Thursday, 5 April 2012

Ep 418: Ben Fisher, Kylie Alexander (April 4, 2012)

Ben lived in the UK for a few years; I hope he watched Countdown there.  He explains that like many backpackers, or indeed other people who go there, he got his "Heathrow injection" and started putting on some pounds.  In that first winter there wasn't much to do so he decided that he would run the London Marathon.  Ben spent about four months training, and then come April he entered it.  He completed the event in four hours and seven minutes; he had hoped to do it in under four hours but hit a wall (figuratively, I assume) at around 22 miles.

Tonight's challenger is Kylie Alexander, who is studying to be a GP.  Kylie is currently a registrar, and as a registrar has worked in quite a variety of places.  She mentions Kakadu in the Northern Territory, the Riverland on the south coast of South Australia, and now in the Adelaide Hills.  As Richard points out, Kylie has been away from the cities; he asks if she intends to work in a regional area, and she responds that she does.

Ben is in good form again tonight, with some good results in both facets of the game.  An invalid word from him was a small blemish but the game was essentially won at that point.  He finished off the game with an excellent four-second solution to the conundrum, and a 63 to 21 win.

I had some good and some bad tonight.  I was just in time on the first letter round, a bit too slow on the second and third, but then found the elusive full monty in the fourth.  I was not quite equal to the challenge of a tough numbers round, and nowhere near solving the conundrum.  Nonetheless, some of those good results saw me comfortably home, and any day with a full monty is a good one.

Round 1: H R S A U E C A N

I had RASH, USHER, SEARCH, and then I floundered for a bit.  Anagramming SEARCH to ARCHES put me on the track for the right ending, and I was in the process of writing down RANCHES when I realised that RAUNCHES was there.  I just barely got it down in time, very messy but legible enough to count.

Both contestants have found six-letter words; Kylie chose SAUCER while Ben opted for UNCASE.  David has to check this since the UN- words can be fickle (as Camilla found out with UNCLIP in episode 338), but it turns out to be fine.  David points out RANCHES and RAUNCHES, with the acknowledgement that we have seen them a few times before.

In fact, this is an identical mix to round seven of episode 334, which is where I first recall seeing RAUNCHES on the show.  RAUNCHES is the only eight, and RANCHES and CAESURA are the only sevens.


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

Round 2: L G E O M D R U A

I had OGLE, GOLEM, MODEL, MODULE, and wondered about GLOAMED (GLOAMING is there, meaning "twilight", but as I expected it has not been backformed into GLOAM as a verb).  I got stuck trying to find a decent seven (or longer), but without success.  After time I saw GLAMOUR almost immediately, and amused myself by considering GLAMOURED but thought it highly unlikely the Macquarie would list the verb sense.  I also noted MOULDER, and that I'd manage to miss MODULAR despite having MODULE.  Ouch.

Kylie is not happy about declaring DRAG for four, and Ben's six of MORGUE takes the points.  David has found GLAMOUR and laments that it is not a verb since he also spotted the potential of GLAMOURED.  I'll note that Chambers does list it as a verb, in the archaic sense of "to enchant, bewitch, cast a spell over".

The other sevens are EARLDOM, ROULADE, MORULAE (I've mentioned this both times that EMULATOR has turned up, the first being episode 386 and the second just four episodes ago in episode 414), and MOULAGE ("the making of a mould in plaster of Paris, etc., of  objects, footprints, tire tracks, etc., especially for identification"; it can also mean the mould itself).

Kylie: DRAG

Scores: Ben 6 (12), Kylie 0 (6), me 14

Round 3: Target 515 from 100 50 9 5 6 1

This is pretty straightforward, although I complicated my life by tweaking it: 515 = 5*(100 + 9 - 6).  Then I saw that the untweaked version was simpler, although using the same numbers: 515 = 5*100 + 9 + 6.

Both contestants have solved it; Ben has used the first of those methods, while Kylie has opted for the second.  Lily unsuprisingly has a preference for Ben's way, although it's not stated explicitly that she used it.

Ben: 515
Kylie: 515
Me: 515
Lily: 515

Scores: Ben 16 (22), Kylie 10 (16), me 24

First break: DART MAIN ("Getting fruity in the tropics")

The tropical fruit is the TAMARIND.

David's talk is about a trio of Asian words that start with 'sh' and end in 'u': shiatsu, shabu-shabu, and shih tzu.

Round 4: B T S R E I A C F

I had REST, TRIBES, and BAITERS before the final letter went up.  I was really hoping for another T and BRATTICES, but it was not to be.  No such luck, and I added FABRICS to the list.  After time ran out I found FIBRATES for eight; I had assumed that FIBRATE was a verb, but it turn out to be a noun: "a derivative of fibric acid, used as a medical drug to prevent heart disease by lowering cholesterol and removing triglycerides".  There's a chance his might not be considered pluralisable in which case seven is the limit.

Kylie has BRACES for six, but Ben has BAITERS for seven.  That makes David check once more, as the agent nouns are also somewhat sporadic.  I knew it was valid since I'd looked it up not so long ago.  Countdown players should avoid it, however, as it is not allowed there; instead BARITES (a mineral) is the appropriate word to play from those letters.  Perhaps amusingly, BARITES might not be valid play in Letters and Numbers, so it is a sequence which has valid plays in each game but they must be different!

David saw BAITERS but thought that FABRICS was a safer seven, as was ASCRIBE.

The other sevens are FAIREST, RACIEST, FIBSTER (alternative for FIBBER), FIACRES (I first mentioned FIACRE in episode 390; it is a hackney-coach), STEARIC ("of or relating to suet or fat"), and TERBIAS (TERBIA being an oxide of terbium).  So TERBIAS might be a valid play in both games, contrary to my remark above, but the other options are safer... as long as you know which is which.


Scores: Ben 23 (29), Kylie 10 (16), me 31

Round 5: N D P E O I T R E

I had PEND, OPINED, POINTED, POINTER / PROTEIN, and then considered REPOINTED.  I have a strong memory of my father explaining repointing to me when I was much younger (although I don't recall why), and fortunately also more recent memory of the Macquarie not listing the concept.  I flitted over POINTERED and PROTEINED without serious consideration, and settled happily on TERPENOID, the adjective derived from TERPENE (a certain class of hydrocarbons).  Always nice to find the full monty!

Kylie has TREND for five, but is outdone by PROTEIN from Ben.  That puts her a very uncomfortable twenty points behind, and she'll have an uphill battle to recover from that.

David saw POINTED in the first seven and then the RE- came along, and he spent most of his thirty seconds checking up on REPOINTED.  It is not (as I mentioned), but he still managed to find ORIENTED for eight.

TERPENOID is the only nine, and ORIENTED the only eight, but there are a few sevens.  I won't list them, but I will mention PERIDOT as a combination that comes up reasonably often, and PRETEND and PIONEER as two other findable sevens.

Kylie: TREND

Scores: Ben 23 (36), Kylie 10 (16), me 49

Round 6: Target 856 from 25 50 75 4 7 3

Kylie goes for three of each, which can often be tricky.  I saw the factorisation of 8*107, but getting both 8 and 107 together looked extremely difficult (it turns out not to be possible).  My fallback was to get close from 875, and I ended up one away with 857 = 7*(75 + 50) - 25 + 4 + 3.

I spent a couple of minutes after time pushing the numbers around and things came together nicely once I tried using the 11 (from 7 + 4).  The process went something like: 11*75 is 825, which is 31 away.  That's close to 33 which is 11*3, and the difference is 2, which we can make from the numbers left over.  It all works out neatly to give 856 = (7 + 4)*(75 + 3) - 50/25.  That turns out to be the only solution, and my hearty congratulations to anyone who saw that within time.

Kylie has not been able to get within range, but Ben is just three away with 853 = (7*3 - 4)*50 + 75/25.  That's excellent work, and seven much deserved points to him.

Lily talks through the solution I listed, as she's clearly seen the idea without time to check it.  If she'd been a contestant that would correspond to not having the answer written down, I'd wager.  Regardless, that's still an excellent find (and much faster than I was).

Ben: 853
Kylie: [not in range]
Me: 857
Lily: 856

Scores: Ben 23 (43), Kylie 10 (16), me 56

Second break: GRADE MAP ("Aggressive used of a beeper")

The beeper use clues the PAGED of RAMPAGED.

Round 7: S N M A I A T B U

In contrast to my usual stance, I might well have tried the fourth vowel a bit earlier, and then once it was revealed to be a U a fifth in hopes of an O for TINAMOUS (or an E for ANIMATES).  I like those odds, but the other vowels would have been less helpful.  In any case, I had MANS, MAINS, MATINS, and ABSTAIN.

Kylie has MAINS for five, and Ben is unsure about his choice of UNBIAS.  It turns out to be invalid (UNBIASED is listed), and so Kylie gets the points.  It's not enough, however -- she needed at least seven points here to have a chance of winning -- and Ben will win the game.

David has gone for NUMBATS for his seven.  The others are BATSMAN / BANTAMS (it took me several tries to get that right; I kept typing BATMANS), STAMINA, TSUNAMI, and MANTUAS (MANTUA: "a kind of loose gown formerly worn by women").

Ben: [invalid]
Kylie: MAINS

Scores: Ben 23 (43), Kylie 10 (21), me 63

Round 8: Target 811 from 75 25 100 5 6 9

Kylie sticks with the balanced mix, and gets a large target but a fairly approachable one.  I was about to overcomplicate things by tweaking early when -- perhaps prompted by Ben putting down his pen early and sitting back (I've commented before about why I think this is a bad idea, but he has already won the game so those objections don't entirely apply) -- I stopped to consider the offset first.  It is 11, which can be formed from the 5 + 6 that we have.  That makes it a question of getting to 800, and that turns out to be straightforward after all: 811 = 9*100 - 75 - 25 + 6 + 5.

Kylie is three away with 814; I'm willing to bet she was very close but worked down from 825 instead of up from 800, with 814 = 9*100 - 75 - 5 - 6.  In any case Ben has reached the target as expected, with the solution I listed.  That was also Lily's approach.

Ben: 811
Kylie: 814
Me: 811
Lily: 811

Scores: Ben 33 (53), Kylie 10 (21), me 73


A tough conundrum with so few vowels, although really that should help since it requires consonant clusters and that cuts down the options greatly.  Ben buzzes in with the correct solution at the four second mark; I started the alternate timer, but it ended up taking me a total of almost five minutes before I finally saw it, despite considering the -ANCY ending a few times.  A tough one for me.

Kylie: [no answer]
Me: [no answer]

Final scores: Ben 43 (63), Kylie 10 (21), me 73

Ben played well tonight, and 63 is an excellent score for a game with an invalid round.  Some good words and numberwork both, and a rapid solution of a tough conundrum.  Kylie was outplayed in all aspects, although she was close to solving that last numbers round and if Ben's less safe plays had not turned out OK she could have been much better placed.  Still, Ben is looking in good form and stands a decent chance of getting to the finals.  The crucial game four is tomorrow; can he make it?


Mark said...

Congratulations on your full monty, Geoff. It wasn't a good game for me.

3. 515 = 5*100 + 9 + 6
6. -
8. 811 = 9*100 - 75 - 25 + 5 + 6
9. -

Sam Gaffney said...

I was busy last night, and have just played. A good night's sleep did wonders for my answers.

I had never heard of Geoff's delightful full monty, which did me in by a point. I paused and got Lily's Round 6 solution after she said she had gotten there. I did well on the rest, although these double-A letter mixes are annoying me.

My answers:

515 = (100+9-6)*5
857 = (75+50)*7-25+4+3
811 = 9*100-75-25+6+5

Geoff Bailey said...

Excellent game from you, Sam -- I needed every bit of that full monty! A shame it only works once. *chuckles*

Mark: Bad luck, but there were some tough rounds there. For the second numbers round, my tip for the day is that 875 is both 5*175 and 7*125, so it is frequently able to be made. That would help with getting close, although not getting the target.

Good luck in the next game!