Thursday, 24 May 2012

Ep 196 [QF3]: Barry Harridge, Oli Bryant (May 23, 2012; originally aired May 2, 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 seat in this third quarterfinal is retired mathematics teacher Barry Harridge, the third seed.  Richard notes that in Barry's first episode he solved all three of the numbers rounds and found a nine-letter word.  Barry does not remember that part so much as having done some silly things in later games.

In the challenger's seat is sixth seed Oli Bryant, a sustainability consultant.  Oli solved four of the six conundrums during his time on the show.

There were some good results from each, and a lot of adjustments to the relative difference in scores as only the last numbers round yielded shared points.  Barry had the better of the letters, helped along by a good eight-letter word in the second round and a couple of invalid offerings from Oli; on the other hand, Barry also had an invalid word in one round and could not match Oli's seven-letter word in the first round.  The net result from the letters was seven points to Barry, but he conceded seventeen points to Oli in the numbers and trailed by precisely ten points going into the conundrum.  That could have led to a tiebreaker conundrum, but Oli was the first to solve it, sealing the win by 47 points to 27.

I did fairly well, finding best results on the letters rounds, although not always the most common ones.  I bobbled slightly on the second numbers round, and failed to solve the conundrum within time, but otherwise had optimal results and a fairly solid win.

Round 1: D C H I U O E D R

I had CHIDE, CHIDED, and CHOIRED.  I had written ROUCHED down as speculative, but I was thinking of RUCHED; a RUCHE is "a full pleating or frilling of lace, net, muslin, ribbon, etc., used as a trimming or finish".  Chambers lists a verb sense for it ("to trim with a ruche"), but the Macquarie does not, so this is doubly invalid.

Barry has HEROIC for six, but Oli has done well to find CHOIRED for seven.  He thinks it is risky, but it is perfectly fine.

Six minutes might be a DECIHOUR, but it is no surprise that the Macquarie does not list that.  The only other seven is DOUCHED.


Scores: Barry 0, Oli 7, me 7

Round 2: I E O L T C F E N

I had TOIL, and then had a lot of trouble finding longer until the final letter went down.  Then I had INFLECT, LECTION, and FLECTION; finding this last, and indeed all three of those, was aided by countless showers staring at a box of COUNTRY LIFE soap and trying to make words from those letters (as I've mentioned before, back in episode 429).

Oli has another seven of INFLECT, but Barry has hit back strongly with ELECTION for eight.  David has also found FLECTION.

Those are all the eights; the other sevens are OLEFINE (obsolete variant of OLEFIN, which is a particular alkene) and CINEOLE (a similar variant of CINEOL, a particular terpene).

Note that the next consonant would have been an R, so staying with three vowels would have yielded the full monty of INFLECTOR.


Scores: Barry 8, Oli 7, me 15

Round 2: Target 711 from 50 1 4 9 10 3

I was about to start with the standard method, but then I saw the divisibility by 9 (since 7 + 1 + 1 is 9).  The cofactor is 79, and a little prodding yielded the solution 711 = 9*(50 + 3*10 - 1).  Then I went back to the standard method and was disappointed that it easily worked: 711 = (10 + 4)*50 + 9 + 3 - 1.  Oh, well.

Barry has not managed to get anything down in time; Oli has found the second of those solutions above.  Lily shows a tweaked version of it which saves a number: 711 = (50 + 1)*(10 + 4) - 3.

Barry: [no answer]
Oli: 711
Me: 711
Lily: 711

Scores: Barry 8, Oli 17, me 25

First break: FEAT MALT ("Morose friend who helps pay the bills")

I'm not too sold on equating "morose" and "flat", but the answer is obviously meant to be FLATMATE.

David's talk is about the phrase the real McCoy.

Round 4: O E O A R S V M R

I had AERO, SOAR, VAMOOSE, MOROSE (just mentioned for its tie in to the word mix over the break), and ROOMERS.  After time I noted OVERARM; I'd looked this up relatively recently, so I knew that it was only listed as an adjective and that OVERARMS was not valid.

Barry has gone for SAVOUR, but he's pulled in a phantom U from somewhere and that is invalid.  Oli has been paying attention and went with MOROSE for his six.  David has chosen VAMOOSE as his seven.

The other sevens are ROAMERS / REMORAS.  There may be one more, as SAVOR is listed as a variant spelling of SAVOUR, and SAVOURER is listed.  If the variant spellings propagate (as I think they should) then SAVORER would be the other seven.

Barry: [invalid]

Scores: Barry 8, Oli 17 (23), me 32

Round 5: M S T E U I N P A

I had STEM, MUTES, and was very much hoping for a final A (which seemed reasonable odds, as the vowels had been a bit light on A's so far).  It was, and I added PETUNIAS to my list.  After time I found SUPINATE ("to render supine") and -- somewhat later -- SPUMANTE.  I noted NUMPTIES, but the Macquarie does not list NUMPTY (Chambers defines it as a derogatory Scottish term for "an idiot"), so it is not valid.  I also knew to avoid PUTAMENS, as the plural of PUTAMEN ("a hard or stony endocarp, as a peach stone") is PUTAMINA.

Barry has found MINUTES for seven, while Oli has chosen ENSTAMP.  Unfortunately for Oli, ENSTAMP is not listed in the Macquarie (it is in Chambers), so Barry closes the gap a little.  David has opted for SPUMANTE.

Those are the only eights, and there are a great many sevens.

Oli: [invalid]

Scores: Barry 8 (15), Oli 7 (23), me 40

Round 6: Target 660 from 100 25 4 1 7 7

Oli goes for the family mix, and the duplicated 7 could pose problems.  I wanted to use the 75, but then I saw that 7*100 was closer and that seemed more profitable.  I was only able to manoeuvre it to one away, though, with 661 = 7*(100 - (7 - 4 - 1)) - 25.

This turned out to be pretty tough!  After time I eventually revisited the 75 idea, and although a 9 was too hard to come by an 8 was feasible.  A little tweaking then produced 660 = (7 + 1)*(100 - 25 + 7) + 4.

Oli is three away with 663, but Barry has reached the target.  Except... his solution starts with (100 - 7)*7 + 7 + 1 before he is finally pulled up for using the 7 too many times.  He is still one away at that point, too, so he may well have used the 1 twice also.  That brings Oli's answer into play, and he has no mistake with 663 = 100*7 - (25 + 7 + 4 + 1).

Lily has navigated the difficulties to find the only other solution: 660 = (100 + 7 + 25)*(4 + 1).  Well done, Lily!

Barry: [invalid]
Oli: 663
Me: 661
Lily: 660

Scores: Barry 8 (15), Oli 7 (30), me 47

Second break: WHAT AMOK ("This could be a little choppy")

A mildly punny clue for TOMAHAWK.

Round 7: S G D A O E I G A

Bleah, so many vowels.  I was hoping for a final T for GODETIAS, but as it was I had DAGS, GOADS, DOSAGE, and ADAGIOS.

Neither contestant was particularly fond of that mix, with Barry describing it as "awful".  He's only got himself to blame for that!  Barry has GOADS for five, and Oli declares SAGED to match it.  But SAGE has no verb meaning in the Macquarie, so that option is invalid.  That gives Barry five precious points and puts him precisely ten points behind Oli; a tiebreaker conundrum is a reasonable possibility at this stage.

David has found DOGGIES, and this seems to be the only other seven.  The remaining six-letter words are DOGGIE, ADAGIO, SAGGED, ADAGES, GEOIDS, DAGOES (derogatory, so the show would prefer another word be used), DAGGAS (DAGGA being a South African term for "wild hemp"), and AGGIES (AGGIE being an alternative for AGATE in the sense of "a child's playing marble made of [agate], or of glass in imitation of it").

Barry: GOADS
Oli: [invalid]

Scores: Barry 8 (20), Oli 17 (30), me 54

Round 8: Target 295 from 50 100 2 5 4 4

The target is 5 away from 300, which surely suggests that as the approach to take.  My first thought was to make a 3 to multiply the 100 by, but somehow I overlooked a method of doing so.  Fortunately there are many other options, and I had 295 = 2*(100 + 50) - 5 in short order, and 295 = 4*50 + 100 - 5 not long thereafter.  After time I noted that a 6 was much easier than a 3, leading to 295 = (4 + 2)*50 - 5; this is Lily's solution.  And vexingly long after that again I finally saw how to make the 3, and had 295 = (2 + 4/4)*100 - 5.

Both contestants surprise me by declaring 296; they did it the same way: 296 = (5 - 2)*100 - 4.  That is a lost opportunity for both of them -- Oli to seal the game, or Barry to catch up.  It also highlights the benefits of working backwards: If one starts by simply aiming to get to 300 then it is likely that the crucial 5 will be used up, as the contestants did.  On the other hand, if one starts by thinking about how to make that difference of 5 then the importance of retaining it is clear, and one of the very many other ways to get 300 can be used.

Barry: 296
Oli: 296
Me: 295
Lily: 295

Scores: Barry 8 (27), Oli 17 (37), me 64


Down to the conundrum, with Barry needing this to force a tiebreaker.  I was lost on this one, seeing a bunch of sevens like GENERAL and TREACLE but not finding a decent seed to grow to a nine.  Oli buzzed in just shy of the halfway mark, but it took me another thirty seconds before I extended the -AGE fragment to -ANGE and then -ANGLE, and finally solved it.

Barry: [no answer]
Oli: RECTANGLE (14.5s)
Me: [no answer]

Final scores: Barry 8 (27), Oli 27 (47), me 64

So the scores all ended up being cubes in the three-way game, not that this has any significance.  I have a partial memory of having encountered this conundrum before, but I think that was from a Countdown episiode where the words were TREE CLANG -- much easier!

Good starts by both contestants, with Oli getting CHOIRED and Barry getting ELECTION.  The later rounds were marred by invalid answers (although Oli was unlucky with ENSTAMP), and both missed their chance in the last numbers round.  But Oli came through in the conundrum to unquestionably deserve the win; he will face Tony in the first semifinal.


Sam Gaffney said...

I remember David's vignette about The Real McCoy, so I have definitely seen this episode. I think I remember getting DOGGIES and RECTANGLE last time! My results were pretty similar to Geoff's:

711 = (10+4)*50+9+3-1
661 = (100-1)*7-7-25
295 = 2*(100 + 50) - 5
- (45s or so, I think)

Mike Backhouse said...

7*(100-4-1)-7=658 (2 away and went over)

Geoff Bailey said...

Yes, CHIDER is valid.

Mike Backhouse said...

Thanks Geoff. And forgot to put in round 8: (4+2)*50-5=295