Friday, 13 January 2012

Ep 360: Trevor Armstrong, Cameron Tyson (January 13, 2012)

Rounds: Here.

In addition to his swimming endeavours, Trevor has played badminton for over forty years; he was also a state and national selector for the sport for some years, helping to select the team to represent Australia.

Tonight's challenger is Cameron Tyson, a screenwriting student.  He's looking at both cinema scripts and television scripts; he enjoys writing comedy the most, and his ideal situation would be to end up writing a sitcom.

Trevor manages to edge out Cameron on a couple of the letters rounds, but otherwise they are mostly matched there.  It's the numbers where this competition could have been cracked wide open, with neither really managing to come to grips with them.  The net result is equal points, and Trevor's letters lead sees him home, a good conundrum solution extending the lead for a 56 to 33 win.

I started well, but then fell away after the first third of the game, missing solutions I should have seen in each of the next five rounds.  A fast solve of the conundrum helped me feel better about it, but this could easily have been a lot better.

As usual, details after the jump.

Round 1: R C B T A O E I N

I had BRACT, ACTOR, BORATE, BARITONE, and CREATION / REACTION.  This exact mix has turned up on the show before, I think, which is why I'm sure that CARBONITE is not in the Macquarie.  There is a real mineral here for another eight, though: BORACITE.

Cameron has gone for BERATE, which is invalid due to requiring a second E.  Fortunately it doesn't cost him anything, as Trevor has CARBINE (a type of rifle) for seven.  Trevor thinks it is risky, but it's perfectly fine.  David has one of the eights, as expected.

It's a rare case where a fifth vowel might have been desirable -- an A would have given AEROBATIC.

Cameron: [invalid]

Scores: Trever 0 (7), Cameron 0, me 8

Round 2: E O H L R A M T E

I had HOLE, wonder about HOLER (invalid), MORALE, and THERMAL.  Despite considering possible -HOLE endings, I missed ARMHOLE -- whoops!  After time I found LEATHER; another seven that might appeal to Lily is THEOREM.

Sixes from the contestants -- this time there are two E's for Cameron to use -- while David has a seven.

Trevor: HELMET
Cameron: REMOTE

Scores: Trevor 0 (13), Cameron 0 (6), me 15

Round 3: Target 961 from 75 50 25 100 9 10

Trevor persists with the four-large option, so it looks like this will be his running theme.  It turns up a large target, but it's a pretty approachable one with those small numbers to work with.  In fact, they are really quite a helpful pair, and I found 961 = 10*(100 - 75/25) - 9 soon enough.  It's fairly straightforward to find this by working backwards: Adding the 9 would give a multiple of 10: 970.  Using the 10 we have would leave us wanting to get 97, which is just 3 away from 100, and we can make that 3 from the other large numbers.  It kind of leads one straight to the solution.

The contestants are two away in each direction, however.  Trevor has 959 = 100*10 - 50 + 9.  Note that adding the 75/25 at the end would have gotten him one closer to the target.  Cameron, meanwhile, has 963 = 9*100 + 75 - 10 - 50/25.  If he'd been just a bit less ambitious he might have seen 960 = 9*100 + 50 + 10 and been one closer also.  (For that matter, this is just a reversal of Trevor's approach, in a sense; he could easily have seen it, too.)

Lily demonstrates the solution I had.

Trevor: 959
Cameron: 963
Me: 961
Lily: 961

Scores: Trevor 0 (20), Cameron 0 (13), me 25

First break: COLA PINT ("Just friends with gin")

The "gin" part of this is intended to clue the TONIC of PLATONIC.

David rounds out his cryptic clue tutorial with clues based on homophones, where a key part is some indicator of sound.  He gives two examples to start with: "Bigger kitchen device, we hear" which clues 'greater' (means "bigger" and sounds like 'grater') and "Just mentioned ticket price" which could be either 'fair' or 'fare', and we can't tell from the clue alone since the "sounds like" indicator ('mentioned') is in the middle and could attach to either of them.

He then presents Richard with this one to solve: "Two fruit, say (4)".  After a little thought Richard emerges with the correct answer of 'pair' (sounds like 'pear'), and David is pleased.

Round 4: U S D N I A C I T

It's a bit of an awkward mix; I had AIDS and CANIDS (a CANID being any creature in the dog family), and couldn't see better within time.  Afterwards I added DAUNTS and UNSAID, but still couldn't see a seven.

Cameron has five with DUCTS, but Trevor has outdone him with DAUNTS.  David points out how close Cameron was to an excellent find, as adding the IN to the beginning gives INDUCTS.

Some other sevens here are INDICTS, DISCANT (a variant spelling for the musical senses of DESCANT), and DISTAIN (an archaic verb meaning to stain or sully).

I'd have probably gone for a sixth consonant (the actual L would give LUNATICS for eight); chasing after a fourth vowel can go well if you get a new one (E would give DISTANCE, O would be the magic result for CUSTODIAN) but can also end up being much more difficult on duplication (although an A would allow ANTACIDS).  That said, I've got no quarrel with chasing after a better vowel in this situation, except that it was done too early.

Trevor: DAUNTS
Cameron: DUCTS

Scores: Trevor 6 (26), Cameron 0 (13), me 31

Round 5: L P S E O E D R B

This was the letters round that I felt most poorly about.  I found LOPES / POLES, ELOPES, and PROBED.  The mix seemed sure to have at least a seven but it took some time afterwards to find REPOSED / DEPOSER and RESOLED.  I'll note a couple of other sevens: RESOLED and LEPROSE.

Sixes from each contestant, and David demonstrates that I set my sights to low, as he has found DEPLORES for a very good eight.

(I'd been hoping that final B would be an X, giving EXPLODERS, but that was always very unlikely.)

Trevor: BLEEDS
Cameron: BREEDS

Scores: Trevor 12 (32), Cameron 6 (19), me 37

Round 6: Target 427 from 100 50 1 4 8 2

Richard asks Cameron what a hypothetical sitcom character of his in a game show like this might choose.  Cameron responds, "With a wipe of his brow, I think he'd choose... two large and four consonants".  Heh!

I got lost in unprofitable lines; the idea of adding 2 to 425 is clear, but then it would also be nice to use that 2 to divide 50 by so as to get the 25.  And then using up the 4 for the 400 leaves a poor remaining spread to try and get the last 2.  I ended up with 428 = 4*(100 + 8 - 1) or 426 = 4*100 + 50/2 + 1.

After time I saw that I could get there with 427 = 4*(100 - (8 - 2)) + 50 + 1, or much more simply with 427 = 8*50 + 100/4 + 2 -- the very approach I had been trying for, but I'd fixated on 4*100 and ignored the potential of 8*50.

Trevor is seven away with 434, while Cameron gets back some ground by being just one away.  His answer is the 426 that I listed.

Lily shows a lovely way to deal with the issues I was having: Go twice as large!  Her solution is 427 = (8*100 + 50 + 4)/2.  There's a certain elegance about that.

Trevor: 434
Cameron: 426
Me: 428
Lily: 427

Scores: Trevor 12 (32), Cameron 13 (26), me 44

Second break: SHEEP CAT ("Low-priced bird noise")

Easy enough to get CHEAPEST from that.

Round 7: N K D U E S C A R

I had one of those nagging feelings of something seen before all through this, but wasn't able to identify it until afterwards.  As it was, I had DUNE, DUNES, SNUCK, DUNCES, SNACKED, DANCERS, and CRUSADE.  After time I added UNASKED, DARKENS, and finally figured out what my brain was trying to tell me: DURANCES, for eight.

It's sevens from each contestant (there's a great many of them), and also from David who has gone for SUNDECK.  I'd have expected him to find DURANCES (I always expect David to find the best results -- that's the drawback of him being so good); congratulations to anyone reading this who found it within time.

Cameron: CRANKED

Scores: Trevor 19 (39), Cameron 20 (33), me 51

Round 8: Target 510 from 25 50 75 7 8 8

Cameron needs to outpoint Trevor in this round to have a chance, and he switches things up a little by going for three of each.  I think he'd have been better served by trying a single large number -- Trevor has been consistent about liking four large numbers, so best to deprive him of some familiar combinations.

Also, this round hurts.  I saw at the start that 7*75 was just 15 away, and that we could get that 15 as 7 + 8.  But that re-used the 7 and compensating was difficult.  In the end I settled for one away with 509 = 7*75 - 8 - 8.

But, argh, as soon as time ran out I saw the obvious (and the solution that Lily demonstrates): The 50 and 25 aren't just good for producing a 2, they can also give another 75, and that easily leads to a solution of 510 = 8*75 - 50 - 25 - 8 - 7.  That was very careless.

Cameron has 508, but Trevor has gone one closer with 509, using the same method that I did.  That's game to Trevor.

[Update: In a comment to this post, Sam Gaffney shows a nice alternate solution: 510 = 7*(75 - 50/25) - 8/8.  Nice one, Sam!]

Trevor: 509
Cameron: 508
Me: 509
Lily: 510

Scores: Trevor 26 (46), Cameron 20 (33), me 58


A pair of V's is unusual, and guides me to the solution very quickly.  It takes Trevor only a little longer, and you can see him reach out, pause to check, and then press.

Trevor: OVERDRIVE (7s)
Cameron: [no answer]
Me: OVERDRIVE (1.5s)

Final scores: Trevor 26 (56), Cameron 20 (33), me 68

There wasn't that much between the contestants tonight, overall.  If Cameron had seen the adjustment from DUCTS to INDUCTS the scores would have been tied going into the conundrum, and I imagine he regrets missing that.  That said, Trevor did have the better of the letters and managed to hold his own in the numbers, so certainly deserved the win.

I should have done much better in the latter stages, but it's the last numbers round that really hurts.  Hopefully missing that will help cement the requisite technique in my mind.  Still, nice to get a conundrum for a change -- it's been a tough week for me on those.


Sam Gaffney said...

My answers:

961 = 10x(100 - 75/25) - 9
427 = (8x100+50+4)/2
510 = (75-50/25) x 7 - 8/8
OVERDRIVE (about the same time as Geoff)

Geoff Bailey said...

Lovely solution to 510; I'm adding it to the main section. Excellent game from you tonight, Sam!