Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Ep 318: David Bradley, Sushma Garudadwajan (November 16, 2011)

Rounds: Here.

Richard segues from some early banter about food to ask David B about how he met his wife, since it turns out that he met her in an all-you-can-eat buffet at Las Vegas.  He was apparently impressed at how she "kept going back, and back, and back"... I hope she's not upset at having this said about her on national television!

During their honeymoon in China, David B apparently met someone from Sydney who was representing Australia in the International Mathematics Olympiad.  It was hosted by China back in July 1990, so David B has been married for over twenty years.  More relevantly to me, I represented Australia in the 1988 IMO, and had a role in training, tutoring, and selecting the 1990 team.  So I have a tenuous connection through that person, which from his remarks would have been either Joseph Lau or Dominic Yip.  If memory serves me correctly, this was the first Australian team where every member gained a medal -- a fine performance from all involved.  (More details about Australia's IMO teams can be found in the Australian Mathematics Trust's webpages.)

Tonight's challenger is Sushma Garudadwajan, who is an engineer and tennis fan.  Her favourite player is Roger Federer, and she even got to see him live at the Rod Laver Arena when he won the final of the 2010 Australian Open against Andy Murray.

Both contestants seem to struggle a little with the letters, but the numbers really cause some difficulties.  Although not quite as many as the show suggests, I think, as you'll see in round 3.  David B leads for most of the match, but a stumble in the final numbers round allows Sushma a chance, and when she gets the conundrum quickly she has a last-round victory 40 to 37.

I had two invalid words this game, which is a bit disconcerting, as well as a numbers round that I'd have liked to do better on.  But the other rounds were all better than the contestants managed, and I ended up with a comfortable victory.  It's nice to see the numbers rounds mattering in this format, unlike (mostly) Countdown.

As usual, details after the jump.

Round 1: W S C A O I T R E

Starting with a W isn't the most promising step, which perhaps causes me to discard it too early.  I spend most of my time looking at those other promising eight letters, with that nagging feeling of something seen before.  I end up with CAWS, ACTORS, and then take a punt on SCORIATE.  I'm pretty sure this is the result of having used 'excoriate' in an earlier post... in any case, SCORIATE is not in the Macquarie, and in fairly few online sources, too.  So I start with an invalid round.

I'd have happily gone with a seven if I'd found one, but six didn't feel like enough.  After time I found RACIEST at last, and COASTER, and while checking the validity of SCORIATE I find out that SCORIAE (plural of SCORIA) would have been fine.

Sushma has a six, but David B has found a seven that arises often when the W is about: WAITERS.  Ergh, I should have seen that, but I was so set on looking at the non-W letters that I missed it.  Carelessness!  He notes that this follows the food theme.

David A chimes in with another seven that uses the W: COWRIES.  A nice find, which I don't feel so bad about missing; I'd certainly have felt a bit smug if I'd found it.  He also adds that he thought that CO-WRITES might have been a word, but that it's only listed with a hyphen.  This... is surprising, because I can't find it listed, either with a hyphen or without -- the dictionary goes straight from "Cowra breakout" (the Macquarie is rather odd as dictionaries go, in that it has several encyclopaedic entries mixed in with definitions) to "cowry".  I'm not sure what David A was seeing that led him to say this.

(Despite not having a main entry, "co-writer" is explicitly mentioned in the explanatory text under "co-"... but that still doesn't count for show purposes.)

A couple of other sevens that could have been found are WARIEST and EROTICA, which has shown up a few times.  This latter might even be pluralisable by the show's rules, which are a little unclear about what constitutes an unpluralisable noun, although it would be a brave contestant who put it to the test.  They've definitely allowed the plurals of elements in the past (ERBIUMS, etc.), which makes about as much sense.

Sushma: TRACES
Me: [invalid]

Scores: David B 7, Sushma 0, me 0

Round 2: N S D R A I L E T

A very helpful set of letters this time, and with so many useful ones it's odd that there isn't a nine to be formed from them.  The final T makes this into a 'retsina' mix, so eights are easy.  I get DARNS, DRAINS, DENIALS, ISLANDER, and STRAINED.  After time I add another retsina-derivative: LATRINES.

David B and Sushma have sevens, and David A lists a few of the eights.  My favourite eight which has not yet been mentioned is TENDRILS.


Scores: David B 7 (14), Sushma 0 (7), me 8

Round 3: Target 290 from 100 25 7 4 2 6

It's surprisingly tricky to get to this low target, despite the numbers being a good mix.  The key part is going to be getting that 10, and trying to preserve 4 + 6 does not seem to lead  to an answer.  I went with a different approach, seeing that 29 = 25 + 4 and thus needing a ten from the 7, 2, and 6.  It took me a little while to spot how to do so, but then the answer came to me: 290 = (25 + 4)*(7 + 6/2).

After time I note that the ten I found can be used in the more expected fashion, to give 290 = 4*(100 - 25) - (7 + 6/2); this turns out to be the solution that Lily has.  I also find the more unsual 290 = 6*(25 + 7) - 2 + 100.

David B declares 291, and Sushma has 293.  David B starts with 25*4 + 100 for a total of 200, and then realises that he has made a mistake.  Presumably he subtracted (2 + 7) from this to get 191, having thought he was at 300 instead of 200.

Sushma is called upon to demonstrate her 293 as a result, and I think that an error on Lily's part may have confused Sushma into missing out on the points.  This would be very unfortunate if so, particularly if it ends up costing her the game.  It's not certain this is the case, mind you, and Sushma didn't clarify things so perhaps the error was hers after all.  What is clear is that there is a discrepancy between what Sushma said and what was interpreted, and the result is confusion -- which is never a good thing.

Here's what happens: Sushma says that she started with "twenty-five times four is a hundred", and Lily points to that part of the calculation already on the board.  She continues with "and then another hundred times two is, ah, two hundred"... I originally interpreted that as 25*4 + 100*2 = 300, where she was announcing the 200 as the subtotal (as contestants are encouraged to do); in that case, subtracting the 7 would give the 293 that she declared.  Further viewings do nothing to change this impression.

However, it seems as though Lily misses some of that and treats the 200 as the result, not a subtotal, as she points to the rest of the calculation left over from David B's effort and writes 200 underneath it.  It looks like this then confuses Sushma into thinking that she's made an error and she declares her solution invalid.  I'd love to know what she actually had written down, because this does look very much to me like Lily misunderstood what was said and Sushma did not have the confidence in her mathematics to catch and correct this.  Seven points goes begging...

David B: [invalid]
Sushma: [invalid]
Me: 290
Lily: 290

Scores: David B 7 (14), Sushma 0 (7), me 18

First break: ELSE SCAR ("Attentive to a smaller extent")

Got this one without the clue again, which is nice: CARELESS.

David A's talk starts with Louis Pasteur and the process of pasteurisation that he invented, and was named after him.  He then mentioned Edward Jenner, who came up with the idea of vaccination a century earlier, after discovering that mild infections of cowpox were keeping milkmaids safe from smallpox.  He, however, named it after the cows that led him to discover the principle ('vacca' being Latin for cow), rather than himself.

Round 4: M G T U D A P E L

After those common letters from the first two rounds, we get a set that don't quite fit together.  After the first four I was hoping for an A for GAMUT, and then a bunch of sixes became available: TAMPED, PLATED, UPDATE (the first instance where I've found this in regulation time, I think), PALMED, and finally PLAGUED.

Both contestants stick with fives, and David A finds the same seven, which he ties back into his talk of smallpox.  Two other sevens in the mix are the related pair of PLUMAGE and PLUMATE.

David B: LEAPT
Sushma: GAPED

Scores: David B 7 (19), Sushma 0 (12), me 25

Round 5: S F G I T E H N U

The -ING fragment turns up, but it's hard to get good value out of it.  I have FIGS, GIFTS, FIGHTS, EIGHTS, HEFTING, and UNSIGHT.  Tossing up between the sevens, I end up selecting UNSIGHT and am disconcerted to find out that it is not in the dictionary as a verb; only UNSIGHTED and UNSIGHTLY are there.  Chambers lists it as an obsolete synonym for UNSIGHTED, but that's not the sense I'm thinking of; as online sources indicate, to unsight someone is to block their view of something (whence they are unsighted), or even to simply blind them.  I'm somewhat surprised that this is invalid, but I should have gone with the safer HEFTING it seems.

Both contestants stick with a safe six, while David A has the seven (what looks like the only seven using the -ING, in fact).  He notes that FISH-NET is only listed with the hyphen.

Another seven in this mix is the moderately unusual NIGHEST.

Sushma: FIGHTS
Me: [invalid]

Scores: David B 13 (25), Sushma 6 (18), me 25

Round 6: Target 876 from 100 50 1 3 10 7

Sushma sticks with the standard mix, to my disappointment.  The target is high, though, and the large numbers not quite as nice as they could be, making this somewhat challenging.  I note immediately that 875 = 7*125 -- as I've mentioned before -- which means that if the 50 had been a 25 this would have been easy.  Somehow, I do not think to make the 125 anyway which would have gotten me one off with 875 = 7*(100 + 50/(3 - 1))... or if I was feeling esoteric, with 875 = 7*50*100 / (10*(3 + 1)).

In any case, I flail for a bit, and with time running out settle for three away with 873 = (10 - 1)*(100 - 3).  Note that this was easily adjustable to another one-off, with 877 = (10 - 1)*(100 + 3) - 50, but I missed that, too.

A few minutes into extra time I finally find 876 = 10*(100 - 7) - 50 - 3 - 1.  This is the solution that Lily, as impressive as ever, has managed to find.

Sushma declares 880 (maybe (7 + 1)*100 + 50 + 3*10?), but David B has one better with 879 = (10 - 1)*100 - 7*3.

David B: 879
Sushma: 880
Me: 873
Lily: 876

Scores: David B 20 (32), Sushma 6 (18), me 32

Second break: TEST TOIL ("A weapon you wear on your foot")

A dagger with a narrow blade, a type of heel on a shoe, or Baron Silas Greenback's henchman in Danger Mouse: STILETTO.

Round 7: D B M E A T I N R

BEAD, TAMED, TRAINED, BRAINED, MINARET / RAIMENT... there I stall.  It feels like there should be an eight, but there just isn't.  After time I add TRIBADE.

Both contestants have fives, which seems particularly surprising as Sushma found TRAILED back in round 2.  David A notes two sevens including the nice AMBIENT -- he doesn't think that's been on the show yet -- and I'll further note BIRDMAN / BIRDMEN, READMIT (making another appearance) and MEDIANT.

David B: TREND
Sushma: TAMED

Scores: David B 20 (37), Sushma 6 (23), me 39

Round 8: Target 144 from 25 50 7 5 8 1

Sushma needs points on this round, and she sticks with the safe option.  A very small target proves to be a little tricky for the contestants, though.  The target is a familiar number to me, being twelve squared and having a few simple factorisations; the 8 stands out here and quickly gives me a solution: 144 = 8*(25 - 7).  I also note a solution using 6: 144 = (5 + 1)*(25 - (8 - 7)).  More prosaically, the standard technique of getting to 150 and then adjusting works also: 144 = 8*25 - 50 - 5 - 1.

Sushma declares 141, while David B has 145.  But his solution of 145 = (5 + 1)*25 - 5 uses the five twice -- if only he'd formed the 6 with (7 - 1) he would have been OK.  Or he could have found the second solution above with a bit of tweaking.

So Sushma has a chance, and states 141 = 25*5 + 8 + 7 + 1.  That gives her seven precious points (that perhaps she should have had from round 3) and moves her to within range for the conundrum round.

Lily has the second of the solutions above.

David B: [invalid]
Sushma: 141
Me: 144
Lily: 144

Scores: David B 20 (37), Sushma 6 (30), me 49


That Q stands out, and quickly guided me to the answer in 2 seconds.  It's a word with some pedigree, being used as part of the secret message in the RSA-129 challenge.

Sushma makes best use of the reprieve granted to her by David B's invalid numbers last round, and gets the conundrum just a couple of seconds later, giving her the win.  I'm extremly glad that this conundrum was solvable -- if neither contestant had found the answer then David B would have gone through, but round 3 perhaps cost Sushma seven points that would have had the scores tied instead.  That would have been an unpleasant blot on the series, and I'm glad it was avoided.

David B: [no answer]
Sushma: SQUEAMISH (4s)

Final scores: David B 20 (37), Sushma 6 (40), me 59

It doesn't feel like either contestant was doing well today.  The words were generally shorter than they could have been, particularly with some common combinations making an appearance.  (Only David B's WAITERS in the first round matched the longest possible.)  With David B having two invalid solutions to the numbers, and no-one getting closer than three away from the target, it also feels like they weren't comfortable with the numbers.

I got reasonable results today, despite two invalid words and a numbers round I could have done more with.  I should have done better in round 1, but an invalid eight scored just as much as a valid six.  Not finding any of the sevens there was unfortunate, and definitely a less-than-desirable start to the game.  UNSIGHT, on the other hand, I can live with... but I should have stuck with HEFTING.  Once again the score hovers around the 60 mark, and the low 60's are kind of my benchmark in this game, so just below that with two invalid letters rounds is a decent outcome.

1 comment:

Mike Backhouse said...

Geoff's way
Geoff's way (3 off)