Thursday, 1 March 2012

Ep 394: [QF1] Sam Gaffney, Sebastian Ham (March 1, 2012)

Rounds: Here.

The finals are underway at last!  But there's something a little odd: Sam is playing Sebastian, rather than Roman.  I've checked the scores several times, and there's no doubt that Sebastian should have been in seventh position.  That's rather unfortunate for him, and fortunate for Roman who presumably needed a break after his recent games.

The early chat just rehashes some of the things we've learned about the contestants during their earlier episodes.

It's a very close match tonight, with the contestants matched on the letters rounds.  Sam gets a lead due to a good result on his favourite four large mix, but the rest offers little scope for advancement.  It comes down to the conundrum, and Sam blitzes it for an emphatic win, 70 to 53.

I essentially matched Sebastian throughout, although there were two bad misses that on another day I may well have got.  I wasn't remotely close to solving the conundrum within the allotted time, and finished tied with Sebastian.  Sam hands me another loss, as somewhat expected.  Great game from both contestants!

As usual, details after the jump.

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

I had MESA / SAME, MAIDS, MAIMED, STAMMER, rejected MISRATED (correctly), and SMARTIE.  After time I added TRIMMED to the list.  I had the strong feeling that there was a valid anagram of MISRATED, but I simply couldn't find it.  Finals nerves?  Perhaps so.

Both the contestants have sevens, Sebastian with TRIMMED and Sam with SMARTED.  David notes MERMAIDS and READMITS -- and argh, that was the word; READMIT has been mentioned a whopping seven times on this blog already, and as recently as two episodes ago.  This was a bad miss, and an eight point lead goes begging.

But David has done even better, suggesting that MERMAIDS might play MIDSTREAM.  Well done, David!  (I'll mention that David has noted the possibility of this word before, in episode 313, but the final consonant was wrong.)

The other eights here are MISMATED and MARMITES (MARMITE: "a type of covered cooking pot").

Sebastian: TRIMMED

Scores: 7 apiece

Round 2: V N E A G U D R O

Last round was disappointing, but at least there was no swing.  This time I had VANE, GAVE, VAGUE, VAGUER, GUERDON, and AGROUND.  There was nearly VANGUARD, but not quite.

Sevens once more from the contestants, Sam having AGROUND to Sebastian's GROANED.  David has found UNDERGO for his seven.

The other sevens here are DOGVANE (synonym for 'telltale' in the sense of "Nautical a pennant, feather, or piece of wool, etc., flown at the masthead or on the shrouds to indicate wind direction") and RONDEAU (a type of poem).

Sebastian: GROANED

Scores: 14 apiece

Round 3: Target 707 from 75 50 25 100 5 10

This will be the testing numbers game, with Sam reliably opting for four large.  The smalls of 10 and 5 go up and I mentally groan -- every number is divisible by 5, and that is going to greatly limit the possibilities.  The target is very challenging, and too much so for me; I stay at two off the pace with 705 = 75*10 - 50 + 5, and also 705 = (75 - 100/25)*10 - 5.  (Writing down two not-quite-there solutions is a waste of time, but at one point I thought that the second one would lead me closer.)

Sebastian also has 705, but Sam has ended up one closer with 706 = (75 - 5)*10 + (100 + 50)/25.  Seven points are a just reward for managing to do that one step better.

Lily was also unable to get to 707.  It turns out that the only solution is 707 = (75*50 - 100 + 10)/5 - 25.  A very tough one to spot!

Sam: 706
Sebastian: 705
Me: 705

Scores: Sam 21, Sebastian 14, me 14

First break: IDEAL VAT ("An approved romantic encounter")

The romance is the DATE of VALIDATE.

David's talk is about the origins of the words pamphlet and brochure.

Round 4: L E R A C T U L J

I had a few eights in mind here that would have made chasing after a fourth vowel my choice.  The actual E would have given ULCERATE.  Of course, the J was bad luck.  I had REAL, CLEAR, and CLARET / CARTEL.

Both contestants are matched with six again, and David also.  It seems to be the limit, although there's a few of them (CURATE and LAUREL being some of the more common unmentioned ones).

Sebastian: CALLER

Scores: Sam 27, Sebastian 20, me 20

Round 5: E I A N B T D Y T

I might have tried chasing after an O for OBTAINED, but it would not have been successful.  A final R would have given BANDITRY for eight, but the repeated T is less handy.  I had BANE and DETAIN.  While looking for a seven I decided that I should ignore the B and Y, but it wasn't until just after time ran out that I saw TAINTED -- a mental block, and a worse miss than READMITS.

Sixes once more from the contestants; both missing TAINTED in another possible case of finals nerves.  David has reliably found it, however.

The other seven here is DITTANY, a plant.

Sebastian: BANDIT

Scores: Sam 33, Sebastian 26, me 26

Round 6: Target 216 from 100 75 2 3 9 6

Sebastian goes for the family mix and turns up an easy target; I fixated on the factorisation and found 216 = 3*(75 + 6 - 9) and 216 = 6*(75 - 3)/2.

Both contestants have found the much simpler 216 = 3*75 - 9.  I definitely overcomplicated this one!

Lily shows an alternative: 216 = 3*100 - 75 - 9.

Sam: 216
Sebastian: 216
Me: 216
Lily: 216

Scores: Sam 43, Sebastian 36, me 36

Second break: PAID BEST ("A baby, showered")

It took me a little while, but I eventually found BAPTISED from that.

Round 7: E U A I N R W T E

The tension is increasing as rounds run out and everyone is still so close.  Chances to make a difference have been hard to come by, a close-fought game by all.

Sam chooses extra vowels, and I think that was protection once he'd found a seven (a tactic he has used once before).  With the lead in his hands there's decent incentive to be happy with a tied round here and aim for a lead in the numbers round.  In any case, I had RUIN, NATURE, and URINATE.

Sam declares his seven, and that prompts Sebastian to try a risky seven of his own.  It is TAWNIER, and a fine word to find.  Sam has gone for an anagram of it: TINWARE.  Meanwhile, David has REUNITE.

Sebastian is very happy that TAWNIER was valid, and gives a little fist pump.  If he can navigate these numbers safely then it will come down to the conundrum.

Other sevens here are RETINUE / UTERINE, TAURINE, and TRAINEE / RETINAE (variant plural of RETINA).

Sebastian: TAWNIER

Scores: Sam 50, Sebastian 43, me 43

Round 8: Target 185 from 100 8 4 5 10 5

Sebastian goes for a single large number, and the target is trivial.  Everyone gets 185 = 100 + 8*10 + 5, although after time I used small numbers only to get 185 = 5*(4*8 + 5).  Lily shows an alternative just to make it a bit more interesting: 185 = (8/4)*100 - 10 - 5.

Sam: 185
Sebastian: 185
Me: 185
Lily: 185

Scores: Sam 60, Sebastian 53, me 53


So it comes down to the conundrum, in a game with little scope for differentiation.  Sam is ahead, but not safe, and I'm sure he had been hoping to avoid this situation prior to the game.  But he blitzes it, buzzing in before I've even taken in the letters, and that's an emphatic way to win.  I wasn't even close; it took me just short of a minute to finally see it.

Sam: AMBITIOUS (1.5s)
Sebastian: [no answer]
Me: [no answer]

Final scores: Sam 70, Sebastian 53, me 53

I think this might be the first time I was not able to deny points to either contestant.  Great stuff from both of them tonight, and Sebastian may well have beaten me if it had been the two of us.  He went down fighting to the probable series champion, and pushed him to the end.  Bravo!

The two words I missed (READMITS and TAINTED) would not have provided enough swing to win.  I should have seen them, but Sam would still have won by 2 points even so.  That blazing speed on the conundrum was too great an obstacle for me to overcome, and if he can keep that up there'll be no stopping him.

The letter mixes weren't very helpful tonight, full monty aside.  It will be interested to see what happens in games where there are more longer words around.

Sam has given me my fouth defeat of the series, and I'm hoping that will be it.  We'll have to see, though.  The next game should be Alan against Roman, who somehow got a reprieve from playing Sam tonight.  Tune in tomorrow!


Mark said...

Well done Sam. I have to admit that Sebastian did better than I thought he would.

I was in awe of David's two eights and a nine in Round 1.

Sam Gaffney said...

Cheers Mark & Geoff. Sebastian did play very well, he didn't miss any easy points. We were playing for money in a way - we had both brought our partners down from sunny Queensland to watch, and booked flights back for after the grand final (by coincidence, not as a group). The winner, however, would get their hotel paid for by SBS for the two nights between!

TAINTED was findable (Sebastian's partner said she was trying to send it to him psychically), but according to Geoff's analysis, it was the only simple word in the mix over six letters. I had STREAM- in round 1, but didn't think to try ending a word with it.

If anyone reading this got 707 in time, bravo! I hadn't really started on the divide-by-five technique when this episode was recorded. I had 705 down early, then found 706 with just enough time to get it down, I thought it might be enough to sneak ahead.

I also thought TINWARE would be good enough to win Round 7, which was why I picked a fifth vowel. My heart sank a bit when Sebastian declared TAWNIER, as I knew it was perfectly valid.