Thursday, 16 February 2012

Ep 383: Alan Nash, Richard Gadsby (February 15, 2012)

Richard asks Alan if there have been any highlights or particular moments that he remembers from his games.  Alan responds that he has learned two things: Firstly, that the heavyweight number mix is not always your friend (something I have been noticing for him, and will comment more on later); and secondly, that every time you think you see a seven you can rely on David to find an eight.

Tonight's challenger is subeditor Richard Gadsby.  At one point in his journalism career he was reporting on a local football team; on his last day in charge of that the club management sent him a surprise farewell gift on the pitch.  He went down to receive it and when the announcer broadcast who he was a section of the crowd started booing.  He hypothesises that they were fans of some of the players that he had "given a bit of a drubbing to".

Alan obviously hopes to win this game to be a retiring champion; as I mentioned in yesterday's post, he will move into second place if he can win with a score of 55 or more.  He finds some good form with the letters again, only bettered twice by David and solving the conundrum very quickly.  Yet again the numbers prove difficult for him and he only gets to the target once.  Richard does not manage to do as well as Alan in either realm, however, and on the final numbers round Alan passes the desired 55 points.  The conundrum seals it, and Alan retires with a comprehensive 69 to 15 victory.

I made two errors in the letters rounds, missing words I should have seen.  The first was a poor result that conceded points, while the second was missing a longer word to gain points with a risky fallback that fortunately came good.  I wasn't able to solve the conundrum within time, either, but fortunately I had solid results on the numbers tonight and just edged out Alan for a narrow win.

As usual, details after the jump.

Round 1: P R A I E N T S A

This was almost a very coincidental round: Just earlier in the day I'd been considering an almost identical mix except that the final vowel was an O.  I was willing that O to appear this time for PATRONISE, but no joy.  Instead I had PAIR, PAINTER, PAINTERS / PANTRIES, ASPIRATE, and ASPIRANT.  After time I found some more eights: PARASITE, PERTAINS, and ARTESIAN.

Both contestants have eights, with Richard going for PAINTERS while Alan chooses the more interesting PARASITE.  David likes it, and jokingly inverts Alan's earlier comments by claiming to have only found PAINTER for seven.

There are a few eights here (I like PARTISAN as one of the unmentioned ones) but there is actually a full monty to be had: SEPTARIAN, the adjective derived from SEPTARIUM ("a concretionary nodule or mass, usually of calcium carbonate or of argillaceous carbonate of iron, traversed within by a network of cracks filled with calcite and other minerals").  It's not very surprising that it wasn't found.

Staying with three vowels only would have brought in an M to replace that final A, allowing the much more familiar full monty of SPEARMINT.


Scores: 8 apiece

Round 2: M E R U A D T O W

I had REAM, DREAM, and MATURED.  I amused myself by considering OUTWARMED, but not seriously.

Richard has only been able to manage the five of MUTED, which is unfortunate -- there's quite a few findable ones (I recall noticing TOWARD and MEADOW, for instance, but ROAMED and TOURED / DETOUR may be easier spots).  Alan has found OUTWARD for seven, and again the earlier comments are subverted as David has also been limited to MATURED for seven.

Sevens do seem to be the limit; there is a flowering plant called dame's violet that some sources give the alternative name of DAMEWORT, but the Macquarie is not one of them.  The other sevens available were OUTWEAR and OUTDARE / READOUT (which those with long memories may recall Shaun Ellis finding in plural form back in episode 302).

Richard: MUTED

Scores: Alan 15, Richard 8, me 15

Round 3: Target 666 from 75 25 100 50 10 1

Despite his earlier comments, Alan persists with choosing four large numbers.  The appearance of 1 does take away a lot of the possible options and the target is large enough that it could be troubling.  My first thought was to use the factor of 111, but that would require getting a 6 from 25, 50, and 75 and that is not feasible.  I also note that the target is 9 away from 675, which is 9*75.  That means that the target is 9*74, but getting that to work seems to need to use the 1 twice (amusingly enough, given my previous remark about the 1 not being as useful as other numbers).

Fortunately I recall that 675 is also formable from just the large numbers alone (the benefit of the four large mix is being able to memorise some handy facts like that) and I get the solution 666 = 25*(100 - 75) + 50 - 10 + 1.  Phew!

After time I experiment more with the 9*74 option, and end up being able to make it work: 666 = (100/25 + 50/10)*(75 - 1).  I'd have love to have seen that within time!

[Update: A commenter on the SBS website points out the solution 666 = (10*100 - 1)*50/75.  Nice one!]

Richard wasn't able to get within range at all, while Alan is just barely there with 675 = 10*50 + 100 + 75.  A small tweak (subtracting 1 from the 50) would have had him only one away.  Lily has found the first of the solutions I listed.

Alan: 675
Richard: [not in range]
Me: 666
Lily: 666

Scores: Alan 15 (20), Richard 8, me 25

First break: LIME TANG ("Glue for your bones")

An easy clue for LIGAMENT.

David's talk is about the origins of the term "Stockholm syndrome".

Round 4: S E N I F O D T E

I had SINE, FINES, FOISTED, and INFESTED.  I also observed FONDEST for seven but did not write it down.

Richard is not happy with his six of FINEST, while Alan draws the connection between his round one find of PARASITE and his effort this round of INFESTED.  David notes that SOFTENED is also there for eight.

Those do seem to be the only eights; other sevens to be had are FEINTED, DEFINES, DENOTES, and DESTINE.

Richard: FINEST

Scores: Alan 23 (28), Richard 8, me 33

Round 5: U I A L T M C E R

Up until this point I was doing well, but I lost the plot in this round.  I had TAIL, MULCT, and AMULET.  I kept seeing sixes (not written down), but despite my great certainty that at least sevens were around I simply couldn't find one.  After time I looked at it calmly, decided that the U and M were the least helpful letters, and immediately found RECITAL / ARTICLE.  That was followed fairly quickly by CLIMATE, CURTAIL, and CALUMET, Angie's excellent find from episode 368 that popped up again two games later.  Out of all the possibilities, that was the one I most should have seen since it was so close to AMULET that I had already written down.

Just as writing this up I saw MURIATE ("any chloride"; I mentioned this word back in episode 362) and while checking on it I saw the nearby MURICATE ("shaped like the murex") for eight.

Both contestants have found good sevens: CLIMATE for Richard, and MIRACLE for Alan.  David finally lives up to Alan's prediction by having found the eight of METRICAL.

The other eight here is RETICULA (plural of RETICULUM: "a network").  There was almost a nine: The Macquarie lists TULARAEMIA ("a disease of rabbits, squirrels, etc. [...]") with variant spelling TULAREMIA, but unlike Chambers fails to list the adjectival form TULAREMIC (or TULARAEMIC).

Richard: CLIMATE

Scores: Alan 30 (35), Richard 15, me 33

Round 6: Target 639 from 75 25 7 8 2 10

I wanted to use the factorisation 9*71, but the small numbers don't quite lend themselves to it.  Running out of time, I ended up trying the standard "get close and then get closer" approach and fortunately it worked, giving 639 = 8*75 + 25 + 2*7.  After time I found an alternative solution: 639 = 8*(75 + 7) - 25 + 10 - 2.

Richard is two away with 637; that could be 637 = 7*(75 + 2*8), but I think it was more likely to be 637 = 8*75 + 25 + 10 + 2.  In any case, Alan has got to the target using the first of the methods I listed; this is also the way that Lily did it.

Alan: 639
Richard: 637
Me: 639
Lily: 639

Scores: Alan 40 (45), Richard 15, me 43

Second break: SCAM HAIR ("A charming mum")

The "mum" being the MA of CHARISMA in this clue.

Round 7: I O E U B S D G N

The final letters mix, and once again I can't get settled on this.  It would be distressing to have done so well at the start and then thrown it away with two poor rounds, but it is quite possible.  I had GUIDES for six, and then BODINGS for a seven that I wasn't sure about.  I had to go with it, though, because I did not think six would be good enough.  Fortunately BODING is listed as a separate noun; a relief, although I would have liked a seven I was more confident in.

I had seen the -ING, obviously, but the letters didn't seem that compatible with it.  After time I did find DOUSING, however -- not sure why that eluded me at the time.  I also saw BUNGIES, which was much more dubious that I realised; I was thinking of BUNGEE but had got the spelling wrong.  But it turns out that BUNGIE is a New Zealand term for the silver fern and so BUNGIES would have been OK.

Richard is having similar issues to me, with just the six of BUSIED.  Alan has continued his good form by finding BUDGIES for seven.  David has gone one better again by finding BEDOUINS for eight.  That's good solving from David; I really wish I'd seen that -- I made mention of this back in episode 320, where I found it after time.  Today I wasn't anywhere close to it.

That seems to be the only eight, and aside from the obvious BEDOUIN other sevens are: DINGOES, IGNEOUS, BOUGIES (BOUGIE being a type of medical instrument, a suppository, or a wax candle), BOUSING (variant spelling of BOWSING), and GUIDONS (GUIDON: "a swallow-tailed pennant, used as a military standard").

The results of this round ensure that Alan will win the game.  And with his score just three short of needed, any points from either of the next two roundss will get him to second place in the rankings.

Richard: BUSIED

Scores: Alan 47 (52), Richard 15, me 50

Round 8: Target 246 from 7 3 1 10 2 7

With the game lost Richard gives in to urgings and goes with six small.  I make heavy going of it, wanting to use the factorisation 6*41 but not able to get it to work.  Realising that I need to get something down I start with 7*3*10 and spot that a little tweaking will see me home.  My solution is 246 = 3*(7*10 + 2*(7 - 1)).

After time I realise that what I have done is 3*82, and find the simpler form 246 = 3*((7 + 1)*10 + 2); this is the solution that Lily later demonstrates.  Then I noticed that the target is close to half of 490 and found my favourite solution: 246 = (7*7*10 + 3 - 1)/2.  Of course, what I've really done here is utilise that 245 = 5*49, so simpler versions would be 246 = 7*7*10/2 + 1 or 246 = 7*7*(3 + 2) + 1.

A little later I did find a way to get my original idea of 6*41 to work, with the solution 246 = (7 - 1)*(7*3 + 2*10).

Richard was once again unable to get in range, while Alan has ended up one away with 247 = (7*3 + 2 + 1)*10 + 7.  That ensures that he will retire in second position on the rankings, and since he did not get to the target I've ended up enough ahead to be sure of winning without needing the conundrum.  Phew!

Alan: 247
Richard: [not in range]
Me: 246
Lily: 246

Scores: Alan 47 (59), Richard 15, me 60


The Z is the obvious letter to focus on, but aside from a -IZE ending I cannot think of anything.  Alan solves it just over two seconds in; I started the alternate clock but would not have got there in time (it took me 47 seconds before I solved it).  That's an excellent quick solution from Alan.

Alan: TRAPEZOID (2.5s)
Richard: [no answer]
Me: [no answer]

Final scores: Alan 57 (69), Richard 15, me 60

Richard was simply overshadowed in this game; he had a couple of good words but not enough, and he could not make up any ground during the numbers rounds.  I hope he will take some consolation from going out against arguably the second-best player of the series so far.

Alan is a deserved retiring champion, with some great wordplay throughout his appearances.  I wasn't often able to best him in the letters, and he definitely had the edge on the conundrums.  However, he is very catchable in the numbers and his consistent choice of four large is a dangerous one for him.  He has rarely looked completely comfortable with it, and his gains have mostly come from the other contestants being even less so.  That is not going to apply in the finals, and if he goes up against Sam Gaffney he is likely to come out much the worse for it.

Some statistics on Alan's numbers efforts: Eight of the eighteen rounds have been four large (seven by his choice, one by Peter Shantier).  In those rounds he gained 39 points and conceded 17, for a respectable average; however, against me he conceded 47 and had no gain.  It is much the same as his results with the other numbers, interestingly enough: On the remaining ten rounds he gained 37 points and conceded 14 against his opponents, and against me he conceded 44 points for no gain once more.  His good word skills may see him home regardless, but he cannot afford to be consistently giving up that many points on the numbers.

On the other hand, the only time he has conceded points in a letters round was due to a risky (and ultimately invalid) try when the game was already won.  That's a statistic which anyone would love to have, and his finals performance may well highlight the differences in scoring opportunities between the letters and the numbers.  I shall, of course, be watching with keen interest.

There's not much to say about my performance today that I've not already said.  Round five was very poor, and round seven was fortuitously better.  True to form, though, the numbers allowed me to scrape home with a lucky win.


Mark said...

I liked David's "a tick for parasite".

Geoff Bailey said...

Heh, I missed that completely at the time; thanks for pointing it out, Mark!

Anonymous said...

Don't know if it's in your dictionary but DEBUSING is a nice -ING and seems to be an acceptable spelling in some parts of the world

Geoff Bailey said...

A worthy try, but the Macquarie requires a double S in DEBUSSING. It may come up some day, so thank you for drawing my attention to it.

Sam Gaffney said...

Great reign of six episodes from Alan, but I liked the way that Richard Gadsby kept his chin up even with the score going against him.

My answers:

666 = (100*50*10+25)/75-1 [b]
639 = (75+25-8)*7 - 10/2
246 = 7*7*(3+2) + 1
TRAPEZOID (1s) [c]

[a] *sigh* I have learned SEPTARIAN before, as a RETSINA** word, but it is a hard one to remember, due to its obscurity.
[b] Finally, a chance to use my 67 trick. This would be cool on the show, as the subtotal is 50025. Also wrote Lily's way in time, later I saw:
The SBS commenter's solution you mentioned is very cool.