Saturday, 5 May 2012

Ep 440: Rob Fischer, Nic Brown (May 4, 2012)

Rounds: Here.

Rob returns after last night's excellent game, but can he match that performance without the sibling rivalry factor?  Rob enters a lot of competitions -- "when he sees them come up" -- and he has won a few here and there.  He has won a trip and a camera, and some "more random" things like an esky.

Tonight's challenger is Nic Brown, who has recently graduated as a radiographer.  He is also involved in a band called Skunk Stomp ("just imagine kicking Pepé le Pew", he clarifies).  They play blues, rock, and funk; they call it "blockfunk".

(The web page linked above seems a bit out of date, as often happens.  They have a Myspace (remember that?) page with samples of their music here, but for some reason my browser and Myspace don't get along so I have not been able to listen to them.)

Rob found some decent words without hitting the high notes, but Nic could not quite match that and Rob soon had a 26 point lead.  The second numbers round reduced that to 16, and the one after could have reduced it further still.  Nic made an error, however, and Rob was safe going into the conundrum.  He buzzed in at the 25 second mark with an incorrect answer that should have given it away, but Nic was not able to capitalise on that.  All in all, a wobbly game sees Rob home by 44 to 21.

I was well off my previous good form tonight, only managing one maximal result on the letters (on the plus side, it was a word that eluded David) and doing rather poorly on one numbers round.  I was very slow to get the conundrum, but managed to do so just before Rob's incorrect attempt.  It was enough for a comfortable win, but stands in stark contrast with my recent form.  I hope to improve again next week.

Round 1: B S T O E N B E I

Two B's in the same round is unusual, and not necessarily that helpful.  As a side note, choosing a fifth vowel would have replaced that second B with an A, for the familiar BOTANIES / BOTANISE / OBEISANT / NIOBATES quartet.  Not that I'd have advocated it at all, but it's worth mentioning as a counterpoint to my usual "fewer vowels are better" stand.

I had BOTS, STONE, BONIEST, and EBONISE ("to stain or finish in imitation of ebony").  I wondered about EBONITES, but rather foolishly spent the time wondering instead of writing it down and continuing to look.  That took away my options since time ran out not long thereafter.  After time I noted EBONIES, and wondered about NOBBIEST.

It turns out that EBONITE is a valid word -- an alternative name for the mineral vulcanite -- and my impression is that minerals are generally pluralisable.  Thus EBONITES should have been acceptable, and I cost myself the chance to get this one correct by not writing it down.  Careless!

[Update: I should have checked the Macquarie's definition of "vulcanite"!  It does not list the mineral sense after all -- which EBONITE is not actually synonymous with -- but instead the sense that does correspond to EBONITE: That of "a hard rubber [...] obtained by vulcanising rubber with a large amount of sulfur".  The amount of sulfur can vary considerably, and it would be reasonable to refer to the different mixes as different EBONITES.  So still valid, but for different reasons.]

It turns out that NOBBY has two different adjective meanings, both of which are extendable to NOBBIEST.  The first is the colloquial one of "smart; elegant" or "first-rate", although I think these days it has acquired a bit more of a pejorative meaning, perhaps by conflation with the similar-sounding "snobby".  The second was surprising to me: "(of a stock animal) lean to the point of having protruding joints, etc.".

Nic has found TINES for five, but Rob has BONIEST for seven.  David say that he "tried his luck with NOBBY"; I assume that he meant NOBBIES, which is the plural of NOBBY: "an opal found coated with sandstone".  But when he looked that up to check it he found NOBBIEST, of course.  He gives the stock-related definition.

The other seven is EBONIST ("a worker in ebony").  There should be another eight of BETONIES, but the vagaries of the Macquarie strike again: BETONY is listed as "any of various similar plants" (similar to Stachys officinalis), but the plural form is not given.


Scores: Rob 7, Nic 0, me 7

Round 2: L P D A U H A S O

Gah, what an assortment.  I had DUAL and SHOULD, but only after time ran out did I properly consider the UP- fragment.  At that point UPSOLD, UPLOAD, and UPLOADS became readily apparent.

Nic has SOAP for four, but once more is just pipped by Rob's choice of HALOS.  David has to check that as he thinks that HALOES would be required, but it turns out that both plural forms are explicitly allowed.  That puts Rob 12 points ahead, but there's plenty of time left for Nic to catch up if his numberwork is up to it.

David found HOLDS and then realised that UP was there in the remainder, so he had UPHOLDS for his seven.  (Not HOLDUPS, which must be hyphenated: HOLD-UPS.)

The other sixes are UPHOLD, ALPHAS, PAUSAL (adjective derived from PAUSE), APODAL ("having no distinct feet or foot-like members"), and DOULAS (DOULA: "a woman experienced in childbirth, who provides physical, emotional, and informational support to a new mother [...]").  If interjections are considered pluralisable -- a strict reading of the rules is that they are not automatically covered -- then ALOHAS would also be there.


Scores: Rob 7 (12), Nic 0, me 13

Round 3: Target 195 from 100 25 1 9 8 9

Ergh, the small numbers are clustered, which could pose problems.  And it does, quite considerably.  I made a complete mess of this one, and cost myself far too much time with getting nowhere.  I noted that 8*25 = 200 was close but somehow bypassed the obvious tweak which would have led to two away with 193 = 8*(25 - 1) + 9/9.  Instead I ended up three away with the overly complicated 198 = 8*25 - (100 - 1)/9 + 9.  Gah.

After time -- when I was content to only get close -- I fairly easily found a one-away 196 = 100 + 25 + 9*8 - 1.  It took me probably another couple of minutes before I found 195 = (9 + 1)*(9 + 8) + 25, which is essentially the only solution (one can redundantly replace (9 + 1) with 100/(9 + 1)).

Nic is four away with 199 -- which must be 8*25 - 1; he could have gotten one closer either with subtracting 9/9 or using (9 - 1) instead of the 1.  Unfortunate for him, as Rob is only that one point closer with 192 = 8*(25 - 1).  Of course, Rob could also have pushed that one better by adding 9/9.

Lily has accurately seen through all the confusion to find that only solution.  Well done, Lily!

Rob: 192
Nic: 199
Me: 198
Lily: 195

Scores: Rob 14 (19), Nic 0, me 20

First break: OLD SCENE ("The answer is locked within the letters")

The answer is ENCLOSED within those letters.  Sort of.

David's talk is about the words craze, vogue, and fad.

Round 4: N C R U A E K S D

I had CRANE, CANKERS, UNASKED, wondered about UNCASKED (it is not valid), and settled on DURANCES (DURANCE: "forced confinement; imprisonment").

Nic has opted for the unusual CANERS for six -- David has to look it up, but it is valid -- but Rob is once again ahead with SNACKED for seven.  His lead is out to a rather imposing 26 right now; Nic has a lot of catching up to do.

David was not able to better that, and has found CRUSADE and DARKENS as his sevens.  This does raise some doubt about whether he believes that DURANCE is pluralisable, but without a clear indicator to the contrary I am assuming that it is acceptable (and that it either slipped his notice or he did not feel like getting into the issue of questionably pluralisable words).

There's quite a few sevens; the others are DURANCE, DANCERS, CRANKED, SUNDECK, UNRAKED, UNCASED, DUCKERS, DUNKERS, and ASUNDER / DANSEUR ("a male ballet dancer").


Scores: Rob 14 (26), Nic 0, me 28

Round 5: T L D I O G R I W

Sheesh, what a mix.  Definitely a time for a fourth vowel, but Rob apparently disagreed.  At the time it felt to me like he had decided ahead of time on only three vowels and called the consonant early, but a second viewing does not support this.  My memory is biased!

Anyway, I had TOIL, IDIOT, and DIGIT.  After time I added TWIRL, WORLD, and RIGID as other fives, but could not find better.

Both contestants have found five-letter words; Nic has GROWL and Rob has WORLD.  David has managed to unearth a six, though: GODWIT (a type of bird).  Well done, David!

It's a tough mix, for sure.  The other fives are DROIT ("a legal right or claim") and TORII ("a form of decorative gateway or portal in Japan"; TORIIS is an acceptable plural form, incidentally).  And there is one other six: DIGLOT ("bilingual", and it also has an associated noun sense so can have an S appended).


Scores: Rob 19 (31), Nic 5, me 33

Round 6: Target 115 from 75 7 9 7 2 4

Another small target that I overcomplicated.  My first solution was 115 = 2*75 - 4*9 + 7/7, then I saved a number with 115 = 2*75 - 7*(9 - 4).  Then I complicated getting there from just a single 75, and found 115 = 75 + 4*(9 + 7/7).

Rob is three away with 118, but Nic has reached the target with the last of those solutions.  Lily shows how to save yet another number, with 115 = 7*7 - 9 + 75.  Nice one, Lily.

That reduces the margin to 16 points, and a similar result in the next numbers round could see Nic within striking distance at the conundrum.  But he must not concede further points to Rob in the next letters round.

Rob: 118
Nic: 115
Me: 115
Lily: 115

Scores: Rob 19 (31), Nic 15, me 43

Second break: HIVE SERF ("Hot and bothered, to say the least")

A fairly accurate definition of FEVERISH.

Round 7: S C R N E U A F C


Both contestants have six-letter words, so Nic is still in with a chance.  He has CRANES -- avoiding his previous declaration of CANERS, amusingly -- and Rob has FARCES.  David started with ACCUSER, but wanted to save the S for a plural form; that let him find FURNACE and thus FURNACES for eight.  Bravo!

The other seven is SURFACE.


Scores: Rob 19 (37), Nic 15 (21), me 50

Round 8: Target 123 from 25 75 3 1 4 9

A small target, and obviously 2 away from 125.  I soon found 75 + 25 - (3 - 1), which observant readers will note is only 98 as I have made a careless error.  If  I had noticed it within time I could have easily recovered with 123 = (9 - 4)*25 - (3 - 1).  Fortunately, my usual practice of searching for alternative solutions came to my rescue; still within time I had searched for a way to use the factor of 3, and found 123 = 3*(75 - 25 - 9).  I was then able to declare this at the appropriate time, with the error caught.

Rob is one away with 122, but Nic declares 123; that will get him right back within contention.  But... he must have made the same mistake I did, as he starts 75 + 25... then trails off and says that he has made a mistake.  Ooh, bad luck.  That means that Rob will win, and he also scores points with 122 = (4 + 1)*25 - 3.

(Incidentally, the 75 + 25 start is salvageable: 123 = 75 + 25 + 3*9 - 4.)

Lily has elected for a kitchen sink approach; her solution is (9 - 4 - 3)*(75 - 1) - 25.

Rob: 122
Nic: [invalid]
Me: 123
Lily: 123

Scores: Rob 19 (44), Nic 15 (21), me 60


I spent far too long on this round investigating -ING, then -IVE, then RIGHT... I had to take a mental step back and assess it before I decided that -IGHT was rather compelling and then found the solution at last.  I got there only a couple of seconds before Rob buzzed in, as it turns out, but his guess of OVERTHING was not correct.  It could easily have given the conundrum away to Nic, though.  Not this time, and the remaining five seconds ticked away peacefully.

Rob: [invalid] (25s)
Nic: [no answer]
Me: OVERNIGHT (22.5s)

Final scores: Rob 19 (44), Nic 15 (21), me 70

Nic fell a bit off the pace in the early letters rounds, but in the end there was only 19 points of difference from them.  The numbers were where he could have really won this, as Rob looks pretty vulnerable there.  The first numbers round was tough but Nic could have matched Rob, and then solving the other two would have been enough for a one-point win despite the unsolved conundrum. But Rob had done enough, and reaped the rewards of always managing to get close even if not on target.

I was in a mess tonight, with some disappointing misses early and some poor numberwork; I was lucky to be able to recover from that error in round eight!  I was slow off the mark on the conundrum, and overall this was a far cry from my recent form.  Hopefully I shall be back to better results after the weekend.


Sam Gaffney said...

My answers:

BONIEST (saw NOBBIEST, didn't risk it)
196 = (25+8)*9-100-1 (tough, happy with this)
CRANKED (seconds too late on DURANCES)
115 = 75 + 4*(9+7/7)
123 = (9+3)*4+75
10.4s (I too wasted time on -ING, -IVE)

Mark said...

Well done Geoff and Sam.

193 = 8*(25 - 9/9) + 1
115 = 75 + (9 + 7/7)*4
122 = 25 + 75 + 4*3 + 1 + 9

Geoff Bailey said...

Congratulations, Sam -- the conundrum got you home. Looks like things are back to normal. *chuckles* And that is a really nice 196 you found!

And a nice set from you, Mark -- against either Sam or me you'd have been just three points behind at the conundrum. Finding FURNACES was excellent!