Friday, 17 February 2012

Ep 385: Christopher Piggott-McKellar, Donna McDaid (February 17, 2012)

Christopher's hobby is cross-stitch; he finds it a great way to unwind.  During the AFL season there's nothing he likes more than watching or playing a game of AFL and then going home to unwind with a bit of embroidery.  It's what he likes to call "going from the pitch to the stitch".  He has been doing it for probably around ten years now (it was noted yesterday that he is 23); his mother first got him into it when he was "a young whippersnapper".

Tonight's challenger is Donna McDaid, an accounts assistant and keen traveller.  She has been in Australia for a year and a half now, but before that she travelled a lot.  When she first left England she went to South America: Peru, Bolivia, Brazil, Argentina.  At Machu Picchu she learned to never climb another mountain.  Heh.

I'm afraid that Donna isn't able to show her best form tonight; she only manages four valid answers during the game.  Christopher had two more valid answers which is a considerable advantage, but it was the final numbers round that was most significant.  He was eight points ahead going into that, so if things went well for Donna she could have taken a lead into the conundrum.  The result went the other way, however, with Christopher finding a good solution to take an unbeatable lead and eventually the game, 36 to 18.

I wasn't really in bad form today, but I wasn't hitting the high notes.  I stumbled in the last numbers round where a solution was tough but findable, but finished in positive fashion by solving the conundrum.  That lifted my score into the 60's yet again, for a fairly consistent week.

As usual, details after the jump.

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

Good letters, although a duplicated R can be hampering.  I had REDS, RIDERS, SERRIED, DESTRIER, and SERRATED.  After time I found ARRESTED, ARTERIES, and READIEST, but could not get a nine out of it.

Both contestants have sevens, Christopher with TARDIER and Donna with SERATED.  That's not the right spelling, though, and her answer is invalid.  She was so close to a valid word -- all she needed to do was insert that second R for a fifteen point turnaround.

David has found the full monty that eluded me: DREARIEST.  Well done, David!

The other eights in this mix are TREADERS / RETREADS and STEADIER.  Chambers has a verb sense of SERIATE, meaning that it would allow SERIATED, but the Macquarie only lists SERIATE as an adjective.  Neither mentions RERAISE, which may be a surprise to poker players, so RERAISED would not be allowed.

Christopher: TARDIER
Donna: [invalid]

Scores: Christopher 0 (7), Donna 0, me 8

Round 2: N C O I A L N T E

Again, good letters with duplication.  If we could just have thrown away that E the next vowel was a U for CONTINUAL.  In any case, I had COIN / ICON, recalled that I'd looked up CANNOLI before and it wasn't there (to my surprise at the time), NATION, wandered about and correctly rejected ENACTION, and settled, not entirely happily, on ANCIENT.  After time I found some more sevens: CONTAIN, ACONITE, LECTION.

Donna seems to think her seven is very risky, and Christopher responds with the safe six of CLIENT.  Donna is correct; her selection of COILATE is not valid, and that's an early 13 point lead to Christopher.

David has found another full monty!  Sometimes just knowing for sure that one exists is a great help, and after another minute I find it: OCTENNIAL.  Great solving from David tonight!

Aside from that nine, sevens seem to be the best.  David mentions ELATION in passing (I'll note it has the anagram of TOENAIL, which is more safely pluralisable), contrasting it with DREARIEST from the previous round, and probably reflecting his feelings after finding a second full monty.

Christopher: CLIENT
Donna: [invalid]

Scores: Christopher 0 (13), Donna 0, me 15

Round 3: Target 638 from 100 75 1 1 2 10

Christopher sticks with the family mix and that pair of ones is troubling, as is the lack of spread in the small numbers.  I'd noted as the numbers went up that 4*175 was 700, but it's a bit far away to be useful.  Instead I fall back on trying to get close, and find that a little tweaking rather fortunately gives a solution: 638 = 10*(75 - 1) - 100 - 2.  Phew!

Neither contestant has managed to get close, which is understandable -- with numbers like that it's going to be a case of solving it or being nowhere near.  Lily has found the solution I gave; it turns out to be the only one.

I'll note a very near miss, because it amuses me: 637½ = 75*(100 + 1 + 1)/(10 + 2).

Christopher: [not in range]
Donna: [not in range]
Me: 638
Lily: 638

Scores: Christopher 0 (13), Donna 0, me 25

First break: EDGY HORN ("Number one element")

I solved this anagram pretty quickly (it's in an example letters round on the Countdown Wikipedia page), but the clue completely gives away HYDROGEN as the anwer.

David's talk is about countries that are also words, usually because of some product exported from them.  The ones he gives are turkey (a bird), morocco (a type of leather), guinea (a gold coin), china (porcelain), japan (a lacquer), brazil (a tree), and jordan.  I was aware of all of these as words except for brazil (a reversal of the trend in that the country is named after the tree) and jordan, which David says was World War II slang for a toilet.  My Chambers says that it is a Shakespearean word for a chamberpot, which would be a compatible definition.  He describes them all as "listed and legit" as he pats the Macquarie, but I'll note that the Macquarie does not list jordan.

Round 4: J T U I E D R M O

I had JUTE, TIRED, MITRED, and OUTRIDE.  This was a case -- although I wouldn't have tried it -- where a fifth vowel would have freed up the mix, with the A allowing AUDITOR and READOUT.

Fives from the contestants on this difficult mix, with Donna having MUTED and Christopher going for the invalid DRUIT.  David has found OUTRIDE and that does seem to be the best possible, and even the only seven.

There were some findable sixes, though: TOURED / DETOUR / ROUTED and EDITOR / RIOTED.  TEDIUM was another, perhaps a bit less easy to see but harking back to DREARIEST in round one.

Christopher: [invalid]
Donna: MUTED

Scores: Christopher 0 (13), Donna 0 (5), me 32

Round 5: C R H M A E A O T

I had CHARM, CREAM, and REMATCH.  Just after time I saw CHROMATE, and wondered about ACHROMATE.  The former is good, but the latter is not (although the Macquarie does list ACHROMATIC).  I'm disappointed not to have found CHROMATE in time; more so than the two missed full monties, although I would have loved to see them.  It was a pretty findable word.

Donna has five again with CHARM, while Christopher tries MATCHER for seven.  He's not certain about it, but it turns out to be good and his lead is up to 15.  David has accurately found CHROMATE.

The other eights here are TRACHOMA ("a contagious inflammation of the conjunctiva of the eyelids [...]") and ATHEROMA (a form of arteriosclerosis).  Another seven was TRACHEA.

Christopher: MATCHER
Donna: CHARM

Scores: Christopher 7 (20), Donna 0 (5), me 39

Round 6: Target 176 from 75 7 2 5 6 9

Donna goes for a single large number, and gets a good spread of small numbers and a low target.  I started with 176 = 2*(75 + 7 + 6), then pulled out more factors to get 176 = (6 + 5)*(7 + 9).  Just as time was running out I wrote down another approach: 176 = 75 + (5 + 6)*9 + 2.

Christopher is six away with 170; I can't think of a way of getting that without being able to easily get closer.  Donna is only three away with 173 = (75 + 9)*2 + 5.  She could have gotten closer by adding 7 instead of 5, or solved it exactly with 7 + 6 - 5.  Oh, well. It's seven much-needed points for her, in any case.

Lily has used the first of those solutions that I gave.  And I'm now enough ahead that I'm guaranteed to win this game.

Christopher: 170
Donna: 173
Me: 176
Lily: 176

Scores: Christopher 7 (20), Donna 0 (12), me 49

Second break: GENT FARM ("Just a little part")

I could swear I've seen this before recently; perhaps on an episode of Countdown.  It's a straight clue for FRAGMENT, in any case.

Round 7: G S T B I E A D I

I'd have definitely tried a consonant at the end, hoping for an N for DEBASING or an R for BRIGADES.  I had BITS, BITES, and AGISTED.

Both contestants have sixes; there's a few fairly easy ones with -ED in play.  David has likewise found AGISTED, and that looks like the only seven and a perfect game for David today.

Christopher: DIGEST

Scores: Christopher 7 (26), Donna 0 (18), me 56

Round 8: Target 807 from 25 2 10 9 4 9

Richard tries to tempt Donna into doing something rash, but she remarks that she doesn't think she can afford it.  There's a bit to be said each way for it; she can't afford to concede points, but if neither of them can get anywhere then she'll still have a chance going into the conundrum.  But I do think she is better off going to the level she is comfortable with, and she chooses a single large number again.

It's a large target, and with only a 25 to work with it could be challenging.  My first thought is to preserve a 9 and 2 and get to 800 with the rest, but I simply can't make it work.  In the end I'm two away with 809 = 25*4*(10 - 2) + 9.

After time I see that it is very easy to get one closer with 808 = 9*9*10 - 2.  Whoops!  And then a little tweaking of that yields an answer: 807 = 9*(9*10 + 2) + 4 - 25.

Donna has not been able to get anywhere with this, but Christopher has found a good solution: 807 = (4*25 - 9)*9 - 2 - 10.  Nice work, Christopher!  That solid solution guarantees him the victory.

No mention of what Lily did on this one.

Christopher: 807
Donna: [not in range]
Me: 809

Scores: Christopher 17 (36), Donna 0 (18), me 56


Down to the conundrum, and the -ABLE ending stands out a mile.  I was a little slow to pull out the remaining letters, but got there a little over three seconds in.  Christopher buzzes in at the 12 second mark, but his guess of ELABORATE is incorrect.  Donna is not able to find the answer within the remaining time.

Christopher: [invalid] (12s)
Donna: [no answer]
Me: TOLERABLE (3.5s)

Final scores: Christopher 17 (36), Donna 0 (18), me 66

A low scoring game tonight, possibly the second-lowest of the series.  (I've not attempted to check that, but episode 329 is definitely still the lowest.)  Quite odd, in a game where two full monties were available!  Arguably Donna's two invalid words cost her the game; if she had spelled SERRATED correctly and settled for a six-letter word in the second round she would have won 32 to 29.  And yes, I realise that I'm cherrypicking counterfactuals.  Christopher did enough on the letters to win and rounded it out with an excellent solve in the final numbers game.  He looks vulnerable, but will it show up in the next two games?  If not, I'm out of finals contention, so obviously I'm invested in this.

I managed to do decently in the letters today, but DREARIEST and CHROMATE were definitely findable, particularly the latter.  The last numbers game had a few easy routes to one away that I should have seen, and I'd liked to have been faster on the conundrum.  All in all, a decent game that needed only a little bit more to be good or even great.


Anonymous said...

Donna McDaid. Yes I did extremely poor, it's a lot easier when you are sitting at home I assure you.

Geoff Bailey said...

Welcome, Donna, and thank you for the correction; I have updated the post to fix your name. Addtionally, I have emended the opening performance summary to hopefully better convey my intent; I apologise unreservedly if you were upset by my tone or wording.

I disagree about the assessment you gave of your performance; the invalid words were unfortunate but worthy tries.

I do appreciate the difference between playing in the studio and at home, and also how the first game is always the hardest. The run-through at the start of the day doesn't really prepare one for it all.

Sam Gaffney said...

Great solve from Christopher in Round #8 under pressure.

632 = (10-2-1)*(75+1)+100
176 = 2*(75 + 7 + 6)
807 = (25*4-9)*9-10-2