Saturday, 21 January 2012

Ep 363: Susan Pickett, Maurie Williams (January 18, 2012)

Rounds: Here.

On Susan's second night it's revealed that she has been on several gameshows before, many years ago.  She lists Wheel of Fortune, Concentration, and Catchphrase, and is about to add another but gets cut off by Richard (she paused too long, making it seem like she had finished, before she attempted to resume the list).  She won at least some of them, according to her StarNow profile, although the only show she mentions explicitly is Letters and Numbers.

Challenging Susan is Maurie Williams, a sales manager and very keen fisherman.  Richard asks what it is about fishing that really appeals to Maurie; Maurie responds that it's the hunt (insert your own Rex Hunt joke here), the catch, the chase... I admit that I don't really associate either hunting or chasing with fishing (unless, perhaps, using a speargun rather than a fishing line), but I can see how some aspects of it -- particularly the sometimes hours-long struggle to land a fish which is capable of exerting more force than the breaking strain of the line -- could evoke similar feelings.

It's a close match, with Susan getting off to an early lead in the letters; Maurie is able to get back exactly the same amount in later letters rounds (assisted by an error from Susan).  The numbers produce what could have been the key difference, with Maurie scoring a 5 early on and Susan a 7 at the end.  That is a two point advantage to Susan going into the conundrum, which is always a preferable place to be.  As time ticks down she must be feeling better about things, but with just five seconds left on the clock Maurie finds the answer and takes the win, 45 points to 37.

I was a touch off in the letters -- missing a seven that I should have seen (and have seen before) -- and struggled with one of the numbers rounds, but other than that I was in pretty good shape.  The conundrum was a little awkward, but I got there soon enough to seal a good win.

As usual, details after the break.

Round 1: L S M H I E A E T

I had SLIM, SMILE / SLIME, THEMES, ATHEISM, MEALIEST, and wondered about METALISE.  I didn't like the looks of this last (rightly so; the Macquarie insists on a double-L for it), so I settled on MEALIEST.  This is a little amusing, because I'd just had a discussion with Sam the previous day about how often the -IER and -IEST words are there; he thinks that they are a lot safer than I do.  I'm not entirely convinced, but decided to chance it this time and was rewarded.

Maurie's five -- it is not made clear if he meant STEEL or STEAL so I'll assume the latter -- is outdone by Susan's six of LAMEST; she seems unsure about it, but David explains the single-syllable rule again, and she gets the points.  David lists a couple of sevens -- SHELTIE and HELMETS -- before revealing that he has also found MEALIEST.

I'll note here that David says that SHELTIE is a small dog (and Wikipedia agrees, for whatever that's worth), but the Macquarie claims that it is a Shetland pony (and, indeed, has no mention of the dog at all).  Chambers lists SHELTIE as being either the pony or the dog.

Maurie: STEAL

Scores: Susan 0 (6), Maurie 0, me 8

Round 2: C G U E R L I D A

As soon as the C went up I did a mental eye-roll, as it would have slotted in quite nicely in the last round instead of the second E to produce ALCHEMIST; that's the third missed opportunity this week.  As it was, I had CURE, CRUEL, CURLED, GRACED, GUILDER (former currency of the Netherlands), and GLACIER.

Maurie has moved up to a six this time with DERAIL, but Susan has outdone him again with GLACIER, getting a good early lead; David also has found GLACIER.  In the recent episode 358, David mentioned GAUDIEST; in this game another seven could have been GAUDIER.

The eight, though, is AURICLED -- having an AURICLE (another seven, of course), which is "a part like or likened to an ear".

Maurie: DERAIL

Scores: Susan 7 (13), Maurie 0, me 15

Round 3: Target 618 from 25 8 10 10 5 8

Duplicated numbers usually make things difficult, and I struggle with this one.  The initial idea is to keep a 10 and an 8 and make 600 with the rest, but I don't see how to do it.  25*24 is tempting, but 10 and 5 don't make 3; 10 by 60 looks infeasible, and... well, time to try other things.  In the process I've turned up some routes to 600 and I get one result written down within time: 620 = 8*25*(8 - 5) + 10 + 10.

After time I see a couple of improvements to 617, starting with 617 = 8*8*10 - 25 + 10/5, and moving on to the somewhat more obvious 617 = 25*(10 + 10 + 5) - 8.  (Alternatively: 617 = 5*(10*10 + 25) - 8).  But when Lily states that she managed to get there, and begins with the same sort of remarks that I started off with here, I revisit the 600 idea via 8*75, and finally find a solution: 618 = 8*5*(25 - 10) + 10 + 8.

Susan has nothing to declare, but Maurie has managed to get seven away with 625 = 8*8*10 - (10 + 5).  That's a decent find, but if he'd just subtracted the 25 instead of the 15 he would have been only three away.  (And then adding the 5 would mean two away, or adding 10/5 for one away as shown above.)  Still, it's five points, and that regained ground brings the deficit under the crucial 10 point mark.

Lily has done well to find the solution: 618 = (5*10 + 25)*8 + 10 + 8.  Bravo!

Susan: [not in range]
Maurie: 625
Me: 620
Lily: 618

Scores: Susan 7 (13), Maurie 0 (5), me 22

First break: COLD RAIN ("Alibi or an impenetrable outfit")

Both definitions are really about the same sense, of impenetrability, and hence IRONCLAD.

David's talk is about two games: blindman's buff (the name has later mutated some to blindman's bluff; note that the lack of space in 'blindman' is the spelling used by the Macquarie, and my Chambers, in contrast to Wikipedia's version); and Marco Polo.

Round 4: U E C D O N I B T

I had CUED, DUNCE, and BOUNCED.  There's a few other sevens -- I'll mention BEDOUIN, COUNTED, NOTICED, and CONDUIT -- but I couldn't find an eight.

The contestants have likewise found BOUNCED, but David has managed to mix an I into that for ICEBOUND.  That's a good find, and incidentally one that he has found before, back in episode 320.

The other eight here is the rather more obscure EDUCTION, which the Macquarie helpfully explains as "the act of educing".  Fortunately the definition of 'educe' is more helpful -- it means to draw out or elicit -- so EDUCTION is the act of drawing out, eliciting, or developing.


Scores: Susan 14 (20), Maurie 7 (12), me 29

Round 5: H F S C E U A O N

When that fourth vowel was (inevitably) called, I worried that it would be an I and I would have to remember how to spell FUCHSIA (although FUCHSINE would have been longer, in that event).  Fortunately (in a sense) that was avoided, and I had CHEFS, FOCUS, and CHOSEN.  After time I finally played around with the CON- beginning to get CONFUSE.

Both contestants think that their words are risky, but Maurie's NACHOS are safe while Susan has tried for UNHOUSE.  UNHOUSE is listed in the dictionary, but it requires an extra U and so is invalid.  That narrows the scores, with Susan ahead by only two points now.

David has found CONFUSE, as is to be expected.

Susan: [invalid]
Maurie: NACHOS

Scores: Susan 14 (20), Maurie 13 (18), me 35

Round 6: Target 127 from 100 75 7 4 5 5

This target is so low and close to a multiple of 25 that it should be easy, but not being able to get directly to 125 caused me a minor confusion.  I ended up going with 127 = 100 + 4*7 - 5/5, which felt complicated.  I can see a bunch of alternatives now, of which (aside from contestant solutions) the most obvious feels like 127 = 5*(100 - 75) + (7 - 5).

Both contestants clearly finish early and sit there giving off "this was easy" vibes, which confused me at the time.  But when their solution (they both had the same approach) of 127 = 5*4 + 100 + 7 is revealed I can see why.  That is rather a straightforward approach!

Lily makes me feel better by also having used my first solution.

Susan: 127
Maurie: 127
Me: 127
Lily: 127

Scores: Susan 24 (30), Maurie 23 (28), me 45

Second break: DRIP HASH ("Difficult times at sea")

It seems like that should have been "time" rather than "times", but either way finding HARDSHIP is straightforward.

Round 7: S M B N R E A E I

Susan breaks her standard "four consonants, then four vowels, then another consonant" pattern, which briefly raises my hopes but I am not at all surprised when she chooses a final vowel.  I'm disappointed, of course; a final M would have allowed MEMBRANES for nine.

I had BERMS, EMBERS, AIRMEN, and a familiar BEANIES.  After time I added MARINES / SEMINAR, ERMINES, and MEANIES.  Seven does seem to be the limit, however; another one that I like is BIREMES.  All of those sevens used the I, which is what one should expect -- repeated vowels are less useful, even if they are E, so asking for that last vowel isn't as objectionable this time as in the past.  Two sevens without it are BASEMEN and RENAMES.

Susan has BRAINS, but Maurie has hit the front at least by finding MARINES.  David is also limited to seven.


Scores: Susan 24 (30), Maurie 30 (35), me 52

Round 8: Target 644 from 25 50 3 4 8 10

I dabble with starting from 50 via 13*50, but getting the final adjustment is hard and instead I go for the nearest multiple of 10 with 644 = 10*(50 + 25 - 8 - 3) + 4.  After time I see the possibility of subtracting 56 from 700, for the alternative solution 644 = 50*10 + 8*(25 - 4 - 3).

Maurie has 650 -- did he go for (10 + 3)*50 and overlook subtracting the 4 (or 8)? -- but Susan is closer with 642 = (10 + 3)*50 - 8.  If Maurie did see the first part of that then he must have rued it, as the oversight cost seven points and Susan has retaken the lead going into the conundrum.

Lily has found her way to the target using the first of the solutions I had.

Susan: 642
Maurie: 650
Me: 644
Lily: 644

Scores: Susan 24 (37), Maurie 30 (35), me 62


Maurie needs to solve this in order to win; it's a little tricky, but paying attention to those H's should help get to the solution.  I felt a little slow in getting there at the seven second mark, but that's still faster than the contestants.  The clock ticks down, until with five seconds to go Maurie buzzes in.  Susan throws back her head in understandable disappointment, and Maurie's correct answer ensures that he gets to play again.

Susan: [no answer]
Maurie: SHORTHAND (25s)

Final scores: Susan 24 (37), Maurie 30 (45), me 72

Some decent letters play from each contestant, with some good sevens found by each.  Susan looked to have the better of it but a careless invalid word conceded her advantage.  Neither was particularly convincing on the numbers; Maurie got within scoring range each time, but needed to be closer on that last one, with the result being that Susan outpointed him on the numbers.  Given the above, it's no surprise that this came down to the conundrum and Maurie did well under pressure to find it.

I should have seen CONFUSE within time, and definitely should have gotten closer in the first numbers round.  It was a solid game aside from that, though, and I'm content enough.  It's always nice to get into the seventies.

1 comment:

Sam Gaffney said...

My experience with turning adjectives ending in -Y to -IER and -IEST is that they are nearly always listed in the Macquarie, but ICKIEST was a recent exception.

My answers:
615 = (8x8-5)x10+25
127 = 100 + 75/5 + 7 + 5
644 = (50 + 3x10) x 8 + 4