Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Ep 358: Kerin White, Zac Newnham (January 11, 2012)

Rounds: Here.

It's Kerin's last night (until the finals, anyway); Richard wheels out the question about techniques.  Kerin starts with the numbers, where she remarks that she finds the usual family mix the easiest, and she really dislikes the six-small option.  That's a close match for the solving probability, so no real surprise there.  With the letters, she likes to get those four consonants out first; it helps her envisage possible words from the start.  I have to say, it was nice of her to tell her opponent how he should make his selections in order to put her out.

Speaking of whom, tonight's challenger is Zac Newnham, a pathology student who has written two novels.  The first was a drama/romance novel (he describes it as "not what an eighteen-year-old boy would write", but he did); the second is a wartime drama novel, set at home -- it's about the consequences of war, of coming back from war and what happens to the people who have gone to one.  He has not yet put them out for publication, but he hopes to be able to do so in a few years' time.

Zac finds a couple of decent words, but is mostly outdone by Kerin who is in good form for her final night, at least with the letters.  The numbers don't go so well, but a careless error from Zac takes away his chance of a recovery, and a final rat pack selection leaves them both stumped.  With neither solving the conundrum Kerin still manages to get the half-century, taking the game 51 to 24 and becoming the season's fourth retiring champion.  (And second-highest scorer, too.)

I had seven excellent rounds, and then the ratpack likewise defeated me.  I was unable to solve a tough conundrum so the round fizzled out; against that, I found a nine that eluded everyone, although I am in part relying on the show's laxness about plurals.  More on that in the appropriate round.  (For anyone keeping track of statistics, even if it were ruled invalid I would still scrape home a three-point victory on this game.)

As usual, details after the jump.

Round 1: D H T L A I E K C

I had HALT, HALTED, TAILED, TICKLED, TACKLED, CHALKED, and LATCHED.  I wondered about KLATCHED, but KLATCH (a gathering characterised by informal conversation) is only a noun, as expected.  (Update: I should have mentioned that KLATCH is not listed in the Macquarie at all, even as a noun.)  After time I found CATLIKE and ETHICAL, and there really are many sevens here.  A combination that has arisen several times before is DIALECT / CITADEL.

A single stone is a MONOLITH, so in principle a structure of ten stones could be a DECALITH.  Not surprisingly, however, this "word" has failed to make it into dictionaries.

It's sevens from everyone, with David noting that an E instead of the final consonant would have allowed DEATHLIKE.  The next vowel was a U, though, so just as well.  (Without the C, only HATLIKE or HUTLIKE can lead to seven; those are tough finds for contestants, since the -LIKE words are sporadic.)


Scores: 7 apiece

Round 2: S G N T U I D A E

Once more -ING makes an appearance, and I was hoping for a final consonant and a J for ADJUSTING.  It was long odds against that, but it was the only full monty candidate.  As it was, the E did bring eights to the table, while the actual W would have made sevens the limit.

I had NUTS / STUN, DUSTING, and STEADING.  While having dinner I realised that SAUT√ČING would be another eight.

On checking answers, I was surprised to find that the Macquarie does not list STEADING as a noun.  The definition that I had been thinking of, courtesy of Chambers, is "the range of building surrounding a farmhouse, a farmstead".  Fortunately the Macquarie does list STEAD as a verb ("to be of service, advantage, or avail to") -- although it is marked as archaic -- and so STEADING is allowed.  Phew!

Zac has a six -- he really should have found a seven at least -- but Kerin has found the safer eight of SEDATING.  David has also found GAUDIEST, and I'll note two other eights: SINUATED (listed as an alternate form of SINUATE: "bent in and out; winding; sinuous") and AUDIENTS (listeners).


Scores: Kerin 15, Zac 7, me 15

Round 3: Target 548 from 50 75 1 2 5 8

As predicted, it's the family mix, and everyone finds 548 = 8*75 - 50 - 2.  I'll note another solution of 548 = (5 + 1)*(75 + 8) + 50.

Kerin: 548
Zac: 548
Me: 548
Lily: 548

Scores: Kerin 25, Zac 17, me 25

First break: LENT LUSH ("No match for a squirrel")

For a brief moment I wonder if this is a Boris Badenov reference, but then I realise it is NUTSHELL.

David continues his explanation of cryptic clue types today with charades, where a word is clued by its components.  He gives examples for the concept of 'pigeon' being "pig eon" and 'anagram' being "a nag ram".  He then shows how this might appear in clue form, with "Liking song a lot" being a possible clue for 'fortune' -- "liking" being 'for', "song" being 'tune', and "a lot" being a 'fortune'.  Richard leaps in with the suggestion that 'pigeon' might be clued as "long time porcine", which is in the ballpark of the right idea.

David gives another example of "Swell card to appear" cluing 'surface' via 'surf' + 'ace', then sets the challenge for the audience: "Consumed wharf fish (7)".

I'm going to spoil that right now rather than waiting until the end of the show like he did.  Once you think of 'dock' as a synonym for 'wharf' ('pier' and 'jetty' are other candidates) then "fish" should lead you to 'haddock' in quick order.

Round 4: W N T I O B U R E

Zac says, "Oh no" as the W comes up first, and fair enough, too.  Fortunately the rest are reasonably cooperative; I had TOWN, TRIBUNE / TURBINE, and ROUTINE.  After time I noted BROWNIE, and there's one of those minerals that I've mentioned once before also: BORNITE.

Everyone has sevens, although Zac wasn't confident about his.

As an aside, if Zac had gone for a consonant instead then the N would have allowed a couple of eights: NUTBROWN and TWINBORN.  I'd be surprised at a contestant finding those, however, and otherwise six would be the limit so choosing that vowel paid off.


Scores: Kerin 32, Zac 24, me 32

Round 5: N L S C I O E P M

I found LIONS, PENCILS, INCLOSE, COMPELS, COMPLINE, and COMPLINES.  I deliberated a bit about that last, but the show's lax attitude towards plurals tilted me in favour of it.  After time I noted another seven of POLICES.

Kerin has a seven, but Zac has dropped off the pace with a five.  That's unfortunate on what was a decent set of letters.  David has the eight of COMPILES, and I'll note two anagrams of that which are also valid: COMPLIES and POLEMICS.  There's also PINOCLES in the first eight letters.  (PINOCLE being a variant spelling of PINOCHLE; it's both a card game -- which might not be pluralisable -- and a scoring combination within the game, which definitely may be pluralised.)

So I'm feeling pretty good about COMPLINES, but the question of whether COMPLINE may take the S is worth asking.  The Macquarie defines COMPLINE as an ecclesiastical term for "the last of the seven canonical hours, or the service for it [...]".  The service may be able to be referred to in the plural if multiple days were being considered, for instance.  I'm not entirely convinced by that, but this sort of grey area is exactly why the show is lenient on its plurals.  (Aside: COMPLINES turns up in several Scrabble lists such as SOWPODS, but it may be as an alternative spelling for COMPLINE; again, unclear.)

Of course, the most powerful argument against COMPLINES is that it's not generally allowed to pluralise (wait for it) mass nouns.  *rimshot*

In any case, I'm claiming it for now.  Maybe one day I'll check with David as to how he would rule.


Scores: Kerin 32 (39), Zac 24, me 50

Round 6: Target 388 from 25 50 75 1 9 7

Richard urges Zac to choose six small (since Kerin is known to dislike it), but wisely Zac resists.  He does avoid the family mix, however, and goes for three of each instead; this target needed a little thought.  I started off with 391 = 7*(50 + 1) + 25 + 9 but then saw -- with just enough time to get it down -- the solution 388 = (7 + 1)*50 - 9 - 75/25.

Zac's declaration of 390 is closer than Kerin's 381, but he starts off with (7 + 1)*50... and I know that he's made a mistake.  Which is a huge shame, because he was actually very close to the solution, as shown above.  In the event his method of (7 + 1)*50 - 9 - 1 uses the one twice, and is invalid.

That brings Kerin's 381 into play, getting her five points with 381 = 7*(50 + 75/25) + 9 + 1.  (Note that she could have pushed the 1 inside the brackets to get to just one away with 387.)  That's a twelve point swing that Zac could ill-afford, and he's now 20 points behind.

Lily has found a nice solution: 388 = 7*(50 + 9) - 25.

Kerin: 381
Zac: [invalid]
Me: 388
Lily: 388

Scores: Kerin 32 (44), Zac 24, me 60

Second break: ARMY SORE ("A pair of aromatic ladies")

It's not too hard to find ROSEMARY from that clue.

Round 7: Y R C F I E U R S

I had RICE, CURIE (a non-SI unit of radiation), FURRY, and CURRIES.  After time ran out I noted an anagram of CURRIES: CRUISER.

Zac has FIRES, while Kerin has CURRIES, and Richard notes there is a connection through the concept of heat.  David agrees, and points out CRUISER as his selection.  Kerin is now uncatchable, and will get to be a retiring champion.

I'll note a couple of unusual other sevens: CRUISEY (alternate spelling of CRUISY, colloquial for easy or untaxing) and SURFIER.  The Macqarie lists SCURFY (adjectival form of SCURF: "any scaly matter or encrustation on a surface") but not SCURFIER, so that potential eight is foiled.  (Chambers does list SCURFIER.)


Scores: Kerin 39 (51), Zac 24, me 67

Round 8: Target 993 from 8 9 1 5 7 4

Zac gives in to Richard's urgings, and chooses the six small option.  The target is large, unfortunately, and it turns out to defeat everyone.  It's obviously 7 away from 1000, but the components of the 1000 just aren't there.  Ironically (since one of the difficulties of this mix is getting high targets) replacing the 9 with the smaller 6 would make getting that 1000 easy.  (If only Lily had turned it upside-down...)

As it was, I ended up 15 away within time, but a trivial correction afterward turned it into three away with 990 = (9 + 5 + 4)*(7*8 - 1).  With some more headscratching later I also found 996 = 4*(8*5*(7 - 1) + 9), and finally managed to get only one away with 992 = 8*((9 + 1)*(7 + 5) + 4).  It turns out that this is the best possible -- the target is not achievable.

Neither contestant could make any progress on this, and Lily simply says that she "couldn't get there".  She doesn't say how close she could get, either, so it's possible that she didn't get within range.  (My policy is to assume that Lily does get close enough for seven points if that is possible, even when she doesn't get to the target.  The weekly summary scores reflect this assumption, which is a shame as those seven points are the difference in scores -- I could have had a rare tie with the David + Lily combination.)

Kerin: [not in range]
Zac: [not in range]
Me: [not in range]

Scores: Kerin 39 (51), Zac 24, me 67


That W stands out like a sore thumb, but I couldn't manage to slot it into place anywhere.  I ran out of time, as did both contestants.  It took me around 65 seconds total before I finally saw UNWELCOME; this was a tough one!  At least for me...

Kerin: [no answer]
Zac: [no answer]
Me: [no answer]

Final scores: Kerin 39 (51), Zac 24, me 67

Kerin had a great set of letters rounds tonight, finding sevens and eights, and only bettered by David once.  She solved one of the numbers, and had trouble with the other two, but no surprise on the last one.  In contrast, Zac had fives and sixes where longer was needed, and wasn't able to catch up on the numbers.  Although the last two rounds were a bit of a fizzle, Kerin takes her deserved sixth win into retirement.

It was likewise good for me until that final pair of rounds.  The question mark on the validity of COMPLINES does overshadow this result a little, but it's still good to have even seen the potential for it.

Tomorrow: Two brand new contestants, and more of David's cryptic tutoring.


Sam Gaffney said...

Great Full Monty, Geoff, I'd never heard of that word. If you check COMPLINES with David, be sure to ask about MOLDIER!

I saw SAUTEING, but thought a double-E would be needed. My answers are below, including what could be a first: a scoring numbers answer over 1000!

548 = 8*75 - 50 - 2
388 = (50+9) x 7 - 25
1001 = 7 x ((9+5+4) x 8 -1)

Mark said...

I'm happy to say that I saw UNWELCOME almost immediately. I still would have been comprehensively beaten by Geoff and Sam, though.

Geoff Bailey said...

@Sam: Heh, yes -- I've got a few words I wouldn't mind checking, and hopefully I will remember to do both of those some day. I'm impressed that you went with BORNITE -- is that the influence of this blog, or had you come across it before?

COMPILES was a great get, and that 1001 was excellent within time. Good job!

@Mark: Very well done on seeing UNWELCOME; it wasn't an easy get at all!

Victor said...

RE: Complines

I searched "complines" in the online version of the Macquarie and it gives the entry for "compline", so I would deem complines as valid (when a word is invalid, it will say "No result found", for example when you try "luggages").

So going by the logic of "if it comes up with any result, it is valid", it would seem the Macquarie is extremely lenient on mass noun plurals - I struggled to find many that were invalid.

The valid results range from slightly dubious - "homeworks", "informations", "equipments" - to outright bizarre - "chesses", "softwares", "atheisms", "sadnesses", "happinesses" [strangely, "unhappinesses" is invalid]. (Note "chess" may also be a plant but the only definition in Macquarie is the board game).

Since none of these have separate entries, its all up to David whether to allow them or not of course. It might be handy if they had an electronic reference on site though.

Geoff Bailey said...

Thanks for the searching, Victor, and that's some interesting results you've turned up. Although given some of those items I'm not sure that this is much of an argument in COMPLINES' favour! *chuckles*

(I've modified the wording slightly to hopefully make it clearer that the "mass noun" remark was a pun, rather than a serious statement.)

Also, welcome to the blog -- always glad to hear from another reader!

Sam Gaffney said...

I got BORNITE from making a list of useful words to learn before recording my episodes. That subgroup was: OIE and three of (NRST) plus a consonant. They come in handy way more often playing at home than they did on the show (which was almost never).

I did think that "mass noun" was serious, Geoff - nice pun!

Thanks for sharing your COMPLINES research, Victor - you are correct, neither the Macquarie online or print versions answer plural questions except when they show the specific plural (e.g. it gives the plural of SHEEP as SHEEP). David just has to make a judgement on them; he tries to be objective and find precedents in the dictionary.

Haasey said...

I was watching it yesterday and saw a very familiar face in Zac Newnham* with the feeling of what the hell!

Trying to construct the words in my head was an absolute bitch and now what I'll be doing (in between working out what my nose is wanting to do today ie wondering when my on and off sneezing episode decides to stop) will be catching up on some past eps as yesterday was my first viewing of it.

I had seen the books in Dymocks and what not so I had some small knowledge of it.

* = I went to school with this particular contestant.

Geoff Bailey said...

Welcome, Haasey -- always nice to hear from a new reader, and I'm glad that you find the show enjoyable enough to watch the backlogs. (From the SBS website, I hope; they go back around 20 to 25 episodes.) It gets easier the more you play, of course!

Z. Newnham said...

Just found this and I must say I'm honoured to be analysed in this way. Hell of good read.

Looking back on the show now I realise that I was probably playing the best I ever had (I can't seem to get anything when I watch it nowadays) although the letters didn't seem to line up for me. If I hadn't made that mistake with the second number's game things might have been a little different, but we'll never know.

Anyway, I must urge everyone to apply. David, Lily and Richard are lovely, as is the production team, and it was a lot of fun to be a part of.

Geoff Bailey said...

Wow, glad you found your way here, Zac! And thanks for the update; I agree entirely about the environment and everyone; it is just a really enjoyable time on the show.

Emi said...

As a friend of Zac who didn't see the aired episode, I'm very glad this transcript exists!
Sadly he has passed away since, so I'm doubly grateful.

Geoff Bailey said...

That's very sad news, Emi, but thank you for passing it on.