Association of British Scrabble Players

BEST 2017 Match Report - Natalie Zolty v Neil Green


Written by Natalie Zolty

A brief report of each game but a lot of them! Are you sitting comfortably?
Thursday 10:30am
An uneventful drive to Cardiff and we're ready for the off. Our ratings are identical to two decimal places. May the best Scrabbler win!

Game 1

From an opening rack of CDEHINS, I play CHIDE, blissfully unaware of the new CSW15 seven. Neil takes off with (E)xPLORER and three of our next four moves are bonuses. Then the game gets away from me and it's not close.

Neil 470 (E)xPLORER, VO(G)UIEST, ALGE(R)INE
Natalie 358 RANGOL(I)S, T(R)ANECTS
Neil 1 Natalie 0

Natalie v Neil Game Board

Game 1, Natalie 358-470 Neil (Neil leads 1-0)


Game 2

An initial exchange from Neil, then we trade bonuses. I have both blanks this time but after nine moves each we are around level. A late STEEPED steals it for me. I try to laugh off my failure to see DEEPEST (but wouldn't have been sure of the S hook on HAHA).

Natalie 422 MaNURES, AViATOR, STEEPED
Neil 414 FINES(S)ED, STERNAL
Neil 1 Natalie 1

Natalie v Neil Game Board

Game 2, Neil 414-422 Natalie (Match tied 1-1)


Game 3

It's Neil's turn for the blanks again and I can't keep up. Holding AEFINST near the end with no playable bonuses, I play IF and pick up SW. I can't engineer the bonus that I need to win.

Neil 462 GOITErE(D), PAIsANA
Natalie 403 GOLDEST, RELIERS
Neil 2 Natalie 1
LUNCH Tuna sandwiches – brain food.

Natalie v Neil Game Board

Game 3, Natalie 403-465 Neil (Neil leads 2-1)


Game 4

Neil's first two moves are exchanges which gives me a head start. The blanks are mine again and I squeak a win. There is a bit of a pattern emerging here. Will the blanks ever be split between us?

Natalie 408 VENtANA, OGREISM
Neil 390 (RE)DACTION, SUETIER
Neil 2 Natalie 2

Natalie v Neil Game Board

Game 4, Neil 390-408 Natalie (Match tied 2-2)
NB. RUS*


Game 5

A scrappy effort with me trailing all the way. The endgame features mistakes on both sides. Neil plays a phoney to block the triple lane, I challenge it off and leap in with SIRNaME for 86 and 'Out'! I have won. Except I have forgotten there are still two tiles in the bag. Moving on...

Neil 366 UnTACKE(D)
Natalie 350 SIRNaME
Neil 3 Natalie 2

Natalie v Neil Game Board

Game 5, Natalie 350-366 Neil (Neil leads 3-2)


Game 6

This is painful to recall. We are level after six moves each and I hold the remaining blank. Wham – Neil puts down LEAFBUG*. Hold! Yes, I feel I have seen it before and let it go. Three moves later I chance a face value SWIMMIER which proves valid, but I can't do enough to win.

Neil 487 UNREADY, LEAFBUG*
Natalie 454 RONDEL(E)T, EGOISTs, S(W)IMMIEr
Neil 4 Natalie 2

Natalie v Neil Game Board

Game 6, Neil 487-454 Natalie (Neil leads 4-2)
NB. LEAFBUG*


Game 7

This flows well for me and after nine moves each I am 92 ahead. I attempt to block the easy triple lane but Neil's bonus still fits. Suddenly I'm only 22 ahead. Does ESTANCIA take an S? I have to try it to ensure a win. Phew, it does!

Natalie 471 ESTA(N)CIA, DIFFERS, TAGLINE(S)
Neil 407 DENOTES, (S)TRONGER
Neil 4 Natalie 3

Neil has a prior engagement so play is over for the day.
I wander into Cardiff Bay, down a large Limoncello spritzer and retire to the Travelodge to revise BUG words.

Natalie v Neil Game Board

Game 7, Natalie 473-407 Neil (Neil leads 4-3)


Friday 9:30am

Game 8

I'm feeling quite calm today. Slight compensation for LEAFBUG* as LINKY is challenged but BLINKY* stays on the board. I think it's my only phoney of the tournament.
After a poor start, I hit a bonus move six and then a lucky S hook onto Neil's RUNAGATE for 63. I'm plagued with vowels after but hang on for the win.

Natalie 431 CUrTSI(E)D
Neil 423 (T)RAUCHLe, R(U)NAGATE
Neil 4 Natalie 4

Now it's best of three. It's getting interesting.

Natalie v Neil Game Board

Game 8, Neil 423-431 Natalie (Match tied 4-4)
NB. BLINKY*


Game 9

There's another early exchange of bonuses and things remain close. Neil considers chancing BIRDERS and SPEAKINGS at the end, but goes for a certain win without it.

Neil 432 FLOkATI, S(P)EAKING
Natalie 390 DILAT(I)ON, (O)UTPrEEN
Neil 5 Natalie 4

Natalie v Neil Game Board

Game 9, Natalie 390-432 Neil (Neil leads 5-4)


Game 10

On moves three to five I hit a hat trick of bonuses and am 170 ahead. Neil says he must ask me to leave. Another two late bonuses mean a good winning spread for me. Why can't all games be like this?

Natalie 553 TARRI(E)ST, JENnIES, DENTA(L)IA, REDWING, OUTCRoP
Neil 343 OBLASTI
Neil 5 Natalie 5

Natalie v Neil Game Board

Game 10, Neil 343-553 Natalie (Match tied 5-5, Natalie +45)


Did I say I was feeling calm? It's my start for the decider. A breather while Neil has some lucky cereal and I attempt to play up the advantage to going first. You can cut the tension with a er tension cutter.

Game 11

My opening move of VIVE is terrible from CEINVVY. It's so hard after 10 games not to let the pressure get to you. We exchange early bonuses but then Neil gets another and a commanding lead. My early mistake is justly punished with some bad draws and I never catch up. They think it's all over.... it is now.

Neil 482 TATTLeD, (O)ESTRONE
Natalie 377 BACTEr(I)N
Neil 6 Natalie 5

Natalie v Neil Game Board

Game 11, Natalie 378-482 Neil (Neil wins 6-5)


BEST is 5 point penalty challenge.
I gained nickels for
YUCA, TICES, PLIM, PUER, VENTANA, OGREISM, HOMIEST, WARED, BYKE, RONDELET, SWIMMIER, WOAH, ESTANCIAS, LINKY, RUNAGATES, OUTPREEN, JENNIES, EVOHE

and gave them away for

ALGERINE :o , OXGANG, PAISANA, POLER, TRAUCHLE, FLOKATI, BIRDERS, UNMEWS, CHARNEL

Many congratulations and thanks to Neil for hosting such an exciting and enjoyable match.

BEST is a totally different tournament experience and one I would urge all Scrabblers to try. It truly is a battle of wits, where the luck factor is significantly reduced due to the number of games against the same player. It's also a great opportunity to get to know another of our brilliant community a bit better or to pit your wits against a Scrabble friend. Lower ratings shouldn't be put off, at worst you learn so much against a better player and have a good chance of a boost to your rating. The more players we can get, the better it will become. Look out for BEST 2018!