Thursday, 17 November 2011

Ep 319: Sushma Garudadwajan, Daniel Chua (November 17, 2011)

Rounds: Here.

On Sushma's second night she tells us that she wants to visit Egypt, and in particular to see the pyramids.  She's fascinated by the feat of engineering that they represent, having been constructed before the wheel was even invented.  That's what she says, anyway, but if you can trust Wikipedia on this then wheeled vehicles pre-dated the Egyptian pyramids by 700 years or more.  Not that I had any idea about that before looking it up, I should add.

Richard suggests that her engineering background might give her a better perspective on the magnitude of the work that the pyramids represent.  Sushma points out that her background is that of an electrical engineer, so it seems unlikely that it will grant her any special insight.  There is some amusement at this.

Challenging Sushma is Daniel Chua, another university student -- it feels like we've had a lot of those recently -- who loves magic shows and even performs some of his own tricks.  Some card-work, some stage-work, although nothing at the level of sawing people in half, apparently.

Five- and six-letter words are all that the contestants find today, but Daniel's consistent sixes give him a lead.  With the numbers not playing favourites, Daniel is uncatchable going into the conundrum but finds it quickly anyway for a 44 to 22 point victory.

I had an excellent game today, including only the second time I've outdone Lily on the numbers.  With good letter performance too, and a faster conundrum solve, I cruised to a comprehensive victory.  In fact, if I'd just seen an eight a little earlier I could have claimed to outscore the David/Lily combination, which is a target very much worth aiming at.  Maybe another time...

As usual, details after the jump.

Round 1: K L F S T E O E U

An awkward set of initial consonants, but I'm prepared to notice a -LIKE ending if it shows up.  It doesn't.  Instead I have SELF, STOLE, FOLKS, FOULEST.  I saw the OUT- beginning, but couldn't make anything of it (OUTFEELS?  Hardly), similarly the -FUL ending.  There's a few sixes to be found but I wasn't writing them down, as I was looking for an eight.

Sushma: STEEL
Daniel: FLUTES

Scores: Sushma 0, Daniel 0 (6), me 7

Round 2: A I N P S O E C R

Much more cooperative letters this time.  PAIN, PAINS, PINCERS / PRINCES, PRANCES, and a recently-appearing word: CANOPIES.  I recall wishing that the E had been another A for CAPARISON, but I have to stick with eight.  After time I find another interesting seven of PROSAIC.

Daniel looks doubtful as he tries the unlikely seven of PAINERS; it's not valid and Sushma's six levels the scores.

David finds a different eight: CONSPIRE.  I missed the CON- beginning here.  Bother.  Another nice eight in the mix is SCENARIO.

At the end of the show, David notes that there was a full monty available after all: PROSCENIA, the plural of PROSCENIUM ("(in the modern theatre) the decorative arch or opening between the stage and the auditorium").

Chambers would allow CAPONIERS, but it's not in the Macquarie.  There is another possible nine, though: PROCAINES.  Definitely difficult to spot the nines here.

Sushma: CAPERS
Daniel: [invalid]

Scores: Sushma 0 (6), Daniel 0 (6), me 15

Round 3: Target 866 from 50 100 7 3 8 9

Sushma sticks with the family mix, and there's several ways to it.  I start by getting to 850, then the offset of 16 can be done with a little tweakage: 866 = 8*(100 + 9 - 7) + 50.  I also find a way to get there by working downward: 866 = 9*(100 - 3) - 7.

Sushma declares 865 -- I'm a but bemused by that, actually; my best guess is 865 = 9*100 - 50 + 7 + 8 -- but Daniel has 866.  He starts off with 8*100 and I think he's going to complete it as 866 = 8*100 + 9*7 + 3.  Instead, he demonstrates that my initial tweakage was completely unnecessary: 866 = 8*100 + 50 + 9 + 7.  Lily turns out to also have used this solution.

Sushma: 865
Daniel: 866
Me: 866
Lily: 866

Scores: Sushma 0 (6), Daniel 10 (16), me 25

First break: DRAB MEEK ("Printer's measure worse than a bite")

Any crossword solver will expect a printer's measure to be 'em' (or 'en', or sometimes 'ex'), and it's straightforward to get to EMBARKED.

David's talk is about the terms 'bull' and 'bear' with respect to the stock market.

Round 4: N G M I A B O H E

The -ING fragment shows up early, and I prepare for it.  The remaining letters aren't as cooperative as they might be; I get MAGI, BEMOAN, BEAMING, ENIGMA / GAMINE, and HAMBONE.  (I was a bit unsure about this last, admittedly, but it is valid.)  After time runs out I look at the words again to record them for this, and the ending makes BOHEMIAN leap out at me.  Just too late, alas.  I also ponder BOGIEMAN, but it's not there -- BOGEYMAN and BOOGIEMAN are, though.

Sushma has another five, and Daniel finds a six using -ING.  David is as on-target as we've come to expect with BOHEMIAN.  A seven not mentioned is BEGONIA.

Sushma: BINGE
Daniel: HOMING

Scores: Sushma 0 (6), Daniel 10 (22), me 32

Round 5: T R D G T U O E A

After those first five consonants I was angling for GUTTERED.  I even wrote it down at one point, before checking caught the re-use of the E.  Instead I had GROUT, GROUTED (another frequent appearer), possibles of OUTRATED and OUTTRADE (neither is valid), before settling upon RAGOUTED.  After time I found an anagram of RAGOUTED: OUTRAGED.

Sixes for both contestants again; David had OUTRAGED and also GAROTTED, which is a word I've noted and still not yet found when it is there.  The reason I've made special note of it is the variant spellings; either the R or the T may be doubled, or both.  (At least one must be, though.)

Another eight here was TUTORAGE.

Sushma: TRUDGE
Daniel: ROUTED

Scores: Sushma 0 (12), Daniel 10 (28), me 40

Round 6: Target 423 from 75 100 50 3 7 2

Daniel goes for a balanced mix, and I'm all in favour of contestants shaking up the status quo.  The target is quite achievable, and the general tenor of solutions should be clear from the start: Preserve that 2, get to 425 with the rest, and subtract it.  There's a lot of ways of doing this; I found 423 = 7*75 - 100 - 2 fairly quickly, and also 423 = (3 + 7)*50 - 75 - 2.  There's also 423 = 7*50 + 75 - 2, alhough I didn't bother writing that down.

Daniel declares 425, and I'm honestly a bit bemused by that.  If either the two or the three were left over then he could obviously get closer, so I'm guessing that he had 425 = (2 + 3)*100 - 75.  Or maybe he simply ran out of time.

Sushma has 423, with another method of getting to 425: 423 = 3*100 + 75 + 50 - 2, which gets her ten points and back within striking distance of Daniel.  Lily shows yet another variation: 423 = (7 - 3)*100 + 75 - 50 - 2.

Between Sushma's and Lily's solutions being presented I tinker with using the factorisation and find 423 = 3*(100 + 50 - 7 - 2).  There's also 423 = (7 + 2)*(50 - 3).

Sushma: 423
Daniel: 425
Me: 423
Lily: 423

Scores: Sushma 10 (22), Daniel 10 (28), me 50

Second break: GREY COAT ("Bloody and unpleasant division")

I almost gave up on this one, after spending a good five minutes looking at it.  But just as I was about to concede defeat I spotted CATEGORY at last.

Round 7: S N M C D I E I S

Repeated letters often make things a little tricky, and this mix is a reasonable example of that.  I get MINDS, MINCED, toy with DISCMEN (not valid), and just in time SEISMIC.  After time I find MENISCI and if that final S had been an O instead we could have had MENISCOID (or an E would give MEDICINES).

Sushma tries the unusual five of CIDES (only there as a suffix), bypassing the much safer SIDES; in fact, if she hadn't voluntarily spelled out CIDES I think everyone would have assumed that she meant SIDES.  Daniel's semi-ironical six of MISSED gets the points.

There's actually several gettable sevens here, in addition to the ICINESS that David finds: INCISED / INDICES, DIMNESS, and INSIDES.

Sushma: [invalid]
Daniel: MISSED

Scores: Sushma 10 (22), Daniel 10 (34), me 57

Round 8: Target 722 from 1 6 10 5 3 9

Daniel acknowledges that the balanced mix didn't work so well last time, and shakes it up with six small.  Bravo!  I don't know if this was a tactical decision or not, but it also works that way: With Sushma needing to score points to have a chance, a difficult target will be to Daniel's advantage.

As the numbers go up I pre-multiply the largest few to see where that gets me.  Nine times ten is ninety, times five is four hundred and fifty... and then the target is revealed and I see that 720 = 8*90, with most of the work done already.  Getting an eight is easy, so I start almost instantly with 721 = (5 + 3)*9*10 + 1.  But I spot that a little bit of tweaking gets me that precious difference of 2, with the solution 722 = (5 + 3)*(9*10 + 1) - 6.  Feeling smug?  Yes, yes I am.

Just now I've found another solution via 725: 722 = 5*(9*(10 + 6) + 1) - 3.

Neither Sushma nor Daniel are able to get close -- which does feel a little odd, with 720 so findable -- and to my surprise Lily says that she could only get to 721.  So for only the second time I've managed to outdo Lily (the last was in the early rounds of series three, I think).  Of course, she's outdone me so many times that I'd have lost track if I were counting, but stats like that are why moments like these are so enjoyable.

[Update: There's a veritable storm of comments on the website about this one, with many variants of the two solutions above, plus a third arising from the factorisation 722 = 19*38: 722 = (9 + 10)*(5*(6 + 1) + 3).]

Sushma: [not in range]
Daniel: [not in range]
Me: 722
Lily: 721

Scores: Sushma 10 (22), Daniel 10 (34), me 67


Down to the conundrum, with Daniel uncatchable.  The V is the letter to watch here, and I try an ending of -IVE without success.  Adjusting to -IVATE yields the solution, in a reasonable five seconds.  It's around that time that Daniel clearly gets that feeling of "I'm about to solve this" as his hand moves over from the pad to hover over the buzzer for a moment, before pressing in at the eight second mark.

Sushma: [no answer]
Daniel: MOTIVATED (8s)

Final scores: Sushma 10 (22), Daniel 10 (44), me 77

I'd have to say this wasn't terribly convincing from either contestant (as the adjusted scoreline shows).  With only five- and six-letter words found, the potential was there for so much more.  Neither contestant looked that good with the numbers but I was very glad to see Daniel stepping outside the usual comfort zones, so good on him for that.

For my part, I was definitely on form.  If I'd just seen BOHEMIAN a tad earlier I'd be completely happy about it, as opposed to just very happy.  Plus finding the tweakage on 722 was very satisfying.  I only hope I can do as well tomorrow!

1 comment:

Mike Backhouse said...

Geoff's way with tweakage
Geoff's quick solution, but sadly I was a bit slow and just went over time
MINCED and DIMNESS after time!
9*((5+3)*10+1=721 (1 off)