Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Ep 337: Lainie Mercieca, Hiep Do (December 13, 2011)

Rounds: Here.

Lainie returns, this time described as a quiz show "participant" rather than a devotee.  There is a passing mention of her having been on 1 vs. 100 as well as the others listed yesterday, then Richard asks her whether she prepares well in advance for the shows.  She definitely does, and lists her preparation for this show as having a copy of the book that she's been practicing with as well as watching the show every night.  That's... really the bare minimum one could do, so I hope that she did a bit more than that and just didn't mention it.  And while I'm on this tangent, the first five books (covering episodes 1 to 250) are now available at the SBS shop.

(As a brief digression here, Lainie did not respond that well to the conversational hooks she was given.  Future contestants: A question is not something to give a yes or no answer to, but something giving you an opportunity to expand a little on the subject matter.)

Tonight's challenger is Hiep Do, at sixteen year of age the youngest a participant is currently allowed to be.  He's completing year 11 at what is described as Victoria's first specialist sports school.  Richard asks what they do at the school, and Hiep responds that they have a wide range of sports with both before- and after-school training.  He lists soccer, tennis, and "footy" in particular, but says that it is pretty much any sport.  (Not surprisingly, the school website has a more comprehensive list.)  Richard switches tacks, asking where Hiep hopes to go after he finishes school.  Hiep aims to one day do some journalism, to travel the world and see the world, or maybe do some sport science.

There's a bit of back-and-forth in the letters rounds that Hiep has slightly the better of, coupled with a better numbers result that sees Hiep safely clear going into the conundrum.  Just as well, as he buzzes in with an incorrect answer and Lainie solves it within the remaining time; in the end there's just three points in it, with Hiep winning 43 to 40.

For my part... oh, my, this was a poor game.  Ryan, if you're still reading this, I expect to hear from you about how you crushed me tonight.  A missed eight in the letters, two rather poor numbers rounds (including a nine-away shocker under pressure that bizarrely ended up counting), and an incorrect conundrum attempt.  I thought for a while that this would be my first loss of the series, but that second numbers round defeated the contestants completely and I scraped home with the win.  The score was higher, but my disappointment in the numbers performance makes this feel like a worse performance than that of episode 314.

As usual, details after the jump.

Round 1: A C R O T S E E N

Quite a decent set of letters, but I somehow end up spending more time thinking about how good they are than finding words.  I have ORCA, then a bit of a lull as I somehow miss ACTOR and ACTORS, picking up as I find ESCORT / SECTOR and CREATES.  There's many other sevens I see during my search for longer, but I didn't bother to write them down.  The eight eludes me as I enter one of those unhelpful thought spirals where I spend more time thinking that I should be finding an eight than actually searching for one, and so it stays at seven.

After time I easily find RESONATE and ENACTORS.  *sigh*

Both contestants have seven, and I count myself lucky not to have fallen behind.  David has found an eight, however: ANCESTOR.

I'll mention another eight of NOTECASE, and there's even a nine of CAROTENES, making this the second game within the space of a week where a nine has been missed by all.  (The previous instance being round 2 of episode 334.)


Scores: 7 apiece

Round 2: Y T I M F U A G E

The Y is an unpromising start, and the mix continues unhelpfully.  I had MUFTI and GAMUT, and was hoping that an E would be the final letter so that I could have FATIGUE.  It was, but then I spotted the even better FUMIGATE, a word with some history on the show.  (FUMIGATES was a nine found by both contestants in an early episode of series one that featured three nine-letter words in a row, although only David found the middle one.)

Hiep described his answer as a "tiring seven", making it clear what his answer is.  Lainie looks like she is trying to come up with a matching hint for her word, but ends up simply calling it "only a five".

Lainie: AMITY

Scores: Lainie 7, Hiep 7 (14), me 15

Round 3: Target 796 from 25 100 10 1 7 2

The minor adjustments are hard in this case.  It looks like getting a four will use up all the important small numbers, but as I failed to find anything better in time I end up with two away with 794 = (10 - 2)*100 - (7 - 1).  After time runs out I see that a slight variant goes one better: 795 = (7 + 1)*100 - 10/2.

Again after time, wondering if 25+1 can get the final 6 leads me to the solution 796 = 7*(100 + 10) + 25 + 1.

Lainie is three away with 799 -- which I'll guess was 799 = 10*(100 - 25 + 7 - 2) - 1 -- but Hiep is just one away, with the 795 shown above.

Lily has avoided the dead ends and found the solution listed above; a good solve on a tricky one.

Another solution found during review of this post is 796 = 7*(100 + 25 - 10 - 1) - 2.

Lainie: 799
Hiep: 795
Me: 794
Lily: 796

Scores: Lainie 7, Hiep 14 (21), me 15

First break: MOW BROOK ("This insect only devours paper")

A straight clue for a BOOKWORM.

David's talk is about words with multiple meanings, and in particular contranyms: Words with contradictory or opposing meanings.

Round 4: H S O E T R B A S

Lots more options in this mix; I found SHOE / HOSE, ETHOS, HORSE, BOTHERS, BATHERS, and BOASTERS / SORBATES.  After time I added BRASHEST to the list, but no sign of a nine.

It's seven-eight from the contestants, but Lainie has the eight this time and catches up to Hiep a little.

Another eight in this mix is HOARSEST.


Scores: Lainie 15, Hiep 14 (21), me 23

Round 5: M O I P L A G C U

After the eights from the previous three letters rounds, there's this... mess.  I was hoping that the final vowel would be an E for PELAGIC ("relating to seas or oceans"); David was likewise hoping for an E for the somewhat more straightforward COMPILE, but we were both denied.  Within time I found PAIL, LOGIC, and MIAOU; there's several other fives, but I did not note them in my search for a six.

Both contestants have fives, but David has come through with the goods, finding the six of CUPOLA (a rounded vault or dome).  There's at least two other sixes here, related medical terms: LIPOMA (a tumour made of fat tissue) and GLIOMA (a tumour arising from and consisting of neuroglia -- the connective tissue within the central nervous system).

Lainie: CLAMP

Scores: Lainie 20, Hiep 19 (26), me 28

Round 6: Target 729 from 25 5 2 10 6 8

As all those even small numbers go up I'm feeling nervous -- they make it hard to get to odd totals.  I recognise the target straight away as 27 squared (which is to say, three to the power of six), and see 25+2 gets one 27... but finding a second 27 isn't trivial and I move to other approaches.  I should have stuck with it, however, because 729 = (25 + 2)*(8*(10 - 6) - 5) works.  Oh, well.

Getting to 725 and adjusting by four seems difficult to make work, so I consider getting there from either 700 or 750; the latter looks easier to get to but with time running out and pressure mounting I get confused and think that I want an offset of 29, rather than 21.  This leads to me having to declare a rather embarassing 720 = 6*(5*25 - 2) - 10 - 8.  This is particularly bad as before the final subtraction of 8 was done it was only one away... but I hadn't mentally corrected my goal until after time ran out.  Oh, dear.  Needless to say, I'm very unhappy with my performance on this numbers round.

There's several ways to 730, but neither contestant got within range at all, so in rather unlikely fashion my nine-away gets points.

Lily has likewise been stumped, but after the break comes back with the solution 729 = (8*10 + 25)*(5 + 2) - 6.  Impressive stuff!

Lainie: [not in range]
Hiep: [not in range]
Me: 720

Scores: Lainie 20, Hiep 19 (26), me 33

Second break: SPA TRESS ("To overstep boundaries")

Another relatively straight clue for TRESPASS

Round 7: S I T R D A N E F

With the retsina in play it's easy to find eights.  In fact, this is very similar to a round Lainie had yesterday, but it looks like neither remembered David mentioning FAINTERS then.  In any case, I had STIR, STAIR, STRAIN, STRAINED / DETRAINS, and FAINTERS.

It's six-seven from the contestants, with Hiep getting the seven; this puts him more than a conundrum's worth ahead, so Lainie will need to outdo him on the numbers next round.  With neither finding the eight I'm just barely uncatchable at this point, and breathe a sigh of relief that two poor numbers rounds have not cost me the game.

David tests Richard on his memory of the retsina mix, and Richard manages to come up with STRAINED.

Lainie: TRAINS

Scores: Lainie 20, Hiep 19 (33), me 41

Round 8: Target 202 from 25 75 8 2 4 5

Hiep turns up a very easy target, and everybody finds a solution.  That's good lead protection from Hiep; he definitely wanted either easy or hard to avoid losing ground to Lainie -- medium difficulty would have been too risky.

I went a bit complicated at first with 202 = 2*(75 + 25 + 5 - 4), then went for the simpler approach of 202 = 8*25 + 2.  This is the solution that Hiep demonstrates, and that Lily settled on after her original slightly more complicated 202 = (75 - 25)*4 + 2.

Lainie has gone differently with 202 = (75 + 25)*2 + 8/4.

Ten points all around, and Hiep is safe going into the conundrum.

Lainie: 122
Hiep: 122
Me: 122
Lily: 122

Scores: Lainie 30, Hiep 29 (43), me 51


And... oh, dear.  I think I see the answer and buzz in at the 1.5s mark.  I know it's wrong as soon as I do so, but with my finger resting over the mouse button like that there was no taking it back.  (This was, in part, why I rested my hand near but not on the buzzer when I was on the show; I didn't want a reflex twitch committing me to a wrong answer.)

I search for the proper answer, and find it in a second or two... but although it was quick, it would have been too late for validity and I have to give up the conundrum points.  Bother.

Very amusingly, both contests buzz together at the six second mark, but Hiep has just beaten Lainie to it.  That's not the amusing part; what's a little amusing is that Hiep has the same wrong guess that I did: REVENGER.  What is more amusing is that Lainie, with the remaining time on the clock, has to go back to thinking about the word... so she almost certainly had REVENGER also.  All three of us buzzed in with the same incorrect answer!

A bit over ten seconds after time is resumed, Lainie has found the correct answer.

Lainie: EVERGREEN (17s)
Hiep: [invalid]
Me: [invalid]

Final scores: Lainie 40, Hiep 29 (43), me 51

Each contestant had plenty of missed chances to improve their score, so it could have been anyone's game.  Lainie had the worst of it, though, and only the conundrum brought the scores close.  If she'd just been a little bit faster on it (or Hiep a little slower) then there would have been an ironic reversal, and a 23 point gap instead of a 3 point one.

Overall, Hiep looked the better on the letters, and it's hard to tell much about the numbers performance from the rounds today.  I look forward to seeing how he does tomorrow.

As I've already stated, I was extremely disappointed in my performance today, with that second numbers round being a true shocker.  The conundrum fail was icing on the cake of four poor rounds.  Hopefully tomorrow will be better!


Tim said...

Do you think the risk of pressing buzzer too early is greater than the risk of your competitor seeing word at same time and pressing buzzer first ?

Geoff Bailey said...

Heh. It's a good question, and given how I got eliminated a somewhat ironical one. But yes, I do think that is the case; it's very easy to almost-see a word and react too hastily. That costs you anywhere up to 30 seconds of thinking time, and gifts it to your opponent.

On the other hand, that slight slowness matters only if your opponent is essentially exactly as fast as you at working out the answer. Any faster and you are beaten anyway; any slower and you have time to move your hand.

So in the first scenario, the opponent could be much slower than you and still win, because you gave up all that time on a reflex and a phantom word.

What bit me when I was eliminated was that the conundrum was far too easy; there was no thinking time required, really, so we were both roughly the same speed. I think it is still the easiest conundrum of the series so far, to my detriment.

Mike Backhouse said...

GAMEY (FUMIGATE - well done )
Geoff's slight variant (1 off)
5*6*25-2*10=730 (1 off)
Geoff's 'complicated' way
x me too about REVENGER but realised it was missing an E.