Friday, 16 December 2011

Ep 339: Hiep Do, Megan Marks (December 15, 2011)

Rounds: Here.

Tonight we learn that Hiep attended the United Nations Youth Australia State Conference in March.  There was a model UN debate there, and they acted like the General Assembly, debating through an issue.  It's possible this may even have been for the Thant-Evatt Trophy; if so, it wasn't made clear.

Challenging Hiep tonight is Megan Marks, an arts program organiser for the Sunshine Coast Council.  There's a big emphasis on green projects up there, apparently, and they do a lot of work with ephemeral/transient projects, things with no permanent effect on the environment.  She says there are a lot of artists and creativity there, and it's a matter of skilling them up and getting that creativity out there.

There's very little to choose between the contestants on the letters, although they could certainly have done somewhat better on most rounds.  Megan has somewhat the better of the numbers, with an error from Hiep in the last numbers round giving her an unbeatable lead going into the conundrum.  With just a little more care Hiep could have sent this into conundrum overtime, and I imagine he will be ruing the lost opportunity.  Megan wins by 39 to 23.

I had two rounds where I saw better answers in the last second or two of regulation time, which didn't leave enough time to write them down -- somewhat frustrating!  Aside from that, there were some issues with my numbers round performance again, which is a worrying trend.  I was mostly good in the letters, though, including seeing a tricky nine within time.  One more comfortable victory under the belt...

As usual, details after the jump.

Round 1: N R H A U P S I O

My "there's something familiar here" sense was tingling during this.  I found SHARP, PUNISH, APRONS, and finally pinned that feeling down to ORPHANS.  But I was only able to get ORP- down before time ran out, so I cannot count it.

Fives from both contestants, but there's many sixes to be found.  David has found a different seven of RUPIAHS.  Two other sevens that could have been made are NOURISH and SOPRANI.

Megan: SHARP

Scores: Hiep 0 (5), Megan 0 (5), me 6

Round 2: R E W I T L E H S

This round makes up for a lot.  I had WIRE, LITRE, WHISTLE, wondered about WHISTLER (turns out it is valid), SHELTER, and then saw the magic of ERSTWHILE.

Both contestants have found one of the many sevens, and David has found the nine.  He's pretty pleased with it, so I will be too.

(This was an inevitable full monty, as a final vowel instead would have given an A for WEALTHIER.  In fact, both these nines were conundrums on the 1500th episode of Countdown, viewable on YouTube in four parts: part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4.)


Scores: Hiep 0 (12), Megan 0 (12), me 24

Round 3: Target 978 from 50 75 25 4 10 8

I was a bit off the pace on this one, but an initial approximation was easy enough: 975 = (8 + 4)*75 + 50 + 25.  I toyed with 10*(75 + 25), but within time only found 988 using that as a base.  So it's just as well that I wrote down that first effort -- the important of a fallback plan!

After time I see how to make that approach get me one better with 980 = 10*(75 + 25 - 8/4), and somewhat after that I find the solution of 978 = 8*(75 + 50 - 4) + 10.

Hiep declares 982 -- I'll take a guess at this being 10*(75 + 25) - 50 + 8*4 -- but Megan is closer with 975, using the approach I gave above.

Lily looks pretty pleased about having found her way to the solution (as I showed above), so we've already had good results from both David and Lily.  A nice way to start out the game.

Hiep: 982
Megan: 975
Me: 975
Lily: 978

Scores: Hiep 0 (12), Megan 7 (19), me 31

First break: ROBE WORD ("Taken temporarily to the altar")

Actually, Richard says 'temporally', but I think that he was supposed to say 'temporarily' as it fits better with the concept of BORROWED.

David's talk is about the possible origins of the word 'spiv'.

Round 4: A N R E C K I D S

This looks like it should be much more helpful than it is; sevens abound, but there's nothing longer.  I found NEAR / EARN, CRANE, NICKER, CRANKED, and SNICKER within time.  After time I kept looking for an eight or nine -- it's tempting to think that an old car might have had a SIDECRANK, but purest optimism -- noting some more sevens in passing: DANCERS, SIDECAR, CANDIES.  But eventually I gave up, and it seems that seven is just the limit.

The contestants each stick with six, and David has a seven.


Scores: Hiep 0 (18), Megan 7 (25), me 38

Round 5: B T S A I C L E F

I was hoping for a final O for OBSTACLE (an E would have been better -- CELIBATES -- but that's what I had seen at the time); the F doesn't seem to be much help.  I had BATS / TABS / STAB, BASIC, and ELASTIC.

Both contestants have fives, and David notes that Hiep's choice of BEAST could have been adjectivised to get BESTIAL.  He also gives an anagram of BESTIAL: STABILE, an object designed to look like a mobile but that is actually stationary.

A couple of other sevens here are CABLETS (little cables), and yet another anagram of BESTIAL: ABLEIST (someone who discriminates in favour of able-bodied people).  But there is an eight to be found, relating to the field of language so David may wish he'd seen it: BASILECT ("The social dialect of a given language which is judged to be the least prestigious").  It contasts with ACROLECT, which is similar but for the most prestigious dialect.

Megan: FLATS

Scores: Hiep 0 (23), Megan 7 (30), me 45

Round 6: Target 338 from 75 50 1 10 7 1

Not much to this one, I fear: 338 = 7*50 - 10 - 1 - 1.  I couldn't see any viable alternative approach, and Lily does use this solution.

Hiep has "mucked it up" and has nothing to declare.  Megan declares 336, but has tried to use the 7 twice, with 336 = 50*7 - (1 + 1)*7... just a little tweaking would have saved her: 336 = 7*(50 - 1 - 1).  So neither contestant scores in this round, and I'm uncatchable again at the end of round 6.

Hiep: [not in range]
Megan: [invalid]
Me: 338
Lily: 338

Scores: Hiep 0 (23), Megan 7 (30), me 55

Second break: VARY EYED ("Nothing unusual about this")

A fairly straight clue for EVERYDAY.

Round 7: D P S A O I F M A

A final E would have given IMPOSED, but no such luck.  I went with PADS, SODA, DAMPS, and MAFIAS.  I toyed with MAFIOSA, which seemed plausible but I was pretty sure that the word was MAFIOSO (plural MAFIOSI); David's comments later reveal that he was thinking along exactly the same lines.  The Macquarie doesn't give a plural for MAFIOSO, though, so MAFIOSI would be out.  It would be out in any case, however, as MAFIOSO is only listed with a capital letter.  And there's no sign of a MAFIOSA, of course.

Hiep optimistically tries PAIDS (he acknowledges it is risky) but there's no joy to be had there, and Megan takes the round with a four-letter word.  David talks through the MAFIA-related words above, and settles on MAFIA, to my surprise.

This brings us back to MAFIAS; I'd looked MAFIA up quite some time ago for another round, and recalled that the lowercase sense was explicitly listed as acceptable.  So why didn't David use the plural form?  The Macquarie's third definition is "(lower case) (sometimes humorous) any group seen as resembling the Mafia by having a close-knit organisation, in-group feelings, etc.: the green mafia".  My interpretation of this is that there may be several groups each referred to as a mafia, so it is reasonable to refer to them collectively as mafias, and I am claiming the points.

Hiep: [invalid]
Megan: MAPS
David: MAFIA

Scores: Hiep 0 (23), Megan 7 (34), me 61

Round 8: Target 858 from 50 100 3 1 1 2

This round was going so well, with the potential to be my second eighty-plus score of the series.  Alas, I made a complete mess of this, ending up with an invalid answer.  Just a second or two extra would have been enough time to write down the correct one.

I first saw 2*3*(100 + 50) to get to 900, but with just two ones left it was clear that getting within scoring range would not be possible that way; that initial six is important in what follows, though.  Using the 50 separately seemed promising, so I next went with 3*(2 + 1)*100 - 50, and with a 1 left over for tweaking had 859 = 3*(2 + 1)*(100 + 1) - 50.  Except that in my head it was 856, since I was thinking that the tweaking gained me 6 rather than 9.

I thought about getting up from 800 instead, and saw that it would work with 858 = 2*(3 + 1)*(100 + 1) + 50... but time ran out before I could complete writing it down again.  Just a few seconds in it, like with the first round, and my fallback was invalid since I erroneously declared 856.

Hiep has apparently fallen victim to a similar effect.  He declares 858, but describes (2 + 1)*3*(100 + 1)... which is 909, and then subtracting the 50 would give him 859.  An invalid solution, which means that Megan is uncatchable going into the conundrum.

Megan is 8 away with 850 = (3*2 + 1 + 1)*100 + 50, and Lily has found the solution I did not have time to write down.

If Hiep had just kept his head in the previous round and this one, the respective 4 and 7 points (with Megan not scoring 5) would have meant that scores were tied going into the conundrum.  He may have panicked a little, and it cost him.

Hiep: [invalid]
Megan: 850
Me: [invalid]
Lily: 858

Scores: Hiep 0 (23), Megan 12 (39), me 61


There's a nice clear -ISION ending, and I have the answer two seconds in.  Neither contestant finds it, so the scores stay where they are.

Hiep: [no answer]
Megan: [no answer]

Final scores: Hiep 0 (23), Megan 12 (39), me 71

The numbers rounds proved troublesome today, with neither contestant correctly getting to the target on any of them, and I only did so once (Lily was successful each time, however).  They weren't able to outdo each other on the letters; Hiep risked too much trying to get some separation on the last of those rounds, but otherwise they were equal.  But with longer words around they each had chances to win this (particularly in rounds 4 and 5, with some fairly easy words that were one better than declared).  Honestly, it was a pretty flawed performance from each but Megan held her head better and found her way to victory on the back of some simple but valid numbers solutions.

For my part, I had three unsatisfactory rounds, and two of them were a case of seeing the best result within time but not being able to get it down.  This was so close to being a pretty good round!  On the other hand, getting a nine is always a plus, so there's that to be happy about.

1 comment:

Mike Backhouse said...

Geoff's after time 980 solution
BEAST and FIESTA just over
7*(50-1-1)=336 (2 off)
x added 50 to 900 instead of subtracting- Grrr