Thursday, 12 April 2012

Ep 423: Steve Malcolm, Jane Taylor (April 11, 2012)

Rounds: Here.

On Steve's second night we find out that he is training to be an ironman.  No, not the Marvel superhero, an entrant in the ironman surf lifesaving event.  Steve says that there are a couple of reasons for this; one is that he's reached the point in life where he has to fight the middle-aged spread and it's a good way of keeping control of that.  It's also about the personal challenge, although when he is out there at four in the morning on a bicycle in the wind and the rain he does sometimes question whether it is worth it.

Tonight's challenger is Jane Taylor, a retired teacher and community development officer.  Jane has been awarded the Centenary of Federation medal; she received that in 2001 as recognition of her paid work as a community development officer at a community centre, and her voluntary work in the same area as an elected member of council.

Jane showed good performance on the words today, outpointing Steve several times.  Steve gained some of it back on the second numbers round, but he needed to outpoint Jane on the last to have a chance.  Jane was able to outdo him on that round and be safe going into the conundrum; Steve solved a tough one very quickly, but Jane had the win, 47 to 37.

I was in decent form today, although there were some rocky spots and definite grounds to improve.  Really, the only disappointing part was the second numbers round where I cunningly avoided following one line that would lead to a solution, and found another but had lost too much time in the process.  I was slow on the conundrum as usual, but just barely got it within regulation time.  All up it was easily enough for the win, but I'd like to do a bit better tomorrow.

Round 1: P B T C O U E A R

Not a promising mix to start with.  I had POUT, COPTER, OUTPACE, and wondered about OUTPACER.  I correctly decided against it, and after time added CAPTURE and PROBATE as alternative sevens.  That turns out to be all of them, in fact, and there's nothing longer.

Steve had TRUCE for five, but Jane has found POUTER for six.  Richard suggests that it is a breed of pigeons, and David confirms that is correct.  It is also someone who pouts, and was a verb sense also which might be useful in another game (POUTER: "to rummage around; poke; stir"; it can also be spelled POWTER).

David has found CAPTURE and OUTPACE for his sevens.

Steve: TRUCE

Scores: Steve 0, Jane 0 (6), me 7

Round 2: N T S D I O A N E

Ooh, a very compatible set this time, at least once that E appeared.  I had DINTS, NATIONS, and SEDATION.  That was the best I could do, even after time.

This time both contestants have sevens that are anagrams of each other: Steve with STAINED and Jane with DETAINS.  David notes SEDATION and ANOINTED, and points out that if that last vowel had been an O then DONATIONS would have been there for nine.  (I recall noticing this, incidentally.)  But he is acting the way he usually does when he has found a full monty, and indeed he announces that he has done so.  Spurred on by that I spent a few more minutes looking, eventually seeing it immediately on trying the ANTI- prefix: ANTINODES.  Bravo, David!

(Knowing that ANTINODE is an anagram of ANOINTED probably helped him greatly here.)

The unmentioned eight is SONATINE (plural of SONATINA; I noted this word back in episode 393).  There are two others listed in Chambers but not the Macquarie: ASTONIED, an obsolete variant of ASTONISHED, and ENATIONS (outgrowths); the Macquarie lists the adjective ENATE but not that associated form.


Scores: Steve 0 (7), Jane 0 (13), me 15

Round 3: Target 807 from 75 50 6 1 4 4

Steve goes for the family mix, and I was a bit too keen on the 6*125 = 750 that I'd considered before the target went up.  I managed to tweak that to three away with 804 = 6*(75 + 50 + 4 + 4 + 1).  Then I did what I should have started off doing: trying to get that 800.  That turns out to be straightforward, and the remaining values cooperate nicely to yield the solution: 807 = 4*4*50 + 6 + 1.

Both contestants have ended up two away with 805, and with the same method: 805 = (6 + 4)*75 + 50 + 4 + 1.  I'll note that a little tweak would have got one closer, and seven points: 806 = (6 + 4)*(75 + 1) - 4.

Lily has solved it, using the same solution as I did.  (It turns out that there is only one other solution, for any interested reader.)

Steve: 805
Jane: 805
Me: 807
Lily: 807

Scores: Steve 0 (14), Jane 0 (20), me 25

First break: LURE CALL ("A popular phone in the US")

An easy clue for CELLULAR.

David's talk is about the words bulletin, gazette, and magazine.

Round 4: F T R C A O I N D

I had CRAFT, FACTOR, and FRACTION.  I was hoping that the D would be an S, but no such luck.

Jane announces that she will please Lily by having a mathematical eight (she has FRACTION, of course) and Steve points out that his six of FACTOR is also mathematical.  David pretends to be put out by these mathematical words, and somewhat disconsolate that he also had to declare FRACTION.

The sevens here are FACTOID, FACTION, FRANTIC / INFRACT / INFARCT, CAROTID, and CAROTIN (variant spelling of CAROTENE).  But there is another eight that David would have no-doubt preferred to declare: TORNADIC, the adjective derived from TORNADO.


Scores: Steve 0 (14), Jane 8 (28), me 33

Round 5: A E E I M S B H R

I'd have preferred a sixth consonant, with the ensuing L leading to much easier sevens (like RAMBLES / MARBLES and SHAMBLE -- no SHAMBLER, though).  As it was, I had SAME, BEAMS, MASHER, wondered about MASHIER (invalid), and resorted to AMBRIES (AMBRY: "a cupboard; dresser") for my seven.  I also wondered about AMBERISE and (after time) AMBERISH, but correctly decided that they were not likely to be valid.

After time I found some easier sevens: MISHEAR, BEARISH, and BEAMERS (head-high cricket deliveries).  I certainly made heavy going of this round!

Steve is not happy with only having a five of SHIRE, and Jane goes for what she says is a safe six.  She seems a bit more doubtful when she declares BASHER, but as David notes it has been on the show before and is fine.  No mention of what Jane's less safe word was; David has gone with MISHEAR for his seven.

The remaining sevens are SEAMIER / SERIEMA (a type of bird), BESMEAR, BEMIRES / BIREMES ("a galley having two banks or tiers of oars"), BEAMIER, and MIHRABS (MIHRAB: "Islam a niche in a mosque, indicating the direction of Mecca").

This round puts Steve 20 points behind, and deep in danger territory; he's going to need to make up ground in the numbers rounds.

Steve: SHIRE

Scores: Steve 0 (14), Jane 8 (34), me 40

Round 6: Target 723 from 25 1 7 8 9 5

Jane opts for the classroom mix, and I made the mistake of abandoning my tentative idea when the target went up; I'll get back to that in a bit.  The standard method suggest getting to 725, but the multiplier is a rather awkward 29 and the final adjustment is going to be difficult.  I took longer than I would like to emerge with that 29 and a one-away 724 = (7 + 8 + 9 + 5)*25 - 1.  With time running out I looked at getting there from 700 instead, and that was more manageable... but I ran out of time as I was writing down the solution: 723 = (5 - 1)*(7*25 + 8) - 9.  Bother.

But what I saw right after that was that my original thought would have worked.  As the smalls went up I saw the 7,8,9 triple and knew that 7*8*9 was 504 (just one of those things I remember; I've mentioned this before, I believe).  I was hoping for a target near 504 but it did not turn out to be so.  However, calculating the difference revealed it to be 219, and that is just a tweak and an adjustment away, yielding the solution 723 = 9*(8*7 + 25) - 5 - 1.

Jane was not able to make any progress with this, but Steve is one away with the same 724 that I had.  Lily has not been able to solve this within time; after the break she comes back with the second of those solutions that I listed, although I'd wager her thought processes were different.

Steve: 724
Jane: [not in range]
Me: 724

Scores: Steve 7 (21), Jane 8 (34), me 40

Second break: HOED WALL ("Often of walls, halls, and ground")

Another relatively straight clue for HALLOWED.

Round 7: O L A D O S E M T

Good letters in isolation, but it's hard to make something useful out of them.  If one of those O's was a U we'd have MODULATES, however.  I had LOAD, LOADS, LOOSED, and then flailed.  I just could not find longer, although I wrote down MODESTAL for some reason (but hated it as soon as I did so; there's no such word in the Macquarie).  More thought after time gave ALMOST and finally MALTOSE for seven.  I really wish I'd found that within time, but it was an unexpectedly tough mix.

Both contestants have six-letter words, Steve with MODELS and Jane with MEDALS.  David has found TOODLES (a colloquial farewell) for seven -- more nice work from him.

The other sevens are OSTEOMA ("a tumor composed of osseous tissue", where "osseous" essentially means "bony") and TOLEDOS (TOLEDO having an acceptable lower-case meaning as a type of sword) / STOOLED (STOOL as a verb: "to throw up shoots from the base or root, as a plant").

However, there is a possible eight here.  STOMODAEUM is a noun ("the part of the primary oral cavity which begins as an invagination of the ectoderm"; to unravel that somewhat, it is the part of an embryo which eventually becomes the mouth) with plural STOMODAEA.  It also has the variant spelling STOMODEUM, and applying that spelling variation to the plural should yield STOMODEA for eight.

The question is whether this would be allowed; the policy on the show has been that inflected forms with spelling shifts need to be explicitly listed.  A strict application of that policy would disallow this as a result.  I've mentioned this issue before, back in episode 357 with the similarly troublesome MOLDIER.  Since that point I've come around in my thinking; I think there is an argument that inflected forms derived from variant spellings should be deemed to follow the same pattern of the original spelling in cases where... I need a good term for this kind of thing, and I don't have it.  Where it is like MOULDY / MOLDY or STOMODAEUM / STOMODEUM, anyway.  I hope that David would rule similarly (although perhaps with more clarity) in such a situation.

And if that eight is allowed, then there is also a nine: STOMODEAL, the adjective derived from that.


Scores: Steve 13 (27), Jane 14 (40), me 53

Round 8: Target 394 from 50 100 4 4 8 9

Steve needs to outscore Jane here to have a chance; Jane opts for the family mix but gets a potentially tricky target.  It is easy to get to 400, but the final offset by six may prove challenging.  I spotted the opportunity for one of my favourite techniques, though, and soon had the solution: 400 = 4*100 - (50 + 4)/9.  This is also Lily's method.

After time I found an alternative that might be easier for some: 394 = 4*100 - 50 + 4*9 + 8.

Steve is two away with 392, which was presumably 392 = 4*100 - 8.  But Jane has got one closer with 395 = 50*8 - (9 - 4), and that ensures she will win the game.  Steve needed to solve this one exactly in order to have a chance, as it turns out.

Steve: 392
Jane: 395
Me: 394
Lily: 394

Scores: Steve 13 (27), Jane 14 (47), me 63


Too many common letters to solve this quickly, although I spot ETERNAL immediately.  That's no use in the conundrum, though, and while I am still trying to sort through possibilities Steve buzzes in at the four second mark with what turns out to be the correct answer.  I started the backup clock, and ended up finding the solution just barely within regulation time, but at least I got there.

Steve: ALTERNATE (4s)
Jane: [no answer]

Final scores: Steve 23 (37), Jane 14 (47), me 63

Steve was just too far off the pace on the letters rounds, giving up 20 points in them.  Jane had some decent wordwork to get her home, but would have been in trouble against an opponent defter with the numbers.  Can Jane continue her success in the letters tomorrow?  Tune in and find out!


Mark said...

Well done, Geoff.

3. 798 = 6*(75+50+4+4) (I didn't have time to include the 1)
6. -
8. 395 = 4*100 - 4 - (9-8)
9. 5 seconds

Sam Gaffney said...

Great job from Steve (and Mark) on the conundrum. I found that one tough, as the letters were so bland.

If you've ever done a Kakuro number puzzle, it may have helped in round 6, as 5+7+8+9=29 is a very common sum in those (no other set of four distinct integers from 1-9 adds up to 29).

Nice going on Round 8, Geoff. Just after time I found (50+4)*9+8-100 = 394.

My answers:

807 = 4*4*50 + 6 + 1
724 = (7+8+9+5)*25 - 1
395 = 8*50-9+4