Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Ep 352: Sebastian Ham, Mark Arnold (January 3, 2012)

Rounds: Here.

Sebastian has visited 66 different countries, which seems like a lot to me.  Richard asks if there was any region that he particularly enjoyed; Sebastian responds that he likes bits and pieces from everywhere, but he would love to get back to Nepal and the Himalayas, and maybe trek into Tibet.

Tonight's challenger is Mark Arnold, a maintenance fitter and sports enthusiast.  But we're not going to talk about either of those things (although Richard mentions in passing that Mark has been a coach and referee in the past), but about what Richard calls Mark's "deep dark passion".  Which is... carpentry.  Mark says that his main job is using metals, but at home he likes to use wood.  His current project is making his own (self-designed) wardrobe doors, and in the past he has made coffee tables, bookcases, and a magazine rack (and possibly other unmentioned items, of course).

It's a relatively close match tonight, with the letters performances being a bit above average (although both contestants fall victim to an invalid eight in one round); Mark has the better of them, but his early stumble in the numbers keeps Sebastian in contention until the final numbers round, where Sebastian is too far away and Mark takes the unassailable lead going into the conundrum.  He needed it, too, as Sebastian does very well to solve a tough conundrum.  Mark just barely takes the victory, 47 to 45.

I'm pretty happy with my perforance tonight -- finding a nine will do that.  Two letters rounds could have gone better, but I might not have risked those words even if I'd seen them.  The conundrum, on the other hand, eluded me for the first time in a long while.  An unanswered nine is always a commanding advantage, though, and I ran out a comfortable winner once more.

As usual, details after the jump.

Round 1: S E L I C F N O D

A nice helpful mix to get the game started; I had ISLE / LIES, SINCE, FOILED, INCLOSED, and CONFIDES.

Both contestants have eights to declare, although Mark got to declare second and is not entirely certain about it.  I wonder if he'd have tried it if he declared first?  In any case, they've each picked one of the eights I found -- they appear to be the only eights available -- and David was unable to find better.  He does note that INCLOSE is the legal or archaic form of ENCLOSE.

So that's eight all round, and the game is off to a great start.

Sebastian: CONFIDES

Scores: 8 apiece

Round 2: O I D W R A I K O

From a helpful mix to a much less friendly one, although things certainly weren't made any better by Mark choosing so many vowels.  The E that he was presumably aiming at wouldn't even have helped that much; WORKED is a possibility but holds no hope for longer.  This is a classic example of why I hate choosing a fouth vowel early; the K turned up and the result was a mess, with not enough consonants to recover.  (And that fifth vowel really compounded the difficulties.)  Staying with just the three vowels would have allowed the sevent of ODALISK (variant spelling of ODALISQUE: "a female slave or concubine in a harem"); some dictionaries would also allow KILORADS, but the Macquarie does not list it, despite listing several other KILO- words.

Anyway... I had WORD and RADIO.  I couldn't better that, and the only other five I can find is RADII.  Mark also went for RADIO, while Sebastian has risked KOORI.  This may have been a similar situation to last round, since Mark declared a five first and Sebastian felt that he had to match it.  But KOORI ("An Aboriginal person of Victoria or southern New South Wales") is only listed as capitalised, and Mark has the lead.

David has outdone everyone by finding AIKIDO.  Very nicely done!

Sebastian: [invalid]

Scores: Sebastian 8, Mark 13, me 13

Round 3: Target 449 from 100 75 5 1 4 5

I overcomplicated this, but got there with 449 = 5*100 - 75 + 4*(5 + 1).  A little tweaking would have saved a number, with 449 = 5*(100 + 5) - 75 - 1.

Sebastian puts his pen down with 10 seconds left, while Mark is still writing as time runs out.  Both declare that they have got there, with Sebastian finding the simple 449 = (5 + 1)*75 - (5 - 4); remembering the 75-times tables would help to find that, and I wish that I had.  Good job, Sebastian.  (This was also the solution that Lily used.)

Mark describes his solution as having "gone around the houses", which sounds a bit like my approach.  He starts with 4*100 - 75... and realises that this is 325, not the 425 he had thought it was.  Presumably he would have completed that by adding 5*5 - 1.  If he'd spotted his error in time he quite possibly could have found the solution that I used, but it looks like he did not have that time; so now Sebastian takes the lead.

Sebastian: 449
Mark: [invalid]
Me: 449
Lily: 449

Scores: Sebastian 18, Mark 13, me 23

First break: DUST PAGE ("Stole the limelight")

A straight clue for UPSTAGED.

David's talk is about words related to chaos: 'haywire', and 'mayhem'.

Round 4: U E A S L S C O T

Back to a cooperative set of letters; I found SEAL, SEALS, CLOSES, CLOSETS, and OSCULATES (kisses).  After time I noted the eight of OUTCLASS.

It's sevens from each contestant, and David comments that this mix made him want to go "mwah" (a kissing gesture) because he has likewise found OSCULATES.  He also notes that an alternative nine is CASSOULET, a French bean dish.

I'll mention a few other eights that are here.  The -LESS ending is always risky, but COATLESS turns out to be OK.  Then there's two anagrams of OSCULATE: LOCUSTAE (plural of LOCUSTA: "the spikelet of grasses") and LACTEOUS ("milky").

Sebastian: CLOSEST

Scores: Sebastian 18 (25), Mark 13 (20), me 41

Round 5: R E E B A N H D O

At the final letter I was hoping for a consonant, and in particular a T for BREATHED.  It would have been, too, but the O does equally well for some.  I ended up with BEER, HOARD, and BROADEN.  There's a few words that I have learned from the episodes of Countdown that I've watched, and like to keep an eye out for; after time ran out I realised that one of them was here: BODHRAN (a particular type of Irish drum).  Two other sevens are: another instrument, BANDORE (an old instrument similar to a lute), that has been mentioned a couple of times already under its alternative spelling of PANDORA; and ENROBED.

It's six from Sebastian, but Mark has found BROADEN to snatch the lead once more.  David, meanwhile, recalls seeing a very similar mix in a previous game; that time he had looked for HEADBONE (invalid) but this time recalled that BONEHEAD was a valid eight.

Sebastian: BONDER

Scores: Sebastian 18 (25), Mark 20 (27), me 48

Round 6: Target 979 from 100 10 2 3 5 6

There's shades of the 997 from yesterday, but with the 100 and 10 right there getting near is even easier this time.  I found 979 = 100*10 - 3*(5 + 2) and 979 = 10*(100 - 2) - (6 - 5).  Everyone else used the first of these solutions.

Sebastian: 979
Mark: 979
Me: 979
Lily: 979

Scores: Sebastian 28 (35), Mark 30 (37), me 58

Second break: AFRO BEER ("Humphrey B's ancestor")

There's a clue that may bemuse non-Australians, but Humphrey B Bear is an icon of Australian children's television.  Something I hadn't realised, but which raises its importance in my mind, is that The Curiosity Show started off as a segment on Here's Humphrey before getting its own show.

All that aside, the clue leads to FOREBEAR.

Round 7: T I N G E I M R O

Boo for that final vowel; there's a couple of nines that could be formed but they need consonants (TIMBERING and REMITTING).  I've spoken before about how -ING plays best with only two other vowels.

I had IGNITE and MERITING.  After time I noted that the American spelling MITERING would also be allowed.

Both contestants have fallen victim to the same risky, and invalid, guess of REMOTING.  The good news for them is that since they both went for it they haven't lost out.  David says that he thought their risky word might have been RETIMING, which turns out to be allowable -- it does not have a main entry, but is in the running list of RE- words -- but MERITING is much safer.

Sebastian: [invalid]
Mark: [invalid]

Scores: Sebastian 28 (35), Mark 30 (37), me 66

Round 8: Target 620 from 50 4 4 6 10 5

With the target a multiple of ten it seems plausible that getting to 62 with the rest is the way to go.  I found 620 = (50 + 4*(4 + 5 - 6))*10 within time, but perhaps 620 = (50 + 6 + 5 + 4/4)*10 was more obvious.  Another solution that I noted after time, found by noticing that the target is near 625 = 25*25, is 620 = (50*10*5 + 4)/4 - 6.

Mark declares 620, while Sebastian only has 610; I have trouble seeing how he could have ended up with that -- perhaps he did find one of those ways to 12 from 4 4 5 6 and multiplied it by 50 instead of adding it?  In any case, Mark's solution of 620 = (6 + 4 + 50)*10 + 4*5 is shown to be valid and Sebastian is out of contention going into the conundrum.

Lily's solution is similar to Mark's: 620 = (6 - 4 + 10)*50 + 4*5.

Sebastian: 610
Mark: 620
Me: 620
Lily: 620

Scores: Sebastian 28 (35), Mark 40 (47), me 76


I was watching this live again, which means that I wasn't able to pause and try to solve it myself when Sebastian solved this at the 15 second mark.  But I was nowhere near finding a solution, and I very much doubt that I would have found it within the requisite thirty seconds (all I managed to find was UNCTION, and that was not leading anywhere helpful).  Sebastian did very well to solve this tough conundrum.

Sebastian: CONTINUUM (15s)
Mark: [no answer]
Me: [no answer]

Final scores: Sebastian 38 (45), Mark 40 (47), me 76

This was a decent game from both contestants; some blemishes, sure, but good word length and they both looked pretty comfortable around the numbers tonight.  That said, there were several chances for each to improve their result; Sebastian in particular is probably regretting missing RADIO.  Still, he managed to get past the fourth game barrier and sits in fifth spot on the finals rankings; we may yet see him return.  It will be interesting to see how Mark does in the next game; there were certainly some promising signs in this one.

I'm content with my performance this game; finding OSCULATES makes up for a lot.  It would have been nice to see AIKIDO or the conundrum, but they were hard gets.  BONEHEAD I'm not sure I would have risked if I had seen it (although on reflection I should have).  Aside from that, the results were good.


Daniel said...

Hey Geoff, Ive noticed recently that there has been continuous abuse to the letters and numbers website with over 3000 disagrees to multiple comments, do you know of any way that this could of happened and any way to fix it, thanks

Sam Gaffney said...

My answers:

449 = (5+1)x75 - 5 + 4
979 = 10x100 - 5x3 - 6
REMOTING (invalid)
620 = 10*(50 + 4*(4 + 5 - 6))

I paused and got the conundrum after a minute, but Sebastian did very well to get it as quick as he did, it was a strong standard tonight.

OSCULATE was a great Full Monty, Geoff.

Sam Gaffney said...

I hope SBS gets Episode 353 on the website for you soon. Otherwise it might be like when Rain Man was going to miss an episode of Jeopardy!

Geoff Bailey said...

*chuckles in response to Sam* I hope it's not that bad, but the episode is going to have to wait until tomorrow at least. They've had problems once before but eventually sorted them out.

Daniel: How it happens is easy -- someone wrote a script to got through and poke all the 'disagree' buttons, and then made it do that a lot. There's nothing very difficult about it.

As for what can be done... not a lot, with the current anonymous system. They'd do better to get rid of the agree/disagree buttons entirely at this point. And much better again to set up a forum for the show's fan to use, but that entails a lot of extra work for little perceived benefit.