Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Ep 312: Colin Jones, Natasha Podesser (November 8, 2011)

Rounds: Here.

Colin Jones returns for his second game, and we find out that he is quite the keen traveller; so far, he's visited 39 different countries!  Asked what has "scored the highest", he responds that he has been to Africa twice, and most recently to Botswana before the world cup soccer.  He found it beautiful, and makes specific mention of the Okavango Delta and Chobe National Park.

In the challenger's seat today is Natasha Podesser, a university student majoring in criminology and Indonesian.  Richard asks where she thinks that her interest in criminology and law enforcement will take her; she's not sure yet, maybe forensics or corrections.  When queried about how Indonesian ties in, Natasha remarks that she's hoping that she'll find something that she's actually interested in during her university study.  Certainly university is the place to do that.

I recognise the signs of a Scrabble player, and settle in for a difficult game.  Natasha manages an early lead over Colin, but despite him declaring an invalid word she can't quite shake him; then she stumbles on the later numbers rounds to put him back in contention.  Colin ends up only one point behind at the conundrum, and a very quick answer gives him the victory, 56 to 47.

This was almost a perfect game for me; I missed one letters round (I was writing down the eight as time ran out), and was ever-so-fractionally behind Colin on the conundrum.  Superior results on the numbers games saw me comfortably home despite that, and again it's possible that I would have beaten David in a head-to-head, depending on his numbers performance.  That's a few good games in a row for me, so I'm happy.

As usual, details after the jump.

Round 1: E I W G P M D E S

We start with a mismatched set but fortunately the last three letters smooth it out some.  I had WIG, WIPE, WIMP, wondered about WIMPED (not valid, as it turns out), SWIPED, and IMPEDES.  Everyone else finds IMPEDES also, and it's a flat round first up.

Another seven to be found is WEDGIES, and surprisingly there's an eight in this mix: PIGWEEDS.

Natasha: IMPEDES

Scores: 7 apiece

Round 2: N A M E S R I T O

No-one would be too challenged to find a five in this mix, as Richard notes; to be perverse, I wrote down MEANS instead.  Then MARINES, and when the T showed up we had a retsina mix again.  No challenge to find the eights here, using the M for MINARETS, or the O for NOTARIES / NOTARISE / SENORITA.  I also found ROMANISE in time, a word David likes, but there was no nine to be had.

As a Scrabble player, Natasha is surely familiar with this mix, and it is no surprise that she has MINARETS.  Colin only has MOANERS, so falls behind.

Choosing that final vowel was surely the way to go, with an A leading to MARINATES (or ANIMATERS), a U giving RUMINATES (or ANTISERUM), and even an E yielding a more obscure nine with ANTIMERES.  Sadly it was not to be.

There's far too many sevens here to list; some other eights worth noting are MORAINES, MASONITE, and ATOMISER / AMORTISE.


Scores: Colin 7, Natasha 15, me 15

Round 3: Target 507 from 100 6 5 3 10 1

Colin sticks with the one large and five small option that has served him well so far.  It turns up a very easy target and everyone finds 507 = 5*100 + 6 + 1 in short order, then the contestants sit there looking at each other while they wait for the time to run out.

Colin: 507
Natasha: 507
Me: 507
Lily: 507

Scores: Colin 17, Natasha 25, me 25

First break: BOOT GANG ("Arctic mode of transport")

Nothing too troublesome about finding TOBOGGAN from that clue.

David's final talk on rhyming slang covers two phrases for being alone: "On your Pat", and "On your Tod".  These are derived, respectively, from Major Sir Patrick Malone and Tod Sloan.

Round 4: R E T X A D E C L

Natasha was trying her best to get David a full monty -- a final T would have given EXTRACTED -- but is foiled for the second time.  I find EXTRA, TREAD, EXACTED, CREATED, REACTED, RELAXED, and a little after time I can add DECLARE.

Sevens are the order of the day, but there were two missed eights here: EXCRETAL, and DECRETAL (both an adjective -- "relating to decrees" -- and a noun: "a papal document authoritatively determining some point of doctrine or church law"). 

Natasha: CLEARED

Scores: Colin 24, Natasha 32, me 32

Round 5: N H G T O U R L E

Once the vowels arrive getting sevens is easy enough, but again nothing longer.  Some good high scoring from the words this game; just a shame that the nine has failed to materialise.  THONG, NOUGHT, TROUGH, TOUGHER were all I had in time.  In post-time thinking I spot an unusual seven that I saw recently on a Countdown episode: LUTHERN, a dormer window.

Colin errs here, coming up with a term that is probably familiar from his everyday work, but requires a second E and would be two words in any case: EN ROUTE.  Dropping 15 points behind could be a problem, as we've no real idea yet how Natasha does on the numbers.

David follows up the RELAXED vibe from last round with LOUNGER.

Colin: [invalid]
Natasha: ROUGHEN

Scores: Colin 24, Natasha 39, me 39

Round 6: Target 877 from 75 2 3 6 9 2

Getting to 900 and working down is pretty clear -- the difference is 23, and if one is only aiming for close to the target that is easy enough: 876 = 12*75 - 2*12, where the two twelves are 2*6 and 9+3 in some order.  Or a little tweaking gives 876 = 12*(75 - 2).  Finding that final adjustment by 1 needs a little more thought, though; I did it with 877 = 2*(6*75 - 9) - 2 - 3.

While writing this up I've found a more complicated alternative: 877 = 2*(6*(75 - 3) + 2) + 9.

Perhaps the large target threw Natasha or she wasn't comfortable with the 75 times tables, as she says she was nowhere close to it.  Colin is two away with 875 = 6*2*75 - 3*9 + 2, which gives him 7 points and puts him back within striking distance.  A little tweaking of his solution would have gotten him to the target: 877 = 2*(6*75 + 2) - 3*9.

Lily says that this round was "super tricky", which I think overstates it a little although I'll grant that it's not that easy, and demonstrates the same solution as I had.

Colin: 875
Natasha: [not in range]
Me: 877
Lily: 877

Scores: Colin 24 (31), Natasha 39, me 49

Second break: SEMI HOOT ("A fruity, charming person")

I'm completely lost on this one -- the first teaser to stump me this season.  The answer is SMOOTHIE.

Round 7: S B I O A R D F E

This one was very close; I found BIAS, BRAIDS, RADIOS, BRAISED, FORBADE, FORBIDS, and just before time ran out the BROADIES / BOARDIES combination.  (I would have tried the latter -- I'd just gotten the first two letters down when time ran out.  So close!)  If I'd seen and written down BOARD / BROAD early on I might have found those earlier, which is part of the reason I like to write down smaller words even if they are very unlikely to count.

Neither contestant is very sure here (I wouldn't have been either, to be honest), with Natasha trying BROADIES while Colin goes for BOARDIES, remarking that he lives next to a beach.  Both are valid colloquialisms, and now my lead is slender.

It's worth noting another seven that has come on several occasions (I've yet to find it, mind you, but one day I will): FEDORAS.  And adding the I into that gives another eight that we've seen recently: FORESAID.  Once again I overlooked the FORE- beginning.  Bother.


Scores: Colin 32 (39), Natasha 47, me 49

Round 8: Target 744 from 75 50 100 8 7 1

Natasha switches things up with three large and three small, but I think she might have been better off strategically by aiming for an easy numbers game to take a sizeable lead into the conundrum round.  Still, I like contestants who are willing to move away from the standard number choices, so good on her.  (And it would have been the wrong strategy, so it just goes to show what I know.)

Sadly it doesn't pay off, as she is unable to get within range (just outside it, apparently), while Colin gets another seven points for being five off with 749 = (8 + 7)*50 - 1.  From that point of view Natasha's choice was arguably correct -- all she needed to find was something better, such as the easy 743 = 7*100 + 50 - 8 + 1 and she'd have had an unbeatable lead going into the conundrum round.  Close!

I was determined to preserve the (7 - 1) to get the final 6 from 750, and found 744 = 8*75 + 100 + 50 - (7 - 1).  That's a bit more complicated than 744 = 8*100 - 50 - (7 - 1), but it got the job done.  With time left to play I experiment with coming down from 800, and realise that the offset of 56 yields the elegantly simple 744 = 8*(100 - 7).

Lily demonstrates this latter solution, surprising everyone with its shortness as they expect her to add more calculation to it.

Colin: 749
Natasha: [not in range]
Me: 744
Lily: 744

Scores: Colin 32 (46), Natasha 47, me 59


Natasha is just barely ahead of Colin going into the conundrum round, while I'm fortunately uncatchable.  The Q is a giant signpost to the answer, and I buzz in pretty much straight on that mark.  Just as the video pauses, though, I hear the first sounds of the buzzer -- Colin just barely beat me to it!  Unpausing, I see that Natasha flinch-presses the button in response, although whether she'd seen the answer or that was reflex was unclear.  (That is, she says afterwards that she'd seen it, and I believe her -- where I think the grey area is is in whether she'd made the decision to press when she did, or whether doing so was the response to the sound.  It would only be a difference of a fraction of a second in any case; it's just fun to speculate about.)

Colin: LIQUIDATE (2s)
Natasha: [no answer]

Scores: Colin 42 (56), Natasha 47, me 59

With that lightning fast solution, Colin survives to play another day.  Very much a case of what might have been for Natasha, and my sympathies to her on a narrow loss in a very well-played game.  I admit that I feel a bit disappointed when a game comes down to a fast conundrum like that -- it feels less like a test of wordsmithing and more a matter of physical reaction time, and that's not what the show is about.

(To muse further on this point: Being able to quickly see words is a skill worth testing; it's the case where the word is so obvious to both contestants that it becomes a physical rather than mental matter that I find dissatisfying.  The dividing line between the two is rather thin, alas.)

1 comment:

Mike Backhouse said...

SPEWED (sorry...)
6*2*(75-2)=876 (1 off)
(8+100/50)*75-7+1=744 (different to those solutions identified)