Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Ep 407: Ann Russell, Peter Ghalayini (March 20, 2012)

Rounds: Here.

I'm going to digress for a moment here to note that 407 (the current episode number) is one of my favourite numbers.  It is one of four three-digit numbers that are equal to the sum of the cubes of their digits.  (i.e., 407 = 43 + 03 + 73.)  The others aren't too difficult to find if anyone reading feels like trying to do so.

And now back to the show.  Ann mentions that when people come to Australia without English as their first language they are entitled to classes, but not everyone can get to those classes (perhaps because they have young children to look after, or they are infirm).  So she is part of a group of volunteers that go to the homes of such people a couple of hours a week "to get their English started".  They learn English, and the volunteers get to learn about other cultures, so it's win-win.

Tonight's challenger is Peter Ghalayini, a pastor who used to be an accountant; more precisely a credit manager.  During the time he was an accountant he was also a very active member of his church, and that led him to look at further work in the church.  He notes -- in contrast to when he was a credit manager -- that people are happy to see him come around now.

There's some more information about Peter here.

Peter gets off to a good start with a great word, and extends his lead when Ann declares an invalid word in the second round.  The next couple of rounds produce no change, but then Ann manages to edge into the lead in the last two letter rounds -- she had a good word in a tough mix, and then a very easy word in the last that Peter did not match; a little studying of RETSINA would have paid handsome dividends for him.  Ann draws further ahead in the last numbers round but the conundrum is still decisive.  Peter buzzes in first, but his answer is incorrect.  Ann eventually buzzes in with the correct answer to round off the win, 48 to 30.

I started off with well, then floundered in the second round.  My eventual answer turned out to be pretty reasonable, and the next two rounds also went all right.  I missed a word I should have seen in the fifth, but it was all mostly OK until the final numbers round, where I missed the obvious completely and declared a rather poor answer.  I took a while to see the right path on the conundrum, eventually getting there at the halfway point.  Overall it was a decent game marred by that last numbers round.

Round 1: F I A L M E S N O

I had FAIL, FILM, MAIL, FLAME, FLAMES (I saw EMAILS, too, but there was no point writing it down), SEMINAL, and in my floundering for an eight eventually saw that I could simply tack on a beginning IN- to get INFLAMES.  That triggered strong flashbacks to round 5 of episode 328, where seeing something similar would have made the difference between victory and defeat for me.

Ann has LEMONS for six, but Peter has the very nice FINALES for seven.  David saw SEMOLINA and INFLAMES; he mentions that he was hoping that a final consonant would have been called, with a T giving FILAMENTS.  The actual R would have allowed INFLAMERS, so the potential for a full monty was there if Ann had chosen differently.  It's been a tough series so far for the full monties!

A fencer who is expert with the foil may be called a FOILSMAN, or more than one such would be FOILSMEN.  The other eight here is an anagram of SEMOLINA: LAMINOSE (an adjective meaning "laminate; laminar").

The other sevens are FAMINES, MENIALS, OLEFINS (a class of alkenes), ANISOLE (another chemical), and ANOMIES (ANOMIE: "a social vacuum marked by the absence of social norms or values").


Scores: Ann 0, Peter 0 (7), me 8

Round 2: R N H A U R P I E

A very awkward set; I had PURE, HAIR, and floundered completely.  With time close to running out I decided to chance PAIRER (which would have been invalid), then as I was writing it down I saw that REPAIR was much more sensible.  Phew!  Along the way I had rejected PURINA (being a brand of dog food) but somehow overlooked PURINE.

It was a strange mix; despite the lack of an E, I was wanting the final vowel to also not be one -- an A would have yielded PIRANHA, while an I was good for HAIRPIN.

Both contestants go for sixes, although Peter is not sure about his.  He has chosen HARPER, and it turns out to be valid.  Ann seemed more confident about her choice of PRARIE, but there's no such word; she was most likely thinking of PRAIRIE.  That puts Peter more than a conundrum ahead, although it's early rounds yet.

David has found UNREPAIR for eight, but has the luxury of the dictionary.  He says that as a contestant he would have been a lot happier with UNRIPE, and I certainly agree.  UNREPAIR is a very strange word; it is listed as a noun so presumably the sense is the same as DISREPAIR (it is consigned to the block entries, so we do not get a definition of it).  Even if I'd considered it I would not have tried it, so I don't feel bad about missing it.

That looks like the only eight; while the Macquarie does list UNHAIR as a verb (which would have made my life much easier if I'd known that; I'd seen it and rejected it), it does not allow UNHAIRER.  The only seven is HEPARIN ("a polysaccharide containing sulfate groups produced in the liver, which prevents the coagulation of the blood, and is used in the treatment of thrombosis").

The other sixes are RUPIAH, HERNIA, RAPINE, RAPIER, RUINER, PRUNER, PUNIER, and UPREAR / PARURE ("a set of jewels or ornaments").

Ann: [invalid]

Scores: Ann 0, Peter 6 (13), me 14

Round 3: Target 472 from 100 6 5 5 3 2

Ann goes with the classroom mix tonight, and a low target must be approachable.  The nearest multiple of 100 is 500, which we can make, so it's just a question of getting 28 from the other small numbers.  It is possible to do so as 2*(6 + 5 + 3), but I found it easier to get it as 5*6 - 2.  Since the 5 was used for both multiplications I tweaked the solution to get 472 = 5*(100 - 6) + 2.  This is Lily's solution also.

Both contestants have solved this with the non-tweaked version: 472 = 5*100 - 5*6 + 2.

Ann: 472
Peter: 472
Me: 472
Lily: 472

Scores: Ann 10, Peter 16 (23), me 24

First break: HEDGE ART ("What the detectives did with the information")

They GATHERED it, of course.

David's talk is about the Greek god Chronos, and words derived from his name.

Round 4: T S C A O D V E E

I had CATS / ACTS, COATS, and COASTED.  I was unable to improve on it, although I did wonder if someone who has had a vasectomy was VASECTED.  (No, they were not.)

Both contestants have DEVOTES for seven, which is much nicer as a word than COASTED; I feel very plebeian.  David mentions COASTED also, and remarks that if that last E had been an A then ADVOCATES would have been there.

Other sevens are COVETED, OCTAVES / AVOCETS (AVOCET being a type of bird), ACETOSE (variant spelling of ACETOUS: "sour; vinegary"), and CESTODE (one of a class of parasitic flatworms).


Scores: Ann 17, Peter 23 (30), me 31

Round 5: I A O T W R L C U

Another difficult mix, although the letters really don't look like they should be that awkward.  I had IOTA and RATIO, and then spent ages trying to find better.  I fiddled with OUT- but was unable to use it, and tried several endings like -ITAL and -ATIC.  Finally -ULAR led me to OCULAR, with very little time left.

After time I found LORICA, and then at last CURTAIL.  I wasn't close to getting that within time, but I feel that I should have been.  Oh, well.

Peter has WAIT for four, so it sounds like he had similar difficulties.  Ann has found OUTLAW for six, the OUT- word that I could not see (due to pretty much discarding the W from consideration).  That ties in nicely with her round 5 word from yesterday, DACOITS (bandits).  David wanted OUTCRAWL but it is not listed, so he fell back on CURTAIL.

It seems to be the only seven.  Some of the more findable sixes were AORTIC, RITUAL, and TAILOR / RIALTO.

Those six points get Ann back within seven.

Peter: WAIT

Scores: Ann 23, Peter 23 (30), me 37

Round 6: Target 285 from 100 25 6 9 8 1

Peter opts for the family mix, and gets a low target but with the small numbers not necessarily being as convenient as they could have been.  It seems pretty clear that going via 300 is worth investigating; forming a 3 in the obvious way would have allowed a one-off 284 = (9 - 6)*100 - 25 + 8 + 1.  However, the target is 15 away from 300, and we have an easy 15 from 9 + 6, so it is worth investigating how to get there with the remaining numbers.  I found my way there with 285 = 8*25 + 100 - 9 - 6.

Another option is to use the 25 to get close; 9*25 is the obvious option there (although 8*25 would lead to the solution above), and is 60 away.  That might lead one to find the solution 285 = 9*25 + 100 - 8*(6 - 1).

Neither contestant has been able to get within range, which is a bit unfortunate.  As shown above, just being content with getting close would have handed over a pretty easy seven points, which both would have loved at this point.  It's one of the pitfalls of the numbers round: If you always focus on getting exactly there then you may fail to score at all.  This dilemma as to which way you should proceed is one of the reasons that I strongly support random target numbers, since unreachable targets make this decision a more interesting one.

Lily shows another way, by concentrating on the original idea and using a handy technique to get that three.  Her solution is 285 = ((25 - 1)/8)*100 - 9 - 6.  Nice one!

Ann: [not in range]
Peter: [not in range]
Me: 285
Lily: 285

Scores: Ann 23, Peter 23 (30), me 47

Second break: ICE DIVES ("I know exactly which clue to give you")

 It took me a few moments -- at first I thought that DECEIVES was there -- but I found DECISIVE in the end.

Round 7: T D N E I A S R I

I had TEND, STAINED, and STRAINED.  A very familiar mix, and one I've mentioned before; I was mentally urging Ann to take a fourth vowel as any of them except an I leads to a full monty.  She did and... it was an I.  Curses!  The full monty drought continues.

Ann has seen STRAINED, but Peter only has DRIES for five.  That does show a lack of game familiarity; if there is only one thing you learn about letters from watching the show, it is the importance of the RETSINA mix.  STRAINED itself turned up at least four times in the previous series (or DETRAINS, of course).  David is unable to better it, as I knew would happen.  If only it had been any other vowel...

As one would expect when RETSINA is in play, there are a goodly number of eights: DISINTER / NITRIDES / INDITERS (INDITE -- not to be confused with INDICT! -- meaning "to compose or write, as a speech, poem, etc."), DAINTIES, DAINTIER, DISTRAIN ("to constrain by seizing and holding goods, etc., in pledge for rent, damages, etc., or in order to obtain satisfaction of a claim"), and INERTIAS / RAINIEST (the other RETSINA words here).

That gives Ann a single point lead, and even the chance to seal this game before the conundrum; that certainly didn't look very likely at the halfway mark!

Peter: DRIES

Scores: Ann 31, Peter 23 (30), me 55

Round 8: Target 616 from 75 25 1 4 6 5

This round hurts.  There's a couple of ways one might go about solving this: Either 16 away from 600 or 9 away from 625.  The latter is tempting because a 9 is easy, but getting to 625 is actually somewhat difficult so the former seems preferable.  I started with 6*(75 + 25), then decided that I could not tweak the remaining numbers into getting me the remaining 16.  Had I not been so obsessed with tweaking I might have seen the very simple 616 = 6*(75 + 25) + 4*(5 - 1).  That was a very bad and simply careless miss; in the end I fell back on two-away with 614 = 6*(75 + 25 - 1) + 4*5, which wasn't even the best tweak.

Peter once again was nowhere in range, while Ann is one away with 615 = (25 + 75 + 1)*6 + 5 + 4.  Lily has found a different way to the target, using 616 = 25*4*6 + 75/5 + 1.  Another nice solution from Lily!

Ann: 615
Peter: [not in range]
Me: 614
Lily: 616

Scores: Ann 38, Peter 23 (30), me 55


Down to the conundrum, and Ann has gained 21 unanswered points in the last four rounds to have an eight point lead.  I was lost at first, and when Peter buzzed in after five seconds I paused and started the backup timer; some 11 seconds later I found the answer after considering the -ARY ending.  However, Peter's answer is revealed to be the invalid MATRIMONY -- a very near guess, but not right -- and that means Ann will win.  Ann does end up solving this at the 22 second mark on the clock (plus at least nine seconds of extra time due to Peter's invalid guess) to round off the win.

Ann: MOMENTARY (22s [+9s])
Peter: [invalid]

Final scores: Ann 38 (48), Peter 23 (30), me 65

A real see-sawing game, and a strong comeback from Ann.  A stronger numbers competitor would have troubled her, though.  Some good results from both contestants, and the game coming down to the conundrum was a fair result.  I feel sorry for Peter who must have thought he had won the game when he buzzed in.

The contestants were vowel-happy tonight, and it removed the possible full monty from contention.  (Although, to be fair, it almost made another possible.)  Maybe tomorrow will bring one!


Sam Gaffney said...

I couldn't believe it when STRAINED+I came up, as I also knew how to get nine letter words with STRAINED plus any of A,E,O,U! Very upsetting.

Well played again, Geoff. I was happy enough with my results, except for another slow conundrum.

My answers:

472 = (100-5)*5 - 3
285 = 8*25 + 100 - 9 - 6
616 = (75+25)*6 + (5-1)*4
30s (roughly)

David_Brewster said...

Some great words/solutions from both Geoff and Sam tonight.

My answers:

1. Flames
2. Repair
3. 472 = 5*(100-5)-3
4. Coasted
5. Trail
6. 284 = (9-6)*100-25+8+1
7. Strained
8. 615 = 6*(75+25+1)+5+4
9. 7 Seconds

Does anyone know when the Masters Series is due to air?

Mark said...

Nice work, Geoff, Sam and David.

1. FLAMES (disappointed I didn't see that IN could go in front)
3. 472 = 5*100 - 6*5 + 2
6. - (I had 8*25 + 100 - (6+9) in my head, but hurriedly wrote down 285 = 8*25 + 100 - 6*9 and didn't have time to fix it)
8. 616 = 6*(25+75) + 4*(5-1)
9. -

Geoff Bailey said...

Some good results here! I particularly liked RAPINE and RAPIER.

Mark: Great number work from you tonight; you'd have beatean Peter and taken Ann to the conundrum, and if not for that error in round 6 you'd have won against her also.

David: Good conundrum speed from you again, and you rightly reaped the benefits of getting close in the numbers.

There has been no official word on the timing of the Masters Series yet, as I understand it. The natural place would have been directly after the series four finals (if, as I have been assuming, it involves the eight grand finalists from each series; this is by far the most likely scenario).

Since this was not done, presumably they wanted to separate it from the series four finals; perhaps so as not to overshadow them, and also to provide some non-finals break, but the same concerns would apply to having it at the end of any series. So perhaps we will see an interruption to series five?

To me, the most likely options at this point seem to be the middle or end of series five. So at least a couple of months away, if all the above assumption is correct.