Monday, 13 February 2012

Ep 381: Alan Nash, Kim Fielke (February 13, 2012)

Some years ago, Alan had afternoon tea with the Queen.  Alan explains the circumstances: He was living in London at the time, and apparently an Australian living in London can apply to meet their head of state at one of a number of royal events.  It is essentially a lottery; his wife entered them into it and they were selected, so they -- and about two thousand other people, he notes -- went to Buckingham Palace and had afternoon tea with the Queen and Prince Philip.  And yes, there were cucumber sandwiches.

Tonight's challenger is Kim Fielke, an anaesthetist.  He currently works in Hamilton, but Richard notes that in the past Kim has worked in some pretty remote parts of the country.  Richard asks what Kim likes about such locales.  Kim responds that in the smaller places (which by inference remote locations are likely to be) he has a bit more independence and tends to develop closer ties with (and a better feel for) the community.  Richard asks if he would like to "go bush" again, and Kim agrees that he would, once the kids have finished school.

A couple of rounds in David takes a moment to ask Alan if he happens to own a property that he leases out.  Alan responds that he does, a little cautiously as he doesn't see why this is being asked right now; nor did anyone else, I'd wager -- I certainly didn't.  David states that this is now a very exciting moment for the show: Given the answer to the question and that Kim is an anaesthetist, the contestants are a letter and a number (one who lets, one who numbs).  Heh!

The game is perhaps closer than the final scoreline might suggest.  Both contestants started with invalid eight-letter words, and then found a good eight-letter word in the next round.  The ensuing three rounds prove the difference, however, as Alan just pipped Kim each time to gain a twenty point lead.  There wasn't much scope to get it back after that; Kim could conceivably have solved the final number round to have a chance going into the conundrum, but he was not able to and in any case Alan solved the conundrum quickly to seal a clear win, 54 to 24.

I was in good touch this game, keeping track with David and Lily on all but one round, where David found a word not in my vocabulary.  Alan beat me to the conundrum by about half a second, but I'd still accumulated enough of a lead for a comfortable victory.

As usual, details after the break.

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

I had NEAR / EARN, REACH, ARSENIC, and was writing down RANCHES when I had a flashback (to episode 334, it turns out) and extended it to RAUNCHES.

Alan declares a risky eight, while Kim has a seven.  Unfortunately for Kim, his selection of RECHAINS has eight letters; the invalid declaration means that it will not be allowed.  Perhaps fortunately for his peace of mind, though, the Macquarie does not list it and it would not have scored anyway.  Meanwhile, Alan's choice of SUNCHAIR does prove to be as risky as he feared, and so each contestant starts with an invalid word.

David has found RAUNCHES and CHARNIES (CHARNIE being a mildly derogatory Canberra colloquialism for "a person, generally from an outer suburb of a city or town and from a lower socioeconomic background, viewed as uncultured").

If Alan had stayed at three vowels the U would have been replaced by a D; that would make the round identical to the first round of episode 375, and one of the eights mentioned there does apply here: INARCHES.  The other eight-letter word here is EUCHARIS, a particular genus of plant.  (I'd noticed the almost-reappearance of EUCHARIST, but had not known this word.)

In addition to those eights, there's a decent spread of sevens.  Some of them are: RANCHES, CASHIER, URCHINS, HERNIAS, SAUCIER, CARNIES, and CUSHIER.

Alan: [invalid]
Kim: [invalid]

Scores: Alan 0, Kim 0, me 8

Round 2: D A E R T I L D O

I had DEAR / READ, RATED / TRADE, TIRADE, TRAILED, and IDOLATER.  I also noticed TODDLER, LEOTARD, and DELTOID while searching further but did not write them down.  Another seven here is DARIOLE: "a type of small, cup-shaped mould" (or a dish made in such a mould).

Both contestants have done well to find IDOLATER.  Like LEOTARD (which it includes) it is a reasonably common word, and one worth remembering if you go on the show.  It last turned up in episode 346, Sam Gaffney's retiring game.  David notes that it has a valid anagram of TAILORED.


Scores: Alan 8, Kim 8, me 16

Round 3: Target 247 from 25 50 100 75 2 9

Alan, of course, persists with his choice of four large numbers.  The key question is how to get an offset of 3, and it should be clear that keeping the 75 and 25 aside will allow that.  Getting to 250 from the rest is easy enough, and I found 247 = 2*100 + 50 - 75/25.  A more complicated way to use the same idea is 247 = (9 - 2)*50 - 100 - 75/25.  A more exotic solution that I have seen just now works up from 225 with some tweakage: 247 = 9*(75 - 50 + 2) + 100/25.

Kim can see how to get the 247 but only has 250 written down.  That costs him -- a 17 point turnaround -- as Alan is one away with 248 = 100 + 75 + 50 + 25 - 2.  That's a little odd from someone who should be familiar with the options of the large numbers; keeping the 75/25 available should be almost instinctive.

Lily demonstrates the first of those solutions that I listed.

Alan: 248
Kim: 250
Me: 247
Lily: 247

Scores: Alan 8 (15), Kim 8, me 26

First break: BRAY POPE ("This young man keeps away from flame and strong winds")

The "young man" part of the clue homes me in on the BOY of PAPERBOY.

David's talk is about the origin of the term "house music".

Round 4: F A U T M I L E B

I really wanted an S to turn up for FISTULA ("a narrow passed or duct formed by congenital abnormality or by disease or injury [...]"), but no such luck.  (And if that B had been an S then the acceptable plural form FISTULAE would have been better, of course.  Both FISTULAS and FISTULAE are allowed as plurals.)

Anyway, I had TUFA, FLAME, wondered about MUTABLE, AMULET, FUMBLE, and TUMBLE.  I also considered BULEMIA, but I recalled having made that spelling error before (it was back in episode 361) so fortunately I didn't make it this time.  I eventually decided to go with MUTABLE -- I wasn't completely certain the Macquarie would list it, but fortunately it does.

After time I wondered about BIMETAL, but only BIMETALLIC (and BIMETALLISM, BIMETALLIST) are words.

Neither contestant looks particularly happy with this tough mix.  Kim has BLAME for five, but Alan has found AMULET for six.  Perhaps a little memory work there?  It turned up in the previous game!  I commented then about how I have difficulty seeing it, but at least I did this time.

David has found FIBULA and thence FIBULAE for seven.  The other sevens here are anagrams of each other: LIMBATE ("bordered, as a flower in which one colour is surrounded by an edging of another") and TIMBALE ("a preparation of minced meat, fish, or vegetables, cooked in a cup-shaped mould").


Scores: Alan 8 (21), Kim 8, me 33

Round 5: I O A T G D E R S

I had IOTA, GATED, DOTAGE, GOITRES, and then spun my mental gears for a bit.  I was sure there was something with the eight non-G letters, and just in the nick of time I saw it: ASTEROID.

Alan doesn't look completely happy to declare a seven -- maybe he was having the same kind of nagging feelings that I did -- but his choice of GOITRES is still longer than Kim's six of STAGER.  (I'll note that Kim could have inserted an I for STAGIER.)  Richard comments that GOITRES (or GOITRE) has been on the show a lot, and David agrees.  It's had at least two appearances in this series -- and more potential ones -- with the most recent being just a week ago, in episode 376.

David notes that another word which turns up regularly is GODETIA, and hence GODETIAS is there for eight.  (He has also found ASTEROID.)  GODETIA is one of those words I am hoping will make its way into my show lexicon, because I have seen it crop up here or on Countdown sometimes and it is a good use for letters which otherwise don't necessarily go together that well.

The other eight available here is STODGIER.


Scores: Alan 8 (28), Kim 8, me 41

Round 6: Target 526 from 75 4 7 10 1 9

Kim chooses a single large number, and the target is very easy for anyone who knows the 75-times tables, as all show contestants should.  Everyone has 526 = 7*75 + 1.  After time I amused myself with a kitchen sink: 526 = (10 + 1)*(75 - 4*7) + 9.

Alan: 526
Kim: 526
Me: 526
Lily: 526

Scores: Alan 18 (38), Kim 18, me 51

Second break: RENAL GIN ("The spirit of education")

A reasonably straight clue for LEARNING.

Round 7: N U H E N A C O P

Quite a poor mix, although I'd hoped for a third final N to give ANNOUNCE.  As it was, I had NUANCE and POUNCE.  After time I added PAUNCH to the list; I did note during time that turning the P into an L would allow LUNCHEON, but didn't think much of that.

Both contestants have found six-letter words, but David has found PUNCHEON for eight.  I'd not encountered the word before, alas, as I think it's reasonable to assume that I would have seen it.  It has two meanings, either a large cask or a slab of timber.  Well done, David!

That seems to be the only eight, but there is a seven here also: PANOCHE, alternate spelling of PANOCHA: "a coarse grade of sugar made in Mexico".  Aside from those two, six seems to be the limit.


Scores: Alan 24 (44), Kim 24, me 57

Round 8: Target 921 from 10 6 5 3 10 3

Down to the critical calculation, and Kim needs ten unanswered points to have a chance.  He goes for six small, which I think is risky but definitely worth the try.  The numbers are a decent spread -- although with a little more duplication than might be wanted -- but the large target means that the pair of tens is definitely appreciated.  A little experimentation led me to the right tweakage: 921 = 3*(3*10*10 + 5) + 6.

The gamble hasn't paid off for Kim as he only managed to get 930.  Alan says that he can see a solution but could not get it written down in time, and has nothing to declare as a result.  That means Kim can still score some points, but his solution starts (6 + 3)*10*10, at which point he observes that he has used the 6 twice (presumably his full attempt was 930 = (6 + 3)*10*10 + 6*5; if he'd used 3*3 instead of 6 + 3 then it would have been all right) and so it is invalid.

Lily has used the factor of 3 to get the solution 921 = (6*5*10 + 10 - 3)*3.

Alan: [not in range]
Kim: [invalid]
Me: 921
Lily: 921

Scores: Alan 24 (44),  Kim 24, me 67


Alan has won the game regardless, but seals it in emphatic style with a solution at the three second mark.  I paused, but saw the solution even as I was doing so -- just too slow once more.

Alan: BARRICADE (3s)
Kim: [no answer]
Me: BARRICADE (3.5s)

Final scores: Alan 34 (54), Kim 24, me 67

The performances were relatively close, but Kim was just one further away in those three rounds in the middle and that cost him greatly.  It was good to see both contestants finding IDOLATER in the second round and trying for eights in the first, even if their choices were unfortunate.  Invalid word aside, Alan's letters performance was good today; he could have done a little better, sure, but he was close and the longer words were not completely obvious.

The numbers were where both contestants needed to do better.  The first was a very solvable one, and should have been especially so for Alan given that he presumably chooses the four large option for a reason.  Similarly, the last one had many tweaking options to get close, and not getting anything down is a poor result there.  Alan has had a somewhat mixed run on the numbers, and I think that he could come a cropper due to numbers round performance if he runs into the wrong contestant (as it were).

I basically did as well as it was feasible for me to do tonight.  I solved every numbers round and had longest words on every letters round except for round 7, where I didn't know the two possible longer words.  Alan beat me to the conundrum, but I still solved it fairly quickly; some days, it would have been enough.

This win ensures that Alan is going to move to at least sixth in the rankings (his total is 239 points, ahead of Sebastian Ham); he has pushed Nick Terry out of contention at last -- Nick has been clinging to that eighth spot for quite a while! -- and I'm now in a precarious eighth position with twelve games left before the finals.  If Alan wins the next game (as seems fairly likely) then he will almost certainly overtake Daniel Chua in fifth spot, and if he successfully retires as I expect him to then he'll most likely move into second position on the table.  I'm looking forward to seeing how this plays out.

1 comment:

Sam Gaffney said...

More good play from Alan. Geoff had the nerve to accuse me of overcomplicating my answers after seeing my Round 3 solution.

My answers:

[invalid] CHAINERS [a]
247 = ((50+9+2)*100+75)/25
921=((10+5)*10+3) * 6 + 3
BARRICADE (2s) [e]

[a] You live by the -ER, you die by the -ER. So hard to predict them!
[b] Great get of IDOLATER from both players, I have only heard of it through L&N.
[c] Every serious L&N player needs to learn to spot ASTEROID.
[d] I had NUANCE, why did I switch to POUNCE? So much less elegant.
[e] I had just finished reading "Homage to Catalonia", by George Orwell. When describing the Barcelona street fighting, many references were made to the barricades the opposing sides built.