Saturday, 21 April 2012

Ep 430: Mark Potter, Susan Morrison (April 20, 2012)

Rounds: Here.

This is Mark's third night, and Richard drops some hints about his Scrabble ability.  Mark explains that he grew up in a large family and playing board games was one of their major recreational activities; Scrabble in particular was a family favourite.  Then a couple of decades back Mark noticed that there was a Scrabble championship as part of the Moomba festival.  He entered it, and ended up coming second in his group.  He was pretty thrilled with that, and it is a fine result for his first tournament.

Challenging Mark tonight is Susan Morrison, a wedding celebrant.  Richard asks what the highlights of such an occupation are.  Susan says that she has only been doing it for the last few years, but it is always a lot of fun.  She makes particular mention of surprise weddings, where the guests may be unaware that a wedding is about to take place.  (The soon-to-be-married couple know, of course!)

Both contestants had some good finds in the letters and some gains for each, but Mark had the better of it.  The numbers proved the real difference, however, as Susan's last two attempts were invalid; had her declarations been correct then that would have been a relative gain of 27 points to her, which is obviously huge.  Mark also outpointed her on the first numbers round, and by the time they reached the conundrum he was 30 points ahead.  It proved to be difficult and neither solved it, so Mark retained that margin in a 51 to 21 victory.

I had mostly good results tonight, but should have done better in round four.  Round three broke my streak of best numbers results, but aside from those two rounds I picked up all that I could.  I managed to see the right solution to the conundrum fairly early, and although I could have done better I've certainly avoided the poor Friday games of the last couple of weeks.

Round 1: N S B R A E O T A

I had BARNS, EARNS, REASON, and BARONETS.  That word has cropped up a few times, as aside from the B the letters are pretty common.  I was hoping that Mark would try a final vowel, as an I would yield BARITONES for nine; half of that worked out, but with the A instead I was pretty sure there was no nine.  I searched anyway, of course, but it's just not there.

Susan starts out with BEAST for five, but Mark gets an early lead with BANTERS for seven.  David has had pretty much the same solving process as myself, finding BARONETS early and wanting that I for BARITONES.

There's a fair few sevens here -- the common ones to keep an eye out for are TREASON / SENATOR / ATONERS and BOASTER / BORATES / SORBATE -- and the other eight is RATSBANE ("rat poison").

Susan: BEAST

Scores: Mark 0 (7), Susan 0, me 8

Round 2: I A N D E L R O S

Another set of well-fitting letters; I had DEAN, ELAND, LANDER, AILERON, AILERONS, DARIOLES (DARIOLE: "a type of small, cup-shaped mould"), and ISLANDER.  After time I added ANEROIDS (ANEROID being an acceptable term for an aneroid barometer) to the list of eights, but there's just not a nine to be had.

This time both contesants have sevens; Mark has SLANDER and Susan has RELOADS.  David has put the I at the begining of Mark's answer to get ISLANDER also.

There's a great many sevens, as you might expect from such great letters.  The other eights are ORDINALS, ALIENORS (ALIENOR: "someone who transfers property"), and SOLANDER ("a box, especially one for botanical specimens, made in the form of a book, the front cover being the lid").


Scores: Mark 0 (14), Susan 0 (7), me 16

Round 3: Target 433 from 25 10 5 2 4 9

The standard method suggests trying to get to the answer from 425, or perhaps 450.  The former needs an 8, which could be 2*4 (I didn't see 10 - 2 at the time), but also needs a multiplier of 17.  The latter needs the much better multipler of 18, but then needs an offset of 17.  I was unable to make either work within time, and resorted to the backup one-away using the 10 as a multipler: 434 = (25 + 2*9)*10 + 4.  (I did see the simpler 434 = (10 + 5 + 2)*25 + 9 somewhere along the line, but maybe it was after that.)

After time I realised that the 2*4 allowed me to reuse the 2 with tweakage, and with that insight a little more fiddling led me to an answer: 433 = 2*(25*9 + 4 - 10) - 5.

Susan is five away with 428 -- maybe 428 = 5*4*25 - 9*(10 - 2)? -- but Mark is two closer with 430 = (9*4 + 5 + 2)*10 and gets the points.  That's an early 14-point break to him, so Susan has some catching up to do.

Lily has found the solution 433 = (9*5 - 4)*10 + 25 - 2.  Looking at that makes me realise the much simpler way to get my original idea to work: 433 = 9*5*10 - 25 + 2*4.  I really do wish I'd seen that -- I'd even note the implicit 50 from 5*10 at some point but not then followed through with the multiplication by 9.  Bother.

Mark: 430
Susan: 428
Me: 434
Lily: 433

Scores: Mark 0 (21), Susan 0 (7), me 23

First break: NIFTY DIE ("Put a name to a face")

Reasonably easy to get IDENTIFY from that.

David's talk is about portmanteau words that are in the dictionary; he mentions smog (smoke + fog), skort (skirt + short(s)), blunge (blend + plunge), guapple (guava + apple), and didjeribone (didjeridu + trombone).

Round 4: I T C L E H G U S

I could not get settled with this mix, and arguably wasted time writing down too many sixes in the hopes that they would spark insight.  (It would have, too, if I had found the right ones.)  I had LICE, TELIC ("tending to a definite end"), GUILT, GUILTS, wondered about GUILES, SLEUTH, CHUTES, and ICTHUS (which is invalid; I was trying to think of ICTERUS, which is another name for jaundice, but ended up quite far from it).

Lots more sixes, but I was not extending them to longer.  As usual, the pause when time runs out shakes me out of whatever mental rut I was in and I saw a familiar UGLIEST / GLUIEST for seven, and then almost immediately GLITCHES for eight.

Both contestants have found six-letter words, Mark with SLIGHT and Susan with SLEIGH.  I am a little bemused by both of them being so close to SLEIGHT without seeing it from their words, but I've missed a lot on this round also.  I hadn't even considered the -IGHT fragment, for instance, which was extremely poor; it should have led me to SLEIGHT if I had done so.

David is on target again with GLITCHES.  Bravo, David!  That's the only eight, and the only seven not yet mentioned is GULCHES.


Scores: Mark 6 (27), Susan 6 (13), me 29.

Round 5: R M D N A E U E F

I had DARN, REMAND, MAUNDER ("to talk in a rambling, foolish, or imbecile way"), MEANDER, and wondered about UNFRAMED.  I decided that it sounded promising enough to risk, and was relieved to find out that it was valid.  Phew!

Mark has FARMED for six, but Susan has struck back with UNFRAMED to close the gap to six points.  David had already found it while checking up on UNFARMED, which is not listed.

The other eight is FREEDMAN ("a man who has been freed from slavery"); the other sevens are MANURED / UNARMED, RENAMED / AMENDER, DEFAMER, FREEMAN ("a man who is free; a man who enjoys personal, civil, or political liberty"), and FRAENUM ("a small fold of membrane which checks or restrains the motion of a part, as the one which binds down the underside of the tongue").


Scores: Mark 6 (27), Susan 14 (21), me 37

Round 6: Target 630 from 100 50 8 6 2 5

I started to greatly overcomplicate this (I did not write it down but I had found 630 = 6*100 + 50 - 5*8/2) before I saw the simpler 630 = 6*(100 + 5).  Then I wondered if the 5*6 could be retained until the end, and found 630 = (8/2)*(100 + 50) = 5*6.

Both contestants declare 630.  Susan starts out with 100*6 + 10... and realises that she has made a mistake since there is no 10.  It's kind of hard to figure out how she was intending to continue since we no longer know what numbers she was working with.  In any case, Mark has found a correct continuation: 630 = 6*100 + (8 - 2)*5.

Richard speaks up to suggest that Lily might have used the 6*(100 + 5) answer.  It's not said, but the Lily's attitude suggests that this was, indeed, her method.

Mark: 630
Susan: [invalid]
Me: 630
Richard: 630
Lily: 630

Scores: Mark 16 (37), Susan 14 (21), me 47

Second break: AUTO MELD ("Time to tone this down")

Relatively clear to get MODULATE from that, or at least from those letters.

Round 7: D T B D A I U E S

Mark is 16 points ahead at this stage, so Susan cannot afford to concede points to him in this round.

I had BAIT, AUDIT, and AUDITED; this last can be a tough spot, and in a play situation I might have been tempted to take a fifth vowel to make things tougher for the opponent.  On the other hand, an E would give a couple of easy sevens (DEBATED, DEBITED), so it's not necessarily a sound plan.  However, the S did bring more findable sevens to the table; still within time I noted SUBEDIT and BADDEST, and afterwards I added BADDIES as well.

Susan has BASTED for six, but Mark's seven of BADDEST is (amusingly enough) good, and that guarantees Mark the win.  David has chosen BUDDIES for his seven.

The other seven is STUDIED.


Scores: Mark 23 (44), Susan 14 (21), me 54

Round 8: Target 898 from 75 3 3 10 5 5

Susan opts for the classroom mix, and that duplication looks very worrying.  But with the target so close to 900 the general idea is clear, and those duplicated numbers work out fairly handily (effectively being turned into a pair of 2's), giving the solution 898 = (10 + 5 - 3)*75 - (5 - 3).  Still within time I wondered if that 10 could be used as a multiplier again, and found 898 = 10*(75 + 5*3) - (5 - 3) as an alternative.

Mark is one away with 897, while Susan declares 898.  However, she starts of with (10 + 3)*75... and realises that she has made a mistake.  She obviously thought that this was 900, rather than the 975 it turns out to be.  That brings Mark's answer back into consideration; it is 897 = (5 - 3 + 10)*75 - 3, so he missed the option to subtract (5 - 3) instead to get the target.  Lily points this out, and that was her solution.

Mark: 897
Susan: [invalid]
Me: 898
Lily: 898

Scores: Mark 23 (51), Susan 14 (21), me 64


I had a small freeze as the letters went up, then perhaps due to round 4 I looked at the -IGHT fragment and had the answer less then four seconds in.  Neither contestant is able to solve it within time.

Mark: [no answer]
Susan: [no answer]
Me: COPYRIGHT (3.5s)

Final scores: Mark 23 (51), Susan 14 (21), me 74

Some good words from both players, with Susan's UNFRAMED being the pick of the contestants' answers.  But the 24 points she conceded in the numbers rounds proved too large an obstacle to overcome.  Mark gained his second half-century score, and made it through to the end of the week.  Come Monday he'll have that sometimes-tricky fourth game to survive, and it will be interesting to see if he can manage it.

I could have done better in rounds 3 and 4 -- definitely should have in round 4 -- but at least those were just matters of time rather than being completely at sea as I have sometimes in the past.  Aside from that the rounds were as good as possible, although a little more speed on the conundrum would always be a good thing.  It's certainly been a pretty good week for me.


Mark said...

Well done, Geoff.

434 = (10+5+2)*25 + 9
MAUNDER (I didn't know what this meant, but was pretty sure it was a word)
630 = 6*100 + (8-2)*5
897 = (10+5-3)*75 - 3
9 seconds

Geoff Bailey said...

Thanks, Mark. And a good game from you, particularly with GLITCHES; you'd have beaten each contestant handsomely.

(Apologies for the lack of recent comment responses; been somewhat busy.)

Good point about MAUNDER -- I'm in exactly the same boat, as it turns out. I'm updating the post to include the meaning.

Sam Gaffney said...

Nice game and quick conundrum from "slow-hand" Geoff. Solid work from Mark, too.

I am quite annoyed with my play this morning, I had an "optimum" game there for the taking. BARONETS is a word I have learned and used before, but I was too busy thinking about BARITONES and trying other avenues with the double-A to see it. As for Round 3, I started with (25-2)*(10+9), which is 437, after which -4 would have given the answer. However, I was unsure of the subtotal, and tried another tack.

I had some luck with the conundrum, I always peek at the word scramble in our office copy of The Australian newspaper, and I think COPYRIGHT is a fairly recent one.

My answers:

432 = 9*(2*25-10/5)
630 = 6*(100 + 5)
898 = (10+5-3)*75 - (5-3)

Sam Gaffney said...

Correction, my Round 8 answer was:
898 = (3*5-3)*75-10/5

Geoff Bailey said...

*winces about that 432* Ouch, my condolences on that one, Sam. It would have been an excellent solution!

I had to look up BORANES, so you've introduced me to a new word. Excellent.