Thursday, 2 February 2012

Ep 373: Alice Wheeler, Paul de Boer (February 1, 2012)

Tonight we learn that Alice came to Australia (from England) at the age of eighteen, having decided to go to university here (more specifically in Fremantle, so presumably it was the University of Notre Dame).  That's quite a big decision, really, given that she has stayed since.

Challenging Alice tonight is Paul de Boer, an account manager.  The theme of discussing countries of origin continues; Paul was born in the Netherlands and came over to Australia when he was eight.  Somewhat stereotypically (he says "ironically"), he grew up on a tulip farm.

There wasn't that much to choose between the contestants on the letters today -- they were equal except for one instance where Alice declared an invalid word.  They were a little off the pace there, with mostly sixes where sevens or eights were available, but not overly so.  Neither solved the conundrum, and the real difference came from the numbers where Paul failed to score -- each time being just a little bit further away than Alice (or in one case, having an invalid answer).  Alice never got closer than three, but that was enough.  If Paul's invalid answer had been correct then the scores would have ended up tied, but as it was Alice won the game, 42 to 30.

I had a mixed and ultimately unsatisfactory game.  I ended up with seven points from all but one of the main rounds, which was passable in some of the letters rounds but not so good in the numbers.  Against that I did solve the conundrum in what felt like decent time for a change.  The net result was that I almost kept the contestants scoreless, but failed to find some better-scoring options that I should have seen.

As usual, details after the break.

Round 1: R N T Q E U E D S

Alice goes fishing for vowels as soon as the Q is revealed, and is relieved to get the U.  It's probably better odds to simply ignore it and play for an eight from the rest, but if you do plan on using it then a fourth vowel may well be desirable -- the QU combination still needs a vowel after it, so the U doesn't pull its weight as a vowel.  There's not much in it either way, and it would not have changed the outcome significantly (the Q still only forming sevens, and the best option coming from the other eight to give DENATURE).

I had RENT / TERN, UNDER, erroneously wrote down REQUESTED thinking it was an eight in my head before a later check showed up the extra E and I adjusted it to REQUEST, and QUESTED.  Unfortunately I lost a lot of time looking for a nine in-between, instead of trying for an eight, and that cost me.  After time I threw away the Q to find UNRESTED (which I was rightly dubious about -- the Macquarie does not have it) and then DENTURES.  The other eight here is UNDERSET ("to support from below").

Both contestants have sixes, which feels a little light, while David has accurately found the eight.



Scores: Alice 0 (6), Paul 0 (6), me 7

Round 2: M D A I T E N H I

I had MAID, TAMED, MAIDEN, and MEDIANT.  I could not find better after time, although I did amuse myself wondering if a micromort could be considered a MINIDEATH (not even close to acceptable, of course).

It's sixes again from each contestant, and this time they've settled on the same one.  David has found the eight that I could not: THIAMINE.

That seems to be the only eight, but there are some other sevens -- mostly also arising from biology: THIAMIN (alternate spelling of THIAMINE), HEMATIN (alternate spelling of HAEMATIN: "a pigment containing iron [...]"), DIAMINE ("a compound containing two amine groups"), INTIMAE (plural of INTIMA: "the innermost membrane or lining of some organ or part [...]"), and finally one that is not: INEDITA ("unpublished works of an author").

It would have been an odd thing to do, particularly given that good set of starting letters, but taking five vowels would have allowed the full monty of MEDIATION.


Scores: Alice 0 (12), Paul 0 (12), me 14

Round 3: Target 569 from 25 100 9 10 3 3

It's a slightly awkward target; the usual approach suggests trying to get to 575 and subtract six.  I try to get there via 600, but chose the wrong way to make six and was only able to get one off with 570 = (9 - 3)*100 - 3*10.  After time, although admittedly a fair way after, I realised that forming six the other way would have given me the solution: 569 = (3 + 3)*(100 - (10 - 9)) - 25.  Bother!

Paul declares 565 -- maybe 565 = 9*(3 + 3)*10 + 25 -- but Alice is one point closer with 566 = (3 + 3)*100 - 25 - 9.  She was so close to getting a solution there -- just a little bit of tweakage needed.  We've yet to see any signs that Alice is comfortable with that technique, however, so it's not too surprising that it was not seen.

Lily has found another solution, paying a little more attention to the idea of preserving the two threes and getting to 575.  It turns out to be possible, with 569 = (10 + 9)*25 + 100 - 3 - 3.  Well done, Lily!

Alice: 566
Paul: 565
Me: 570
Lily: 569

Scores: Alice 0 (19), Paul 0 (12), me 21

First break: MELON DIG ("Dig here -- the shiny result will be worthwhile")

Not too hard to find GOLDMINE from that.

David's talk is about the words 'rehearse', 'hearse', and 'raster', all of which he ties back to origins based on rakes.  Since the topic is 'rehearse', he and Richard frame their usual interaction as though they were rehearsing this bit, and discussing how they would talk through it.  At the end of the show, they continue this conceit for the farewells which prompts Lily to call them a couple of dags.

Round 4: O A S C O E G T R

I'm a little disappointed about that fourth vowel, but only because the ensuing N would have allowed OCTAGONS for an appropriate eight.  Chasing after the E is entirely reasonable.

I had COOS, GOOSE, STOOGE, COASTER, and SCOOTER.  After time I also noted CARGOES and SCROOGE, and wondered about ROOSTAGE or ROOTAGES.  The former is not valid, but ROOTAGES is an acceptable eight (ROOTAGE: "firm fixture by means of roots").

Both contestants have found sevens, and almost the same one.  Paul went for COASTER, and Alice has slipped up by stating COASTED -- presumably she wrote down one of those O's so that it looked like a D.  That slip allows Paul to equalise the scores again.

David has found yet another good eight: ESCARGOT.  Bravo, David!

Alice: [invalid]

Scores Alice 0 (19), Paul 7 (19), me 28

Round 5: N D Y A I L N C O

This mix is a bit tricky; I found DAILY and CANNILY.  After time I found CANNOLI, but surprisingly it is not listed in the Macquarie.  I also saw ANODYNIC (adjective form of ANODYNE), but again the Macquarie does not have it.

The contestants are locked together again, finding the same five of CANDY.  David has found CANNILY; he comments that an E would have "lightened up the mix".  It's true that ANNOYED / ANODYNE may be easier finds, but they aren't longer than CANNILY.

The other seven here is NODICAL, an astronomical term meaning "of or relating to the node or nodes".  To understand what that means one has to look at the definition of 'node' in an astronomical context; it is "either of the two points at which the orbit of a heavenly body cuts the plane of the ecliptic, equator, or other properly defined plane".

Alice: CANDY

Scores: Alice 0 (24), Paul 7 (24), me 35

Round 6: Target 909 from 25 100 2 1 3 5

Finding the factorisation 9*101 is easy, so the question is just how to get that 9.  I took a slightly complicated approach at first with 909 = ((25 + 2)/3)*(100 + 1), then found the simpler 909 = 3*(5 - 2)*(100 + 1).  At last I've broken the run of sevens!

Alice declares 902, but Paul has 906.  Or rather, he states 906 but after starting with 100*2 he realises that his approach is invalid; I can only guess that he had erroneously thought that 100*2 was 300, multiplied that again by 3, and added the 1 and 5.  Whoops!

That brings Alice's 902 back into consideration; her answer is 902 = (5 + 3 + 1)*100 + 2.

Lily has found the second of the solutions that I listed.

Alice: 902
Paul: [invalid]
Me: 909
Lily: 909

Scores: Alice 0 (29), Paul 7 (24), me 45

Second break: LINEN LAD ("Being mobile is more popular")

The clue leads fairly easily to LANDLINE.

Round 7: S F U L D A E M S

I had LAUDS / DUALS, FLAMED, and ASSUMED.  After time I found DAMSELS and an anagram of ASSUMED: MEDUSAS.

Both contestants have sixes, but Paul has made a very careless slip by not pluralising DAMSEL.  Fortunately for his peace of mind this doesn't end up being the difference between victory and defeat.  David has found the sevens, to round out a good night of solving by him.

There was the potential for a nine here, but it would require the next vowel to be an I: FEUDALISM.


Scores: Alice 0 (35), Paul 7 (30), me 52

Round 8: Target 778 from 50 25 8 10 7 9

The small numbers are all high, which might be a problem.  The standard method doesn't seem quite useful here as the numbers just don't work out for it, but it sufficed to get me one away with 777 = (9 + 7)*50 - 25 + 10 - 8.

I had been looking at getting 770 + 8 via 7*110 + 8, but found myself lacking an easy way to get the 100.  Afterwards I realised that I should have focused on the 10, and found 778 = 10*(50 + 25 + 9 - 7) + 8.  Later still I found that I could have made my original idea work, with 778 = 7*10*(9 + 50/25) + 8.  Bother.

Paul is four away with 774 -- I'll guess this as 10*(50 + 25) + 7 + 8 + 9; just a little tweaking would get him to that first solution -- but Alice is one better with 775 = (7 + 8)*50 + 25.  Alice hasn't used the 10 or 9 in that solution, so could easily have gotten one closer by adding (10 - 9) to it.

Lily continues her good solving form by having found the first of those solutions that I listed.

This puts Alice 12 points ahead, and gives her the win.  If Paul had managed to get just a little closer than her he would have been ahead going into the conundrum; the result of the game can easily hinge on a single round like that.

Alice: 775
Paul: 774
Me: 777
Lily: 778

Scores: Alice 0 (42), Paul 7 (30), me 59


I looked at the -LESS ending first, but then moved onto DIS- and had the solution six seconds in.  Neither contestant finds it within time, and that's it for tonight.

Alice: [no answer]
Paul: [no answer]

Final scores: Alice 0 (42), Paul 7 (30), me 69

It was a close-fought contest on the letters, although there was certainly room to improve.  Paul ended up conceding 19 points in the numbers rounds, however, and that is too much to give up unless you are David.  Paul was close, twice just a point further away, but needed to close that gap to have a chance.  Alice kept her head well, but she was lacking the good letters performance of the previous game and it seems likely that she would have lost against a contestant more adept at manipulating the numbers.

I had far too many sevens in this game; the two that particularly bother me are rounds 1 and 8.  DENTURES should have been an easy spot if I had not made the error with REQUESTED, and 778 was likewise pretty findable.  So was the 569, for that matter, but I'm less bothered about that one -- I got hung up on the wrong way to make 6, and that's all there was to it.  In any case, tonight's performance was vastly better than yesterday's, and the margins reflect that.

1 comment:

Sam Gaffney said...

My answers:


I had neat scores tonight: 5x7 + 4x10. My numbers solutions were all done the same way as Lily. I was happy to get them, they were nice and tough, as was the conundrum.