Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Ep 428: Carey McManus, Mark Potter (April 18, 2012)

Rounds: Here.

Carey takes up the champion's position, and Richard asks him about his beer-brewing activities.  Carey and a friend like to brew their own beer, as it turns out.  They brew all sorts of beers, but they have a particular favourite which is a dark ale.  They do the brewing at his friend's house, which is on Batman street in Fitzroy, and consequently they call their dark ale the Dark Knight.

Tonight's challenger is Mark Potter, who is a warehouse manager for a plumbing company.  Mark is also fascinated with gardening, and in particular with the gardens of Edna Walling.  As he points out, Edna is a very famous landscape gardener who has done a lot of work all around Australia and has an enclave in Mooroolbark in Victoria that is very well-known also.  Richard asks what kind of things characterised her gardens; Mark responds that she used lots of English types of trees, and she worked out where to plant them by throwing a potato -- where it landed was where she would plant the tree.  This becomes a running joke throughout the night.

At a later point in the show Richard raises the topic of Mark's house.  Mark relates that the property had a feel... the garden and the house had a feel of what they'd been looking for for quite a number of years.  Mark did quite a bit of investigation and eventually found the garden plans for his house in the Victorian State Library.  They were in a section of the library devoted to Edna Walling -- he had managed to acquire one of her gardens!  It was a great feeling, as you might imagine.

It was another close game with very little to separate the contestants.  Mark gained a lead in the second letters round, only for Carey to level the scores again in the following numbers round.  Thereafter they were matched until the final letters round, where a phantom letter saw Carey come undone.  He had a chance to get back the lead in the numbers round but made a mistake there also, and Mark was in front going into the conundrum.  It proved to be a very awkward mix and neither solved it; that gave Mark the win, 41 to 35... the same scoreline that Carey won with on the previous night.

I very nearly had another optimal game, but was about a second or two short of time in the first round, and arguably the same in the second.  Thereafter it went smoothly up until the conundrum.  I had an awful time of it but finally saw the answer with three seconds left on the clock.  That's three solid nights for me this week, and I'm pretty happy about that.

Round 1: H T S U E N O L M

I had SHUT, SHUTE, MOUTHS, and SOLUTE.  I was struggling to find longer, but just as time ran out I saw MENTHOLS.  I couldn't get it down in time, of course; I needed to see it a few seconds earlier.  So close!

The contestants also have sixes; Mark has chosen HOTELS while Carey has gone for MOUTHS.  David is on track with MENTHOLS -- well done, David!

That's the only eight, and the sevens are also hard to come by.  The only ones are MENTHOL and LOMENTS (LOMENT being a type of legume), and MELTONS if MELTON ("a smooth heavy woollen cloth, used for coats, hunting jackets, etc.") is pluralisable.

This was the only round that even looked like having the potential for a full monty, with a final C giving UNCLOTHES or a final I allowing UNHOLIEST.  Neither would have been the case, however.


Scores: 6 apiece

Round 2: R N T B D E A I T

I had RENT, BRAINED, TRAINED, and NITRATE.  I was tossing up about NITRATED, but for some reason did not write it down.  Maybe with a moment's more thought I would have done so, as it was a no-cost play.  After time I wrote down some of the other sevens that I'd seen but skipped over: BITTERN, TRIBADE, BATTIER, and TAINTED.

Carey has six again with BAITED, but is outdone by Mark's choice of TRAINED; David has TRIDENT for his seven.

It turns out that NITRATE is listed as a verb, and NITRATED is the only eight.  Not even writing it down saved me some angsting, but also cost me the chance to get this one right.  Oh, well.

The other sevens are ATTIRED, DETRAIN, BIRETTA (as mentioned in a similar mix from episode 374, a BIRETTA is "a stiff, square cap [...] worn by Roman Catholic ecclesiastics"), and NATTIER / INTREAT (variant spelling of ENTREAT) / ITERANT ("repeating") / TERTIAN ("recurring every other day, or, if considered inclusively, every third day").


Scores: Carey 6, Mark 13, me 13

Round 3: Target 743 from 10 3 7 10 9 4

Carey goes for six small again, and with that pair of tens available it is build-as-you-go time for 743 = (7*10 + 4)*10 + 3.  After time I experimented with using that 9 for a multiplier and found the alternative solution 743 = 9*(7*10 + 10 + 3) - 4.

Mark has not been able to get anywhere with this, but Carey is four away (he says "one away" at first but immediately corrects himself) with 739 = 7*10*10 + 9*4 + 3.  Lily has used the first of those solutions that I listed.

Those seven points to Carey tie the scores up again.

Carey: 739
Mark: [not in range]
Me: 743
Lily: 743

Scores: Carey 6 (13), Mark 13, me 23

First break: DARE THEE ("A possible fate for leftovers")

Often leftovers will be REHEATED before eating.

David's talk is about words relating to glasses: bifocals, myopia, lorgnette, and pince-nez.

Round 4: P D S R M E A U C

I had PERMS, DAMPERS, SCAMPER, and then SCRUMPED.  I had to take a moment to convince myself that it was OK -- I recalled talks of scrumping from the Just William books and the like; the question was whether SCRUMPING would be a standalone concept, or if SCRUMP was a verb.  I correctly decided on the latter (SCRUMP: "to steal (apples or other fruit) from a garden or orchard").

Sixes from both contestants, and anagrams of each other -- Carey has SAUCED and Mark has CAUSED.  David mentions CRAMPED and SCAMPER / CAMPERS as some of the many sevens, but has also found SCRUMPED for the eight.

Once again it is the only eight.  The other sevens are SCAMPED / DECAMPS, SPRUCED, SCRAPED / SCARPED, DUMPERS, CRUSADE, and APERÇUS (APERÇU: "a perception or intuitive understanding").

David comments negatively about the contestants being reluctant to choose vowels.  I'll note that it would not have led to longer in any of these mixes so far, although it might have made finding eights a bit easier (the I in this round giving UPRAISED, the E in the previous round giving BANTERED or RETAINED / DETAINER).  Although in the first round that E would have left TOLUENES as the only eight, which feels like a harder find than MENTHOLS.

Anyway, I've said before how having three distinct vowels is usually enough, unless the consonants go together particularly well.  David's remark appears to spur Carey into choosing four vowels for the remaining letters rounds, and that ends up leading to shorter words.  So that kind of backfired on David.


Scores: Carey 6 (19), Mark 13 (19), me 31

Round 5: S H I E O R I G S

Definitly not a time for that fourth vowel, with the consonants not matching overly well.  I had HIES, SHOE, SHORE, OGREISH, and SIGHERS.  After time I noted HOSIERS, a safe anagram of the more dubious HORSIES.  (An omission of the Macquarie: It lists HORSEY and HORSY as children's terms for a horse, but does not give the plural form of the latter.)

Sixes from the contestants once more; Mark has SHORES and Carey has SHIRES.  David has settled on OGREISH for his seven.

The three I listed turn out to be all the sevens.  A tough mix that would have been much easier with another consonant; the actual L would have allowed GLOSSIER for an easy eight, plus a good spread of sevens like SLEIGHS and RISSOLE / LORISES.


Scores: Carey 6 (25), Mark 13 (25), me 38

Round 6: Target 139 from 25 6 6 4 1 2

Mark goes for a more traditional classroom mix, and although the numbers are small so is the target, and it is fairly easy.  I went with 139 = 6*(25 - 2) + 1.

Both contestants have got there with the same method: 139 = (4 + 1)*25 + 6 + 6 + 2.  Lily has yet another method: 139 = (25 + 2)*(6 - 1) + 4.

Carey: 139
Mark: 139
Me: 139
Lily: 139

Scores: Carey: 16 (35), Mark 23 (35), me 48

Second break: FLAP LUTE ("This will give you a gutful")

Having overeaten for dinner, I can certainly agree that a PLATEFUL can be filling.

Round 7: L A C E N A W D U

Carey leaves the extra vowel until the end, but it was clear he was going to choose it.  Notice the flow-on effect from the previous round; using only three vowels there would have given IAE as the first three vowels here, a much more approachable option that would have played well with a couple more consonants.  Hindsight is 20/20 and all that, but I'm a bit irked when the hosts end up (explicitly or implicitly) suggesting how contestants should make their choices, and it definitely produced worse results here.

Anyway... I had LACE, CLEAN, CANDLE, CANDELA ("the SI base unit of luminous intensity"), UNLACED, and wondered about UNCLAWED.  I made the right decision to avoid it, and after time added DECANAL ("of or relating to a dean or a dean's office") for another seven.

Mark continues the trend of six-letter words with LANCED, while Carey has the seven of... CLOWNED.  He has fallen victim to the phantom letter, and that lets Mark take the lead.  This turns out to be quite a costly mistake.

David has also chosen UNLACED.  The only remaining seven is LACUNAE (plural of LACUNA: "a pit or cavity").

Carey: [invalid]

Scores: Carey 16 (35), Mark 23 (41), me 55

Round 8: Target 931 from 75 3 1 10 5 2

Mark persists with the same mix, and gets a much bigger target.  The nearby multiples of 75 are 900 and 975, and both are reasonable choices.  I opted for the first, and a quick tweak got to 936, easily adjusted to 931 = (10 + 2)*(75 + 3) - 5.

Mark is outside the scoring range, but Carey thinks that he has got there.  Before he starts to declare it, though, he realises that he has made a mistake; that is unfortunate for him.  Lily has used the same solution that I did.

Looking at the other option (going via 975), the difference is 44.  The nearest multiple of 13 is 3*13 = 39, so tweaking by three at least gets into the right ballpark... and it turns out that the remaining 5 is exactly the needed number.  That leads to the solution 931 = (10 + 3)*(75 - 3) - 5, where one of those 3's is made from 2 + 1.

Those are the only solutions, but an approach which serves to get close is to use that 10; 930 is 10*93, and 93 is 18 away from 75.  The remaining smalls can give that 18 fairly easily, and thus 930 = 10*(75 + 3*(5 + 1)) is a one-away which is findable with a little thought.

Carey: [invalid]
Mark: [not in range]
Me: 931
Lily: 931

Scores: Carey 16 (35), Mark 23 (41), me 65


And so we've ended up in exactly the same situation as the previous game -- the challenger ahead 41 to 35 going into the conundrum.  It's a tough one, trying to reconcile the W, V, and P, and I floundered considerably.  The -IVE ending is not much good, nor is -ITION.  Somehow -- I honestly have no idea how -- I stumbled onto the right "twist" with just three seconds left on the clock.  Neither contestant was able to solve it, completing the similarity with the previous game.

Carey: [no answer]
Mark: [no answer]

Final scores: Carey 16 (35), Mark 23 (41), me 75

There's a certain symmetry about Carey's two games, at least as far as scoring goes.  Tonight his consistent six-letter words could have landed him in trouble, but it was actually the invalid seven-letter one that did so -- a six-letter word in that round would have ensured that someone had to solve the conundrum.  Even the findable 930 would have been enough in the final numbers round to let him win by a point, but it was not to be.

Mark found the only seven of the night, and to be fair finding more than six was difficult in most of them.  He looks decidedly uncomfortable around the numbers when the target is large, though, and could well concede many points there.  We'll just have to see what tomorrow brings.

It was probably a little bit tough for Jane sitting in the audience watching these last two games; I think she would have outscored the contestants from that position.  But that fourth-game hurdle is a problem sometimes...


Mark said...

Well done, Geoff.

740 = 7*(10*10 + 4) + 3 + 9
139 = 25*(4+1) + 6 + 6 + 2
931 = (10+2)*(75+3) - 5
11 seconds

Sam Gaffney said...

Nice job Geoff, and well done to Mark on Rounds 8 & 9.

I was happy with my game, except for Round 3, where I picked the wrong multiplier to use (7), then saw Geoff/Lily's solution straight after time ran out. It is hard to try more than one divisor within 30 seconds on large rat pack targets, it is important to guess right at the start.

My answers:

742 = (10*10+9-3)*7
139 = (25-2)*6+1
931 = (10+3)*(75-2-1)-5