Thursday, 29 December 2011

Ep 348: Ann Vasconcelos, Sebastian Ham (December 28, 2011)

Rounds: Here.

Ann returns for her second night, and we find out that she has been to Malta a couple of times, and loves it.  She makes mention of the history, the churches, the old buildings... she adds that the people are so friendly and the food is lovely.  She'd love to live there, in fact.

Challenging Ann tonight is Sebastian Ham, who is a draftsman for an interior design company and an avid skateboarder and snowboarder.  He's been doing the latter for around 25 years, and the main attraction is the speed.  Richard asks if Sebastian has had any crashes; Sebastian responds that there has been nothing major on the skateboard, but plenty on the snowboard as that involves going a lot higher and a lot further, with many more obstacles.

It's a pretty even performance from the two contestants on the letters rounds, but Sebastian had by far the better of the numbers.  Ann might have tied the scores on the last numbers round but something goes awry somewhere, and Sebastian takes an unbeatable lead into the conundrum.  With neither contestant making headway on it, Sebastian wins 39 to 25.

Once again I was in decent form with the letters -- just missing a very findable eight, and being slow on the conundrum again -- but let down by the numbers, where I missed two very findable solutions.  Nonetheless, it was enough to cruise to a win by a margin of more than 50 points.

As usual, details after the jump.

Round 1: M R E S I O T C E

Decent letters to start, and the final vowel was definitely the way to go, with an I yielding EROTICISM or a U giving COSTUMIER.  No such luck this time; I had MIRES, MOIRES, ERECTS / SECRET, MOISTER, and ESOTERIC.  After time I found the other eight of TIRESOME.

Ann draws ahead with a seven to Sebastian's six, while David is pleased to have found METEORIC.  (Not surprising, given how he has remarked in the past about liking the METEOR / REMOTE pair.)

Two other eights that could have been found are COTERIES and MORTICES -- this latter (often singular) does show up fairly often and I have yet to see it.  One day it will stick...

Sebastian: COSIER

Scores: Ann 0 (7), Sebastian 0, me 8

Round 2: T A B S O I H EN

I had TABS (duh) / BATS / STAB, BOATS, and OBTAINS.  Shortly after time I saw the eights that had been nagging at me: BOTANISE / BOTANIES.  I can understand chasing the E here, but the consonant would probably have been my choice; in this case the G would have given the easier eight of BOASTING (and an L would have given the full monty of BIATHLONS, although I can't imagine that I would have seen it).

This time it's Sebastian with the seven to Ann's six, while David has found an eight once more -- the very nice spot of ABSINTHE.

The other eights in this mix are anagrams of the pair I noted above: OBEISANT / NIOBATES.

Sebastian: BONIEST

Scores: Ann 0 (7), Sebastian 7 (7), me 15

Round 3: Target 567 from 25 50 3 7 4 1

A decent spread, and the standard approach works easily: 567 = 3*4*50 - 25 - 7 - 1.  The divisibility by 7 was also clear, and I was able to use it within the remaining time, getting 567 = 7*(50 + 25 + 4 + 3 - 1).  After time I found a way to save a number, with 567 = 3*(4*(50 - 1) - 7).

Ann is very far away with 538, while Sebastian is four away with 571 = (4 + 7)*50 + 25 - 3 - 1; a little bit of tweaking would have seen him there with 567= (4 + 7)*(50 - 1) + 25 + 3.  Lily demonstrates the first of the solutions I listed.

Ann: [not in range]
Sebastian: 571
Me: 567
Lily: 567

Scores: Ann 0 (7), Sebastian 7 (14), me 25

First break: SANE BEET ("Not present on the golf course")

The golf clue leads to TEE, and thence to ABSENTEE.

David's talk is about the origins of the term 'chestnut' for an old joke.

Round 4: G P I T A L D E S

Dipping further into counterfactual territory, using the consonant in the last letters round would have made it possible to get DEPILATES on this one.  But sticking with what was actually chosen... GAIT, PLAIT, PLAITED, DILATES / DETAILS, and LIGATED (LIGATES, too).  After time I noted that the single syllable rule makes PLAIDEST an allowable eight.

Sevens from everyone, but there was a more legitimate eight here; it's an anagram of PLAIDEST: TALIPEDS (club-footed people or animals).

Sebastian: DILATES

Scores: Ann 7 (14), Sebastian 14 (21), me 32

Round 5: C F G A U O N K A

Ann's second letter selection is a nasty mix.  While it was being selected the best hope I could see was for a final consonant, hoping for an R to give COUGAR (and the seven of UNFROCK, as it turns out); the L that would have arrived would have done just as well, though, giving FLAGON and UNCLOAK.  As it was, Ann called for a vowel that I'm decidedly against -- an E is very little help (although UNCAGE would be there), and an I poses the potential for embarassment with a seven that would not make it to air, and may even kill the round.  The result of A was actually a very fortunate outcome, although only David was good enough to see how to use it.

I had CONK / NOCK, CONGA, and GUANO.  Both contestants had entertaining words, Sebastian having GUNK and Ann did very well to find FAUNA.  But David somehow finds the seven of GUANACO, a wild animal of South America, thought to be the (wild) ancestor of the (domesticated) alpaca and llama.

Sebastian: GUNK

Scores: Ann 12 (19), Sebastian 14 (21), me 37

Round 6: Target 382 from 75 25 9 2 6 9

Ah, I made a mess of this one.  The first thought was that the target was 7 away from 375, and the seven could be gained from 9 - 2... but a quick check failed to turn up an easy way to get that 375 with the remaining numbers.  Further experimentation led me to get one away (381), but I lost track of that while searching for a match and in the end had to settle for two away with 384 = 2*75 + 9*25 + 9.

After time ran out I tried using the offset of 18 from 400 and easily found 382 = (6 - 2)*(75 + 25) - 9 - 9.  Bother.  Even more bothersome: I should have tried harder with the original approach, which does yield an eminently gettable solution.  It's a bit of a blind spot of mine, but here's how the process should go: The nearest multiple of 25 is 375; that is 25*15.  Working out the quotient is the step that I glossed over; doing so often makes solutions leap out that may be otherwise missed.  In this case, 15 is easy from 6 and 9, and the solution 382 = (6 + 9)*25 + 9 - 2 follows directly.  This is the solution that Lily later demonstrates, and just the basic step of computing the desired quotient should lead one to it.  There's a lesson here for anyone looking to advance their numbers skills.

Both contestants are seven away; Sebastian has 375 = (9 + 9)*25 - 75... note that he could have simply added the six to get one off at this point.  It looks like it was a last moment find, though, as he seemed to be computing the total when asked what he had.  That would explain it, if so.  Ann has declared 389 but says that she has made a mistake so it's five unanswered points and Sebastian goes seven points ahead.

Ann: [invalid]
Sebastian: 375
Me: 384
Lily: 382

Scores: Ann 12 (19), Sebastian 14 (26), me 44

Second break: SAUTE ERR ("Often found buried")

A straightforward clue for TREASURE.

Round 7: L R E H I D N O R

I had HEIR, HIRED, HINDER, HOLDER, and HORNIER.  (I'd been hoping that a final vowel would be chosen to give an O for EIDOLON.)  Both contestants had HINDER, while David has also gone for HORNIER.

There's quite a few sixes here, but HORNIER appears to be the only longer word allowed by the Macquarie.  As I mentioned yesterday, Chambers would allow LORINER, and in fact would go one better with the obsolete INHOLDER (Spenserian for an inhabitant).

Sebastian: HINDER

Scores: Ann 12 (25), Sebastian 14 (32), me 51

Round 8: Target 930 from 25 50 4 10 2 8

With the 10 present the basic idea of aiming for 93 and then multiplying by it is clear, but without a small odd number getting to 93 is a tad tricky.  An offset of 18 from 75 is manageable, but uses up the 10 and thus defeats the purpose.  I floundered for a bit, and eventually settled for one off with 929 = (10 + 8)*50 + 25 + 4.

After time expired I remembered a handy technique in such situations -- that 50 is like having a 5 around, as long as it would be multiplied by 10.  So targets of 88 or 98 would do just as well, and the latter is quite manageable.  This yields the solution 930 = 10*(4*25 - 2) - 50.

Sebastian has 934, but Ann is closer with 932; with Sebastian currently ahead by 7 points, this should tie the scores.  Ann starts with 50 + 25 = 75, 10 + 2 = 12, and then says that she has made a mistake.  That's... very odd, since a solution with her chosen target follows straightforwardly from those building blocks: 932 = (50 + 25)*(10 + 2) + 4*8.  Did she get confused and talk herself out of the equalising points?  I'd love to know what was written down on the pad.  The only other option I can see is re-use of the 10 with (50 + 25)*(10 + 2) + 4*10 - 8.

Sebastian makes no mistake with his target, getting 934 = 4*10*25 - 50 - 2*8.  This is a small bit of tweaking away from the solution I showed above.  Due to Ann's answer being invalid, this result ensures his victory.

Lily then demonstrates another way to get that odd multiple of 10, with 930 = (25 - 8)*50 + 2*4*10.  What she has done here is to get to some odd multiple of 10 and then correct; the same approach could save a number, with 930 = 25*50 - 4*8*10.

Ann: [invalid]
Sebastian: 934
Me: 932
Lily: 930

Scores: Ann 12 (25), Sebastian 14 (39), me 58


Anybody who has followed my general anti-vowel sentiments on this blog will be unsurprised, and maybe a little amused, to know that the vowel-heavy conundrum causes me difficulties.  It's only a single letter difference from the DEPARTURE of episode 344, but that makes a big difference to me.  Eventually I get there via the -ATE ending, 14 seconds in.  Neither contestant manages to solve it, and so the game ends quietly.

Ann: [no answer]
Sebastian: [no answer]

Final scores: Ann 12 (25), Sebastian 14 (39), me 68

It was pretty even on the letters tonight, but I'd have to say that Ann lost it on the numbers rounds.  With two invalid declarations and the third not within range, she not only failed to score but also conceded points to Sebastian on each one.  Sebastian was never closer to the target than four away, but that translated into 19 points as a result.  It just goes to show the importance of getting something down, even if it's not exactly on target.

I was a bit too slow to spot BOTANISE, but otherwise the letters rounds were good.  I definitely should have done better on the numbers; it's perhaps a bit ironic, given my background, just how frequently the numbers are proving to be my downfall.  I'm possibly getting a bit lazy, though, as I relax for a bit after the pressure of those games against Sam.


Sam Gaffney said...

1. MOISTER - looks dodgy, but falls within rules. (ESOTERIC is a great get.)
2. BOTANISE - on my list of useful words.
3. On target: (50+25+4+3-1)x7 = 567
6. On target: (75-9)x6 - 25 +9+2 = 382
8. Six away: (50x2-8) x 10 + 4 = 924. Later on I got: (50x10 - 25 - 8) x 2 - 4 = 930
9. Solved in 5 or 6 seconds.

Geoff Bailey said...

Heh... once again it came down to the conundrum, and you were faster. *rueful chuckle*

Mark said...

You mentioned that an embarrassing word can "kill the round" - have you seen this happen?

Geoff Bailey said...

No, I've not seen it happen (nor would I expect to, since they'd play a replacement round in such a circumstance), but the rules allow for it.