Monday, 26 March 2012

Ep 411: Ann Russell, John Morris (March 26, 2012)

Richard asks Ann for particular memories of her performance so far.  Ann has enjoyed it, of course, and mentions that she has discovered something about herself: Her ability to recover from blunders so that she can treat each game separately and not dwell on what she has done in the past.  She did not know that about herself, so it has been a good learning experience.

Tonight's challenger is John Morris, an economist and geologist.  John has been on several trips -- partly tied in with his geological interests -- that have tended to have a theme about them; generally, dinosaurs and volcanos.  He mentions one trip to Boulia, near the Queensland/Northern Territory border; he says that area used to be an ocean and had pliosaurs swimming around there.  So the trips were about finding fossils or evidence of volcanic activity along the way; Richard compares it to a game of I Spy.

For the first four letters rounds Ann managed to outdo John by a letter each round.  He turned the tables in the final letters round but he had already conceded far too much ground to hope to catch up.  Ann solved two of the numbers rounds also (with the third proving too difficult for both contestants), which put it beyond any doubt.  The conundrum went unsolved and Ann gained her sixth victory with a 47 to 16 scoreline, becoming the series' second retiring champion.  She'll be back for the finals, presumably, unless we keep getting retiring champions at this rate!

I was slow on the conundrum, but I got there.  I did as well as possible on the numbers, and almost so on the letters.  I actually had every best answer written down (one of them outdoing David) but talked myself out of two of them, including the full monty.  Ouch.  A comfortable win and a good game, but it hurts to have the perfect game within grasp and throw it away like that.

Round 1: C M E I D R E T A

I had MICE, prepared a possible -DEMIC ending, then MERITED, READMIT, MEDICATE, and briefly wondered about MEDICATER but rightly rejected it.  (For future reference: There's no MEDICATOR, either; there is DECIMATOR, however, if that mix comes up.)  After time I found TIMECARD for another eight.

John has CRATED for six, but Ann is one better with CREAMED.  David has found the anagrammatic pair MEDICATE / DECIMATE, and takes a moment to note that the meaning of DECIMATE is shifting from its original definition (killing one in ten) to mean more like annihilate.

The other eights are CREMATED and DIAMETER.  There's also MEDICARE, but only capitalised (as expected), so it is not valid.


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

Round 2: S C S E U O N P D

I had CESS, CUES, SOUSE, wondered about UNPOSED (didn't like it, and rightly so as it turns out), SOUSED, DUNCES, and POUNCES in a last second scramble.  Fortunately I managed to get it down just in time.  I could not improve on it afterwards, although POUNCED was an obvious variation.

John has an "ugly six" of CUSSED, but Ann has found POUNCES to take the points.  David could not better it, and mentions SECONDS and SUSPEND as other sevens.

The remaining sevens are SPOUSED, ESCUDOS (former currency of Portugal or Chile), and PSEUDOS (PSEUDO: "a person who pretends to be what he or she is not [...]").


Scores: Ann 7 (14), John 0, me 15

Round 3: Target 842 from 4 3 7 1 4 6

Ann goes for six small numbers and gets another high target.  I could get to one away with 841 = (6 + 4)*7*3*4 + 1, and saw some 843's, but that was the best I could do.  After time I wrote down those other one-aways: 843 = 3*(4*7*(6 + 4) + 1), which is just tweakage on the 841, and 843 = 7*6*(4 + 1)*4 + 3.

It turns out that the target is impossible, and those three answers are the only ways to get as close as one away.  So I found all the optimal answers, for whatever that is worth.

Neither contestant is able to get within range, as it turns out.  This is the third time that Ann has selected six small, and each time she has ended up with a high target (947, 898, 842) that has been impossible, and neither her nor her opponent have managed to get within range.  I can't say that it has been a working strategy for her, but it also has not cost her anything.

No word from Lily, but it's reasonable to assume she had got within one.

Ann: [not in range]
John: [not in range]
Me: 841

Scores: Ann 7 (14), John 0, me 22

First break: COUP DICE ("Not bored, and not empty")

A double definition for OCCUPIED.

David's talk is about various regional names for iced confections (such as "icy pole", "iceblock", and "popsicle").  He segues to talking about how brand names can become generic terms for items.

Round 4: T R M A E A Y S I

I had TRAM / MART, MATER / TAMER, and MASTERY.  That last was one of the words from my losing game against Brett, so it was an easy find this time as all of those are pretty permanently seared in my memory.  I also speculated about AIRTEAMS and AIRMATES, but correctly rejected them.  After time I noted MAESTRI / SMARTIE and STREAMY as other sevens that I had seen while searching.

John has found TEAMS for five, but once more is outdone by a letter with Ann's choice of STREAM.  David has also found MASTERY for seven.

Other sevens are IMARETS (IMARET: "(in Turkey) a hospice for pilgrims, etc."), AMRITAS (AMRITA in Hindu mythology being "the ambrosial drink of immortality"), and ARISTAE (plural of ARISTA: "a bristle-like appendage of grain, etc.") / ASTERIA ("a precious stone which shows asterism when cabochon-cut, as the star-sapphire").  I mentioned ASTERIA back in episode 382, incidentally, but I'd long since forgotten it.


Scores: Ann 7 (20), John 0, me 29

Round 5: C T N E A P R D I

I had CENT, PRANCE, PRANCED, PAINTER, DIPTERAN (a type of insect), and wondered about PREDICANT.  I could not quite convinced myself that this was anything more than wishful thinking, so I settled for the eight.

John has gone for CRATED again, and once more Ann has done one better with PAINTED.  David mentions Jacob's find of PREDICATE in the final of series three, and that can only mean one thing.  David has found PREDICANT, and it is valid after all.  It is either an adjective meaning "preaching", or (although marked as obsolete) a noun meaning "a preacher".

The other eight here is PEDANTIC.

It's disappointing to have seen the full monty, and even have written it down, and then decide against it.  Sadly, having done so overshadows finding DIPTERAN, which would otherwise have been quite a satisfactory find.

[Update: Looking over old episodes I noticed that I had mentioned PREDICANT as a possibility in episode 374.   Maybe I had partially remembered that when I found it in the first place?]


Scores: Ann 7 (27), John 0, me 37

Round 6: Target 859 from 100 10 5 3 3 8

John is twenty-seven points behind and in a heap of trouble.  Can he get some back in the number?  He opts for the single large mix and gets a game too easy to be helpful to him -- everyone has 859 = 8*100 + 5*10 + 3*3.  Still, at least he is on the board at last, which must be a relief.

Ann: 859
John: 859
Me: 859
Lily: 859

Scores: Ann 17 (37), John 10, me 47

Second break: AUNT BEEN ("A champion egg")

If it is still an egg, then it is UNBEATEN.

Round 7: O I A B L N T O V

I had BOIL, TALON, OBLATION, and then was gripped by doubt and wrote down OBTAIN.  I was unable to recall the meaning of OBLATION, and ended up talking myself out of it as perhaps being confused with ABLATION or ABLUTION.  OBLATION is perfectly fine, however; it can refer specifically to the office of the Eucharist, and more generally is "any offering for religious or charitable uses".

This time Ann has VIOLA for five to be outdone by John's selection of ALBINO.  That's a good find, but David has OVATION for seven.

The other eight is an anagram of OBLATION: LOBATION, being "a lobate formation" and also a synonym for LOBE.  There do not seem to be any other sevens -- in some places, BONIATO is a term for a sweet potato, but the Macquarie does not list it -- but there are some other sixes: BONITO ("any of several fishes belonging to the tuna family [...]"), LOTION, VOLANT ("flying"), and LATION (a shortening of "relation", apparently, in Aboriginal English) / TALION ("retaliation as authorised by law [...]").

Those six points were not quite enough for John; Ann will win this game and become the second retiring champion of the series.


Scores: Ann 17 (37), John 16, me 53

Round 8: Target 701 from 100 3 1 8 5 8

John sticks with the classroom mix, and how to proceed is pretty clear; it's just a question of getting that adjustment by one.  I had 701 = (8 - 1)*100 + (3 + 5)/8.  After time, just for fun, I tried to get there by working down from 800.  With a little tweaking it turned out to be possible: 701 = 8*(100 - (8 + 5 - 1)) - 3.

John has 700, so presumably missed the division to get that final 1, but Ann has found her way there with a slight variation: 701 = (8 - 1)*100 + (8 - 5)/3.  Lily has done it similarly.

Ann: 701
John: 700
Me: 701
Lily: 701

Scores: Ann 27 (47), John 16, me 63


Some letters that don't mesh that well here; I looked at the F at first, then the H, but was not making much progress until I decided that the CH needed to be together.  That somehow led me to the answer not long thereafter (although it took me far longer than I would have liked to reach that point), and I solved it at about the 13 second mark.  Neither contestant was able to do so within time.

Ann: [no answer]
John: [no answer]

Final scores: Ann 27 (47), John 16, me 73

Ann's words were just too good for John this game, and that's pretty much the story of it.  She sealed it with some reasonable number work, but the damage was already done by the end of round five.  Ann successfully retires with a total of 292 points; last series that would have corresponded to fifth place, but we'll see how things shake out this time.

I was so close to a perfect game tonight, and one which would have even outscored David and Lily (on solo scores, that is; head-to-head I have to assume that David beats me to any possible conundrum).  In the two non-optimal rounds I had the best answer written down and went away from it; round seven was particularly bad in that regard.  Opportunities like this do not come very often, and I'm extremely disappointed to have blown this one.


David_Brewster said...

Well played Geoff. Nice work to get that conundrum. I too had a fantastic game, and with the exception of the failing to obtain the conundrum, I had a near unstoppable night.

My answers:

3. 841 = (7*4*3)*(6+4) + 1
6. 859 = (8*100)+(5*10)+(3*3)
8. 701 = (5+3-(8/8))*100 + 1

Mark said...

Well done, Geoff and David.

3. 840 = 7*6*(4*4 + 3 + 1)
6. 859 = 8*100 + 5*10 + 3*3
8. 701 = 100*(5 + 3 - 8/8) + 1
9. 19 seconds

It was disappointing not to have done better in Rounds 1, 4 and 7, especially considering that I looked for -TION words in Round 7. I wouldn't have known PREDICANT was valid.

Sam Gaffney said...

Great finding Geoff, bad luck on your conservative calls. Good work on the full monty David B, and a solid night on the numbers/conundrum for Mark.

I had a happy game, except for Round 5, where I saw DIPTERAN right after time, and later PEDANTIC. PREDICATE had come to mind at some point, but I wasn't really aware of PREDICANT being a word.

OBLATION is a word I have only learned in the last few months, I was really hoping for an S to be the last letter that round.

My answers:

843 = (4+1)*4*6*7 + 3
859 = 8*100 + 5*10 + 3*3
701 = (8-1)*100 + (3+5)/8

Jacob D said...

Very humbled to get a mention by David 111 episodes after my final (nice to know they haven't forgotten me!)

Had one of my better nights (minus the conundrum) with:
(No answer)

In my predicate mix, I was urging the 9th letter to be an E (which luckily it was), but on later review realised it could've been any of E, I, C, N, S, Y for a full monty (don't know if I would've spotted any of the others on the day though!)

Sam Gaffney said...

Nice work, Jacob - TIMECARD is a cool word. David Astle mightn't have forgotten you, but he did overlook Series 2 champion Tony Loui, who got PREDICATE in his semi-final, 213 episodes ago. This can be verified on the L&N website's (currently out-of-date) hall of fame page.

Geoff Bailey said...

Nice to hear from you again, Jacob, and that was a fine evening's performance from you! Thanks for the mini-challenge, which I solved although I had to check the Y one. I think the actual E mix was the only one I would have solved in time, but the S one I might have got there -- hard to be sure, since in this instance I knew there was a nine.

Sam Gaffney said...

Hmm, the squeaky wheel got the grease with the Hall of Fame. Like DA's amusing performance at the end of Ep412, we're being watched...

If so, I inform Big Brother that Jacob Davey's Impressive maths solution needs its right bracket shifted to after the final 5.