Friday, 20 April 2012

Ep 429: Mark Potter, Jack Maloney (April 19, 2012)

Rounds: Here.

On Mark's second night we find out that he is a fan of the Tour de France; that lets Richard sneak in a quick plug for SBS's coverage of the event.  Richard asks if Mark would like to be there and watch it; Mark responds that once he stops paying school fees -- which is still a few years away yet -- he is planning to get a van and follow the whole course; it is something that he has been wanting to do for a long time.

Tonight's challenger is Jack Maloney, a high school student.  Jack is 17 years old, and has been a keen football and basketball player.  He has been playing basketball for around eight or nine years, and now he also umpires and coaches it.  The team he coaches is a group of under-14's, who are the juniors of the Melbourne Tigers.

It was quite a tough night on the letters; Jack found a couple of good sevens, but Mark matched him on one of those and picked up ground with a pair of sixes in other rounds.  But it was the numbers rounds where Mark shone, proving my comments from yesterday incorrect and gaining a solid advantage there.  The net result was that he was safe going into the conundrum.  It proved to be a difficult one that neither solved, and Mark won by 51 points to 29.

It seems that my habit of an end-of-week drop in performance is continuing, as tough letters today kept me from finding the maximums within time.  It is a minor consolation that neither did David.  Still, I have solved every numbers round so far, which must stand me in good stead.  The conundrum was too hard for me to get within time, but in any case I blew my chance with a reflexive buzz at the one second mark.  I'd managed to do enough for the win regardless, although that final letters round could be quite costly against some players.

Round 1: M D B G E E I O C

Mark is a bit too fond of vowels tonight, I think; maybe he also took David's comment from yesterday to heart.  With the consonants that poorly matched another consonant could have been much more helpful than a vowel.  An R would be the only chance for an eight (BEGRIMED), but the actual N would have brought a couple of sevens into play (ENDEMIC and DEEMING).  That fourth vowel guaranteed that six was the limit, however.

I had EMBED, COMBED, and MEDICO.  I had hoped at the time that the final consonant would be an S for EMBODIES, but no such luck.

Jack has DEEM for four, but Mark has found COMBED for the early lead.  David has found COMBED and BECOME.

The other sixes are BODICE, BODGIE (BODGIES turned up in the recent episode 422), and GEODIC (adjective derived from GEODE: "a rounded hollow in a rock coated with crystals that have grown freely inwards").

Jack: DEEM

Scores: Mark 6, Jack 0, me 6

Round 2: N S U M D A L S E

A better set of consonants, although it is still a little awkward.  In fact, I did not see anything useful before that final vowel went up; once it did I managed to find DAMSELS for seven... and that was it.  I spent a little while after time searching for better, and after around a minute saw an old standby MEDUSAS, and thus MEDUSANS for eight (MEDUSAN being both an adjective and a noun with equivalent meaning to MEDUSA: "jellyfish").

Mark declares the invalid five of LENSE; both because the spelling is incorrect (it should be LENS) and because there's only one E.  Oops!  But it does not matter as Jack has done well to find ASSUMED for seven.  David has opted for DAMSELS as his seven.

There are a decent spread of sevens here, as it turns out.  The others are UNSEALS / SENSUAL, UNSEAMS, UNLADES, SUNDAES, MEDUSAN, MADNESS / DESMANS (DESMAN: "either of two aquatic insectivorous mammals, related to shrews [...]"), DULNESS (variant spelling of DULLNESS), and SENDALS (SENDAL: "a silk fabric in use during the Middle Ages, or a piece or garment of it").

Mark: [invalid]

Scores: Mark 6, Jack 7, me 13

Round 3: Target 905 from 100 6 7 5 1 2

The standard method is obvious here; I had 905 = (7 + 2)*100 + 5.  This is also Jack's solution, while Mark has gone for the minor variant 905 = (6 + 2 + 1)*100 + 5.  Still within time, I wondered if the factor of 5 could be used, and managed to find the alternative 905 = 5*(2*(100 - 7) - 6 + 1).

It is not mentioned what Lily did, but it's a safe bet she had one of those.

Mark: 905
Jack: 905
Me: 905
Lily: 905

Scores: Mark 16, Jack 17, me 23

First break: READ RUNG ("One has delusions of this sometimes")

The clue leads clearly to GRANDEUR.

David's talk is about the phrase up the duff, and the term duffer.

Round 4: P N O Y R I C T U

I had PONY, IRONY, RUCTION, and COUNTRY.  There's a box of COUNTRY LIFE soap in my bathroom that my eyes fall naturally onto while showering, so with the significant overlap of letters I knew that anything longer than seven would require the P.  (Challenge for the interested reader: There are three allowable nine-letter words formable from the letters of COUNTRY LIFE; can you find them?)  I was not able to find any such longer word, though.

Both contestants have found sevens, Mark with RUCTION and Jack with COUNTRY.  Those turn out to be the only sevens, and David was not able to better them.

But there is actually an eight: PUNITORY.


Scores: Mark 23, Jack 24, me 30

Round 5: G S F S E A A N O

I had SAGES, FANGS, and SEASON.  After time I verified that SEA FOG is two words, so there is no SEAFOGS.

It's another very ill-fitting mix due to the duplication and the F and G not playing at all well with each other.  A consonant is the best shot for longer words, and an L would allow LASAGNES for eight.  The actual R would give FARNESS or SANGERS (SANGER being colloquial for either a sandwich or a sausage) for seven.  Speaking of sausages, a U would have allowed SAUSAGE, but it's very poor odds at this stage.

Jack has FANGS but Mark has done well to find SEASON for six to retake the lead.  David jokes that ASSANGE is hiding in the mix, but could not better SEASON.

Once more six is  the best possible; the others are mostly obscure: SANGAS (SANGA being given as a variant spelling of SANGER in the sandwich sense), GENOAS (GENOA: "a large balloon jib set in a yacht in light winds"), GOSSAN (the description is a bit complicated to summarise; see Wikipedia's article on it), and FOSSAE (plural of FOSSA: "a pit, cavity, or depression in a bone, etc.").


Scores: Mark 29, Jack 24, me 36

Round 6: Target 980 from 25 4 10 10 7 4

I recognised 98 as twice the square of 7, which makes it 7*14, and the rest was easy: 980 = (10 + 4)*7*10.

Jack was not able to get within range, but Mark is just one away with 979 = 4*25*10 - 10 - 7 - 4.  Lily's solution is 980 = (4*25 - (7 - 4))*10 + 10.

That gets Mark ahead by more than a conundrum's worth, so Jack has some work to do now.

Mark: 979
Jack: [not in range]
Me: 980
Lily: 980

Scores: Mark 29 (36), Jack 24, me 46

Second break: TEST JOIN ("Lighten up, why don't you?")

An uncommon letter set, and it took me a while to find the answer of JETTISON.

Round 7: R T H C E I A V I

Ergh, that last vowel... it actually works out somewhat, but there's a lot of different consonants I would prefer in its place.  I struggled to get anywhere with this, finishing up with just RETCH and CHART to declare.

After time I looked for longer, as surely there was at least a six.  I found ACHIER, but knew from past investigations that it was not listed.  After a bit I found HIERATIC ("relating to priests or to the priesthood; priestly"; it is also a noun) for eight, but still had nothing in-between.  I did find CITHER shortly thereafter (variant spelling of ZITHER), but that is also reasonably obscure.  Eventually I gave up; aside from HIERATIC, I had a real block on this round.

The contestants have clearly shared by difficulties, with five from each of them.  Jack opted for CHART and Mark went with TEACH.  David has found the excellent seven of ARCHIVE.

(So twice this game I have found eights after time that were longer than David found within time.  There's something there to be happy about, but it would be much better if I'd seen them within time!)

The two other sevens are ITCHIER (which should have been quite a findable comparative; I'd noted ITCH and -IER, but not put them together) and THERIAC ("an antidote to venomous bites, etc., especially an electuary made with honey").

There's a few sixes, including the common THRIVE, THRICE, TRIVIA, and ACTIVE.  Oh, dear.  The other sixes are IATRIC ("relating to a physician or to medicine"), VITRIC ("of or relating to glass"), and CAHIER ("a report of the proceedings of any body").


Scores: Mark 34 (41), Jack 29, me 51

Round 8: Target 748 from 50 3 8 10 6 2

Jack is still ten points behind and needs unanswered points from this round.  The safe mixes are not necessarily best in such cases, but he can always hope for Mark to stumble.

The target is pretty approachable; the standard approach is clear (preserving the 2 for the final adjustment, so we need a 15) and I had 748 = (10 + 8 - 3)*50 - 2.  I then amused myself with a more complicated variant of the same idea: 748 = (3*10/(8 - 6))*50 - 2, and after time I built up from 700 instead with 748 = (10 - 3)*2*50 + 6*8.

Jack has ended up five away with 743, but Mark is on target with 748 = (50 + 3*8)*10 + 6 + 2.  That guarantees him the win.  Lily has used the first of the solutions that I found.

Mark: 748
Jack: 743
Me: 748
Lily: 748

Scores: Mark 44 (51), Jack 29, me 61


The -ING stands out a mile, and I buzzed in on the first second... with the invalid SPONSORING.  Bother.  Time ticks down with neither contestant managing to solve it, and I was also unable to within regulation time.  Another half minute later and I finally saw PROGNOSIS -- that was a tough one!

Afterwards, David says that he thought of SPONSORING as soon as he saw the conundrum, so he might have possibly ended up with an invalid answer.

Mark: [no answer]
Jack: [no answer]
Me: [invalid] (1s)

Final scores: Mark 44 (51), Jack 29, me 61

Some good moments from each contestant, with the pair of sevens in round four being the highlight.  Jack's find of ASSUMED and Mark's of SEASON were also excellent spots, but it was Mark's good results on the numbers that guaranteed him the win tonight.  Can he make it through to the weekend?  Tomorrow's game will tell.


Mark said...

Well done, Geoff.

905 = 100*(7+2) + 5
- (I had Mark's method of getting 979, but didn't get it written down in time)
748 = (10+8-6+3)*50 - 2

Sam Gaffney said...

Awful letter mixes tonight, good work from Mark Potter (and Geoff) to get SEASON.

I did Lily's way first for Round 6, but couldn't resist changing it to the elegant way when I saw it. In Round 7, I was about to go with ITCHER when I realised I could stick the second "I" in.

I got PROGNOSIS shortly after realising that I had mucked up with PROPOSING at 5~6s, but probably not in time to declare it. I thought L&N had finally served up another -ING conundrum. The repeated letters are what tricks the brain, it reminds me of the ALIENATED/DELINEATE trap that caught a few people in Ep399.

My answers:

905 = (7+2)*100+5
980 = 7*10*(10+4)
748 = (10+8-3)*50-2
- (wrong word)