Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Ep 406: Ann Russell, Marc Lissner

Rounds: Here.

Two new contestants tonight, after Norm's successful retirement on Friday.  Taking the champion's seat is Ann Russell, a retired school-teacher.  In the following she implicitly refers to another person by saying "we" several times; I would assume this is her partner.  Anyway, before they retired they bought a country house down at Maslin's Beach, which she notes is right near the Mclaren Vale wine area.

(I'll digress here to note that Maslin Beach is the name of both the suburb and its associated beach, with Maslin's Beach being a common name for the beach specifically.  The southern half of this beach was Australia's first official nude beach, and used to host the Maslin's Beach Nude Olympics every year, although I gather from limited research that it has not been held for a few years.)

When Ann and her partner retired they could not decide which house they preferred, and so they ended up living in both houses.  They have a long weekend down the coast, and a short week in the city where they "see [their] family and go to the dentist and things like that".

In the challenger's seat is data analyst Marc Lissner.  He proposed to his fiancée at Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria, and if you've not seen pictures of it before do yourself a favour and do an image search -- there are some breathtaking pictures of it out there.  Marc points out that it inspired the Disney castle.  Richard asks why he chose that location, and Marc responds that it was a magical castle and he'd learned about it at school, so when they were in Germany he decided that that was where he wanted to propose.  (Oh, and the answer was yes.)

Ann starts off with an invalid word (a bit oddly, too, but we'll get to that in due course), giving Marc some early points.  The next two rounds are even, with her numbers choice proving too difficult for everyone.  Ann scores well in the next two rounds, including an excellent word in round 5, and with Marc doing rather poorly in the next numbers round she has a large lead.  Marc manages to get most of the ground back in the final numbers round, and it comes down to the conundrum.  Ann solves it first and takes the win, 40 to 26.

I had a poor start to this game, and was never really comfortable.  I ended up missing two other longer words that I'd have like to have seen, but I found the best results in the numbers rounds and solved the conundrum reasonably early to finish with a very comfortable win.  In fact, due to Lily's difficulties with the numbers I was only a point off the combined David and Lily total, so it arguably wasn't as bad as it felt at the time.

Round 1: M L E C T I E C R

Duplication to start off with, and it throws me.  I had CELT (lowercase: "an axe of stone or metal without perforation or groove for hafting"), LIME, EMETIC, CIRCLE, rejected MELTIER, and METRIC.  When time ran out I paused to write down the letters in the right order for this blog and immediately saw ELECTRIC.  Ouch.

Marc has gone with CRIME for five, while Ann has chosen a "doubtful six" of RECTILE... which is seven letters, of course, so it is automatically invalid.  There's no mention of it in the Macquarie in any case, and I wonder what meaning she thought it had.  David points out CIRCLE, extendable to CIRCLET (another careless miss from me), and then ELECTRIC for eight.

The other sevens here are both anagrams of Ann's invalid word: RETICLE ("a network of fine lines, wires, or the like, placed in the focus of the objective of a telescope") / TIERCEL (alternative spelling of TERCEL: "a male hawk trained for falconry [...]").

Ann: [invalid]

Scores: Ann 0, Marc 0 (5), me 6

Round 2: N P N O U T S H A

Quite an unpromising mix, particularly with that repeated N.  I had UPON, SPOUT, UPSHOT, and POTASH.  I noted the OUT- prefix, but I didn't like OUTSPAN.

Both contestants have chosen HAUNTS for six.  David says that he would have tried OUTSPAN if he were a contestant, but it turns out not to be valid (nor is it in Chambers, although it is in the Scrabble list).  He has settled on UPSHOT also.

(I am mildly amused to note that the shot of the board with UPSHOT on it has had the other letters placed to spell ANN.)

Sixes are the limit, and there's a few about of varying commonality.  Two of the more common ones are SUNTAN and PATHOS.


Scores: Ann 6, Marc 6 (11), me 12

Round 3: Target 947 from 6 5 7 2 8 6

Ann elects to go with "the washing line mix: all the smalls", and gets a formidably large target.  Even getting close is likely to be a good result here, but it can be hard to work out with so much multiplying to be done.  An early thought was to use the 2*5 for 10, multiply by 94 and then add 7.  That's quite optimistic since it requires getting 94 from three small numbers, and it would take at least one 10 for that to be possible.

Still, those three small numbers did suffice to get 96, which is close to 94.  The target is 13 away from 960, so a quick tweak gives a one-away answer: 946 = 2*(5*8*(6 + 6) - 7).  That was the best I could do; after time I noted a couple of more one-aways: 946 = 8*7*(2*6 + 5) - 6 and 948 = 6*(6*5*(7-2) + 8).  It turns out that the target is unachievable, so these results were the best possible.

Neither contestant has managed to get within range, confirming my claim that getting close would be a good result.  Lily has obviously been unable to get a solution, but we don't get to find out how close she managed to get.  After the break she simply says that she "has nothing", but I'd find it a little odd if she had not seen one of the one-aways.

Ann: [not in range]
Marc: [not in range]
Me: 946

Scores: Ann 6, Marc 6 (11), me 19

First break: HUFF TAIL (" 'Come all ye' at Christmas time")

A clear reference to a particular Christmas carol, with answer FAITHFUL.

David's talke is about the words esplanade and promenade.

Round 4: T D S E I F O B L

I had DIETS / TIDES, FISTED, FOISTED, and BOLDEST.  After time I noted FOIBLES and STIFLED also, but could not better seven. FOISTED has come up a few times on the show, and it's worth being aware of.

Marc has BOILED for six, but Ann has the nice FOIBLES for her seven; David has chosen FOISTED for his.

The other seven in the mix is BOLIDES (BOLIDE: "a large, brilliant meteor, especially one that explodes; a fireball").  But it turns out that there is an eight after all: BOTFLIES, plural of BOTFLY.


Scores: Ann 13, Marc 6 (11), me 26

Round 5: T D A I G S D O C

After those first six letters I would have gone chasing after an E, originally for AGISTED but once the O went up GODETIAS would have been the goal.  But there was no E to be had; the resulting U and O would still have allowed AGOUTIS for seven, however.

As it was, I had a great deal of trouble here -- some of it was because I was spending too much mental energy picturing the results from an E; a bad habit to get into.  I had ADIT, GAIT, GAITS, and COATIS.  I could not better that after time, until Ann declared that she had a seven and a casual glance back at the letters revealed ADDICTS to me.  It's strange how much just knowing that something is possible helps to see it.

Marc has CODAS for five, but Ann has found a seven.  It is not ADDICTS as I thought, however, but the rather more esoteric DACOITS (DACOIT: "Indian English one of a band of armed thieves; bandit").  I made passing mention of DACOITS in episode 380 where the variant spelling DAKOITS would have been useful, except that the Macquarie does not list it.  It's a great find from Ann, and my second-favourite find by a contestant after Angie Pearce's CALUMETS from episode 368.

David has found ADDICTS for his seven.  The other seven available is GADOIDS (GADOID being a type of fish that includes cod and haddock). 


Scores: Ann 20, Marc 6 (11), me 26

Round 6: Target 363 from 50 75 100 2 7 2

Marc decides that a slightly easier mix is in order, and chooses three of each.  The target is in the approachable range, and my first concern is how to make the offset from a multiple of 25.  We need either 12 or 13, and I saw that the small numbers can give that 12 as 2*7 - 2.  That is actually fairly promising -- more so than straight addition would be -- as the multiplication means that either the 2 or the 7 can be used for tweaking.

To complete the solution, then, we need to use those large numbers and either 2 or 7 to get to 375.  I soon found an answer: 363 = 2*(100 + 50 - 7) + 75 + 2.  It is perhaps more straightforward to use the 7, though, which would have yielded (found after time) 363 = 7*(50 - 2) + 100 - 75 + 2.

Note that there is an easy one-away with 364 = 7*(50 + 2).

Marc is just outside the range with 352.  This feels like it must have been 352 = 7*50 + 2, so presumably he ran out of time or he could have ended up in range by adding the other 2.  If he had been comfortable with tweaking then presumably he would have seen the 364 I mentioned.

Ann has got within range, six away with 357 = 2*2*100 - 50 + 7.  She could have tweaked that to 364 also, with a little effort.  But the five points give her a fourteen point lead over Marc, so that's danger territory for him.

Lily surprises by not having a solution, but after the break she comes back with 363 = (75 - 2)*(7 - 2) - 100/50.

Ann: 357
Marc: [not in range]
Me: 363

Scores: Ann 20 (25), Marc 6 (11), me 36

Second break: LOAN CODE ("Getting friendly over this yummy food")

The food here is the NOODLE of CANOODLE.

Round 7: R M U O E Y B H D

A very unfriendly combination to end the game on.  I had EMBRYO, and HOMBRE, and that was it.

Both contestants have five-letter words; Ann has gone with HOMER (the baseball term) and Marc has BORED.  David notes EMBRYO as well, but has found the only seven: The American spelling HUMORED.  He takes the time to point out that the Macquarie does list American spellings.

Other sixes here are RHYMED, BUOYED, DUMBER, EMBODY, and RHEUMY.


Scores: Ann 20 (30), Marc 6 (16), me 42

Round 8: Target 458 from 100 75 4 10 7 7

Marc has not had much luck with the numbers so far, so he opts for the easier family mix.  Since he has to score points here to have a chance, fair enough -- a problem that is too hard is no good to him.

My first thought was to get there from 450 (which is 6*75), leading me to write down a fallback 457 = (10 - 4)*75 + 7.  I was starting to head down unprofitable lines of complication when I noticed that Marc had put his pen down and sat back with all the air of having solved it; that jolted me back into looking for simple solutions.  I soon saw that 17 away from 475 was much more achievable than 8 away from 450, and found 458 = 4*100 + 75 - 10 - 7.

(As I've mentioned before, this kind of thing is exactly why I think it is a poor idea to do that on the show.  If you give away that you have found an answer then it can become much easier for the opponent to find it.  The absolute last thing Marc wanted here was for Ann to also find the solution.)

Ann is one away with 457, so presumably she thought along similar lines to me (earlier comments in the show revealed that she knows her 75-times tables).  Marc conforms to indications by having found the solution I listed, which is also how Lily solved it.  Those ten points leave him just four points behind going into the conundrum, which must be a relief.

The target is semi-close to 525 = 7*75, so it is tempting to investigate options for getting there from that -- especially as we have two sevens so it does not feel like we will use up a crucial number.  The difference is 67, and working this out could lead to the kitchen sink solution 458 = 7*75 - 100 + 4*10 - 7.

Ann: 457
Marc: 458
Me: 458
Lily: 458

Scores: Ann 20 (30), Marc 16 (26), me 52


The -IGHT fragment is hard to ignore on this one.  I started with NIGHT, then moved on to TIGHT and very nearly pressed in with TIGHTENS.  Fortunately instinct stopped me, and then I saw the actual answer at the four second mark.  Ann gets there twelve seconds in, and takes the win.

Ann: TIGHTNESS (12s)
Marc: [no answer]

Final scores: Ann 20 (40), Marc 16 (26), me 62

It ended up being a close game, and there was certainly potential for it to go either way.  Ann found two good sevens tonight, and in the end they were the margin of difference.  Had Marc done better in the numbers he might have managed to compensate, but it seems it wasn't to be.  I'll be interested to see if Ann chooses six small numbers again; it's a rare contestant who tries it.

An unfortunate night for Lily, with one impossible target and another that eluded her; I wish we knew how close she had gotten to each within time.  David must be hoping this full monty drought breaks soon -- it has been an unfortunate start to the series on that front.


David_Brewster said...

Hi Geoff,

I discovered your blog over the weekend, and have found it to be most impressive. I have been a big fan of L&N since midway the beginning of the third season, and it is fantastic to see others who are as passionate about the game as myself.

Here are my findings for the game when playing at home:

6. 363 = (7-2)*(75-2)-(100/50)
7. BUOYED (would have selected humored if I was aware that American spellings were permitted)
8.458 = (4*100)+75-10-7
9. 3 seconds

Mark said...

David, it's good to see someone else posting their answers.

2. POTASH (I wasn't sure it would be valid, so thanks for confirming, Geoff)
3. -
6. -
8. - (saw the solution just as time ran out)
9. Didn't have it by the time Ann said the answer.

Geoff Bailey said...

Welcome, David! It's always great to hear from a new reader, and particularly to see your results. It looks like you would have won handily against both contestants, and you'd have beaten me also if you'd tried HUMORED.

(On that front: Most American spellings are listed, but not all, which has caught me out recently when CRUELED was not given. But the -OUR/-OR shift is pretty reliable, and many of the LL -> L uses. Plus -ISE/-IZE, but that is not really an issue of Americanisms as such, as the Oxford points out.)

Excellent wordwork from you today, Mark. Even with blanking on the numbers rounds you would still have taken Ann to the conundrum; getting 458 down in the last numbers round would have given you the win, in fact.

Sam Gaffney said...

Welcome aboard David, and very good play. Great words from Mark, too.

I had to watch Round 1 with no sound, which was surprisingly distracting, and I will blame that for seeing ELECTRIC a moment too late! Given that I have spent most of my working life in the electricity industry, this was a rather frustrating miss.

I had a similar approach to Geoff in Round 3, but didn't have the presence of mind to put the 7 inside the brackets. I almost forgot to bracket the (6+6), I was a bit distracted this episode.

My answers:

953 = (6+6)*2*5*8-7
363 = (50-2)*7 + 100-75+2
458 = (75-10)*7 + 7-4

Marc Lissner said...

I can tell you, you have no idea what the other person is doing, so having put my pen down would've had no effect on Ann solving the numbers.

In regards to the 364, I actually got a better number in my head when the buzzer went, but you had to say your written down response.

Nerves got the better of me, unfortunately, but Ann was a great contestant.

Geoff Bailey said...

Great to hear from you, Marc! Thanks for stopping by and sharing your perspective with us -- it's always nice when contestants do so.