Monday, 2 April 2012

Ep 416: Craig Hill, Ben Fisher (April 2, 2012)

Richard's opening spiel includes a very large number of spoonerisms, which he impressively delivers.  As part of that it is noted that Lily's name spoonerises to Silly Learner.

Craig enjoys cricket, and says that he used to play until recently.  He liked getting out in the sun and spending some time with the guys.  Unfortunately, in the last game he played, he was on the fielding side and stood closer to the bat than turned out to be wise.  On the first ball of the game he discovered the limits to his reflexes and (in Richard's words) "tried to eat the ball".  It made a bit of a mess of his face and he lost a front tooth, but he's recovered now.  He does not know if he'll make it back out onto the cricket field any time soon, however.

Tonight's challenger is commercialisation manager Ben Fisher.  Ben loves to get out and see the world -- he thinks it has a lot to offer. He has been on treks across Africa, treks through the Grand Canyon, and did a driving trip around Northern Ireland not so long ago.  Richard asks what the perfect ingredients are for Ben's kind of travel; Ben responds that he likes to travel with someone who is willing to be spontaneous and do something on the spur of the moment.  He adds that planning can sometimes get in the way of the most amazing experiences.  He finishes with an exhortation to people who travel to take the opportunities when they arise.

Later conversation reveals that Ben plays trivia regularly at a pub, and on at least one occasion a few months back he noticed that Lily was on one of the other teams.

The contestants were fairly close throughout; Ben gained in two early letters rounds but Craig got some of that ground back in the first numbers round.  They were mostly matched for the rest of the game, but Ben found a good solution to the last numbers round to be safe going into the conundrum.  Ben buzzed in with an incorrect answer, but Craig was not able to solve it either; Ben finished the victor, 55 to 40.

I had a very good game, but felt obliged to risk a nine that I didn't entirely like and it turned out not to be valid.  The other seven main rounds were optimal, though, and that was enough for a comfortable win even though the conundrum likewise eluded me.

Round 1: M B S A O E N C I

I had a lot of trouble getting started on this mix, but ended up with MOANS, MASONIC, and then just in time COMBINES.  After time I wrote down ENCOMIA as another familiar seven -- I'd skipped over a few after MASONIC -- and amused myself by inventing BEACONISM and BACONISM.  I suspect I know a few people I could entice to follow the path of BACONISM...

Both contestants have six-letter words; Ben has chosen COSINE (to David's pretend annoyance) and Craig has MOSAIC.  David is on target, having found COMBINES.

That seems like the only eight; there's quite a few sevens, as it turns out: AMOEBIC, MANIOCS / CAMIONS (CAMION: "a strongly built truck or cart for carrying heaving loads"), INCOMES, CINEMAS / AMNESIC, BEACONS, BEMOANS, ACINOSE, ANOMIES (which I mentioned recently, in episode 407), and AMBONES (alternative plural of AMBO: "(in early Christian churches) one of the two raised desks from which gospels and epistles were read or chanted").

I've softened my stance against a fourth vowel somewhat over the course of this blog, but I'd have probably chosen a final consonant; the ensuing R would have allowed a full monty that David has mentioned at least twice before: BROMANCES (BROMANCE: "a non-sexual but intense friendship between two males").


Scores: Craig 0 (6), Ben 0 (6), me 8

Round 2: R N L O I M T A A

In this case I was pleading for a final vowel, because an I would give TRINOMIAL (repeating a mix from episode 334).  Ben obliged, but the vowel was an A instead, alas.  (Note: Chambers lists LAMINATOR, but the Macquarie does not -- a shame!)

This was another case of things coalescing only at the end (not surprising, with the vowels left so late); I had LORN, LION, IRON, and RATIONAL.  After time I added MATRONAL, rejecting MATRONIAL in the process.

Craig has TAILOR for six, but Ben has likewise found RATIONAL.  There is a little byplay about him choosing another mathematical word, although it is agreed that it can have meanings for either camp.  David has found ANIMATOR and MATRONAL for his eights.

The other eights are NOTARIAL, MANORIAL, and MORAINAL.  The sevens are MARTIAL / MARITAL, LAMINAR, ANIMATO (a musical direction), MATINAL (related to the religious service of MATINS) and TAMARIN.


Scores: Craig 0 (6), Ben 8 (14), me 16

Round 3: Target 428 from 100 75 25 5 2 4

Craig selects the balanced mix, and gets a pretty approachable target.  I started off with 4*100 and then realised that tweaking would finish it off: 428 = 4*(100 + 5 + 2).  Still within time, I wrote down the non-tweaked version: 428 = 4*100 + 25 + 5 - 2.

Ben is one away with 427 -- I can only assume this is 427 = 4*100 + 25 + 2, where he missed the option of using 5-2 instead -- but Craig has found the right adjustment with the second of those solutions I listed.  This is also how Lily did it.

Richard offers a solution himself -- a rare occurrence! -- and it is the first of those I listed.  Lily is particularly impressed with his effort.

Those ten points let Craig regain the ground lost in the last round, and he takes the lead by two points.

Craig: 428
Ben: 427
Me: 428
Lily: 428

Scores: Craig 10 (16), Ben 8 (14), me 26

First break: SUAVE ROD ("Prolonged the enjoyment for the senses")

A straight clue for SAVOURED.

David's talk is about the word commute.

Round 4: S D H E U A B R E

I had SHED, HEADS, BRUSHED, SUBHEAD, and SUBHEADER.  I did not entirely like that last one; I'd seen it used often with reference to page layout but was not convinced it would have made it into the dictionary yet, particularly since SUBHEADING likely conveyed the same meaning.  But I did not feel I could ignore it, either.  It turns out to be invalid, alas.

Craig has BASHED for six, but Ben has HEADERS for seven and retakes the lead.  David has BRUSHED and USHERED for his sevens.

Seven does seem to be the limit; the others are BEHEADS, SHEARED / ADHERES, DAUBERS, and DEBASER / SABERED (American spelling).

Me: [invalid]

Scores: Craig 10 (16), Ben 15 (21), me 26

Round 5: C N O U E V D C T

I'd seen a possibility here, and hoped that Craig would choose a final vowel.  If he had, it would have been the I that was wanted to give CONDUCIVE for nine.  The second missed chance of the night!  As it was, I had OUNCE, CONDUCT, and COUNTED.

Both contestants chose COUNTED, causing David to gripe about mathematical words being used.  He has, of course, chosen CONDUCT instead.

Those seem to be the only valid sevens; some sources allow CONVECT as a verb, but not the Macquarie (nor Chambers).  And CONDUCE is a grey area of sorts; it has its own headword entry, but the only definition is for the phrase "conduce to".  Words that appear only in combination are not allowed, but headwords are, and I don't know which this usage would count as.  Best avoided if possible!

There aren't even that many sixes; the only ones are DEVOUT, DOCENT ("a guide, as in a zoo, museum, etc., often a volunteer with some training"), and DECOCT ("to boil (a medicinal substance, etc.) in water, etc.; to extract the essence or principles").  I'll take a moment here to note that DECOCT is the only word that can be formed by concatenating two standard month abbreviations (DEC OCT).


Scores: Craig 17 (23), Ben 22 (28), me 33

Round 6: Target 791 from 100 75 9 7 4 4

The standard method is pretty clear here; the target is 9 away from a multiple of 100, and we have the 9.  I wrote down 791 = (4 + 4)*100 - 9, and then played around a bit with my 175-times tables to get the alternative 791 = (100 + 75)*4 + 7*(9 + 4).

Both contestants have reached the target; Ben used the first of those solutions, while Craig had the slight variation 791 = (4/4 + 7)*100 - 9.  Lily chose to work up from 775 instead, with 791 = 7*100 + 75 + 4*4.

Craig: 791
Ben: 791
Me: 791
Lily: 791

Scores: Craig 27 (33), Ben 32 (38), me 43

Second break: KNOT OBOE ("Where you might write music")

You'd write it in a NOTEBOOK, of course.

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

I had SIGN, GAINS, DESIGN, and READINGS.  The rest of time was spent searching for a nine, but after time I wrote down the other eights that I saw while doing so: DESIRING / RINGSIDE.

Both contestants have found sevens, using the -ING.  Craig has opted for ARISING, while Ben has gone with SEARING.  David had hoped that the final vowel would be an O (giving the familiar ORGANISED / ORGANDIES / GRANDIOSE triple, although he only mentions ORGANISED), but he had to settle for DESIRING for his eight.

The other eights are RESIDING, GRADINES (GRADINE being a variant spelling of GRADIN: "one of a series of steps or seats raised one above another"), and DERAIGNS (DERAIGN: "to dispose troops for (battle)").

Normally with -ING I am a strong advocate of sticking with three vowels.  I'd have probably done so here, but I had not recognised that ORGANISED was in contention.  In this instance it is a bit of a toss up which way to go, but I'd probably come down on the side of a vowel.  In addition to the O, an A allows GARDENIAS / DRAINAGES.  The useful consonants are H (GARNISHED), L (DRAGLINES), P (SPREADING), R (GRANDSIRE), and T (ASTRINGED / GRADIENTS)... only one of which uses -ING, incidentally.  Decent odds each way, but a vowel is probably the way to go.

That said, note the flow-on effects from the round 5 choice: If Craig had chosen the fourth vowel there (giving CONDUCIVE), then the T would have been first up here.  Sticking with three vowels would have given ASTRINGED / GRADIENTS.  Two full monties there for the taking if he'd switched his options, and his other letters game also had the potential.  David must be feeling a bit hard done by, with all these full monties being skilfully avoided by the contestants.


Scores: Craig 27 (40), Ben 32 (45), me 51

Round 8: Target 843 from 75 100 5 6 3 5

Ben sticks with the family mix, and although the target is large it is very approachable.  I put that 175-times table to good use again, with a little tweakage to get 843 = 5*(100 + 75 - 6) - (5 - 3).  After time I saw a different tweak from 8*100, getting 843 = (5 + 3)*(100 + 6) - 5.  Somewhat later I used the factor of 3 to find yet another solution: 843 = 3*(5*75 - 100 + 6).

Craig has 840, which is presumably 840 = (5 + 3)*(100 + 5).  If so, then he was very close to getting the solution; just that little tweak in it.  However, Ben has found that tweak (the second of the solutions I listed) to take the points and an unbeatable lead going into the conundrum.

No word on Lily's approach, but it's likely she had the same as Ben.

Craig: 840
Ben: 843
Me: 843

Scores: Craig 27 (40), Ben 42 (55), me 61


The V and the H stood out as the letters to focus on, but I just could not get them to go well together.  Ben buzzes in after 12 seconds and I started the backup timer; it turns out that Ben had buzzed in with AFTERSHAVE and he had realised it was wrong as he did so.  Craig was not able to solve it in the remaining time, and all up it took me three and a half minutes before I finally saw HARVESTED.  I really do have trouble with the conundrums.

Craig: [no answer]
Ben: [invalid] (12s)
Me: [no answer]

Final scores: Craig 27 (40), Ben 42 (55), me 61

A close game, but Ben's superior letterwork saw him home despite an odd miss in the first numbers round.  Craig pushed him, though, and had he found the right tweak in the final numbers round it would have come down to the conundrum after all.

It was interesting that Craig had chances in each of his letters rounds to make different choices that would have lead to full monties.

I had seven optimal rounds, and only the phantom of SUBHEADER prevented the eighth.  Poor conundrum performance continues to haunt me; still, it's a good start to the week!


Mark said...

Well done, Geoff.

1. MASONIC (I wasn't sure if this was valid, so thanks for confirming)
3. 428 = 4*100 + 25 + 5 - 2
6. 791 = 7*100 + 75 + 4*4
8. 845 = (5+3)*100 + 75 - 5*6
9. 10 seconds

I should have done better in Round 5, but overall I was happy with this game.

Sam Gaffney said...

Some solid answers from Ben tonight, I will be interested to see how he goes this week.

Your answers were eerily similar to mine, Geoff. Except for the conundrum, where I was slightly faster, and your approach to 791, which had no panache.

Nice job from Mark this game, you would nearly have taken Geoff to a tiebreaker conundrum. And the winner of the first conundrum always wins the second!

My answers:

428 = (100+5+2)*4
- (SUBHEADER, selected over BRUSHED)
791 = (100+9+4)*7
843 = (100+75-6)*5 - 5 + 3

Victor said...

Very well played Sam & Geoff, I thought we might see a max game from one of you - bad luck on SUBHEADER.

Geoff, I think you accidentally gave yourself 11 points in the last numbers round ;P. (I noticed because my answers would have scored the same as yours overall but I only got 61 points - I would have drawn with you after the conundrum).

Geoff Bailey said...

*chuckles* No panache, you say? Fair enough.

I was about to say that Mark had taken me to a tiebreaker conundrum (which I'd have to favour him to win), but then double-checking reminded me about COMBINES. A lucky escape for me, and an excellent game from you, Mark.

Victor said...

Speaking of tiebreakers Geoff, I would have taken you to one, with a score of 61...I noticed you scored 62 with very similar answers to mine. Closer inspection revealed you gave yourself a bonus point in the last numbers round :P

Sam Gaffney said...

To be clear, (4 + 4)*100 - 9 is the boring way of getting 791. Your other way was better, if that is what you "declared".

(4 + 4)*100 - 9 = 791 definitely wouldn't be worth a bonus 11th point.

Mark said...

Thanks Sam and Geoff. Geoff, I would definitely favour you to beat me at conundrums.

Geoff Bailey said...

Whoops -- thanks for catching that, Victor! A typo at the last, a cunning way to get some extra points. *laughs at self and corrects the post*

Sounds like it was a good game from you, Victor, so well done!

Geoff Bailey said...

(For clarity if anyone reads these comments in the future: Victor's first comment somehow got flagged as spam, which I only realised long after the rest of the conversation happened. I let it through, but it has confused the narrative a little as a result.)