Saturday, 24 March 2012

Ep 410: Ann Russell, Philip Scambler (March 23, 2012)

Ann has been learning Spanish in preparation for doing some travel in South America.  No mention of what she hopes to visit there, though.

Tonight's challenger is Philip Scambler, a retired school principal.  Now that he is retired, at sheep-shearing time he helps out at the shearing sheds of a friend who owns a large property.  He does not shear the sheep, but does do a variety of other tasks, "particularly the ones which are not too strenuous".

The contestants are reasonably close on the letters, but Ann twice managed to do better.  That gave her a crucial fourteen point lead, and the numbers rounds provided no difference.  Neither managed to get close in the last one which was a little odd, and it could have put Philip back into contention if he'd just done so.  (There's a suggestion that he saw something a little too late.)  Ann buzzed in with an incorrect conundrum answer, and then rather strangely Philip apparently wrote his answer down instead of buzzing in; if he had been in contention, that would have been a bizarre way to avoid winning.  Ann gets her fifth win, 49 to 35.

I was in reasonable form, but just a few seconds slow on the first letters round.  I also cunningly avoided finding the better answer in another round (but nothing nearly as bad as the ETHANOL / METHANOL slip from yesterday), and blanked on the conundrum.  But my numbers work continues to be good this series, and I had a comfortable win.

Round 1: S D G A E A S N I

I had DAGS, EGADS (probably incorrectly; the Macquarie only lists EGAD, and since it is an interjection rather than a noun it may not be pluralisable), ADAGES, and DESIGNS.  I spent too long here trying to get -ING to work, but the best one can do there is EASING (although EASING does have a specific mention as a noun at the end of the EASE entry, so EASINGS should be valid).  That time cost me, as I saw ASSIGNED with a couple of seconds left but could not get it down in time.

Both contestants have gone with ADAGES for six, while David has found ASSIGNED.

ASSIGNED looks like the only eight.  Other sevens here are AGENDAS, NAIADES (alternative plural of NAIAD, which can be a water-nymph, a particular type of water plant, or the larva of some insects), and ASSEGAI ("the slender throwing spear used by the Bantu peoples of southern Africa").  It is also a verb ("to pierce with an assegai"), so taking five vowels here would have replaced the N with an E for the admittedly unlikely full monty of ASSEGAIED.

Philip: ADAGES

Scores: Ann 0 (6), Philip 0 (6), me 7

Round 2: C T H E I U N R E

I had ETCH, CHUTE, ENTICE, and ENTICER.  I wasn't sure about it, but could not find another seven in time so decided to risk it; fortunately it turns out to be valid.  After time I found sevens I was much happier with: HERETIC (no UNHERETIC, alas, although HERETIC is an adjective so it could make sense) and NEITHER / THEREIN.

Philip has opted for the slightly risky RETUNE, but Ann has done well to find NEITHER.  David checks up on RETUNE; it turns out to be valid, but he suggests NEUTER / TUREEN as safer answers from those letters.  David has elected for CHUNTER as his somewhat unusal seven: "to move in a leisurely fashion".

Other sevens here are ETHERIC / TECHIER (not related to technology, as it turns out, but an alternative spelling of TETCHIER), the variant spelling CHUTNEE, RETINUE / REUNITE / UTERINE, CITHERN (alternative name for a zither), and ENTERIC ("intestinal").

However, there are a pair of eights: RUTHENIC (marked as obsolete: "containing ruthenium in a higher valency state than the corresponding ruthenious compound") and ENURETIC (adjective derived from ENURESIS, which is essentially bed-wetting).

Philip: RETUNE

Scores: Ann 7 (13), Philip 0 (6), me 14

Round 3: Target 516 from 100 3 10 7 1 4

Ann tries to play it conservative with the classroom mix, but the result is somewhat challenging.  The natural approach to get close is to start with 5*100, but that uses up the 1 which can be crucial for small adjustments.  Still, it does give an easy one-away, and I wrote down a fallback 517 = (4 + 1)*100 + 10 + 7.

The time spent on that almost proved very costly again; the remaining approaches would be to get there from 400 or 600.  Since the target is clearly divisible by 4 (handy rule: If the number formed by the last two digits is divisible by 4, so is the number itself) it would have made more sense to work from there, perhaps, but I started with 600 since it was closer.  Fortunately the number turns out to be divisible by 6 as well, making the tweaking a lot easier.  I was pushed for time as I wrote down the answer, just getting the final "= 516" down in time without being able to check; it was a relief when I was able to confirm that 516 = (7 - 1)*(100 - 10 - 4).

After time I looked at what would have happened if I'd formed the six the other way, and a solution is still possible: 516 = (10 - 4)*(100 - 7*(3 - 1)).  Then I finally looked at the factor of 4 to find the somewhat easier 516 = 4*(100 + 3*10 - 1).  This is Lily's solution, as it turns out.

The contestants are one away in different directions.  Ann has used my fallback approach for 517, while Philip has tweaked his way to the similar 515 = (4 + 1)*(100 + 3).

Ann: 517
Philip: 515
Me: 516
Lily: 516

Scores: Ann 7 (20), Philip 0 (13), me 24

First break: EVICT EEL ("The one that I choose")

A straight clue for ELECTIVE.

David's talk is about fool, and words or phrases derived from it.

Round 4: L N V O A I L A R

A difficult mix with that duplication and lack of an E.  I had LOAN, VIOLA, and VARIOLA (smallpox).

Both contestants have five, which is a decent result here.  Ann had VILLA while Philip had AVAIL.  David has taken that VILLA and put the AN into it, to give VANILLA.

The two sixes here are LARVAL and NARIAL ("of or relating to the nares or nostrils").  The other sevens are OVARIAN and VALONIA ("acorn cups of the valonia oak, Quercus aegilops, used in tanning, dyeing, and making ink").

(I'm a little disappointed that VANILLA was in this mix -- I thought that VARIOLA might be difficult to match.  Oh, well.)

Philip: AVAIL

Scores: Ann 7 (25), Philip 0 (18), me 31

Round 5: U E M C K I E R D

A troublesome mix, but the seven is practically spelled out in it.  I had MUCK, CERIUM, and MUCKIER.  There's a few sixes, but that is the only seven, and the best to be done.  (Some sources do list DUCKIER, but not the Macquarie.)

Philip has RUCKED, but Ann has chosen MUCKIER and gets a significant break.  David also has it, of course.

Philip: RUCKED

Scores: Ann 14 (32), Philip 0 (18), me 38

Round 6: Target 636 from 100 5 1 3 4 6

This time the classroom mix brings up a very easy result.  I went with 636 = 6*(100 + 5 + 1), then amused myself with the alternative kitchen sink 636 = 6*100 + 4*(5 + 3 + 1).

Both contestants have solved this with the minor variation 636 = (100 + 6)*(5 + 1), and Lily probably did as well.  She demonstrates a different kitchen sink approach, though: 636 = (100 + 5)*6 + 3 + 4 - 1.

Ann: 636
Philip: 636
Me: 636
Lily: 636

Scores: Ann 24 (42), Philip 10 (28), me 48

Second break: SHOVE ICE ("A team that sticks together")

I'm not sure why a team was selected here, but something that sticks together is COHESIVE.

Round 7: S T P A E T X U R

This round hurts a little, but through oversight instead of being just a fraction too slow.  I had PAST, PASTE, and PASTURE.  After time I wrote down various of the other sevens that I'd seen while looking for an eight: PATTERS / SPATTER, PUTTERS / SPUTTER, and UPSTART.  And then looking at the SUPER- fragment led me to SUPERTAX at last.  I knew that it was valid (I'd checked it after its appearance on a Countdown episode some time back), and I'd even looked at -TAX... but I got stuck on SURTAX (which has the same meaning) and never found the longer version.  Bother.

Both contestants have sevens, with PUTTERS from Philip (who plays golf) and PATTERS from Ann.  David mentions SPUTTER and PASTURE, and also that the shorter EXPATS is acceptable, but has continued his fine form by getting SUPERTAX.

The other eight in this mix is UPSTATER.  The other sevens are UPSTATE, STARTUP, STATURE, and TAPSTER ("a bartender or barmaid"),


Scores: Ann 31 (49), Philip 17 (35), me 55

Round 8: Target 699 from 25 1 4 3 10 3

Richard says that Philip got a nice result from the classroom mix last time, and asks if he will choose it again.  The key point here is that repeating the previous results is no good for Philip -- he must get closer than Ann or he cannot win.  Philip responds that he is tempted by other options but will stick with the classroom mix.  He'll just have to hope that the result is not as easy as last time.

Sadly for his chances, the target is very approachable.  It's so near a multiple of a hundred that the idea should be clear: Get to 700, and subtract 1 if possible.  The hundred part is easy, and it all falls out: 699 = (10 - 3)*4*25 - 1.  This is Lily's solution also.

Still within time I experimented with the factor of three and found the alternative 699 = 3*(10*(25 - 1) - 4 - 3).

Both contestants are still writing as time runs out, which is not a good sign.  Philip says that he did not quite get it down in time, which implies that he saw the answer but too late.  My sympathies on that, but it's also a little odd -- getting 700 at least should be relatively easy.  It would have been enough, too, as Ann has not managed to get anywhere near.  But she's done enough for the win to be guaranteed at this point.

Ann: [not in range]
Philip: [not in range]
Me: 699
Lily: 699

Scores: Ann 31 (49), Philip 17 (35), me 65


I made the mistake of second-guessing things here, deliberately avoiding looking at the COM fragment because it was already there -- a very poor decision, as it turns out.  In any event, I struggled to make any sense out of this at all.  Ann buzzed in just shy of the thirteen second mark, and this ended up revealing a bit of a systemic flaw from my setup.  I started the alternative timer and eventually found the answer at the 82 second mark.  However, Ann's answer of COMMITMENT was incorrect... but in such a way that it would have given away the actual answer of COMMITTEE.  I'd like to think that I'd have found it as a result, but I obviously cannot claim it.

More bemusement... Philip has been jotting things down on the paper -- he sets his pen down with about six seconds left -- but does not buzz in.  Afterwards it turns out that he wrote down the correct answer; did he just forget how the conundrum works?  It's fortunate that this did not turn out to cost him the game!

Ann: [invalid] (12.5s)
Philip: [no answer]
Me: [no answer]

Final scores: Ann 31 (49), Philip 17 (35), me 65

Another pretty good night from Ann on the letters, but Philip did reasonably there as well.  The final numbers round provided him the chance to get back in range but he was not able to take it.  Maybe if it had mattered he would have remembered to buzz in on the conundrum.  A strange ending to the game, but Ann gets through and has a chance on Monday to become the series' second retiring champion.


Mark said...

Interesting reading as always, Geoff.

3. 517 = 100*(1+4) + 10 + 7
5. MUCKIER (I thought this would probably be invalid, but went with it because I couldn't see much else)
6. 636 = (100+5+1)*6
7. EXTRAS (disappointed with this - I was focussing too much on using the X)
8. 700 = 25*4*(3+3+1) (disappointing that I didn't see that the 1 could be saved)
9. -

Sam Gaffney said...

For some reason I was finding everything tonight, except the Round 2 eights. I found but didn't declare UPSTATER in Round 7, as I thought it too risky.

My answers:

516 = (100+10*3-1)*4
636 = (100+5+1)*6
699 = (10-3)*4*25 - 1

Geoff Bailey said...

Cracking game from you tonight, Sam. Great job!

Mark: That 700 would still have been worth seven points to you in that game, so definitely worth getting down. Looks like pretty good results to me, with only that focus on X in round seven letting Ann tie with you.

David_Brewster said...

Just about nothing could have stopped the Gaffney train in this game.

My answers:

3. 517 = (4+1)*100 + 10 + 7
6. 636 = 6*(100+5+1)
8. 699 = (10-3)*4*25 - 1