Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Ep 342: Sam Gaffney, Tina Stevens (December 20, 2011)

Rounds: Here.

Chatting to Sam, Richard reveals that Sam is also a musical person -- there's been a good many of those on the show this series, it seems.  Sam isn't in a band, but he does play the guitar and recently acquired a bass.  He even played the guitar at his own wedding; he mentions Layla and Bohemian Rhapsody, although apparently he didn't play all of the latter.

Tonight's challenger is Tina Stevens, an RSPCA volunteer.  She works in the cattery, cleaning the pens out and keeping the food and water fresh; she also does some administrative work.  She is motivated by a love for animals, especially cats.

Sam is in very good form tonight, and Tina can't keep up as he excels in the letters.  Two invalid words don't help her cause, but with Sam finding a nine in another round and Tina also missing two numbers rounds, the final result is a crushing 81 to 25 victory to Sam.

I... was also crushed.  A careless spelling error in the second letters round led to an eleven point turnaround, but it was the unanswered full monty that made this unrecoverable.  With Sam continuing to show good form in the numbers, there was no chance to catch up and I have my first loss for the series (when playing from home).  Based on this form, Sam is a clear current favourite to reach the finals, and indeed to win them.

As usual, details after the jump.

Round 1: T S E I N A H R C

I had SITE / TIES, TINES / STEIN, TISANE, and then the RETSINA came along.  I couldn't recall the mixes that H and C make with it, though, so I fell back on TRANCHES (TRANCHE: "a portion or share of anything, especially a block of stocks or shares").  After time I figured them out -- HAIRNETS and CANISTER -- and verified that CHARIEST (thought of but not written down) was valid.

Both contestants have found eights, but David has gone one better with CHANTRIES (CHANTRY: "an endowment for the singing or saying of mass for the souls of the founders or the persons named by them").


Scores: 8 apiece

Round 2: E S L F E I G C O

Tina ends up with a somewhat less helpful mix.  I had SELF, FEELS, FILES, LIEGES, and LOGICS.  After time I added FOGIES, but could not find a seven.

Both contestants declare fives, but Tina's choice of FLAGS uses a phantom A and is invalid.  It's looking good for my six, but... I selected LIEGES instead of LOGICS, but made a careless spelling error (LEIGES) and so can't count it.  I wish I'd gone for LOGICS instead -- that's five to Sam instead of six to me, an eleven point difference.

David has found ICEFLOE -- the Macquarie lists it as a single word, unlike Chambers -- and thus the eight of ICEFLOES is there.  Magic stuff!

A seven worth noting here is SOLF√ąGE, a singing exercise based on the solfa syllables.

As an aside, a consonant instead of that final vowel would have been an N, giving the two easy eights of FEELINGS and FLEECING.

Tina: [invalid]
Me: [invalid]

Scores: Sam 13, Tina 8, me 8

Round 3: Target 141 from 75 100 50 25 1 9

Sam persists with his choice of the heavyweight, and fair enough.  It spins up a decidedly unchallenging result, and everyone gets 141 = 100 + 50 - 9 in short order.  (Except David, who goes for 141 = 75 + 25 + 50 - 9, just to be different.)

Sam: 141
Tina: 141
Me: 141
Lily: 141

Scores: Sam 23, Tina 18, me 18

First break: NEAT CODE ("Tell a story of love")

From love to DOTE to ANECDOTE.

David's talk is about three words meaning 'strange', and their unusual backgrounds.  The words are 'bizarre', 'weird', and 'preposterous'.

Round 4: N T X A E R S F A

The X is rarely helpful, but even setting it aside the remainder is not cooperative.  This is a case where choosing a fourth vowel may have been desirable -- the I instead of the F gives ARTESIAN or SANTERIA (a form of voodoo; also capitalised, but the Macquarie lists the uncapitalised version as the main one) -- but choosing the sixth consonant too early made that impossible.  I don't mind so much hoping for a better consonant, but the required letters should have been chosen earlier so that a more informed choice could have been made.

Anyway, I found NEAT, TAXES, and EXTRAS, plus various other sixes that I did not bother to write down (of which I only recall FASTER / STRAFE / AFTERS).  There's a good many sixes to be had, but nothing longer.

Both contestants have sixes, but Tina's choice of FAXERS is too risky, and she drops a worrying 11 points behind.

Tina: [invalid]

Scores: Sam 29, Tina 18, me 24

Round 5: I D T U C B A N O

I was just hanging on a final E for INCUBATED, and when it didn't turn up I had to do some scrambling.  I had DUCT and CUBIT, and only managed to stretch it to ABOUND.  Just as time ran out I saw BOTANIC, but without enough time left to write it down.

Playing around more in extra time I saw ACTION (I'd noted -ATION, but missed -ACTION... this is an oversight I have a tendency to make, and I hope to get over that eventually).  That prompted me to consider DUCTION (not a word), and finally to see ABDUCTION.  Another missed nine -- bother!

Tina has a five, but Sam has found the nine, and that is a deadly blow to the chances of Tina and myself.  Watching him, in fact, he clearly writes it down in the first seconds and spends the rest of the time thinking about things; I think he saw ABDUCT at the seventh letter and was actually playing for this word.  Would he have seen INCUBATED so quickly?  Perhaps not, but I imagine he would still have found it; great play from Sam!

Some other sevens are CONDUIT and the AUCTION / CAUTION pair.


Scores: Sam 47, Tina 18, me 24

Round 6: Target 773 from 100 50 4 10 1 5

Tina sticks with the safer option, but it's not so helpful.  I could get two away in either direction, settling on 775 = 5*(100 + 50 + 4 + 1), but pushing the 1 outside the brackets gets the 771.  In fact, that's the approach Sam ends up using: 771 = 5*(100 + 50 + 4) + 1.

Tina has nothing to declare -- just couldn't make anything of it.  Lily, meanwhile, wants some thinking time but has to admit defeat when she comes back after the break.  It turns out that this is the second impossible target in as many games, and the nearest one can get is 774 = (10 + 1)*(50 + 100/5) + 4.  Another route to 774 which feels more plausible to have investigated is 774 = 50*(10 + 5) + 100/4 - 1.

Sam: 771
Tina: [no answer]
Me: 775

Scores: Sam 54, Tina 18, me 31

Second break: COSY REAM ("An ailing tree")

The tree is a SYCAMORE.

Round 7: D M E I L G O A D

These letters are not promising, and at 23 points behind I have to outpoint Sam to have a chance; Tina needs an unanswered full monty, which is decidedly against the cards

I found DIME, GLIDE, GOLEM, LOAMED, and GOADED.  There's many sixes to be had -- after time I also note MAILED, MIDDLE, and DIADEM -- but I'm confident six isn't enough so I have to risk the dodgy DOGLEAD.  It's not valid, so my chances vanish with it.

Not that it mattered, as it turns out, as both contestants had found the much more reasonable seven of DEMIGOD.  Bravo!  But still not enough for Tina, and Sam will win this game.

David remarks that he tried OLD MAID (the card game) but it is two words, so he also went with DEMIGOD.

There is an eight here, though -- the American spelling DIALOGED.

Me: [invalid]

Scores: Sam 61, Tina 25, me 31

Round 8: Target 669 from 75 100 7 2 9 4

Tina sticks with the family mix, and I investigated the 700 approach, getting my way to a solution by the scenic route: 669 = 7*100 - (75 - 9 - 4)/2.  Taking a step back afterwards, I see the usual policy yields a much easier solution -- which turns out to have been used by Sam and Lily -- of 669 = 9*75 - 4 - 2.

Tina has nothing to declare, so that's four rounds without anything valid to declare for her.  A shame!

Sam: 669
Tina: [no answer]
Me: 669
Lily: 669

Scores: Sam 71, Tina 25, me 41


All those R's make this an awkward mix, and I freeze up.  Not so Sam, who finds the answer four seconds in.  Pausing the video, I consider an -ITY ending, fiddle the rest to get TERROR, and then realise the adjustment I need to have the answer nine seconds in.  That's still five behind Sam, though, and he has made no mistake in his choice.

Tina: [no answer]

Final scores: Sam 81, Tina 25, me 41

This was impressive stuff from Sam, demonstrating much better mastery of the letters than in the previous game.  First game nerves?  It's definitely possible.  Tina found some good words, but faltered too many times elsewhere to have a chance.  Sam is looking in really good shape, easily better than almost every other contestant so far this series.  Hopefully he won't make me eat my words tomorrow with a collapse like Brett unfortunately did.

For my part... the spelling error in round two did throw me, but even if that were reversed and I'd seen ABDUCTION in time I'd have still been a point behind going into the conundrum, and an eventual 11 point loser.  Sam was just far too good for me today; the sole redeeming feature from my point of view was not being outdone on the numbers.

I commented to my mother some time ago that I expected to win 95% of games; I don't think she believed me, and this blog was in part an attempt to "put up or shut up".  But winning 95% means losing 5%, or 5 games in a series.  With Sam possibly having four more games to play there is a serious risk of him handing me all five of those losses before the finals even start.  I won't go quietly, though: Bring on tomorrow's game!


Tim said...

Great game - Sam was super-impressive on the anagrams

Justin Thai said...

Has SELFIE now made the rounds of the Macquarie Dictionary?

Mike Backhouse said...

Great game Sam. And Geoff, I love your 95% goal, and that you are not wanting Sam to derail you from that objective. I'll be most interested watching you two battle it out in this blog. (And I choose not to compare my scores with you two!)

And Sam, I am a muso too (an amateur singer guitarist songwriter). In fact today I am heading off (into the unknown) for the first time to a commercial home recording studio to record my songs for a self produced solo CD.

And I do hope you did the 'opera' bit in Bohemian Rhapsody at your wedding!

Back to reality.

contestants' way
x CUBANO (from a Steely Dan song title, presumably meant to have a capital-and well done Sam)
5*(100+50+1+4)=775 (2 off and a slight variation of Sam's method)
Sam's way
x played live and Sam jumped in. Should have paused it.