Friday, 27 January 2012

Ep 369: John O'Connor, Nick Mann (January 26, 2012)

Richard tries to draw a parallel between John's old job (chief purser on a cruise ship) and his current one (primary school teacher); John remarks that the antics of some of the six- and seven-year olds are similar to those he has experienced with passengers in the past.  Nonetheless, John is very happy with his late career shift to teaching.

Challenging John is Nick Mann, a personal injury lawyer.  He says that there's a lot of medicine in the area of law that he deals with, so he has gone back to university for further study; he has just started a masters degree in health and medical law.

John finds a couple of excellent words tonight, but gives back most of that ground in other letters rounds.  The first numbers round proves difficult for both but Nick has just the better of it, while the others do not distinguish between the contestants; the net result is a slender two-point lead for Nick going into the conundrum.  John solves it reasonably quickly, and gets his second win with a score of 49 points to 41.

I was slightly behind where I would have liked to be on both types of game, but still managed to forge a decent lead.  I solved the conundrum very quickly for a change, for a workmanlike win.

As usual, details after the jump.

Round 1: M T S D E I E N A

When letters fit together so well it can sometimes be hard to know which way to jump.  I found STEM, MISTED, and SEDIMENT.  After time expired I found MEDIATES, MEDIANTS, and kept pushing until I found DEMENTIAS.

Nick has STEAMED, but John has done better with DEMENTIA.  If he'd just tacked the S on, he could have gained that precious full monty (and the extra ten points it would have been worth).  David points this out, and has a different full monty: AMNESTIED.  He additionally notes a connection, as the root word 'amnesty' comes from Greek meaning 'forgetfulness'.

Another couple of eights in this mix are MATINEES and ANDESITE (a particular kind of volcanic rock).


Scores: John 8, Nick 0, me 8

Round 2: S B R E U T O C U

I gave a slight mental groan when the S went up first -- if John had gone for a consonant instead of that fourth vowel I would have found SEDIMENTS for nine.  Oh, well.

I had RUBES, BUSTER, and OBSCURE.  With a second left I saw COUTURES but that wasn't enough time to get it written down.  Another eight from the letters is TUBEROUS.

Once again choosing a sixth consonant would have yielded a full monty, with the upcoming N giving CURBSTONE.

Both contestants have sixes, while David has found the eight -- well done, David!  David also notes the presence of BUSTER, since it will figure in his upcoming talk.


Scores: John 8 (14), Nick 0 (6), me 15

Round 3: Target 249 from 75 100 7 8 3 1

John goes for a third different numbers mix, but it's the very common two-large option which is not so interesting.  My first thought was to apply the standard approach, since the target was only one away from 250, and we have a 1.  The large numbers are a bit awkward for getting to 250, but with a 2 it would be feasible and so I found 249 = (8/(7 - 3))*75 + 100 - 1.  Still with time left, I looked at the factor of three and found the much simpler 249 = 3*(75 + 8).

Note that the standard approach would have been much easier with a 25; observing that later led me to the solution 249 = (7 + 3)*(100 - 75) - 1.

Both contestants are fairly far away, but within scoring range.  John is seven off with 256 -- that must be 256 = (3 - 1)*100 + 7*8 -- while Nick is one closer with 243 = (75 + 1)*3 + 8 + 7.  Lily points out the tweakage which would have let Nick get to the solution from that start, demonstrating the second of the solutions that I had.

John: 256
Nick: 243
Me: 249
Lily: 249

Scores: John 8 (14), Nick 0 (11), me 25

First break: PIANO DOT ("Angelina Jolie is committed to this")

The clue easily leads to ADOPTION.

David's talk is about the origins of the names of two TV shows: Mythbusters, and The Gruen Transfer.

Round 4: N L A V I E R O N

I had VIAL, VENAL, and AILERON.  After time I found VERONAL, and while checking that the lowercase form was listed (it is) I saw the nearby entry of VERNONIA (any of various plants; ironweed is one such) for eight.  The other eight in this mix is OVERLAIN (past participle of 'overlie').

John's five is LOVER, but Nick's six of RAVINE is better.  David has also found AILERON, but not the eights.

Some other sevens here are ENVIRON and VARIOLE ("a shallow pit or depression like the mark left by a smallpox pustule").  Staying with three vowels only would have brought G into the mix, with the -ING giving much easier eights (LEARNING or RAVENING, plus the American spelling RAVELING).


Scores: John 8 (14), Nick 0 (17), me 32

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

I had CHAT, CHEAT / TEACH, CHEATS, and CHALETS; after time I found LATCHES.

John's six is outdone by Nick's seven, and that puts Nick exactly ten points ahead.  If this margin is maintained then we could need two conundrums tonight.

David has found the other anagram of CHALETS / LATCHES: SATCHEL.  But there was an eight available here: ALCAHEST, also spelled ALKAHEST, is "the universal solvent sought by alchemists".  (I happen to recognise this word because a friend once used this as a name for his company.)


Scores: John 8 (14), Nick 7 (24), me 39

Round 6: Target 894 from 75 100 8 3 9 7

Lily pulls out almost identical numbers to last time; in fact, she takes them from almost exactly the same slots in the holder, which is not good, and also suggests that the crew don't re-randomise the contents between rounds.  This is bad -- Lily will naturally have a tendency to favour certain slots over others (as anyone would; humans are very poor random number generators) -- and so there will be considerable bias in the re-use of the numbers.

Anyway... I get hung up on trying to get the final offset of 6 from 900, with no success.  I have to resort to one away with 893 = 9*100 - 7.

Pretty much immediately after time runs out I see how to tweak my way there, using the fact that 9*8 is close to 75: 894 = 9*(100 + 8) - 75 - 3.  Right after that, I realise that 6 = 9 - 3, and an easier tweak presents itself: 894 = 9*(100 - (8 - 7)) + 3; this is the solution that Lily later demonstrates.  And then I wondered about investigating from below and a solution practically leaps out: 894 = 8*100 + 75 + 7 + 3 + 9.

Three solutions that just unravelled in a matter of seconds as soon as time expired.  Isn't that always the way?  (While writing this up I have noticed the hybrid solution of 894 = 8*75 + 3*(100 - (9 - 7)).)

Both contestants are one away with 895 = 9*100 - 8 + 3.

John: 895
Nick: 895
Me: 893
Lily: 894

Scores: John 15 (21), Nick 14 (31), me 46

Second break: GRIND KIN ("Regally imbibing")

A hint at the KING of DRINKING.

Round 7: P T R S O A E D A

I had PORTS / SPORT, OPERAS, ROASTED, and DEPORTS.  I also considered and rightly rejected PASTORED.  After time I added PARADES, SPORTED, PROTEAS, and finally found an eight: ADAPTORS.  (I'll note that ADAPTOR showed up back in episode 341, which was Sam Gaffney's first game.)

Nick has SPORTED, but John's "slightly risky" eight of ADOPTERS gets the points.  David thinks this is well done, but wishes that John had selected a final consonant.  He makes the slightly unusual claim that it would have given TEARDROPS or PREDATORS, which is only true if an R was the next consonant.  I don't think it's likely that they would have stopped proceedings to check what it would be, so this seems like David has given his hopes a bit more authority than is justified.  (I was also hoping for an R for PREDATORS, incidentally, but I hadn't recognised that TEARDROPS was an anagram of it.)

The vowel isn't a bad try; a U would have given OUTSPREAD.  And even that A would give a nine in some dictionaries; the Macquarie isn't one of them, but Chambers lists TAPADEROS.  (TAPADERA or TAPADERO: "the leather guard in front of a Mexican stirrup").

In any case, David has the eight of ADAPTERS, or ADAPTORS -- he points out that both spellings are acceptable.

Those eight points leave John only two points adrift, meaning that he will have a chance in the conundrum unless Nick solves the next numbers round and John does not.


Scores: John 23 (29), Nick 14 (31), me 46

Round 8: Target 102 from 100 9 3 1 8 7

Nick goes for a slight variation, choosing a single large number.  Once again Lily takes the numbers from the same spots as she has before.  A quick glance at the numbers rounds from previous games suggests that this happens pretty often, and that's really going to bug me from now on.  Randomness is preferable!

Anyway, the target is trivial, and everyone gets 102 = 100 + 3 - 1.  Just for fun, a solution without the large number is 102 = (7 - 1)*(9 + 8).

John: 102
Nick: 102
Me: 102
Lily: 102

Scores: John 33 (39), Nick 24 (41), me 56


John's find of the eight-letter word in round 7 narrowed the gap to just two points, so this conundrum will decide it after all.  I solve this one very quickly, guided by the pair of G's and the fact that I have used this word a lot recently to describe my travails when playing this game.

It takes the contestants longer, but John finds it seven seconds in for another come-from-behind victory.

John: STRUGGLED (7s)
Nick: [no answer]

Final scores: John 33 (49), Nick 24 (41), me 66

It took two good eight-letter words and the conundrum for John to win this, but he managed it.  It's a good thing he won as otherwise he would have been severely ruing not adding the S to DEMENTIA in round one!  Nick did well to stay in touch (and indeed, ahead) despite those eight-letter words, but he needed a more challenging numbers round at the end and the random number generator did not deliver.  That's the drawback of the numbers rounds: Sometimes they can be trivial like that.

I was behind on three letters rounds where better options were seen afterwards, and likewise for one of the numbers rounds.  On the other hand, I was in the ballpark each time, and solved the conundrum quickly.  A decent win that had potential to be much better.


Mark said...

You've written SEDIMENTS for Round 1 - a mistake?

Geoff Bailey said...

Whoops, so I did (fixed now) -- thanks for catching that, Mark!

(For clarity in case anyone reads this later and is confused: I wrote down SEDIMENT on paper, and when listing the words I found; but when listing each person's selected word I accidentally transcribed SEDIMENTS.)

Sam Gaffney said...

My answers:

249 = (75+8)x3

[a] I wanted X for SUBCORTEX. Found OBSCURE later.

[b] What bothers me most with missing AILERON and ADAPTOR(s) is that they were David words from my episodes!