Thursday, 16 February 2012

Ep 384: Christopher Piggott-McKellar, Tiahn Hannaford (February 16, 2012)

Two new contestants tonight after Alan's successful retirement yesterday.  In the champion's seat is Christopher Piggott-McKellar, a policy advisor for the Queensland government.  He did a little freelance radio journalism after he finished university and before he started working for the government.  That let him travel a lot and visit some pretty amazing places in northern Australia, and Arnhem Land in particular.  He feels very privileged to have done so, and thinks that everyone should explore our continent -- it's a marvellous place.

In the challenger's seat is high school student Tiahn Hannaford.  Tiahn wants to study psychology after she finishes school; she is really interested in looking at how the human brain works, and how people relate to one another.  She's interested in more than "just counselling people"; she wants to look at the quirky things that they do and find out why.  This makes me think of The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat.

The contestants mostly find sixes in the letters, with some lower and a single seven.  The numbers go a bit each way, but Tiahn missed a findable target in the first numbers round and that ten point difference carried over all the way to the conundrum.  She still had a chance if she could have solved it, but it was a tough one tonight; Chrisopher took the win, 45 to 35.

Nine-letters words were my weakness in this game, which is not unusual.  I missed the available full monty, and was not able to solve the conundrum until well after time was up.  Still, it was a pretty comfortable win in the end, continuing this week's run of scores in the sixties.

As usual, details after the jump.

Round 1: M R D G E I A T S

I had GERM, GRIMED, MIRAGE, AGISTED, and READMITS.  After time I saw MAGISTER, but it turns out not to be in the Macquarie.

Both contestants have found sixes, which is a bit short of the mark with such common and compatible letters.  David has seen MIGRATED in the first eight and had been hoping that Christopher would call a vowel, with an E giving EMIGRATED.  With the S, however, eight was his limit.

There's a lot of sevens to be found, and the other eights here are MIGRATES / RAGTIMES.

Christopher: GRADES

Scores: Christopher 0 (6), Tiahn 0 (6), me 8

Round 2: N L E T A U R B I

I had LENT, LEANT, NATURE, BLUNTER, wondered about RUINABLE (later checking shows that it is listed), URINATE, and TRIBUNAL.

Christopher has BRUTAL for six again, outdoing Tiahn who has only managed LATER for five.  David draws their attention to the fact that the E was the first vowel, and says that this time he wanted a final consonant, hoping for an N for TURNTABLE.  Fair enough, but an E was better odds and would have given TENURABLE.  (The other possible full monty arises from an S and SUBALTERN.)

It looks like Christopher is set on three vowels and Tiahn is set on four.  If they had been in the other positions then that would not only have given EMIGRATED in the first round, but TRIBUNALS in this one.  Two full monties hinged on the choice of seating.

The other eights here are URBANITE (city-dweller) / BRAUNITE (a mineral), TURBINAL, and TENURIAL.

Christopher: BRUTAL
Tiahn: LATER

Scores: Christopher 0 (12), Tiahn 0 (6), me 16

Round 3: Target 340 from 50 9 6 1 10 8

Christopher goes for a single large number, and it's fairly approachable.  Standard approaches work by 7*50, and I went with 340 = (6 + 1)*50 - 10.  There's also a few ways via 34*10, and within time I found 340 = (50 - 9 - 8 + 1)*10.  After time I was able to get the factor of 17 to work via 340 = (9 + 8)*(10 + 50/(6 - 1)).  A variant of both ideas is 340 = 10*(50 + 1)*6/9.

Tiahn hasn't been able to get near, and that's unfortunate for her.  There's a lot of ways of getting close, so I'm going to assume this was a case of looking for an exact solution that eluded her and not having a fallback in place.  Not that a fallback would have helped as Christopher has reached the target with a minor variation of my first solution: 340 = (8 - 1)*50 - 10.

Lily demonstrates a different approach: 340 = 8*50 - 6*10, which does seem pretty simple.

Christopher: 340
Tiahn: [not in range]
Me: 340
Lily: 340

Scores: Christopher 10 (22), Tiahn 0 (6), me 26

First break: PONY ITCH ("You won't be able to draw yourself away from this answer")

My first attempt at solving the anagram was PYTHONIC (it can mean either 'oracular' or 'python-like'), but eventually I was able to see that the intended answer was HYPNOTIC.

David's talk is about phrases involving place names, and particularly Rome.  He mentions "All roads lead to Rome", "Rome wasn't built in a day", "When in Rome, do as the Romans do", and "To fiddle while Rome burns".  He rounds out by noting that 'Bangalore' is acquiring a meaning of outsourcing.

Round 4: N D N M A O E U T

This round hurts a bit.  After the four consonants went up all I could think to complete them was MANNED.  The O in the middle held out prospects of other words, though, and I ended up with DAMN, MONAD, MOANED, UNNAMED, UNTAMED, and MOUNTED / DEMOUNT.  I prefer to avoid UN- words where possible, although I was sure these would be all right (they are), so I was glad to have MOUNTED in their place.

I ran out of time a bit later, which may have saved me from an error; when I found MOUNTED I briefly considered AMOUNTED then rejected it.  But a little more thought after time made a verb sense for AMOUNT seem plausible, with possible sentences such as "No <member of group> has ever amounted to anything".  The Macquarie does list that sense, but only as attached to the phrase AMOUNT TO; the show's rules state that allowed words must stand alone rather than be part of phrases, so AMOUNTED would be invalid.

After having gone through all that, I saw the anagram of UNNAMED that had been nagging at me throughout this: MUNDANE.  And then I finally looked at OUT- as a beginning and instantly saw OUTMANNED.  Bother!

Tiahn has MOANED for six, but Christopher is a step ahead again with MOUNTED; that gives him a 23 point lead and Tiahn is in big trouble.  David has found the nine, slightly mollifying him after the earlier rounds' almost-nines.

The other sevens here are UNMEANT, UNNOTED, TONNEAU ("a rear body or compartment of a motor car with seats for passengers" -- it can be pluralised with either S or X, incidentally), NOUMENA (plural of NOUMENON: "a thing in itself, as distinguished from a phenomenon or thing as it appears to us"), and MONTANE ("mountainous").  There is also an eight: UNATONED.

Christopher: MOUNTED

Scores: Christopher 17 (29), Tiahn 0 (6), me 33

Round 5: Q S D R I E A O A

Christopher asks Lily to dazzle him with a consonant, and gets the Q.  Ouch.  He goes chasing after the U and definitely persisted too long in doing so -- the U would not have led to any gain at the end there.  I had RIDES, RAISED, ROADIES, and was mentally urging him to choose a final consonant, hoping for a T for ASTEROID.  It would have been, too.  But with the A, I'm unable to make any improvement on ROADIES.

Both contestants have gone for RAISED, while David has ROADIES.  It looks like the only seven, and there are a couple more common sixes.

Christopher: RAISED

Scores: Christopher 17 (35), Tiahn 0 (12), me 40

Round 6: Target 125 from 100 50 6 4 1 6

Tiahn goes for the traditional family mix, and turns up a very low and easy target.  I started with 125 = 100 + 6*4 + 1, then moved on to 125 = 100 + 50/(6 - 4) and 125 = (100/4)*(6 - 1).

Both contestants have reached the target, with Christopher using the first of those solutions while Tiahn and Lily used the second.

Christopher: 125
Tiahn: 125
Me: 125
Lily: 125

Scores: Christopher 27 (45), Tiahn 10 (22), me 50

Second break: FIERY COT ("An aggressively large town")

The town cluing the CITY of FEROCITY.  (CITY was also present in the letters of the earlier word mix, but since no mention of a town was made then I knew to avoid that ending.  Amusing, in its way.)

Round 7: T E I E C F R T G

I really wanted a final N for FRENETIC, but no such luck.  Chasing a differeing vowel would be reasonable, and an A would yield TRIFECTA (an O gives COTERIE, a U gives CURETTE).  The G isn't much help to any of us, though.  I had CITE and RECITE.  After time I spotted some other sixes, but the only one I liked enough to write down was TERCET.

Christopher has only been able to manage FEET, while Tiahn has given herself a chance by getting FITTER.  David has taken his cue from the word mix over the break and selected FIERCE for his six.

There is a seven here, and it does use the G: TERGITE ("a dorsal sclerite of an arthropod"; in slightly less opaque -- and less precise -- language, that is a back plate of an insect, arachnid, or crustacean).

Christopher: FEET

Scores: Christopher 27 (45), Tiahn 16 (28), me 56

Round 8: Target 711 from 25 75 8 9 7 7

Tiahn needs to get unanswered points here to have a chance going into the conundrum; seven points will be enough for that, which improves her odds.  The small numbers are clustered, which can be troublesome; the target is on the large side and just a little awkward.  I wanted to get to 725 and subtract both sevens, but I couldn't manage it.  In the end I fell back to one away with 710 = 7*(75 + 25) + 9 + 8 - 7.

Immediately after time I saw the factor of 9, which I should have looked at before.  That quickly led me to a solution: 711 = 9*(75 + (25 + 7)/8).  Much later I found a way to get to the target from 725, although it needed some tweaking: 711 = 7*(75 - (9 - 7)) + 8*25.

Tiahn is four away on 715, which gives her a chance.  Christopher is two better with 709 = 75*9 + 25 + 9, but he has used the 9 twice and his attempt is invalid.  (It is possible to change the second 9 to 8 + 7/7, but he did not, of course.)  That means that Tiahn is still in contention, and her answer of 715 = (75 + 25)*7 + 8 + 7 is valid and gets her seven points, closing the gap just far enough.  (Note that she could have got closer to the target by simply adding the 9 instead of 8 + 7.)

Lily has found a difficult solution to spot, at least I think so: 711 = (75 + 9)*8 + 25 + 7 + 7.  Nice work, Lily!

Christopher: [invalid]
Tiahn: 715
Me: 710
Lily: 711

Scores: Christopher 27 (45), Tiahn 16 (35), me 63


Down to the conundrum, and Tiahn is precisely ten points adrift.  If she can solve this one then we will go to a tiebreaker.  But it proves too difficult for everyone, myself included; it takes me about a minute extra before I see REMINISCE.

Christopher: [no answer]
Tiahn: [no answer]
Me: [no answer]

Final scores: Chrisopher 27 (45), Tiahn 16 (35), me 63

If only Tiahn had solved that conundrum this could have been a great comeback and a memorable game.  Sadly it was not to be; in the end, I feel that the first numbers round was where she lost tonight.  It was fairly approachable but perhaps early game nerves troubled her.  I don't think either contestant was as on top of the letters as they could have been, but we'll get to see how Christopher manages tomorrow.

Missing the conundrum was a shame, but I think it was a difficult one.  I feel that I should have solved the final numbers game, but I didn't pay enough attention to the factor of 9.  And I threw away a full monty by not noticing OUT- early enough, which is the big regret for me tonight.  It's still a decent game, but I guess I focus on how it could have been better.  One more day in the week to try and get to the 70's...

You may recall Richard's farewell tonight; it threw David, as can be seen in the bloopers footage.

1 comment:

Sam Gaffney said...

Tiahn is certainly the most adorable contestant I have seen on L&N. As for Christopher's yellow jacket - outrageous. I think a 10-point deduction may have been in order here.

Tough last three rounds today. My answers:

340 = (6+1)*50-10
125 = 100 + 6*4 + 1
710 = (75+25)*7 + 9+8-7

[a] Not only did I miss MIGRATE+S/D until looking up TRADIES, I only just got a seven in time. Great-looking mix, but not as easy as I thought.
[b] Like OUTRANGED, which I got you with once before, Geoff.