

Posted by jedijawa
I thought that this was going to be the 100th post on our Scrabble Club blog so I was trying to save up for a good post. But it turns out that I looked at it incorrectly and this is only post 98. Still, I think this is a good one.

This past weekend I attended a funeral for the father of one of my best friends. I actually hadn't met most of his family before so I was surprised on Saturday night when one of his Aunts challenged me to a game of Scrabble. Whether this was because my friend told her that I played or that I was wearing a Scrabble shirt I don't know. But when she asked I said that I played club and tournament Scrabble just to make sure she was still game. She said that she was and I asked her one more time just to make sure. So I headed to my car to get my Scrabble bag which usually contains 2 boards, 6 tile racks, several bags of tiles, 1-2 clocks, pens, score sheets, and miscellaneous things like my Franklin. I showed up with my bag-o-Scrabble and she was taken aback at the layout. I told her that I was a co-Director at my local Scrabble club (Apprentice Director actually) and she said "let's play".

I set up the board and then two other people showed up who also wanted to play. The Club and Tournament player in me wanted to set up the second board but these guys were kitchen table players so I set up a 4 player game (something that I haven't done in ages). It wasn't long into the game that I ended up talking about Club and Tournament Scrabble ... probably the first time that I played a funky word and had to explain why it was good (I think it was "oy" or "ag" which both drew questions for being foreign and an abbreviation respecitvely). This led me to bringing out what I refer to as "the cheat sheet" which is the NSA word list of "Important Words To Raise Your Score" that is available from the NSA website upon gaining membership. This list includes all of the 101 two letter words, all of the 1,015 three letter words, and some other lists such as "Q" without "U" words, vowell heavy words, and lists of words to play with the power tiles J, X, Q, and Z.

Most people are somewhat amazed at the cheat sheet and then they are fascinated with it. I like letting my opponents play with it because it levels the field a bit and helps me to learn those last funky words that I haven't learned in the 3s. It also spawns a lot of conversation about why the word list came to be and allows me to tell those stories as well as war stories from playing Club and Tournament Scrabble (particularly when we get around to discussing the "poo list" explained here but basically words that have been deemed "offensive" and removed from the Hasbro version of the word list). Of course, there were lots of other questions about place names being good and I pointed out how china, paris, and texas are all good for reasons having nothing to do with the places just like bob, al, and john are all good as well.

It was amazing to watch the energy in the room as family members stopped by to see how it was going and the 3 initiates who were playing with me were sharing what they were learning with their family members. Then I hit my first bingo with PARADES for 82 points and the room erupted ... not at first ... but when they realized that all of my tiles were on the board and I announced 82 points the first question was "how" followed by "why is it called a bingo?" I had to answer that I didn't know why it was called a bingo but someone else in the room said that they had never heard about the 50 pt. bonus rule to which I asked "have you ever seen someone play all of their tiles?" to which the answer was "no way!" I went from third place to first with that play and now the game was on and my new initiates were hooked beyond all return.

Earlier in the game I had said that the spaces to watch for were the blue squares rather than the red ones that everyone worries about and demonstrated this with a use of a K in two directions for another 35 points and then I hit with a second bingo late in the game with CHARROS. I sat with this on my rack for a long time as the three players before me were trying to figure out their best plays now in a way that they have never done before ... I called one of the other family members in observance over to ask if I should play my bingo or if I should go easy on them and he said he wanted me to play it ... which resulted in more cheers and interest as passersby wanted to see what the fuss was about.

Game two was now a more serious affair ... but in a lighthearted way. Early on the players were having fun looking for interesting words to play and I would occasionally point out a better scoring location or say to save the "s" or blank for later. Then I saw that I had GUNTLET on my rack and pointed it out to one of the famly members who was looking over my shoulder. If only I had an "A" on the board and then, to my surprise, the person before me looked at the cheat sheet and played TWA (the same lady who challeneged me to play). "Interesting word choice I said." To which she said "thank you!" I said "no ... thank you" and laid down GAUNTLET through the "A". A gasp went around the table as I had just pulled from last place to first place and then I pointed out that it was the only place on the board where I could bingo and that if she had played TAW I would have been screwed. On the very next turn I had BEL_IES on my rack and bingoed again much to the delight of the room.

Now it was on like Donkey Kong! The third game I really noticed that the play styles of my three competitors had changed. It was a combination of them scoring well with what they had and me not seeing good scoring opportunities for myself that led me to come in second place that game while the family member who had challenged me to the game won (with some assistance in playing the Q and Z in two directions on TLS and DLS spaces ... much to the consternation of her other family members). As her nephew said "you scored 106 points on those two plays!" I said ... sort of like getting two small bingos - which everyone now recognized as playing all of their tiles. All of my opponents asked if I minded if they photocopied the cheat sheet and I said that's why I pass them out and I remarked that I'm sorry for having ruined Scrabble for all their families and friends which drew a laugh from the room.

It was a great experience playing these games this way and it really helped to take everyone's minds off of the sad reason why we were there. Some people reflected that their deceased relative would have loved to have had this experience but the thoughts were all happy and Scrabble really brought the room together. I dare say that some of these guys may just become more than kitchen table players because of this experience ... one can only hope! Pass it on! :-)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

pink and star trek scrabble?

Posted by jedijawa
Yesterday I was browsing the games section at my local Toys R Us and I came across something that caught my eye. I've seen Hasbro come up with strange editions of Scrabble (and many other versions of their games) to capture a new market including variants of Scrabble that were shaped like Shrek or were reworked for Pirates of the Caribbean. Well, this would appear to be the Star Trek version and, aside from not being a rotating board with fixed tile slots, it looks pretty awesome! Nevertheless, I won't be hoping to see it show up in my games cabinet as I am too married to the original game now. But I was impressed with it and I noticed that it purported to contain a special word list of playable Trek terms and seems to give bonus points to certain words.

Check it out:

Then I saw this obnoxious pink version of the game called "Designer's Edition" with everything being in pink and pastels. What's impressive about this board is that it actually folds up, rotates, and has the raised grid ... making the board club and tournament legal. Unlike the Star Trek board it doesn't have distracting images and isn't a non-standard board except for the color scheme. Notwithstanding the color scheme it is probably more tournament legal than the 75th Anniversary Deluxe Edition (the first fold up rotating board Hasbro has made) in that it doesn't sit higher than the opponents rack (you must display your tile count at all times for a Board to be legal. I can't tell you the number of times I heard someone complaining about the new Hasbro color scheme and how confusing it is that the Triple Letter Score is green, Triple Word Score is orange, and the Double Word Score is red (this was especially true at Nationals). My response to this was always that if they had been playing Scrabble that long it shouldn't be an excuse to not know where the bonus squares are.

I'm not a big fan of the color change either and I can only imagine the reaction that those players would have if someone showed up with this board:

I'm half tempted to try to show up to a tournament with one of these to see what sort of reaction I would get. Tee hee.

Note: this is the 99th post on this blog.