Thursday, 22 March 2012

Ep 408: Ann Russell, Cassie Palmer (March 21, 2012)

Rounds: Here.

Richard makes reference to a "cave incident" that Ann has had.  She explains that she once went on a self-guided cave trip; she was with a group of scouts (who had all the torches).  When they got near the end of the cave -- this was about a kilometre underground -- suddenly the cave narrowed off.  Ann did not like the looks of that, so she decided to wait around while everyone else moved off to look at the rest of the cave.  Which they did, leaving her in complete darkness for the ten minutes or so until they returned.  As she said, "Those ten minutes... one K under the ground in complete darkness were very scary."  She does not "do" caves any more.

Tonight's challenger is Cassie Palmer, a district nurse.  Her daughter, Millie, is almost three years old; just before Millie turned two she suddenly could read the alphabet.  Cassie and her husband were surprised as to how this could be, since they had not sat down and taught it to her.  Then one night when they were eating dinner and watching Letters and Numbers -- as they do every weeknight -- Lily was putting up the letters and Millie was calling out the letters as Lily put them up.  So that was how it happened.

Cassie started off with two good words to have a 14 point lead after the second round; then the situation reversed in the next two letter rounds.  Cassie struggled with the numbers throughout, and when she somehow wrote down an invalid answer on the last round she dropped out of contention.  Ann solved the conundrum first in any case, ending up with a 46 to 20 win in a game that was quite similar to yesterday's game in some ways.

I saw a word a little too late for it to count, and could not get the conundrum, but aside from that it was a good game for me; I was particularly pleased about the last numbers round.  A comfortable win in the end.

Round 1: B M D E A E N C N

I had MADE, BEAMED, CANNED, and contemplated BANDMEN and DANCEMEN.  Somewhat reluctantly I decided that they were just too unlikely, and settled for six.  That was correct judgement as it turns out, which was a relief.  (The valid version of BANDMEN is BANDSMEN.)

With the duplicated E it might have been worth taking another vowel.  I was thinking that an O would give ABDOMEN (but BEMOANED is better) or an I would give ENDEMIC (but AMBIENCE is better).  It would have been an I, but I don't know if I would have spotted AMBIENCE in time.

I'm going to mention something that I've noticed a few times: Ann calls the letters a bit too fast; she doesn't always wait until Lily has finished announcing the letter -- in one later round she very noticeably interrupts Lily.  It's a bit offputting, and somewhat rude.  Future contestants take note.

Ann comments that there were too many consonants, which is a little amusing given that it was her choice.  She has NAMED for five, outdone by Cassie's choice of BEAMED.  David has managed one better by finding the only seven: MENACED.  That's good vision; obviously I looked at -ED words but wasn't anywhere near seeing that.

The other sixes here are MENACE (of course), BECAME, BANNED, MANNED, BEANED, DEMEAN, CABMEN, DECANE (an alkane typically found in petrol), and ENNEAD ("a group of nine persons or things").

Cassie: BEAMED

Scores: Ann 0, Cassie 6, me 6

Round 2: R I L T A E M D O

I had TRAIL, RETAIL, TRAILED, and TAILORED.  After time I saw the anagram IDOLATER, which I've generally found instead in the past, and then MEDIATOR.  It turns out that those are all the eights from this mix.

Ann has TRAILED, but Cassie has outdone her again with TAILORED.  David has also found all three of the eights; he points out that TAILORED / IDOLATER is one of those words that turns up moderately often and is worth remembering.

That's an early 14 point lead to Cassie, and danger signs for Ann.


Scores: Ann 0, Cassie 14, me 14

Round 3: Target 898 from 4 9 7 1 5 7

With a little encouragement from Richard, Ann chooses six small numbers again.  The target is high and challenging.  I decided to work with 7*7, which is close to 50, and try to tweak to get close.  The required multiplier is in the vicinity of 18, and unfortunately forming that 18 uses up most of the useful numbers.  I ended up two away via slightly circuitous reasoning with 900 = (9 + 5 + 4)*(7*7 + 1).

After time I managed two away in the other direction with 896 = 7*(9 + 7)*(5 + 4 - 1), but that was the best I could do.

If one considers it just from the perspective of trying to get close then 900 is the obvious target to try.  Pulling out the 9 leaves 100 as the aim from the rest; pulling out the 5 from that leaves 20, and it can be done with some effort: 900 = 9*5*(4*7 - 7 - 1).  It may be easier to try to use 10 (= 9 + 1), though, which leaves a 90 required.  Again, pulling out the factor of 5 leaves an 18 needed, and that is much easier: 900 = (9 + 1)*5*(7 + 7 + 4).

Neither contestant has been able to get within range; Lily was not able to get there either, although again we do not find how close she was.  She thinks about it over the break but is not able to come up with an answer.  With good reason, as it turns out: This target is not achievable.  It is possible to get one away, though, but there's only one way to do it: 897 = (9 + 4)*((7 + 7)*5 - 1).  That's a very tough spot, and well done to anyone who found that within time!

Ann: [not in range]
Cassie: [not in range]
Me: 900

Scores: Ann 0, Cassie 14, me 21

First break: BAT TINGE ("Helping a criminal have one each way")

Very little anagramming required to get ABETTING from that.

David's talk is about words derived from goose.

Round 4: H O Y T S E I D N

There is laughter from the audience as the first five letters spell HOYTS.  I had SHOT, HOIST, HOISTED, and DESTINY / DENSITY.  Just after time ran out I looked at the -IST ending (clearly I should have done so earlier) and immediately saw HEDONIST.  So close!

This time Ann outdoes Cassie, having HOISTED to Cassie's HOSTED.  We have seen HOISTED and FOISTED turn up quite a bit, it feels.  David is on target, having found DENSITY and HEDONIST.

HEDONIST looks like the only eight; the other sevens are HONESTY, HOYDENS (with allowed variant spelling HOIDENS), HISTONE (a type of protein), and ISOHYET ("a line drawn on a map connecting points having equal rainfall at a certain time or for a stated period").

Cassie: HOSTED

Scores: Ann 7, Cassie 14, me 28

Round 5: S G A U T C E I D

I has GUST, CAGIEST, and GAUDIEST (thanks to David pointing this out in episode 358).  As the letters went up I was strongly tempted by a fifth vowel with the hope of AGOUTIES (acceptable variant plural of AGOUTI), but the D worked just as well.

Ann has DIGEST for six, while Cassie has only managed GUTS for four.  Just one of those mental blocks, I guess, but it does mean that Ann is now only a point behind.  Richard is amused at the connection between the two words.  David recollects that GAUDIEST has turned up before, and has found it again.

 It looks like the only eight once more; the other sevens are AGISTED, AUGITES (AUGITE being a mineral), and GAUDIES (plural of GAUDY: "a festival or merrymaking, especially an annual college feast").

Cassie: GUTS

Scores: Ann 7 (13), Cassie 14, me 36

Round 6: Target 851 from 50 10 7 8 2 9

Cassie opts for the single large mix, and the general idea should be clear.  The target is near 850 which is 17*50.  There's a couple of ways to form a 17, and they both lead to solutions; I went with 851 = 50*(10 + 7) + 9 - 8.  The other is 851 = 50*(9 + 8) + 10 - 7 - 2.

Cassie has not been able to get within range, which feels a little odd.  Perhaps she got hung up on trying to get there via 10*86 - 9?  In any case, Ann and Lily have both used the first of those solutions I listed.

That gives Ann the lead at last -- the third straight game where she has had to come from behind after conceding early points.

Ann: 851
Cassie: [not in range]
Me: 851
Lily: 851

Scores: Ann 17 (23), Cassie 14, me 46

Second break: DECK BIAS ("Not getting the answer would be a real bummer")

Fairly easy to find BACKSIDE from that.

Round 7: B R A U S A R E H

Duplication and some unhelpful letters make this very awkward, but that final H is unexpectedly useful.  I had BARS / BRAS, BEARS, SHRUB / BRUSH, wondered about BRUSHER but then saw that the single-syllable rule for comparatives made BRASHER a safe option.  Just as well, since BRUSHER is not valid.  After time I noted BURSAR and wondered about SUBAREA (not valid either).

Both contestants have gone for RASHER, and David takes a moment to explain the single-syllable adjective rule and how it guarantees that BRASHER is safe.  He mentions that BRUSHER and REBRUSH would not be valid, and that EARBASH is another seven; indeed, it looks like it is the only other one.

Cassie: RASHER

Scores: Ann 17 (29), Cassie 14 (20), me 53

Round 8: Target 503 from 75 100 7 5 9 9

Cassie chooses the family mix, and turns up a surprisingly challenging target.  It is quite easy to get close, but getting to it exactly is tricky.  Both 7*75 and 5*100 are nearby; I looked at 5*100 first, so the question was whether the remaining 3 could be formed from the other four numbers.  Tweaking did not seem to help, but I did see the potential of one particular technique and was extremely pleased when it worked out to give me 503 = 5*100 + (75 + 9)/7 - 9.

After time I looked to see if the 7*75 approach might work, but the best I could do with it was one away in either direction, with 502 = 7*75 - 9 - 9 - 5 and 504 = 7*75 - 100/5 - 9/9.  I also eventually found another solution that seemed more plausible to find, but still difficult: 503 = (5 - 9/9)*(100 + 7) + 75.

Both contestants declared 502; however, when she is called upon to demonstrate it, Cassie states that she has written down the wrong thing.  Ann's answer is correct: 502 = 5*100 + 9 - 7.  That's much simpler than any approach I was considering, and I would feel somewhat foolish for missing it if I had not found a solution.

That error from Cassie stops it being yet another crucial conundrum, and Ann will win this game.

Lily has found another solution, demonstrating that there's more than one way to make that 3; she has 503 = 5*100 + 75 - (9*7 + 9).  Very nice!

(Possibly the easiest way, though, was 503 = 5*100 + 75/(9 + 9 + 7).  So simple in hindsight!)

Ann: 502
Cassie: [invalid]
Me: 503
Lily: 503

Scores: Ann 17 (36), Cassie 14 (20), me 63


Yet another conundrum with a Y in it!  The -LY ending stands out, but there's also -ITY and -ARY and (unlikely with the Y around) -IVE.  I was unable to see a solution on the first consideration of any of those, and floundered somewhat.  Ann buzzed in at around the halfway mark, and I started the backup timer.  Eventually I did find the answer, on about my third pass at the -LY ending, but it took 37 seconds all told so even if Ann had been incorrect I might have just run out of time.

Ann: PRIVATELY (13.5s)
Cassie: [no answer]
Me: [no answer]

Final scores: Ann 27 (46), Cassie 14 (20), me 63

The third come-from-behind win for Ann, and if not for that error from Cassie in the last numbers round it would have gone down to the conundrum also.  A disturbing trend for Ann -- she can't afford to keep giving up early points like that.  Some good plays from both, with TAILORED being the standout word, but neither was really able to use the numbers to the potential on offer.

I very nearly saw HEDONIST within time; that's really my only regret with this game.  MENACED would have been nice to find but was elusive enough that I'm OK with missing it, and I'm a little resigned to having the occasional complete failure on the conundrum.  Plus, I'm still very happy about my solution to the final numbers round.

Still no full monty for David, and never really much potential for it.  Maybe tomorrow?


Sam Gaffney said...

Great job on Round 8, Geoff. I might have shot myself in the foot by taking the 7*75 approach and staying with it. I saw Lily's way just after time, but was surprised at how many neat solutions there turned out to be.

All my words were -ED or superlatives tonight. Even the conundrum had a suffix, -LY.

My answers:
900 = (7*4-7-1)*5*9
851 = (10+7)*50 +9-8
504 = 7*75 - 100/5 - 9/9

Mark said...

Well done, Geoff and Sam.

3. -
6. 851 = 50*(10+7) + 9 - 8
7. Invalid - BRUSHER
8. 502 = 5*100 + 9 - 7
9. -

Sam Gaffney said...

Good words again Mark, and not bad on the numbers, Round 3 was quite hard. I was also going to chance BRUSHER until I realised that BRASHER would be safe under the monosyllabic adjective rule.

Mark said...

Thanks Sam. I'll have to keep that rule in mind.

David_Brewster said...

Good games from all of you last night.

My answers:
6. 851 = (10+7)*50 + (9-8)
8. 502 = 5*100 + (9-7)
9. 26 Seconds

Cassie Palmer said...

Wow I remember that day fondly. I was doing so well then I think it got to my head and I crumbled. It was a great experience and thanks for making this summary in writing that I can keep as a memory of the experience.

Geoff Bailey said...

Great to hear from you, Cassie, and I'm glad it was a positive experience for you!