Friday, 23 December 2011

Ep 344: Sam Gaffney, Leanne Cox (December 22, 2011)

Rounds: Here.

Richard reveals that Sam plays indoor cricket, and asks why the indoor version specifically.  Sam lists a few of the advantages: It doesn't take very long; it never gets rained out; and you don't get sunburned playing it (which he asides is good for him, and as a similarly-complexioned person I can certainly relate to that).  He plays it a couple of times a week; Richard asks if it has a different feel to the outdoor game.  Sam notes a major difference that everyone gets to bat for four overs and bowl for two overs, so you don't get a duck and have to sit there watching everyone else for six hours.  It's much more participatory, as Richard puts it.

Challenging Sam tonight is Leanne Cox, a secondary maths and physics teacher.  (That's what Richard says, anyway... should that have been "secondary school"?  She teaches at Frankston High School, at any rate.)  Leanne has the rather unusual habit of counting letters in words, especially in long words; she admits that this makes reading books a particularly slow process.  She's quite quick at it by now, and Richard opines somewhat optimistically that it may help her in the game.  It's hard to see a direct connection, but such a habit will have made her pay more attention to words than most people, and that could plausibly make her more adept at manipulating them.

It's a close game tonight; Leanne gets the jump in the first round with a well-spotted eight, but Sam equalises in the next round.  Assisted by easy numbers rounds, thereafter it is level-pegging all the way to the conundrum; neither solves it, and a second conundrum is required.  Sam finds this one quickly, and is probably relieved to take the 67 to 57 victory.  Leanne certainly had chances -- most notably in round 4 -- and may perhaps consider herself a little unlucky; a score of 57 would be enough to win most games.

I was in better form tonight, just missing that initial eight but otherwise doing as well as possible.  That gave me a satisfactory winning margin, and puts my record against Sam at two games apiece.

As usual, details after the jump.

Round 1: S R A I O P N R E

I had AIRS, PARSON, and PARRIES; I wanted POISONER, but only had the one O.  Sam likewise had PARRIES, while Leanne has done well to find the eight of PRISONER.  That's embarassingly close to POISONER -- whoops!

David notes that just like Leanne counts letters of long words, a prisoner counts long sentences.  Heh!

There's several other sevens to be found, such as SOPRANI, SPORRAN, PERSONA, and REPAIRS (an anagram of PARRIES); another anagram of PARRIES, appropriately enough, is RAPIERS.  PRISONER seems to be the only eight, though, and that's a great start from Leanne.


Scores: Sam 0, Leanne 8, me 0

Round 2: T D O S I A T E M

I found DOTS, TOADS, MASTOID (an anagram of DIATOMS, which I seem to mention a lot... but still didn't see this time), and ATOMISED.  We had that in Monday's episode!

Leanne has a six, but Sam has found ATOMISED.  That's good work; even though he'd heard David mention it in play earlier, it's not that easy to then find such a word once again.  Being able to quickly incorporate new words into one's gaming lexicon is a very handy skill.  Note that Leanne would likely have watched that earlier game from the audience and so had the same encounter with it that Sam did.

Another eight from this mix is MATTOIDS (MATTOID: "a person of abnormal mentality bordering on insanity").

Leanne: STATED

Scores: 8 apiece

Round 3: Target 125 from 75 100 25 50 7 5

Sam persists with his four large strategy, but the target is trivial.  125 = 100 + 25 is the obvious approach, and no-one tries to mix it up with, say, 125 = (7*100 - 75)*5/(50 - 25).  Just as well, really.

Sam: 125
Leanne: 125
Me: 125
Lily: 125

Scores: 18 apiece

First break: POUT WASH ("On the other hand...")

A slightly indirect clue for SOUTHPAW.

David's talk opens with the question of what connects an ostrich and the game of mahjong.  His intended link is that the (ancient?) Greek name for an ostrich translates to "sparrow camel", and that "sparrow" is also the translation of mahjong.

Round 4: G I S H A T O E R

I found SIGH, GASH, SIGHT, wondered about GHOSTIE (no, but its anagram HOGTIES would have been fine), then SIGHTER (I was surprised when checking found this to be invalid; my intended meaning, listed in Chambers, is of a practice shot in archery or similar), SHORTAGE, and HOARIEST.  It's a good thing those eights were there, or I'd have had an unlucky invalid seven to declare.

Both contestants have sixes; I originally misheard Leanne's choice as GAITER, which would have been easily pluralisable to a seven.  There's a fair few other sevens (such as GATHERS, HOSTAGE, and HASTIER) and this round was probably the "missed opportunity" round, where either contestant could have pulled away from the other with what would have turned out to be a winning margin.

Leanne: GEISHA

Scores: Sam 18 (24), Leanne 18 (24), me 26

Round 5: N D C M U A E R A

At the end I was hoping the vowel would be O for ROMANCED, but I should have been hoping for an I for MANICURED.  The actual A was not much help at all.  I found DANCE, DURANCE ("forced confinement; imprisonment"), and MAUNDER ("to talk in a rambling, foolish, or imbecile way").

Both contestants have CRANED, which David suggests could have had a Christmas touch by anagramming it to DANCER.  He has found the anagrammatic pair of UNARMED and MAUNDER, but makes no mention of the further anagram MANURED.

Another seven that takes advantage of the pair of A's is ARCANUM: "a secret, a mystery, especially of tarot cards".

Leanne: CRANED

Scores: Sam 18 (30), Leanne 18 (30), me 33

Round 6: Target 592 from 100 50 2 1 9 10

Once again, the target is very easy; I had 592 = 10*(50 + 9) + 2.  Everyone else surprises me a little by using 592 = 50*10 + 100 - 9 + 1, including Lily who usually likes to use the 10 and tweakage.

Then Richard compounds the surprise by suggesting the solution that I had; it's good to see him having learned some of the techniques!

Sam: 592
Leanne: 592
Me: 592
Lily: 592

Scores: Sam 28 (40), Leanne 28 (40), me 43

Second break: OVERT HUM ("A drink and where you put it")

The clue was pretty clear about indicating MOUTH, but I took somewhat longer than I'd have liked to find VERMOUTH.

Round 7: S D T H E I O F B

Here I found SHED, HEIST, HOISTED, FOISTED, SHIFTED, and HOTBEDS.  I'll note another seven of BOTHIES (BOTHY: "Scottish a hut or small cottage, especially for lodging farmhands or workers").

Everyone has found sevens, as it continues to be difficult to separate the contestants.


Scores: Sam 35 (47), Leanne 35 (47), me 50

Round 8: Target 991 from 50 100 7 6 10 9

Once again the numbers prove extremely easy, providing no useful distinguishing power.  Everyone has 991 = 10*100 - 9, and that 10 points means that Sam has scored enough to push me down a position in the finals rankings.  On the other hand, the easy solution also means that I'm safe going into the conundrum.

Sam: 991
Leanne: 991
Me: 991
Lily: 991

Scores: Sam 45 (57), Leanne 45 (57), me 60


I was watching this episode on TV for a change (with poor picture quality due to not having a digital signal, I guess, which is why I prefer to watch from the website) so I don't have accurate timings, but my guesstimate of solve time is well under two seconds.  Neither contestant finds the solution, however, so we are onto a second conundrum.  That's two in as many weeks, although this time only one of them was solved.

There's a look of mutual relief between the contestants when the conundrum answer is revealed, with perhaps a rueful acknowledgement that they have to go through this tension again.

(For statistics of my performance versus the contestants, the game stops here as there is a clear winner.)

Sam: [no answer]
Leanne: [no answer]
Me: DEPARTURE (1.5s)

Scores: Sam 45 (57), Leanne 45 (57), me 70

Round 10: UNCLE GRIT

Sam gets this one four seconds in, and gives an audible sigh of relief when it is clear that he has gotten to it first.  I'd spotted the -ING but not unscrambled the rest in time, and since I was watching it live I had no pausing option.  We'll just have to put this down as no answer.

Sam notes that both his parents were lecturers, which may have helped.  There's a nice moment where he takes a moment to congratulate Leanne on a good game.

Leanne: [no answer]
Me: [no answer]

Final scores: Sam 55 (67), Leanne 45 (57), me 70

Chances for each contestant, and in the end the conundrum decides all.  The second one, anyway.  I was pleased that the deciding moment was not an instantly-solved conundrum, although Sam was clearly fast.  It was good work from both Leanne and Sam with the letters failing to separate them.  It would have been interesting to see how things went if the numbers were harder; it was impossible to get a read on Leanne's numerical ability from what we saw.

This was quite a satisfactory game from my perspective, with just one letter short of perfect in the main rounds.  That said, the eight in round one was a fairly findable one, so I wish I'd seen it in time.  With both contestants staying on sixes in rounds four and five I gained and kept a winning lead thereafter.

Sam's four game total of 261 comfortably eclipses mine (247).  Nice work, Sam!

1 comment:

Mike Backhouse said...

What a close game Sam. Everything down to the conundrum and then another. Excellent game (other than the easy numbers games).

easy way
Geoff and Richard's way
contestant's way
x jumped in with the invalid RAPTURED and Sam beat me to the second.