August 3–8, 2007
Dayton, OH

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PC 2007 Commentary: Round 26

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Go to: Before the Tournament, Round 1, Round 2, Round 3, Round 4, Round 5, Round 6, Round 7, Round 8, Round 9, Round 10, Round 11, Round 12, Round 13, Round 14, Round 15, Round 16, Round 17, Round 18, Round 19, Round 20, Round 21, Round 22, Round 23, Round 24, Round 25, Round 26, Round 27, Round 28, Round 29, Round 30, Round 31, After the Tournament, Award Ceremony.

This round's annotated game featured: James Leong vs. Mike Early.

Round 26

Players began to mill back into the room at around 2:30 today. We were planning an "18 and under" youth photo in front of the stage at 12:45. Two things struck me about it:
1. every qualifying player showed up and before the scheduled time, so no waiting around, which I found quite considerate.
2. There were 13 players and every one of them was male! Check them out in all their glory in this round's photos.

As we gathered together for our last after-lunch session, Mary Rhoades took to the stage. She always makes the most minimal announcements! She mentioned a framed photo of people playing anagrams by candlelight that Roger Cullman (Toronto ON) will give to the person with the highest-scoring long word. Apparently, this contest closes at the end of play today. And then, with a twinkle in her eye, she encouraged us to wish a Happy Birthday to Dee Jackson (Deerfield Beach, FL). And before long, we were off and playing.

Michael Early (Fort Worth, TX) has changed his appearance. He's sporting a full, more salt than pepper beard and looks a bit like Grizzly Adams. He reached the div 1, table 1 stage this round and did something no one else has been able to do the past 6 rounds: He defeated James Leong (Vancouver BC), 539-422. James and the annotators were still at the table when I got there. Mike was pacing around that side of the room, probably pinching himself (joke, joke!). So, it was up to James to tell me about his loss, which he did with great grace. James opened with BIOTYPe for 82, Mike responded two turns later with RONTGEN for 75. Two turns later, James exchanged all 7 tiles and a turn later Mike played TABLING for 82, James responded with LACTONE for 68, and then Mike came down with DEAErATE for 77. Score, 188-302 in Mike's favor. James got down SOX for 57 and then FOOTIER for 78, but it was no match because Mike came swooping down with his "big ol' JETLINER" for 98 smackeroos. They traded two 40ish plays and then it was all over but for the crying. However, I get the feeling that James doesn't cry over SCRABBLE®.

Martin Weisskopf (Huntsville, AL) had a marvelous game at table 1 in div 2 and defeated Rafi Stern (Seattle, WA), 476-443. It was hard to talk about the game because everyone who came by (and there were lots) kept saying: NECKBONE? Repeatedly poor Martin had to explain that he was holding IQUATED and could play it to the triple. He didn't want that spot to get blocked in the very rare chance that play was good, so he let it go. So, Ravi played NECKBONE* through the C for 83, HAIRLINE for 86 and AUNTIES for 74. Martin played COUNTERED to the ED for 80, LIQUATED from the L for 107, ROUTINE for 67, and JEEZ for 90 on the triple lane. This last play was what put the nail in the coffin for Rafi. At one point, Martin tried to block and hooked onto PARVE, which is good, making it PARVES*, which isn't. Rafi called it off.

The trumpets were heard off the distance. For the past 15 rounds (rounds 10 to 25), Michael Wolfberg (Westford, MA) has been in first place in div 3. This round, Chad Hopper (Austin, TX) slayed the giant, 464-310, and went into first place himself (this is Chad's 10th win in a row). This was their rematch game as they had played earlier in the tournament and Mike had won. A stats aficionado, Mike pulled out his scoresheet and discovered that they had virtually swapped scores. First round, it was Mike's win, 463-340.

The twins, Carlene Wallis (Sparks, NV) and Carlynn Mayer (Sparks, NV) had their revenge match this round, too, and it was Carlene's turn to win this time, 395-375.

Zev Kaufman (Toronto ON) fins me and wants me to see some good plays in his game with Dominick Mancine (Louisville, CO). Dom's play of bIRADIAL to the L and Zev's SOLIONS on the triple lane, hooking to make JOUSTS and PRECAVAE. Dom held on BIRADIAL a bit and Zev, holding his new tiles saw PRECAVAE and so wanted Dom to challenge so he'd lose a turn and not mess up the placement. As it turns out, he didn't challenge, but he didn't block either (how considerate). So, Zev got to play his word.

A quick glance at the standings and only one person has a 22 wins and that is Chad Hopper (Austin, TX) in div 3. Behind him is div 5's Joey Krafchick (Roswell, GA) with 20.5 wins.

John Chew writes:

In Division A, the expert players keep asking when the repeat pairings will start. I think there will be repeats in Round 27 or Round 28, but it's up for the pairing software to decide.

Round 26 follows the lunch break, so tsh knows to base pairings on Round 25 rather than Portland-style on Round 24. It determined that 20 players are still in contention for the grand prize, a happy coincidence because it is set to cap the number of contenders at 20 players this round, then 16, 12, 8, 4 and 2 in later rounds.

Those 20 players have played each other so often that while it's still possible for them to play each other without repeats, it is not possible for the top 16 and bottom 4 to do so separately. Tsh therefore pairs the top 18 and bottom 2, trying to match players due to play first with players due to play second, avoiding repeats, and giving the lowest ranked player who can still catch a leader the right to play him.

James Leong (Vancouver BC), who has played 11 of his fellow top 18, will play 12th-ranked Michael Early (Fort Worth, TX) at Board 1.