Australian Masters and State Team Challenge 2017

(This article originally appeared in Across the Board Magazine)


On September 9th and 10th, South Australia played host to the annual Australian Masters and State Team Challenge.  The reigning champion, Joanne Craig was in attendance and the top seeds on rating going in to the tournament were Andrew Fisher, current National Champion Russell Honeybun and SA’s Daniel Piechnick.  The event was held at the Unley Bridge Club and side tournaments were run on both days for those not qualified and the SA locals to take part in the event.  Barry Harridge was the fearless Tournament Director and computer operator.  Of course it wouldn’t be a major Australian event without a Dream Team event.  The reigning state team, WA, of David Vanzyl, Edie Mueller and Robin Andersen was represented by Ian Ting, Edie Mueller and Anne Zion.
After 3 rounds of play it was Joanne, Adam Kretschmer and Bob Jackman leading the field undefeated.  The round robin nature of the event means that every player will get a crack at the leaders.  By the end of day 1, Daniel Piechnick was on top with 8 out 10 wins and Joanne was a game behind on 7.  Daniel lost the lead in his game against Bob who got down 4 bonusses (SEATERS, ACOLYTES, VORAGOES, LEATHERN) and QUAY for 62 for a comfortable win.
That led to a logjam of top players.  By round 13 Joanne, Daniel, Ether Perrins, Andrew, and Trevor Tao were all within a game of the lead and a game and half clear of the rest of the competition.  It certainly looked like our winner would be from among these players.
With two rounds to go, Esther, Andrew and Daniel were all on 12 wins and it looked like whoever could get the wins in the final 2 games would take the title.  Andrew had a win while Daniel and Esther both lost putting himself in a great spot.  In his final game against Russell, Andrew was able to get away to healthy lead with VENTRALS, MYOSOTES and SEPTORIA in successive turns.  It was enough to win the game and the tournament.  Joanne came in second with Daniel third.
In the state team challenge, Tasmania (Dianne Brumby, Martin Rose, Keri Heart) dominated the first day finishing on 21 team wins ahead of the next closest state, Victoria (Norma Fisher, Carol Johnsen, Gwen Lampre) on 17.5.  On the second day it tightened up with both Victoria and ACT gaining ground on Tasmania.  In the final round Vic and ACT had big wins to both get to 31.5 wins.  Victoria had the superior spread to take the title.  The individual first place went to Edie Mueller.
One particularly remarkable game was Russell Honeybun against Bob Jackman in round 14.  Bob bonussed to go 102 points ahead.  Pulling the last tile from the bag, he found the Q and with 1 place to play it, Russell then began the the challenge of extracting over 80 points (plus the twenty from the unplayed Q) from his final rack of ACEEILN.  See the photo of the board.
Congratulations to all the winners and thanks to all those in SA who made it such a success.

SA Championship!

We have a new State Champion!  Esther Perrins has won the South Australia State Championship.


The tournament was held in Adelaide over the Adelaide Cup weekend.  As usual it was 16 games over two days.  40 players were taking part.  Among them was Carmel Dodd who was acknowledged for crossing 4000 tournament games played in Australia – an amazing achievement.  The format of the tournament is Open with a prize for the top player rated in the bottom half of the field (denoted on the pairings sheet with a ~ so the prize is naturally called top-of-the-tildes.)

It was a turbulent Day 1.  There were 9 games played and at the end of the day there were 4 players on 7 wins: Daniel Piechnick, Michael Cameron, Tony Miller, Antonios Syrigos.  The tournament was wide open for anyone to make a deep run.

In game 12, the two tournaments leaders: Daniel and Esther were meeting for the second time (Esther had won their first clash on day 1.)  Esther would go on to win again and so three players were tied on 9 wins: Daniel, Esther, Oliver Jenner-O’Shea.  In the final four games Daniel and Esther raced to the finish with Daniel carrying the bigger margin.  Esther got a game ahead and then won in the last rounds to take the tournament two games ahead of Daniel in second place.

Congrats again to Esther!
We’ll hopefully see lots of people next year at the SA Championship 2018.

Hoping for an I

This is a quick post that was sparked by a discussion we had at the the last Adelaide Pub Scrabble club meeting.

It’s a feeling we all know: you have a rack that makes a beautiful 8 letter word on your opening rack and your opponent is going first.  You just need them to play the right floater so you can lay down your bonus.

My rack was NOTATON so I just needed my friendly opponent to give me an I for NOTATION (or an M for MONTANTO which I did not spot.)  Opponent did not oblige and I was left to play TOON.

After the game we were musing as to whether you’d rather be in the position of hoping for an I or hoping for an E.  There are more Es in the bag but opponent may be more likely to keep the E on their rack.

So, here’s the situation: You’re going second and really feel like a bonus to boost your confidence.  Which of the following racks do you most want?


A Tricky Pre-Endgame Puzzle

What would you do here?


A pre-endgame against Barry Harridge from the Border Challenge recently that I’ve been thinking about a lot. Scores are level. 3 tiles in the bag.

The candidate moves seem to be:
-(A)V(I)ZE or with a D
-(HA)ZE or with a D or an L
-VEL(E) on the E of TESTY

I’m not sure what I’m supposed to be considering here to decide. The unseen J making HAJ or playing onto a triple is the concern.

Border Challenge

SA v Vic Border Challenge Wrap-Up, Results and Ratings


This year’s SA v Vic Border Challenge saw SA field its largest team ever (26) to battle a pretty big team from Victoria (22). SA’s 7 heavy-hitters all performed well, finishing in the overall top 8. After an even start, SA steadily built up a lead between rounds 3 until they were unbeatable at the end of round 9 (of 10).

This triggered ‘Team Gibsonization’ to help even out the intra-team count for some of the lower-ranked players and also provide a sensible shootout for the individual prizes. Michael Cameron and Jane Taylor were victorious over Trevor Tao and myself, to claim 1st and 2nd respectively. Angie Pearse flew the flag for Victoria to finish 5th. The final team tally was SA 128 – Vic 92, SA’s sixth consecutive win!

As is often the case with this event, the highlight is a breakout performance by an up-and-comer. This year’s standout was SA’s Wendi Symes, who from a rating of 722 (making her BC debut) strung together 7 wins, including upsets over the Victorian team’s top 2 rated players (Geoff W & Norma). Honorable mentions to stalwart Louisa Atsas who caused a lot of upsets on day 1, but slipped just outside the top 3 in the 2nd rating band and to Rachel Telfer who also played well above her rating on BC debut.

As always, the competition was fierce but friendly with new friendships and rivalries formed across the border. A big thanks to Victoria for organising this year’s event, particularly to Carol Johnsen and Norma Fisher. Also, thanks to Paula and her family for all of their work coordinating Team SA.

1st Michael Cameron
2nd Jane Taylor
3rd Trevor Tao
HG Michael Cameron 559
HW Norma Fisher INFLUXES 194

2nd Rating Band:
1st Wendi Symes
2nd Lyndee Hill
3rd Neal Whibley
HG Glenys Dettmann 523
HW Marilyn Evans JAVELINS 104