Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Ep 327: Geoff Bailey, Eddy Hill (November 29, 2011)

Rounds: Here.

Disclaimer: I was a contestant on this episode.  Obviously there are some parts I will remember strongly and my scoreline cannot remotely be considered a fair representation.  I'll frequently refer to my past self in the third person, to avoid having to clarify all the time whether I mean my current or past performance.

The early show talk is about my job this time.  I work as a computer programmer (or software engineer, depending on how fancy you want to sound) for the Computational Algebra Group in the mathematics department at Sydney University.  We develop a computer algebra system (called Magma) that is a research tool allowing computations to be done with mathematical objects that are somewhat more esoteric and interesting than just numbers.

The challenger for today is Eddy Hill, another university student and trivia enthusiast.  Every Wednesday he goes down to the local pub with the rest of his trivia team, who are called... well, it sounds to me like he says "Dringus and Drangus Comedy Team", but I'm not convinced I've heard it correctly.  He says it is from the TV show Tim and Eric, which he is also an enthusiast of.  (Googling suggests that "Dringus and Drungle" might be more correct... it's all pretty inconclusive, though.)  He attributes the enthusiasm for trivia to just being bored on Wednesday nights.

Eddy was a standby contestant, unexpectedly called up to action when the scheduled contestant failed to show up and was uncontactable.  As such, he may well have been missing out on some of the preparation that a scheduled contestant would have had.

Eddy starts off well behind -- his six-letter words are no match for the sevens and eights that Geoff finds -- and it's not until round 6 that he manages to get on the board.  Geoff has a good game on the letters but unusually struggles twice with the numbers, on one of which Eddy outdoes him.  Despite this, Geoff remains comfortably ahead and an extremely fast conundrum solution seals a comprehensive victory, 65 to 18. 

There's definitely some memory help this second time around -- most notably in the second numbers round -- and it's those numbers which make the difference as the letters performance is identical.  I hadn't recalled that this episode had two difficult numbers rounds in it.  I'm not sure if I should claim the conundrum or not, but it's still a win in any case.

As usual, details after the jump.

Round 1: L O E I F D M T R

I find FOIL, FOILED, FILMED, FLIRTED, TREFOIL (aided by memory, certainly).  After time I add an anagram of FLIRTED: TRIFLED.  I'll also note that LOFTIER is perhaps a more findable anagram of TREFOIL.

David notes that OLD-TIMER is hyphenated, so he has to stick with seven also.


Scores: Geoff 7, Eddy 0, me 7

Round 2: N A S E I C G O N

The appearance of the -ING is usually a sign of sevens or eights.  I had SANE, CASING, CEASING, CANOEING (memory), and ENCASING.  I did wonder about SEANCING -- at the time I'd asked David about it, and he looked rightly dubious: SEANCE is only listed as a noun.

Eddy has a six of CASING, which must hurt when David points out that he could have simply prepended EN- to it for ENCASING.  Geoff has CANOEING, and I recall being extremely happy at the time to have found it.  Certainly it seemed to impress.

David points out CANONISE; another possible eight might be COINAGES -- it's far from clear to me whether any of its several meanings are pluralisable or not.

A friend of mine asked about the seven of SCONING; the Macquarie does list a verb sense of 'scone' with the colloquial meaning of "to hit someone on the head", so it would be valid.


Scores: Geoff 15, Eddy 0, me 15

Round 3: Target 933 from 50 25 75 2 6 3

Richard remarks on how Geoff has gone with different mixes each time, and he adheres to this lack of pattern, going for three-and-three.  This is the mix I have practiced least, I think, and it can be a bit fiddly.

It's not too hard to get close to the target, with both 12*75 and 18*50 available to get to 900.  This time around I did find the correct tweakage to get there: 933 = 3*6*(50 + 2) - 75/25.

It proves difficult for everyone at the time; Eddy has 925 -- presumably a case of running out of time, as most ways to get to 925 can have a small number added on -- while Geoff is two away with 931 = (75*6 + 3)*2 + 25.  Note that tweaking a little in the other direction would have gotten one closer with 932 = 6*(2*75 - 3) + 50.

Lily has to think about it over the break -- we never do find out how close she got beforehand, but let's assume she got at least as close as Geoff did -- and emerges after it with the solution above.  Both of us found it fairly quickly once the filming stopped; I have no idea who was first.

That target is close to a number I've been studying fairly closely recently, as part of an investigation into the options presented by the four large mix.  Specifically: With four large numbers, a target of 936 is achievable with all but two possible choices of the two small numbers (5,5 and 10,10).  Applying lessons learned from that gives an alternative route to the answer: 933 = (25*75 - 3 - 6)/2.

Geoff: 931
Eddy: 925
Me: 933

Scores: Geoff 15 (22), Eddy 0, me 25

First break: COIN RAFT ("Not whole, and not allowed on the show")

A clear clue to FRACTION.

David's talk is about the bouba/kiki effect, and phonaesthetics.  He mentions a study done by Chris Westbury in 2005 about this, although he seems to be conflating the 2001 results of Ramachandran and Hubbard with those of Westbury.  The 95% figure quoted seems to be from the 2001 paper, while Westbury's further investigation into other choices of continuants and plosives was from 2005.  Sarah Kavassalis has a decent article about it in the New Scientist.

Round 4: R E P O T S A K G

Here I found PORE / ROPE, TROPE, TROPES / POSTER, POSTAGE, and PORTAGES.  The -AGE ending is always worth a quick look when it arises, and that was certainly the case here.

Geoff has another eight, and Eddy looks a little dispirited as he has "just POSTER".  Richard tries to console him by pointing out that he has found good words, it's just that the eights have been outdoing him.

Geoff declares PORTAGES, and David says that the question here is whether PORTAGE -- the act of carrying rafts and equipment around rapids -- may be pluralised.  He resolves this by saying that anyone who has gone rafting on the Franklin River very much knows that it may be pluralised.

It's worth noting a couple of sevens arising from those first seven letters, as they are a moderately common mix: PROTEAS and SEAPORT.


Scores: Geoff 23 (30), Eddy 0, me 33

Round 5: H N S C I E U D W

In retrospect, I'm not that thrilled about having chosen a last consonant.  I think at the time I was hoping for an F or similar for FINCHES, and the W served that purpose.  But if I'd seen the potential for CUSHIONED -- as I did this time -- then I would have chosen that vowel.  As it turns out, it would have been an O, so I cost David another full monty.  Sorry, David!

I found CHINS, INCHES, and INDUCES; after time I add WINCHES and WINCHED.  Another seven I'll note is DUCHIES.

Eddy declares SHINED, which is an unusual past participle (one would expect SHONE), but in the context of shining shoes (having one's shoes shined), then SHINED is acceptable.

David comes through with the eight of UNWISHED; this is a case of memory failing me, as in my head this was a game where I had matched David throughout.  Huh.


Scores: Geoff 30 (37), Eddy 0, me 40

Round 6: Target 683 from 25 2 8 10 8 7

At this point Eddy is 37 points behind, and unless there's a full monty there's only 38 points left to be had.  He's in a heap of trouble, and yet to score.  Richard attempts to frame this in an encouraging way, and hopes that the numbers will bring him luck.  Eddy goes with a standard classroom mix, and it serves up a target that I should have perhaps done better with.  Eddy is right on target with a great solution: 683 = 25*2 + 8*8*10 - 7, while Geoff has just 682, which I believe was 682 = 25*7*8/2 - 10 - 8.  There's considerable applause for Eddy as he relates this solution -- which certainly surprised me at the time (the solution, not the applause) -- and Lily calls it "spectacular".

This time around I have recalled Eddy's solution (I'm taking the points for it, although that's of dubious fairness); after time I also found 683 = 7*10*(8 + 2) - (25 - 8).

In email, a friend pointed out that the usual rule of thumb -- get to the nearest multiple of 25 and adjust -- leads to a very easy solution: 683 = 25*(2*10 + 7) + 8.  I guess I had a blind spot.

It's possible that Lily did, too.  Her response when Richard suggests that she would have used this "spectacular" method implied that she hadn't actually managed to get there, but Eddy doing so saved her from a second case of not-getting-there in this game.  Or she might have found it after all,

Everyone's glad that Eddy is on the board, and in such a good way.

Geoff: 682
Eddy: 683
Me: 683

Scores: Geoff 30 (37), Eddy 10, me 50

Second break: ADD BEGAN ("Old time musicians")

I unscrambled the words to get BANDAGED, and then was confused about the clue until I split it BAND/AGED.

Round 7: O A E L F T S R N

Playing along, I had ALOE, FLOE, FLOAT, FLOATS, and then FLOATERS.  This is an example of what (by way of analogy with the 'retsina mix') I like to think of as the 'olestra mix'.  It's not as versatile as retsina, nor an allowable word in its own right, but it shows up about as often and some common continuations are worth knowing: BLOATERS, FLOATERS, GLOATERS, LEOTARDS / LODESTAR, and REALTORS.

This time the final consonant was definitely the right choice, although it didn't help.  It's fairly easy to see FLOATERS in the first eight, and there are very few nines that can come from it: DEFLATORS, FORESTALL, and FLEAWORTS.  (Computer scientists and some dictionaries would allow TERAFLOPS, but not the Macquarie.)  But without that D, L, or W, it stays at eight.

Everyone has FLOATERS, and Geoff is now uncatchable.  David remarks that both contestants having FLOATERS makes them synchronised swimmers.  He notes that FLOATERS has a surprising 16 definitions in the dictionary.


Scores: Geoff 38 (45), Eddy 18, me 58

Round 8: Target 457 from 25 2 10 9 1 9

Everyone is wishing Eddy success with the numbers after that last effort, but the small numbers are awkwardly clustered at the two ends.  Solutions are possible, though; I found 457 = 2*(9*25 - 1) + 9 within time, and 457 = (10 + 9 - 1)*25 + 9 - 2 after it.

Eddy is way off target with 481, which must be 2*10*25 - 9 - 9 - 1.  He was very nearly to a solution, if so: If he'd just used 19 instead of 20 for his multiplier he could have had 457 = (10 + 9)*25 - 2*9.  Close!

Geoff declares a variant of that second solution with 457 = (9 + 9)*25 + 10 - 2 - 1, while Lily uses the second solution exactly.

Geoff: 457
Eddy: [not in range]
Me: 457
Lily: 457

Scores: Geoff 48 (55), Eddy 18, me 68


This one's etched in my memory as well -- finally getting the conundrum, and so quickly -- so I shan't claim it although perhaps I should.  This was a doubly lucky conundrum for me; the first reason is that when I buzzed in I had only HARMONIC; fortunately it was easy to find the right correction!

The second reason, and I admit that I'm uncertain of this but that's my recollection, is that HARMONICA had been the conundrum answer on one of the hundred or so episodes of Countdown that I had watched in the previous three weeks.  Moreover, my recollection is that I'd seen HARMONIC but not figured out HARMONICA from it, then felt extremely foolish when the answer was revealed.  This would naturally make it stick in my memory a bit more.

I should probably check those episodes to see if my memory is correct; maybe on the weekend.

[Update: I've gone through the ones I could find, and I did not see it there.  So maybe it arose during the practice using the program I wrote to present me with random conundrums.  I feel somewhat more deserving, if so.]

[Much later update: I may be rewriting my memory, but I'm convinced this was the case.  Very lucky to have one of the conundrums I practiced with show up, particularly one which I had spent such attention on.]

Geoff: HARMONICA (1.5s)
Eddy: [no answer]
Me: [no answer]

Scores: Geoff 58 (65), Eddy 18, me 68

The early rounds sank Eddy's chances here; he really needed to find better than six-letter words from what was mostly a pretty friendly set of letters.  Geoff found a couple of good eights to cement his lead and was essentially untroubled thereafter, despite some hiccups in the numbers rounds which are usually good for him.  The final gap of 47 points is the biggest victory margin in the series so far, just edging out Shaun Ellis' 59 to 13 victory over Crockett Cooke back in episode 302.

It was a reasonable effort from me -- I found 933 this time around -- but strongly aided by memory so we can't read too much into that.  I admit that I'm looking forward to next week and the episodes that will be new to me.


Mike Backhouse said...

Geoff, those eights, great!

CANINGS? (whacko!)
(6+3)*(75+25-2)+50=932 (1 off, but happy to get this)
Geoff's way
x watched live but Geoff was too fast. Should have paused it, although I don't think I would have got it.

Geoff Bailey said...

Oh, LOFTIER, very nice! Sadly, CANING is not listed as a noun; this surprised me, as I seem to recall schoolboy tales of boys being given canings. I guess we were all ungrammatical back then.

Also, thank you! Obviously everything was going well for me that night.

Mike Backhouse said...

Stories of canings? At the schools I went to, they were a reality!!! I'm surprised too that it was not listed.