Saturday, 19 May 2012

Ep 100 [GF]: Andrew Fisher, Naween Fernando (May 18, 2012; originally aired December 17, 2010)

Rounds: Here.

Disclaimer: Although I have not seen this episode before, I was aware of the winner before viewing it.  It seems unlikely that this would affect my results, but I was not completely a blank slate.  Additionally, I have apparently encountered the conundrum before which raises the possibility that I have also been exposed to the other rounds, although I did not recall them if so.

The grand final of series one is here at last.  There's nothing of significance to the pre-game chat, and we get straight into things.  As was expected, both contestants were in great form on the letters, with Andrew finding the best answer in each case and Naween only slightly off the pace due to invalid words.  The first two numbers rounds were rather uninteresting, but Naween complicated things in the final one and was rewarded when he found his way to the solution and Andrew did not.  That let him make up some ground, and the game was alive going into the conundrum.  As expected, Andrew solved it extremely quickly to record a 68 to 52 victory and become the series champion.

I... gah.  Well, looked at objectively I actually did pretty well in the letters; it is just that I could have done better.  I did find the best results for the maxima I missed after time, in one case fairly quickly while the other took minutes.  But I flubbed the final numbers round and that always bothers me.  That was the difference between finishing second or third, and indeed on having a theoretical chance at all going into the conundrum.  A decent game with a major error, and against opposition like this that can end up feeling like a poor game.  All credit to Andrew and Naween, who certainly deserve their accolades as the best of series one.

Round 1: E I E T N C S K T

This was both a good and a bad start.  I had TINE and CENTS, and then stalled for a long time.  Those first seven letters looked quite familiar but I could not drag anything out of them.  Somehow, though, with about five seconds left I found NECKTIES from that mix, leapfrogging the six- and seven-letter territory.

After time I found KITTENS and TICKETS as fairly plausible sevens, plus NECKTIE of course.  The only other seven was the word I could not find: ENTICES.  That's a very poor miss, and I was quite lucky to end up with NECKTIES as a better option.

Both contestants and David have also found NECKTIES, which is the only eight.


Scores: 8 apiece

Round 2: O A A I G S F L T

I had SAGO, FLAGS, FLOATS, and AFLOAT.  I briefly pondered GAOLIST, but there is no such word, of course.

It is not the most promising of mixes, but six letters still felt short of the mark.  After time I wrote them down in reverse of the order I had them in, and found OTALGIAS (earaches) shortly thereafter.

Naween declares SALIGOT for seven; he explains that it is some kind of water chestnut.  He is correct about that according to Chambers, but the Macquarie does not list it.  Not that it matters too much since Andrew has found OTALGIAS to take the early lead.  No mention of David's result on this round.

The other sevens are OTALGIA and SOLATIA, a word I had considered in passing but not seriously.  It turns out to be the plural of SOLATIUM ("a sum of money given as compensation, often over and above legal entitlement"), a word I recall looking at recently, so that would be why it occurred to me.  Hopefully it shall stick a little better next time it comes up!

LAOGAI is defined as "(in the Chinese criminal justice system) a policy of running organised prison labour in prisons and prison camps"; if that is considered pluralisable then LAOGAIS is another seven.

Naween: [invalid]

Scores: Andrew 16, Naween 8, me 8

Round 3: Target 314 from 100 5 9 8 3 2

Andrew sticks with the easy options, and gets a low target with no challenge to it.  I had 314 = 3*100 + 9 + 5, as did Andrew and Lily.  Naween approached it a little differently, opting for 314 = (100 + 5)*3 - (9 - 8).

Andrew: 314
Naween: 314
Me: 314
Lily: 314

Scores: Andrew 26, Naween 18, me 18

First break: CUT PRUNE ("Could wreck your tyre but cure your pain")

The answer is PUNCTURE, with the latter half of the clue presumably referring to acupuncture.

David's talk is about the word champion and some related words.

Round 4: O E A U D B T Y I

Five vowels and a Y?  Ouch.  I had ABODE / ADOBE, ABOUT, BEAUTY, OUTBID, and DUBIETY ("doubtfulness; doubt").

That felt like a good find, but I was not surprised that both contestants found it.  David mentions BEAUTY and BUOYED as sixes, but had also found DUBIETY.

It seems to be the only seven.  The other sixes are BAITED, BOATED, IODATE, TABUED (TABU being a variant spelling of TABOO, which has a verb sense of "to put under a taboo; prohibit or forbid"), and UBIETY ("the state of being in a definite place; condition with respect to place; local relation").


Scores: Andrew 33, Naween 25, me 25

Round 5: A E I C P R M B P

I had PACE, CAPER, CAMBER, and CAMPER.  I wanted to have CRAPPIE (a type of fish), but I know I've looked for that before in the Macquarie and it is not listed.  Those were the seven most promising letters from the mix, and my mind kept switching which letter was duplicated and coming up with CAPRICE.  After time I finally -- it took a few minutes -- found EPICARP ("the outermost layer of a pericarp, as the rind or peel of certain fruits; exocarp") for seven.  Mildly amusingly, I got there via PERICARP which is not quite available in the mix; once I considered it I recalled the definition and hence found EPICARP.

Both contestants have found EPICARP, and it seems to be the only seven.


Scores: Andrew 40, Naween 32, me 25

Round 6: Target 199 from 25 100 9 10 2 7

Naween also sticks with safe mixes -- not always the best option when one is behind, and I think he might fancy himself to have a better shot at the numbers than Andrew -- and gets another trivial target.  Everyone finds 199 = 2*100 - (10 - 9), although I also wrote down 199 = 100 + 10*9 + 7 + 2 for good measure.

Andrew: 199
Naween: 199
Me: 199
Lily: 199

Scores: Andrew 50, Naween 42, me 35

Second break: GORY LASS ("Shiny list of words")

A fairly easy clue for GLOSSARY.

Round 7: E E I C S H N G R

I had SHINE (harking back to the clue over the break) and then -ING hit the table.  I considered CHEESING but thought it was probably only valid in the phrase "cheesing off", and so would not be valid.  Then I had SHEERING, CHEERING, mildly reluctantly rejected CHEERINGS, and GREENISH.  I had looked this last one up recently and knew it was valid, otherwise I would have declared the safer CHEERING.

Andrew has CHEERING for eight, but Naween has tried CHEESING and has run into the issue I was concerned about -- CHEESE as a verb only appears in combination, so CHEESING is not valid.  He must have seen safer options, and pays the price for not choosing one of them.

The other eights are ENRICHES and GENERICS.  I'm a bit surprised that GRINCHES is not listed, to be honest.  Maybe in a future edition?

The Macquarie does not list it, but Chambers has the verb CREESH (listed as a Scottish word meaning "to grease") and thus would allow CREESHING for a full monty.  It is Scrabble-legal, and Andrew must have been aware of it -- he hesitated somewhat over his declaration before settling for the eight.  I imagine he had his fill of invalid words after his quarterfinal!

Naween: [invalid]

Scores: Andrew 58, Naween 42, me 43

Round 8: Target 638 from 50 75 100 4 5 4

Naween needs to outscore Andrew in this round to have a chance (as do I), so he mixes it up with the tougher balanced option.  Sound strategy, and he gets a target in the desired midrange also.  I was mesmerised by that gap of 13 from 625 -- 4 + 4 + 5 is 13, of course, and 625 is 25*25... but it's not possible to put those two parts together in this instance.  If only that 50 or 100 had been a 25!

I had passed over some other approaches along the way, and ended up scrambling to get anything down in time.  As a result I had to write down two away with 636 = 4*(100 + 50 + 5 + 4).  That was doubly poor, since I'd skipped over a one-away in the process -- 639 = (5 + 4)*(75 - 4) -- and revisiting that after time quickly led to a solution from a variant of it: 638 = (4 + 4)*(75 + 5) - 100/50.  A disappointing miss, and a solution that I would hope to find more often than I would miss it.

Andrew is 9 off the target with 629; I'll take a wild guess that this was 629 = (5 + 4)*75 - 50 + 4.  But Naween has accurately found the solution above, and it turns out to be the only solution.  Well done, Naween!  Lily has also found it.

Those ten points put Naween right back in contention, and I have dropped off the pace considerably.  The best I could hope is a miracle conundrum solve to overtake Naween, but my odds of beating Andrew to a conundrum are minuscule.

Andrew: 629
Naween: 638
Me: 636
Lily: 638

Scores: Andrew 58, Naween 52, me 43


I take the death-or-glory approach of the GANDISEEG gambit, and... find out that I have apparently been contaminated with conundrum knowledge.  I recognise the words and their solution instantly, so although the gambit technically paid off it is inappropriate to claim it as the knowledge must have come (indirectly) from this episode.  (That is why I am scoring this as "no answer" below.)  Andrew buzzed in just a fraction of a second after I did, and has the answer to become the show's first series champion.

Andrew: PSEUDONYM (1.5s)
Naween: [no answer]
Me: [no answer]

Final scores: Andrew 68, Naween 52, me 43

Both contestant's Scrabble knowledge was on obvious display, with the only question generally being which of the words they could see would be listed in the Macquarie.  Andrew navigating those pitfalls better than Naween, correctly identifying that OTALGIAS would be an acceptable plural and that CREESHING would not be allowed.  Naween made a poor decision in choosing CHEESING over more obvious alternatives; whether or not he saw OTALGIA and rejected the plural form is unclear.

The first two numbers rounds were too easy to provide any distinction, and Naween perhaps erred in not trying for more difficult options in his first numbers round.  He did very well to choose a tougher mix and solve it in the final round, and had he gone with CHEERING instead of CHEESING in round seven he would actually have been ahead at the conundrum.  But Andrew's conundrum speed is impressive as it has been throughout, and it was always going to be a tough ask to outdo him there.

Both contestants showed formidable prowess at manipulating the letters throughout the finals, and from what I have seen I am content to call them the best of the series on that front.  They are beatable, but it is going to take some luck on the numbers to do so.  I honestly won't be that surprised if the Masters series ends up pitting these two against each other in the grand final again, although personally I am hoping for Sam to make it through.

My hearty congratulations to both Andrew and Naween!

Some searching turns up that Andrew has a blog, and he has described his finals series experience there: Quarterfinal, semifinal, final.


Mark said...

Well done, Geoff. What a great final! I was very surprised at Naween's word in Round 7.

Thanks for the links to Andrew's blog. I wonder how he would go against someone like Sam or Alan who likes 4 large, 2 small.

My answers:
314 = 3*100 + 5 + 9
199 = 2*100 - 10 + 9
636 = 4*(100+50+5+4)

Geoff Bailey said...

Hopefully we'll find out in the Masters series, Mark. But I would expect Sam and Alan to have a strong advantage in the numbers; whether that ends up being enough to compensate for the letters is the key question.

Sam Gaffney said...

Good game, Geoff, and thanks for the support. I'll mail you one of the "Sam" pennants when the first shipment arrives (just $39.95 each, plus P&H).

My main concern leading into the Masters would have been avoiding embarrassment if I had seen this Grand Final. I think I avoided watching it as ego protection: I feared playing at home and losing (what a wuss, though perhaps it worked, and the confidence helped in Series 4).

As high-quality a match as you'll see, between them they played the perfect game (has that happened before or since?). Incredible words from both players, a brilliant solve in Round 8 from Naween just when he needed it, and Andrew's conundrum solve was the best I've ever seen in terms of speed/importance/difficulty (though an internal Y always looks hard to me).

I didn't prepare for or take this game very seriously as CHEERING and the conundrum had already been spoilt for me, but I would have done well to score higher. I had heard that Naween regained ground in Round 8, and so spent a while trying to find 638 at the expense of a closer answer, only getting it about ten seconds after Naween declared it. The only other word I might have found was NECKTIES (missed despite Andrew's subliminal sartorial hint), the other ones I'd barely ever heard of, and I took several minutes to solve that conundrum when I saw it recently. All in all, I'm glad that us Brisbane folk didn't get to audition for Series #1!

My answers, though the last three were affected by pre-knowledge:

314 = 3*100 + 9 + 5
- (CAMPIER - Macq doesn't even list CAMPY)
199 = 2*100 - 10 + 9
GENERICS (had been spoiled)
641 = (75+50+4)*5-4
(already knew it, probably wouldn't have gotten it)