Avernus took me down in a clean sweep, 382-374 and 360-308. I trailed the whole way in both, literally from his first play on. Basically caught him in the first game, and was shocked to see him skip his turn, when I only had 3-4 letters left. I got to within single digits, but absolutely could not find a place to play my very last letter (and "L"). Tried every spot and combination I could think of, but not a single one worked. Had to pass, and he then finished the game. I knew that was my chance to try to force a split.
The second game was a blowout from the start... I kept thinking I might get an opening to play something big, but it just never happened. Hats off to him, as he simply didn't leave me many options, while taking advantage of some very nice ones himself. This isn't an excuse, but I find it much harder to do well at this game when I don't have a lot of time on my hands. Played a lot of the first tournament while traveling (sitting in the car, at the airport, etc.), where it's easy to take your time and explore options. This week, I've been working a ton, and don't find much time to play... So, in an effort to keep things moving, I found myself sometimes just playing something, without thoroughly looking for a better option.
That's not to take anything away from Avernus... Part of the reason I felt like I sometimes didn't take enough time was that it seemed like his game to win, from the start. Not that he was getting the right letters, necessarily, but rather that he seemed determined to get revenge for the last time we played.
In other words, he didn't waste a single move, while I felt like I might have, a couple of times.
The ironic thing about this game, and how much time one spends at it, is that I got accused of cheating because I was taking too much time in between turns. As if, when I don't play for a few hours, it's because I'm frantically scouring a cheat website.
And people sometimes wonder why they get labeled as a nuckin' futjob.
Good games, Avernus. You were clearly the better player.... This time.