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Subject: I nearly had it in the bag - a game of bingoes rss

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Kate Callen
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I've recently taken to playing Scrabble on Facebook. This started because my brother wanted to play something with me/us online (he being one continent/timezone over). He invited me to play this with him, and I accepted with pleasure. He keeps coming back for more, too, even though I regularly get at least double his score. Anyway, while my husband is well on the way to being as good a player as I am (I still benefit from experience with the game), we prefer to play other games together. So Scrabble on Facebook with strangers seems a good way to play the game more often, and reasonably often to get a real challenge. (I do sometimes end up playing beginners or near beginners, and then I don't put as much effort into playing at my best. I'd rather a decent win where they still enjoyed the game than to crush them out of hand. Not that I won't take the bingo if I see it...)

That's the background. This morning, instead of choosing a game someone else had started (they mostly seemed to be beginners), I started one, marked 'serious', which got me the first go, but gave me no prior indications about my opponent. As opposed to my FB rating of 13 games with a 69% win history (which would be higher, except that I timed a couple of games badly, allowing definitely losing opponents to force a forfeit when I couldn't log in in over 24 hours), AC's is 80% over 1704 games.

Still, I started well with a bingo ('RESTING') on my first go for 70 points, which put me in the lead for well over half the game. Until the very end game (when we had fewer than 7 tiles in our racks), neither of us scored less than 17 points in a turn, with most being in the 20s or 30s. AC scored one 46 early on, as part of her campaign to win back my lead. She gradually narrowed the gap, with the crunch point coming in her 7th turn.

She took quite a long time to play that turn, during which time I planned mine following. My letters were EEHIMNR, with which I saw that I could play 'HEREIN'. Looking for a place for it, my best option appeared to be 'THEREIN', ending one space above the bottom row. This online version has a dictionary built in and available, and does not allow challenges, so I then checked for 'THEREMIN', which thankfully is the correct spelling. (I'd assumed it should be 'theramin', but apparently not.) This would have been a 70 point bingo late enough in the game that I'd likely have won.

However, this was the turn AC played her first bingo of the game ('BUTTONS', for 69 points), right across the space I needed, putting her in the lead and leaving me to find a semi-decent word I could actually put down. I managed 'MITHER' on the triple-word-score she had made available, for 33 points, but her next was 'SAX' (building off the top of my previous 'LENDER') for 38 points, then my 28 point 'ZEE', followed by her second bingo, 'ORACULAR' on a third triple-word score for 86 points, at which point I gave up on winning this game.

I played it out, because I prefer to do so unless I can see near the beginning of a game that I've already lost, which doesn't really happen in Scrabble, and we ended with me 97 points behind, 322:419. (I didn't put so much effort in once I'd given up.)

And that's how it goes. It was a good game, and I think it was a good one to describe, because it had that specific turning point. I find most are either neck-and-neck most of the time, or have one person well ahead most/all of the way, which this one didn't.
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