Friday, 25 May 2012

Ep 197 [QF4]: Matthew Thomason, Victor Tung (May 24, 2012; originally aired May 3, 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.

This is the last quarterfinal of series two; in the champion's seat is fourth seed Matthew Thomason, a professional TV writer and director.  He was undefeated during the main part of the series, and solved four of the six conundrums that he encountered.

Facing him in the challenger's position is fifth seed Victor Tung.  Victor is a fire safety engineer, and solved two of his six conundrums.

There was not that much to choose between the contestants, as it turned out.  Five of the main rounds were equally split; Matthew solved one numbers round that Victor did not, and they each scored unanswered points in one letters round.  Crucially, Victor had the longer word in that exchange and so ended up trailing but still in with a chance going into the conundrum.  However, it proved to be too difficult for both of them, and Matthew took the last semifinal spot with a 52 to 43 victory.

I had two rounds that I'd have liked to have done better on, but the other main rounds were optimal.  One of them was a play that I was quite unsure about, so I'm very pleased with it working out OK.  I was very slow on the conundrum but I got there with a little time left on the clock, and what ended up being a significant winning margin after all.

Round 1: A E O D R N D E F

I had ROAD, ADORN, and ADORNED.  That was followed by thirty seconds of fruitless searching for longer.

Both contestants have also found ADORNED; it is a word I've missed a few times before (possibly in Countdown games) so I was pleased to spot it this time.  David has found FRONDED, which is the only other seven.

Matthew: ADORNED

Scores: 7 apiece

Round 2: T O M E T S A C D

I had TOME, TOTEM, and TOTEMS.  I was distracted by the phantom of COMATOSE, so was really hoping that a final vowel would have been chosen.  As it turns out, the I would have allowed STOMATIC but I do not think I would have found that (but TOTEMIC and SOMATIC would have been straightforward).  With time running out I wrote down a dubious SCATTED.  I ended up incorrectly deciding against this; I was thinking of the right concept (improvised jazz singing of nonsense syllables), but had merged it with SKA in my head and ended up thinking that SKATTED was the correct spelling.  This was incorrect.

After time I saw TOASTED and COASTED, and I should have seen those earlier.  I certainly deserve to lose points over that miss!

Victor has found COMETS for six, but Matthew has found SCATTED.  David confirms it is correct, and then mentions that he has another musical eight; with that hint I managed to find what it must be, but I'd not have risked it even if I'd seen it: CODETTAS (CODETTA: "a short coda").  Well done, David!

The other sevens are TOMCATS, COMATES, and COSTATE ("bearing ribs").

Matthew: SCATTED
Victor: COMETS

Scores: Matthew 14, Victor 7, me 7

Round 3: Target 825 from 50 75 4 8 6 3

Matthew goes for the family mix, and gets a multiple of 25; that should be pretty straightforward.  In fact, for those who know their 75-times tables it is trivial, and I had 825 = (8 + 3)*75 directly.  With plenty of time left I fooled around a bit with the multiples of 125, finding 825 = 6*(75 + 50 + 8 + 4) + 3.  After time I used another such multiple to get 825 = (4 + 3)*(75 + 50 - 8) + 6.

Victor has ended up seven away with 818; I'm going to go out on a limb to guess that this was 818 = 8*75 + 4*50 + 3*6.  However, Matthew has solved it with the first of those solutions I listed, which was also Lily's approach.

Matthew: 825
Victor: 825
Me: 825
Lily: 825

Scores: Matthew 24, Victor 7, me 17

First break: BIN GUILD ("A constructive use of time")

Fairly easy to find BUILDING from that.

David's talk is about the word honeymoon.

Round 4: N I D O B T A H E

I had BOND, OBTAIN, and was hoping for that final E for OBTAINED.  (Also for HABITED, but that scored less and I did not end up writing it down.)  That E did turn up, and OBTAINED was the best I could do.

Both contestants have seven-letter words; Matthew has chosen HABITED while Victor has gone for NIOBATE ("a salt of any niobic acid").  David has found OBTAINED as expected.

It looks like the only eight, and the contestants have found the only sevens.

Matthew: HABITED

Scores: Matthew 24 (31), Victor 7 (14), me 25

Round 5: O I U G N L C I R


Both contestants have gone for sevens; Victor chose COILING while Matthew went for CURLING.  David mentions ROILING as another sevens.

The remaining sevens are LOURING (LOUR: "to frown, scowl, or look sullen") and LIGROIN ("a mixture of volatile alkanes [...]").  That's a new one to me.

This was the round with the potential for the full monty; staying with three vowels (as I usually harp on about when -ING is in play) would replace that second I with an S and allow CLOSURING for nine (CLOSURE as a verb: "Parliamentary procedure to end (a debate, etc.) by closure").

Matthew: CURLING

Scores: Matthew 31 (38), Victor 14 (21), me 32

Round 6: Target 465 from 100 25 50 5 4 9

I got led astray by 4*100 and failed to consider other options.  That gave me a fallback one away 464 = 4*100 + 50 + 9 + 5.  Only as time ran out did I properly consider that dividing by 5 was likely to be the best way to get the required offset, and just after time I had 465 = 9*50 + (100 - 25)/5.  This turns out to be Lily's solution -- well done, Lily!

In a private conversation with Sam he said that he wanted to make it as 475 - 50/5; that observation guided me to the alternative solution 465 = (9 - 4)*100 - 25 - 50/5.  It's so easy to overlook dividing those large numbers by 5, and sometimes it is crucial!

On the other hand, pulling out the factor of 5 would require making 93 from the rest; that is pretty easy also, leading to 465 = 5*(100 - 9 + 50/25).  I simply did not pay that 5 the attention it deserved.

Both contestants are one away, but in different directions.  Matthew has the same 464 that I did, while Victor has found 466 = 4*100 + 50 + 25 - 9.

Victor is still 17 points behind and running out of time to catch up; similarly, I'm just a point ahead and struggling to get clear of Matthew.  It may well come down to the conundrum.

Matthew: 464
Victor: 466
Me: 464
Lily: 465

Scores: Matthew 38 (45), Victor 21 (28), me 39

Second break: LACE TENT ("Put a feeler out")

With TENT part of the clue, it's easy to get TENTACLE from this.

Round 7: E O I S P G S U R

I had POISE, ROGUES, PIROGUES, and PUSSIER (in the sense of "more filled with pus").  I was really unsure about PIROGUES -- it is quite possible I was trying to think of PIEROGI, which is not in the Macquarie -- but also somewhat suspicious of PUSSIER.  In the end I decided to chance PIROGUES and was fortunate that it turned out to be acceptable (PIROGUE: "a canoe or open boat hollowed from the trunk of a tree, as the outrigger canoes of Polynesia").  Phew!  PUSSIER would not have been valid, incidentally.

Once I had made that decision, I saw GROUPIES as the much safer anagram.

Matthew has found SERIOUS for seven, but Victor has found GROUPIES to gain back some vital ground.  That puts him nine points out, so in good position to possibly even take an advantage into the conundrum.  David has found GOSSIPER as his eight.

The other eights are GRISEOUS ("bluish or pearl grey") and SERPIGOS (SERPIGO: "a creeping or spreading skin disease, as tinea").  The sevens are SERPIGO, GROUPIE / PIROGUE, GROUSES, POSEURS, UPRISES / SUSPIRE (to sigh or breathe), PROSSIE (colloquial shortening of PROSTITUTE), and SPURGES (SPURGE being any plant of a particular genus).

Matthew: SERIOUS

Scores: Matthew 38 (45), Victor 29 (36), me 47

Round 8: Target 259 from 25 50 75 7 8 10

I instantly recognised the target as 7*37, since I know the first few multiples of 37.  That was promising with the 7 in play, and 37 is very close to half of 75... but I could not quite make it work.  I wrote down a fallback one away 260 = 8*25 + 50 + 10, then came back to the original approach.  This time I saw that I could get to the 37 from 50 with a little help from the other large numbers, and found the solution 259 = 7*(50 - 10 - 75/25).

Both contestants have ended up one away with 258 = 25*10 + 8.  Lily has seen through the distractions to find the solution that I did.

So I'm now safely clear, and Victor is just within striking range of Matthew going into the conundrum.

Matthew: 258
Victor: 258
Me: 259
Lily: 259

Scores: Matthew 38 (52), Victor 29 (43), me 57


As I looked at the first few letters I thought there was HYPNOTIC for a moment, but there was no N.  I tried -ITY as an ending without success, then tried more exotic things like -OCYTE and HIERO-.  It almost spells COPYRIGHT, but not quite... somehow with five seconds left I stumbled on the correct answer.  Neither contestant managed to, so Matthew survives to go to the semifinals, where he will face Tamara.

Matthew: [no answer]
Victor: [no answer]

Final scores: Matthew 38 (52), Victor 29 (43), me 67

A close game, with some good words from each contestant; Victor's GROUPIES had the advantage over Matthew's SCATTED, and that single point could have been crucial.  Matthew weathered the numbers better than Victor, who rather surprisingly failed to solve the first numbers round.  It would have given him the win if he had done so, as things eventuated.

Tomorrow's semifinal pits Tony against Oli; I'm looking forward to it.


Sam Gaffney said...

Nice job on Round 8, Geoff, you are very good at picking the right factor to work with.

As with the other Series 2 finals episodes so far, I believe I saw this when it first aired. That 825 must haunt Victor! I remembered Matthew being a very strong player, and I must thank him for putting the word HABITED in my mind.

My answers:

825 = 75*(8+3)
465 = 9*50 + (100-25)/5
- (wrote down 10*25+8=259 by mistake)

Mike Backhouse said...

ADORNED (rejected FRONDED sadly)
PISSER (slang for pub?)
(8-75/25)*50+10=260 (1 off)

Geoff Bailey said...

Yes, PISSER is listed as slang for a pub (and some other meanings).