Monday, 31 October 2011

Ep 306: Nick Terry, Hannah Marshall (October 31, 2011)

Rounds: Here.

In the initial chat tonight, David mentions the wonderful Free Rice website, which provides simple games to test and improve one's knowledge in vocabulary, basic mathematics, geography, and various other topics.  For every correct answer they will donate ten grains of rice through the World Food Programme to help end hunger, so it's educational and charitable.  Strongly recommended to spend some time there.

Nick Terry returns for his second game; Richard asks him what the process of learning to fly was like.  Nick says that it was quite a challenge, but the real magical moment for him was his first solo flight -- taking off was easy, but once up there he realised that there was only one person who could land it again.

Today's challenger is litigation lawyer Hannah Marshall, who is also a keen surfer.  Her husband surfs as well, and actually proposed to her when they were both out on the surf.  It's stated that the ring was tied very securely!

It was an awkward start to this game for me, thanks to a misheard letter (more about that shortly). It was a good game for David, with two full monties to be found, although neither are ones I'd have been comfortable risking (assuming that I had even seen them).  The advantage of having the dictionary to hand!

Hannah keeps relatively close to Nick in score, but a couple of rounds where all she can find are five-letter words leave her adrift and she can't make up the lost ground (if you'll pardon the mixed metaphor), fizzling out to a 33 to 46 loss.

I'm happy with my performance in the letters rounds this time (modulo that mishearing), but definitely should have done better in one of the numbers rounds.  Still, a comfortable victory for me.

As usual, details after the jump.

Round 1: B R L A I S O G E

My found words are going to seem odd here; that's because I heard the S as an F, and did not check the board for confirmation.  I'm mildly peeved by this, actually -- I've listened to it several times, and each time it sounds like an F.  The other times that an S crops up this game it sounds like an S.  The Countdown equivalents to Lily (Carol Vorderman, Rachel Riley) generally put a little extra emphasis on letters that might be misheard (such as S/F and N/M) to highlight the distinguishing sound, and I can't help but feel that is a good thing.  That said, the letters are clearly displayed throughout, so I certainly should have coped.

Anyway... RAIL, FRAIL, and I recall hoping that an E would be found for the last so that I could get FOLIAGE.  It was, and that was the best I could do.  A little extra thought turned up FRAGILE, and OBLIGER (that OB- beginning again!), and I recall thinking that I wished that F were an S so that I could have SERAGLIO.

Both contestants declared sevens, which surprised me a bit since I thought they would struggle with that mix.  And then they both used an S in their words, taking me aback completely.  A quick check of the board showed that yes, I had misheard that letter, and my selection was invalid.  Restarting with the S in place, I found RAIL, RAILS, BROILS, BOILERS, OBLIGES, BROLGAS, SERAGLIO, OBLIGERS.  Some later checking turned up an interesting anagram of SERAGLIO: GASOLIER, a chandelier for gas-lamps.  Would I have found one of the eights in time?  I don't know.  But certainly at least a seven.  (As an aside: Sevens are the best possible with an F instead of the S.)

David notes that Scrabble players are familiar with this mix where you have GALORES (not in the Macquarie, incidentally) or GAOLERS, and by adding in that I you can get SERAGLIO.

Me: [invalid]

Scores: Nick 7, Hannah 7, me 0

Round 2: W P C U E S D A H

On the back foot after that one, an unhelpful mix seems unlikely to improve matters.  PUCE, PUCES, CAUSED / SAUCED, CHASED, CASHEW, PHASED, SHAPED... lots of sixes here, but no seven in sight.  Hannah unexpectedly stumbles with only a five-letter word, however, and drops back a touch.

Hannah: SHADE

Scores: Nick 13, Hannah 7, me 6

Round 3: Target 999 from 25 75 8 8 4 5

The target is a big one here -- the biggest it can be, in fact, as Richard remarks a few times.  The obvious approach is to get to a thousand and subtract the one, and with those eights in sight I start off by contemplating 1000 = 8*125.  Sadly the two large numbers are not directly conducive to getting 125, and with time running out I give up on preserving the 4,5 or 8,8 combinations, and scrawl down 1000 = (25 + 75)*5*8/4.

With a little more time I realise that I could have easily saved both eights and got there by using 50 instead of 100 thusly: 999 = 4*5*(75 - 25) - 8/8.  Alternatively, I could have gained that 125 after all, leading to the solution 999 = 8*(8*25 - 75) - (5 - 4).

Surprisingly Nick got nowhere, and Hannah demonstrates a different route to 1000: 1000 = (5 + 8)*75 + 25.

Lily, of course, gets to 999, using the first of the two methods shown above.

Nick: [not in range]
Hannah: 1000
Me: 1000
Lily: 999

Scores: Nick 13, Hannah 14, me 13

First break: CLAP NINE ("Once you're here, there's nowhere higher to go")

A straightforward PINNACLE.

David's talk is about the word 'burl', particularly in the colloquial sense of 'having a go'.

Round 4: N C S R E U O F T

Hannah selects a very friendly mix, and I'm feeling back in good shape again even if they match me.  CURES, OUNCES (bypassing ONCERS; I didn't see it at the time), and then the T made things very friendly indeed with TROUNCES / COUNTERS / RECOUNTS.  After time, I added FORTUNES, FUNCTORS, FRUCTOSE to the list of eights.  For a change, I saw the FORE- possibility, but it didn't seem to lead to a long word.  I did, however, overlook the CON- beginning.

David finds a nine here, one of the -ER class of words that are sometimes risky.

Hannah: FOSTER

Scores: Nick 13 (19), Hannah 14 (20), me 21

Round 5: R L D E I E M O S

Reasonable letters here, but not quite as nice as the previous ones.  Still, now that I'm in front my confidence is good and I find: RILED, ELDER, EIDER, SELDOM / MODELS, SMOLDER (a bit speculative, but I'd be willing to risk it -- I've discovered that the Macquarie has a lot of the American spellings listed as acceptable variants, and it does allow this as it turns out), wondered about MODELERS (wouldn't risk it, and rightly so; the Macquarie demands the doubled L) but happily saw that REMODELS was an anagram and a safe eight.  After time, also noted SOLDIER (a frequent appearer in this game) and MELODIES.

Once again the contestants stick with sixes, and David finds another nine-letter word, although he freely admits this was a case of needing the dictionary for confirmation.

Hannah: MILDER

Scores: Nick 13 (25), Hannah 14 (26), me 29

Round 6: Target 932 from 100 50 4 1 3 10

Hannah tries for an easy mix, but the target is large and just a little awkward.  She gets to 936, just four away, but Nick's 934 = 10*100 - 50 - (3+1)*4 is two away and gets the points.

I'd taken a leaf from Lily's book, and aimed to get close by using a multiple of 10, which got me one better than Nick with 931 = (100 - 4 - 3)*10 + 1.  I was unable to get to the target, though, and this is one of those rare occasions where Lily is also unable to get there in time.  But she has a think, and after the break finds what turns out to be the only solution: 932 = 10*100 - (50 + 1)*4 / 3.  (She could make it mildly easier to compute by doing the division before the multiplication, but it's the same thing.)

Nick: 934
Hannah: 936
Me: 931

Scores: Nick 13 (32), Hannah 14 (26), me 36

Second break: MINE SPEC ("Make an example of males")

The presence of SPEC makes this easy: SPECIMEN.  I think I'd have gone with IMP SCENE if I were creating this one.

Round 7: R T N I E A H R U

Some nice letters to start out, but it goes a bit astray with the H.  Still, I'd have chosen a consonant rather than another vowel -- surely it opens up more possibilities than the vowel does.

If one of the Rs had been a G we could have seen a repeat of one of the season one games, almost.  In the game I'm thinking of, rounds 4 and 5 had also turned up full monties (with the contestants finding the one in round 4), and then that mix provided NAUGHTIER for a third in a row, and a very high score of 95 for Andrew Fisher, who went on to win season one.

Anyway... INTER, RETAIN, ANTHER, TERRAIN, HAUNTER (wasn't sure about this, but later checking reveals that it is valid), UNEARTH.  The video was stuttering really badly at this point; I wish SBS would get a more reliable content delivery service because none of the other TV stations have this kind of failure to buffer the streaming data, and it's really annoying.  So I had to guess at when time ran out, but TERRAIN was definitely found before the U went up so no worries about the time limits there.

Afterwards, added a few more sevens to the mix: URETHRA, HAIRNET, TAURINE / URINATE.

Hannah can only find a five-letter word in this round, and slips more than ten points behind as a consequence.  So she'll have to make up ground on the numbers if she's to have a chance.

Hannah: HEART

Scores: Nick 20 (39), Hannah 14 (26), me 43

Round 8: Target 138 from 25 75 100 6 5 3

Hannah deviates from the standard choice, going with three and three.  I think this was a good idea, but sadly it didn't pay out for her as she and Nick both end up one off with 139 = 100 + 25 + 6 + 5 + 3.  The hard part here was the minor adjustment of 13 needed from 125, but it's easier to get 12 away from 150: 138 = 100 + 75 - 25 - 6*(5 - 3).

I went along similar lines to the contestants at first, but couldn't see how to get the 13.  So I switched to using 75 as a base, and found 138 = (5 - 3)*(75 - 6), which is a slight variant of the 12-away-from-150 approach.

Some consideration afterwards shows how to get that 13, and Lily had the same solution: 138 = 100 + 25 + 6*3 - 5.

Nick: 139
Hannah: 139
Me: 138
Lily: 138

Scores: Nick 20 (46), Hannah 14 (33), me 53


I was a bit slow off the mark here -- I got sidetracked checking DISBELIEVE to see if it could be massaged somehow -- but found the -IBLE ending and the answer after 6-7 seconds.  Neither contestant was able to find it in time, as it turns out.

Nick: [no answer]
Hannah: [no answer]

Final scores: Nick 20 (46), Hannah 14 (33), me 63

So a comfortable win to me, after that stumbling block of the first round.  The letters went well -- even if I didn't find SERAGLIO in time, it was on my radar, so to speak -- and the full monties were obscure enough that I'm content not to have found them.  I should have gotten the 999, though; once again its the numbers that need some work.


Mike Backhouse said...

5*8*25=1000 (1 off)
SMILED and after time RESILED
(10-1)*(100+4)-3=931 (1 off)
contestant's way (1 off) and just after time 100+75-25-(6*(5-3))=138

Trevor Halsall said...

138 can also be found via 6 x 23, where 23 is 100/25 x5 + 3.

Geoff Bailey said...

A very nice solution, Trevor!