Thursday, 9 February 2012

Ep 378: Rhonda Jefferson, Alan Nash (February 8, 2012)

Following on from yesterday's talk with Rhonda about her musical theatre activities, Richard asks about Rhonda's singing.  She says that she has always enjoyed singing and that she does it because she loves it.  However, she never learned singing and she does regret that now; she would like to have all the control that you are supposed to have (and which she does not).

Tonight's challenger is Alan Nash, a barrister who once appeared in a Melbourne Theatre Company production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.  It is a musical with the unusual feature that four audience members participate for some of the show as contestants in the spelling bee (and this is what happened to him).  They don't have to sing, but apparently there is some dancing involved.

And wow, is it a cracking performance tonight from Alan.  Rhonda finds some good words but is consistently outdone by Alan; even a good late result on the numbers and a quick conundrum solution can't save her.  Alan found the early full monty in this game -- the first contestant to find one for a long time -- and if he can keep this form up then he will be a serious championship contender.  He falters in the final three rounds but the game was already won at that point.  The final score is 60 to 41.

I was having a great game myself.  I managed to outdo David on one round (courtesy of a word from yesterday, amusingly enough), which is always nice.  I spotted that first full monty, and was just five seconds too slow on the second.  That would have been enough for my personal record score, and the opportunity was there for a round of 100.  I ended up falling short of that, but the rapid conundrum solution put me into the rarefied territories of the 80's for only the third time this series (and the highest so far).

As usual, details after the jump.

Round 1: S L E A R C T E D

A very well-matched set of letters, despite the duplicated E; I had SALE, CLEARS, TRACES, CARTELS / SCARLET, CREATED / REACTED, and CLEAREST.

Rhonda starts with REACTED, but Alan has found CLEAREST to take the points.  David notes an anagram of it for another eight: TREACLES.

I was thinking that a fourth vowel was in order on this mix; my aim was an A for LACERATES, but the actual U would have given ULCERATES.  An I (CARTELISE) or O (RELOCATES) are also good, although I would not have found CARTELISE.

Even so, the consonant is reasonable.  In fact, it does provide a full monty from a word that I mentioned way back in episode 312: DECRETALS (a DECRETAL being a kind of papal document).  Wow, I wish I'd seen that tonight.

In addition to DECRETAL, two other eights available in this mix are DECLARES and TREADLES.  I am a little surprised that the Macquarie does not list RESCALED.


Scores: Rhonda 0, Alan 8, me 8

Round 2: M S U I E T N H A

I had troubles getting anything out of this until that final A.  I had MUSE, TIMES / MITES, then ANIMUS, ATHEISM, and then recent game knowledge kicked in to help me find HUMANIST and HUMANISE.  (HUMANIST showed up last week in episode 372.)

Rhonda has found HAUNTS for six, but Alan is one better again with the delightful MINUETS.  As David points out, a more prosaic anagram of that is MINUTES; David has found HUMANIST and HUMANISE as expected.

Recent game knowledge could have helped find the other eight here: HEMATINS; I noted HEMATIN as a possible find last week in episode 373.  (Some dictionaries may allow HUMANEST -- that's "most humane", not "most human" -- but the Macquarie does not list it.)

INHUMES (buries) is here for seven, and Chambers lists INHUMATE as an acceptable alternative for INHUME.  That would make INHUMATES valid for nine; unfortunately the Macquarie does not list this variation, although it does have an entry for 'inhumation'.  With a slightly more expansive reference dictionary we could have had full monties from the first two rounds.

There's a reasonable number of sevens here; of the ones not yet mentioned, the more familiar are probably INMATES, TSUNAMI, ANTHEMS, and AUNTIES / SINUATE.

Rhonda: HAUNTS

Scores: Rhonda 0, Alan 8 (15), me 16

Round 3: Target 180 from 100 75 3 5 3 1

Rhonda is 15 points behind, and that is dangerous.  Richard tries to convince her to try something different, but she sticks to her guns.  The result is a very easy target and everyone finds 180 = 100 + 75 + 5.  Just for fun I found some alternatives: 180 = (75 + 3*5)*(3 - 1), and (after time) 180 = (75 - 3*5)*3.

Rhonda: 180
Alan: 180
Me: 180
Lily: 180

Scores: Rhonda 10, Alan 18 (25), me 26

First break: MURK WALE ("This man needs to raise the temperature")

The temperature part of the clue should help guide to the answer of LUKEWARM.

David's talk is about three golfing terms beginning with B: Bunker, birdie, and bogey.

Round 4: D L T E I O F E A

After the seventh letter went up I did think that an A would be nice for FOLIATED.  Alan apparently agreed, as he appears to have gone fishing for it with a rare five vowel appearance (or maybe he was just after FLOATED, but let's give him the benefit of that doubt).  I had TILED, TOILED, FOILED, FOLIATED, and then realised that the extra E was actually very useful, giving DEFOLIATE.  A full monty found in time!

Rhonda has done well to find FOLIATED, but Alan has found DEFOLIATE for one better yet again.  Watching the video he can be clearly seen to draw a neat box around it on his pad at the twenty second mark, and then sit back to wait for time to expire.  That full monty means that Rhonda is 33 points behind already, and in dire trouble.

Everyone is impressed by both contestants' words, and David is particularly excited about Alan's find; David points out that it has been a very long time since a contestant has found a full monty.  And, wow, he's right.  John O'Connor very nearly found one in episode 369 but overlooked that he could pluralise DEMENTIA; the last instance was actually Sam Gaffney with ABDUCTION back in episode 342 -- 36 episodes ago!  In fact, that was the only other instance this series: Only Sam and Alan have managed to find full monties during play this series.

Aside from the contestants' answers the best seem to be sevens: FLOATED, FILETED, FOLIATE, DEFLATE, and FEEDLOT ("an area of land on which cattle are stocked in large numbers and handfed in order to fatten them just prior to selling them").


Scores: Rhonda 10, Alan 36 (43), me 44

Round 5: G M U I O C S N A

Argh, too many vowels.  Once -ING hits the table, fewer vowels is better (as I've seen often before).  In this instance a T would have replaced that A and allowed COSTUMING for an astonishing third (and fourth with a more extensive dictionary) potential full monty.

As it was I managed to put recent game knowledge to good use yet again, finding MUSIC and COAMINGS, which was present (but not found) in yesterday's episode.  After time I found some other sevens: AMUSING, ACINOUS, and MANIOCS.

Both contestants have found sevens, as has David.  This is the high point of the episode for me, as I'm actually a point ahead of the David and Lily combination on the solo scores.

There's a reasonable number of other sevens, the more familiar ones being CAUSING / SAUCING, MASONIC, and MOUSING.


Scores: Rhonda 10 (17), Alan 36 (50), me 52

Round 6: Target 252 from 50 100 25 75 7 10

Alan shakes things up a bit by choosing four large numbers.  I managed to avoid some distractions and started by considering how to get the 2.  The obvious options are 50/25 and 100/50; both work, but I went with the latter to get 252 = 10*25 + 100/50.  (The other route giving 252 = 10*(100 - 75) + 50/25.)  Then I went back and toyed with the divisibility by 7 (252 = 7*36) that I had avoided getting distracted by, but I was unable to make it work.  It was possible, though, as I have just seen 252 = 7*(50 - 10 - 100/25).

Rhonda has only 250 to declare, suggesting that she is not comfortable with forming quotients from the large numbers.  Straight addition would have enabled one closer, though, as 253 = 100 + 75 + 50 + 25 + 10 - 7.  Alan has got to the target, however, using the first solution that I gave, as did Lily... although she says that she only got there in the last second as she'd fallen victim to one of those misleading paths.

At this point Alan has definitely beaten Rhonda.  We could see a record defeat if this keeps up!

Rhonda: 250
Alan: 252
Me: 252
Lily: 252

Scores: Rhonda 10 (17), Alan 46 (60), me 62

Second break: VIOLA NIP ("Housing the king of the jungle")

The latter part of the clue is a clear reference to a LION, and it's a short step to PAVILION.

Round 7: T V R D E I E I S

There's some amusement here as Rhonda accidentally calls for an S at the end, made all the greater when that last consonant does turn out to be one.

I had DIVERT, DIVERTS, VERITIES, and DIRTIES.  I wasn't sure whether to try VERITIES or not, but I decided to go with it and fortunately it was valid.  After time -- only a second or two after, in fact -- I spotted REVISITED.  I then found the dubious DIVESTER, and the much safer DERISIVE.

Rhonda has DERIVES for seven, while Alan has tried DIVESTER.  However, DIVESTER is not listed and Rhonda gets the points after all.  David has found REVISITED for the nine.

I won't list the many sevens (although I like DEITIES), but the other eight here is a mineral: SIDERITE.

Note that if the T had been taken in the previous round (to give COSTUMING) then the likely mix in this round would have been AVRDEIES plus a consonant.  A further T would give ADVERTISE for one more full monty in an already exceptional game.  (Or an N gives REINVADES, and an H gives the very unusual SHIVAREED.  SHIVAREE: "to serenade with kettles, etc.")

Alan: [invalid]

Scores: Rhonda 10 (24), Alan 46 (60), me 70

Round 8: Target 348 from 75 50 100 8 8 9

Alan changes it up again, going for three of each.  I think this is the most difficult combination to work on in practice, as it lacks the set patterns that the four large mix has while not having that much flexibility in the small numbers.  In this case it turns up a very troubling set, with every number being near the upper end of what it can be.  A small target could prove extremely challenging.

Fortunately the target is not too small.  I wasn't able to navigate my way there in time, however, settling for one off with 349 = 9*50 - 100 - 8/8.  After time I saw that the target was 6*58, and the latter was easy.  It turned out to be possible to make the 6 also, leading to the solution 348 = ((8*75)/100)*(50 + 8).  A tricky one!

Alan has not been able to get within range, which is a little odd as 350 is quite attainable.  But this could have been a case of not having a fallback plan written down.  Meanwhile, Rhonda has managed to get five away with 353 = 8*50 - 8*9 + 100 - 75.

Lily has done well to solve this one, with a similar kind of technique that I used; in this case she needed a 12 to complete her solution of 348 = 8*(50 - 8) + (9*100)/75.  Bravo!

Rhonda: 353
Alan: [not in range]
Me: 349
Lily: 348

Scores: Rhonda 10 (31), Alan 46 (60), me 77


Both Alan and I have stumbled a bit on the last two rounds, but there's always scope to make up ground on the conundrum.  In this instance the pair of F's homes me in on the answer, and I have it just after the second mark.  Rhonda gets there a little later for a good finish to her game with 24 unanswered points from the last three rounds.

Rhonda: SUFFOCATE (4s)
Alan: [no answer]
Me: SUFFOCATE (1.5s)

Final scores: Rhonda 10 (41), Alan 46 (60), me 87

Well, this was quite the game from Alan.  He outdid Rhonda greatly in the first six rounds and had the game sewn up going into the second break.  He had some good words throughout, and if it weren't for words being in my memory from recent games I'd probably have been tied with him at that point also.  But then he eased off in the final third and the final scorelines aren't entirely representative of how good his performance today was.  Rhonda bows out after her third game, perhaps a little unluckily as her results today may well have won against many other contestants.

I had a very good game, as can be seen.  I do very much wish that I'd seen REVISITED that little bit earlier; there were only a few seconds in it and that would have bumped my score up to 97, which would have been a personal best.  (Additionally solving the last numbers game would have pushed it up to 100, as long as I'm mentioning counterfactuals.)

It was an amazing day for the letters today; I don't think there has been a set this friendly before.  There were three full monties available, a fourth with a slightly wider reference dictionary, and the other round would have produced one with a different selection.  There were lots of sevens in every round, and eight was my minimum.  The potential maximum here was an astounding 110 points.  It's going to be a long time before it gets this good again, but I look forward to the time that it does!


Mark said...

Congratulations on a great game, Geoff. I didn't get any of the full monties.

Check your summary of Round 8.

Geoff Bailey said...

Thanks, Mark -- it was an incredible set of letters rounds in this game. If only they were that productive more often!

And wow, that round 8 summary was weird -- I know I didn't cut-and-paste those summaries, so I'm going to blame the Blogger editing software. I've fixed it now, and thanks for pointing that out!

Karen Anderson said...

Wow, this was an absolute corker of a game and I was wondering how you fared. It is so good to see contestants find brilliant words and, of course, when there are very clever mathematical solutions from contestants or Lily it makes it even sweeter. Geoff, you did amazingly well yourself! You set your own bar very high.

Geoff Bailey said...

It wasn't the closest game, or the highest scoring, but there were some great plays from the contestants and it was a highly enjoyable game.

Thanks for the compliment, Karen; I was definitely chuffed about this performance!

Part of the reason for the high bar is the informal competition that Sam and I have going -- he always keeps me on my toes! (And is, I think, currently ahead... but not by much.) When he gets back from his holidays I expect to see some great scores from him on these games.

Sam Gaffney said...

Hi Geoff, great performance, and thanks for the mention. This was actually my best-ever game from home (a possible 98 points). Alan did great, and I like seeing the four large mix. Daring shirt, too.

As for comparisons, Alan had the pressure and unfamiliar surroundings to deal with - L&N can be a little easier from the armchair. My answers:

180 = 100 + 75 + 5
252 = 10*25 + 100/50
348 = (50-8) x 8 + 9x100/75