Friday, 11 November 2011

Ep 315: Michael Nichols, Peter Crop (November 11, 2011)

Rounds: Here.

On Michael's second night we learn that he developed some of his number skills on car journeys while looking at the number plates on other cars, and finding the prime factors of the numbers on them.  David's equivalent is finding anagrams in street signs, and I can relate to both activities.

Tonight's challenger is another I.T. student, Peter Crop.  He is described as a "trivia aficianado", and likes to think that he does well.  His best categories are geography, history, sport, and music, particularly 70's music trivia.  Asked for an example of the latter, he comes up with the following: Which musician was born Chaim Weitz, and with which band is he associated?"  This stumps Richard and David, and they are interested to learn that the answer is Gene Simmons from KISS.

The game is a relatively high-scoring one for both contestants, starting out even in the first three rounds.  Then Michael falls behind in the remaining letters rounds, and with the numbers rounds not posing enough challenge he cannot come back; he finds the conundrum and gets to the half-century, but Peter is the victor with a scoreline of 61 points to 50.

I missed the longest word in one round, but otherwise did as well as feasible.  With Peter also doing well, though, that miss meant that a conundrum solve would give him a win.  With the evidence suggesting that he was good at word-finding, I nervously buzzed in early before double-checking what I thought I'd seen, and was relieved that I was correct.  So another win to round out the week, and a reassuring result after yesterday's effort.

As usual, details after the jump.

Round 1: M I T O D R E I G

OMIT, MITRED, TIDIER... several other sixes, but I was unable to find a seven.  After time I add MIDGET, GOITRE (making another appearance), and EDITOR.  No surprise to know that I'd have gone for a sixth consonant instead; the T instead of that I would at least have given a few sevens.

No-one can better six, and we start off the game completely even.  There is one seven, though; not TIMIDER -- which would be allowed in the UK version but is not listed in the Macquarie -- but another of those minerals: DIORITE.

Michael: GOITRE

Scores: 6 apiece

Round 2: T H R A E U L N O

Again that fourth vowel drops the word length by one.  I'd hoped the final letter would be a G for LAUGHTER, but it was not to be.  The S it would have been converts most sevens to eights, though.

Anyway... HART, HEART / EARTH, UNEARTH, LUTHERN.  I saw the OUT-beginning, but couldn't do anything with it; some dictionaries list OUTHEAR, but not the Macquarie and it's still seven in any case.

Both contestants declare ENTHRAL, and I see that I have fallen victim to Americanisations again as I expected it to need two L's.  Shame on me!  David jokes that there is "another seven: ANOTHER".  A futher two sevens are NEUTRAL (that NEU- beginning is occasionally useful, but I do struggle with seeing it) and a repeat of a recent find from David: ETHANOL.

(LUTHERAN still has its capital, according to the Macquarie, so that's not a valid eight.)

Michael: ENTHRAL

Scores: 13 apiece

Round 3: Target 177 from 50 100 75 3 9 10

Michael repeats his three-and-three choice, but unfortunately it produces an easy target.  Everyone sees that 100 + 75 = 175, and it's just a question of finding the other 2.  I have a brief moment of confusion, but then find 177 = 100 + 75 + (3 + 9 - 10).  Looking for alternatives, I also note that 177 = 3*(50 + 9).

Michael and Lily use the same solution as my first one, but Peter has another way to get that offset of 2: 177 = 100 + 75 + 50/10 - 3.  So after three rounds, everyone has scored the same and it has the makings of a very close game.

Michael: 177
Peter: 177
Me: 177
Lily: 177

Scores: 23 apiece

First break: AMPLY TIE ("Opening night at the theatre")

Not that hard to find PLAYTIME in that mix.

David's talk is about a Japanese word that he recently was told by a friend: Hikikomori, referring to extreme social withdrawal.

Round 4: S T J A E E R L S

Aside from the J, it's helpful letters.  I find SATE, EASE, TEASE, TEASER, TEASERS, SALTERS, and TESSERA (recently encountered in a puzzle of the SUMS Puzzle Hunt -- it doesn't look it, but TESSERA is singular, and means an individual tile in a mosaic).  Hoping to use the -LESS I flirt with RATELESS, but sensibly decide against it.  In extra time I find a use for the J with JESTERS, and contemplate TEARLESS; although I was dubious about it, it is listed, so that's an eight.

Peter takes the points with another eight, though: STEALERS.  That's one I feel that I should have seen, but I was never close to forming words based on STEAL / LEAST / etc., while I imagine it was one of the first things that David ASTLE saw.

Michael: JESTERS

Scores: Michael 23, Peter 31, me 23

Round 5: P N I A M U T F E

Being eight points behind at the halfway mark is going to make it difficult to get safe by the time the conundrum comes around.  I spot a word here that I think gives me a chance of making up some ground, though, and it does.  In succession: PAIN, MAIN, IMPUTE, and PETUNIA.  I also find FAMINE in extra time, and later searching turns up another two sevens: PINETUM (an arboretum of pines) and the esoteric PUTAMEN (with the interesting plural of PUTAMINA), which harks back to one of David's finds in previous games as it is "a hard or stony endocarp".  I've seen this word played in Countdown, but not enough to recall it this time, sadly.

Michael drops further behind Peter, and he's going to need helpful numbers to catch up.

Michael: FAINT (or FEINT -- we don't find out which it was)

Scores: Michael 23, Peter 31 (37), me 30

Round 6: Target 750 from 50 100 6 4 5 9

Peter sticks with a safe mix, and gets a very easy target for those numbers.  It's moments like these that drive home how the challenger has the advantage of being able to control two numbers rounds late in the game, while the champion only has one, and that one early on.  Of all possible adjustments to the format, I think it's this asymmetry that I'd most like to change.

Getting back to those numbers, I find 750 = 5*(100 + 50) before time starts.  I fiddle around with alternatives, also getting 750 = (6 + 5 - 4)*100 + 50, and a little after time 750 = (6 + 9)*50.  This is the solution that Lily uses, while both contestants use the first of those I listed.

Michael: 750
Peter: 750
Me: 750
Lily: 750

Scores: Michael 33, Peter 41 (47), me 40

Second break: LOST TUBA ("Often found in Lily's workings")

A straight clue for SUBTOTAL.

Round 7: C G A E T S A D O

As the letters get called I am expecting to see a familiar word: CAGIEST.  But the I stays away, so instead I have: CAGE, GATE, CAGES, GATES / STAGE, AGATES, DOTAGE, DOTAGES (I wasn't completely certain this was OK, but it is), and COASTED.  I pondered COASTAGE, but that was more wishful thinking than anything else, so I stuck with the seven.

Michael drops out of contention as his well-spotted six of CADETS is beaten by Peter's seven.  I can't possibly pull far enough away from Peter now, so the conundrum is going to matter.

Michael: CADETS

Scores: Michael 33, Peter 48 (54), me 47

Round 8: Target 339 from 100 50 2 10 3 6

Peter selects another "family mix", presumably hoping for another easy set.  That would mean I'd have to actually win the conundrum, which is further pressure.  Still, I think this one looks a little tricky, so I hope to take a lead as I find 339 = 3*(100 + 2 + 6 + 50/10).

Both contestants get one off (in different directions) with essentially similar approaches, confirming my expectations.  Peter has 340 = 3*100 + 50 - 10, while Michael has 338 = 3*100 + 50 - 10 - 2.  I note that this approach can be made to work with 339 = 3*100 + 50 - 6 - 10/2.

Lily finds a simpler route to 113 (and hence 339) than I did: 339 = 3*(100 + 10 + 6/2).

Michael: 338
Peter: 340
Me: 339
Lily: 339

Scores: Michael 33 (40), Peter 48 (61), me 57


If Peter takes this conundrum then he'll pip me by a point, so I'm a bit nervous this time around.  I think I spot the answer three seconds in, and don't feel that I can risk the time to check it, so I buzz in.  Fortunately my instincts were correct and I can chalk up another victory.

Michael finds the answer nine seconds in, so I would have been safe in any case, but this way we don't have to speculate about what might have happened if it were just Peter and myself.

Michael: ABOLITION (9s)
Peter: [no answer]

Final scores: Michael 33 (50), Peter 48 (61), me 67

A good game from Peter, who looks quite solid on the letters.  It's a bit early to tell how his numbers go, but I think he just might be vulnerable there.  Michael was a bit more willing to dare on the numbers, but fell short on the letters too many times and a good conundrum solve couldn't save him.

This was a reassuring game for me after yesterday's poor effort.  I thought I might have been off to another bad start when I couldn't better six in the first round, but it turned out to simply be a mix with nothing longer to find (well, aside from DIORITE, which wasn't in my vocabulary and probably won't linger there long).  Everything tracked well aside from that missed eight-letter word, so a decent finish to the week for me.

1 comment:

Mike Backhouse said...

Lily's way
SLATES and then SALTERS just out of time
MUFTI and PIEMAN just over
Lily's way
x jumped in with 8 letter LIBATION