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Friday, January 14, 2005

Where Do I Go To Get My Friend Back?

It is not often that life hands you a chance to stand behind your declared principle - immediately following the declaration!

In my column entitled Fingering Armstrong's Handouts, published in Wednesday's American Spectator on line, I made the point that those of us writing on the right wing of the political spectrum are willing to forgo heftier paychecks elsewhere for the sake of maintaining integrity. But I added the modifier: "...although we struggle every day..."

Sure enough, life saw fit to put me to the test.

I play Scrabble on line at and I have painstakingly built myself up to a 1983 rating. The only people with 2000 ratings or higher are literally international champions. It is the equivalent of grandmaster in chess.

So many games had been lost to me by flukes like my computer crashing when it was my turn and the system reading it as a resignation. I could very well have constructed a rationale that said that I had really earned the 2000 and was being thwarted by technical accidents.

Tonight, I was playing an opponent who is known to me personally, the Scrabble champion of a country in Europe. Due to the time difference, it was morning where that person was. Because of their high rating, I would receive 20 points if I won, catapulting me to 2003. However, if they resign, although they lose the 20 points, I do not gain it; that is the system.

Toward the end of the game, my opponent made a move that in my view was defensible as a gamble, but it created an opening for the letter E on the Triple Word Score line. It cost me the E, the Q, and a blank, to make EQUID for 49 points and an insurmountable lead late in the game.

Suddenly, my opponent informs me that the opening was not created as a tactical gamble but as an intentional gift to throw me the game so that I would reach 2000. So there it was: in a flash, I was walking in Armstrong Williams' shoes.

I refused to accept the gift; I knew that you would expect it of me. I offered to unrate the game (an allowable option); my opponent refused, said that I was demonstrating "shockingly bad form" in refusing their gesture.

I said, "But I won't be 2000 if I haven't really won the game." That did not go over real big.

So I gave up the points. My opponent resigned.

I gave up the friendship, too, most probably. It was a great honor and pleasure for me to be acquainted with this genuine champion: gone.

Not much left. Just a much-soiled threadbare mantle of integrity, at least until the next time I fail.

But my column at the Spectator... I can leave up for one more day. Just this once, the tempter came and I did not bite.


Anonymous said...

Sadly, Mr. Homnick, you did bite. Your opponent was soi skilled as to be able to pinpoint the tiles you had in your rack. The game was over, merely a "safe" play would have ended it with you in sad defeat. Your opponent, however, a person anxious to pleaae you, announced her intention, IN ADVANCE of her move, (ah yes the oppoonent is a female), and knowing full well the consequeces of creating thgis "opening" on the board, did so, declaring "There Jay, now you can be at 2000". You, Jay, made the expected responxe, whereupon, your opponent fastidiously wasted her emaining tiles, including a valuable "S" in such a manner insuring your victory. Alas, the male ego interfered with this beau geste, you thereupon lectured your opponent, and persisted to do so about the "good gamblke" she had mad, knowing ALL TOO WELL, tha this player did not gamble, knew your tiles and had the game neatly won, ergo had not the slightest need to "gamble". No matter how irritated your opponent became, Jay, you refused to finish the game by playing your last tile, tirelessly declaring your admiration for her "gamble", petulantly patronizing one who had just befriended you in lieu of a simple but eloquent, "thanks". Armstrong? Far more honorable I fear, and at least he was paid for his errant behaviour. Absolute bottom line, your self-esteem was jeopardized by a female, and you simply could not tolerate that. The Moral? No good deed goes unpunished!

Hunter Baker said...

I knew you had a way with the ladies, Mr. Homnick.

Anonymous said...

I see nothing wrong with what Homnick did, in matter of fact i would have done the same myself.
Micheal Strahan

Anonymous said...

Oh my, two gentlemen: Mr Hunter and Mr Michael, wholeheartedly approve of Mr Homnick's misanthropy.( I fastidiously avoided employing the far more explicit but admittedly overworked word) May I rest my case?