Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Ep 302: Shaun Ellis, Crockett Cooke (October 25, 2011)

Rounds: Here.

Shaun Ellis returns for his fourth night and it is revealed that he has an ambition to write a screenplay.  He has a few in the works, but -- as many of us can relate to -- has to overcome his laziness.  He continues to display gently self-directed humour as he adds that he also has to make them just a little bit better.

Going up against Shaun is former police officer Crockett Cooke, who once completed the Great Victorian Bike Ride on a tricycle for charity.  He's wearing a cornflower, the symbol of the Motor Neurone Disease Association -- he lives with a rare form of that disease.  The bike ride involved a distance of almost 600 kilometres over ten days, which sounds like an impressive effort on a tricycle!

I put in a much better effort today, even though I felt somewhat "off".  There was definitely some room for improvement and the conundrum continues to be difficult for me.  I started on the back foot as Shaun got off to a good start, but then he overreached and I soon gained the lead and kept ahead thereafter.  Unfortunately, Crockett never really got into the match, and Shaun gained his fourth victory to the tune of 59 to 13.

Details after the jump.

Round 1: D M O A R S E T U

A friendly mix of letters to start, although I managed to get confused and took a while to find one of the many sevens available here.  After the first five letters I was expecting another vowel to be called to (hopefully) spell ROAMED, and the call of a consonant threw me.  Anyway... ROAM, ROAMS, DREAMS, ROUSTED, ROASTED and nothing better within time.  Spent several minutes afterwards unsuccessfully looking for better, finding only MUSTARD, STORMED, MATURES.

If a consonant had been chosen instead of that final vowel it would have been L, giving a very familiar word to Countdown watchers: LEOTARDS.  (And its anagram, LODESTAR.)

Shaun comes through with the eight-letter READOUTS -- David is unable to better it -- and Crockett unfortunately chooses the non-word MOARED.  (From pronunciation, he was thinking of MOORED.)

Crockett: [invalid]

Scores: Shaun 8, Crockett 0, me 0

Round 2: L C K N I E O R G

A slightly worrisome mix until those last two letters, the G in particular opening up the -ING ending.  I found LIKEN, LICKER, ROCKING, and flirted with LOCKERING but thought it too unlikely.  Just as well, since calmer reflection shows just how unlikely it is.  After-time investigations give CORKING, LOCKING, and the possibility of RELOCKING (annoying that I didn't see this when I thought of LOCKERING).  The RE- beginnings are always tricky, though, and I would not have risked this one.

Shaun declares RELOCKING, which would give him an extremely difficult lead to overcome if it is valid.  Unfortunately for him it is not, and I'm sure Crockett was as relieved as I was to be back in contention.

David finds the eight here, with CLERKING (CLERK being a verb as well as a noun), but makes no mention of another valid eight: ROCKLING, which is a type of fish.

Shaun: [invalid]
Crockett: ROCKING

Scores: Shaun 8, Crockett 7, me 7

Round 3: Target 684 from 100 50 25 75 7 3

Richard notes that Shaun has semi-unusually not had a consistent number mix; Shaun responds that he enjoyed the four-large mixes from the previous night, so he'll give that a try.  He gets a nice combination of target and small numbers -- I think the 600s is the most interesting zone for a four-large mix, and the 600s and 700s the most interesting zone generally -- but is unable to fully exploit it.  He declares 691, and fortunately for him Crockett was unable to get within range at all.

Shaun explains 691 = 7*100 - 3*(75 / 25).  Lily and I are both on target with 684 = 7*(100 - 3) + (50 + 75)/25.  Lily remarks that this kind of manipulation (dividing large numbers by each other) is why she likes the four-large mix, and I agree.  I'll note in passing that it's possible to make 675 from just the four large numbers, and if you know that then it is easy to see from the start that 685 is achievable.

Shaun: 691
Crockett: [not in range]
Me: 684
Lily: 684

Scores: Shaun 8 (13), Crockett 7, me 17

First break: TOO OFTEN ("It's at the bottom of your body and your page")

Another easy clue giving away FOOTNOTE.

David talks about pairs, and words based on 'par'.  He even remarks that NONPAREIL would make a great conundrum (APRON LINE).  Might have to keep an eye out for that...

Round 4: P P L T E A I N R

That double P turns out to be a little inconvenient, although both contestants ended up using it.  I found PELT, PETAL / PLATE, PLAINT, PAINTER, LATRINE, and finally TRIPLANE, thanks to it having appeared relatively recently on the show.  Some further searching after time expired noted PRALINE (a word that shows up moderately often) and PLANTER.  No PLANTIER, alas.

Crockett declares APPLE, and David notes that he could have added the T to the end to get APPLET.

Crockett: APPLE

Scores: Shaun 8 (19), Crockett 7, me 25

Round 5: E O A D H G B U R

I think I would have chosen the consonant before the vowel here, and when the R came up I would definitely have gone for a further consonant.  That C would give BROCADE and BROACHED, as it turns out.  Anyway, back to what actually happened... the U opened up OUGH as a constituent, which I sometimes struggle to see.  HEAD and ROUGHED were all I was able to find, although I was only looking for long words once I had ROUGHED.  BOGHEAD is in the dictionary, but only as part of the compound term "boghead coal", so it would have been rejected.  I did wonder about BOUGHED, but the Macquarie is particularly reticent on adjectives formed from nouns in this way.

Crockett: BADGER

Scores: Shaun 8 (25), Crockett 7 (13), me 32

Round 6: Target 810 from 25 75 9 5 9 6

Crockett aimed to get an easier game this time, but was unfortunate to get largeish small numbers, making it hard to do the kind of adjustments that one would need in order to get to the target.  As a side remark here, my feeling is that for people wanting an easier numbers game the choice of one large / five small is a better one.  Having only a single large number to work with simplifies the decision making, and is almost exactly as solvable as the two large / four small option is.

Crockett ends up out of range again, while Shaun manages just one off with 809 = (5 + 6)*75 - 25 + 9.  Lily and I both got to the target, taking advantage of the two nines already there to make 810 = 9*9*10.  We differed in our methods for making the ten, though -- I had 810 = (25 - 75/5)*9*9, while Lily kitchen-sinked it with 810 = 5*(6 / (75/25))*9*9.  A possibly more straightforward approach is to get to 270 and multiply by 3, giving 810 = (75/25)*5*6*9.  There's also 9*90, giving 810 = 9*(75 + 6 + 9).

Shaun: 809
Crockett: [not in range]
Me: 810
Lily: 810

Scores: Shaun 8 (32), Crockett 7 (13), me 42

Second break: BALK TACK ("A kind of radio show, or a sassy reply")

Not much to say here: TALKBACK.  Although I'll note that "back talk" is in the dictionary as two words, whereas "backchat" is a single word.  An amusing discrepancy.

Round 7: E A I C T S O H M

It would take a nine-letter word to overtake me at this point; for some reason that safety led me to play conservatively and take the safe points.  That's poor form, so boo for me.  Found CITES, ITCHES (bypassing COATIS, which I hope I would have remembered if it had mattered), MATCHES, CHEMIST, MISTEACH, and ATHEISM.  I pondered for a while -- I was pretty sure that MISTEACH has come up a few times and that I've checked it and it is valid, but eventually wimped out with CHEMIST.  Of course, MISTEACH is valid and the best to be found.  Also found much later: SOMATIC, ATOMISE.

I'm sure that afterwards David wished that Shaun had chosen a consonant instead of that fourth vowel; replacing the O with an L would have allowed the full monty ALCHEMIST, or another C would give SCHEMATIC.

Crockett: CHEATS

Scores: Shaun 15 (39), Crockett 7 (13), me 49

Round 8: Target 782 from 75 25 4 2 7 5

Another target in the interesting range, which was nice to see.  Crockett finally managed to get into the scoring zone, but at six away was outdone by Shaun who got the target.  The key to this one was seeing that 782 is 7 away from a multiple of 25, and preserving it.  Shaun finds 782 = 2*5*75 + 25 + 7; I took exactly the same approach, as did Lily.

Shaun: 782
Crockett: 788
Me: 782
Lily: 782

Scores: Shaun 25 (49), Crockett 7 (13), me 59


Shaun buzzes in with the correct answer in seven seconds.  I paused at this point and attempted to solve it; for a long time I was fixated on INJECTS, but eventually found INJUSTICE somewhere close to the thirty second mark (although I would not be surprised to have been over time on it).  Crockett was revealed to have found JUSTICE by the point Shaun buzzed in, so both contestants would likely have beaten me to the conundrum here.

Shaun: INJUSTICE (7s)
Crockett: [no answer]
Me: [no answer]

Final scores: Shaun 35 (59), Crockett 7 (13), me 59

I'm comfortable with how this game went, although I should have tried MISTEACH.  Hopefully if I ever see it again it will be easier to recall its validity!  A good game for Shaun, who looks in fair shape to make the finals.


Mike Backhouse said...

I come from the future to give my answers.....

x RELOCKING (Grrrr...)
7*(100-50/25)-3=683 (1 off)
(5+6)*75-25+9=809 (1 off)
x MACHOEST (presumably not in Macquarie - ha)
(5*2)*(75+7-4)=780 (2 off)

Geoff Bailey said...

A couple of risky plays, alas. I'd have to say that MACHOEST was too optimistic -- the Macquarie almost never lists -ER or -EST forms for adjectives unless they end in Y. It was good work to notice it, though.

Mike Backhouse said...

It's a fair cop, Geoff....