Saturday, 28 April 2012

Ep 435: Simon Walton, Neil Croft (April 27, 2012)

Rounds: Here.

On Simon's third night we find out that he also teaches for Open Access College.  As he explains, this is a distance education school in South Australia.  The teaching happens both over the phone and online; he notes the difficulties in trying to explain some of the spatial mathematics over the phone, which is one reason for the increased use of online materials.

Tonight's challenger is Neil Croft, an I.T. manager and sports enthusiast.  Neil is particularly interested in the Melbourne Cup; he does not bet on it, but has (as he puts it) a predilection for learning the winners of the race.  For some reason a few years back he attempted to learn them, and has persisted in that.  Richard puts him to the test starting at 1960; Neil rattles off eight of them before they bring it to a stop.

Simon continued his impressive word lengths with sevens and eights the order of the day; one of them turned out to be invalid (the drawbacks of having a Scrabble vocabulary) but the rest were good.  Neil matched him with a seven at first but was limited to six-letter words in the remaining rounds; however, Neil picked up some handy points on the numbers and was just two points behind going into the conundrum.  Had Neil solved the final numbers round he would have been a point ahead at the conundrum, in fact.  Simon managed to solve the conundrum first, a little over ten seconds in, to escape with his third victory by a margin of 49 to 37.

I did not feel that I was hitting any high notes today, and investigations afterwards showed that I had only managed one maximum on the letters.  I was never going to find those other four maximums, as it turns out, but I should have managed to go one better that I did in the fourth round.  I managed to do as well as was possible in the numbers, and solved the conundrum relatively quickly, so I really only made the one mistake this game.  It ended up being a comfortable win again, to round off the best week of playing I have had.

Round 1: I E O N H D N E C

I had HONE, HONED, INCHED, HEDONIC, and CHINNED.  I was unsure about both those sevens, but eventually decided on CHINNED with a probable gymnastic meaning.  As it turns out, both are acceptable; HEDONIC is "relating to hedonism or hedonics" and CHIN does indeed have the verb sense of doing chin-ups.

In fact, the contestants have chosen both of these sevens; Neil opted for CHINNED, and Simon went with HEDONIC.  David "could not better those", but from the way he had the dictionary already open at the right page to check CHINNED it is clear that it was his answer.

The other seven is CODEINE.


Scores: 7 apiece

Round 2: R F T A U L S E I

I had RAFT, RAFTS, FILTERS, and -- with a nod back to Monday's game -- FAILURES.

Neil has FLUTES for six, but Simon has FRAILEST for eight.  David has gone with FAULTIER for his eight.

The other eights are FISTULAE (one plural of FISTULA: "a narrow passage or duct formed by congenital abnormality or by disease or injury [...]"; some sources list an associated adjective FISTULAR, but the Macquarie does not) and FILATURE ("a reel for drawing off silk from cocoons").

That latter is pluralisable, of course, so FILATURES is a full monty available in this round.


Scores: Simon 15, Neil 7, me 15

Round 3: Target 607 from 75 25 100 10 5 4

Simon sticks with his choice of three of each, and gets a very awkward target.  There are a few ways to approach it, but the numbers just don't work out for getting there exactly.  I had a one-away 606 = (100 - 75)*25 - 10 - 5 - 4, and that turns out to be the best possible.

Further poking at it after time (before I had checked that it was not solvable) turned up a few ways to 608, but nothing better.  My favourite was 608 = 25*100/4 - (75 + 10)/5.

Simon is outside the scoring range with 625, but Neil has done as well as possible with 608 = (10 - 4)*100 + 5 + 75/25.

Simon: [not in range]
Neil: 608
Me: 606

Scores: Simon 15, Neil 14, me 22

First break: AFT GUIDE ("Exhausted in army gear")

The "army gear" is a reference to fatigues, and thus FATIGUED.

David's talk is about the -gate suffix that is frequently applied to any scandal, originating from the Watergate scandal.

Round 4: R C S A A M T E I

I had hoped the final vowel would be another E for MACERATES, but no such luck.  I had SCAR, CRAMS, SCREAM, and MAESTRI.  It did not feel quite good enough, and after time I found CERAMIST fairly quickly.  Not fast enough, though.

Neil has SCREAM for six, while Simon has picked up on SMARTIE being one of the frequent appearers on the show.  David started with MATRICES -- argh, I really should have seen that -- but went fishing in the dictionary and turned up the mineral MARCASITE for nine.

Those are all the ones longer than seven; the sevens are CAMERAS, METRICS, TARMACS, RACIEST / STEARIC ("of or relating to suet or fat"), SEMATIC ("serving as a sign or warning of danger, as the conspicuous colours or markings of certain poisonous animals"), ATRESIA ("the congenital absence or excessive narrowing of a duct or canal") / ARISTAE (plural of ARISTA: "a bristle-like appendage of grain, etc.; an awn") / ASTERIA ("a precious stone which shows asterism when cabochon-cut, as the star-sapphire"), and IMARETS (IMARET: "(in Turkey) a hospice for pilgrims, etc.").

In the realm of uncertain plurals, AMRITA is "the ambrosial drink of immortality" from Hindu mythology, or the immortality conferred by drinking it.  So AMRITAS might be another seven.


Scores: Simon 22, Neil 14, me 29

Round 5: O E A D S G L I M


Neil has GLADES for six, but Simon tries MELODIA for seven.  That's one of those Scrabble words, and it is not in the Macquarie (nor my Chambers).  Those six points let Neil close the gap to just 2.  David has spotted GLADSOME, which turns out to be the only eight.  Well done, David!

The other sevens are MELOIDS (MELOID being the blister beetle), MILAGES (MILAGE being an acceptable variant spelling of MILEAGE), GOALIES / SOILAGE ("freshly cut green fodder for animals kept in a confined area"), GLIOMAS (one plural of GLIOMA: "a tumor arising from and consisting of neuroglia"; the other is GLIOMATA), the American spelling DIALOGS (acceptable in computing contexts), and MEDIALS (MEDIAL: "a medial linguistic element", where that second sense of "medial" is "within a word or syllable; neither initial nor final").

The uncertain plural is AMIDOLS, AMIDOL being a particular chemical substance.

Simon: [invalid]

Scores: Simon 22, Neil 14 (20), me 36

Round 6: Target 673 from 75 50 8 9 9 3

Neil goes for the more traditional family mix, and I premultiply as they go up.  I noted that 9*9*8 was 648, and then the target turned out to be precisely 25 away from that!  That made this a particularly easy round for me, as I had 673 = 9*9*8 + (75 - 50).  Then I looked for other methods and found the disappointingly mundane 673 = 9*75 - (8 + 3 - 9).  It is no surprise that everyone else turns out to use this.

Simon: 673
Neil: 673
Me: 673
Lily: 673

Scores: Simon 32, Neil 24 (30), me 46

Second break: RELIC BED ("Add 'in' to make unbelievable")

Easy enough to find CREDIBLE from this.

Round 7: E I A T R V N E T

Bleah, that fourth vowel shut down some options, including the potential full monty TRIVALENT.  I had TEAR, RETINA, and TRAINEE, and no sniff of better.  That was bothersome, because I needed an eight here to have a chance at 74 this game, which was the target for an average of eighty for the week.  The impossible target in round three harmed my chances of this, but I could have still been in with a chance if I had found CERAMIST within time in round 4.

Anyway, Neil has yet another six with RAVINE, but Simon has found NITRATE for seven.  A nine point lead is not nearly enough for comfort, and still poses the risk of him being behind going into the conundrum.  David's first thought was that INVETERATE was there, but a quick check showed that it had too many letters.  Or as Sam would put it, "INVETERATE scores 20".  David ended up with VETERAN for his seven.

There is an eight here, however: ANTEVERT ("to displace (the uterus) by tipping forward").  Huh.

A decent spread of sevens, as is to be expected.  They are NAÏVETÉ, NERVATE ("(of leaves) having nerves or veins; nerved"), NATTIER / INTREAT / ITERANT / TERTIAN ("recurring every other day [...]"), ITERATE / ARIETTE (variant spelling of ARIETTA: "a short aria"), RETINAE, and ENTREAT / TERNATE ("consisting of three; arranged in threes") / RATTEEN (obsolete variant spelling of RATINE: "a rough woollen cloth, formerly in use chiefly for travelling coats").


Scores: Simon 39, Neil 24 (30), me 53

Round 8: Target 810 from 25 50 10 5 3 7

It seemed most profitable to use that factor of 10, and I soon had 810 = 10*(50 + 25 + 3*(7 - 5)); this turns out to be Lily's solution also.  With time to spare I found the alternative 810 = 3*10*(25 + 7 - 5).  After time I added a more traditional approach: 810 = (7*5 - 3)*25 + 10.

Simon has not been able to get within range, but Neil is four away with 806 = (25 + 50)*10 + 7*(5 + 3).  Good vision, but if he had pushed the five within the brackets he might have found 810 = (25 + 50 + 5)*10 + 7 + 3.  That would have been the difference between being ahead or behind when going into the conundrum.

Simon: [not within range]
Neil: 806
Me: 810
Lily: 810

Scores: Simon 39, Neil 24 (37), me 63


I approached this one a bit roundaboutly, somehow overlooking the -ING but seeing the -ISH fragment instead.  I intuited the answer then had a moment of confusion because I expected to have seen a -ING in that case.  I had to check again, which may have cost me some time, but I got there just over three seconds in.

It is a nervous time for the other two contestants, knowing that they can win it but might also lose it at any moment.  Simon is the one to get there, though, a bit over ten seconds in.

Simon: PUNISHING (11.5s)
Neil: [no answer]
Me: PUNISHING (3.5s)

Final scores: Simon 39 (49), Neil 24 (37), me 73

Once again Simon was finding good words, with an impressive average length, but he does need to watch those invalid ones.  Neil picked up some useful points in the numbers rounds where Simon showed his lack of comfort, and it was anybody's game going into the conundrum.  Simon got there first to survive the week; Monday will be that crucial fourth game.  Can he make it past that?  Only one way to find out...

Maximum-wise, this might seem a poor game as I only managed to do the best in the first of the letters rounds (and I nearly talked myself out of that one, too).  On the other hand, none of those other maximums were in my vocabulary, and nor are they likely to remain there.  The sole thing I should have done better was to find MATRICES / CERAMIST in round 4.  That would also have given me that desired 74th point... oh, well.  It has been a good week, and hopefully I can keep this kind of form up!


Mark said...

Well done, Geoff. It wasn't a good game for me.

606 = 5*100 + 75 + 25 + 10 - 4
673 = 9*75 - 3 + 9 - 8

Sam Gaffney said...

I'm gladsome to see your performance come back down to human levels, Geoff, albeit that of a very skilled human.

Simon's word-finding has been great, but my guess is that he is running into trouble by declaring words that are valid in Scrabble but are not in the Macquarie.

I had another mega-disaster on Round 6. I'm glad these didn't happen when I was shooting my episodes for real, I'm not quite sure what's going wrong. You wouldn't think there's enough pressure to choke while playing at home, but something is awry.

The word FILATURES popped into my head after Round 3, but I have only been exposed to it very recently, so all that happened during the thirty seconds was a vague feeling that there could be a nine there (I forgot what it meant until I looked it up).

The other genuine chance I had for more points was MATRICES, which I have tried to learn, but often struggle to spot.

My answers:
606 = 5*100+75+25+10-4
672 = 9*75-3 >:-(
810 = (50+25+5)*10+7+3

Geoff Bailey said...

FILATURES would have been a fantastic get; if it ever turns up again hopefully you shall be ready! Not sure what is going on with your numbers recently, Sam -- maybe those balanced mixes are throwing you off -- but I'm sure you'll be back in good form again soon.

Mark: Still, you can take pride in having outdone Sam in a numbers round. *winks at Sam*