Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Ep 97 [QF4]: Liam Bastick, Dom Saric (May 15, 2012; originally aired December 14, 2010)

Rounds: Here.

This is the last quarterfinal of series one, and it is interesting to see the other contenders.  I recall Liam from website comments; he's kept statistics about the episodes from the beginning, it seems, and occasionally mentions an interesting snippet there.

So, taking the champion's position is fourth seed Liam Bastick, a financial modeller with a PhD in mathematics.  He won his six games and successfully retired.  Richard mentions that on one episode Liam did something "unforgettable".  Liam explains that he elected to celebrate the fiftieth episode in style; he had no idea about the conundrum but decided to press the buzzer at the 29.5 second mark.  A kind of reverse-GANDISEEG gambit, if you will.

A little later in the show it is mentioned that Liam scored points on 17 out of the 18 numbers rounds that he faced, which is an excellent record.

In the challenger's position is fifth seed Dom Saric, who is currently undertaking a bachelor's degree in medicine and surgery.  Richard says that in the television control room Dom was affectionately known as Dom the Dominator.  The other thing Richard notes is that Dom found a lot of medical words; mention is made of TRIAGE, PRONATE, AMPOULE, and PARANOID.

Dom had some good finds in the letters, and Liam fell off the pace somewhat.  After the fifth round he was in deep trouble twenty points off the pace, and a miss in the next numbers round put him thirty points adrift.  That meant that he needed a full monty to have a chance; the letters were almost, but not quite, cooperative, and that was the game to Dom.  Liam picked up some points in the last numbers round and, had he solved the conundrum, would have only lost by two points.  But the conundrum proved too difficult for both contestants again, and Dom wins by 46 to 34.

I hit the top notes right until that last letters round, where I was about twenty seconds too slow to see the best answer.  I'd have taken even an optimal opponent to the conundrum, but it also defeated me; still, I had done enough for a comfortable win in this instance.

Round 1: A E I R T N B H J

After the first six letters this looked promising, but then it trailed off in unhelpful consonants.  An S would have completed the retsina mix (although I would have claimed ABSINTHE in that case), but without it seven was the limit.  I had TIRE, INTER, and HAIRNET.

Both contestants have six-letter words, Dom with BREATH and Liam with BANTER.  David has also found HAIRNET for seven, and it seems to be the only one.

There were still chances for a full monty on the last letter; the consonant would have had to be a G (for BREATHING), though.  A vowel offered much better odds, with an E allowing HIBERNATE / INBREATHE and an I allowing REINHABIT (but not INHABITER).


Scores: Liam 0 (6), Dom 0 (6), me 7

Round 2: R G A U T W E E L

I had RAGU, WAGER, LEGATE, and REGULATE.  After time I wrote down TEGULAR ("relating to or resembling a tile"), a lovely word that I'd seen but during time but not written down since REGULATE was longer.  It is almost a shame that REGULATE was there because TEGULAR would have given me a much better chance of outdoing certain people. *grins in Sam's direction*

Liam has only been able to muster WATER for five, while Dom has gained the advantage with REGALE for six.  David has accurately found REGULATE also.

The other seven in this mix is LEAGUER, which amongst other meanings has a verb sense of "to besiege".

The remaining sixes are LEAGUE, RELATE / ELATER ("Botany an elastic filament serving to disperse spores of some algae, fungi, etc."), EAGLET / TELEGA ("a crude Russian cart having four wheels and no springs"), REGLUE, WELTER ("to roll, toss, or heave, as waves, the sea, etc."), REGLET ("a narrow, flat moulding" in architecture), RUGATE ("wrinkled; rugose"), ERGATE ("the worker ant"), and TERGAL ("of or relating to the tergum", which is essentially the back of an arthropod).


Scores: Liam 0 (6), Dom 0 (12), me 15

Round 3: Target 208 from 75 10 3 8 5 1

A low target and a good spread on the small numbers mean that this should be quite approachable.  I briefly considered using 3*75, but got sidetracked by the 10 and managed to make that work with 208 = (75/3 - 5)*10 + 8.  Then I revisited my original idea to get 208 = 3*75 - 10 - 8 + 1, and finally pulled out the factor of eight to get 208 = 8*(75/3 + 1).  After time I bypassed the large number entirely with 208 = 5*(3 + 1)*10 + 8.

Both contestants have reached the target, and they, as well as Lily, have all used the second of those solutions.

Liam: 208
Dom: 208
Me: 208
Lily: 208

Scores: Liam 10 (16), Dom 10 (22), me 25

First break: COOL CRIB ("Flower top")

A reference to BROCCOLI.

David's talk is... well, it's a rapid-fire stringing together of various phrases involving different meats.

Round 4: S D O I L N E I C

I had hoped for that fourth vowel to be an O for SOLENOID (and then the C would have given COLONISED for nine) but it is a promising mix in any case.  I had IDOLS, LIONS, SOILED, SILICON, rejected SILICONED, INCLOSED, and DECISION.  After time I noted SILICONE / ISOCLINE as other eights.

Liam has SOILED for six, but Dom has DECISION for eight.  That puts him fourteen points ahead, which is a danger sign for Liam.  David has found LIONISED as his eight.

The remaining eight is INDOCILE ("not docile; not amenable to teaching").  There's more sevens than I feel like listing, but I'll mention INDICES / INCISED, ELISION, IDOLISE / DOILIES, IONISED / IODINES, and SECONDI (plural of SECONDO: "the second or lower part in a duet, especially in piano duets").


Scores: Liam 10 (16), Dom 18 (30), me 33

Round 5: U A O F C B N S R

An unpromising mix, but not much could help it at the end.  (Although if the F were a T then that would allow the full monty of OBSCURANT: "someone who strives to prevent inquiry and enlightenment".)  I had BACON, BACONS, CARBON, and CARBONS.

Liam has CRABS for five, but is once more outdone by Dom who has found CARBON.  The gap is now out to twenty points... danger territory for sure, but it can still be reclaimed on the numbers.  David notes Dom's reluctance to add the S to CARBON, but states that it would be acceptable.  He adds that CARBON is also a term for "a sheet of carbon paper", so there can be no question about it.  He has also found CONFABS for another seven.

The issue of elements being pluralised is one that I've griped about in the past, but incorrectly so (and this highlights the reason that a lax attitude towards plurals is a good idea).  At first glance an element seems like the very definition of a mass noun (and thus unpluralisable), but a deeper knowledge of chemistry reveals that every element has isotopes.  Carbon has sixteen (known) isotopes, and these might be properly referred to as "carbons".

The same applies to every element, so my previous complaints about this kind of thing have been incorrect.  (This highlights why taking a lax attitude towards pluralisation is a better policy for the show; it takes external knowledge to understand why these plurals are acceptable, and no doubt there are other cases that similarly rely on such knowledge from other fields.)  I know that David is not in a position to respond to such passing comments of mine and I imagine it is a bit frustrating when he sees incorrect complaints about his decisions, so I want to take this moment to apologise about those.  And the other instances where I have been wrong but do not yet know it.  Sorry, David!

Back to the words... those seem like the only sevens.  There are quite a few sixes, but I'll only mention ACORNS, FRANCS, BARONS, COBRAS, and SUBORN.


Scores: Liam 10 (16), Dom 18 (36), me 40

Round 6: Target 211 from 100 25 3 9 10 8

Dom opts for the family mix and gets another low target.  My first instinct was to get there from 2*100, but that was not obvious.  Then 3*75 seemed like an option, but again reaching the result looked troublesome.  I then looked all the way up at 3*100 and the answer dropped out: 211 = 3*100 - 8*10 - 9.  A little further thought about this subtraction of nine turned up the simpler solution 211 = 10*(25 - 3) - 9.

Trying to apply the standard method would require making 11, which is 8 + 3.  Unfortunately, getting to the 200 with those used up is a little difficult, but some tweakage can be used to rescure it, giving the solution 211 = 8*(25 + 10 - 9) + 3.  This can also be seen as using the third solution approach from the previous round and adding 3.

Liam has ended up one away with 210 -- presumably 210 = 8*25 + 10 -- but Dom is on target with the second of the solutions that I listed.  This was also Lily's approach.

Dom takes a moment to note that he solved this one as a result of lessons learned from Lily.

Liam: 210
Dom: 211
Me: 211
Lily: 211

Scores: Liam 10 (16), Dom 28 (46), me 50

Second break: VERY IDLE ("Handed to you")

The thing that is handed to you is a DELIVERY.

Round 7: I U O T C R R S A

Liam needs a full monty in order to have a chance; every other word game he has stayed with three vowels, but this time he rightly judges that a fourth vowel is his only option.  An E would have been the magic result, allowing COURTIERS.  As it was, I had ROUT, ROUTS, CURIOUS, CARIOUS (decayed), CORSAIR, and CARROTS.

After time I found SURCOAT and then CURATORS as the eight.  This was not a close miss -- I was about twenty seconds off the pace.  A shame, as the round felt optimal until this point (and later checking revealed that to be the case).

Dom has found CARROTS for seven, but Liam has found CURATORS.  He notes that he needed the full monty but it just was not there.  No mention of what David found, but I'll assume he had it; it seems to be the only eight.

The other sevens are CURATOR, SAUTOIR ("a long ribbon, chain, beaded band, or the like, worn about the neck"), CITROUS ("of or relating to [citrus] trees or shrubs"), CURIOSA ("books, pamphlets, etc., dealing with unusual subjects, especially pornographic ones [...]"), CURARIS and OURARIS (both variant spellings of CURARES, in the sense of the plants that yield the curare poison), TROCARS (TROCAR: "a sharp pointed surgical instrument enclosed in a cannula, used for withdrawing fluid from a cavity, and to allow for the escape of gases in case of bloat"), and TURACOS (TURACO being a type of bird).


Scores: Liam 18 (24), Dom 28 (46), me 50

Round 8: Target 206 from 100 75 4 8 9 3

Yet another target in the low 200's -- rather unusual, and a bit disappointing.  With the whole 8*25 thing still fresh in my mind from the previous two numbers rounds I quickly found 206 = 8*(100 - 75) + 9 - 3.

Dom has not been able to get within range which is a bit surprising, but Liam has reached the target with 206 = (100 + 3)*8/4.  Lily did it almost the same way, with 206 = (8/4)*100 + 9 - 3.

Liam: 206
Dom: [not in range]
Me: 206
Lily: 206

Scores: Liam 28 (34), Dom 28 (46), me 60


As expected from a finals series, the conundrums continue to be tough.  Neither contestant was able to solve it within time, nor was I; it took me two minutes and seventeen seconds before I finally saw THREEFOLD.  (Vexingly, that was probably about fifteen seconds after seeing FREEHOLD; that should have led to the answer much sooner.)

Liam: [no answer]
Dom: [no answer]
Me: [no answer]

Final scores: Liam 28 (34), Dom 28 (46), me 60

Some good finds from both contestants, with DECISION from Dom and CURATORS from Liam.  Liam gave up too much ground in the letter rounds, unfortunately for him.  The numbers targets were all disappointingly low, but the ten points he conceded there pretty much sealed his fate.  With the final difference being just 12 points Liam was almost in contention -- a better result in any of five rounds would have seen him have a chance at the conundrum.  For that matter, finding either CARBONS or REGULATE (or TEGULAR, although that is harder) would have given him the win.

So Liam certainly had his chances, but it was Dom who was able to navigate the options better today.  A strange miss from him on the last numbers round where getting close should have been manageable, but he had done enough to take the win and we shall see him again on Thursday when he takes on Naween.

This was my best performance of the finals series so far, and could have been really good if I had managed to get CURATORS within time.  Those conundrums continue to be my nemesis, however.  Ah, well, there's always another game...


Mark said...

Well done, Geoff. I didn't have a very good game.

208 = 3*75 - 10 - 8 + 1
211 = 3*100 - 8*10 - 9

Sam Gaffney said...

I can't remember if I saw this episode when it aired, nothing really rang a bell except possibly CARBONS.

I remembered Liam's last-second conundrum shenanigan from his sixth game, and now that Geoff mentions it, his name is familiar from the official SBS L&N website comments (he provided some great stats on my scores after my sixth episode). He was a very strong player (as was Dom), but seemed very frustrated in this episode, the words just weren't happening for him. He got some very fast conundrums in his first six episodes, but tonight's was another tough one.

I recall that English is not actually Dom's first language, which makes his anagram skill all the more impressive.

My answers:

208 = (75-5)*3-10+8
211 = (25+10-9)*8+3
206 = (75-8)*3+9-4