Saturday, 17 December 2011

Ep 340: Megan Marks, Jimmy Driscoll (December 16, 2011)

Rounds: Here.

On Megan's second night we find out that she loves to study; apparently the tally reaches 19 years!  She has four degrees: Two arts, one science, and one computer science; it is not stated what level those were taken to.

Megan's challenger tonight is recruiting coordinator Jimmy Driscoll, who finds footballers for the North Melbourne Football Club.  This involves finding new prospects, interviewing them, getting them into the club and working out their contracts.

(The above is essentially all the content of both chats.  It feels like those have been getting very short recently; are the contestants not having much to say about the topics, or being cut short for time reasons?)

It's an extremely close match, with equal lengths being declared in every letters round and the numbers being far too easy.  But a stumble from Megan on the final numbers round sees Jimmy taking a ten point lead into the conundrum; Megan manages to solve it first, and we have the first double conundrum of the series.  This results in a new high total game for the series.  (As a participant in the previous record holder, I'm mildly put out about that second conundrum which allowed them to overtake this record.)  Megan wins, 71 to 61.

I started badly, missing some easy longer words in the first round and being undone by the Macquarie not listing my word in the second round.  That put me in poor position, and the next many rounds offered little scope for advancement over the contestants.  I finally nudged into a one-point lead going into the conundrum, but I never like it coming down to that.  As it turns out I solved both of them in a second (they were each pretty apposite to the show), and scraped home with the win.

As usual, details after the jump.

Round 1: G I R O D T N M E

The -ING makes a very welcome appearance after having been absent for the three previous games.  Yet... I have a bit of a mental block and simply can't find anything useful with it; in fact all I have is GRID and MENTOR.

After time I poke at it some more and find DOTING, DEMOING (I wasn't entirely sure it would be acceptable, but it is), and the easy adjustment from that last of DEMOTING.  There's actually a good many sevens in this mix, and I really should have seen some of them.

Both contestants have sixes, so at least I'm not behind; David, as reliable as ever, has found the eight.

Some of the other sevens here are: (with -ING) TERMING, EMOTING, ERODING, and REDOING; (without -ING) IGNORED.  There is one more eight, too: DORMIENT, meaning "sleeping".


Scores: 6 apiece

Round 2: T A C R U O Z S E

That Z prompts Jimmy to ask for a better consonant, and I quite agree; it wasn't much help.  Of course, I'd be of a different opinion if OUTCRAZES had been allowable.  I found CART, COURT, COURTS, SOURCE / COURSE, and OUTRACES.  I was a tiny bit iffy about that -- the OUT- section of the Macquarie is a bit sparse -- but convinced myself I had heard it in use (I had) and that it would be OK (it isn't).

After time I found some familiar sevens: CURATES and COASTER.  A couple of others I'll mention are SURCOAT and ACEROUS (variant spelling of ACEROSE meaning needle-shaped, like the leaves of a pine).

Both contestants have sixes, while David lists a couple of sevens.  With OUTRACES not being in the Macquarie (it is in the Chambers), I've dropped behind but think that there should be plenty of chances to catch up later based on performance so far.  This... turns out not to be the case; best never to get complacent!

Me: [invalid]

Scores: Megan 12, Jimmy 12, me 6

Round 3: Target 179 from 75 100 5 7 1 3

Megan chooses the safe mix, and the target is extremely easy.  Everyone uses 100 + 75 + 4, with variations in how they formed the four.  I went with 179 = 100 + 75 + 5 - 1, as did Megan.  Jimmy used 175 = 100 + 75 + 3 + 1, and Lily notes several ways to make the four without choosing any one in particular.

Megan: 179
Jimmy: 179
Me: 179
Lily: 179

Scores: Megan 22, Jimmy 22, me 16

First break: CLOT HERD ("Laughed first")

The clue is meant to indicate the LED of CHORTLED.  Richard tries to sell it, but he can only do so much when he's given poor material like that to work with.

David's talk is about terms that are probably unfamiliar but describe familiar concepts.  He starts with glabella, which he defines as "essentially that smooth patch between the eyebrows", but the Macquarie indicates it as the flat bone in that position, thus unrelated to whether it's covered by hair or not; presumably he meant 'smooth' in the sense of  flat, rather than hairless.

His second item is zarf: a coffee cup holder, usually ornamental.  I vividly recall this from a round of the dictionary game as a youngster, where the most amusing alternative definition given was a Russian paramilitary warcry with a translation that I won't repeat here.

Next is desire line, an urban planning term for those tracks you'll sometimes see in parks and such where people have chosen to walk instead of on the official paths.  It's where they want to walk, as opposed to where they are supposed to walk.

He finishes with subitise, a verb for intuiting the number of objects within a group without consciously counting them.

Round 4: N I E G H U S F O

The -ING makes a second appearance, and the sevens are easier this time.  A shame about that extra vowel, though -- as I've mentioned often before, with -ING fewer vowels is better, and here is no exception; the upcoming D would have allowed DEFUSING for eight.

I found NEIGH, NEIGHS, HOUSING, and FUSION.  Also SHOEING, but I did not write it down.  Everyone has sevens, and one more which wasn't mentioned is HEINOUS.


Scores: Megan 29, Jimmy 29, me 23

Round 5: E D A C T K O L S

It's a decent set of letters (even with that K), and sevens abound.  I found DACE, ACTED, TACKED, COATED, LOCATED, STACKED, STOCKED, and LOCKETS.  After time I found several more sevens, but only made note of COLDEST.

The contestants have sevens also, but David has done his usual excellent job and found the only eight: STOCKADE.


Scores: Megan 36, Jimmy 36, me 30

Round 6: Target 557 from 25 100 50 5 2 7

Obviously one wants to get to 550 then add 7.  I take the scenic route at first with 557 = (100/25 + 5 + 2)*50 + 7; Jimmy has put his pen down very early, though, and that causes me to find the simpler approach that everyone else used: 557 = 5*100 + 50 + 7.

Six rounds in, and I've not been able to get back any of that lost ground, and indeed had very little chance to.  Unless I can win both rounds unanswered, this is going to the conundrum for me, and there's quite a decent chance I'll be behind, too.

Megan: 557
Jimmy: 557
Me: 557
Lily: 557

Scores: Megan 46, Jimmy 46, me 40

Second break: WIELD LOB ("Pay it before it blows away")

A decent cryptic clue for the lovely split BILL/OWED of BILLOWED.

Round 7: B E R I L A H S E

I had BIER, ABLER, wondered about HIREABLE, and settled on HEALERS.  HIREABLE had two worries: Whether the -ABLE form was listed, as this is quite hit-and-miss, and if it was whether it was HIREABLE or HIRABLE.  Those concerns are why I stuck with HEALERS, but it turns out that HIREABLE would have been acceptable (and HIRABLE would not, incidentally).

Both contestants have fives, and I've just got my nose in front at last, while David has found the lovely eight of ABSEILER.

After time I found HABILE (meaning skilful or dextrous), although it was only six.  Some of the many sevens here are REALISE, HERBALS, HAILERS, BELIERS (those who misrepresent), BEARISH, BAILEES (those receiving bail), and BAILERS.  This last is not, as you might think, those providing bail -- those are BAILORS -- but (in cricket) balls that remove a bail without touching the stumps.

Megan: SHEER
Jimmy: BEERS

Scores: Megan 46 (51), Jimmy 46 (51), me 47

Round 8: Target 707 from 25 75 100 8 5 7

Once again the target is too easy, with that seven standing out clearly.  I used the factorisation and the overly complicated 707 = 7*(100 + 8/(5 + 75/25)).

Megan declares 708 (7*100 + 8, presumably) but Jimmy has 707 with the somewhat simpler 707 = 8*75 + 100 + 7.  An alternative that may have been easier to spot is 707 = 8*100 - 75 - 25 + 7.

Lily has a slight variant on my approach, with 707 = ((75/25)/(8 - 5) + 100)*7.

So the contestants are finally on different scores, but with a ten point difference they could equalise again.  Onto the conundrum!

Megan: 708
Jimmy: 707
Me: 707
Lily: 707

Scores: Megan 46 (51), Jimmy 56 (61), me 57


How they resisted the temptation to make this BRED CLAMS is beyond me -- that's the sort of play that Countdown would certainly have engaged in.  Megan is precisely ten points behind, and needs to win two conundrums in a row to continue.  Neither has been particularly convincing in the letters so far (mind you, neither have I in this game), so it's hard to guess what will happen.

Meanwhile, I'm only a single point ahead of Jimmy, so I need this one.  I thought I saw CLAMBERED and buzzed in at the one second mark, but recognised my error as I was pressing and found the correct answer effectively instantly, certainly soon enough to claim it.  A relief!

Megan very excitedly finds the solution some 14 seconds in, tying the scores and meaning that a second conundrum is required.

Megan: SCRAMBLED (14s)
Jimmy: [no answer]

Scores: Megan 46 (61), Jimmy 56 (61), me 67

As far as my tallying goes, I have to stop here as the three-cornered game would have been over.  A shame, as I'd rather like to claim the next ten points...

Round 10: ACUTE CALL

Part of me is hoping that neither will get the conundrum, because I'm curious to see a third in use -- I don't think that has happened yet.  But it's virtually a repeat of the last -- I see it effectively instantly, and Megan gets it 16 seconds in, with Jimmy silent throughout.

[Update: There's a reason I've never seen three conundrums; if the scores are tied they'll never bother showing an unsolved conundrum.  That makes perfect sense, even though I would like to see some very long conundrum battles.]

Megan is extremely excited, as you might expect after a come-from-behind victory like that.  In fact, you can see how happy she is about it in the bloopers footage (although it was also aired, so not a traditional blooper as such).

Megan: CALCULATE (16s)
Jimmy: [no answer]

Final scores: Megan 46 (71), Jimmy 56 (61), me 77

So we have a new high combined total, on the strength of two conundrums (both related to the rounds of the show, amusingly enough).  Jimmy was perhaps a little unfortunate here since he looked much more comfortable on the numbers, finishing somewhat earlier than Megan seemed to; if they'd been just a bit harder, perhaps he would have been the champion instead.  On the other hand, he was also fortunate to face off against a champion whose letters were not as strong as they could have been; doing one better was quite manageable in rounds 1, 2, and 7.  (I know that I flubbed those first two rounds, but my point stands.)  Ultimately this told in the conundrums, and Megan is justifiably happy about getting through to the next game.

I don't mind missing STOCKADE or ABSEILER (although seeing them would have been nice!), and I'm quite happy with those two fast conundrum solutions.  Against that, the first round was terrible -- I definitely should have seen DEMOTING, not to mention those sevens -- and the second was not much better; although I was unfortunate that OUTRACES isn't allowed, I failed to see any of the easy sevens in time, and that was poor.  Overall it balances out to a lucky win.


Tim said...

Love the blog - could almost set up another blog called "Playing playing letters and numbers"

Geoff Bailey said...

*laughs!* I'd read it!

Mike Backhouse said...

Geoff's way
simple approach
Lily's way
xx didn't get first conundrum in time and accidentally saw answer to second.