Saturday, 4 February 2012

Ep 375: Alice Wheeler, Cem Gurkan (February 3, 2012)

Alice likes to rock-climb "anywhere there's cliffs".  She likes the climbing up, but she likes abseiling down even more -- she absolutely loves that feeling of falling down.

Tonight's challenger is bank manager Cem Gurkan.  Before becoming a bank manager he has had several somewhat different jobs: He used to own a cafe; he was the manager of a toy store; and his first job was as an analyst in a small start-up high-tech company.

Alice hits the fourth game wall here; three of her first four letters rounds are invalid, and the valid one is beaten by Cem's selection.  She is 27 points behind after the first five rounds, and although Cem follows up with some invalid options of his own to allow her closer, the final numbers round is too easy and Cem has an unbeatable lead going into the conundrum.  Once again it remains unsolved -- it has been a tough week for the conundrums! -- and Cem takes the game 47 points to 33.

This was another case of me finding answers around the point that time ran out, but today I mostly had enough time to get them written down.  I actually had a pretty good game except for one round where the only seven I managed to find turned out to be invalid.  I still could have lost the game at the conundrum stage, but fortunately I solved it to seal the win.

As usual, details after the break.

Round 1: H S E D R A C N I

Some very compatible letters in this mix, and sevens abound.  I had SHED, HERDS, SHARED, CRASHED, and DANCERS.  After time I tried to find an eight, and noted many sevens along the way: RANCHES, CANDIES, CHAINED, DISCERN / CINDERS / RESCIND, SARDINE, SHADIER, HINDERS, HANDIER, and ARSENIC.  There's more besides, but that's where I stopped bothering to record them.  Longer words eluded me, although I felt sure that there should be at least an eight given the plethora of sevens.

Alice has declared SHREAD for six, which is a bit bemusing and is not listed.  In any case it is outdone by Cem's choice of CRASHED.

David notes how he extended letter-by-letter until he had CRASHED, then found CHAINED and knew that this was an anagram of ECHIDNA, leading him to ECHIDNAS for eight.  That's an excellent find!

It turns out that there are some more obscure eights also to be found.  INARCH is a verb meaning "to graft by uniting a growing branch to a stock without separating the branch from its parent stock", and so leads to INARCHED and INARCHES.  Additionally, RACHIS is a term with meanings in biology, zoology, or anatomy; it has plurals of RACHISES or (the useful one in this instance) RACHIDES.

Alice: [invalid]

Scores: Alice 0, Cem 7, me 7

Round 2: O E A L G T R M S

I had ALOE, GOAL / GAOL, LATER / ALTER, MORALE, and then wondered about MORALES and MORALEST.  (The former might be OK, but the latter definitely isn't.)  Then I realised that this was that olestra mix that I've mentioned before, and that put me back on the right track to find GLOATERS.  After time I found its anagram: LEGATORS.

Alice has a six of MOLARS, but again Cem has outdone her by finding GLOATERS.  David mentions MAESTRO as an interesting seven here, and says that GLOATERS was the best to be found.


Scores: Alice 0, Cem 15, me 15

Round 3: Target 329 from 100 25 3 5 8 1

Alice sticks with the family mix, and gets a good spread of small numbers.  The target proves pretty easy for all; I went with 329 = 3*100 + 25 + 5 - 1, and also noted 329 = (8 + 5)*25 + 3 + 1 within time.  Afterwards I saved a number with 329 = 3*(100 + 8) + 5.

Both contestants have achieved the target; Alice has used the first of those solutions, while Cem has the very minor variation 329 = 3*100 + 25 + (8 - 5) + 1.  No word on what Lily did, but it was likely the first of these.

Alice: 329
Cem: 329
Me: 329
Lily: 329

Scores: Alice 10, Cem 25, me 25

First break: WORSE BYE ("They sit above the windows to your soul")

Since "the windows to your soul" is a term often used for eyes, the answer is EYEBROWS.

David's talk is about some isograms, words or phrases without a repeated letter.  He mentions a few instances including "Schultz baking powder", a mnemonic device that gets a longer mention in his book (his rugby union team used it for conveying where the ball was going to be thrown in a line-out).

Round 4: U E I D T W N R C

I had DUET, TUNED, TURNED, and UNWIRED.  This latter is a term I have encountered moderately often in the contexts of computer networks (wired vs. unwired), but the Macquarie has not heard of it.  Bother.  After time I found two valid sevens: CRUDITÉ, and UNCITED.

Cem has the six of UNITED, and Alice has gone for seven.  But her choice of TAWNIER, while a lovely word, uses an A that isn't there.  David notes that UNTIED is an anagram of UNITED, but has gone one better by finding INTRUDE.

Some other sevens are INDUCER and UNTRIED.

Alice: [invalid]
Me: [invalid]

Scores: Alice 10, Cem 31, me 25

Round 5: H R A Y S O N L U

A lot of unfortunate letters in this round.  I was having enough difficulties that I think I might have tried a fourth vowel here (I'd have taken the third earlier, of course) although it's not at all certain due to that Y.  The I would have allowed NOURISH for seven, or an E would have given UNHORSE.  On the other hand, if that L had been a D then ANHYDROUS would have been available.  Hard to draw any conclusions as to what is best from all that.

As it was, I had RASH, HOARY, ARSON, and HOURLY.  I couldn't find a seven, but after time I noted a few more sixes: RASHLY, SOURLY, and UNHOLY.

Both contestants have gone for sixes; Cem thinks his choice of RAYONS is risky, but it is acceptable.  Alice's selection of LUNARS, on the other hand, is the actual risk here and is invalid.  That's four very poor letters rounds from Alice, and at 27 points behind she's going to need a very big comeback.

David has also found HOURLY.  A possible seven here is URANYLS.

Alice: [invalid]

Scores: Alice 10, Cem 37, me 31

Round 6: Target 429 from 2 6 2 3 10 8

Cem surprises everyone by going for six small, and it's nice to see that making an appearance again.  The lack of odd numbers make this difficult; the target is 3*143, but utilising that would need more odd numbers.  I got to one off within time, with 428 = 2*(2*(8 + 3)*10 - 6).  Just as time was running out I saw that 432 was the useful intermediate target to work on, and that 429 = 8*6*(10 - 2/2) - 3.  I wasn't able to get it down in time, though, so 428 it had to stay.  A bit later I saw another variant of that approach: 429 = 2*2*6*(10 + 8) - 3.

Both contestants have 428 also; Cem has realised that he has made an error, however.  Alice has stayed on track with 428 = (3 + 2 + 2)*6*10 + 8, getting her seven much needed points.  Meanwhile, I've just edged a point in front of Cem but it looks like this one is going to the conundrum.

Lily was not able to find a solution within time, but comes back after the break with another solution: 429 = (2 + 10)*(8 - 2)*6 - 3.

Alice: 428
Cem: [invalid]
Me: 428

Scores: Alice 17, Cem 37, me 38

Second break: OLDEN TIN ("Loan to this lazy person")

I was so busy looking for other solutions to the previous numbers round that I forgot to solve this before the answer was revealed.  The loan is cluing the LENT of INDOLENT.

Round 7: G T I S D E B F A

I had GIST, DIETS, DEBITS, STAGED, and -- just in time -- FIDGETS.  That was a literal last-second result, which was a relief.  After the first six letters I had seen the possibility of AGISTED, but forgotten it by the time the A turned up.  Fortunately FIDGETS scored just as well!

Both contestants have gone for six-letter words; Alice with FASTED and Cem with BEDSIT.  He's unlucky on that count as the Macquarie does not list it.  David states that it is clearly an oversight on the Macquarie's part to not list it, and has found FIDGETS and GABFEST.

That helps Alice a little more, but she still needs to outpoint Cem in the next numbers round to have a chance, and even then she'll be behind going into the conundrum.

Cem: [invalid]

Scores: Alice 17 (23), Cem 37, me 45

Round 8: Target 124 from 2 5 2 9 10 4

Cem persists with six small, but a small target keeps this pretty easy.  I had 124 = (5*9 - 2 - 2 - 10)*4 and 124 = (9 + 5 - 2)*10 + 4.

Both contestants have managed to get there.  Cem used 124 = (4 + 9)*10 - (2/2 + 5), while Alice went for 124 = (5*2 + 2)*10 + 4.  Lily used the second of the solutions that I gave.

Alice: 124
Cem: 124
Me: 124
Lily: 124

Scores: Alice 27 (33), Cem 47, me 55


Cem has beaten Alice, but if he beats me to the conundrum then that will be a loss to me.  The -ING proves distracting for a while, but then I move on to consider -AGE and -ATE.  That proves unprofitable, and casting an eye over the words again causes me to consider THING.  It's a short step from there to NIGHT, and then to the answer.  As it turns out, neither contestant was able to solve it.

Alice: [no answer]
Cem: [no answer]
Me: NIGHTMARE (12.5s)

Final scores: Alice 27 (33), Cem 47, me 65

It was a bit of a scrappy game today, with five invalid declarations.  Cem had an excellent start, greatly assisted by Alice's invalid words, and was always going to be extremely hard to catch from that point.  Alice gave it a good try, but the final numbers didn't favour her and that was the end of that.  Cem looks like a good all-round player, given his performance on the letters tonight and his choosing the toughest numbers option, but we'll see if he can do the same on Monday.

I had a pretty decent game today; this time I was mostly answering just within time rather than just outside it, and it made a big difference.  The invalid word was unfortunate, but the other misses I'm OK with for now.  Just 18 games to go until the finals...

1 comment:

Sam Gaffney said...

Alice started her run with a great episode, but seemed to trail off a little as her recording day went on. I also find it is my letters rounds that suffer most when I tire.

This wasn't my best game, Geoff would have crushed me. My answers:

(invalid) INDUCTER [a]

[a] I hadn't found INTRUDE yet, and felt adventurous after not daring to play the valid words GOTCHAS or TRIBUTED recently. The Macquarie does have INDUCTOR, but -ER is not a frequent alternative to -OR words.