Monday, 12 December 2011

Ep 336: Lainie Mercieca, Duncan Butler (December 12, 2011)

Rounds: Here.

With Toby winning his last game and retiring undefeated, we have two new contestants tonight.  First up is Lainie Mercieca, described as a "quiz show devotee".  She's been on many shows, apparently, including Wheel of Fortune, The Weakest Link, Sale of the Century, and Temptation.  She enjoys the challenge of them and also the whole lights/camera/action vibe; she finds it all a lot of fun.

Next up is Duncan Butler, an excavator operator.  He's asked what his most fun job was, and relates how when he was much younger he worked in a department store, assembling and testing toys and bicycles for Christmas sales.  He and the other employees turned the loading dock into their private playpen.

Duncan falls behind early, and although he finishes well the only time he outpoints Lainie is in the conundrum.  It lets him finish on a good note, but Lainie has the victory with 59 points to Duncan's 33.

For my part I similarly outpaced Lainie, winning by a similar margin.  There was a blemish with the first numbers round, but aside from that it was fairly comfortable territory.

As usual, details after the jump.

Round 1: I B E S C O N D E

The letters start out unpromisingly, but improve.  I found SCONE, SECOND (it really was just sitting there), and OBSCENE.  For a moment I thought that OBEDIENCE was there, but that needs yet another E.

The contestants go five-six, and David notes that it should be possible to append that E to Lainie's SECOND to get SECONDE, a fencing term.  He has to check that, but he is correct.  He also found OBSCENE, and the eight of CODEINES.

Some other sevens in this mix are ENCODES (an anagram of SECONDE), DIOCESE, and BODICES.  There's even another eight: EBONISED (EBONISE: To stain or finish in imitation of ebony).

Lainie: SECOND
Duncan: BISON

Scores: Lainie 0 (6), Duncan 0, me 7

Round 2: T S I A R G N E F

This mix, on the other hand, starts well and continues that way; with the retsina in play there's easy eights, but the F ruins hopes for a nine.  Building as we go, I find STAIR, GRATIS, STARING, and INGRATES.  The F won't add, but I also find STRAFING in time, and wish that AFTERSIGN meant something.

Duncan is a letter behind with STRANGE to Lainie's FEASTING, while David lists some other eighs.  For good measure I'll also mention FAINTERS and FRIGATES, and that INGRATES has GANTRIES, ANGRIEST, and ASTRINGE as anagrams.  (ASTRINGE, oddly, is a verb -- to compress, or to bind together -- so ASTRINGES might be useful one day.  Or ASTRINGED, but GRADIENTS is easier in that case.)


Scores: Lainie 8 (14), Duncan 0, me 15

Round 3: Target 816 from 50 75 3 4 9 9

Lainie asks for "four midgets and two monsters", and gets back an awkward combination.  I jumped in the wrong direction with this one, starting with 819 = 3*4*75 - 9*9; I then turned the desired offset (from 900) into 86 (should have been 84) and found 814 = 4*(3*75 - 9) - 50.  These shenanigans ran out my time (well, with searching for other approaches, like 16*51), and so I had to stay with that.

After time ran out I realised that I should have stuck with the standard approach: The nearest multiple of 25 is helpfully 9 away from the target, and we have a 9.  I overcomplicated it, but did find 816 = (50 - (9 - 3))/4 * 75 - 9 without too much struggle after that.  Later I found the somewhat simpler 816 = 3*(9 - 4)*50 + 75 - 9.

Duncan has nothing to declare, and Lainie is seven away with 809 = 50*(9 + 4 + 3) + 9.  Lily has the nice solution 816 = 9*75 + 3*50 - 9.

Lainie: 809
Duncan: [no answer]
Me: 814
Lily: 816

Scores: Lainie 8 (19), Duncan 0, me 22

First break: DOLE LEVY ("Performed some networking")

A tennis reference, and the answer is VOLLEYED.

David's talk is about the names of hybrid dog breeds; he says that this started with a blind woman's request for a guide dog that would not trigger allergies, leading to the crossbreeding of the labradoodle.

Round 4: D R I U H L S O E

I'm thinking that I don't much like this mix, but that a final E would give SHOULDER... and then it's called and gotten.  All I found were HURL, HURLS, and SHOULDER, so I bypassed several sevens.

Both contestants have sixes, and Duncan is on the board at last; David also has SHOULDER and notes HIDEOUS in passing as a seven.  Some other sevens that were available are HURDLES, LOUSIER, and SOLDIER.  SOLDIER in particular turns up relatively frequently and is worth having as part of one's game lexicon (as it were).

Lainie: HOUSED
Duncan: HURLED

Scores: Lainie 8 (25), Duncan 0 (6), me 30

Round 5: R I D M K E N A R

I had MIRK (variant spelling of MURK, brough to mind by Tolkien's 'Mirkwood'), MIRED, IRKED, ADMIRE, ADMIRER, and MARRIED.  With that last pair I could just envisage David saying something like, "... and something an ADMIRER might hope to do is get MARRIED."

Lainie outpoints Duncan again with a seven; two common sevens not mentioned by anyone are MARINER and DRAINER.

Duncan: REMARK

Scores: Lainie 15 (32), Duncan 0 (6), me 37

Round 6: Target 530 from 50 75 100 6 4 10

Duncan goes for three of each in his first numbers choice, and pulls up an approachable set.  The first thought was to get a five -- in this case 50/10 -- and then get to 525.  Lacking a 7 (for 7*75) or a 3 (for 3*175), I resorted to 530 = 6*100 - 75 + 50/10; this turns out to be the same solution that Lainie had.

With time left to experiment I decided to try using that 10, and found 530 = (4*75/100 + 50)*10.  This (with minor differences in order of evaluation) is the solution that Lily later demonstrates.

After time, I wondered if it could be useful to divide the large numbers (in this case, 100/50), and found one more solution: 530 = 6*75 + (100/50)*4*10.

Duncan is one away with 529; I'm guessing this was 529 = 6*100 - 75 + 4.  That puts him 36 behind and still technically in with a chance but he needs a nine-letter word next game.

Lainie: 530
Duncan: 529
Me: 530
Lily: 530

Scores: Lainie 25 (42), Duncan 0 (6), me 47

Second break: EARL BABE ("As much as a grizzly can carry")

Easy enough to unravel BEARABLE from that wordplay.

Round 7: L O I D P A W T E

That W pretty much sinks any remote chance that Duncan had.  At the time it turned up I was hoping for an H for HAPLOID, but with the actual letters I found IDOL, PATIO, and PLAITED.  After time I found TADPOLE and OPIATED (I think this last was responsible for those nagging "there's something here you've seen before" feelings).

Everyone has sevens; another unmentioned one is OEDIPAL.  But the eight in this mix is PETALOID: Having the shape or appearance of a petal.


Scores: Lainie 32 (49), Duncan 7 (13), me 54

Round 8: Target 155 from 25 100 6 4 10 9

It may perhaps be a relief that Duncan is beyond contention at this point, because the target is far too easy to be challenging.  Amusingly, everyone has a different method.  I decided to get there by either adding or subtracting 25, and found 155 = 100 + (9 - 6)*10 + 25, which I then simplified to 155 = (9 + 4)*10 + 25.  (I overlooked the option 155 = 9*(10 + 6 + 4) - 25, incidentally.)

Duncan goes first with 155 = 100 + 4*10 + 9 + 6, while Lainie has 155 = 25*6 + 4 + (10 - 9).  Lily's version was 155 = 100 + 6*10 - (9 - 4).

Lainie: 155
Duncan: 155
Me: 155
Lily: 155

Scores: Lainie 42 (59), Duncan 17 (23), me 64


Looking at possible endings soon saw me home, solving this in 2.5s.  Lainie buzzes in at the six second mark with the invalid CATAPULTED, and when the clock restarts Duncan finds the actual answer just three seconds later.  A good note for him to end on, getting 27 points in the last three rounds, but it was too little too late.

Lainie: [invalid] (6s)
Duncan: DUPLICATE (9s)
Me: DUPLICATE (2.5s)

Final scores: Lainie 42 (59), Duncan 17 (33), me 74

A comfortable win for Lainie, scoring in every round but the conundrum.  Duncan certainly had his chances in both letters and numbers but he wasn't able to find them at the time.  Lainie looks more comfortable with the numbers than any contestant we've had for a while, so that's a nice change.  (Although they weren't the best numbers to test that claim, so we'll see what tomorrow brings.)

There's not that much to say about my performance; on the letters I missed CODEINES, which I'm OK with.  I'd have liked to have done better on the first numbers round -- I really did bypass the obvious approach, as I am sometimes wont to do -- but overall it was a decent game.

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