Thursday, 3 November 2011

Ep 309: Alex van der Kooij, Adrian Lonigro (November 3, 2011)

Rounds: Here.

Alex returns after yesterday's close game; it is revealed that he is a cryptic crossword fan, which must make David happy.  Alex has written guides for people to help them get into the mindset of how to solve cryptic crosswords (distributed to his students at the University of the Third Age, I believe).  Richard mentions David's book Puzzled which also has a similar theme -- I must acquire a copy at some point.

Today's challenger is student teacher Adrian Lonigro, whose ambition is to become a commentator for the Eurovision Song Contest.  He has apparently loved it ever since he first watched it back in 1993 (he was nine at the time), and has watched it every year since, as well as some of the older ones.  He's not been to one in person, but he has attended the Swedish and Danish national finals.

Prior to the second round, Lily mentions that the Eurovision Song Contest is a big event in her family, too, and in fact they have a tradition of filling out a spreadsheet with all of their votes.  In the post-show chat Lily also mentions that her favourite Eurovision character is Epic Sax Guy (part of Moldova's 2010 entry).

This is another close match for Alex, but he was ahead going into the conundrum and solving it sealed his victory over Adrian, 51 to 38.It didn't feel like a very convincing performance from either competitor, though, with six-letter words being the order of the day.

On the other hand, I was not always able to find the better options in time, and with a failure on one numbers round my final score of 65 is perhaps more flattering than it should be.  The highlight here was once again finding a longer word than David, although the reverse happened twice.  No full monty this game, which dooms the grand slam but the Clayton's one is still alive.

As usual, details after the jump.

Round 1: D P H A I E N G O

Not necessarily the easiest mix to do well on, until the G turned up and the mix turned friendlier.  Neither contestant used the -ING to its potential, finding only six-letter words.  As a point of technique here, to get the most out of -ING it's usually better to have only two other vowels, not three.  There are exceptions, of course, but I believe there's much more potential for eight- and nine-letter words with 4 consonants and 2 vowels than with 3 consonants and 3 vowels.  In this case the S would have given the easy eight of HEADINGS.

I was aiming for something different from the third letter on, though, and astonished that the O that I had been willing to appear actually turned up.  I found: PAID, HEAD, PINHEAD, HEADING, and finally DIAPHONE.  So keen was I on this word that I might have chosen vowels for the last two letters in order to get it; a U instead would have the consolation prize of DAUPHINE, also for eight.

Why was I so keen on this?  Because it's one of the long words in the Letters and Numbers example games on David's webpages!  The mix there had an R instead of a G, bringing ORPHANED into play, but I was pleased to spot the potential for DIAPHONE, and very, very happy when it showed up.  Strangely enough, David only finds sevens here, so I can feel extra smug.

Choosing five vowels in this round would have allowed the unlikely full monty of AUDIPHONE, so the potential to keep the streak alive was there.  A shame that it did not play out like that.

Adrian: HINGED

Scores: Alex 0 (6), Adrian 0 (6), me 8

Round 2: S F R U I A T D B

I would have gone against usual policy and chosen a fourth vowel at the end here.  There's some good combining letters, but it's hard for them to meet their potential without that E.  FRUITED, STRAFED, FAIREST, TIRADES, DUSTIER, and SURFEIT would all be available (the first the most obvious, granted).

As it was I struggled a bit, finding FURS, FRUITS, FRAUDS, DRAFTS.  After time I realised that DIS- beginning and found DISTURB, but it took a little while; ADRIFT is another reasonable six, incidentally.  I played with the SUB- beginning, but was not able to see SUBARID at the time.  Another seven that I wish I'd found: BUSTARD.

Adrian: FRUITS

Scores: Alex 6 (12), Adrian 6 (12), me 14

Round 3: Target 222 from 75 8 2 9 2 3

The rest of the numbers are cooperative enough that this isn't crucial, but I want to note some properties of numbers that have the same three digits repeated.  These are all multiples of 111, which is 3*37.  So you can multiply the repeated digit by 3 to find the other factor, in this case 222 = 6*37.  Now, 37 is not the most amenable number to form, but twice 37 is 74, which is very close to 75, and that can be handy to know.  So for the even ones, we know that 74 is a factor, and in this case that 222 = 3*74.  Understanding all this we can now easily find 222 = 3*(75 - 2/2).  This can be seen as just a bit of "tweakage", but knowing it offhand can help to see it more quickly.

Alex and Adrian both declare 222, with Alex having 222 = 3*75 - 2 - (9 - 8).  Adrian has unfortunately used the three twice, and his solution is invalid.  Lily uses the same approach that I did.

Alex: 222
Adrian: [invalid]
Me: 222
Lily: 222

Scores: Alex 16 (22), Adrian 6 (12), me 24

First break: LOSE TRUE ("A certain instrument")

Not too hard to see the musical instrument in that lot, and the answer of RESOLUTE.

David's talk is about magnets, where they came from (which gives them their name) and other uses of the word.

Round 4: E S O I O C L K R

Premature choice of a fourth vowel here, and it limited the options to seven-letter words.  I had COILS, LOCKERS, LOOKERS, ORIOLES.  I stopped noting sevens at that point, in search of an eight, but there are many more.

I am amused by the idea of Shaun popping back to note that RELOCKS is not a word.


Scores: Alex 23 (29), Adrian 13 (19), me 31

Round 5: C S T N E I E M A

The A certainly helped with this mix, so a good result from the fourth vowel this time, sensibly left until the last letter.  I had CENTS / SCENT, MINCES, CASEMENT.  There was one of those niggling feelings in the back of my mind again, which I pinned down after time as being due to SEMANTIC.

There's a bunch of sevens here (CEMENTS, MENACES, CINEMAS, AMNESIC, TENACES, INMATES, MEANIES, MEANEST, etc.) but the contestants only manage sixes (the same one, in fact).  David finds two related eights: CINEASTE (a devotee of the cinema) and MATINEES (which a cineaste might see many of).

Some dictionaries list MENISCATE (like a meniscus), but not the Macquarie, so this was not a case of an overlooked full monty.

Adrian: STANCE

Scores: Alex 23 (35), Adrian 13 (25), me 39

Round 6: Target 977 from 25 10 1 7 7 2

Adrian notes that, as a student teacher, he has to go with the classroom mix of one large and five small numbers.  It produces a troublesomely large total for such a small large number, and all of us fail to get within range.  This was a case where less haste would have served me well; I knew I wanted a multiplier around the high thirties, but didn't stop to compute that I wanted specifically 39.  Instead I started with 7*(7 - 2) for 35, multiplied by 25 to get 875, and realised I was too far away to recover.  With little time left, I was only able to adjust it to 990 = (7 + 1)*(7 - 2)*25 - 10, well outside the scoring range.

A calming breath after time runs out and I see that I want 39, and it falls out easily: 977 = (7*7 - 10)*25 + 2.  Lily, deft as ever, has found this and demonstrates it.

Note that playing with 7*7 is one way to get close, without using the 25: 978 = 2*(7*7*10 - 1).

Alex: [not in range]
Adrian: [not in range]
Me: [not in range]
Lily: 977

Scores: Alex 23 (35), Adrian 13 (25), me 39

Second break: MALT ROPE ("Not your mouth; your brain")

A reference to the TEMPORAL lobe.

Round 7: S C H O I A U W R

Alex calls a fourth vowel early again, presumably hoping for an E.  I think on balance that it would have been better to look for a helpful consonant, and definitely he should have waited on it.  Still, my preferences are well-known at this point.

I was really hoping that an M would show up for one of my (ahem) pet words: MIAOUS.  Alas, no such joy.  Another standby of the E-less mix did, though: CURIOS.  I had CHAOS, AIRSHOW, CURIOS.  After time I added CHORUS, SCORIA, ICHORS, and finally found another seven: CARIOUS (the knowledge of which I can thank Stephen Donaldson for, in Lord Foul's Bane).  I wasn't sure that AIRSHOW was one word (it is), as the AIR- words are a sporadic mix of one-word, two-word, and hyphenated entries.  So I settled for the safe option of CURIOS, which was feeble of me.

Alex and Adrian prove difficult to separate once again, finding the same word.  Meanwhile, David finds another lovely seven: AUROCHS.  Bravo!

Adrian: CHOIRS

Scores: Alex 29 (41), Adrian 19 (31), me 45

Round 8: Target 404 from 100 8 7 2 10 2

Another classroom mix, and a target number very familiar to people these days as the error code for a missing webpage.  With a convenient hundred available, and a factorisation as 4*101, Lily and I easily find 404 = 2*2*(100 + 8 - 7).

Alex declares 407 (one of only four three-digit numbers which are the sum of the cubes of their digits), while Adrian has 405 = 8*100/2 + 7 - 2.  A little "tweakage" on the division would have let him find the alternative solution 404 = (8*100 + 10 - 2)/2.  Or even without those tweaks, 404 = 8*100/2 + 2*7 - 10.  Still, the seven points move him up to just three points behind Alex, and in position to win on the conundrum.

Alex: 407
Adrian: 405
Me: 404
Lily: 404

Scores: Alex 29 (41), Adrian 19 (38), me 55


I see INJECTOR pretty quickly, but my internal monitor notes that this only has one E and stops me buzzing in early.  But with the -JECT- fresh in my mind it's a short step to REJECTION, at the 4-5 second mark.

Alex buzzes in correctly dead on the 15 second mark, and takes his second win, in another close game.  Well done to him!

Alex: REJECTION (15s)
Adrian: [no answer]

Final scores: Alex 29 (51), Adrian 19 (38), me 65

The letters rounds went well again, with just round 2 disappointing (I should have chanced AIRSHOW in round 7).  The missed numbers round was a shame; I definitely should have done better than that.  All in all, an adequate game but not great.

1 comment:

Mike Backhouse said...

Lily's way
MANIC and MINCES just after time
(7-2-1)*(10*25-7)=972 (5 off)
Lily's way