Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Ep 362: Trevor Armstrong, Susan Pickett (January 17, 2012)

Rounds: Here.

It's Trevor's fourth night; if he can win this then he will probably make the finals.  Richard asks about the patterns that Trevor has been choosing; Trevor responds that in the letters he looks for -ING, -S, -ED, and -ER.  In the numbers (as is clear from his play) he has been practicing with the four large mix.

Challenging Trevor is professional home renovator Susan Pickett.  Richard asks how many homes so far, and Susan has to think about this, emerging with the answer of "four or five".  She adds that they have moved house a lot.  She does carpentry, tiling, painting, and her favourite power tool is the mitre saw.

Trevor is way off the pace in this game, as Susan outdoes him considerably in the main rounds.  This is in part due to Trevor declaring two invalid answers for the letters; he never finds a valid word longer than six and only finds his way to the numerical target once.  He ends up still on zero after five rounds, and that's infeasible to recover from.  Susan does well in each facet of the game, especially in what were some unproductive mixes (although that's partly her doing), and her numbers performance was very good tonight.  Neither solves the conundrum (although Trevor had a try at it), and Susan takes a very comfortable victory 60 to 16.

I had a subjectively bad game tonight, missing some words I should have found and a target that I should have got.  In fact, I was behind going into the conundrum; the only other times that has happened are against Sam (although episode 340 was close, where I only managed a single point advantage over Jimmy Driscoll at that stage).  When Trevor buzzed in to solve it I thought my chances were gone, but luckily for me he was incorrect and I solved it within the remaining time to take a somewhat fortunate win.

As usual, details after the jump.

Round 1: M L E O N R A U D

I had MOLE, MELON / LEMON, MERLON, MOANER, MAUNDER, LAUNDER, and ROULADE.  After time I added NUMERAL, ROUNDEL, MOULDER, and MOURNED, but couldn't get more than seven.  (Another of the many sevens that I like is MODULAR.)  I also amused myself by wondering if a ROUND MEAL was the opposite of a square one.

Trevor has the six of MOANED but Susan has gone one better with MOURNED; there is some amusement about the similar notions invoked.  With the dictionary for checking, David has found UNLOADER as the eight.

Trevor: MOANED

Scores: Trevor 0, Susan 7, me 7

Round 2: T K C B I E I A S

An early fourth vowel choice, which I didn't like; I was hoping for an R, particularly after that S came up.  It would have been an R, too, allowing BRISKET for seven, and STICKIER or BRICKIES for eight.

As it was, I had TICK, BATIKS, and BASKET.  After time I added TIBIAS / TIBIAE (both are acceptable plurals), CASKET, and finally found the seven of SETBACK.

Susan is trying a seven, and Trevor has one also.  However, his choice of CASKETS is invalid due to needing two S's.  Susan has gone for BICKIES, which is game, but the Macquarie is certainly a repository of Australian colloquialisms and her choice is valid; David is on the ball, having checked it in advance.  (I was a bit surprised; I thought that BICCIES might be the spelling, but it is not.  The alternative BIKKIES is given, however.)

The "single-syllable" rule for adjectives suggests that they would have to have paid BACKEST.  I'm hard put to come close to justifying this: "The house has three back doors; use the backest of them" is about the best I can do, and it's still terrible.  Still, consistency of ruling would suggest that they would let it get points, horrible though it is.  (I'd not want to try it, mind you, and fortunately SETBACK is always there if BACKEST is, and BACKER is a different word in its own right.)

Trevor: [invalid]

Scores: Trevor 0, Susan 14, me 7

Round 3: Target 980 from 25 100 50 75 1 5

Trevor turns up a large target which at least has the virtue of being divisible by 5 (with a 5 present, too).  I got lost, though, ending up with only a rather poor 995 written down that wasn't within range.  After time I found the solution (100 - 75/25 + 1)*50/5, and then somewhat later was able to get there via 20*49 in a couple of ways: 980 = (25 - 5)*(50 - 1) or 980 = (100/5)*(50 - 1).  There's a few other methods, also, some of which I hope Sam will show us in a comment.

Trevor has not been able to make progress on it, but Susan has done well to get 975 = (100 + 50)*(5 + 1) + 75.  Lily has not managed to get there within time, but after the break comes back with the first of the solutions I listed above.

I'll note that the four-large mix has not really been a success for Trevor.  He's had four chances to choose it, and has never outdone his opponent.  In fact, he has scored 17 points overall while his opponents' total is 34.  If we look at the same statistics for the other eight numbers games, in those he scored a total of 44 points to his opponents' 37.  I applaud the fact that he has taken the road less travelled, but I can't help but feel he may have been better served by a different option.

Trevor: [out of range]
Susan: 975
Me: [out of range]

Scores: Trevor 0, Susan 21, me 7

First break: HACK BUMP ("The camel of the sea")

A Spoonerism (and a word swap) of HUMPBACK.

David's talk is about the word 'nova', and words or terms arising from it.

Round 4: R P C Y O A E I D

No surprise that I dislike the choice of a fourth vowel here, also.  With the Y functioning as an effective vowel, opting for more vowels than necessary pretty much strangles the chance for long words; I especially dislike it before seeing what the fifth consonant would be.  This feels very much like Susan has it in her head to just choose four vowels come what may, which is a policy I hate.

(As it turns out, the H instead of the I would not have yielded longer words, but the sevens of POACHED and POACHER are definitely easier to find.)


It's six from each contestant, but Trevor has continued his woes by stating PRAYER (invalid due to using two R's) when he meant PRAYED.  David has found PICADOR and its anagram PARODIC.

I'll note that another seven here is PERCOID, which is any fish of a certain type (the perch being one such, which may help to remember this word).

Trevor: [invalid]

Scores: Trevor 0, Susan 21 (27), me 14

Round 5: H L S O A O T G E

I had SHOAL, GLOATS, HOSTAGE, and GALOOTS; after time I also found LOATHES.

Trevor has a five, but Susan has stayed well on track with her third seven of the night.  It's getting hard to overtake her, and at this point a single slip could put me out of contention going into the conundrum.

David notes that he checked that GALOSH is valid in the singular, and also found HOSTAGE.

A couple of other sevens here are GASOHOL (a mix of petrol and ethanol) and GELATOS (an acceptable alternative plural to GELATI).  But the eight is THEOLOGS, where THEOLOG is colloquial for a theology student.

Trevor: SHOAL

Scores: Trevor 0, Susan 28 (34), me 21

Round 6: Target 139 from 100 9 10 10 9 4

The game is probably beyond salvage for Trevor at this point, and if he can't score here then it will be.  Susan's choice turns up a difficult set of numbers, with the duplications of high smalls, and the combination of 10, 10, 100 somewhat redundant.  The target is quite small, though, and ultimately pretty easy.  I found 139 = 100 + 4*10 - 9/9, and then the modification 139 = 10*(10 + 4) - 9/9 that uses only the small numbers.

Everyone uses the first of the solutions that I gave, although Susan says that she only got there at the last moment.  Trevor finally makes it onto the scoreboard but he needs a full monty in the next round to have a chance.

Trevor: 139
Susan: 139
Me: 139
Lily: 139

Scores: Trevor 10, Susan 38 (44), me 31

Second break: LIMP LESS ("Work of an illiterate magician")

Being illiterate might cause him to MISSPELL.

Round 7: T D I A W E R U M

Trevor puts the seal on my grumpiness over letter selections by taking a fourth vowel early, after an uncooperative consonant has turned up (the W).  This perhaps caused me to lose focus (a fine tactic, if only he were playing against me) and I missed a word I should have found.  Quite thoroughly, in fact, as I had ADIT, WAITED, and WAITER.  After time I also saw ATRIUM and MATURE, but could not see a seven.  (Which is particularly embarrassing, but we'll get to that in a moment.)

The contestants have each found WAITER, and it's a relief to me that Susan doesn't have a seven.  David does, though: MATURED.  Which gives me a head-desk moment, as I realise that MATURE is a verb as well as the adjective which I had pigeonholed it as.

Worse, though, is having missed READMIT.  It comes up often enough, and I saw it in yesterday's game.  Gah!  Two other sevens are MURIATE ("Any chloride [...] used as a fertiliser") -- Chambers lists MURIATED, but the Macquarie does not -- and WARTIME.

With no full monty showing up, Trevor has now definitely lost the game.  Once that W turned up he was probably gone, although there were still a few possibilities (such as TAWDRIEST) that the M put paid to.

Trevor: WAITER

Scores: Trevor 16, Susan 44 (50), me 37

Round 8: Target 385 from 25 4 3 10 8 4

The standard approach works comfortably; I found 385 = (8 + 4 + 3)*25 + 10, and then after time used the factorisation to get 385 = (25 + 10)*(8 + 3).

Trevor has 386, but Susan has got to the target with 385 = 4*4*25 - 10 - (8 - 3).  Lily has likewise  solved it, with the solution that I had (within time).

Trevor: 386
Susan: 385
Me: 385
Lily: 385

Scores: Trevor 16, Susan 54 (60), me 47


At least I've avoided losing further ground, but I need to solve the conundrum to win.  It's a mix of common letters with some duplication, and no obvious starting point to build a solution around.  I struggle with it, investigating -ANT, INTER-, -ANCE, and -ATE to no avail.  At the 17 second mark Trevor buzzes in and that would be an annoying way to lose -- cut off by the other player before I can catch up.  I pause and start a separate clock, finding the solution six seconds later.

On the restart, Trevor reveals that he does not have a solution -- he thought it would be INCINERATE when he buzzed in.  That's a very good false spot, if you see what I mean -- its only flaw is having an extra I in it.

That error means I still have a chance, and the rest of the time ticks away with Susan unable to find the solution.  Even allowing for some leeway due to fussing at the clock this means that I solved it within time, and so can claim a very wobbly victory.  Phew!

Trevor: [invalid] (17s)
Susan: [no answer]

Final scores: Trevor 16, Susan 54 (60), me 57

And so Trevor's run comes to an end, unable to surmount the four game hurdle.  Susan played a very good game today, with sixes and sevens in a generally difficult letters setting.  She also did well to get within range of a difficult numbers target, and solved the easier ones exactly.  That's a strong showing, with just the conundrum needing some work.  Trevor took the pressure right off her with his early errors and short words, admittedly, but that doesn't feel like it was a factor in her performance.  I'm keenly interested in seeing how she goes tomorrow.

I had three bad rounds, and very nearly lost this game.  The first numbers round was the worst, however; if I'd just gone for the fallback position of 975 (very achievable) then things would have been a lot less tenuous.  Instead I tried only for the exact result, which is risky and could have been costly.  Having this come down to the conundrum -- with me playing catch-up -- does show just how well Susan did tonight.  (At the risk of sounding egotistical, but it's far too late for me to be worrying about that on this blog.)

1 comment:

Sam Gaffney said...

My answers:

980 = ((100x50-75)/25-1)x5 [a]
139 = 100 + 4*10 - 9/9
385 = 4x4x25 -10-8+3

[a] I also wrote down 980 = 75x(25+1)x50/100 + 5 within 30 seconds. Neither are readily spottable unless you have practised them before. Which I have, ad nauseam.