Saturday, 31 March 2012

Ep 414: Margaret Zimmer, Louise Broadbent (March 29, 2012)

Margaret likes ten-pin bowling; she would not say (as Richard suggests) that she is pretty good, but she does have flashes of brilliance.  Occasional strikes, and once she managed to get four of them in a row.

Tonight's challenger is Louise Broadbent, a personal care assistant.  In her case, this involves working with people who have had spinal injuries and enabling them to stay in their own home after the accident.  So she aids them in physical tasks that are now difficult or impossible, and helps around the home also.

It's a very close game tonight, with the only difference being two letters rounds (one going each way).  Their three numbers answers are identical, in fact, and so it comes down to the conundrum with Margaret a single point ahead.  It is a tough one, but Louise finds the answer and takes the win, 61 to 52.

I could not hit the high notes tonight, only getting the best letters round once; additionally, I ended up deeply confused on one of the numbers rounds and ended up further away than the contestants.  The net result was that I could have been caught by Margaret on the conundrum.  I was relieved to get to the solution first and scrape home the win, although since Louise was the one to solve it I would have won in any case.

Round 1: G E N U S A T M E

I had GENUS, UNSEAT, and MAGNETS.  I did see some other sevens, but did not write them down.

Margaret has STAGE for five, but is outpointed by Louise's AGENTS.  David has found MUSTANG and MAGNETS for seven.

About halfway through the show I glanced back at this mix and saw MUTAGENS for eight, and thus its anagram AUGMENTS.  A rare miss from David, but I feel I should have seen it.

Those are the only eights; in addition to MUTAGEN / AUGMENT, there are some fairly common sevens: SEGMENT, MEANEST, NEGATES, GAMETES, and NUTMEGS.  The less common ones are MÉNAGES (MÉNAGE: "a household; a domestic establishment") / MANÈGES (MANÈGE: "a school for training horses and teaching equestrian skills").

Margaret: STAGE
Louise: AGENTS

Scores: Margaret 0, Louise 0 (6), me 7

Round 2: D P I C O A B I E

I had CODA, ACID, COPIED, BIOPIC ("a biographical film"), and CODEIA (variant spelling of CODEINE).

Both contestants have also found COPIED for six, but David is on top again, having found BIOPIC for six and PEDICAB for seven.  That's a bit vexing -- I was looking at PEDICAB earlier in the day!  Oh, well.

There is another seven: BIOCIDE ("a substance that is capable of killing living organisms").  The other six is BODICE.

Margaret: COPIED
Louise: COPIED

Scores: Margaret 6, Louise 6 (12), me 13

Round 3: Target 163 from 75 50 100 4 1 5

Margaret goes for the sometimes-difficult three of each mix, and gets a very tricky small target.  I fell into a trap of thinking here that led me to reject a useful approach, and in the end had to scramble to write down the rather poor three-away 160 = 100 + 50 + 5 + 4 + 1.  Note that an easy adjustment is 165 = 100 + 50 + 5*(4 - 1), and a bit more thought would get to one away with 164 = 100 + 50 + 75/5 - 1.  I'd wasted too much time trying to get exactly to the target, though, which did not leave me time for such adjustments.

Here's the trap I fell into: I saw that 150 = 2*75 = 75*(100/50).  However, I carelessly dismissed that because it used up the 75 when 150 = 100 + 50 would do as well... or so I thought.  What I overlooked was that the multiplicative version allows tweaking that the additive one does not, and in this round the tweaking is vital.  With several minutes of pushing numbers around after time I found 163 = (100 + 5 + 1)*75/50 + 4; when I looked at what I was doing there I saw how it was really just tweaking that 75*100/50, and found the simpler alternative 163 = (75 + 4)*100/50 + 5.

Both contestants have found 165 = 100 + 75 - (4 + 1 + 5), compounding my unhappiness with this round.  Lily has worked her way through the difficulties to find the third and final solution: 163 = (75 + 5)*100/50 + 4 - 1.

Margaret: 165
Louise: 165
Me: 160
Lily: 163

Scores: Margaret 13, Louise 13 (19), me 13

First break: CAPE FLUE ("Gandhi's preferred method of protest")

A giveaway clue for PEACEFUL.

David's talk is about hockey, and related words.

Round 4: M A R O T E R U L

I had ROAM, MORTAR, ARMOUR, and rightly rejected MATURER.  After time I noted MORALE, ROUTER, and MORTAL.

Both contestants have five-letter words; Margaret went with MOLAR while Louise chose MATER.  But David has found the only eight: EMULATOR.  A good find, and one that was missed when it turned up in episode 386 last series.

Considering the -ATOR ending should get one to it, but I did not.  Maybe third time will be the charm...

There's a considerable gap between six and eight, of course.  The common sevens are REALTOR / RELATOR, ERRATUM, and MOULTER.  In my comments on that round of episode 386, I mentioned MORULAE (plural of MORULA); that is here again, of course, as is the corresponding adjective: MORULAR.

Margaret: MOLAR
Louise: MATER

Scores: Margaret 13 (18), Louise 13 (24), me 19

Round 5: B A T I L U D E S

I had BAIT, BUILT, ADULTS, DUALIST, and DILUTES; along the way I rejected DUELIST (must have a double-L) and DUALISE (also rejected yesterday).  After time I added BLASTED, DILATES, and DISABLE (seeing the -ABLE ending at last!) / BALDIES.

Louise has BLADES for six, outdone by Margaret's choice of BLASTED.  That brings the scores right back close again, with Margaret now having a single point lead.

David has found SUITABLE for eight.  Maybe I'd have seen that if I looked at -ABLE in time, but I did not find it after time so probably not.  The other eights are DUTIABLE ("subject to duty, as imported goods") and SUBLATED (SUBLATE: "(in Hegelian philosophy) to set aside but not wholly to dispense with; supersede while retaining something of the nature of what is superseded").

Margaret: BLASTED
Louise: BLADES

Scores: Margaret 20 (25), Louise 13 (24), me 26

Round 6: Target 605 from 100 75 5 3 6 4

No surprise that everyone finds 605 = 6*100 + 5.

Margaret: 605
Louise: 605
Me: 605
Lily: 605

Scores: Margaret 30 (35), Louise 23 (34), me 36

Second break: JOB STAIN ("One who plays Mr Paterson's instrument")

A reference to A. B. "Banjo" Paterson, one of Australia's most famous poets, and thus the answer is BANJOIST.

Round 7: F E R O N A C I F

Ergh, a pair of F's is not a hopeful sign.  I had FORE, CRANE, and FANCIER.

Both contestants have found FANCIER; David's selection is OFFICER.  The other seven that could have been found is CONIFER.

Margaret: FANCIER

Scores: Margaret 37 (42), Louise 30 (41), me 43

Round 8: Target 899 from 25 100 6 9 7 8

Margaret is ahead by one point here, so whatever happens Louise cannot be safe going into the conundrum, but could potentially drop out of contention.  Trying for an easy mix is probably right under such circumstances, although an impossible one would do just as well.  She opts for the family mix and gets a large but unchallenging target.

I went with 899 = 9*100 - (8 - 7), while both contestants chose the minor variation 899 = 9*100 - (7 - 6).  After time I found a more complicated way just for fun: 899 = 7*(100 + 25) + 8*(9 - 6).

No word on what Lily did, but it's safe to assume that she had one of those.

Margaret: 899
Louise: 899
Me: 899
Lily: 899

Scores: Margaret 47 (52), Louise 40 (51), me 53


The last three rounds have offered no scope for gain, and thanks to my performance in round 3 I am catchable at this point -- if Margaret solves the conundrum first I shall lose my first game of the series.  That adds a bit of tenseness to the conundrum for me.  It's more so for the contestants, as there's just a single point separating them so solving it will guarantee the win.

Lots of common letters in this one, and I spent rather too much time looking at -ENCE and -INCE, before somehow stumbling on the right answer a bit over twelve seconds in.  Louise gets there only four seconds later, and her correct answer ends Margaret's run and makes Louise the new champion.

Margaret: [no answer]
Louise: CENTIPEDE (16.5s)
Me: CENTIPEDE (12.5s)

Final scores: Margaret 47 (52), Louise 40 (61), me 63

A very close game tonight, and only the first and fourth rounds offered much scope for improvement.  Pretty good play on the whole, but Louise's better conundrum solution saw her home.

I missed several better results early on that I feel I should have seen, and hope that I will when they arise again in the future.  The first numbers round is the most vexing to me, as I should have managed at least 165.  Still, I solved what felt like a tricky conundrum so there's that to be happy about.


Sam Gaffney said...

Bad luck on Round 3, Geoff. I saw Lily's way after time, a tough target below 200 can be incredibly frustrating, as they feel so gettable.

My answers:

164 = 100+50 + 75/5 - 1
605 = 6*100+5
899 = 9*100-7+6

Mark said...

I had two really bad rounds in this game.

3. 164 = 100 + 50 + 75/5 - 1
6. 605 = 6*100 + 5
8. 897 = 8*(100+9) + 25
9. 9 seconds