Friday, 13 January 2012

Ep 359: Trevor Armstrong, Geraldine Yam (January 12, 2012)

Rounds: Here.

Two new contestants tonight, after Kerin's successful retirement yesterday.  Taking the champion's position is Trevor Armstrong, a retiree and competitive swimmer.  Richard mentions that Trevor has swum all his life and played water polo, and asks about the long-distance swimming that Trevor does.  Trevor responds that he has done a lot of open-water swimming in the last few years, most recently along the coast of Turkey.  He thinks that swimming is a good way to meet people and stay healthy.

In the challenger's position is Geraldine Yam, an in-house lawyer for the University of Adelaide.  In that capacity, she may give advice on topics ranging from intellectual property to contracts to disputes.  She enjoys the variety of the job; every day is different.

There's several difficult letter mixes tonight, and with the first two numbers being extremely easy it proves impossible to separate the contestants until the seventh round.  Geraldine just manages to pull ahead but Trevor counters in the next round, taking a precious one-point lead into the conundrum.  Neither contestant manages to solve it, and Trevor takes the victory, 53 to 52.

I felt off my game tonight, although it showed up most clearly in the first round.  It wasn't until the final numbers round that I managed to draw safely away; this was just as well as the conundrum likewise eluded me.  It was a tough game tonight, with David doing very well.

As usual, details after the jump.

Round 1: T M L H U A I D S

Even as late as seven letters in I was still hoping that THUMBNAIL would make a very unlikely appearance.  The N and the B were next to each other, too... but a D, S, and C needed to disappear first.  Oh, well.  I had HAUL, DATUM, MULISH, and a very speculative MALTISH.  I decided against that last (correctly) and then somehow convinced myself that MULISH needed an E in it (it does not).  That left me with only a five to declare, which was clearly not going to be best.  After time I found ADULTS, ADMITS, DISMAL (it felt appropriate at the time), DUALISM and DUALIST.

It's five from both contestants -- the same one, in fact -- and David has found the good seven of STADIUM.  I'll note another seven here of ULTIMAS (ULTIMA: "the last syllable of a word").

Trevor: HALTS
Geraldine: HALTS

Scores: 5 apiece

Round 2: C N B E A R J O N

That J spoils things considerably, but if that N had been the M that I thought it was at first we could have had BROMANCE.  As it was, I had CANE, CABER, and CANNER.  After time I found BEACON and BACONER (a pig suitable for being made into bacon and ham), although I had to check the dictionary on it and would not have dared play it.

The contestants have identical plays again of BANNER for six; David notes CONNER in passing but in his quest for a seven he resorted to BACONER and was rewarded for it.

Trevor: BANNER
Geraldine: BANNER

Scores: 11 apiece

Round 3: Target 895 from 50 100 75 25 5 9

Trevor goes for the four large mix, and I can just picture Sam Gaffney perking up and then deflating once the extremely easy target turns up.  No-one is stretched to notice that 895 = 9*100 - 5, although as it turns out Geraldine introduced an extra step with 895 = 9*100 - 25/5.  She laughs a bit about having done so.

Trevor: 895
Geraldine: 895
Me: 895
Lily: 895

Scores: 21 apiece

First break: CLAP TRIO ("The climate of Capricorn")

"Capricorn" always makes me think of the movie Capricorn One (or rather the novelisation of  it, which I read when I was young), but in this case it is a reference to the tropic of Capricorn, and hence to TROPICAL.

David's continuing talk about cryptic clue types covers double meanings today, where the clue is simply two different definitions for the same word.  He gives examples of "bear stadium" (both parts cluing 'stand') and "powdered bottom" (where both are possible meanings of 'ground'), then gives Richard the challenge of unravelling "Fruit crate (5)".  I run through a few possible fruits, but don't think of any matching 'crate'.  However, Richard latches onto the meaning of 'crate' that I had not thought of -- that of a rubbishy car -- and with a little bit of nudging from David manages to find the answer of 'lemon'.

Round 4: L S T E A I C N E

A well-fitting set of letters at last.  I had LEST / LETS, STEAL / SLATE / etc., CASTLE, SILENCE / LICENSE, and CLEANEST.  It felt like there should have been a nine, but after time I only managed to turn up another couple of eights: SALIENCE and CINEASTE ("a devotee of the cinema").

Sevens from each contestant -- although different ones this time -- but David has expertly come through with the nine, finding LATENCIES.

Update: After watching the re-run, I noticed that the plural form is not explicitly listed under the entry for LATENCY, so he really should have rejected it (as other contestants have found out to their cost).  A strange oversight, although I'll grant that it was an excellent find regardless.

My instinct, as usual, would have been for a final consonant -- hoping for another C for CANTICLES, but the actual R would have allowed CLARINETS.  A vowel is much better odds, of course; aside from the E and LATENCIES, an I would allow INELASTIC and an O would allow COASTLINE (or SECTIONAL).

Geraldine: SILENCE

Scores: Trevor 21 (28), Geraldine 21 (28), me 29

Round 5: R D F N O E U C T

That F isn't perfect, but it's a very good set of letters and I did wonder if we would see two full monties in a row.  I had FROND, FONDER, FOUNDER, COUNTER, TROUNCED, FUNCTOR, DEFUNCT, and CONFUTED.  I amused myself by making up nines like FUNCTORED and UNCROFTED, but nothing compelling enough to try.

The contestants are back to identical results again, having found TROUNCED also.  David has a couple of other options, but eight does seem to be the limit.  Another eight was UNFORCED.

Geraldine: TROUNCED

Scores: Trevor 29 (36), Geraldine 29 (36), me 37

Round 6: Target 902 from 50 100 1 1 2 8

Richard isn't encouraging anyone to choose six small tonight; Geraldine sticks with the traditional option, and once again the target is very easy.  Everyone finds 902 = (8 + 1)*100 + 2 in short order, and I amuse myself in the remaining time by finding the alternative solution 902 = (8 - 2)*(100 + 50) + 1 + 1.  I was further amused when Lily revealed that she'd done exactly the same, finding the easy solution and then that more complicated one.

Six rounds down, and the contestants are still level (with me just eight points ahead).  There's not much time left to get away, and this will most likely go to the conundrum.

Trevor: 902
Geraldine: 902
Me: 902
Lily: 902

Scores: Trevor 39 (46), Geraldine 39 (46), me 47

Second break: GAIN MICA ("Adept in illusion")

Richard pronounced 'adept' as though it is an adjective -- a classic cryptic misdirect, as the noun sense is the clue for MAGICIAN.

Round 7: G H W I O A D M E

Another messy mix; I had WHIG (suspecting that it might well be capitalised only, as turns out to be the case), GOAD, IMAGED, and HOMAGE.  I also wondered about HOMAGED, but was not confident enough in the verb sense to try it.  This was just as well; Chambers lists a verb sense of HOMAGE, but the Macquarie does not.  After time I found a seven that turned up recently: HAEMOID (bloodlike).

Trevor has the five of WEIGH, but Geraldine has found IMAGED to finally split the two contestants.

David, though, has managed to find a seven -- I think it's the only one other than HAEMOID -- of MIAOWED.  And... that hurts a bit, because that's one of my (ahem) pet words that I look for, although usually with the U instead of the W.  In fact, I recall hoping that the final vowel would be a U just so that I could play MIAOU.  I should have remembered that part of what I like about the word is its multiple spellings: MEOW, MIAOU, MIAOW, and MIAUL.  But it's a great find from David in a very awkward mix.

Trevor: WEIGH
Geraldine: IMAGED

Scores: Trevor 39 (46), Geraldine 45 (52), me 53

Round 8: Target 655 from 75 50 1 5 9 3

Trevor can't afford to concede points in this round; Geraldine sticks with the family mix, and finally turns up a target that isn't trivial.  We're about to get our first sense of the actual numerical ability of each contestant.

It's approachable in many ways, as it turns out.  Within time I explored three possibilities, finding 655 = 5*(75 + 50) + 3*(9 + 1), 655 = 9*75 - 5*(3 + 1), and 655 = (9 + 3 + 1)*50 + 5.  There's several more, too.

Richard suggests that this was an easy one -- he generally takes his cue from Lily's attitude and how quickly she appears to have solved it -- but Geraldine has been unable to get close.  That is good news for Trevor, who is four away with 659 = 9*75 - 3*5 - 1; all he had to do was tweak that slightly and he'd have had the second of the solutions I gave.  Still, it's seven points for him and a one-point lead going into the conundrum.

Lily points out the tweakage that Trevor could have used, and then yet another solution with 655 = (9 - 1)*75 + 50 + 5.

Trevor: 659
Geraldine: [not in range]
Me: 655
Lily: 655

Scores: Trevor 46 (53), Geraldine 45 (52), me 63


A very crucial conundrum, with the advantage going to Trevor.  I got hung up for most of it investigating the possible -IVE ending, which was not profitable to do.  Neither contestant managed to solve it, and I finally saw VENTILATE about two seconds after time ran out.

Trevor: [no answer]
Geraldine: [no answer]
Me: [no answer]

Final scores: Trevor 46 (53), Geraldine 45 (52), me 63

I think it's been a long time since we had a single point difference in score at the end of the game.  It was neck and neck for a very long time, but in the end it came down to Trevor getting a better result on the final numbers round.  Maybe it would have been less close if the other numbers had been a bit more difficult?  We'll get a better idea of Trevor's abilities in that field tomorrow, I hope.  Both contestants did reasonably with the letters that they had to work with; Geraldine was only a single letter away from matching me, for instance, although I maintain that five wasn't a good result for the first round.  It will be interesting to see how Trevor performs on more compatible letter mixes.  In any case, I'm looking forward to tomorrow.

I should have done better on the first round, and the conundrum was much more approachable than others of recent times; I just got overly focused on one option.  Overall it was an adequate but not great game for me.


Sam Gaffney said...

Ha ha, you have it right about my reaction to the four large numbers. My answers were quite similar to yours:

895 = 9*100 - 5
902 = (8 + 1)*100 + 2
655 = 5*(75 + 50 + 9 - 3)

DUALISM/DUALIST are on my useful word list, which was just as well, it was an awful mix, I had DISMAL for a while.

The hard part tonight wasn't the eight-letter words, it was finding smaller ones in tough letter mixes.

The Full Monty wasn't an obscure word, but they are very hard to see when the letters are so friendly - nothing jumps out at the brain, and there are too many possibilities to run through quickly.

I think I got the conundrum about the same time as you, but I had paused at around 17s to guess VALENTINE.

Geoff Bailey said...

*grins* It was the appropriate reaction!

Well done on finding DUALISM within time; it saves me from feeling worse about talking myself out of MULISH. *chuckles* And VALENTINE was a worthy spot, even if inaccurate.