Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Ep 332: Toby Baldwin, Eleanor Lamb (December 6, 2011)

Rounds: Here.

Yesterday we learned more about Toby's music interests, and today Richard asks him about what his pathology work involves.  Toby processes and tests specimens, both from within the hospital and from outside it.  A good deal of it is clinical trial work, so it is important to be extra careful with names and dates to ensure that the integrity of the trial is maintained.  Richard has this view of Toby peering down microscopes, but Toby says that it is more a matter of operating "big machines", spinning samples down, and maintaining the very expensive equipment.

Tonight's challenger is Eleanor Lamb, a university student and musician.  She plays trombone in a ska band, The Kujo Kings, and every week or two they'll have a gig somewhere in Melbourne (usually a pub or a bar, as is to be expected).  The band has two EPs out, with Eleanor playing on one of them.

There's some awkward rounds early on (uncooperative letters, and a difficult numbers target), but then things settle down.  Toby has the better of it, and a solution to the final numbers round sees him safely ahead for the conundrum.  He solves the conundrum, too, winning the game 54 points to 28.

I really struggled in those first three rounds, missing a word I should have found and changing tacks at the wrong point in the numbers round (leading to two away, which I think is the worst for a while).  But I had not fallen behind and the rest went as well as it could, complete with an early conundrum solution and a comfortable win in the end.

As usual, details after the jump.

Round 1: P R G O A I L H O

Disclaimer: I watched this episode later in the evening (as is my tendency); at the time it was aired I happened to catch a glimpse of David's word for this round being put up on the board.  I would not have found that word (and didn't try to claim it), but may have been background-processing the letters throughout the early evening, making my finds easier.  I believe I would have found what I did in any case, but fortunately it would not affect the outcome.

Anyway... gah, what a set of letters.  Nothing really comes together; I had PAIR, HALO, GIRL, and POLAR.  After time I add some other fives: GLOOP (invalid, despite a much later comment by David; GLOP and GOOP are both acceptable, however), LARGO, GRAPH, and POLIO.

Both contestants have fives; Toby has PHIAL, which I am grateful to David for requesting the spelling check on because I missed it completely -- great find!  Eleanor has GRAIL, and gets the nod... but shouldn't have.  The only entry for GRAIL in the Macquarie is capitalised, an entry pointing to HOLY GRAIL.  There's no suggestion in the latter that a lowercase variant is allowed.

(I knew this in advance, because I'd looked it up some time ago for another letters round.  I was a little surprised that there was no allowable lowercase variant, as a generic object to be sought after.)

David has found a six, somehow: HOOPLA.  He describes it as another word for 'fuss' or 'commotion'; the Macquarie also lists the game sense (a game of throwing hoops to encircle objects).

There's another six, that might be more findable: GLORIA (amongst other senses, it can mean a halo or nimbus).

Eleanor: GRAIL

Scores: 5 apiece

Round 2: A U E F M S C I B

We follow up one awkward mix with another, although slightly better.  I found FUME, AMUSE, MUSIC, IAMBUS, and CUBISM.

Both contestants have fives, and David has found a familiar seven that I am very vexed at overlooking: CAESIUM.  I didn't even notice the -IUM potential this time -- bother!

Some other sixes (looks like CAESIUM might be the only seven) are IMBUES and MISCUE / CESIUM (a variant spelling).

Eleanor: MUSIC

Scores: Toby 5 (10), Eleanor 5 (10), me 11

Round 3: Target 859 from 25 75 9 6 4 8

Too much second-guessing myself on this one.  My first instinct was to start with 12*75; had I persisted with that there was an easy one-away with 860 = (4 + 8)*75 - 25 - 6 - 9.  I truncated that investigation upon thinking that maybe using 9*100 would be better, leaving more small numbers.  I'd mostly -- but not completely -- written down a different one-away of 858 = 9*(75 + 25 - 4) - 6 when I decided that I really needed to preserve that 9 to be able to get to the odd target.  So I tried approaching from below, but with time almost gone I had to commit to it and ended up two away with 861 = 8*(75 + 25 + 6) + 9 + 4, having discarded two approaches that led to better solutions.  Yeesh!

(Note that 858 = 8*(75 + 25) + 9*6 + 4 is better; sometimes tweaking isn't always best!)

A little calmer reflection after time expired highlighted what I should have focussed on: That 859 was 9 away from a multiple of 25.  A little tweaking then yielded 859 = (8/4)*(75*6 - 25) + 9.

Toby is outside the scoring range with 846 -- I'm guessing this was (8 + 4)*75 - 9*6 -- but Eleanor has 860.  She starts of by saying (9 + 8)*50... then realises that there is no 50, and declares it invalid.  She might have been unlucky here (a reversal of fortune after getting away with GRAIL?), as 50 = 75 - 25 is quite clear.  If she had written that down anywhere else on the paper it would have been acceptable to use it in that fashion.  The intended method was presumably 860 = (9 + 8)*(75 - 25) + 6 + 4.

Lily admits to having had some problems herself, but comes back after the break with the nice solution 859 = (6 + 4)*25 + 8*75 + 9.

Toby: [not in range]
Eleanor: [invalid]
Me: 861

Scores: Toby 5 (10), Eleanor 5 (10), me 18

First break: SIN MITRE ("Give care, and preach care")

I think that all I can say is "Yes, MINISTER".

David's talk is about an old scam called the 'fawney rig', which is the probable source of the word 'phoney'.

Round 4: E A E T R D S L A

Finally some friendly letters!  I found TEAR, TREAD, SALTER, TRADES, LEADERS, and TREADLES.

Eleanor has a seven, but Toby has also found TREADLES and moves ahead; David has nothing better to offer.

I originally wasn't keen on that final vowel choice, which will probably not surprise anyone who has been reading this blog.  There's several consonant choices that lead to nines: RESTABLED, DECRETALS (I mentioned that DECRETAL was a noun back in episode 312), SLATHERED, PLASTERED, TREADLERS, and STEELYARD.  That's good odds (the next consonant was not any of these, mind you), but the vowel offered better ones with an O giving DESOLATER or an I yielding DETAILERS, or the rather unlikely TREADLIES (plural of TREADLY, colloquial for a bicycle).  No joy either way and eight remains the best, but the vowel was the way to go.


Scores: Toby 13 (18), Eleanor 5 (10), me 26

Round 5: K T N I O R I P E

That K isn't so helpful, but the rest are reasonable.  I found KNIT, KNOT, IRON, and then coincidence comes into play.  I'd been hoping for another O for PORTION, but the E brought something better.  Recently a Letters and Numbers Bloopers video was released, and at 4:37 there is a section where Lily has some difficulties putting up PROTEIN on the board.  That was relatively fresh in my memory, so I easily found PROTEIN and POINTER, and then realised that I could mix in the I to get POINTIER.  I was a little nervous about trying it, but thought that I might have checked it once before and found it to be all right, so I risked it and was rewarded.

(It's clearly from a different game, based on the other letters and Lily's outfits, so I don't feel that this was an unreasonable advantage.)

Eleanor only has a four, which is unfortunate.  Toby seems unsure about his choice of PINKER, but the single-syllable rule makes it automatically valid.

Eleanor: KNIT

Scores: Toby 13 (24), Eleanor 5 (10), me 34

Round 6: Target 384 from 50 25 100 9 3 2

Eleanor goes for three-and-three, and I heartily approve of a bit of variety in the numbers rounds.  It is not too challenging, though, and everyone finds 384 = 3*100 + 50 + 25 + 9.  Amusingly, both contestants put down their pens and fold their arms at about the same time, fifteen seconds in.  It looks like they do check their results, though, which is good.

Toby: 384
Eleanor: 384
Me: 384
Lily: 384

Scores: Toby 23 (34), Eleanor 15 (20), me 44

Second break: CAN RATIO ("Precipitation protector")

A straight clue for RAINCOAT

Round 7: N S D T U A O S E

There's a bit of a build-as-you-go quality about this one.  STUN, DAUNTS, ASTOUND, and ASTOUNDS.  After time I find SUNDAES, although it scores less.

Toby stays with six while Eleanor finds the eight, getting back the ground lost over TREADLES.

A couple of other eights here are SOUNDEST (single-syllable rule again), and SOUTANES (more-or-less the same as 'cassocks' in meaning; the Macquarie defines them as the same, anyway).


Scores: Toby 23 (34), Eleanor 23 (28), me 52

Round 8: Target 606 from 100 75 25 4 9 2

Eleanor can't afford to lose points on this round, and she tries a repeat of the previous since it worked so well then.  Unfortunately for her, Toby finds the target while she does not, and she's out of contention before the conundrum.

Sixes are the key here, and there's two ways to make them (which turns out to be important).  I first found 606 = (4 + 2)*100 + 9 - 75/25, then experimented with a different approach to get 606 = 9*75 - (100 - 25) + 4 + 2.

Eleanor has 609, presumably (4 + 2)*100 + 9 and missing the final adjustmen by three available from 75/25.  Admittedly, it is possible that she had 2*4*75 + 9, but less likely.  Toby and Lily, meanwhile, have the first solution that I gave.

Toby: 606
Eleanor: 609
Me: 606
Lily: 606

Scores: Toby 33 (44), Eleanor 23 (28), me 62


Not much to say about this one.  Started by thinking of PROTECT, but there's no second T.  Re-routed to trying the -ATE ending, and had the answer five seconds in.  Toby found it some 15 seconds later.

Toby: CORPORATE (20s)
Eleanor: [no answer]

Final scores: Toby 33 (54), Eleanor 23 (28), me 72

It was a messy start to the game, but then things eased up with eights available and the targets gettable.  Both could have done better, and Eleanor must be ruing that first numbers game; if she'd written down her answer a little more carefully she could have made the conundrum matter.  It was nice to see some variety in the numbers rounds, and I hope more contestants do that more often.  It was also nice to see some eights found, one by each contestant.

I was off my game at the start, and fortunate to take the points in rounds 2 and 3.  Aside from that, it was all as good as could have been expected, so I'm OK with that.  I am getting a bit sick of all these vowels, though -- this is the third game in a row where there have been four (or more!) vowels in every letters round.


Mike Backhouse said...

Geoff's incomplete 1 away
everyone's way
Geoff's first solution

Geoff Bailey said...

Eleanor got away with GRAIL, so I guess you do also. *chuckles* But GLAIR is safer! In any case, nice game, Mike!

Tamsyn Phidifidy said...

I am a friend of Ellie Lamb, and was hoping to find the episode to surprise her with, as she is quite embarrassed with it.
Would you happen to have any links for this episode?


Geoff Bailey said...

(I've removed my previous response which had a contact email address for me, since I've not received such an email after a week.)

Tamsyn, if you want to follow up on this, leave me a contact email address.