Thursday, 1 December 2011

Ep 329: Brett Edwards, Alicia Neilsen (December 1, 2011)

Rounds: Here.

Disclaimer: I attended the filming of this show some months back; obviously this may lead to me recollecting some solutions that eluded me at the time, and my scoreline is not necessarily a fair one.

Richard reveals that Brett is a Sherlock Holmes fan, and asks him what it is that he likes about Holmes.  Brett says that it is his logical approach and reverse-engineering of things -- the deductive reasoning, as Richard puts it.

Tonight's challenger is Alicia Neilsen, an accountant who has an office on the 34th floor of the Rialto building in Melbourne.  She has a window, too, with a view of the Yarra river and the MCG.  Richard suggests that the view might be a little distracting, and she admits that sometimes it's good to just stare outside and let the mind process things.

Alicia seemed nice, but was giving out an unsettled vibe throughout the day.  This shows up occasionally during the episode; I wish that I had been more reassuring at the time.

It's another very close game, but I'm afraid not in a good way.  There's five invalid declarations made, and the words are mostly fives and sixes.  Only one numbers round is scored, with a total nine away from the target.  This is all rounded out by an unsolved conundrum, allowing Brett to limp to safety with a 24 to 18 victory -- both the lowest winning total and the lowest combined total of the series so far.  Alicia very nearly defeated him; all she needed to do was to hold her head in the numbers rounds, but it was very much a case of the nerves getting to her.

Watching this game from the audience was more disheartening than losing the previous game.  My score was slightly better this time as I could risk the nine, but both times I kept Alicia to seven points and Brett scoreless, with a total over 60.  It was an extremely disappointing followup to what I shall immodestly call the game of the series so far.

As usual, details after the jump.

Round 1: A I W T D U E L G

Amusing to see DUEL spelled out in the middle there.  I found WAIT, ADIT, WAITED, DILUTE, and LIGATED.  After time I found GUILTED again, which had been my find from the audience.  Toby (tomorrow's challenger) sitting next to me had LIGATED, which is how the word has entered my Letters and Numbers vocabulary.  So you could argue that this was a memory find rather than a genuine one.

Both contestants have sixes to declared, and David has GUILTED.  My mother queried me about this, not being familiar with it; GUILT has a colloquial verb sense, meaning to make someone feel guilty.  I'm most familiar with it in the sense of 'guilting' someone into doing something.

Alicia: WAITED

Scores: Brett 0 (6), Alicia 0 (6), me 7

Round 2: R A N I S H A P O

I'm glad that Alicia waited until the end for that last vowel, and I'm OK with that choice.  I had been hoping for an I for AIRSHIP, admittedly.  Note that the first five letters spell RANIS, which is valid.  That doesn't happen too often, mostly due to contestants clustering the choices with vowels or consonants (as I switched to doing after my first game).

This time I find RAIN, RAINS, PARIAHS (memory-aided), PIRANHAS (memory), APRONS, PARISH, PIANOS, and SPRAIN.  A seven that shows up occasionally (but that I did not find this time) is ORPHANS.

Alicia has a five that she doesn't seem too impressed with, while Brett declares a six of PERISH.  With no E in the mix, it is invalid; PARISH would have been fine, but it is not a case of mispronunciation or he could have pointed out his word on the paper.

[Update: Brett clarified in website comments that he did say PERISH, but both David and Richard assumed he had said PARISH.  He corrected them, and they did the re-shoot, thus costing him six points (and giving Alicia five, for an eleven point turnaround).  Kudos to Brett for his good sportsmanship!]

David found PARIAHS (outcasts of society) and PIRANHAS, which had both eluded me at the time.

Another seven worth noting is SOPRANI (plural of SOPRANO), and there is another eight of APHONIAS (plural of APHONIA: loss of voice).

Brett: [invalid]
Alicia: RAINS

Scores: Brett 0 (6), Alicia 0 (11), me 15

Round 3: Target 399 from 50 25 3 7 10 6

Brett sticks with the two large approach, and the target is surprisingly difficult.  I started off wanting to keep the 6 and 7, but could not then manoeuvre my way to 400 without them.  With other approaches not bringing me success I conceded defeat by writing down 400 = (10 + 6)*25.

In extra time I see the factor of seven, leading to a solution of 399 = 7*(50 + 10 - 3).  Later I pull out that factor of three as well to get 399 = 3*7*(25 - 6).  And just while writing this up I realised that my original idea could be made to work with 399 = 3*50 + 10*25 - (7 - 6).  In fact, I have a half-memory that this is what I found from the audience, although I'm not certain.

Alicia is not within range (nerves again, I guess), while Brett declares an invalid 399; his description goes 399 = (10 + 6)*25 - 6 + 50/... at which stage Lily points out that he has reused the 6.  He was presumably going to complete the process by dividing by (3 + 7), not reusing the 10 again.

Lily has a different solution, with 399 = (6*25 - 10 - 7)*3.

Brett: [invalid]
Alicia: [not in range]
Me: 400
Lily: 399

Scores: Brett 0 (6), Alicia 0 (11), me 22

First break: LOVE RATE ("Easier than taking the stairs")

Fairly easy to find ELEVATOR from that clue.  Although right now, due to having eaten far too much dessert, OVERATE is staring at me from those letters.

David's talk is about things that need washing, and words that arise from the Latin word lavare, meaning to wash.  It gives us both the words 'laundry' and 'lavender', and he says that it might also be responsible for 'lawn'.  The Macquarie gives a different etymology for lawn, though, that doesn't seem compatible with that idea.

Round 4: N O R A I L T F E

Richard originally commented that the first six letters looked like a protest about the rail system, but it seems to have been cut.  Definitely a mix where that final vowel was wanted, but I'm glad to see Alicia left it to last again.

It's a familiar set of letters, and if that F had been an S then we'd see some very familiar nines (RELATIONS / ORIENTALS).  As it is, I get RAIN, IRON, TRAIL, TAILOR, LATRINE, RELATION / ORIENTAL, REFLATION (memory), and FRONTAL.  After time I note that the familiar FLOATER is there, but we've moved way past seven territory.

In the audience, I'd only had RELATION; Toby next to me passed me his paper with "REFLATION?" written on it.  I was dubious, but David found the same word with reassurance from the dictionary.  Nothing to do with airflow, it is "the relaxation of government controls over economic restrictions" and now it is in my vocabulary.

Alicia has another 5, while Brett has a seven.  Missing RELATION is quite odd as it arises relatively often and the -ATION ending is worth checking when it appears.  (I know I commented recently that I'd become disillusioned with it, but you still have to look at it when the mix contains it!)

I'll note another pair of eights, anagrams of each other: INFLATOR, and FLATIRON.

Alicia: TRAIL

Scores: Brett 0 (13), Alicia 0 (11), me 40

Round 5: U A C M E O N S I

Brett goes vowel-happy here, but I can't deny that the final I was helpful.  I had CAME, CAMEO, CAMEOS, COUSIN, ACINOUS (courtesy of Monday's game), MIAOUS, and MANIOCS / MASONIC.  After time I also find ACUMENS, CAESIUM, and ENCOMIA.  Some other sevens we've had recently are INCOMES and CINEMAS.

It's another 6/5 effort from the contestants again -- Alicia's third five-letter word of the game, which isn't a good sign for her, but she's still well within range -- while David links last round's economic term to his seven of CONSUME.  But all three taken together remind me of food again...

Alicia: SAUCE

Scores: Brett 0 (19), Alicia 0 (11), me 47

Round 6: Target 266 from 50 3 6 7 2 9

Alicia goes for the one large option that could be a steadier for her.  The spread of smalls is good, and the target is low, so this should be gettable.  I found my way there from 300 with a little tweakage: 266 = 6*(50 - 7) + 9 - 3 + 2.  I had time enough left to see that getting there from below was simpler: 266 = (2 + 3)*50 + 7 + 9.

Brett declares 265, while Alicia has 266 which should put her into the lead.  Alicia starts with 6*50 - 3*9, and states the subtotal of 268; presumably she then subtracted 2.  But the subtotal is actually 273, so she's found 271 instead (which would still have been good for 7 points if she'd realised in time).  Worse, if she'd computed that subtotal correctly she could have just subtracted the seven: 266 = 6*50 - 3*9 - 7.

Brett checks his calculations, and announces that he has also made a mistake.  So both contestants have invalid answers in this round.  Lily shows the first of those solutions I listed.

Brett: [invalid]
Alicia: [invalid]
Me: 266
Lily: 266

Scores: Brett 0 (19), Alicia 0 (11), me 57

Second break: FERN LOUD ("A fish, or a struggle")

It seems particularly apropos for the contestants' numbers efforts tonight: FLOUNDER.

Round 7: E G D A E R V I C

AGED, EAGER, RAGED, GEARED, GRIEVED.  Brett has another six, but Alicia has found GRIEVED also, putting her within one point of Brett.  David finds DIVERGE, an anagram of GRIEVED.


Scores: Brett 0 (19), Alicia 7 (18), me 64

Round 8: Target 944 from 100 6 10 7 1 4

With just one point the difference this numbers round is quite important.  (On Countdown, Carol Vordeman liked to call it the "critical calculation", in contrast to the "crucial conundrum".)  Alicia sticks with the same mix, and the spread is good.  The target is large, but with 100 on the board it's never too large.  (Replacing it with 50 might have proven very challenging.)

I decide to use the 10, and get 944 = 10*(100 - 6) + 4 -- Lily has this solution also.  Brett declares 953, while Alicia is on-target with 944.

Except... she starts off with (10 - 1)*100 and I'm pretty sure she's in trouble right there -- with only 4, 6, and 7 to get to 44, I don't think it's possible.  She continues by adding 6*10, and she's re-used the 10; in any case, I don't see how she's going to get the final difference of 16 without reusing the 10 and 6 yet again.  At the risk of sounding nonsensical, this is an extremely invalid solution.

That brings Brett's nine-away 953 into play, and it's not invalid this time: 953 = 10*100 - 6*7 - 4 - 1.  Just a minor bit of tweaking would have seen him get the target: 944 = 10*(100 - 1) - 6*7 - 4.  Still, the numbers have finally yielded some points this game, although they can't affect the outcome at this point.

Brett: 953
Alicia: [invalid]
Me: 944
Lily: 944

Scores: Brett 0 (24), Alicia 7 (18), me 74


With six points the difference, the conundrum will decide.  But Alicia's slip in that last numbers game means that it is Brett ahead, rather than her, and so she'll have to find it in order to win.

It's a slippery one, as the -ATION ending is a red herring.  There's many wrong paths to go down; probably a little desperately, Alicia buzzes in after 24 seconds with AIR CONDITION, which she knows is wrong as she says it.  Brett is unable to solve it in the remaining time, but is through on the strength of being ahead.

I was unable to find it in the audience at the time, and I did remember it clearly now, so I won't count it.  The answer is INDICATOR.

Brett: [no answer]
Alicia: [invalid]
Me: [no answer]

Final scores: Brett 0 (24), Alicia 7 (18), me 74

Very nervous play from both contestants, and Brett is extremely lucky to have won.  Neither did that well on the letters, but it was the numbers where this game was lost -- four of the declarations were invalid, one was not within range, and the other was only just barely there.  That's really not good enough, and the seven points from a very easy-to-find 400 in the first game would have given Alicia the win.

Brett has the dubious distinction of being in the games with the highest and lowest combined totals.

My score from the audience had been 65; to know that I would have gone won 65 to nil against Brett on those values, after losing the previous game 63 to 66, really drives home how much luck is in this short game.  Certainly I know that I was a bit lucky in my early games; against some competitors I would have been beaten in at least two of them.

Toby had left for make-up just before the conundrum but was able to view it from the make-up room and told me later that he had solved it, finding INDICATOR.  Combined with his finding REFLATION earlier -- assuming he would have risked it -- that gave him a one point victory over my audience score in the head-to-head comparison.  Hopefully he can keep that performance up and Brett will find a return to form; if so, it should be a cracking game.


Mike Backhouse said...

Brett did not rise to his high standards from yesterday's show. I think you were unlucky yesterday Geoff.

(6+10)*25=400 (1 off)
Lily's way

Anonymous said...

I couldn't regret going on this show more. The oversized signed dictionary I was presented with by no means compensates for the humiliation of performing so poorly on the day due only to nerves and not lack of ability. Not to mention the day of annual leave I'll never get back. And worst of all, reading this play by play narrative and apparent insight of someone who I do not know or remember is sickening. There's a 9 letter word for you!