Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Ep 346: Sam Gaffney, Cameron Profitt (December 26, 2011)

Rounds: Here.

On Sam's final night, it's remarked that it was his birthday during the break.  Supposedly he promised to bring the hosts birthday cake but didn't, but they'll forgive him.  (No such promise made it to air, I should add.)

(I'm assuming that Sam's birthday was on December 24th, rather than at the time of filming.  There's a lot of maintenance of the pretence of live filming in this episode, as David and Richard back-and-forth about what they got for Christmas.  It does seem a bit forced, to be honest.)

Tonight's challenger is Cameron Profitt, a GP working in "a small Victorian township".  (Their surgery appears to have nine GPs for a little under 2500 people (as of the 2006 census, the population of Bannockburn was 2468); I don't know if that's an unusual ratio or not.)  Richard asks what the attraction is of being a GP in a small country town; Cameron responds that he's been there for 20 years, and the main appeal is that you get to know people very well over that time, and their family and background.  So when they present with a problem, you can take that knowledge into consideration when determining treatment.

Cameron just isn't able to get started in this game, with no answer for the first two numbers rounds and consistently outdone in the early letters rounds.  Sam is uncatchable going into the second break, and ends up winning 55 to 15 to cap off an excellent performance in all six games.  Easily the best contestant we've seen this series, and I look forward to his reappearance in the finals.

I was horribly patchy in this one, falling apart completely in the middle rounds.  Fortunately (from my perspective) Sam had some difficulties also, and I was able to take a narrow lead into the conundrum.  It proved elusive for Sam but not for me and so I levelled the game score in our informal competition at three games apiece... but six points ahead on aggregate.  It goes to show how closely matched we are!

As usual, details after the jump.

Round 1: T D R L A I E O A

Sam pulls more vowels than expected again.  In the previous game this was part of a deliberate strategey (as revealed in his comment on the previous game's post): Having seen a seven-letter word that he hoped his opponent had not, he aimed to prevent a friendly consonant giving his opponent an easy alternative seven.  I admit to not being in favour of this -- I prefer to hope that a friendly consonant helps you find an even longer word.  Then again, I lost my fourth game, which shows how much that advice is worth.  In this case that strategy -- if Sam was employing it this time, that is -- could have backfired with a frequently appearing pair of eights being made available due to that O.


Cameron has a six, Sam has a seven, and David has found eights.  David also gripes that a final consonant wasn't chosen, as he wanted an S for IDOLATERS.  (David somewhat erroneously states that an S appearing is "highly likely"; it may be a very common consonant, but it's still dwarfed in frequency by all the non-S consonants.)

Cameron: LOADER

Scores: Sam 0 (7), Cameron 0, me 8

Round 2: B U T S I R N E L

Another quite decent set of letters.  I had BUST / STUB / TUBS, SUIT, BURST, BURINS, TRIBUNES / TURBINES, and BUSTLINE.

Sam has an eight this time, while Cameron again has a six.  David also has eights, but this time doesn't complain about a vowel not being called last (an A -- more likely than an S in the last round -- would give URBANITES).

Another eight not mentioned by anyone is INSULTER.

Cameron: SILENT

Scores: Sam 8 (15), Cameron 0, me 16

Round 3: Target 268 from 100 75 25 50 8 3

Sam sticks with four large, and it's slightly awkward.  The target is not an easily achievable offset from any multiple of 25 (nearest attempt that way is 32 away from 300, which requires some tweakage to see how to make it work), and I fell back on 267 = 3*75 + 50 - 8.  After time ran out I looked at the factorisation and pulled out the factor of 4, leading to the easy solution 268 = (75 - 8)*100/25.  This could have been found if I'd concentrated on the 32-away option, as it can be seen as tweakage of 4*75 - 4*8.  I find it easier to get there from the factorisation, but in either case I feel that I should have seen this.  Bother.

Cameron isn't anywhere near, and Sam has found 267 = 3*100 - 25 - 8.  I'm a bit relieved about that, and then quite surprised as Lily was likewise unable to get there within time.  After the break she comes back having found the solution above, via the tweaking route.

Sam: 267
Cameron: [no answer]
Me: 267

Scores: Sam 15 (22), Cameron 0, me 23

First break: RADIO NUT ("Time measures the fixed allowance")

The latter half of the clue is indicating the RATION of DURATION.

David's talk is about words or phrases to do with shady dealings.  He starts with 'feague', which he has bowdlerised to mean "to feed a horse raw ginger".  While the definition does involve ginger ending up inside a horse, the actual method is somewhat less friendly to the horse.  The other words covered were 'chanter' (as a synonym for "horse trader") and 'sockdolager'.

Round 4: H O P A E C R S C

I made a mess of this one, spending so much time struggling to see a six that I missed the sevens.  I had HOPE, PEACH, CRASH, COPERS (invalid), SCOPER (also invalid), and finally SCRAPE.  I was relieved to get SCRAPE because I was rightly dubious about the other two sixes, but I'd wasted far to much time on those and wasn't able to drag longer from the mix.  In the calmness after time ran out I found PARCHES and PORCHES.

Cameron has a six once more, while Sam confirms my expectations by finding a seven.  David is as good as ever, finding the eight of POACHERS.  Two other eights in this mix are COACHERS and CAROCHES (an old type of coach, amusingly enough).

Cameron: SCRAPE

Scores: Sam 22 (29), Cameron 0, me 23

Round 5: F D N I A I A R E

Lots of vowels again from Sam, but this time it looks like chasing after the E instead of word protection.  I had FIND, AFRAID, and FARINA.

Sam likewise has a six -- once the E showed up there were a few to be found -- but Cameron has a seven.  Alas, his choice of FRIANDE is not allowed by the Macquarie.  Chambers does allow it as the feminine form of FRIAND, in its adjectival meaning of 'dainty' or 'delicate', but the Macquarie only lists the cake sense of FRIAND.  (Which is not listed in my Chambers, I should add.)

David is likewise stuck at six, but there is a seven here.  In fact, it's the plural of a word that David has used a few times: DENARII, plural of DENARIUS (a Roman coin).

Cameron: [invalid]

Scores: Sam 28 (35), Cameron 0, me 29

Round 6: Target 561 from 25 100 2 9 1 3

This target is a very familiar one to me, being the smallest Carmichael number.  The factorisation of 3*11*17 was immediate, but I was not able to weld it into anything coherent.  In fact, I spent so long aiming at that, and in particular at 11*51, that I ran out of time and my last-moment scribbling produced only a total of 574, which is outside the scoring range.

After time I found solutions for 564, then a couple for 560, including 560 = (9 - 1)*(100 - 25 - 2 - 3).  Pondering further, I did find a solution, and it's disturbingly simple in how it comes together so neatly.  I'm going to go through the process of how I saw it, because I think there's a chance that may be helpful.

One of the factorisations is 3*187.  What I noted about that 187 was that it was 12 or 13 away from a multiple of 25, and those numbers are close to half of 25.  That means that multiplying the number by 2 should produce something very close to a multiple of 25 -- in this case, 3*374/2, or alternatively 1122/2.  Moving to that multiple of 25, we find it to be 1125, and very conveniently that is 9*125.  This gives all of the pieces to find the solution 561 = (9*(100 + 25) - 3) / 2.

On the SBS website, many commenters have found alternate solutions.  A minor variant of the previous solution is 561 = 9*(100 + 25 - 1)/2 + 3; another solution given was 561 = 2*(3*100 - 25 + 1) + 9.  But the one that managed to use the factorisation of 33*17 was 561 = ((100 - 1)/3)*(25 + 9)/2, and bravo for spotting that.  I'd seen the 33, but blanked on how to get 17 from 2, 9, 25.

On the SBS website comments Sam reveals that he had seen the 560 listed above, but lost track of it while trying to get one closer.  That's the dilemma of the numbers round: Do you write down something close and lose valuable thinking time, or do you keep thinking and hope that you'll remember it if you need it?  In this case Sam tried the latter and fell afoul of that difficulty.  He was good enough to scramble his way to a (barely) scoring solution in those last few seconds, however, and is rewarded for not giving up as Cameron was unable to get near.

[Update: In a comment to this post Sam corrects me -- he'd lost track of his solution while writing it down.  The dilemma above is still one that arises, although it turned out not to apply here.]

Lily is unable to find a solution for this one, and does not think that extra thinking time will help.  Two tough numbers in the same game; it's a little amusing how the difficult targets in the last week have mostly not been due to the four large mix.

Those five points put Sam 40 ahead of Cameron, and a guaranteed winner at this point.  It also nudges him four points ahead of me, which raises the amusing possibility -- if we tie the next two rounds and I get the conundrum first -- of the six game result between Sam and myself being split three games apiece and dead even on aggregate.

Sam: 551
Cameron: [no answer]
Me: [not in range]

Scores: Sam 33 (40), Cameron 0, me 29

Second break: FLUNG FIB ("High on a cliff, pretending")

Not much difficulty finding BLUFFING from that.

Round 7: S F T P U E O M G

I was hoping that last consonant would be a C for COMPUTES, and I suspect Sam might have been also.  As it was I floundered a bit, ending up with PUTS, FUSE, POUTS / SPOUT, wondered about POGUES (being aware of the band name but not why they chose it), then GUEST and finally UPMOST.  After time I found TEMPOS and SEPTUM.

Both contestants had fives on this ill-matched assortment, while David has likewise found UPMOST.  A couple of other sixes that might have been found are FOETUS and FUMETS (FUMET: "a strong, well-reduced stock made from fish or game").

Cameron: POUTS

Scores: Sam 33 (45), Cameron 0 (5), me 35

Round 8: Target 511 from 75 100 3 4 8 1

Cameron persists with the family mix, and gets a much easier target this time.  I overcomplicated it, finding 511 = 8*(75 + 1) + 3 - 100.  Everyone else used 511 = (4 + 1)*100 + 8 + 3.

Sam: 511
Cameron: 511
Me: 511
Lily: 511

Scores: Sam 43 (55), Cameron 10 (15), me 45


Down to the conundrum, and I'm just two points ahead of Sam.  I half expect him to have another one-second solve, but he doesn't.  I'm very relieved to buzz in first on this one, at the four second mark, and escape with the win.  Neither contestant ends up solving this within time, as it turns out, so it could have been an even narrower win.

Sam: [no answer]
Cameron: [no answer]

Final scores: Sam 43 (55), Cameron 10 (15), me 55

Sam cruised through this one, really.  Cameron wasn't able to find a valid word longer than six letters (although he was unfortunate about FRIANDE), and with the first two numbers rounds proving very difficult the game was lost by the sixth round.  Sam found good words, and kept his head when the numbers proved awkward.  He finishes a deserved retiring champion with a series high average of over 63 points a game.

I started well, and finished well, but the middle rounds were not good.  I really did kind of fall apart once I realised that I'd overlooked a fairly easy solution to the first numbers round, and the fact that so did everyone else didn't really comfort.  Inevitably it came down to the conundrum, and this time it favoured me.  Phew!

The overall statistics for me playing against Sam in these last six games: We won three games each; Sam solved four conundrums to my three, with one of those four conundrums being as close to a dead heat as it is possible to get; and the aggregate totals were 334 to 328, a tiny 6 point advantage to me.  No matter how you look at it, our overall performances are extremely closely matched.  I've enjoyed this tussle, I have to say!


Sam Gaffney said...

I thought you'd beat me by more on this one, Geoff, I am glad that you also found a few of the rounds awkward. I got a David plus Lily score watching this time. You are correct, my birthday is the 24th.

Round #1: I was hoping for another 'E' to get RETAILED. David said "fair enough".

Round #2: I started with BURLIEST, then switched to TRIBUNES for no good reason. After declaring it, I saw TURBINES, and said to David that since I work in electricity, I should have done that, as he loves his theme words.

Round #3:
I understand your disappointment, Geoff - I was unimpressed with TV Sam for missing this one. With only three weeks between the audition notice and recording my episodes, my heavyweight technique was not good enough yet. Two months more practice before (hopefully) playing in the finals should help.

Round #4: POACHERS stood out like a sore thumb to me this time, I was surprised to see TV Sam miss it. (It was probably in my subconscious memory.)

Round #5:
Cameron was a nice guy, so it wasn't a pleasure to see him stuck on zero for so long.

Round #6:
Just to clarify my comments from the SBS website, I was putting my 560 answer on paper, but lost track of it merely from the distraction of writing it down, I wasn't looking for anything better. As you have mentioned in an earlier post, it takes a lot of practice to be able to write your answer down without mistakes.

Round #7:
I actually stumbled across UPMOST, but thought it wasn't a word, and that I had confused it with UTMOST. Everyone was happy to see Cameron open his account.

Round #9:
I don't know if I tried the -IVE suffix or not, it did seem a gettable word in hindsight.

You have played very well in these six rounds from home, Geoff - although my numbers weren't as good as I'd hoped, my letters and conundrum speed were OK. I look forward to seeing how you do in the finals. As I still play with pen, paper and Macquarie each weeknight, I will try to post my answers to this blog, and will hopefully resist the temptation of only posting on good nights!

Geoff Bailey said...

Thanks again for the insights into your thoughts; I missed the possibility of RETAILED, having already seen IDOLATER. Heh.

And I see that I got the wrong impression about round 6; thanks for that clarification. I guess that's the round where you expected to lose most points -- a twelve point turnaround hinged on that one (or 15 if I'd found the target... but I'd have had to be in better form than I have recently for that).

(Ironically, for 268 I had tried the multiples under similar reasing -- 804/3 was an option but used the 100 twice.)

Sam Gaffney said...

I've put IDOLATER(S) onto my list of useful likely words to learn. I managed TAILORED and ARALDITE watching yesterday.

It would have taken a mighty effort to get 561 written down within 30 seconds.

Karen Anderson said...

Geoff, I have just stumbled upon your blog while searching for something else. I love it! Good to see that Sam Gaffney has chipped in with comments. What a sense of humour that guy has - I laughed out loud on his last night when Richard asked him what present he would like as a combined retiring champion/birthday gift. Will continue to read your blog. Cheers.

Geoff Bailey said...

Welcome, Karen! Glad to hear from you, and I hope that you continue to enjoy this blog, and the show itself.

Anonymous said...


Geoff Bailey said...

UNBRISTLE is a worthy try, but it's not in any dictionary I have to hand, the Macquarie included. There seem to be a very few mentions of it online, even.

Mike Backhouse said...

Geoff's fall back (1 off)
SHAPER and PARCHES after time
5*(100+9-1)+25-2=563 (2 off and went over slightly)
(4+3)*(75-3+1)=511 (you weren't the only one to over complicate it Geoff)

Geoff Bailey said...

I'm afraid round 8 is worse than that, Mike -- you've used the 3 twice. My condolences!