Friday, 9 December 2011

Ep 335: Toby Baldwin, Richard Stevens (December 9, 2011)

Rounds: Here.

Richard asks Toby for his review of memorable moments of the episodes so far.  Toby notes that there have been several themes -- some of them his own generation -- and remarks with mild amusement that he has been trying to make David's life difficult when trying to match words to themes.  From my perspective, only episode 333 really delivered in terms of a running theme for the show, but it did so very well.

Tonight's challenger is... another Richard.  I'm going to avoid having to clarify which Richard I mean by not referring to Richard Morecroft again for the rest of this post.

Anyway, Richard Stevens is up; he is the managing director of a medical device distribution company who plays keyboards for a rock band.  There's been quite a few musicians recently!  His band is called Bang Shang a Lang and they play 70's and 80's covers at corporate events, and at pubs and clubs around Sydney.

It's yet another close game tonight, in part because the numbers once again pose stumbling blocks for the contestants -- a whopping five out of six declarations are invalid.  They mostly match on the letters rounds, having the same word three of the five times, and the scores are tied going into the conundrum.  Toby finds the solution seven seconds in to win the game 44 to 34, and becomes the second retiring champion of the series.

I almost had a very good game tonight; just some confusion over the final numbers stopped that.  Once again I missed a full monty, but I'm not that upset about it this time -- it would have been good to find it, but icing on the cake.

As usual, details after the jump.

Round 1: F D T O A M I E N

A reasonable set of letters to kick off with.  I found TOAD, DAFT, ATOM, DIATOM, FOAMED, and DOMINATE.  I struggled to find the sevens here, but fortunately leapfrogged the need with that eight.

Toby has six, and Richard has found the seven of FAINTED.  Two other sevens in this mix are DEFIANT (an anagram of FAINTED), and MEDIANT (a musical term for the third degree of a scale; there are also mathematical meanings, but the Macquarie does not list those).  MEDIANT is worth remembering as it's a set of relatively common letters; we've definitely seen it a few times before on the show.

Richard: FAINTED

Scores: Toby 0, Richard 0 (7), me 8

Round 2: R U E G D S N O C

This time I got RUDE, SURGED, GROUNDS, SCOURGED, SCOURED, and SURGEON.  After time I find SOUNDER and GUERDONS.  I wasn't completely sure that SCOURGE would be a verb as well as a noun, but I decided to risk it and it was all right.

Both contestants have GROUNDS, and David notes that he was wanting Richard to select a final vowel as an E would give UNDERGOES for nine.  (Note that the actual A would still give the nine of DANGEROUS.)  The vowel is good odds, but there's a few consonants which also give nines: D, L, R, and... C.  David has found SCROUNGED in there, finishing off the week with a full monty.

Richard: GROUNDS

Scores: Toby 0 (7), Richard 0 (14), me 16

Round 3: Target 781 from 100 2 3 1 9 4

On his final night Toby changes up his numbers selection again, choosing a single large number.  The advantage of this mix is that it reduces the possibilities a lot -- you can be pretty sure that you will be multiplying by that large number in some fashion, and the rest is likely to be tweaking.  That's why I suggest this instead of two large for those who are weaker on the numbers.

In this instance the small numbers are a little lower than one might like, but the idea expressed above still works.  I found 781 = 2*(4*100 - 9) - 1.  After time ran out I wondered if that 9 might be a useful multiplier instead, and found 781 = 9*(100 - 3*4 - 1) - 2.

Toby is one away with 782, but Richard is right on target with 781.  He's already seven points ahead, so this could be a decisive early break.  It would have been, too, except... he starts off with (9 - 1)*100 and then announces that he has made an error.  That gives Toby a chance to equalise, and he does so with 782 = (9 - 1)*100 - (4 + 2)*3.  A 17-point turnaround on that error!

Lily demonstrates the tweaking that would have let Richard's start work: 781 = (9 - 1)*(100 - 2) - 3

Toby: 782
Richard: [invalid]
Me: 781
Lily: 781

Scores: Toby 0 (14), Richard 0 (14), me 26

First break: HISS RAFT ("A famous beachgoer")

The "famous" is indicating STAR, and hence STARFISH.

David's talk starts off with a riddle: What links the words banana, cheese, wig, and enchilada?  This sounds like exactly the sort of puzzle that would be on the BBC game show Only Connect.  I'm going to spoil it straight away, I'm afraid: They can all be prefixed by the word 'big' to form terms meaning 'boss'.  David then gives some possible etymologies of the phrase "the big cheese".

Round 4: V A O T R L S I H

The round starts with a V, and wow -- it feels like it's been a long time since we saw one of those.  This is an instance where I was hoping the contestant would call a vowel at the end; I wanted an I for VITRIOLS, but most vowels lead to eights.  (An O would even give a nine of VIOLATORS.)  The actual A would have allowed AVIATORS, VARIOLAS (VARIOLA: smallpox), and TRAVAILS, but the H made sevens the limit.

I found TARO / ROTA, ROAST, RATIOS, pondered AIRSHOT (it's two words: AIR SHOT), amused myself by wondering if an AIRSLOTH was someone who fell asleep on the plane, and continued with VIOLAS and finally HARLOTS.

Both contestants have sixes, and David has found the somewhat more straightforward seven of TAILORS.  Two other sevens available were THORIAS (THORIA: a particular oxide of thorium) and RIALTOS (RIALTO: an exchange or mart).

Richard: TRAILS

Scores: Toby 0 (20), Richard 0 (20), me 33

Round 5: R T S W A E L I O

The I plays well with the olestra mix, and there's a heap of sevens here.  I found STRAW / WARTS, WATERS, WAITERS, and WASTREL.  After time I notice that TAILORS from the previous round is in there.

Both contestants have sevens; a few of the other sevens are ISOLATE, TROWELS, RETAILS / SALTIER / SALTIRE, and TOILERS.  (The spelling ISOLATER is not allowed; it would have to be ISOLATOR.)

Richard: WAITERS

Scores: Toby 7 (27), Richard 7 (27), me 40

Round 6: Target 556 from 75 25 2 9 6 4

Richard goes for the family mix, and the general aim is clear: Get to 550, then add that 6.  I fairly quickly found 556 = (75 - 25)*(9 + 2) + 6, which is the same solution that Lily later uses.  It's also possible to avoid the 75 entirely, with 556 = 25*(9*2 + 4) + 6.  I wondered about taking a different approach and using the implicit 100 -- it turns out to be workable, with 556 = 6*(75 + 25) - 4*(9 + 2).

Both contestants are one away with 555; Richard's solution starts with (6 + 2)*75 = 600, 4*9 = 36... and then he realises that he's made a mistake somewhere -- there's no way to piece those bits together into a solution.  Most likely he used the 9 twice, subtracting that 36 and another 9 to get to the target.

Toby starts in similar fashion, with 555 = 4*2*75 - 6*9 + 9, but that also uses the 9 twice and is invalid.  So both contestants fell victim to phantom extra nines (assuming that I am correct about Richard's approach).

Toby: [invalid]
Richard: [invalid]
Me: 556
Lily: 556

Scores: Toby 7 (27), Richard 7 (27), me 50

Second break: RASP SUIT ("On another level")

In this clue "level" refers to height, and the answer is UPSTAIRS.

Round 7: D C T E U P H A I

I found CUTE, CHUTE, wondered about CHUTED (it is invalid), TAUPE, UPDATE, and then a common word from this show: HEPATIC.  Finally within time I get PATCHED and PITCHED.  After time I note the anagram of HEPATIC: APHETIC.

Both contestants have found PITCHED; David has picked up on Richard's Yorkshire accent and suggests that it should have guided him to find PITHEAD, the top of a mine shaft.

Richard: PITCHED

Scores: Toby 14 (34), Richard 14 (34), me 57

Round 8: Target 708 from 75 2 10 8 9 9

Richard tries a single large number this time, and as the small numbers go up the duplicated 9 and the lack of spread suggests that this could be tricky.  I think for a moment that I have a solution via 10*70 + 8... but my method of getting to 70 uses up the 8 and it doesn't work.  (It was 70 = 75 - 8 + 2 + 9/9.)  That leaves me scrambling for time and I have to fall back to six away with 702 = 9*(75 + 2) + 9, not having enough time to check the total and see that adding the 8 would have been merely two off with 710.  This is definitely the worst numbers round I've had for a long time.

A little patience with the original idea, but discarding the 75, would have gotten to just one off with 709 = (9*8 - 2)*10 + 9.  After time, I finally found a solution: 708 = 8*75 + 9*(10 + 2).

Richard beats me with three away and 705, but Toby does better again with 709 and one away.  Toby explains his solution as 9*75 + 10 + 8 + 2 + 9... but that is 704, so his solution is invalid.  Richard is then called upon to give his 705, but it turns out that he has used a 9 three times, so his is also invalid.  That's three invalid numbers rounds from him -- he must be disappointed with that.

So quite unexpectedly (and very undeservedly) I end up with five points for the 702.  Lily is on target once more, showing that a modification of my original idea works handily: 708 = (75 - (8 - 2))*10 + 9 + 9.  Bravo!

Toby: [invalid]
Richard: [invalid]
Me: 702
Lily: 708

Scores: Toby 14 (34), Richard 14 (34), me 62


Scores level going into the conundrum, with almost identical performance throughout.  Whoever loses is going to regret some missed chances, though.

The letters don't seem like the most compatible bunch; I briefly toy with a -FUL ending, before somehow ending up on the right track six seconds in -- just a second ahead of Toby who wins his final game to become a retiring champion, and has solved four of his six conundrums.

Toby: FRIVOLOUS (7s)
Richard: [no answer]

Final scores: Toby 14 (34), Richard 14 (34), me 72

So Toby becomes the series' second retiring champion, in what has to be said was moderately unconvincing fashion.  He sometimes gives away a lot in the numbers, but has been fortunate that his opponents have not capitalised when he has done so.  (Only George Somolos from episode 333 has made him pay for those numeric indiscretions, but had not been able to keep up on the letters.)  Against that, he has a good record on the conundrums, which has mattered in three of those six games.

Richard will probably be ruing what might have been if he'd just been a little more careful on those numbers rounds.  He actually had the better of the letters rounds (just slightly), but gave it back in one of the numbers and failed to draw away in the others, leaving him vulnerable to that conundrum loss.

For my part, while I would have loved to have seen the nine in round 2, it's the numbers round flub in round 8 that stops this being a great round.  Just a little cooler head would likely have steered it safely to one away, and a very high score for a nine-less round.  A very comfortable victory nonetheless.

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