Friday, 13 April 2012

Ep 424: Jane Taylor, Andrew Boyden (April 12, 2012)

Rounds: Here.

Jane is back for her second night, hoping to defend her carryover champion status.  Since her retirement she has done a certain amount of travelling; she (and her partner, presumably) took a caravan around Australia for eight months.  They started in Tasmania, and travelled anticlockwise around Australia, getting all the way up to Cape York and then westward and south once more.

Tonight's challenger is Andrew Boyden, who manages an international supply company.  Back in May last year -- almost a year ago now -- his wife Alicia appeared on Letters and Numbers also.  They compete keenly at home, as you might expect; Andrew says that they are running about fifty-fifty at the moment.

[Update: Andrew wrote a few posts about his experience with the show, although the last one never quite materialised.  Part 1; part 2; part 3; part 4; part 5; and the as-yet empty part 6.]

Jane gets off to a flying start with an unanswered full monty, and has the better of most of the letters rounds.  She oversteps once with an invalid word, but gets a commanding lead from those letters rounds nonetheless.  The numbers go a bit each way (in part due to her invalid declaration, which looks like an oversight), and she is twenty points ahead going into the conundrum.  Andrew buzzes in but his suggestion is invalid, and Jane ends up winning by 54 points to 34.

I had an exceptional game, and it should have been better; I threw away points on the second numbers round that were there for the taking.  The perils of wasting time on the wrong idea!  I only just got the conundrum solved within time, having wasted much of it ignoring the right fragment, but I did get there.  If not for that numbers slip-up, I would have tied David and Lily.  Still, it's always a good game when one gets a full monty!

Round 1: N L G R E A I S N

With such great letters eights must be around and a nine is quite likely.  I had ANGLER, and wondered about LEARNINGS; to give myself options I also wrote down LEARNING and LEANINGS.  I could not see a more plausible nine within time; after time I wrote down the other eights that I had seen: LASERING and GRANNIES.

I was quite uncertain about LEARNINGS; I was confident that LEARNING would have a standalone definition as a noun, but I did not know whether it would be a pluralisable definition.  I've yet to see David disallow a plural form (unless it needs to be listed and is not), but that just means that precedent is yet to be set.  Regardless, with trepidation I decided to risk it since the difference in points strongly favour it.

Andrew has gone for LEASING, but Jane has also risked LEARNINGS.  David gives it the nod, but his explanation does not quite settle the general question; he implies without explicitly stating that some of the meanings of LEARNING might not be pluralisable, but it's not clear whether he allows it because he regards the third definition ("Psychology the modification of behaviour through interaction with the environment") as pluralisable, or the fact that there are multiple definitions.  So the precedent is still unset, but more importantly I found a full monty in time. *grins*

The other eights are SNARLING, EARNINGS / ENGRAINS, and REALIGNS / ALIGNERS / SLANGIER / NARGILES (NARGILE being a variant spelling of NARGHILE, meaning a hookah) / ENGRAILS (ENGRAIL: "to ornament the edge of with curved indentations").

A word here about LASERING: The definition of LASER as a verb, as given by the Macquarie, was decidedly not what I was expecting.  It is "to level (an area of land) by means of laser levelling", where "laser levelling" is defined as "the levelling of paddocks by means of laser-controlled earthmoving equipment, as in preparation for irrigation".  So the lasers in this instance are solely acting as guides for the machinery so that it levels the ground to the correct depth.  The Wikipedia article on laser level currently makes brief mention of this.


Scores: Jane 18, Andrew 0, me 18

Round 2: D M L A N I O H E

I had LAND, MANHOLE (I was hoping for that last E for it), and then saw HOMELAND for eight.  After the first seven I had hoped for another N for MANDOLIN, but that would be very unlikely -- too many N's for so early in the game.

This time Andrew has LINED for five, and Jane has the "safe six" of HANDLE.  David points out that with so many clunky consonants it was time to check for a compound word, and he has found HOMELAND also.

There is one other eight, though, and it is not a compound: MELANOID ("resembling the colour of melanin").  The other sevens are INHALED and HAEMOID ("bloodlike"; I've mentioned it a couple of times before on this blog).

Andrew: LINED

Scores: Jane 18 (24), Andrew 0, me 26

Round 3: Target 259 from 25 3 6 4 2 5

This target looked a little familiar for some reason, but I did not work out why at first.  The standard method looks very likely to work; I saw the 10 as 6 + 4, which left me needing to make 9 from 2, 3, 5.  I looked at that and instinct said that it was manageable, but it took me longer than I would have liked to unravel it: 259 = (6 + 4)*25 + 3*(5 - 2).

Still within time, I noted that the target was 7 away from 252, which is a number with many small factors.  In fact, it is also divisible by 7, and I realised that the target was 7*37.  That was why it looked familiar -- I know the small multiples of 37 because 37*3 is 111 and that's a handy pattern to know.  I was able to use that factorisation for a pair of essentially the same solution: 259 = (25 + 3*4)*(5 + 2) and 259 = (25 + 2*6)*(4 + 3).

Both contestants have solved this.  Jane goes first with a solution which starts out like my first one, but then turns awry as she declares (6 + 4)*25 + 9.  Somehow she has overlooked the step to make that 9, an oversight that will cost her ten points.  Then Andrew shows that it is much more straightforward making the 10 from 2*5, and his solution is 259 = 25*2*5 + 6 + 3.  Lily also solved it this way.

Jane: [invalid]
Andrew: 259
Me: 259
Lily: 259

Scores: Jane 18 (24), Andrew 10, me 36

First break: DUNCE DIG ("Dr Watson's pal was good at this")

A fairly clear clue (via Sherlock Holmes) for DEDUCING.

David's talk is about the origins of the phrase curate's egg.

Round 4: R S F A U E D Y T

So far I've been doing well, with a risk rewarded in the first round and what felt like not the easiest eight to find in the second.  These letters cause me more problems, though.  I had FARES and STEADY, and then struggled to find longer.  I was tempted to write down TUESDAY even though I knew it was capitalised, but just in the nick of time I saw STRAYED and had the D completed right as time ran out.  Phew!  After time I noted ESTUARY as another seven.

Both contestants have also found STRAYED, although I'll wager they flailed less than I did to find it.  David has found DEFRAYS for his seven.

The other sevens are RESTUDY, STRAFED, and DASYURE (also DASYURID: "a member of the marsupial family Dasyuridae, which includes quolls, dunnarts, planigales, ningauis, etc.").  I've seen this word a lot, as it turns out, because it is the last entry on its page in the dictionary.  That means it is listed in the header of the page to aid when flipping through the dictionary in search of a word, and I've seen a lot of words in those positions many, many times.  Not that this helped me find it!


Scores: Jane 25 (31), Andrew 17, me 43

Round 5: C N R B I I A E D

I had CRIB, BRAIN, and BRAINED.  After time I found CARBINE and DENARII as other sevens.

Both contestants have sevens, with Andrew choosing BRAINED while Jane has gone for the anagram of it: BANDIER.  But as I knew from episode 403 where I erroneously tried BANDIEST, the comparative and superlative forms of BANDY are not listed.  That invalid answer allows Andrew to get back within striking distrance, which is surely a relief after having been 24 points down two rounds in.

David confirms that BANDIER is invalid, and has found CARBINE for his seven.  The other seven is CABINED, but there is an eight: ACRIDINE (a particular chemical compound).

Jane: [invalid]

Scores: Jane 25 (31), Andrew 24, me 50

Round 6: Target 623 from 25 100 4 8 3 10

Here, alas, what was looking like a very promising run hit a stumbling block.  The target is right next to 625, which is often a formable number when there are enough larges about.  I started with the worst way to make it, leading to two away (and wasted time) with 625 = (8 - 3)*(100 + 25).  I shifted tacks to get to 600 as 8*75, and improved that to one off with 624 = 8*(100 - 25 + 3).

But what should have been very obvious to me (it's basic training with the four large numbers) is that 100/4 is a better way to get that other 25.  Just after time ran out I saw the solution 623 = (25*100 - 8)/4, and then noted that it might seem more findable to do 623 = 25*100/4 - (10 - 8).  This turns out to be Lily's solution.

Another solution that I found after time comes from a more sensible way to make 600, as 6*100.  With a little tweaking this leads to 623 = (10 - 4)*(100 + 8) - 25.  I cunningly avoided all the working approaches in favour of non-working ones, which is rather disappointing.

Andrew has not been able to get close, but Jane is one away with 622 = (10 - 4)*100 + 25 - 3.

Jane: 622
Andrew: [not in range]
Me: 624
Lily: 623

Scores: Jane 32 (38), Andrew 24, me 57

Second break: HOOK BAND ("Kept at arm's length for guidance")

An easy anagram to make sense of the clue as indicating HANDBOOK.

Round 7: S T M T U O E C Z

The first eight letters cannot possibly yield a nine regardless of the last letter, but there is potential for a lot of eights.  As usual, a vowel is better odds but the spread of useful consonants was also large.  The actual Z was not good, of course.

I had MUTTS, TOTEMS, and COSTUME, and there really was not much more to look at.

Andrew has COMES for five, but Jane has inserted a T to get COMETS for six.  David has COSTUME, as is to be expected -- it is the only seven.

The other sixes are CUTEST, OCTETS, UTMOST, OUTSET, and MOTTES (MOTTE: "a fort on top of a mound") / MOTETS (MOTET: "a vocal composition in polyphonic style, on a biblical or similar prose text, intended for use in a church service").

Andrew was almost back into things, but is now twenty points behind again.  He needs maximum points from the next two rounds to take it to a tiebreaker (and for Jane to not solve the numbers).

Andrew: COMES

Scores: Jane 32 (44), Andrew 24, me 64

Round 8: Target 599 from 50 3 2 5 6 7

Unfortunately for Andrew, this target is too easy.  I started with 599 = 2*6*50 + (3 + 5 - 7), and then saved a number with 599 = (5 + 7)*50 - (3 - 2).  Everyone else used the first of these solutions, and Jane is guaranteed the win.

Jane: 599
Andrew: 599
Me: 599
Lily: 599

Scores: Jane 42 (54), Andrew 34, me 74


The Y is the letter to focus on, but I felt obliged to check the -ING possibility first.  That did not seem promising, so it was back to the Y.  The most likely use is a -ITY ending, but my first pass could not shuffle the remaining letters before it to make anything useful.  Andrew buzzed in at around the 12 second mark, and I started the backup timer, eventually finding the answer just before regulation time expired.  There was some annoyance there as the -ITY ending was involved after all, so a little more attention would have let me solve this much sooner.  Andrew's answer of RETIRING is incorrect, but Jane is not able to find the answer in the remaining time.

Jane: [no answer]
Andrew: [invalid] (11.5s)

Final scores: Jane 42 (54), Andrew 34, me 84

Jane had the edge over Andrew in the letters, and arguably in the numbers as well.  Her two invalid rounds were the only ones in which Andrew managed to outpoint her, and as it turns out her full monty alone contained enough points to get the win based on that; as I've said before, an unanswered full monty is very hard for an opponent to recover from.  Andrew had some decent finds but simply conceded too much ground, and the final scoreline reflected this.

I had some good finds, but round six took the gloss off things somewhat.  But a score in the eighties should always be something to be happy about, and I am.


Mark said...

Congratulations on a great game, Geoff.

3. 258 = 25*(6+4) + 5 + 3
6. 625 = 25*(10+4+8+3)
8. 599 = 50*(5+7) - 3 + 2
9. Got it a couple of seconds after the clock re-started.

Sam Gaffney said...

In Round 1, I got LASERING straight away, but this may have been a hindrance - if I had stumbled across EARNINGS or LEARNING, I may have had more chance of finding the nine. Well done to everyone that got it, nonetheless.

As for Round 4, I really hate having the letter Y in letter mixes, especially when it isn't at the end.

I got Round 6 straight away, then was disappointed to find out there were other ways to do it.

Round 7 was actually only one letter away from having a full monty, with CUSTOMIZE.

My answers:

259 = 5*2*25 + 6 + 3
623 = (100*25-8)/4
599 = 6*2*50 - 5 - 3 +7

Geoff Bailey said...

Thanks, Mark, and it looks like you had a pretty good game, too. Certainly you'd have beaten both contestants, and well done finding HOMELAND in particular.

Sam: It does sound like LASERING hindered you. It's one of those reasons that I do write down other words that I find, in case they lead me to a more profitable association. Of course, mostly it just costs me time...

One thing I meant to mention -- I might get to it tonight -- is that the definition of LASER as a verb is probably not what one expects. It was perhaps a riskier play than you anticipated.

(And yes, CUSTOMIZE is a one-away full monty, but that is not a change that could have been made with the last letter. After the first eight went up there was no possible full monty.)

Sam Gaffney said...

LASERING wasn't that risky, Geoff, it is one of the pre-checked high-probability words I have tried to learn.

Geoff Bailey said...

Ah, of course. That would make it pretty safe, then. :)

Bob said...

Geoff. Thanks for your blog - it's very illuminating! In round 6, i think you have a couple of typos: para 2 has brackets in wrong place - should read 623 = (25*100 - 8)/4; and para 3 has a couple of errors - should read 623 = (10 - 4)*(100 + 8) - 25

Geoff Bailey said...

Nice to hear from you, Bob, and I'm glad you are finding this enjoyable. Thanks very much for the corrections -- I've fixed them now.