Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Ep 441: Rob Fischer, Lara Irvine (May 7, 2012)

Rounds: Here.

It's a brand new week; Rob has two wins under his belt and is hoping to extend that run.  Richard mentions that Rob loves adrenaline, and has done a few things in search of it.  Rob agrees, adding that he has done a bungee jump, some whitewater rafting, and a canyon swing in New Zealand.  He might have aimed to list more, but Richard asks what a canyon swing is.  Rob explains that it is a bit like a bungee jump, except that you jump off the platform and swing right across the canyon.  (This most probably was the Queenstown canyon swing; there is some video on that page demonstrating what it is like.)

Tonight's challenger is Lara Irvine, an office administrator and writer.  She likes to write fiction but she finds that reviews and non-fiction pay a bit more.  Richard segues awkwardly to her interest in knitting.  Lara agrees that she does like to knit and she finds it quite relaxing.  About once a month she goes to a group called "Stitch 'n' Bitch" where a few of them get together and drink coffee and sometimes they knit.

There were some good words from both players tonight, but Lara was a bit unlucky that her best word corresponded with Rob's even better one.  The early numbers rounds provided no swing, and Rob was seven points ahead going into the last numbers round.  Unfortunately for Lara, she was not able to get anywhere with it and Rob's seven points saw him safe going into the conundrum.  It proved to be too difficult for them both, and Rob won 45 to 31.

I started out poorly and then oscillated a bit between decent and not-quite-there results.  I blew the first numbers round through trying to be far too clever, and also failed to solve the last one.  There's a small consolation in that it eluded Lily also, but only managing three maximums out of eight in the main rounds is still disappointing.  I did solve the conundrum quickly, though, to finish on a good note.

Round 1: T S V E E D U A R

I had VEST, VESTED, and... struck a wall.  I just could not see a plausible seven out of this.  As time ran out I wrote down a desperate REDATES, but I hated it.  After time I fairly easily found SAUTÉED, STARVED, and ADVERSE.  I decided against REDATES but later checking revealed that it is acceptable (it is part of the block entries, not the main ones); a doubly bad round, then.

Both contestants have found STARVED for seven.  David mentions its anagram ADVERTS (which reminded me that Toby successfully tried that back in episode 397) and then VESTURE ("clothing"); he points out that VESTURE is also a verb meaning "to clothe", and thus VESTURED is the eight here.  Nice find, David!

It looks like the only eight.  The other sevens are AUSTERE, AVERTED, EVADERS, and what should have been a very findable DEAREST.  I even spent some time looking at those specific seven letters (only emerging with REDATES above).  Bother.


Scores: Rob 7, Lara 7, me 0

Round 2: T I M O B A I S G

I had OMIT, TOMB, ATOM, BOAST, and was hoping that the final consonant would be an N, as it would yield AMBITIONS -- that was my first full monty of this series, back in episode 413.  Unfortunately it was a G, but that still gave me BIGAMIST for eight.  I also wrote down GAMBITS for good measure.

Lara has MOATS for five, but Rob has done well to find BIGOTS for six.  David was likewise hoping for a final N for AMBITIONS, and redirected to BIGAMIST.

That's the only eight; the only seven aside from GAMBITS is IMAGIST (someone who practises IMAGISM: "a method or movement in poetic composition, originating about 1912, which aimed particularly at 'images' or clear pictures of what the poet has in mind, and used rhythm or cadence rather than the conventional metrical forms").

There are a few other sixes here that can be useful in a tight mix like this: GAMBIT, AMBITS, AMIGOS, STIGMA, TIBIAS, IMAGOS (one plural form of IMAGO; the other is not IMAGOES -- as caught me out once -- but the interesting IMAGINES), BIOTAS (BIOTA: "the total animal and plant life of a region, or sometimes a period, as seen collectively and interdependently"), and BIOGAS ("a gas [...] formed by the digestion by bacteria of biological material [...] which can be used as a fuel gas [...]").


Scores: Rob: 7 (13), Lara 7, me 8

Round 3: Target 934 from 50 75 9 10 4 3

Oh, dear, I made a mess of this one.  I noted the target was very near 937½, which is one of those magic numbers that one learns for the four large mix.  That is equal to 50*75/4, so my aim was to use the other numbers to get the adjustment.  Unfortunately, I am a bit rusty on this technique, and it took me a while to compute that I needed 14 and could not make it; I ended up writing the one-away 935 = (50*75 - 10)/4.  After time I easily found the adjustment 934 = (50*75 + 10)/4 - (9 - 3).  If I'd been a bit quicker on my calculations I could have solved this one.

Of course, I could also have been a bit more sensible.  The standard method is always worth at least a brief look, and if I had done so I should have seen that the target was 9 away from 925.  With a 9 already present this was surely the better approach to investigate.  Indeed, I very quickly found 934 = (10 + 3)*75 - 50 + 9 and 934 = (10 + 4)*50 + 3*75 + 9 once I did so.  I've only got myself to blame on this one, trying to be too clever by far.

Lara was not able to get within scoring range, and Rob declares 932 but realises that he has made a mistake as he comes to explain his solution.  Lily is on track, however, finding the solution 934 = (10 + 4 + 3)*50 + 75 + 9.

Rob: [invalid]
Lara: [not in range]
Me: 935
Lily: 934

Scores: Rob 7 (13), Lara 7, me 15

First break: AURA DING ("The protector of the British press")

The clue is a reference to the GUARDIAN newspaper.

David's talk is about the words makapuno and makarrata.

Round 4: O E R H M O S N J

I had HERO, HOMER (colloquial for either a home run in baseball, or a homing pigeon; also a verb in the baseball sense), HOMERS, rejected MOONERS (recalling that it had been tried by both contestants in episode 402 and was not valid), HERONS, and ONSHORE.  I was quite pleased with ONSHORE, but a second or two after time expired I noticed HORMONES.  Argh!

Lara has found ONSHORE for seven, but Rob has spotted HORMONES and takes the points.  Doubly unfortunate for Lara, as ONSHORE was a great find that might otherwise score points.  David is in agreement; he found HORMONES also, as well as its anagram of MOORHENS.

That is it for the eights, and the only other sevens are the singular versions: HORMONE / MOORHEN.


Scores: Rob 15 (21), Lara 7, me 15

Round 5: I N S R A E D L R

I had RAINS, ARISEN, and started to write down LANDERS but then adjusted it to ISLANDER.

I had hoped the final consonant would be either an N (for INLANDERS) or an S (for ISLANDERS), but full monties were also available with a G for DRAGLINES or a B for BILANDERS (BILANDER: "a small merchant vessel with two masts, used on canals and along the coast in the Netherlands, etc.").  Taking a vowel instead would have yielded a U for the only other full monty: LAUNDRIES.

Both contestants have found sevens; Lara has selected LANDERS (LANDER: "a spacecraft which is designed to land on the surface of a planet or moon") and Rob has chosen SARDINE.  David has found DRAINERS for his eight.

There are a lot of sevens, as might be expected from such a mix; the other eight is SERRANID (any fish of the Serranidae family).


Scores: Rob 15 (28), Lara 7 (14), me 23

Round 6: Target 311 from 100 9 4 2 7 1

With two ways to make 11 from the small numbers, this is pretty easy.  I went with 311 = (7 - 4)*100 + 9 + 2.  Just for fun I also found the overly complicated 311 = (4*7*100 - 1)/9.

Lara has gone with 311 = (2 + 1)*100 + 7 + 4, while Rob has used the first solution that I had.  Lily does not bother mentioning what her approach was.

Rob: 311
Lara: 311
Me: 311

Scores: Rob 25 (38), Lara 17 (24), me 33

Second break: DOLE HANG ("Requires tall hats")

Heh.  The answer is HEADLONG.

Round 7: U C D T A U E S P

A pair of U's is not a promising sign.  I had DUCT, CASTED, PAUSED, UPDATES, and wondered about UPCASTED but rightly rejected it (the Macquarie lists only noun and adjective senses for it; Chambers also has the verb sense).  A little after time I saw CUSPATE and thus its valid alternative CUSPATED, which is the only eight (CUSPATE and CUSPATED are listed under CUSPED: "having a cusp or cusps; cusp-like").

Rob has PASTED for six but Lara has found UPDATES for seven and gets within striking range at last.  David was unable to better it.

The only other seven is TEACUPS.


Scores: Rob 25 (38), Lara 24 (31), me 40

Round 8: Target 843 from 75 7 4 1 4 5

This turns out to be a tough target!  I started by considering getting there from 11*75 = 825, with a difference of 18.  I made the mistake of jumping straight to tweaking, though, which would only let me get two away, and did not even write that down.  Switching tacks I tried to get there from 900, and just barely in time got the one-away 844 = (7 + 5)*(75 - 4 - 1) + 4.

Lara was not able to get anywhere near, which is bad news for her.  Rob has found 845 = (7 + 4)*75 + 4*5, and if he had simply subtracted the 1 at the end he would have ended up only one away at 844.  This was what I should have seen but premature tweaking would only have given me 841 = (7 + 4)*(75 + 1) + 5.

Lily has not been able to get closer than that 844.  It's quite a hard one, in fact!  There turn out to be two solutions to it; the first does use 11*75 after all.  The difference is 18, which is 11 (from tweaking) plus 7 (which we have).  That means if we could only form the required 11 from 4, 4, 5 then we would be home... and it is certainly easier to spot when it is put like that: 843 = (4*4 - 5)*(75 + 1) + 7.  My hearty congratulations to anyone who found that!

The other solution comes from the factor of 3, and is somewhat more findable, at least to me.  The cofactor is 281, and it unravels easily enough: 843 = (4*(75 - 5) + 1)*(7 - 4).  But hard to spot within time, again, where one has to make quick decisions about what approaches seem likely to be fruitful.

Those seven points from Rob guarantee him the win.

Rob: 845
Lara: [not in range]
Me: 844
Lily: 844

Scores: Rob 25 (45), Lara 24 (31), me 47


A quick one from me, although I'm not sure what led me to it.  Neither contestant was able to get there within time, however.

Rob: [no answer]
Lara: [no answer]

Final scores: Rob 25 (45), Lara 24 (31), me 57

Rob gets his third victory courtesy of hanging in there on the numbers, and the excellent find of HORMONES.  If he had not found that then he might well not have found ONSHORE, either; that could have been a 15 point swing, and game to Lara.  On such small matters the game turns.  It was still a great find from him, I should add!  I'm a little disappointed that we are not going to hear more about Lara; I have enjoyed at least one of her (non-fiction) writing pieces.

Tomorrow Rob tries for his crucial fourth win.  Can he get there?  We'll have to see!

Although I suspect the answer might be a little given away by unusual scheduling.  The expected break for the Masters series is coming up, starting on Thursday.  That only leaves room for two more days; it seems to me a little more likely that the timing is due to Rob losing his fifth game than winning it and carrying over, but there are arguments for each option.

In any case, starting on Thursday will be re-screenings of the finals episodes from the four series so far, followed by the Masters episodes.  I think that they are implying that they will do the full seven games from each series, but it might only be the final.  In any case, this is a chance for me to see the finals of series one (that I have not seen), and revisit those of series two and three that pre-date this blog (and which I have mostly completely forgotten, the amazing series three final aside).

I still hope that we will get encore screenings of the early seasons in their entirety at some point, mind you.  (As an extra, not as a replacement, I should add.)  Maybe one day...


Mark said...

Nice work Geoff. Round 8 was particularly disappointing for me, because I saw 844 = (7+4)*75 + 4*5 - 1 but looked to do better, and then didn't have time to write down that solution for 844.

934 = (10+3)*75 - 50 + 9
311 = (2+1)*100 + 4 + 7

Sam Gaffney said...

SBS usually puts L&N on hold for its Tour de France coverage, so Ep444 might not screen until Monday July 23rd (perhaps). That gives Geoff only two more clean games to hand me 30-point humiliations for a while.

Three great answers from Mark here, and a couple of good words from each contestant. I got stuck down the wrong paths for too long on the two hard number rounds.

My answers:

936 = 10*75+3*50+9*4
311 = (2+1)*100+7+4
845 = (1+75)*(7+4)+5+4

Geoff Bailey said...

Nice game, Mark! You'd have taken both Sam and myself to the conundrum, and if you'd gotten that 844 down only (per Sam's guess) a fifth of a second would have saved him. That would have been fantastic TV! HORMONES was a quality spot, and your numberwork was good -- figuring out when to cut your losses and write down a near solution is a hard part of the game.

My sympathies are certainly with you on those number rounds, Sam -- they were a couple of tricky ones that could lure one onto the wrong path (as we both were). Not surprisingly, the SBS website is awash with commenters finding 843 in the last round. Bah! *chuckles*

JT said...

If you have a good memory you would of realised that round 3 had the exact numbers and target then in ep420!! (I had to look that up to make sure which episode it was) unfortunately i was crushed in the letters again :/

934-Same as Mark's
311-Same as Mark and Sam
844-Mark solution that he saw

Geoff Bailey said...

Heh, thanks JT -- looks like I messed up the 934 back then, too. At least I got closer this time!

No HOONERS or SLAINED, I'm afraid -- the safe anagrams are ONSHORE and DENIALS.

JT said...

Thanks for that Geoff unfortunately I do not have the luxury of the Maquarie or an online equivalant, I might need to find one cause my letters round are suffering badly.

Geoff Bailey said...

JT: Yes, it's kind of the paradox of the show -- they give you the dictionary afterwards, whereas you really want it beforehand so you can get used to the Macquarie's idiosyncrasies.

For what it is worth, I use this online Scrabble checker and then post-check against the Macquarie.