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Nightmare Blunders

The blog is really just a story this week. One which should probably be called "Confessions of a Scrabble Player". However if you like to do the usual quiz then the following puzzle is related to the story:

What 7 letter words can you find from: D E I O R V ?

There are 13 words for you to find

Every sportsperson and game player has a nightmare moment at some stage.

In cricket it is the fielder dropping the easy catch that will win or lose the match.

In soccer the striker who skies the ball over the bar with the goalie out of position.

There is a famous finish to the British Golf Open. Jean van de Velde led by three shots as he stood on the last tee in the final round. A terrible sequence of poor decisions and mishit shots saw him needing to sink a 7 foot putt for a triple bogey and the chance to go into a playoff. Although he somehow composed himself to sink the putt he went on to lose that playoff. The anguish was more than the vast sum of money involved, it was a chance to win one of the 4 major championships. A chance which never came his way again.

Blunders in ordinary sports may seem terrible, but somehow it is even worse when it happens at scrabble. It is because it is a mental game not a physical one. It is understandable that a physical action is fumbled, but your brain overlooking something basic is confounding.

I played very badly at the end of a game against Dianne Cole-Baker on Monday night. Initially it looked good when with AAEGINT I found a V on the board to play VAGINATE. It was a low scoring bonus word, and it put an I under the Triple Word Square at the top of the board, but 65 points is still 65 points. Instead of going there Dianne immediately hit back hard pluralising FIQH to play a bonus along the bottom row to score 97. Although I had picked up 3 I’s MINI gave me a good score above VAGINATE, but Dianne had picked up the Z and scored 64. that was 161 points in 2 turns and Dianne had stormed to a lead of about 30 points. Although I could score about 30 to level up she used another S on the end of VAGINATE to play SCOW for another reasonable score. With the onslaught of the last few turns I foolishly did not think carefully about that last turn. I looked with relief at the great tiles I had picked up thinking they were about to save the game and just wrote the score down for Dianne’s last play.

Those tiles were the rack – D E I O R V ? – which I had mentioned earlier

So you would think there was no problem right?

I soon realised that the only place to fit a 7 letter word was to start with a letter above ER. I thought, “Damn, none of the letters go above ER I will have to make the blank the right letter, so what goes above ER?

An F for FER, but I can’t think of any word if the blank is an F

A G for GER, but I can’t think of any word if the blank is a G

An H for HER, but I can’t think of any word if the blank is an H

An S for SER, but although I thought of several words none of them started with S

That only left Y for YER, but no word if the blank was a Y either

Getting desperate now and my mind drifted back to that last play of Dianne’s:

“An S on the end of VAGINATE? I am not sure that it takes an S.”

Indeed that is the case, only a D could have been played there. I had just realised my first major blunder. Not looking carefully at my opponent’s play. It was too late to challenge now.

There were no letters to play through for an 8 letter word but a 9 letter word through the letters TE on the board looked like half a chance. 9 letter words are difficult, but I had great letters.

Not great enough. I couldn’t think of anything and this time it was because there was nothing. In fact the letters DEIORV?ET surprisingly make only three words – OVEREDITS, OVERTIMED and OVERTIRED – none of which have TE together.

Having had about 12 minutes on my clock at the start of this turn I desperately tracked Dianne’s tiles to see if I could win the end game by playing out in two turns. Her rack of BNNTUU looked promising, but everything I could think of to score gave her a chance to score too much in return. I capitulated and played a word which I knew would lose the game.

Andrew was watching and said that I had missed an outplay. "Where?" I cried. And then he pointed out that I could have played PROVIDE.

Aaargh!!!!! - P for PER, how could I go through the alphabet and think of words like GER, SER and YER, but completely bypass the more ordinary PER. You could say that I spent 12 minutes and couldn’t think of the word PER, but that might be tough on me. The problem was that I had looked at that spot for a few minutes and when I thought there was no solution I had been distracted by the impossible 9 letter word and the search for a way to win with a two word outplay.

I am hoping that typing out my confession will make me be more careful next time. The sad fact, though, is that it probably won’t.

To finish off the blog here are some other blunders, mostly by other people:

Challenging WAS because WA isn’t a word

Challenging BROTHER because you can’t be more BROTH

Challenging MISLED because they were pronouncing it as mizzled

Challenging SUITED and pronouncing it as sweeted. (SUITE was already on the board and a bonus including a D was played underneath it)

I was sitting on the board next to a New Zealand National Champion and early in the game he played ETAERIOS on his board. After finishing my game I looked at the game still going on next to me and he had a bunch of vowels again. There was a T that he could play through to make ETAERIOS for a second time. That would have been an unusual occurrence, but he didn’t notice the spot! It is true that it was in a place where it only fitted because it also made a few 2 letter words, so perhaps it wasn’t that obvious. However, it was still very surprising. ETAERIOS are ‘aggregated’ fruits such as blackberries

There is another one of my own. Well, a sort of combined effort. I was playing a different New Zealand National Champion. One of us played QUALITY early in the game. At the end someone on the next board asked why neither of us had ever extended it to EQUALITY. We were both stunned.

So on that note I hope you put in a quality effort to find the 13 bonus words:

AVODIRE The hardwood from an African tree









DEVOIRS Formal acts of duty and respect




Happy Scrabbling


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