Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Ep 376: Cem Gurkan, Rhonda Jefferson (February 6, 2012)

Cem is interested in photography, and particularly likes black and white photography.  He enjoys taking photographs, developing, and printing, although in these days of digital photography there's less call for the latter two and he hasn't done them recently.  His preferred subject matter is buildings, and he enjoys being able to give photos as presents to his friends.

Tonight's challenger is Rhonda Jefferson, a retired physiotherapist who was become a farmer.  Richard points out that Rhonda has gone from living in a beachside suburb to a farm -- he calls it a "tree change" -- and that is a significant shift in environment.  Richard calls her a very practical farm worker; Rhonda has learned to drench cattle, and inject them, and "do all sorts of things".  She adds that she's very much enjoying living in a lovely little village (Exeter, in the southern highlands region of New South Wales).

Cem was a bit unlucky in this game; a fairly reasonable word was deemed invalid (more fuel for my claims about the risk of comparatives) which meant 6 points to Rhonda instead of 7 to him -- a 13 point turnaround.  Also, he made a careless slip in a numbers round (of a type that is easy enough to make -- he knew he was one off the target, but wrote down the wrong one); that cost him 7 points as well.  Those two rounds were the only main rounds on which Rhonda outscored him, and he managed to outscore her in a later one to give him a chance going into the conundrum.  Rhonda did solve it very quickly, however, for a slightly fortunate 61 to 45 victory.

I was in passable form today; the first two rounds could have been better, but there wasn't much likelihood of improvement elsewhere.  I got beaten to the conundrum, but only just, so it was definitely a quicker solve than usual for me, and a relatively comfortable win.  The numbers were very friendly today, which certainly helped.

As usual, details after the jump.

Round 1: O E I C R D T N S

It's a very decent set of letters to start with, and it seems very likely there will be a nine.  I really wanted a final vowel; at the time an I for DIRECTION, but there are other options -- more about this later.  As it was, I had CORE, CORED, CREDIT, CREDITS, CONSIDER, and CORNIEST.  I spent several minutes trying to find a nine here, but was not able to crack it.  I figured I would look harder if David had found one.

Both contestants have sevens, which is decent enough but they were probably happy to hear that the other had not found longer.  There's a great many sevens here and finding less would be a bad sign.

Like myself, David wanted that final vowel.  He mentions the possibilities of REDACTION, or DIRECTION, or REDUCTION / INTRODUCE... he says "whatever the vowel was", but I don't think there's a nine available if it were an O.  It would have been an E, the other possibility that David did not address; that allows RECONDITE.

David has found a nine, though, so he forgives Cem.  Thus fortified, I spend several more minutes playing around with the letters before I finally see it: CENTROIDS.  I was (as can be told from the amount of time taken) nowhere near getting that.  Except... David's word is DOCTRINES.  Huh.

In addition to CENTROID and DOCTRINE, other unmentioned eights available are CORDITES and NOTICERS.


Scores: Cem 0 (7), Rhonda 0 (7), me 8

Round 2: T E M C A I G T E

I can't say I like that final vowel choice, as the consonants aren't working that well together.  The ensuing R would have freed up the mix a certain amount, although sevens would have been the limit.  On the other hand, some of the other vowels would have been quite helpful, allowing CATAMITE, MITIGATE, or COGITATE -- so this was arguably just an unfortunate outcome.

I had TAME, MATTE, and MAGIC.  I couldn't make anything better within time, but afterwards I found TEATIME -- I had to check the dictionary for its validity; I'd have risked it in practice since the potential loss was only five -- and somewhat later GAMETE.

The contestants have also gone for MAGIC.  David noticed EMETIC for six quite early, and then found TEATIME as well.  The other seven here was the adjective arising from GAMETE: GAMETIC.

In keeping with the spirit of vowels being useful, taking a fifth vowel here would have allowed EMACIATE for eight.

Rhonda: MAGIC

Scores: Cem 5 (12), Rhonda 5 (12), me 13

Round 3: Target 169 from 4 7 4 2 6 5

Cem persists with the six small mix, but gets a very small target.  Probably just as well, considering that the smalls are mostly medium sized.  It's a familiar target, being the square of 13, and I quickly found 169 = (7 + 6)*(5 + 4 + 4).  I pretty much left it at that, but as time was running out I looked for nearby numbers with known factorisations and realised that one less than it was 168, the number of hours in a week.  That led to another solution: 169 = 7*6*4 + (5 - 4).

Both contestants are one away, Cem with 170 and Rhonda with 168.  Cem's method is (4*7 + 4)*5 + 6 + 2, which is 168 rather than the 170 he declared.  (Note that pushing the 2 inside the brackets and ignoring the six would have given him the target that he did declare.)  This could be an instance of something that has happened to me on occasion: You compute something close, know how far away you are from the target, but then write down the value that is that much away in the wrong direction.  Or it could have been a simple mistake.

Rhonda has attained her target, with 168 = 6*7*4.  Somehow she missed the final adjustment by one; this could have been a matter of time, I guess.  Lily points this out, and has used the first of the solutions that I gave.

Cem: [invalid]
Rhonda: 168
Me: 169
Lily: 169

Scores: Cem 5 (12), Rhonda 5 (19), me 23

First break: LOFT PRAM ("Stand on the high-rise shoe")

Yet another case of me floundering without the clue, and getting it easily with it: PLATFORM.

David's talk is about the game hacky sack.

Round 4: R C A O P I S T E

It's another well-fitting set of letters, and I wondered if we would have two full monties in the game.  I found ORCA, CROP, COPIERS, COASTER, and APRICOTS.  After time I found OPERATIC, and wondered about OPERATICS (as a kind of counterpart to theatrics); some online sources list it, but not the Macquarie.

Rhonda has the six of PRICES, while Cem has PASTIER for seven.  He is unfortunate, however, as the Macquarie does not list this comparative form.  (There's several safer anagrams of it, too: PIRATES / PARTIES / TRAIPSE, for a start.)  Between this round and the last, Cem is 20 points worse off than he might have been, and that loss is going to be hard to overcome.

David has also found APRICOTS.  Other eights are ECTOPIAS (ECTOPIA: "the morbid displacement of a bodily organ or part") and CRISPATE / PICRATES / PRACTISE / PARETICS.  Chambers lists PISCATOR (a fisherman) but it is omitted from the Macquarie.

Cem: [invalid]
Rhonda: PRICES

Scores: Cem 5 (12), Rhonda 5 (25), me 31

Round 5: A O A L D N R F U

It isn't a very good assortment, although that U helps a lot more than might be apparent.  I'll note that choosing a consonant instead would have happened to allow LANYARD for 7, but I think a vowel was the better option -- I only mention the alternative for a further hypothetical in round 7.

I had LOAD and UNFOLD.  After time I found AROUND, LARDON, and NODULAR.

Both contestants had sixes -- I feel a bit silly for missing Cem's choice of UNLOAD -- and David has found a moderately obscure seven of FOULARD, which is a type of silk.  Well found, David!

Rhonda: AROUND

Scores: Cem 11 (18), Rhonda 11 (31), me 37

Round 6: Target 740 from 75 25 1 7 9 3

Rhonda goes for the traditional option, and the target is moderately large but ultimately quite easy.  I went with 740 = (75 - 1)*(7 + 3).

Rhonda had a different solution, with 740 = (9 + 1)*75 - (7 + 3).  Cem has used the same solution that I did, and Lily turns out to have found both approaches.

Cem: 740
Rhonda: 740
Me: 740
Lily: 740

Scores: Cem 21 (28), Rhonda 21 (41), me 47

Second break: CENT CORE ("A Greek island, hard underfoot")

The Greek island is the CRETE of CONCRETE.

Round 7: E I O Y R H G T S

I had HERO, EIGHTY, HOSIERY, and GOITRES; I'd managed to miscount HOSIERY in my head as only six, which was why I was glad to have GOITRES.  I also recalled from similar mixes in previous games that SIGHTER and GHOSTIER were not valid, so I discarded them without writing them down.  After time I found some other sevens: HOGTIES, GREYISH, and OGREISH.

Rhonda has RIGHTS, but Cem has found GOITRES.  Those seven points get him back within the ten point range, and give him a chance at the conundrum.  David has found HISTORY for his seven.

To follow up on my remark from round 5: If the Y had been selected then, the U would have been available here.  That would have allowed a full monty that was recently one of the conundrums: RIGHTEOUS.

Rhonda: RIGHTS

Scores: Cem 28 (35), Rhonda 21 (41), me 54

Round 8: Target 617 from 25 100 5 1 8 2

Lots of possible solutions here.  I started by working up from 600 with 617 = 8*(100 - 25 + 2) + 1, then applied the standard approach of getting there from 625, finding 617 = (5 + 1)*100 + 25 - 8 and 617 = 25*100/(5 - 1) - 8.  (And just now: 617 = 5*(100 + 25) - 8.)

The contestants have found their way safely there; Cem has used the first of those solutions, and Rhonda the second.  Once again, Lily found both of them.

Cem: 617
Rhonda: 617
Me: 617
Lily: 617

Scores: Cem 38 (45), Rhonda 31 (51), me 64


I was a touch slow off the mark working out how to fit that V into things, but got there after two seconds.  It was a very close thing, though, as Rhonda's buzzer sounded just as I paused the video and so she beat me to it.  That's a good quick solve from her.

Cem: [no answer]
Rhonda: DEVASTATE (2s)

Final scores: Cem 38 (45), Rhonda 41 (61), me 64

That was quick solving from Rhonda at the end to put the result beyond doubt.  The final margin of victory was 16 points, which means that the 13 points difference that hinged on PASTIER being invalid did not cost Cem the game.  That may be small comfort, especially as combining that with his declaring 170 instead of 168 in round three would have made enough of a difference to win, but at least victory or defeat did not hinge on the Macquarie's foibles alone.

Rhonda seems a bit vulnerable on the letters; twice today (rounds 5 and 7) there were a great many sevens around but she could only manage a six.  On the other hand, she looked fairly comfortable on the numbers (although with some room for improvement).  Cem won't be giving us the variety of six small any more, which is a shame, but it hasn't been a choice that worked for him in any case.  Of the three times he chose it, twice he had an invalid result and the other time the target was too easy and both solved it.  He almost certainly would have been better served by a different option.

I did all right today, but not great.  It would have been nice to find either of the full monties in the first round but I was obviously fairly far away from doing so.  TEATIME and NODULAR felt more findable, and I think I'd have been satisfied with the game if I'd managed to get them in time.  My speed on the conundrum was at least reasonable tonight, which is a nice change.

1 comment:

Sam Gaffney said...

Great conundrum get from Rhonda, and APRICOTS was also very good from Geoff. My answers:

169 = 7x6x4 + 5-4
740 = 75 x (7 + 3) -9-1
617 = 8*(100 - 25 + 2) + 1

[a] Also CORNIEST. I thought there was a nine there, I think I have had DOCTRINES as a practice conundrum before and missed it, it is not intuitive.