Friday, 24 February 2012

Ep 390: Roman Turkiewicz, Natalie Simmons (February 24, 2012)

Rounds: Here.

Richard asks Roman if he gets stage fright before his acting performances.  Roman admits that he does a little, but he uses it to his advantage by channelling the energy into his character, enabling him to get off to a good start.

Tonight's challenger is Natalie Simmons, a horticulture student and keen gardener.  She has loved gardens for her whole life, and has visited some great ones throughout the world.  Natalie recently visited England and saw some National Trust gardens that she says were really beautiful; she also saw some lovely gardens in California last year, and New York.  But a few of the gardens that she loves the most are in Melbourne, such as the Heide garden at the Heide Museum of Modern Art, or Rippon Lea.

There's some good back-and-forth from the contestants, together with a mutual invalid word that I have some sympathy for.  Natalie has just the better of it, and takes a slender one point lead to the critical calculation.  Unfortunately for her she is not able to take advantage of the opportunity presented, and Roman reclaims the lead.  He seals the win with another very fast solution to the conundrum, winning 44 to 28.

I did reasonably well, although I ran out of time while trying to write down one eight and overlooked another that I should have seen.  A tricky numbers round eluded everyone but I think it was findable; I'd half-tried the approach that Lily later came up with and just not paid enough attention.  Bother.  Against that, my conundrum speed was excellent tonight (and it needed to be in order to beat Roman to it), and I finished just three points behind the David and Lily combination.

As usual, details after the break.

Round 1: F E S C I R A E D

I had FIRES, FARCES, FIERCE, SCARED, and CREASED.  After time I found FAERIES for another seven, but that was my limit.

Roman has the nice seven of DECRIES, beating out Natalie's choice of DESIRE.  David saw DEFACE (so DEFACES would have been another seven) which he extended to DEFACER, and thence to DEFACERS.  It's always hard to know when a -ER word will be allowed; I'm not sure if I'd have risked it, but I didn't even see it.  Oh, well.

That seems to be the only eight; there is a near-miss: An 'are' is a unit of area equal to a hundred square metres (one hundredth of a hectare, which is not surprising since 'hectare' means "100 ares"), and a tenth of that would be a DECIARE.  Chambers lists it, and thus DECIARES, but the Macquarie does not.

There's a scattering of sevens here; one that I particularly like is FIACRES (FIACRE being another name for a hackney-coach).  More frequently arising sevens are READIES and SIDECAR / RADICES.

Natalia: DESIRE

Scores: Roman 7, Natalie 0, me 7

Round 2: N U T D A L T E O

I had DAUNT, ADULT, wondered about LEADOUT (I think I was confusing it with 'lead-off' -- it's not valid, anyway), TOTALED (US spelling that I was confident would be listed, as indeed it is), and also wondered about UNDEALT.  I wasn't comfortable enough with the safety of UNDEALT to pass up the points, so went with the American spelling although I'd have preferred not to.

After time I saw NUTATED but knew from previous checks that it is not listed.  The anagrams ATTUNED / TAUNTED are; ATTUNES was a possibility in the previous game, in fact -- if I'd remembered that then this round might have gone much more easily.  I also saw LUNATED (I mentioned this word in episode 331), which is a safe anagram of the invalid UNDEALT.  And if only we could double that L then UNALLOTTED would be there... but then we'd be playing a different game.  Checking up on some OUT- possibilities confirmed that OUTDATE was valid.

Both contestants have sixes -- there are a lot of them -- while David has found the seven. 

The seven "best" letters to use are NTDALEO, and I wanted to form a seven from them but couldn't.  It does exist, though: TALONED.  That seems like a handy one to remember, and I'm a bit bothered that I missed it.  The other sevens are OUTLAND and NOTATED.

Natalie: LOANED

Scores: Roman 7 (13), Natalie 0 (6), me 14

Round 3: Target 964 from 25 50 100 2 10 4

Roman persists with his choice of three of each, and once more gets a target in the 900's.  I decided to try to get there as 10*96 + 4, and it worked out pretty well: 960 = 10*(100 - 4) + 2 + 50/25.  Lily later demonstrates this same solution.

Roman is six away with 958 -- I think this was probably 958 = 10*100 - 50 + 2*4 -- but Natalie is just three away with 967 = 10*100 - 50 + 25 - 2*4.  So probably essentially the same idea, but Natalie approached from the closer 975 instead of 950 and that made the difference.

Roman: 958
Natalie: 967
Me: 964
Lily: 964

Scores: Roman 7 (13), Natalie 0 (13), me 24

First break: AIM REMIT ("Counts the hours at sea")

The cluing about TIME leads to MARITIME.

David's talk is about the camel, and then to camel case, the practice of capitalising internal letters of a compound word.  This perhaps originated in computer programming but sees widespread use these days in brand names.

Round 4: Y L N K A I E D S

I had LANKY, ALIEN, DELAYS, wondered about SLINKED (I didn't like it), and was happy to find DENIALS to replace it.  After time I found ALKYNES (with variant spelling ALKINES), and the related pair of KIDNEYS and DIALYSE.  I did look for SANDLIKE, but it is not valid.

Both contestants have opted for SLINKED, so they have my sympathies.  It is not valid, with the past tense being either SLUNK or the archaic SLANK.  David points out the acceptable anagram of KINDLES, but has gone one better to find SNEAKILY.

This is the eight I feel that I should have seen; I looked at -ILY, and at SNEAK (in part due to remembering SNEAKED being found by David in episode 353), but somehow did not put them together.

Other sevens here are NAKEDLY, KALENDS (also mentioned in episode 353), SKYLINE, and the rather odd variant spelling SNAILEY.  ELYSIAN is only listed as capitalised, so would not be allowed, and rather strangely SNIDELY does not get a mention.

Roman: [invalid]
Natalie: [invalid]

Scores: Roman 7 (13), Natalie 0 (13), me 31

Round 5: N O F R I A T G E

I had IRON, RATION, and RAFTING.  Then a final vowel was called, to my disappointment -- I'd been particularly hoping for a C for FACTORING, and my usual comments about only three vowels with -ING mixes apply.  The S would have given an easy eight of FROSTING.  I did see FRONTAGE with a second or two left but was not able to get a legible version of it written down in time.  So close!  After time I also noted FRIGATE and FOREIGN.

Both contestants have found sevens, with Natalie using the -ING for FEARING while Roman has opted for FRIGATE.  As expected, David has found FRONTAGE.

Some other familiar sevens here are TEARING / INGRATE / GRANITE / TANGIER, FAINTER, ORATING, and NEGATOR.  Less familiar ones are ENGRAFT and INGRAFT.

Natalie: FEARING

Scores: Roman 14 (20), Natalie 7 (20), me 38

Round 6: Target 558 from 25 100 50 9 7 4

Natalie also opts for three large, which is interesting.  It's a challenging mix, and I write down a quick one off with 557 = 9*50 + 100 + 7.  I try many approaches, finding many other ways to 557, but cannot get to 558 within time.

After considerable time playing with this I eventually found the factor of 6 (originally via tweakage -- I'd noted 600 - 42, but was fixated on the 600 being 4*150 instead of 6*100 for a long time) and two solutions fell out pretty easily thereafter: 558 = (100 - 7)*(50 + 4)/9 and 558 = (100 - 7)*(4 + 50/25).  (It would perhaps be more accurate to say that I noticed the easily-formable factor of 93, which made looking for ways to make the 6 tempting.)

It is also possible to use the factor of 9: 558 = 9*(50 + 4*(7 - 100/25)).

Natalie seems a little far away at 550; surely one of the small numbers was left available to add on to it and so get closer?  However, Roman is one away with the same approach that I used.  That breaks the tie and gives him a seven point lead.

Lily is also stumped, but has found a solution after the break.  Her solution is 558 = 4*(100 + 25 + (9 - 7)) + 50.  That's a nice solution, using the three small numbers to get the 8 and tweakage to allow the 550 to be made regardless.  Once again, this was an approach that I pretty much looked at and discarded without proper consideration.  I saw the 550 from it, but not the tweak that turns it from one away to on target.  A careless oversight.

Roman: 557
Natalie: 550
Me: 557

Scores: Roman 21 (27), Natalie 7 (20), me 45

Second break: TRAM WOKE ("What David is to Lily")

I saw TEAMWORK in the anagram, but the clue makes it clear that WORKMATE is the desired answer.

Round 7: S U P R I T C E H

I had SPUR, RIPS, TRIPS, CITRUS, CRUISE, PUTSCH ("a revolt or uprising"), and PITCHERS.  No such thing as a SUPERITCH, alas.

Roman has THRICE for six, but Natalie has also found PITCHERS for eight and what may end up being a decisive single point lead.  As it was spoken, there was the possibility that Natalie had meant PICTURES, but as David notes that is also there.  She is asked to clarify just to be clear, and had PITCHERS.  David has also found an anagram of PICTURES: PIECRUST.

The other eight is yet another anagram of it: CUPRITES (CUPRITE being a mineral).  Some of the sevens are PITCHES, CIPHERS / SPHERIC (acceptable alternative for SPHERICAL), CUSHIER, RICHEST, HIRSUTE, HIPSTER, and TRICEPS.


Scores: Roman 21 (27), Natalie 15 (28), me 53

Round 8: Target 390 from 75 50 25 10 4 3

Natalie continues with the balanced mix; I'm not sure what I think about that -- if she can solve it and Roman cannot then she wins, otherwise it all comes down to the conundrum.  An easy game makes it likely she carries a lead into it, while more difficult ones could give Roman the advantage.  Strategically it is not obvious what to do, and in such cases it is usually right to fall back on your strengths; she seems to regard the balanced mix as that, so fair enough.

The target is obviously ten away from 400, and I quickly found 390 = 4*(75 + 25) - 10.  There's a few variants in how to get that 400.  Another solution (found after time) uses the factor of 10 instead: 390 = (75 + 3)/(50/25)*10, although realising that this is a disguised 78*5 gives a simpler solution: 390 = (75 + 3)*50/10.

Natalie has ended up ten away with 380.  I'm going to guess that she got fixated on the factor of 10 but found getting the 39 tough, ending up with 380 = 10*(50 - 3*4).  That was a line I went down, similarly struggling before I found how to get 39 as 78/2.  Roman has managed to get one off with 389 = (75 + 50)*3 + 10 + 4.  Spotting that way to get to 375 was good, but he could have made it even better by getting the final 15 from 25 - 10: 390 = (75 + 50)*3 + 25 - 10.  Still, he takes the points and has the lead going into the conundrum.

Lily used the first of the solutions that I gave.

Roman: 389
Natalie: 380
Me: 390
Lily: 390

Scores: Roman 21 (34), Natalie 15 (28), me 63


So it comes down to the conundrum, as expected.  The V leads me quickly to a -IVE ending, and I have the answer less than two seconds in.  For the second time in a row Roman buzzes in shortly after I restart the video; and in fact Natalie is only a small fraction of a second behind him.  Unfortunately for her, Roman's answer is correct and the victory is his.

Watching the footage again more closely, it appears that Natalie found the answer earlier: Her hand hovers over the button, making a couple of almost-presses before she does press it.  It looks very much like she saw the answer instinctively but double-checked that it was correct... costing her that crucial half second which allowed Roman to swoop in.  I can certainly empathise with that.

Roman: DEFECTIVE (2.5s)
Natalie: [no answer]
Me: DEFECTIVE (1.5s)

Final scores: Roman 21 (44), Natalie 15 (28), me 73

This was a close-fought game and a very tight finish.  Some good words from both players, but the numbers work could have done with some improvement.  Excellent conundrum speed from both; Natalie may well rue that checking time.  She had the chance to seal it in the previous numbers round, though, so the conundrum can't be entirely blamed.  Roman was perhaps fortunate, but took advantage of the opportunities he was given and survives to play again.  He may still yet make the finals, so we'll have to see how next week plays out.

1 comment:

Sam Gaffney said...

Poor Natalie had some great answers. I watched on slow-motion and could barely see any difference in when the two contestants buzzed for the conundrum. Whatever the split, I think it was much closer than the half-second that Richard suggested.

My answers:

964 = (100-4)*10 + 2 + 50/25
559 = (4+7)*50 + 9 [a]
390 = (75+25)*4 - 10
DEFECTIVE (1s) [b]

[a] Straight after time got:
9*50+100 + (25+7)/4