Thursday, 10 May 2012

Ep 443: Rob Fischer, Joseph Liebhaber (May 9, 2012)

Rounds: Here.

When Rob proposed, he did so at the cinema.  He had a slide made up popping the question, and organised with the cinema to have it shown prior to the movie.  Rob went down on one knee when the slide came up, and happily she said yes.  (The movie was The World's Fastest Indian, incidentally.)

Tonight's challenger is taxi driver Joseph Liebhaber.  Joseph is keen on space, although he would not want to travel there -- he thinks that doing so is more the province of robots.  But he is enthusiastic about astronomy; he says that it is a field that is changing, and he finds it interesting keeping up with all the new discoveries.  When he was a small boy he learned what was known about Mars and Venus; he says that "really nobody knew anything".  Since that time, though, we have learned so much and keep on doing so; he finds it absolutely fascinating.

I'm afraid this game simply wasn't close; three of Joseph's letters rounds were invalid, and the numbers rounds were too easy to challenge either contestant.  Rob found longer words in the other two letters rounds -- including a full monty -- and with neither solving the conundrum the final score was 75 to 30 in Rob's favour.

I was cruising along comfortably thanks to two good letters rounds at the start, but thereafter was not able to extend my lead over Rob.  I missed the full monty -- I found a contentious eight instead -- and suddenly Rob was two points in the lead.  That persisted until the conundrum, and he buzzed in first; fortunately for me his guess was invalid, and I managed to get the solution just in the nick of time to scrape home the victor.  It really does demonstrate the power of the full monty to upset everything!

Round 1: U R T D S I E C S

I had DUST, DUSTIER, and CRUDITÉS.  After time I wrote down some of the other eights: CURTSIED and CURTSIES / CRUSTIES.

Rob has CRUISED for seven, but Joseph tries DISCURSE for eight.  It is not valid -- perhaps he was thinking of DISCOURSE? -- although David notes that DISCURSIVE ("passing freely from one subject to another; wideranging; digressive") is listed.  David has opted for CURTSIES as his eight.

This is a very similar mix to one from Sam's first game (episode 345).  The other eights available here were also listed there: CITRUSES / RICTUSES.

I would have chosen that final consonant as well, hoping for an N for INCRUSTED.  But choosing a vowel would have turned that S into an I and yielded a pair of full monties: CRUDITIES / DIURETICS.

Joseph: [invalid]

Scores: Rob 0 (7), Joseph 0, me 8

Round 2:  R L I E M O W N A

I had RILE, MILER ("a participant in a race over one mile, or an athlete or racehorse, specialising in such races"), and MOILER (MOIL: "to work hard; toil; drudge"), and then the W went up.  That did not fit so well, but I did contemplate AIRWOMEN as a possibility (a word that I had found way back near the start of this blog, in episode 308).  We were about due for an A, but the N was somewhat less likely.  I was very pleasantly surprised when Joseph managed to select both required letters, and I had AIRWOMEN for eight.  I added MINERAL and ALMONER ("a social worker with some medical training attached to a hospital") for good measure before time ran out.

Both contestants have six-letter words; Rob has MOANER and Joseph has RELOAN.  But the RE- words are generally dangerous, and this is no exception.  That's a second invalid word for Joseph and an early 13 point lead to Rob.  David notes that LOANER is valid, compounding the misfortune.  David saw AIRMEN in the mix, and with WO left over managed to find AIRWOMEN for eight.

Some Scrabble lists allow WOMANLIER, but it is not explicitly listed in the Macquarie so cannot count.  MANLIER is, though, and the other sevens are AILERON / ALIENOR, ROMAINE / MORAINE, and RAILMEN / MARLINE ("a small cord of two loosely twisted strands, used for seizing").

Joseph: [invalid]

Scores: Rob 0 (13), Joseph 0, me 16

Round 3: Target 453 from 75 2 9 1 7 8

The standard method is clear, with the target being so close to 6*75.  There's a couple of ways to get the 6 which lead to minor variations on the solution that everyone found: 453 = (7 - 1)*75 + 2 + 9 - 8.

After time I played around a bit with less obvious approaches, first finding the kitchen sink 453 = 8*(9*7 + 2 + 1) - 75 and then managing to solve it with only four numbers: 453 = 7*75 - 8*9.

Rob: 453
Joseph: 453
Me: 453
Lily: 453

Scores: Rob 10 (23), Joseph 10, me 26

First break: CIRCA PET ("This makes perfect")

An easy clue for PRACTICE.

David's talk is about the term flip-flop, and words related to its constituents.

Round 4: H T U E R I Y S R

Not a very reassuring collection of letters; I had RUTH, HIRSUTE, mistakenly thought I had SHUTTER (but then I caught the illegal second T a few seconds later), and HURRIES.

Joseph has HURTS for five, outdone by Rob's choice of HURRIES.  That was the best that David could do, and Rob's lead is now out to an even 20 points.  Ouch!

The other sevens are RUSTIER, RUSHIER (RUSHY: "abounding with rushes"), and the mildly unusual HURTERS -- HURTER is not an agent noun here, but "a supporting or strengthening part".

Joseph: HURTS

Scores: Rob 17 (30), Joseph 10, me 33

Round 5: D T S E A O G P C

I had DATES, DOTAGES, CAPOTES / TOECAPS, and COASTED.  For a brief moment I thought that SCAPEGOAT was there, but that uses the A twice.  After time I wrote down a couple of sevens that I had seen along the way: POSTAGE / POTAGES.

Rob declares a seven, prompting Joseph to risk GESTAPO in response.  Unfortunately for him it is only listed capitalised, and that is Joseph's third invalid declaration.  Rob's choice was the safe anagram of POSTAGE.  David has gone with COASTED for his seven.

The other seven is PEASCOD, a variant spelling of PEASECOD ("the pod of the pea").

Joseph: [invalid]

Scores: Rob 24 (37), Joseph 10, me 40

Round 6: Target 820 from 100 25 75 50 5 10

Joseph desperately needs to score some points, and wheels out the heavyweight option.  When I see the two small numbers I mentally groan a little -- with every number on the board divisible by 5 getting exactly to whatever the target is might be extremely difficult.  And then the target is a multiple of 10 and it ends up being very easy after all.

I first found 820 = 10*(75 + 5 + 100/50), and then 820 = 10*75 + 100 - 25 - 5.  Joseph and Lily both used this second option, while Rob has a minor variant of the first: 820 = (75 + 5 + 50/25)*10.

By way of illustration of the difference that the divisibility by 5 made, the targets 819, 818, and 817 are impossible, while there is a unique solution to 816.  This was nearly a very interesting round, if you see what I mean.

Rob: 820
Joseph: 820
Me: 820
Lily: 820

Scores: Rob 34 (47), Joseph 20, me 50

Second break: CHAR PEER ("The only one who could ever reach me was the son of one of these men")

A reference to the Dusty Springfield song "Son of a PREACHER Man".

Round 7: B M R E U A S N I

I had UMBER, AMBER, AMBERS, NUMBERS, rejected SUMERIAN as being capitalised, and AUMBRIES.  Unfortunately I knew a bit too much about this latter; AUMBRY is a variant spelling of AMBRY ("a cupboard; dresser"), and while the plural form AMBRIES is listed, AUMBRIES is not.  (This is generally the Macquarie's policy, it seems, to not list inflected and derived forms of variant spellings.)

A very strict reading of the show's rules -- and David's statements about spelling shifts requiring explicit listing -- would thus disallow AUMBRIES (I've used such a strict reading before to reject MOLDIER).  However, now that I am more familiar with the Macquarie's way of doing things it seems to me that a better policy is to regard inflected and derived forms of variant spellings to be implicitly given when they are listed for the main spelling.  The show gives David leeway for a reason, and I would hope that this is also his policy.  (I am going to write somewhat more about this at some point, probably in a month during the repeat screenings of the series four finals.)

Anyway... I got distracted by this chain of thought about the validity of AUMBRIES instead of searching for more words as I should.  Just as time ran out I looked at SUB- and a second or two later saw SUBMARINE.  (There was another second of confusion where I tried to parse it incorrectly and thought it did not make sense, before thinking of the noun.)  Bother bother bother bother bother.

On the plus side, this made my decision about whether to declare AUMBRIES easier; it couldn't be maximal, so I stayed with NUMBERS.

Joseph has found REMAINS for seven, but Rob declares a nine and indeed has found SUBMARINE.  Very well done, Rob!  That makes him one of the very rare contestants who have found more than one full monty in their main rounds.  (Not that every contestant gets those opportunities, mind you.)

Finding this nine-letter word guarantees Rob his fifth win, and catapults him ahead of me by two points; suddenly my grasp on this game -- which has seemed quite comfortable -- has turned very slippery indeed.  I cannot possibly be safe going into the conundrum, and if things go very poorly in the numbers round I could even be lost before it.  Such is the game-changing power of the full monty.

There is another nine here, incidentally: SEMIURBAN.  The other eights are URBANISE, URBANISM, and the safe anagram of SUMERIAN: ANEURISM.


Scores: Rob 52 (65), Joseph 20, me 50

Round 8: Target 134 from 25 75 50 10 3 4

Joseph switched things up with a balanced mix, but it was too easy again.  I actually made this far harder than it neded to be for myself -- presumably flustered by the turnaround in fortunes -- and did not see how to make a 9 from the three small numbers.  I still managed to get there with 134 = 75 + 25 + 3*10 + 4, fortunately.  After time I noted the alternative 134 = (50/25)*(75 - 3) - 10.

Both contestants have got there, and Joseph's effort points out how I missed the obvious again: 134 = 50 + 75 + 10 + 3 - 4.  Whoops!  Rob has solved it as I did, though.

Rob: 134
Joseph: 134
Me: 134

Scores: Rob 62 (75), Joseph 30, me 60


Down to the conundrum, and I need to solve this in order to win.  Not a situation I like to be in!  It's an awkward one, too; I played around with SHAPE, HORSE, and SHORE without any progress, and then Rob buzzed in at the thirteen second mark.  That was very bad news, but I paused and started the backup timer.  I finally found the solution in what would have been the nick of time, with 29 seconds used up in total.

After unpausing the video I was very relieved to discover that Rob had incorrectly tried SHAPERONE (thinking of CHAPERONE).  Phew!  But I still had not won yet -- if Joseph solved it too early then I was out of luck.  There were around nine seconds of extra time involved before the clock was restarted, too, and it is always unclear how to factor that in since with people speaking it is not quality solving time.  The remaining time ticked away without Joseph finding the solution, though, so I can claim this one without question.

Rob: [invalid] (13s)
Joseph: [no answer]

Final scores: Rob 62 (75), Joseph 30, me 70

Rob comprehensively outplayed Joseph tonight, and his full monty made any comeback impossible.  Joseph was unlucky that the numbers targets were too easy; there have been far too many easy numbers rounds recently, alas.  (Although Monday did have some rounds of interest.)  But with Rob scoring 45 points to 0 in the letters rounds not even all the numbers and the conundrum could have saved Joseph.  Rob gets his fifth win, and if he successfully retires will take second spot (or a very unlikely first place, but he needs 89 points for that; that would need at least one full monty to reach).

But we have the repeat screenings of the finals episodes from previous series to get through first, and then the Masters series.  I'm looking forward to this quite a bit, as I missed all of the first series -- I discovered the show by accident a bit after episode 150.  Plus the Masters series that follows should have some excellent contests in it.


Mark said...

Well done, Geoff.

(invalid) WOMANLIER
453 = (8-2)*75 + 9 + 1 - 7
820 = (75 + 5 + 50/25)*10
134 = 50 + 75 - 25 + 3*10 + 4

Geoff Bailey said...

Ooh, bad luck on WOMANLIER, Mark. That was great vision -- I did not even see it in the mix. (And if it had been valid you would have pipped me by a point.) Pretty solid stuff aside from that, with only the conundrum continuing to be a stumbling block for you -- believe me, I heartily sympathise there!

Mark said...

Thanks Geoff. This conundrum was particularly frustrating, because I looked for PHONE words, but all I saw was ARSEPHONE!

Sam Gaffney said...

Mark's answers were almost exactly the same as mine here.

I was sure there was a full monty in the submarine mix, but couldn't get it to surface until about five seconds after Rob declared his nine. Fantastic wordplay from him again tonight, he beat my score from home, and if the conundrum had been a little easier, he would have had the second or third-highest L&N score ever.

I am looking forward to seeing Andrew Fisher in action tonight, I didn't get to see every finals episode when they first aired.

My answers:
453 = (7-1)*75+2+9-8
820 = (75+5+50/25)*10
134 = 75+50+10-4+3
- (several minutes)

Geoff Bailey said...

*laughs* An ARSEPHONE sounds like a great device, Mark. I've met enough people who talk out of their arse, an appropriate phone would make it much easier.

And bad luck to you on WOMANLIER also, Sam. Most unfair!