Thursday, 3 November 2011

Ep 308: Nick Terry, Alex van der Kooij (November 2, 2011)

Rounds: Here.

Nick is back for his fourth time, remarking that last night's very close game against James was a heart-stopper.

Challenging Nick today is octogenarian Alex van der Kooij, who teaches at the University of the Third Age.

A close match for the contestants tonight, coming down to a difficult conundrum that neither was able to solve. With Nick having fallen a little behind -- he must be ruing that second numbers game -- Alex took the victory by 42 to 35, leaving Nick with a four-game total of 217.  It's a bit thin, but it might possibly get him to the finals.

This was a good game for me, managing to find two words longer than David's selections.  With a perfect turn on the numbers, it's one of the very rare instances where I might possibly have outpointed him in a head-to-head match.  It was certainly a comfortable victory over both contestants.

As usual, details after the jump.

Round 1: H C R A E I S T U

Just prior to starting this round I read an email which mentioned a full monty somewhere in this game.  I think that threw me a little, trying too hard for a nine and not adequately taking care of the sevens to be found.  Fortunately it turned out to be in this round (I didn't get it in time), and I was able to settle down thereafter.

It was a very promising mix of letters, although I was willing that final vowel to be an O for CHAROITES -- a word that turned up early in the first season.  But it was a U instead, and I floundered, with ARCH, REACH, and... SCRATCH.  Oh, dear, I invented a second C and finished with an invalid selection.  (Maybe I could have declared REACH, but it wouldn't have scored in any case.)  The clock runs out, and about ten seconds of thinking time later I find EUCHARIST, a full monty that turned up not so long ago, in the last days of season three.  Oh, well.

Reviewing the letters, I find some of the sixes and sevens: CRUETS / TRUCES, CRUISE, SCATHE / CHASTE, wondered about CHASTER -- Alex selects this, a little unsure, and David points out the single-syllable rule meaning that it is automatically valid; I should have noticed that -- and then HIRSUTE and AITCHES.

A computer search turns up some more sevens and a few eights: HASTIER, RICHEST, CURATES were all very findable, and CHARIEST and HAIRCUTS would have been excellent finds.

Me: [invalid]

Scores: Nick 0, Alex 7, me 0

Round 2: N D M O E I A W R

I'm behind, but determined to catch up.  The mix starts with DEMON, DAEMON / MOANED, and when an I joins the mix I wonder if DEMONISE will make another appearance.  The W brings WOMAN onto the table as a possible suffix, and when the R turns up I ponder the merits of AIRWOMEN.  I'm certain that AIRMAN / AIRMEN are listed, but I'm also aware that there are relatively few instances where the female equivalents of -MAN words are given.  However, I seem to recall that I'd already looked this up some time ago and found it, so I put my chips onto AIRWOMEN and am pleased that later checking shows my recollection to be correct.

I'll note in passing that MINORED looks tempting (e.g., "I majored in computer science and minored in mathematics"), but irritatingly the Macquarie does not list minor or major as verbs so it would not be allowed.  (At least, that is my reading; the phrase "minor in" is listed, but words need to stand alone to be acceptable.)  I'd encountered this before, so I knew to avoid it.

I kept searching, hoping for an eight that would be safer than AIRWOMEN, but the only other word I wrote down in time was MAIDEN. 

David surprises me by sticking with a seven, but it's a nice one: MORAINE.  Some other possible sevens showed up in the very similar mix from a week ago (round one of episode 303, which had another E instead of the M but was otherwise identical): DOWNIER and ANEROID.  With the M, salad fanciers might find ROMAINE (an anagram of MORAINE), which is a US term for cos lettuce, but is also a type of fabric.  And a personal favourite because of the potential to use up awkward vowels: MIAOWED.  (Actually, it's the variant spelling MIAOU that I usually recall -- the potential has been there a few times to use it when no E has been forthcoming.)


Scores: Nick 0 (6), Alex 7 (13), me 8

Round 3: Target 955 from 50 100 1 9 3 6

Richard tries to entice Nick into choosing a different assortment, but he sticks with two large and four small.  When the target is revealed Richard comments that "it's a big one" and I have Carry On flashbacks.

I overcomplicated things here, quickly finding 955 = 6*(100 + 50 + 9) + 1.  I then simplified it slightly to 955 = 9*(100 + 6) + 1, and with time to spare found the third solution that everyone else used: 955 = 9*100 + 50 + 6 - 1.

Nick: 955
Alex: 955
Me: 955
Lily: 955

Scores: Nick 10 (16), Alex 17 (23), me 18

First break: TOE VILLA ("Unpredictable roof covering")

The clue indicates a TILE fragment pretty clearly, but I had to write down the letters before I saw VOLATILE as the answer.  First time this season.

David's talk is about Papua New Guinea pidgin, and some of the lovely words to be found in it.

Round 4: L N R U E O G I P

Another case of four vowels being selected, and while I generally disfavour that, hunting after the I was certainly tempting.  (And besides, it's given long words so far, and will continue to do so, so I guess I can't take too much issue with it this time.)

With -ING in play it's no surprise that there's sixes and sevens about.  I had RUNE, LONER, RULING, POURING (I overlooked LOURING at the time), PLUNGER, and PLEURON (it's a plate in part of an insect's thorax).  Eights seem elusive, but some sevens that I missed are PURLING, LOUNGER, and GROUPIE.

Nick adds more fuel to my "has trouble with -ING" theory; sadly he didn't get to go second, as he amusingly notes that his word is LONGER.


Scores: Nick 10 (22), Alex 17 (29), me 25

Round 5: L F D A E A K R I

Once again the fourth vowel frees things up here, opening up comparatives although there's really only one that matters.  I found FADE, LARKED (which I see that I miswrote as the invalid LARKER; just as well I had longer words to declare!), FAKIR, FAKIE (it's a skateboarding manoeuvre), FLAKIER, and wondering about AIRDALE (a mis-spelling of AIREDALE, which is capitalised in any case) put me on the right track to see a word that almost cropped up three episodes ago (round 7 of episode 305): FAIRLEAD.

It still doesn't seem to be part of David's vocabulary, and he sticks with the same seven that Alex has.  Nick stumbles here, only able to find a five, which puts him crucially further behind.  There's another interesting seven here: KRAALED.  (KRAAL is an Afrikaans equivalent to CORRAL, it seems, that has apparently merited inclusion.)


Scores: Nick 10 (22), Alex 17 (36), me 33

Round 6: Target 879 from 25 100 8 5 10 5

Once again I overcomplicate the numbers, and recover in time to get to the answer.  My first spot is that 879 is very close to 875, which is 5*175 or 7*125 -- it's an occasionally handy combination that is formable from two larges and a small.  I manage to incorrectly fuse the two, trying for 5*(100 + 25) + 8*5/10, which would be only 629.  Fortunately I catch myself, and after being unable to repair it I switch tacks and find the straightforward 879 = 8*(100 + 10) - 5/5.

Neither contestant has anything to declare, which really surprises me.  With 800 there to be built from it should have been very findable to at least get to 875 or 880.  e.g., 880 = 8*(100 + 10), 880 = 10*(100 - 25 + 5 + 8), 875 = (8 + 5/5)*100 - 25, etc.  If Nick had just found any of these he would have been level in the conundrum round and might yet have prevailed.

Lily is perfectly on touch again, finding the solution above.

Nick: [not in range]
Alex: [not in range]
Me: 879
Lily: 879

Scores: Nick 10 (22), Alex 17 (36), me 43

Second break: CLUE PAIR ("Oddly, doesn't tell the truth")

Another case where I have to write the letters down before I see it: PECULIAR.

Round 7: T M R T E O I C O

Here I think a consonant would have been a better final choice after all, with a few potential eights.  But an A would certainly lead to easier-to-find sevens (and one eight: AMORETTI), so maybe Nick was aiming for something in particular.  Given that his six could have an A appended to it, that's entirely possible.

I found TERM, COTTER, METRIC, TOTEMIC.  After time I added TRICOT to the mix, but didn't see a word that David has used several times before, albeit with a different spelling: MORTICE.  (For that matter, there was only one S this entire game, which seems a little unusual.)


Scores: Nick 10 (28), Alex 17 (42), me 50

Round 8: Target 565 from 100 75 1 7 9 8

Nick needs to outscore Alex on this round and get the conundrum to win the game.  Both contestants declare 564, but Alex gives Nick a reprieve by having made an error, and Nick's 564 = 75*8 - 100 + 7*9 + 1 keeps him in contention.

I really wanted to be able to use 7*8*9 = 504 somehow (just one of those things I remember), but it wasn't the mix for it.  Instead, I went with 565 = 9*(75 - 1) - 100 - (8 - 7).  With some time left for experimentation I also found 565 = 8*(75 + 7) + 9 - 100.

Lily shows how to tweak Alex's aborted start of 7*75 = 525 into a solution: 565 = (75 + 8 - 1)*7 - 9.

Nick: 564
Alex: [invalid]
Me: 565
Lily: 565

Scores: Nick 10 (35), Alex 17 (42), me 60


A must-win conundrum for Nick, and it's a tough one: No E, only three vowels, and the consonants don't mix that well.  No-one finds the answer in time, and I start my own clock for overtime.  After 27 seconds (plus time taken to manipulate the clock) I find the answer: THUMBNAIL.  I'm not sure I approve of reusing the MB combination; I might have gone with ALBUM HINT instead.  But nothing wrong with a little help on a tough conundrum, I guess.

Nick: [no answer]
Alex: [no answer]
Me: [no answer]

Final scores: Nick 10 (35), Alex 17 (42), me 60

So that's it for Nick, with scores of 71, 46, 55, 35 and a total of 217.  Two decent aggregates for the first two champions of the season; let's see if Alex can keep up this performance.

For my part, this was an excellent game for me, with 7 rounds going as well as they possibly could. (And to repeat myself, two of them better than David, which I'm obviously chuffed about; if you happen to end up reading this somehow, David, I only harp about it because it's such a very rare occurrence -- your mastery of words always impresses.)

David now has four full monties from the three games this week, putting him in good stead to get the Claytons grand slam (five in a week) or perhaps the elusive grand slam (one each day of the week).  I'll certainly be watching with interest, and I hope you will be too.


Mike Backhouse said...

(7-1)*(100-8)+9=561 (4 off)

Trevor Halsall said...

Bit surprised in 1 since I thought Eucharist is capitalised. There is a flower called a eucharis.
In 4, PURLOIN is a nice word.

Geoff Bailey said...

Yes, PURLOIN is a nice word lurking in round four. As for EUCHARIST, it is given as acceptable to lowercase it in a generic sense of "a giving of thanks". That was a surprise to me, too, when it first turned up on the show!