Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Ep 356: Kerin White, Brian McEvoy (January 9, 2012)

Rounds: Here.

The SBS website continues to be cooperative about showing the video; I'll stop mentioning it unless it turns bad again.

Kerin really likes the works of Stephen King and Dean Koontz; she's always "hanging out for the next book to be released".  She likes the genre, and also that there is often a twist in their stories.

Challenging Kerin is construction worker Brian McEvoy.  Brian is Irish, but his wife was born in Melbourne; four years ago they decided to take a year's break and visit Melbourne, and they've stayed ever since.  Brian likes Melbourne a lot more than Ireland; he remarks that the weather is much better.

It's neck and neck from the two contestants for six rounds, with decent finds throughout from both.  Kerin just manages to draw away in round seven, and then finds an excellent solution in round eight to deliver the knockout blow.  Neither contestant can solve the conundrum -- Brian buzzes in with an incorrect guess -- and Kerin gets her fourth win, 63 to 46.

I had a bad miss in the second round, and made a mess of the conundrum similarly to Brian.  Fortunately some other solid finds in the letters rounds kept me ahead for the win.

As usual, details after the jump.

Round 1: T N R C E I A H P

I had CENT, INTER, NECTAR, TRANCHE, HEPATIC, CHAPTER, and PAINTER.  After time I added PHRENIC ("Anatomy of or relating to the diaphragm; Physiology relating to the mind or mental activity"), and while checking its validity I stumbled upon PHREATIC ("of or relating to underground water").

Each contestant has a seven, although Kerin is unsure about her choice of CHANTER.  We've seen that word several times by now, and David already knows that it is fine.  It's a mix that feels like it should have an eight in it (we've already seen PHREATIC above), and David has unerringly found his way there with PATCHIER.

There's a decent spread of sevens on this mix -- PANTHER is one of the more findable unmentioned ones -- and a couple more eights: PERIANTH (see Wikipedia's explanation) and CHAPITER (an architectural term for part of a pillar), which is an anagram of PHREATIC and PATCHIER but unlike them is a noun; so if we see those eight letters with an S as well, then CHAPITERS is a winner.

Oddly, the Macquarie lists PENTARCHY (a government by five people) but not PENTARCH (one of those five governors); Chambers does list PENTARCH.

The final consonant makes a good deal of sense here, and an S would have allowed CHANTRIES.  I was hoping for a vowel, however, as I wanted an O for CHAROITE.  This turned up early in season one for a full monty (CHAROITES) and it's obviously left an impression on me.  In this instance, the O would have given a choice of full monties with either ANCHORITE (a hermit) or ANTECHOIR ("an enclosed space in front of the choir in a church").  An I would have allowed TRICHINAE (plural of TRICHINA, a particular nematode worm) for that matter, making a vowel a tempting choice.  The actual E would have been less helpful, but HERNIATE was still a possibility.


Scores: 7 apiece

Round 2: D E G S O D N A T

I was badly off the pace on this one; I had DOGES, DODGES, and DOSAGE.  After time ran out I saw ONSTAGE and TANGOED.

The contestants are equally matched again with sixes -- there's a good many such -- but David points out the obvious DONATES / DONATED, and the very nice GODSEND.  Two other sevens here are DOTAGES and SONDAGE ("a deep, narrow trench, showing the stratigraphy of a site").


Scores: 13 apiece

Round 3: Target 210 from 25 75 5 1 2 4

A low target keeps this pretty easy.  I found 210 = 2*(75 + 25 + 5) quickly, and then 210 = 2*5*(25 - 4).

Both contestants have the target, with Kerin using the second of those solutions.  Brian has found another approach, with 210 = (4 - 1)*75 - 25 + 2*5.

Richard correctly intuits that Lily has used a different method, because he has.  It turns out that both of them have used the first of the solutions that I listed.

Kerin: 210
Brian: 210
Me: 210
Lily: 210

Scores: 23 apiece

First break: GRIM AREA ("A ring will confirm this")

An easy anagram for MARRIAGE.

David's talks all this week are going to be about cryptic crossword clues, and what he says are the five basic types.  Today's clue is about anagram clues.  He gives three examples; the first is from the word mix over the break: "A grim era spoilt wedlock" would clue 'marriage'.  He follows up with cluing Lily's surname (Serna) via "Mathematician nears strife".

He then sets Richard the challenge of solving "Teacher cooked trout (5)".  Richard does a nice job of walking through the steps: Since it is an anagram, the word being anagrammed must have five letters, and hence is 'trout'; 'cooked' is the anagram indicator, so 'teacher' must be the meaning.  Richard thinks for a few moments -- trying to find an anagram of 'trout' that means 'teacher' -- and emerges with 'tutor', to David's evident delight.

I'd like to note here how good a job Richard does of explaining his reasoning out loud when he's set challenges like this; it makes the entire process much more followable for the audience, and that's particularly important here as the clue has only been spoken.  Tomorrow's talk will be about containers, and those are a very visual device; hopefully David and Richard can find a way to overcome that limitation.

Round 4: R Y E M L A B K O

It's a messy mix, and the -LY isn't much use.  I had REALM and RAMBLE, and nothing longer.  I saw several other sixes, but writing them down would have been a distraction from the search for sevens.  There's a lot of sixes, but I will note two that I liked (both found after time): EMBRYO and BOREAL.

Sixes all round, from contestants and David; this is very close!


Scores: 29 apiece

Round 5: S D G N A I U L E

I had SAND, LEADING / ALIGNED, wondered about UNSAILED (it's in Chambers but not the Macquarie, as it turns out; as an adjective, such as an unsailed sea), and then found DEALINGS.  After time I saw LANGUID and SIGNALED (correctly relying on the Macquarie to list the American spelling).  Another eight in this mix is INDULGES.

Each contestant has found a seven, while David has the eight.  So I've separated from them at last but they are still locked together.

As we've gone into before, I'd have selected a final consonant since -ING was in play.  The magic result is actually an M for GUILDSMAN (not using the -ING, amusingly enough); the N that it would have been would also have allowed eights, however (LANDINGS, UNLADING, DISANNUL).


Scores: Kerin 29 (36), Brian 29 (36), me 37

Round 6: Target 533 from 25 75 3 2 7 1

As long as you know your 75-times tables, this should be easy, since 7*75 is 525 which is very close.  There's several variations; I noted 533 = 7*75 + 2*(3 + 1) -- this is Kerin's solution -- or with a bit of tweakage 533 = 7*(75 + 1) + 3 - 2, which was the solution used by Brian and Lily.  I also saw a handy trick for another solution: 533 = 7*75 + (25 - 1)/3.

As mentioned, the contestants found solutions and are still locked together after six rounds, and I'm a mere eight points ahead.

Kerin: 533
Brian: 533
Me: 533
Lily: 533

Scores: Kerin 39 (46), Brian 39 (46), me 47

Second break: LAPSE TAN ("A likeable insect")

A clear clue for PLEASANT.

Round 7: N T S B O I A F E

I had a bit of a mental blank, almost missing a combination that has turned up several times already, but then found my way clear in time.  I had BASIN, OBTAINS, and (finally) OBEISANT / BOTANIES / BOTANISE / NIOBATES.

Brian has a six of FAINTS, but Kerin has managed to draw away with BONIEST.  Finally some separation, and I've got a decent-sized lead at last also.  David has the eights, of course.


Scores: Kerin 39 (53), Brian 39 (46), me 55

Round 8: Target 911 from 25 100 1 8 8 9

With the scores so close, this is what Carol Vorderman likes to call the "critical calculation".  And it's a worthy one, with a large target and a lack of mid-range small numbers meaning that this could be quite tricky.  But I spot that the same trick from round 6 can be used, guiding me to the solution 911 = 9*100 + 8 + (25 - 1)/8.

Brian has found his way to 910 -- perhaps 910 = 9*(100 + 1) + 8/8? -- but Kerin has done very well to find the solution I listed above.  Lily is also very impressed, and it's hard to be sure but it feels like Lily had not found a solution (both in the way that she wrote up Kerin's one, and also how she was not asked if she had that or another solution); it's tenuous, though, and it might simply have been a case of not wanting to overshadow a fine solution from a contestant.

I'll note that the 936 challenge that I set my father once (I'll post about that some day) might have led him to find the alternative 911 = 8*(100 + 9 + 8) - 25.

That very impressive solution has guaranteed Kerin the win, and she must have been stoked about that solution.

Kerin: 911
Brian: 910
Me: 911

Scores: Kerin 49 (63), Brian 39 (46), me 65


Gah, got confused and pressed in after five seconds with the incorrect OCCURRENCE; again, if my finger hadn't been on the mouse button I would probably have avoided that.  That's two games in a row; bother.

After a few more seconds I find the actual answer of CONCOURSE.  Overall, probably around the 10 second mark but with the pausing it's hard to be sure.

Just after I restart Brian buzzes in... with OCCURRENCE.  Well, I can certainly sympathise.  Kerin gets the rest of the time, but does not manage to solve it.

Kerin: [no answer]
Brian: [invalid] (6s)
Me: [invalid] (5s)

Final scores: Kerin 49 (63), Brian 39 (46), me 65

It was quite a good game from both contestants, with Kerin just pulling away at the end and finding a great solution in the numbers to seal the victory.  Brian looked in good shape for a long while, but will have to acknowledge that he was outplayed at the end.  Kerin takes her fourth victory, and needs only twelve points or a win to overtake Sebastian Ham and take the fifth place spot.  Will she do it?  We'll find out tomorrow, but it's extremely likely.

I don't mind missing PATCHIER -- comparatives are dicey ground -- but would have liked to notice PERIANTH.  The real kick in the teeth this game was missing DONATES.  That should have been clear, but I was mode-locked looking for other things.  It's also disappointing to miss the conundrum like that again; I shall hope for better tomorrow.  Against that, I was pleased to see DEALINGS and OBEISANT (although it's turned up enough times that I surely should have!) and to get the 911 solution.  Overall, a positive game.


Sam Gaffney said...

My answers:

210 = (75-5) x (2+1)
533 = (75+1) x 7 + 3 - 2
910 = (100+1) x 9 + 8/8 [b]

[a] Just in time.
[b] Arrgh! One of my round #6 solutions was 533 = 7x75 + (25-1)/3. That's the closest I've ever been to an optimum game. Great get from Kerin under pressure, and Brian was a strong contestant.

Geoff Bailey said...

Very strong performance from you on that game, Sam. I'm sure that optimum game will come soon enough!