Roman is learning to play the tabla (Indian drums). He says it is quite difficult, and there's actually a language associated with the drumming -- the beats have their own letters and phrases associated to them. (These are mentioned in the link above.)

Tonight's challenger is mathematician Norm Do. Richard asks what Norm is researching, and Norm doesn't really give an answer; he just says "pure mathematics". That's like an author being asked what they write and responding with "books". A more detailed answer (courtesy of his webpage) is that he studies geometry and topology, and in particular moduli spaces of curves. Not that this is necessarily more informative to the layperson, but I think he could have made a brief description of topology and that would have worked much better.

There's some tough mixes tonight, particularly in the letters. Norm starts out with a good word to get ahead, and extends his lead in each of the numbers rounds. Roman just isn't able to outdo him at all, and is beaten to the conundrum for a change. That gives Norm a comprehensive victory, 67 to 16.

I felt pretty poorly about my performance, starting out by falling behind in the first round. I managed to claw my way back to a lead but was never comfortable, and missed a couple of chances to seal it before the conundrum. In the end I got to it first, but it was a wobbly win.

As usual, details after the jump.

**Round 1: H O N S E T I N A**

I just could not get going on this mix; I had SHIN, HOIST, and TISANE. After time I finally saw NATIONS. Gah.

Roman has SONNET for six, but Norm has found TENSION for an excellent seven. David has an anagram of it: INTONES.

Other sevens are ANOINTS, HISTONE ("any of a class of basic proteins [...]"), and STHENIA ("

*Pathology*strength; excessive vital force"). But the eight is SONATINE, a plural of SONATINA ("a short or simplified sonata").

Roman: SONNET

Norm: TENSION

Me: TISANE

David: INTONES

Scores: Roman 0, Norm 7, me 0

**Round 2: G E L Y U A M D I**

A mess of poorly matching letters. I had UGLY, GLEAM, and MAILED. After time I added GAMELY and IMAGED, but a seven seemed very far away.

Fives from the contestants, but David has found the seven of GAUDILY. Well done, David!

There is another seven here, one of my favourite words but I missed it: MIAULED (MIAUL being one of the variant spellings of MEOW).

But once again there is an eight! It's the somewhat obscure AMYGDULE, variant spelling of AMYGDALE: "an almond-shaped cavity in an igneous rock, formed by the expansion of steam and later filled with minerals".

That's five points to Roman, enough to knock Christopher out of the finals if Roman loses this game.

Roman: MIDGE

Norm: MADLY

Me: MAILED

David: GAMELY, GAUDILY

Scores: Roman 0 (5), Norm 7 (12), me 6

**Round 3: Target 194 from 100 75 50 2 9 1**

Roman continues his three-and-three ways, and gets a low target that still has a little bite to it. I found 194 = 100 + 75 + 2*9 + 1, and somewhat after time the more interesting 194 = 2*100 - (9*50)/75.

Roman has 198, which is presumably 198 = 2*(100 - 1), but Norm has got to the target with the same solution as my first approach. No mention of Lily's approach, but I'd imagine it was the same.

That puts Roman 16 points behind already, which is definitely danger territory.

Roman: 198

Norm: 194

Me: 194

Scores: Roman 0 (5), Norm 17 (22), me 16

**First break: DOVE SLAB ("Off the hook")**

A straight clue for ABSOLVED.

David's talk is about the origin of the word

*applaud*, and its relation to

*explode*.

**Round 4: C E T P A D O T R**

I had CAPE, TAPED / ADEPT, COATED, PROTECT, and ROTATED. My mind kept trying to double that R for PROTRACTED, but fortunately I did not give in to that error.

Both contestants have sixes this time, with Norm's CARPET a match for Roman's DEPORT. David has found PROTECT as well, then gone one better with TETRAPOD (a four-limbed animal) for eight.

Other sevens in this mix are DETRACT, REDCOAT (a British soldier) / CORDATE ("heart-shaped, as a shell"), and ADOPTER.

Roman: DEPORT

Norm: CARPET

Me: PROTECT

David: PROTECT, TETRAPOD

Scores: Roman 0 (11), Norm 17 (28), me 23

**Round 5: L U F C O N R A P**

Another messy mix that I struggled greatly with; I would have gone fishing for an final E and FUNERAL (although FALCONER is better). As it was, all I had was FOUL and APRON. After time I noted CORAL and finally CUPOLA for a six.

Both contestants have fives again, but David has found a couple of good sixes: CAPFUL and FALCON. Roman describes his choice as a safe five, but we don't find out what his risky option was.

The seven here is COPULAR (adjective derived from COPULA: "something that connects or links together"). A vague memory prompted me to look, and indeed I did mention this word back in episode 324; it would have been nice to remember!

I had seen CORNU during time (Latin for 'horn') but wasn't certain it was adopted into English. It has been (CORNU: "a horn-like process of bone") and its plural CORNUA would have been good for six. Two other sixes are OCULAR and FULCRA (plural of FULCRUM).

Roman: FLORA

Norm: FLOUR

Me: APRON

David: CAPFUL, FALCON

Scores: Roman 5 (16), Norm 22 (33), me 28

**Round 6: Target 903 from 75 3 9 2 8 7**

Norm opts for a single large number, and gets a large target. The general way forward is clear, and finding the remaining three did turn out to be possible; my solution was 903 = (9 + 3)*75 + 7 - 8/2, and this is Lily's solution also.

Both contestants have reached the target, and it looks like they got there at the same point, too. Roman rather emphatically underlines his result and puts his pen down at the fifteen second mark, then looks at the camera (or perhaps the audience) for the rest of the time. Norm has stopped writing at around the same moment (perhaps a touch earlier), and runs out the time staring at his pad. (This was my preference, too, as I've mentioned before.)

Norm's solution is 903 = (9 + 7 - 8/2)*75 + 3; this is essentially the same as mine, just with the two ways of making 3 swapped around. Roman, however, has realised that he has made a mistake. This is why I made specific mention of the behaviour above; Roman had a lot of time left to check and possibly still recover from his error, but threw that opportunity away. Carelessness, and he pays the price.

At this point Roman is 27 points behind, and very likely to lose -- he needs an unanswered seven point word or longer from the last letters round to even have a chance. That's bad news for Christopher, and interesting territory for Sebastian: Roman's current total is just a single point behind Sebastian's, so if he scores any more points it will push Sebastian down to eighth place.

Roman: [invalid]

Norm: 903

Me: 903

Lily: 903

Scores: Roman 5 (16), Norm 32 (43), me 38

**Second break: GELD OPAL ("Nagged at top speed")**

A punny clue for GALLOPED.

**Round 7: T E R G U I N K E**

The K and U are unhelpful letters here; I had TRUE, TIGER, and INTEGER / TREEING. It will be no surprise to know that I don't like the final vowel choice here; Roman really failed to give himself much chance of a long word. The magic consonant would have been a C for TUCKERING, but there are some others that allow eights.

As it is, Roman can only find GREET for five, and so the game is lost. Norm has found REEKING for a good seven, and David has also got INTEGER for seven. He bemoans the lack of a full monty, and once more the possible grand slam disappears.

Other sevens are GERENUK (an east African gazelle), the mineral KERNITE, and REUNITE / RETINUE / UTERINE.

Roman: GREET

Norm: REEKING

Me: INTEGER

David: INTEGER

Scores: Roman 5 (16), Norm 39 (50), me 45

**Round 8: Target 784 from 50 2 5 10 3 3**

The target is the square of 28, which makes it 56 times 14. I am unable to manipulate the numbers into producing both at once, though, and fall back to one away with 783 = (50 + 2)*(10 + 5) + 3. Somewhat after time I find the right way to tweak down from 800: 784 = 2*((5 + 3)*50 - 3) - 10. A tough one!

Roman has not been able to get anywhere, while Norm has found the same way to 783 as I used. Lily was not able to get to 784 either; she identifies the idea of getting there as 16 away from 800, but the right tweakage eludes her. With no break to think about it -- I think she would have got there with that extra time -- she has to throw this one to the website challenge.

Roman: [not in range]

Norm: 783

Me: 783

Scores: Roman 5 (16), Norm 46 (57), me 52

**Round 9: ENTRY CURL**

Down to the conundrum, with position at stake for Roman and a win at stake for me. I can't point to anything in particular getting me there, but I was relieved to get the answer four seconds in. I had thought that Roman might solve it quickly -- he has been quite good on them -- and so give me the win by default, but it turns out to be Norm who solves it at the ten second mark.

Roman: [no answer]

Norm: CURRENTLY (10s)

Me: CURRENTLY (4s)

Final scores: Roman 5 (16), Norm 46 (67), me 62

Roman just wasn't able to get into this game, but he did enough to get into the finals. Norm was in good touch, although it is hard to properly judge his letters performance from today's rounds which included some awkward mixes. I look forward to seeing how he goes next series!

If Sebastian had known the point spread he might have had a very nervous time watching this game -- Roman's total after the fifth round was a single point behind him, and any scoring result would be the difference between seventh and eighth position for Sebastian. Roman was kept scoreless in those last four rounds, though, and finishes in eighth position, a solitary point behind Sebastian.

The finals series kicks off tomorrow, with what should be Sam vs. Roman. I'm quite keen to see how it goes!

## 1 comment:

Hi Geoff, I saw too much of this game live for my answers to be meaningful, but bizarrely, it didn't always help that much.

For instance, I told David about SONATINE after the episode was filmed, and still didn't see it until after time tonight!

I think Roman might have been burnt out in this episode - for those lucky enough to win their first few shows, you may be amazed how much your brain fades away when you have to record up to five episodes in a row.

Great debut from Norm, I am looking forward to seeing how he goes in Series #5.

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