Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Ep 328: Geoff Bailey, Brett Edwards (November 30, 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.

We're running out of things to talk about, so Richard remarks to me that "you and your partner were actually youth champions in a very different area many years ago."  As I heard him make that comment it struck me that it was misinterpretable (I worried that I might have left it similarly unclear when I submitted my checklist of points to talk about, but on checking I see that I did say "bridge partner" in my email), and I perhaps put a little too much emphasis into pointing out that it was my bridge partner.  Together, we won the NSW State Youth Pairs bridge competition (which honestly involved a lot of luck, but I didn't manage to point that out very clearly); we then accepted the invitation to the Nationals and the more sensible order of things asserted itself as we got crushed, eventually finishing in 25th place (out of 26 pairs).

Tonight's challenger is Brett Edwards, a retired navy auditor, and his last appearance on TV was back in the eighties, on The Krypton Factor.  Richard describes it as an ABC quiz show, but I think it was the New Zealand version (which the ABC did air, admittedly).  It involved five different activities -- a mixture of mental and physical exertion -- and Brett got through to the semifinals, coming second to the eventual winner.

Brett was a bit of a dark horse leading up to this game; he tried to downplay his ability, but at the same point it was clear that he was doing well in the letters.  His numerical abilities were unclear, although I thought I should have the edge if things got difficult.

It's an extremely close game; neither contestant can get clear of the other although David found longer words in four of the five rounds.  The numbers prove unchallenging and it takes until round 7 before a split emerges, as Brett sees an eight that turns out to be riskier than he thought, and Geoff's seven gives him the lead going into the conundrum.  But the conundrum is too easy, and Brett wins the buzzer race to squeak home by 66 to 63 -- the highest combined total of the series so far.

Geoff leaves after four shows with an average of over 60 points a game, but will it be enough to reach the finals?  We'll find out in 65 more games...

This time around I do vastly better, of course -- every letters round is etched into my memory.  As usual, I'd not remembered the numbers rounds; they were too easy in any case, negating my perceived better ability there.  Brett used the challenger's advantage to good effect.

As usual, details after the jump.

Round 1: H R C O I S E N D

Richard invites Geoff to start with a full monty, and it would have been nice.  This time I have CHOIR / ICHOR, CHOIRS, HEROICS, CONSIDER (memory), DISCERN / CINDERS / RESCIND, and CHOIRED.

Both contestants have sevens, and David has found the eight.  There is one more eight, although much less common: HEDONICS ("the study of pleasurable and painful states of consciousness").


Scores: Geoff 0 (7), Brett 0 (7), me 8

Round 2: R A T E Y I S A M

That Y makes things awkward, and I think Brett chose one too many vowels (since the Y is effectively a vowel in this game, despite being in the consonant list).  The ensuing P would have bumped this up to eight with ASPERITY, and a few easy sevens.

This time I have TEAR, SATIRE, MASTERY (memory), and MAESTRI.  Both then and now I pondered STREAMY, but didn't think it would be valid and did not write it down.  It turns out that it would be acceptable, however.

Back then I floundered badly trying to get a seven (sixes were easy) and MASTERY was very much a last second spot.  I hastily scrawled it down and the result was almost certainly illegible.  Fortunately I was called upon to give the answer first, so at least removing that possible suspicion of unfair play.  I think that Brett would have been entitled to challenge my choice, though, and I would have been hard put to defend it.


Scores: Geoff 7 (14), Brett 7 (14), me 15

Round 3: Target 830 from 50 2 8 9 2 10

This is where I had the chance to get a lead, with the only numbers pick that I would have.  The problem was that I hadn't seen Brett in action on the numbers (although I had my suspicions about his level of ability) and wasn't sure how hard I needed to make it.  In retrospect I should have gone with four large numbers, with a likely seven or ten point gain.  As it was, I was feeling a little nervous and decided to give myself an easy time of it, hoping that Brett would struggle with numbers like most of the previous contestants I'd seen had done.

The target was a bit too easy, alas.  This time around I found 830 = (2*50 - 9 - 8)*10, and then the alternative 830 = (9 + 8)*50 - 2*10.  This latter turned out to be the solution that the contestants and Lily used; Lily remarked that she started off by trying to use the 10*83 approach but could not make the 33 (to add to 50), so switched tacks to find that 17*50 - 20 approach instead.

Geoff: 830
Brett: 830
Me: 830
Lily: 830

Scores: Geoff 17 (24), Brett 17 (24), me 25

First break: METRO CUP ("How could we live without them?")

Fairly easy to find COMPUTER in those letters.

David's talk is about sound symbolism and phonaesthetics again.  In particular, he talks about the origins of the words 'gunk' and 'grunge'.

Round 4: P O T E C U B E P

Brett sticks to his strict alternation of consonant and vowel, and ends up with a difficult mix.  I think that contestants really need to have some flexibility about their choices, and base them on what comes up.  Going for that fourth vowel early allows too many problems to arise, and here a sixth consonant would definitely improve prospects over that vowel.  (As it turns out, that S is not much help, but an L (OCTUPLE, COUPLET) or an M (COMPUTE) would have been great.)

This time I have TOPE / POET, COUPE (memory) and TOUPEE (memory).  Both contestants have COUPE, and David found TOUPEE -- the only six to be had.  (There's a colloquialism of BO-PEEP, but that is hyphenated.)  In fact, as far as I can tell the only other five is TOPEE -- "(in India) a helmet of sola pith" -- so it's one of the most difficult combinations we've had on this show.

I'd found TOUPEE before in Countdown episodes, so it was bothersome to have missed it here.

Geoff: COUPE
Brett: COUPE

Scores: Geoff 17 (29), Brett 17 (29), me 31

Round 5: S R D M I E O N F

Richard exhorts Geoff to get a more cooperative mix, and the letters are much better now.  RIMS, MIRED, MINDERS, FRIENDS / FINDERS, INFORMED (memory).  I wondered about FOREMINDS, but decided correctly that I was making that up.

Both contestants have sevens -- there are many to be found -- and David has the eight of INFORMED.

This round was the closest I came to the winning moment, if we exclude the conundrum from consideration; I had written FORMED down on the paper, and between declaring my word and waiting for David to say what he had found, I saw that I could stick the IN- at the start of it.  (I might have even seen it earlier; it was definitely before David said it.)  So close, alas.

David rightly chastised me for not choosing a final vowel.  An A would have allowed RANDOMISE / ROMANISED, or an E would give MODERNISE / DEMONISER.  I needed to display some of that flexibility I was just going on about, but I didn't see the possibilities at the time.

In fact, there's quite the coincidence here; earlier in the day -- possibly right before this game -- I had overheard David talking with Steve the security guy.  Steve had asked about the word ROMANISED (maybe it came up in test letters?  I can't recall if the reason was mentioned), and David had looked it up and found out that the lowercase version was acceptable.  They were both quite excited at this find, and then in this round I pulled out eight of the letters and just needed a final A.  They were both willing me to call a vowel, but I disappointed them.  (Fortunately, the next vowel turned out to be an O, so they were not too upset.)  If only I'd realised that I'd done this, I'd have definitely gone for the vowel.

There are two more eights in this mix, incidentally.  Anagrams of each other, they are FERMIONS (certain elementary subatomic particles) and ENSIFORM (sword-shaped, in the context of plant and animal organs).  Both then and now I had looked to use the -IFORM ending, but ENSIFORM was not in my vocabulary.


Scores: Geoff 17 (36), Brett 17 (36), me 39

Round 6: Target 194 from 75 50 5 4 1 9

Brett sticks with the safe "family" mix, and although the most difficult large pair of 75/50 turns up, the target is low and unchallenging.  Everyone gets 194 = 4*50 - 5 - 1.

Geoff: 194
Brett: 194
Me: 194
Lily: 194

Scores: Geoff 27 (46), Brett 27 (46), me 49

Second break: SHE SPELL ("Like a beetle on its back")

Part of me wanted to spell that 'Beatle', but they had HELP... not HELPLESS.

Round 7: C O E U S K R L S

Here I had SOCK, SUCK, SUCKER, LOCKERS, CLOSURE (memory), CLOSURES (memory), CLOSERS, and SUCKLES (memory).  It was this round I was referring to when I commented about missing CLOSURE back in round one of episode 314.

At the time I had written down CORKLESS and ROCKLESS, but decided (rightly) that although their meaning was clear they would not actually be listed in the Macquarie.  This was why I declared that I would "stick with a seven", while Brett tried the eight of SUCKLERS.  It wasn't listed explicitly, however, surprising Brett and finally splitting the contestants.

There's also an anagram of CLOSURES to be had: SCLEROUS, meaning hard, firm, or bony.

Brett: [invalid]

Scores: Geoff 27 (53), Brett 27 (46), me 57

Round 8: Target 615 from 50 75 9 7 10 10

Brett sticks with the safe option, getting what could be a very difficult mix of numbers.  The target is very achievable despite that, and everyone finds 615 = 9*75 - 50 - 10.  It's not necessarily the easiest to see, and I had a brief hope that Brett might have missed it.  It was not to be, though, and he stayed within striking distance going into the conundrum.

A commenter on the SBS website points out the alternative 615 = 7*75 + 9*10.

Geoff: 615
Brett: 615
Me: 615
Lily: 615

Scores: Geoff 37 (63), Brett 37 (56), me 67


The conundrum turns out to be very easy -- possibly the easiest we've seen so far, despite some amazingly quick gets that might suggest otherwise.  Both contestants strike the buzzer at approximately the same time, less than two seconds into the game.  Brett is apparently just fractionally faster -- he may have started with his hand closer to the buzzer -- and takes the points, and the win.

I recall discussing conundrums with Ryan Sutton back at the audition.  At the time I had not recalled seeing any conundrums that used common affixes, and thought that they were not doing this.  Ryan said that they did, and he was proved correct here.  I recall thinking as the words were revealed something along the lines of "An -ING?  But they don't do that..." and it's possible that the brief confusion there cost me the game.  Or maybe not, and Brett was just faster.

Geoff: [no answer]
Brett: RESOLVING (1.5s)
Me: [no answer]

Final scores: Geoff 37 (63), Brett 47 (66), me 67

It's hard to imagine a much closer game than this; performances were equal for seven of the eight main rounds, and identical for five of those.  The conundrum was probably decided by less than a tenth of a second.  The scores were high -- the combined total of 129 is 12 points greater than the previous best this series -- and although there were longer words to be found, there weren't many.  Excellent performances from both competitors, if I do say so myself.

I'm obviously disappointed that it came down to physical speed at the end; that conundrum was just too easy to be a fitting capstone on this contest.  If only it had been harder that aspect would have hopefully been removed.  (As long as I'm wishing for things, if only it had been swapped with the previous day's one...)

I was still in the audience for the next two shows, but they haven't stuck in my head the same way so I'll be able to give much fairer competition.  And then from Monday it will be completely new episodes to me, which I'm looking forward to.


Mark said...

I think you mentioned working on a computer algebra system. How will it be different to, say, Maple?

Geoff Bailey said...

Minor quibble: "is", not "will be" -- Magma has been around for almost twenty years, and grew out of an earlier system called Cayley that is much older.

There's two main areas of difference, I would say. The first is that Magma has always had a much greater emphasis on speed; what Magma does, it tends to do very well.

The second is the subject areas. Maple (and Mathematica) have always had a major focus on the analytic side of mathematics, and calculus in particular. Magma is much more about discrete mathematics: groups, rings, fields, algebras, codes, combinatorics, algebraic and arithmetic geometry, topology, and much more.

Magma is thus much more suited towards research mathematics, while Maple/Mathematica find a lot of use in undergraduate teaching of calculus.

Mark said...

Thanks for the explanation. The website appears to be down at the moment, but I'll try again later.

Geoff Bailey said...

Yes -- there was a planned power outage this morning, followed by an unplanned one some hours later. *sighs*

Mike Backhouse said...

Bad luck Geoff. Could have gone either way.

Geoff's way
POUT and TOUPEE just over
FONDER and FINDERS just after
everyone's way
Geoff and Brett's way

Geoff Bailey said...

Thanks, Mike. So many what-ifs about this match. Ah, well.