Friday, 2 March 2012

Ep 395: [QF 2] Alan Nash, Roman Turkiewicz (March 2, 2012)

Rounds: Here.

Not much more to today's contestant chat, either, although we learn that Alan would like to go to space.

Roman gets a jump in the first letters round, but thereafter the contestants are matched on the words.  Indeed, there's only one non-optimal round on those today, which is great stuff.  This game hinges on the numbers, with Alan getting most of that lost ground back with the four large mix, and then some more as Roman's preferred balanced mix turns out not to Roman's advantage.  The final numbers round could have narrowed the gap, but some confusion on Roman's part results in an invalid answer.  It's still possible for either to win at the conundrum, but Alan sees it at the 24 second mark and advances to the semifinals with a 56 to 37 win.

I... had what felt like the worst game for a long time.  Not so much on the score (although I think it matches the least I've scored this series) but because of opportunities missed that I would have normally expected to take.  I've been talking about the contestants having final nerves, but I think there's far more evidence for me having those right now.  I just edged out Roman by a point, but that was only due to an invalid answer that may even not have been so (see round 8), and was comfortably beaten by Alan.  Bother.

As usual, details after the jump.

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

I had FINS, SINCE, CRANES, FANCIER, SARDINE, and FIACRES.  After time I noted some other familiar sevens: CANDIES, FRIENDS / FINDERS, and CINDERS / DISCERN / RESCIND.

Alan declares a seven that turns out to be ARSENIC, but Roman tries a risky eight.  As soon as he says that I look down again at my words and see what it must be: FANCIERS.  I was stuck thinking of FANCIER as a comparative rather than the noun it also is; I would definitely have tried this if I'd considered it, and with a good deal of confidence.  David notes it as the best to be found.

It seems to be the only eight, and there's lots of sevens (as should be clear from the above).  A great start from Roman.


Scores: Alan 0, Roman 8, me 0

Round 2: R A T O B G E U C

I had ROTA, BOAT, ABORT, BOATER, RAGOUT, and COURAGE.  After time I noted down OUTRAGE (seen earlier but not written down at the time).

The contestants have both gone for COURAGE, with David noting OUTRAGE.  The only other seven here is OUTBRAG.


Scores: Alan 7, Roman 15, me 7

Round 3: Target 834 from 100 75 25 50 4 10

As expected, Alan goes for four large again.  The 10 goes up and I wonder if we're going to see the same mix as yesterday, but the 4 holds more potential.  The target is in an awkward zone, and I write down a poor backup of 830 = (75 + 100/25 + 4)*10, which is four away.  There's a trivial modification of it that would have been two away (836 = (75 + 100/25)*10 + 50 - 4), but I was investigating other lines and did not write it down.  I was on the right track, too, but ran out of time before I could get 834 = 10*(75 - 50/25) + 100 + 4 written down.  Doubly careless, and if I'd not written down such a poor backup I might have had this in time.

Roman is six away at 840, but Alan is two away with a variant of the one I mentioned above (just swapping the fours around): 836 = (75 + 4)*10 + 50 - 100/25.  Lily is nicely on target with the solution mentioned above.  Good work, Lily!

Alan: 836
Roman: 840
Lily: 834

Scores: Alan 14, Roman 15, me 7

First break: RICE QUAD ("Obtained a rouge hue")

Rouge cluing the RED of ACQUIRED.

David's talk is about "supremos of the Arab world": sheik, caliph, and emir.  He says that it is curious that these words all have alternative spellings, but that doesn't seem very surprising to me.  They've all originated from a language that does not use the Latin alphabet, and it is common for transliterations to vary.

Round 4: T A M R E S I H O

I had TRAM / MART, TAMER, STREAM / MASTER, SMARTIE, and ATOMISE.  I was sure there was a word from the eight without the H, and of course I see it just after time: AMORTISE.  But the real head-slap moment here is ATOMISER.  Argh!

Sevens once more from both contestants, so I've thrown away a chance to equalise.  They are a good couple of words, SMOTHER from Roman and HAMSTER from Alan, but David has found HOARIEST for eight.

The other eight is ISOTHERM ("a line connecting points on the earth's surface having the same (mean) temperature").


Scores: Alan 21, Roman 22, me 14

Round 5: L K T A I E N S I

I had TALK, TAIL, ALIEN, ALIENS, and then bypassed TALKIES to get LATINISE.  After time I noted ALIENIST (marked as an obsolete term for "a psychiatrist or other specialist in mental diseases").  I also checked on SATINLIKE (requires a hyphen) and SAINTLIKE (not listed in the Macquarie, although Chambers has it).

Unfortunately for me, unlike the very similar ROMANISE, LATINISE has not lost its capital letter.  It's invalid, and I am now horribly far behind both contestants.

Both contestants have found LANKIEST for eight, which is great solving.  David's eight is LITANIES.

The other eight here is KAINITES (KAINITE being a mineral).

Me: [invalid]

Scores: Alan 29, Roman 30, me 14

Round 6: Target 410 from 50 75 25 5 7 2

Roman goes for three of each as expected, and the usual approach is to get to 400 and adjust by 10, which is easily there as 2*5.  I went with 410 = 7*50 + 75 - 25 + 2*5, then found the simpler 410 = 5*(75 + 7).

Roman is five away with 415; presumably he subtracted 10 from 425, but I'll bet that he could have reached 400 with a similar approach (and may well have had a spare 25 to do so), so that feels like an oversight to me, and a potentially costly one.  Alan is on target with 410 = 7*50 + (25 + 5)*2.

That gives Alan a nine point lead over Roman, which is not quite enough for safety.

Lily makes no comment about her approach, but David has piped up with the second of the solutions I mentioned.  Nice one, David!

Alan: 410
Roman 415
Me: 410
David: 410
Lily: 410

Scores: Alan 39, Roman 30, me 24

Second break: DREW NEAR ("He's the type of guy who will never settle down")

The clue is a reference to a song originally sung by Dion, The WANDERER.

Round 7: D A U C M E P R F

My heart sinks as the letters go up, and particularly that final one that seals the mix.  I had DACE, CAMPED, and CRAMPED, and there's just no feasible improvement.  At 15 points behind, that's not the kind of mix you want.

Everyone has CRAMPED, and it is the only seven in the mix.


Scores: Alan 46, Roman 37, me 31

Round 8: Target 467 from 75 1 5 10 4 2

Roman tries a single large number this time.  Probably a good idea, an easy numbers round is better for him than a hard one, and he has shown good performance on conundrums in the past.  The target is... surprisingly awkward.  One away is easy; I wrote down 466 = (5 + 1)*75 + 10 + 4 + 2, but it's easy enough to swap the (4 + 2) with the (5 + 1).

Then I stopped to think about applying the standard method, and that 2*4 is an easy eight.  I made one of my under-pressure errors and thought that 5*75 was 525 rather than 375 -- I'm not sure why, but I make this mistake every so often; it's quite vexing -- which caused me to write down an invalid solution.  Fortunately I realised that before I would have had to declare it, but there wasn't time left to write down the correct solution: 467 = 4*2*(5*10 - 1) + 75.

Roman is one away with 466, and Alan surprises me by being outside the scoring range.  It looks like he went all out for a solution and had no backup in place, and quite against my expectations -- and undeservedly given my performance -- I will have a chance of winning on the conundrum.

But something odd happens when Roman gives his solution.  He starts with (5 + 1)*75, which he says is 425.  It's 450, though, as indeed it must be for the 466 that he has declared to be achievable from it.  Lily points out that it is 450, and Roman then says that he has made a mistake.  Which may well be true, but it bears all the hallmarks of being a mistake in the subtotal rather than a mistake in the answer.  He quite possibly has not even written down this subtotal, and indeed there's little reason to.  If that is the case then there's a strong argument for accepting what was written down; his inaccurate on-the-fly computation of the subtotal should be irrelevant if it was not part of his written solution.

However, he simply leaves it as having made a mistake, and his solution is deemed invalid.  This doesn't feel right to me, but that's how it is.  (And if he did write down 425 then the solution is definitely invalid, even if the rest of it was correct.  The fact that he declared 466 makes this highly unlikely, though -- if he was working from 425 as a base, getting to 467 is easy by adding 4*10 + 2.)

Lily has not been able to get a solution, but by the end of the show she has found the solution I listed above.

Alan: [not in range]
Roman: [invalid]
Me: 466
Lily: 466

Scores: Alan 46, Roman 37, me 38


So down to the conundrum, and a similar situation to last week.  All of us clustered with a chance to win, but the higher seed ahead.  The conundrum goes down and... I just get nowhere with it.  Alan buzzes in at the 24 second mark, and I pause to start the other timer, but I was way off the pace.  It took me just shy of three minutes all up before I finally considered -FUL and found the answer.  Ouch.

Alan: DECEITFUL (24s)
Roman: [no answer]
Me: [no answer]

Final scores: Alan 56, Roman 37, me 38

It was great wordwork today from both contestants, with Roman in particular having the best result on all but round 4.  The numbers were less good, with only Alan managing to get to the target, and just once at that.  Roman's subtotal confusion may have cost him 7 points, but fortunately it made no difference to the game situation.  It was a good conundrum solve from Alan, and a deserved win.

It was a win to him that pushed me over my set quota of losses for the series.  Even considering just my performance when playing from home (so that I somehow did not lose to Brett, silly though that weaselling is) that's five losses and a tie.  Hopefully I'll be able to obsess a little less over it now and relax for the rest of the finals.

I still have a very strong sense of having thrown this game away.  ATOMISER was sheerest carelessness; I could have looked for other eights after LATINISE instead of concentrating on nines (although I also feel a touch hard done by about no lowercase version being listed); and I should have done better on the first and last numbers rounds.  There were plenty of extra points to be picked up, most of which I was essentially at.  Oh, well... close only counts at horseshoes, as the saying goes.

Tune in next week as the finals continue, and the series four champion will be determined.  Monday should see Kerin play Daniel, followed by Toby against Shaun for the last quarterfinal.  The last in particular seems like it should be close, but we've already had two wonderfully close games.  Gripping stuff!

1 comment:

Sam Gaffney said...

I watched this quarter-final live and did quite well from the audience, getting the conundrum in two seconds (I went for the -FUL early).

Tonight I managed to get seven rounds right, but miss the conundrum and LANKIEST (which I also got right at recording).

The simple way to 467 is:
(10-4)*(75+2)+5. I can't remember if I got this one in time on the day or not, the trick is to make the 6 out of 10-4, not 5+1 or 4+2.

I remembered FANCIERS, David's "one-liner", and that he went with HOARIEST because he wasn't sure how best to pronounce AMORTISE!

Great effort from Roman after he looked to have run out of steam for the day against Norm. Well played from Alan, too - I enjoyed watching him feel the pressure at the end!