Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Ep 351: Sebastian Ham, Cherie Braude (January 2, 2012)

Rounds: Here.

Richard reveals that Sebastian does some fundraising; Sebastian explains that once a year he organises (or helps organise -- there's some suggestion of others being involved) a tribute night for a friend who passed away three years ago.  This raises money for the Surfrider Foundation, which Sebastian explains is geared towards protecting and nurturing and cleaning the oceans, Australia-wide.  (Which I take to mean the coastal environs all around Australia, but I'm sure they can explain it better.)

Tonight's challenger is Cherie Braude, a receptionist and musician.  She'd like to play in a band, but she plays the flute.  Richard asks if there is much call for flutes in bands aside from "the old Jethro Tull".  She responds that it was her inspiration, in fact, and hopes that something will come of it.

It's a bit of a messy game tonight, with several of the letters rounds delivering very awkward mixes to work with.  Cherie falls behind in the first two rounds, and thereafter is unable to catch up.  The second round was a particularly bad miss, as were the last two numbers rounds where all she needed to get was within ten to have a chance of victory.  She wasn't able to do so, though, and Sebastian escapes with a very lucky win, 40 to 37.

I missed a couple of things I should have found tonight, particularly in the second numbers round.  That's always disappointing, but there was some decent finds in the letters and a fast conundrum solve to redeem it, and a solid victory once more.

As usual, details after the jump.

Round 1: N I C E O N G D A

There was a small murmur of amusement as the board started out with NICE.  Then the G came along for -ING and I collected letters to the side for that, finding ENCODING, marking DEACONING as highly dubious, and seeing CANOEING again.  That's pretty much all there is to be found; some word lists do have DEACONING, but not the Macquarie or the Chambers, which is in accordance with expectations.

Both contestants have used the -ING, which is nice to see; there was a period earlier this series where it just wasn't being used well.  Sebastian's DANCING outdoes Cherie's CODING, however; David points out how Cherie could have easily extended that.

Sebastian: DANCING
Cherie: CODING

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

Round 2: H I T O S P T U S

It's an ill-fitting mix, and I was expecting Cherie to call for a final vowel in the hopes that the E would make things better.  She didn't, and on this mix it really doesn't matter much.  The E would make some more findable sevens (POTTIES / TIPTOES and PITEOUS, for example), but there's almost no chance of longer.  The magic result here would have been an R for TUTORSHIP.

As it was, I had SHOT, HOIST, HOISTS, SPOUTS, and wondered about HITOUTS but suspected (rightly as it turns out) that it would be hyphenated.  After time ran out I found UPSHOTS -- I should have looked at UP- earlier! -- but it was arguably just as well that I didn't see it within time, since it then led to SHOTPUTS.  Alas, while Chambers allows SHOTPUTS, the Macquarie requires a hyphen (and some online sources keep it as two words); I imagine it will eventually become a single word, but it's not there yet.

Richard notes that this time the letters started off with HIT instead of the previous rounds NICE.  If the third consonant had been called before the second vowel we could have ended up with HITS OPTUS, which I'm sure would have amused further.

Cherie has found the very nice five of PIOUS, but it's no match for Sebastians six of SPOUTS.  And really, SPOUTS or SHOUTS are fairly clear finds; she should have found one of the sixes here, and arguably this early mistake cost her the game.

David has found UPSHOTS; I'll note that there is another seven: SOPHIST (which has a few meanings, one of which is someone who reasons speciously).  The plausible STOUTISH is not in the Macquarie, although Chambers has it.

Sebastian: SPOUTS
Cherie: PIOUS

Scores: Sebastian 6 (13), Cherie 0, me 14

Round 3: Target 117 from 25 100 2 9 8 4

The target is far too easy, alas.  I found 117 = 100 + 25 - 8 using the usual method, then decided to use the factorisation (the target is clearly divisible by 9) to get 117 = 9*(25 - 4 - 8).

Both contestants have used the perhaps more obvious 117 = 100 + 9 + 8, while Lily amuses by having done something different  -- in this case, the first solution that I gave.

Sebastian: 117
Cherie: 117
Me: 117
Lily: 117

Scores: Sebastian 16 (23), Cherie 10, me 24

First break: SNAIL FIT ("If you play well, you will be one of these")

A fairly clear mix (and clue) for FINALIST.

David's talk is about RAS syndrome, where the RAS stands for "redundant acronym syndrome".  He gives a few examples, such as "PIN number".

Round 4: Y M E L T A I D E

We don't start with a word this time, but we do get words after the first letter (MELT and AIDE).  Sometimes these kinds of subwords can help, but often they can cause one to get stuck in mental loops; that may perhaps be one of the reasons that I prefer to write down the letters rather than stare at the board.

Here I saw MELT (duh), TAMELY, TIMELY, DETAIL, and EMAILED.  I'd looked EMAIL up once before when I'd wanted EMAILER, so I knew that EMAILED was good (and EMAILER is not allowed).  After time I saw MEDIATE, which I'd have preferred to declare as my seven.

Sixes from each contestant -- there are a great many of them, but I did like Cherie's choice of MEDLEY -- while David has found a couple of sevens.  But there is a nine here; in fact it follows from MEDIATE which is not just a verb but also an adjective ("acting through, dependent on, or involving an intermediate agency; not direct or immediate"), and thus produces the adverb MEDIATELY.

Sebastian: MALTED
Cherie: MEDLEY

Scores: Sebastian 16 (29), Cherie 10 (16), me 31

Round 5: B A R E D R S A F

The words in the mixes keep coming, getting up to five this time with BARED.  And it was a bit hard to do better than that; I had BARE, BARED, and BARRED.  I would have picked a final vowel on this mix, hoping for an O (it would have been one, too) for SEABOARD.

Both contestants also have BARRED.  David continues to shine by finding ABRADERS; I doubt I would have risked that even if I'd seen it, but I should have found ABRADES.  Bother.

Sebastian: BARRED
Cherie: BARRED

Scores: Sebastian 22 (35), Cherie 16 (22), me 37

Round 6: Target 784 from 75 8 10 5 7 5

Cherie is still behind by more than a conundrum's worth, but has two numbers picks left.  If numbers are her strength then she's got a chance.  She goes for the single large number option, and the high target proves challenging.

I immediately recognise the target as the square of 28, but without a 25 or a 50 (to get close to 28 or 56 respectively) I didn't see any easy exploits of that.  Changing tacks, the target is 34 away from 750; that's very easy to get one off with 785 = 10*75 + 5*7, but an adjustment by one proves difficult.  In the end I spent too much time searching for that, and had to stay with one away.

After time I saw that getting there from above was easier, and in fact everything just neatly falls into place: We want to get a number ending in 4, which means subtracting a number ending in 1 or 6 from a multiple of 5 (or preferably, a multiple of 25).  Looking at 800, the difference is 16, and 16 is 8*2, and we can get two as 7 - 5.  That leaves us with 75, 10, and 5 to make 800... and that's easy.  The solution follows directly: 784 = 10*(75 + 5) - 8*(7 - 5).

Going back to the original observation (784 being 28 squared) would have been useful, as the factorisation is easy at that point.  With a 7 and an 8 handy already, we just need 14 from the rest... and that's quite manageable.  So another solution is 784 = ((75 - 5)/5)*7*8.

Neither contestant is able to make any progress on this at all, which surprises me; the 785 that I used should have been very findable.  Lily has also struggled, being one away in the other direction with 783; I'm going to guess this was 783 = 75*10 + 5*8 - 7.  But after the break she comes back with an alternative approach, using the divisibility by 7 to get 784 = (5*10 + 75 - 8 - 5)*7.

Sebastian: [not in range]
Cherie: [not in range]
Me: 785
Lily: 783

Scores: Sebastian 22 (35), Cherie 16 (22), me 44

Second break: ENTER HAT ("Menacing consumption")

The 'consumption' clues (rather weakly, in my opinion) the EAT or EATEN of THREATEN.

Round 7: O H N E C I K F E

Again we have some very uncooperative letters, and I hate that final choice of a vowel.  OEI are a decent set of vowels to have, and it's better to try for more cooperative consonants.  There's several potential sevens here for the right consonants (KITCHEN, CHICKEN, CHIFFON, CONIFER, CHOKING...) but the E is no help at all and keeps the limit at five.  I had HONE, CHOKE, FINCH, CHIEF, but there's a great many other fives (my favourite is NIECE).

Both contestants have fives, and David amuses by stating that this has been "one of the trickiest mixes we've had on the show all year".  This impresses Richard, although David has a little half-smile as he says it and the audience laughter finally reminds Richard that this is the first game of the year.  Heh.

Sebastian: FENCE
Cherie: KNIFE
David: CHOKE

Scores: Sebastian 27 (40), Cherie 21 (27), me 49

Round 8: Target 997 from 25 10 2 8 1 5

Cherie needs to outscore Sebastian on this round to have a chance.  The target is quite high, but it's so close to a thousand that getting 997 = 5*8*25 - 2 - 1 is fairly easy to spot (amusingly, not using the 10 at all).  Lily also finds this solution.

Neither contestant gets within range again, and that just staggers me.  Surely it's easy to see that one wants to get to a thousand, and with the ten around that means getting to a hundred with the rest.  Any contestant should know that 100 is 4*25, so getting close just means making 4 from those small values -- getting 1000 = 10*25*(5 - 1) or 1000 = 10*25*8/2 should be easy, and with numbers left over to adjust to 998 or 996 respectively.

I can only guess that the magnitude of the target confused them, but it should not have.  This is particularly bad for Cherie, who now cannot possibly catch up.

Sebastian: [not in range]
Cherie: [not in range]
Me: 997
Lily: 997

Scores: Sebastian 27 (40), Cherie 21 (27), me 59


A very easy conundrum to round things off; I had it within the first second, and Cherie gets it three seconds in.  That brings the scores close, but alas it was just not enough for her.

Sebastian: [no answer]
Cherie: CHEMISTRY (3s)

Final scores: Sebastian 27 (40), Cherie 21 (37), me 69

Sebastian took the lead early, and managed to hang on thereafter.  Cherie found a couple of very nice words tonight, but she would have been better served by more mundane but longer ones.  This game demonstrated why it is important to write down something close in the numbers, even if you can't get directly to the target: If Cherie had just managed to do so in either of the last two numbers rounds then she would have won this game; that's particularly unfortunate as getting close should have been very manageable.  Sebastian should count himself lucky to have won this game.

Tonight I should have done better in two of the letters rounds and one of the numbers rounds.  It's the numbers round that is most disappointing (as usual), as the solution unravels so neatly once it is approached calmly.  Oh, well, tomorrow is another game and all that.  Sebastian's win has the effect of pushing me down into sixth place in the finals rankings, and my finals chances aren't looking so good.


Damien said...

Great Blog.

Luv it!

Sam Gaffney said...

My answers:

117 = 100+9+8
784 = (75+5)x10-8x(7-5)
997 = 5x8x25-2-1
CHEMISTRY, 1 or 2s

Geoff Bailey said...

Welcome, Damien; I hope you continue to enjoy it, and the show itself.

Nice work finding UPSHOTS within time, Sam, and also on getting 784.

Justin Thai said...

Closed Captions has the surname as Braude

Geoff Bailey said...

Thanks, Justin -- I've updated the post. (Mind you, the subtitles have been wrong about names before.)