Thursday, 3 May 2012

Ep 438: Simon Walton, Andrea Boyd (May 2, 2012)

Rounds: Here.

This is Simon's sixth night, and his last until the finals regardless of the result.  Richard asks about highlights, and Simon understandably mentions his must-get conundrum solution in episode 436.  He was very nervous, shaking hand, etc.

The last obstacle between Simon and becoming a retiring champion is Andrea Boyd, a control systems engineer.  Andrea commutes to work every week by plane, to what she describes as a very remote site in the middle of South Australia -- the Olympic Dam mining centre.  She has a work house there that she uses throughout the week.  Andrea is part of the team that handles the automation for the entire site, both underground and above ground.  It sounds like quite the task!

It was another close game, and got off to a good start with both contestants finding the only eight-letter word in the first round.  That was followed by a pair of invalid entries, as Andrea miscounted (or misdeclared) the length of her word, and Simon tried for a risky nine that did not come off -- the perils of the Scrabble-players lexicon!  Andrea pulled ahead in the numbers round, only for Simon to get most of that ground back in the next round with a risky but valid eight.  The next numbers round saw him manage to get closer than Andrea and gain the lead, but with the remaining rounds not providing any swing it was either player's game to win at the conundrum.  Simon solved it at the nine second mark to win the game 55 to 40, and successfully retired.

I had to risk a couple of words, but they both came off.  I knew I was short of best on one round, but it still took me a while after time to spot the better option.  I solved the conundrum quickly, and in the end there was just that one round between me and optimal.  Another good day for me!

Update: Thanks to Victor for pointing out a better word in round seven in the comments.  So I was two rounds off optimal, which is better in some ways.

Round 1: E A U T F R S E T

I had FATE, AFTER, AFTERS (a colloquial term for "dessert" that my father used a lot when I was growing up), and FEATURES.

Both contestants have done well to find FEATURES, and we're off to a good start.  David has found it as well.

That's the only eight; the sevens are FEATURE, REFUTES, FETTERS, STATURE, AUSTERE, TRUSTEE, FEASTER, RESTATE / ESTREAT (a legal term: "a true copy or extract of an original writing or record, as of a fine"; it also has a verb sense), and the unusual FEATEST (the single-syllable rule kicks in, as FEAT has an archaic adjective sense: "apt; skilful; dexterous").


Scores: 8 apiece

Round 2: M N G O I D A E S

The -ING went up, but I just wasn't able to use it for a decent result.  That cost me a lot of time, but at some point I diverted enough to write down MANGOES for seven.  (If I'd seen SEAMING that might have saved me some anguish.)  I found more sevens, but nothing longer within time; my "there's something here" sense was going nuts over this round, though.

After time I wrote down SONDAGE ("a deep narrow trench, showing the stratigraphy of a site") and DAEMONS as other sevens, and then finally found AGONISED as an eight.  I've found AGONISE before, I believe, but this time I got lost in the -ING morass.

Andrea has found DINGOES for seven, but she has declared it as a six.  That's a shame -- both plural forms (DINGOES, DINGOS) are allowed, but the declaration must match the actual length.  It costs her six or seven points, alas.  That is because Simon has risked AMIDOGENS for nine; an excellent find at Scrabble, but it is not in the Macquarie (nor my Chambers).  Both contestants are probably relieved that their invalid options did not prove more costly.

David saw SAN DIEGO in the mix; that is not valid, of course, but he notes it is an anagram of AGONISED / DIAGNOSE for eight.

There are a lot of sevens, enough that I won't list them.  The other eight is SMIDGEON.

Simon: [invalid]
Andrea: [invalid]

Scores: Simon 8, Andrea 8, me 15

Round 3: Target 374 from 100 25 75 9 1 8

Simon persists with the perfect match, and although the target is cooperative the small numbers don't provide as much flexibility as he would want.  The idea is clear of getting to 375 and subtracting that 1; since 375 is 5*75 the question is whether a 5 can be made, and I managed to do it: 374 = (9 - 100/25)*75 - 1.  This turns out to be Lily's approach also.  Still within time I noted the somewhat easier 374 = 8*25 + 100 + 75 - 1.

Simon has not been able to get within range, but Andrea has reached the target with the second of those solutions.

As an aside here: On the balanced mixes, ignoring rounds where both contestants scored, Simon has gained 17 points and conceded 31.  He may be fond of it, but it is not clear that it is suiting him.

Simon: [not in range]
Andrea: 374
Me: 374
Lily: 374

Scores: Simon 8, Andrea 18, me 25

First break: LIED GREY ("The way Cookie Monster eats cookies")

He eats them very GREEDILY, of course.  Even if these days they are apparently a "sometimes" food.

David's talk is about the term swan song.

Round 4: R P C U E I D N A

I had PUCE, PUCER (single-syllable rule), PRICE, PRICED, INDUCER, and UNPAIRED.  After time I noted down DURANCE as another seven that I am fond of.  I was not completely sure about UNPAIRED but I did not feel able to ignore it, and was relieved to find out that it was valid.

Andrea has PRIDE for five, but Simon has also chanced UNPAIRED and takes the points, closing the gap to two points.  David has found UNPRICED as another UN- eight.

There is one more eight: UNREPAID.  The other sevens are PRANCED, CAIRNED, UNDRAPE, and URANIDE.

After those first seven letters I would have been a little tempted to chase after an E for PEDICURE; it would have required five vowels but it would have turned up.  In practice I would no doubt have stayed with just the three, though.

Andrea: PRIDE

Scores: Simon 16, Andrea 18, me 33

Round 5: E U E L N L I S R

I had LUNE ("anything shaped like a crescent or a half-moon"), LINES, RELIES, and -- a little desperately -- RELLIES.  As time was running out I saw the possibility of SULLENER, but could not have got it down within time.  I correctly decided that it would not be valid, but noted LEISURE as a much safer seven than RELLIES.  Of course, the Macquarie is very strong on Australian colloquialisms so I was pretty confident about RELLIES, and it is allowable (RELLIE being colloquial for "a relative").

Each contestant has a six; Simon has SULLEN while Andrea has SELLER.  David has found LEISURE and RELLIES for his sevens.

There are two other sevens: UNREELS and the interesting LIERNES (LIERNE: "a short connecting rib used in Gothic vaulting").

Andrea: SELLER

Scores: Simon 16 (22), Andrea 18 (24), me 40

Round 6: Target 227 from 25 75 3 10 9 6

Andrea goes with the family mix, and gets a decent spread and a small target.  The standard method seems clear, and the hope would be to keep the 6 and 3 aside to make the final adjustment by 2.  I did so and had 227 = 9*25 + 6/3 in short order.  Then I saw that 3*9 = 27, which opened up the possibility of getting to the target from 200.  A little fiddling turned up the kitchen sink solution 227 = 6*75 - 10*25 + 3*9.  It also opened up some tweaking possibilities, and as time was running out I started to write down 227 = 3*(75 + 9) - 25.  I did not quite get it down before time ran out, though; I was not at all surprised that it turned out to be Lily's solution.

Andrea has 223, suggesting that she was not comfortable with the 75-times table; I am guessing that this was 223 = 10*25 - 3*9.  If so, adding the 6 would have gotten her to two away with 229, but I imagine that this was a case of time running out.  In any case it would not have helped as Simon is one away with 228 = 3*75 + 9 - 6.

That gives Simon a five-point lead, perhaps a bit luckily.  This was an expensive round for Andrea, with 17 points of difference hinging on her solving it.

Simon: 228
Andrea: 223
Me: 227
Lily: 227

Scores: Simon 16 (29), Andrea 18 (24), me 50

Second break: EVIL RANT ("Time to hit the snack bar")

Rather appropriate for an ad break, this is cluing an INTERVAL.

Round 7: A E O G C H N B Y

A mess of ill-fitting consonants, and only a final I for BEACHING could have really redeemed this (although there are many other final consonants that could have produced a seven-letter word).  But that Y is a spoiler and sixes are the limit.  I had CAGE, CHANGE, and BEACON.  I also amused myself by writing down CHANGEBOY; I could see that being a position at an old video game arcade.

Both contestants have found CHANGE for six, while David has BYGONE for his.  He suggests that a junior version of HANGMAN might be HANGBOY, but sadly the Macquarie has not caught up with this kind of innovative thinking.

The only other six is AGENCY.

Update: In comments, Victor drew my attention to HONEYBAG.  That's an excellent find; it is listed as a synonym for definition 3 of SUGARBAG: "Aboriginal English the hive or honeycomb of [a native bee]".  Thanks, Victor!

Andrea: CHANGE

Scores: Simon 22 (35), Andrea 24 (30), me 56

Round 8: Target 152 from 50 25 1 1 4 6

Andrea persists with the family mix, and gets an even lower target.  It is fairly straightforward to reach it, and I wrote down 152 = 6*25 + 1 + 1 fairly quickly.  Then I amused myself by using the factor of 4 for 152 = 4*(50 - 6*(1 + 1)), a factor of 2 for 152 = (6 - 4)*(50 + 25 + 1), and finished with the rather boring 152 = 4*25 + 50 + 1 + 1.

Both contestants have used the first of those solutions, while Lily found a kitchen sink approach of 152 = (50 + 25)*(1 + 1) + 6 - 4.

The last two rounds have been very flat, with no real hope of a swing.  That means the conundrum will decide, with Simon having the advantage.

Simon: 152
Andrea: 152
Me: 152
Lily: 152

Scores: Simon 32 (45), Andrea 34 (40), me 66


My instinct when I saw these letters was that I knew the answer; I had a brief moment of thinking that I should pause to check it first, but I overrode that and buzzed in -- fortunately correctly!  Simon has his hand hovering over the buzzer, but moves it back to the pad around seven seconds in.  He starts to pick up the pen -- presumably to write down the letters -- then sees the answer and buzzes in with it.

Simon: TARANTULA (9s)
Andrea: [no answer]

Final scores: Simon 32 (55), Andrea 34 (40), me 76

A pretty good performance from both contestants, although Andrea's invalid word in round two was unfortunate.  Again Simon's word knowledge proves strong but the numbers could have been his downfall; the final margin was 15 points and 17 hinged on round 6.  He might have been in real trouble if some tougher numbers rounds had emerged, and Andrea may be a bit unfortunate in that regard (although we did not really get a sense of her numbers ability).

Simon has a six-game total of 308, which puts him in second position on the current leaderboard.  Tomorrow night: Two new contestants.  I'm looking forward to it!


Mark said...

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

Invalid - DEMONISE
374 = (100/25 + 9 - 8)*75 - 1
225 = 3*75
152 = 4*25 + 50 + 1 + 1

Victor said...

Hi Geoff, a very good game from you indeed!

I have noted the impeccable performance of the word solver you use to check letters rounds - I can only assume you found a complete word list for he Macquarie dictionary somewhere.

Anyway, why do I mention this? In round 7 I found (via computer) the 8-letter HONEYBAG which is given as an alternate name under "SUGARBAG". I can only verify this on the online version of Macquarie, can you check if this is in the print version?

Victor said...

Addendum: What I meant by the second paragraph is that its always good and this is only the first time I haven't seen you list the best solution in a round.

Geoff Bailey said...

Actually, I use an old ENABLE list, and then verify items against the Macquarie. A Macquarie word list would be much preferable!

And wow, HONEYBAG is in the Macquarie -- thank you for pointing this out! I'll update the post.

PS: Nice to hear from you again, Victor!

Victor said...

For anyone interested in checking words as well, I could recommend the Macquarie Targeter which can be used free by anyone. Its under Crossword Resources on their site. I check - only some** - letters rounds on there.

It's advantages (compared to say are that it gives Australian words, and it also virtually never misses any words. On the flip side, it comes up with an annoying number of extraneous solutions which are either proper nouns or just not in the dictionary so all of its solutions should be checked against the dictionary. It also (obviously) doesn't give plurals and inflections ending in "s" which is a nuisance, and the input method is not very pleasant, so I wouldn't recommend extensive** use of it.

** You've been warned.

Sam Gaffney said...

Thanks for finding HONEYBAG, Victor.

Round 6 was quite an unfortunate miss for Andrea, costing her the game. Of which I am sure she is aware! Good going from Simon, though - if he has the time and energy to improve his numbers, he will have a good chance in the finals.

I had a good game, though still sub-Geoff. I did spot UNPRICED early, but thought it too risky - ironically, my "safe" choice was invalid, RAPINE is only a noun. RELLIES was a little lucky.

My answers:

374 = 8*25+100+75-1
- (invalid: RAPINED)
227 = 9*25 + 6/3
152 = 6*25 + 1 + 1

Geoff Bailey said...

Thanks again, Victor -- that does look like a handy resource.

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