Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Ep 195 [QF2]: Tamara McMahon, Richard Hartley (May 22, 2012; originally aired April 29, 2011)

Disclaimer: I watched this episode when it first aired, and although I did not recall any of it I cannot rule out memory somehow being a factor.

Taking the champion's position is second seed Tamara McMahon, a project manager and professional tennis umpire.  Tamara successfully retired with a total score of 335 points.  Richard makes note of two good word finds from her in the main games: DURATIONS and MATRICES.

In the challenger's position is seventh seed Richard Hartley, a planetary science student.  His total over six games was 282 points, so it looks like this series had slightly more people get to a sixth game than the first one (or the fourth, for that matter).  Richard (Morecroft) mentions Richard (Hartley) finding BONNIEST during his main games.

It was a night of fairly flat letters rounds, with relatively straightforward sevens in most rounds and little longer on offer.  The first round was a touch trickier, but Tamara found the seven-letter word there to gain the advantage.  Richard miscalculated (literally) in the first numbers round to let Tamara extend that lead, but gained it back in the final numbers round.  The conundrum mattered, but neither was able to solve it; Tamara's first round word secured her the win, 42 to 35.

I was back in form tonight, although as I've already noted the letters rounds were quite flat and there was little room to shine.  The second numbers round was a ratpack that merited a little care, but otherwise optimal results were easy enough to come by in most rounds.  I found the conundrum quite tough going, as expected from a finals game, but found the solution with three seconds left on the clock.  That gave me my second optimal game, although the slowness of the conundrum solve is a negative feature.  Still, it was nice to get good results after some of my recent poor finals form.

Round 1: L O S E L R B E O

I had LOSE (of course), ROLES, REBELS, and BOLEROS (BOLERO: "a lively Spanish dance in three-four time"; it is also the associated music for the dance, or a type of short jacket).  I can attribute finding this word to the lasting impression left by Torvill and Dean in the 1984 Winter Olympics with their magnificent ice dance to Ravel's BolĂ©ro.

After time I added BELLES and SELLER as other sixes.

Richard has found SELLER for six, but Tamara has done well to find BOLEROS.  David has also found it.

BOLEROS is the only seven; the remaining sixes are LOOSER, RESOLE, RESELL, and ROBLES (ROBLE: "a Californian white oak, Quercus lobata").

Richard: SELLER

Scores: Tamara 7, Richard 0, me 7

Round 2: B D S E A P Y T O


Both contestants have likewise found BOASTED; it is a pretty flat mix.  David has found the other two sevens in this mix: BEDPOST and TEAPOYS (TEAPOY: "a small three-legged table or stand").

Richard: BOASTED

Scores: Tamara 14, Richard 7, me 14

Round 3: Target 473 from 75 8 2 3 10 5

The target is very close to a multiple of 25, and we have the offset of 2.  It is not that near a multiple of 75, though, and I looked at the idea of making the 400 so that the 75 could be added; that turned out to be quite straightforward, and I quickly had the solution 473 = 8*5*10 + 75 - 2.  This will later turn out to be Lily's solution also.

After time I considered using the 75 in more expected fashion; my first effort was via 480, yielding 473 = (8 - 2)*(75 + 5) - (10 - 3).  But what may be the easiest approach is to apply the standard method after all, working up from 450 with 473 = 2*3*75 + 10 + 8 + 5.

Tamara is five away with 468, but Richard is just one away with 472.  However, he starts off by saying (10 - 3)*75 and thinking it is 475.  That's an arithmetic error and his solution is invalid; it is also rather strange that he would end up with 472 in that case, as simply subtracting the 2 would have been the way to go at that stage (if his calculation had been correct).

That brings Tamara's answer into play; she has gone with 468 = 75*(8 - 2) + 10 + 3 + 5.  Seven more points to her, and an early fourteen point lead.

Tamara: 468
Richard: [invalid]
Me: 473
Lily: 473

Scores: Tamara 14 (21), Richard 7, me 24

First break: RESUME GO ("Sounds like you've got taller")

The answer is GRUESOME (sounds like "grew some").

David's talk is about Tom Swifties.

Round 4: I U O H S N C R U

I had SHUN, COUSIN, CUSHION, and CURIOUS.  As time expired I saw NOURISH as another seven.  This is another pretty flat mix, with those sevens being pretty findable and nothing longer to be had.

Both contestants have found sevens; Tamara has chosen CUSHION while Richard goes with CURIOUS.  David has nothing to add to those.

The other sevens are URCHINS and RUINOUS / URINOUS ("relating to, resembling, or containing urine").

Richard: CURIOUS

Scores: Tamara 21 (28), Richard 14, me 31

Round 5: S I N E C T D O H

I had SINE (of course), SINCE, INSECT, HEDONIST (someone devoted to pleasure), and HEDONICS ("the study of pleasurable and painful states of consciousness").

Both contestants have found SECTION for seven; David has also seen it, and notes that choosing a final vowel would have opened up the possibility of an E for SECTIONED.  It would have been, too, so that is the potential full monty spoiled.  He has also found HEDONIST for eight.

Other potential full monties were available from a U (SEDUCTION / EDUCTIONS), an S (CONSISTED), or an R (CENTROIDS / DOCTRINES).

The other eight from this mix is SNITCHED.

Richard: SECTION

Scores: Tamara 21 (35), Richard 14 (21), me 39

Round 6: Target 435 from 4 4 5 9 7 6

Richard shakes things up with six small numbers, and gets a good spread of smalls and a target on the low end of the middle part of the spectrum.  That's quite a good result from a six small mix, although it would be nicer if that duplicated 4 were a 3 or an 8 instead.

My first thought was to pull out the factor of 5, as the target is 5*87.  But 87 seemed like a difficult number to make; it is 3*29 but there's no 3.  So I tried pushing that 3 into the 5, getting the factorisation 15*29; I was fortunate that my first idea for that 15 ended up yielding a solution: 435 = (9 + 6)*(7*4 + 5 - 4).

After time I saw that the 87 was actually pretty makeable; I started with 435 = 5*(9*7 + 6*4) -- this is Lily's solution -- and then found 435 = 5*(7*(9 + 4) - 4).  Using a ten can also lead to a solution: 435 = (6 + 4)*(9*4 + 7) + 5.

Neither contestant has been able to get within range; a bit odd from Richard, who presumably selected it for a reason.  Maybe he got stuck in unprofitable lines and neglected to write down something close.

Tamara: [not in range]
Richard: [not in range]
Me: 435
Lily: 435

Scores: Tamara 21 (35), Richard 14 (21), me 49

Second break: EXTRA PAY ("One thing it's hard to avoid becoming")

The answer is a TAXPAYER.

Round 7: F E D A S T E M T

I had FADE, FADES, FASTED, DEFEATS / FEASTED, STEAMED, and DEFAMES.  Once again it looks like a flat round, with a lot of findable sevens and no likely eight.

As expected, the contestants have seven-letted words; Richard has STEAMED and Tamara has FEASTED.  David has gone with DEFEATS as his seven.

The other sevens are DEAFEST, DAFTEST, DEFTEST, ESTATED (ESTATE as a verb: "to establish in or as in an estate"), and FEATEST.  I've mentioned this last unusual word relatively recently in episode 438; FEAT has an adjective meaning of "apt; skilful; dexterous".

Richard: STEAMED

Scores: Tamara 28 (42), Richard 21 (28), me 56

Round 8: Target 559 from 75 4 1 8 3 5

A succession of flat letter rounds have denied Richard any chance to catch up to Tamara on them; on the other hand, they've also prevented her from getting a further lead.  Richard tried for too difficult an option in the previous numbers game, and since he must outscore Tamara in this round to have a chance he goes for an easier option and hopes that it provides some challenge.

Finding a tweak down from 600 is simple enough, and I had 559 = 8*(75 - 5) - 1 in short order.  After time I noted a similar tweak up from 525: 559 = (4 + 3)*(75 + 5) - 1.

Tamara has not been able to get within range, but Richard is one away with 560 = 8*75 - 5*4*(3 - 1).  Lily has found the first of the solutions that I listed above.

Those seven points make the match live at the conundrum, which is good.

Tamara: [not in range]
Richard: 560
Me: 559
Lily: 559

Scores: Tamara 28 (42), Richard 21 (35), me 66


A tough conundrum, or so it seemed to me.  I kept getting distracted by ANNUALISE, which requires turning the P into an A.  I have no idea how I eventually found my way to the answer, but I only had three seconds left by the time I found it.  Neither contestant has managed to solve it, so Tamara's seven point lead gives her the win.

Tamara: [no answer]
Richard: [no answer]

Final scores: Tamara 28 (42), Richard 21 (35), me 76

It is pretty hard to assess the contestants' strengths based on this game; it looks like Tamara is slightly better at the words but with so many flat rounds it is very hard to tell.  Similarly, Richard might be better at the numbers, but neither was very convincing in that regard today.  That ratpack may have cost Richard the game, as a easier but challenging mix in round 6 might have let him catch up or even take the lead.  BOLEROS was an excellent find from Tamara, and with the numbers going a bit each way it proved the difference between the contestants.

I was slow on the conundrum but solved it this time -- the conundrums are definitely going better for me in this finals series than the previous one! -- and the main rounds were all optimal.  That makes this my second optimal game, albeit possibly tainted by having watched it at the first airing.  Still, this is a vast improvement over yesterday and the previous week, and I'm very happy for that.


Mark said...

Well done, Geoff.

473 = (8-2)*(75+3) + 5
439 = 9*5*(6+4) - 7 - 4

Sam Gaffney said...

Well played Geoff, back in the swing of things. I definitely saw this episode when it aired, as I remembered David's entertaining vignette about Tom Swift, especially as I read a lot of Hardy Boys books in my youth.

This memory did not help with Round 2, and I picked the wrong approach to Round 6, seeing 435 = 5*(9*(6+4)-7+4) shortly after time.

My answers:

473 = (3*75+10)*2+8-5
436 = (7-5)*6*9*4+4
559 = (75-5)*8-1

Geoff Bailey said...

Thanks Sam and Mark, and very nice speed on that conundrum, Sam!