Sunday, December 5, 2010

6-6 in Calgary Scrabble Marathon

I just played in the "Calgary Marathon", a 12 round scrabble tournament all in one day. Here are some of the highlights from my games

Results at our Calgary Scrabble Club website.

Greed Kills

With a rack of CDEIIL?, after Wayne's bingo of HINDERS, I greedily tried CHILLIED through the H, as a triple triple. He challenged it off. My regret was I had two playable bingos through the I. Can you guess what they are?

Opening Dilemma

I was holding ADEIPTU. I wasn't sure what to do, whether to play UPDATE, keeping I, for 24 pts or play PIU, leaving a much more potent ADET, for only 10 pts. Turns out taking the points was better and I made the right choice.

Missed Bingos

Holding DEEFIT?, I missed two easy bingos. Holding CCEILO?, I missed two bingos as well. These are obscure however, COELIAC, or ECBOLIC. I had just studied ECBOLIC a few days before, and would have found it for sure if I didn't have a blank. But it was too new for me to recall.

Brilliant Opponents

My friend Eric, mentioned in previous posts, (where I played out to an I with PARCHESI last time) played phenomenally. He won the tournament with 11/12, which is a nearly impossible record in scrabble. But against me he had a great move. The board was very locked up but some dangerous letters were out. I was holding ? + NG + some other good letters and the one bingo line I was eyeing was through TI. I was threatening the nine REMIT(TI)NG. He correctly blocked that line, making TIL and dashing my hopes. Any lesser player would have just scored for points, and then ended up losing after I bingoed out. I did have a nice play after though, extending CELEB to (CELEB)RATING, an eleven, which is extremely rare to see. Was worth 48 pts when I hit a triple. Lost by 17 to Eric and by 14 to Shannon, who finished 2nd.

Odd Verbs

I remembered that SQUID was a verb, to fish for squid. It came in handy when, down by 20 points in an ending, holding 6 tiles, two of which were low scoring blanks, and an opponent that would easily go out next turn. I extended SQUID to SQUIDDED, using my blanks for a pair of D's, hitting a triple word score and getting 48 pts. That sealed my win. Blanks are normally super valuable, but late in the game, if you can't bingo with them, they can sometimes keep you from scoring.


Some games you just can't win. I bingoed three times with SCHEMER, MATELOT, and RETAPING, but my opponents' SP(R)AYING, triple triple scoring 203 dwarfed my whole effort. Excellent win by Wendy, 567-373.



Monday, November 8, 2010

14x14 Framed Puzzle solved

I finally achieved a major milestone with Eternity II, solving a framed 14x14 puzzle. I had it running on Christine's machine, and it took about 8 hours.

(Here's an online EII you can try, just to see what it is

A framed puzzle is one that uses the EII pieces and is bordered by grey edges, just like the real puzzle. To date, the best solvers have been able to get this, but no one has reported success in anything bigger.

Unfortunately, a 14x14 cannot be used to get a 16x16 solution, but it does give you insight into the larger version.


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Western Canadian Scrabble Ch

I just played in the Western Canadian Scrabble Championship. It was 37 rounds of scrabble of 5 days, the longest tournament in North America. I played in three separate tournaments of 8, 8 and 21 rounds. I played ok but finished somewhat below my expectation.

My highlight was coming back from being down 169 pts against my friend, and one of the highest rated at our event, Eric. I scored 81 for LATEX (with a 9x X) and then had to bingo out with ACEHPRS and my word had to be 8 letters and end with and I, that was on the board. I plunked down PARCHESI, and was still behind by 2 but then won after adding the 18 points for his rack of Y, blank, and 5 vowels. Was an incredibly lucky finish.

Excellent tournament, but I'm exhausted and need some rest. Not to mention dishes, laundry, etc etc.

I lost one game by a point, and my three highest losses were from 459, 450 and 435.
Geez, what do you need to get to win in the top division???


Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sea of Yellow

Barke and I had a wonderful time at Jean's, was sure nice of her to let me bring him over and nice of Laverne to drive us. I felt bad that he's home alone all day during the week and didn't want to leave him again on Sat. Jean used to have a German Shepherd and Barke kind of reminds her of him. I ended up winning the day, including playing RA(TI)ONING, a nice 9. In my last round, I bingoed with WANTONER, got a challenge, bingoed again with PRIVATE and then picked up 26 points from the letters on my opponent's rack. Nice way to pull ahead by an extra 200 points.

Made some huge inroads into EII, I've always wanted to do a beam stack search with 100,000 nodes. In english, it means having the computer look at the most promising 100,000 positions before going forward to look at the next ones. In heuristic search, it's common to just look at one idea at a time. With this approach in EII, if you make one bad move early on, you'd have no chance to find the solution. This puts the eggs into 100,000 baskets instead of 1. With a search space of 10^45 and my ability to look at 10^5 at a time, I'm still not holding my breath for the $2 million prize. But with a litmus test of a beam size of 20,000 I was able to find better answers than I have to date. It took it 1 day to run. Now that I have a larger width, 200,000 actually, it should about 10 times as long, so in a week or two I'll see how much farther, if any, it was able to get.

I was able to place 211 / 256 pieces before it determined it would be unsolvable. Not great, but that means all but basically three lines were done.

I could score much higher if I was just counting the matching edges out of 480. But I'm trying to get a full solution, not just a high score for a partial solution.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Fall in Calgary

I hope to post some photos soon!

I had a great walk with Barke down to Kensington tonight. I was going to go to a Schawarma place for dinner but it was too busy and I'd have had no where to sit. So I retraced my steps 3 blocks and ended up on the OJ's patio. Had a great steak sand, two beers, and tied Barke up outside. He snarled at two dogs that went by, he always has that issue when tied up. But otherwise, he made at least 10 new people friends. Everyone always loves him.

Was nice to relax and enjoy one of our last summer evenings, if you can call them that. I had my netbook and did some anagramming. We have our Western Canadian tournament coming up, and it's about 5 days of Scrabble. I've now got three modes for studying words

New Words
Tournament Prep

The new words are just that, new words based on my own priority system. The review is a randomized selection of words that are due to be studied again. The randomization is important so you don't feel you're doing the same ones over and over. And the tournament prep focuses only on the important words I need to know, that are due for review. After years of studying, this seems to be the best breakdown. I'll focus on tournament prep for the WCSC.

I've been obsessing too much about Eternity II lately, but really loving it. Have some new ideas to try out tonight. It's been nice talking to fellow enthusiasts on the yahoo newsgroup lately.

Christine is out in New York, and I've been making the most of my free time - Reading Simple Chess, doing excellent daily and weekly chess problems at and lots of work at EII
Not to mention lots of scrabble study still.

Here's a daily puzzle sample


Monday, June 7, 2010

Strong Expert in Scrabble

I had an excellent tournament in Montreal two weeks ago, finishing 2nd only to Adam Logan, former world champion. I gained about 150 rating points and then finished 2nd in Calgary this past weekend to climb over the 1700 level for the first time.

All the studying is starting to pay off!

Unlike chess, where I started to see walls I was hitting (but have since overcome) I don't see any such walls yet in scrabble. So I'll keep at it and see where it leads.

My studying is progressing with about 100 new anagrams a day, focusing on bingos (7's and 8's) and 6's (often neglected area of study). I also work on hooks, extensions (5+3) and even long words. Studying long words is useful for enhancing your ability to play through words on the board, ex CITE + DILNOSU = UNSOLICITED. The exact words you study aren't necessarily all that helpful, but build important skills along the way.


Thursday, June 3, 2010

Chess Expert at Last

After about 10 years or more of tournament chess, I finally achieved an expert rating (over 2000).

Here are my games from the Calgary International tournament, from May 23-24, ... I think I was extremely lucky to win with Brad Booker in round 4 but probably could have won my last round game against Ali Razzaq. I finished in a three way tie for first place, winning $150, but more importantly crossing the 2000 line.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

3rd in Edmonton

Wonderful trip to Edmonton, especially enjoyed the complementary breakfast buffet at the Chateau Louis.

Nice to see a good friend, Mike Ebanks finish 1st in Div 1, and Peter Maas finish 1st in Div 2. I finished 3rd in Div 1, but got extra prizes for high game of 566 and a record of 29 bingos in 14 games.

Photo credit from Thomas Settle.

Monday, April 5, 2010

2nd in Calgary

I finished 2nd in the Scrabble tournament in Calgary recently.

I got to play the top seeded player, my friend Eric, 4 times and went 2-2. It was a nice tournament because I achieved my peak rating to date, 1550. And winning $130 is always nice.

I have another tournament coming up this weekend in Edmonton, and am excited to be going to Montreal for a tournament at the end of May. I'll visit my friend Shane and see the city a little. And I can play in the top division and will likely get paired against two former world champions in Scrabble, Adam Logan and Joel Wapnick.


Sunday, March 21, 2010

Lethbridge Open

I had a great time this weekend with my friend Eoin, we went to play chess in the Lethbridge Open. We even got paired against each other in my toughest and best game of the tournament. I finished with 3/5, and an 1800 performance rating, so it will bring me down from 1976 to 1950 or so. Not bad considering I'm so rusty. Eoin played great but his result of 2/5 didn't show it. He was beating Roy Yearwood and had good chances against me. Here are my games

Monday, March 8, 2010

Scrabble in Vancouver

That was supposed to be YVR by the way. Don't call it YYV, there's no such thing

Had a wonderful time, and had sushi 5 times in 5 days. And we loved the greek and east indian meals we had.

Had a very good visit at the Museum of Anthropology at UBC, and Christine went to the Vancouver Art Gallery and met up with Sean quite accidentally while I was off scrabbling. I played ok, but lost some rating points due to a really bad Saturday.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

YYV here we come

We're off for a weekend in Vancouver ....

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Gnarly Tree

Absolutely amazing trees everywhere.

Arboreal Arch

Diamond Head at sunrise seen from Kapiolani Park, a tree rooted at two spots, and a seemingly man eating plant.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Pagoda at dawn

It's called the Band Shell, but looks more like a pagoda to me. I sit on the stairs after my morning coffee at the Marriot, and do some of my studying. Gorgeous old park that used to have horse racing under King Kalakaua and Princess Kapiolani in 1880's.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

First Sunset

It's hard to believe but I only enjoyed my first sunset tonight, a week after arriving.

I felt bad last night, sore throat and thought I had a (mild) fever. I've gone out to eat twice, three times if you count a fast food chinese plate. Always overeating, it's disgusting how big the portions are. Last two days I've limited my diet to an orange or two and some nuts. Dad bought me fifteen bucks worth of walnuts, almonds and cashews. And I had a pound of trail mix with raisins. I've been feeling hungry but other than that very good.

Had my third swim today, getting more cofident avoiding sharp coral in waves.

Chess is fantastic, I play every day to utter mental exhaustion. Like all muscles, challenging them makes them grow. I try to read one master game in my chess text each day, including a brief review of the previous da's game. Nice to study then try and apply what I'm learning. I love the wild agressive style of most of the better players here, makes me learn a lot.

Still studying words every day, 6:00am to 8:00 and then again in the evening. mornings are definitely the best here. Proud to say I've been up at 6:00 and out the door every day by quarter past.

Starting to really miss Christine (and Barke). Saw a woman with six chiuaua type dogs, including three in a baby stroller. And another dog fetching a stick from the ocean. No prob with salt water whatsoever.

Here are a few photos of Raymond and my dad. Saw D&A again this aft. They're gone
tomorrow night.


Thursday, January 28, 2010

cooking lecho

We're in Bob's kitchen and dad is showing me how to cook lecho. I really overindulged in speed chess today, playing for about five hours non stop. Aaaaah, now that's what I call vacation.

I met Doris and Albert briefly at the chess tables, we'll try and grab some dinner tomorrow night. They look very tanned and seem to be having a great time!

Scrabble @ Kahala Mall

Had a great time @ scrabble tonight in Kahala Mall. Lost my first game to Wren by failing to block a bingo lane. Then won vs Inge (coinincidence or what?) and a nice gent Makena. There's even more scrabble on the island - Elk's club mondays at 9:30am too.

Great swim today too, but no turtles :-(. And I haven't bumped into Doris or Albert yet.

Picture of Bob and I.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

in Hawaii

Made it safely to Bob's place. Raining when I got here, and a few delays on buses, but I even managed to get off at the exact right spot. Met my dad and Bob at the chess tables, as planned.

made it to YVR

gotta run

Off to Hawaii

Chess tables, beaches, scrabble on Wed nights, time with my dad, seeing old friends, what could be better?