Now that baseball is done, I have all kinds of (much needed) free time, so I visited the NYC Scrabble club last night and played four games. I used to play regularly there. I used to be pretty good. But now my skills are rusty, so my modest goal was to win half my games and not make a fool of myself in front of Jona. She came along just for fun–just to watch and take it all in.
Sadly, I began my night by getting schooled by an expert named Larry Sherman (brother of former world and national champion Joel Sherman) by the score of 435-397. I thought things were gonna go well when he began the game by playing ULU for 6 points, but then he threw down three consecutive bingos–RELINES for 63 points, SHEARINg for 86, and AGITAbLE for 59–and before I could blink, I was losing, 214-72. (A “bingo” is when a player uses all seven tiles at once, which is good for a 50-point bonus.) So I’m glad I was able to make it close. Here’s a photo of the board after the game:
I played my second game against a guy named Sal Campo (try saying “Campo-Hample” three times fast), and it was another high-scoring affair. I ended up with 394 points and I still lost by 34. Here’s a photo of me picking tiles (the bag is supposed to be kept at or above eye level) in my game against him:
My third game got off to a miserable start when my opponent Jean Lithgow (ex-wife of John Lithgow) opened with TEMpING for 72 points. (The lowercase letter indicates that it was a blank tile.) She later played PUTRIDER for 67 points and ReMAINED for 70. PUTRIDER turned out to be phony, but stupid me…I neglected to challenge. I figured it meant “more putrid.” Final score: Jean 434, Zack 358. Jona was loving it. She was tired of seeing me win all the time.
I finally redeemed myself in Game 4. (If only Game 4 of the World Series could’ve been this good to me.) I played a man named Jim Piazza (no relation to Mike) and won, 441-310. My big move of the game was FAMINEs for 80 points, and I’d just like to point out that that word contained the only blank I got all night. (Poor me.)
I ended up going 1-3 (bleh) with a cumulative spread of -17 points. Here’s a shot of my final score slip:
The photo of the night was taken after the final round when Jona was getting bundled up and put on her pink mohawk hat. Joel Sherman (who runs the club) spotted the odd headgear and shot a rather befuddled glance in her direction:
Speaking of Scrabble, there’s a little article about me in the new issue of “Scrabble News.” Here’s a shot of the front page…
…and here’s a closer look at the bottom:
One more Scrabble note: There’s a documentary about Scrabble called “Word Wars” and you HAVE TO see it. Even if you don’t like Scrabble, you will enjoy this movie. I promise. It’s more about people than about Scrabble, and Joel Sherman is one of the main characters who was featured in the film. Seriously, watch this movie. Order it on Netflix. Run out and rent it. It’s awesome and hilarious. (When you watch it, look closely and you’ll be able to spot me wearing a yellow shirt right near the end. But that’s not why you should watch it. That’s just a teeny bonus.)
Happy Halloween. I’ll be celebrating by flying to L.A. (third time there in two months) for my half-brother’s wedding.