Thursday, 17 May 2012

Ep 98 [SF1]: Andrew Fisher, David Jones (May 16, 2012; originally aired December 15, 20120)

Rounds: Here.

It's the first semifinal tonight, between first seed Andrew Fisher and third seed David Jones.  The pre-game chat is a little more revisiting of prior achievements on the show, but nothing particularly noteworthy.  Once again I will be using surname initials to distinguish the two Davids.

It could have been a very close game, but the damage was done early.  Andrew found two longer words to start with in fairly difficult mixes.  Then David J was not able to get within range in the first numbers round, conceding seven more points to Andrew who then had a 19 point lead.  The rest of the main rounds they were evenly matched on -- although Andrew only just got down his answer for round four -- and David J missed his chance in the final numbers round, matching Andrew's one-away answer to give Andrew the win.  The conundrum was tough again, and David J solved it first -- possibly the only contestant to beat Andrew to a conundrum solution -- but Andrew still won by 57 points to 48.

I started off quite well, matching Andrew in those two tough letters rounds.  Then I had a complete meltdown in round 3; there is a fairly easy one-away but I got tangled up trying to reach the target exactly and did not get it down.  In the end that round was the difference between victory and defeat, and I'm quite disappointed to have blown this on a numbers round like that.  As usual, the conundrum was too hard for me also, and in the end I was defeated by both contestants.

Round 1: E E O S G S H C N

We start off with an unpromising mix; I had GOES, SHOES, CONGEES, CHOSEN, and ECHOES.  I was not entirely sure about CONGEES but risked it and was happily rewarded.  CONGEE is "a Chinese dish consisting of a thick soup or porridge made from rice or other grain, flavoured with various meats or vegetables; a common breakfast dish in Asia"; it is also an obsolete verb meaning "to take one's leave" or "to bow", so both CONGEED and CONGEEING would also be valid.

David J has found CHOSEN for six, but Andrew has reliably found CONGEES for the points.  David A has also found it, and it is the only seven.

The other sixes are CONGEE (of course), CONGÉS (CONGÉ being an alternative spelling of CONGEE in the sense of "a bow or obeisance"), SCONES, SCENES / CENSES (CENSE: "to burn incense near or in front of; perfume with incense"), SHEENS, NOSHES, HENGES (backformed from Stonehenge, HENGE is "a Neolithic or Bronze age monument consisting of upright stones, or sometimes wooden posts, arranged in a circle [...] similar to the stone circle of Stonehenge"), and COSHES / CHOSES (CHOSE being a legal term here for "a thing; a tangible item of personal property, capable of being taken into possession).


Scores: Andrew 7, David J 0, me 7

Round 2: J C R U A F X I K

And I said the last mix was awkward!  This one is a horror mix of awkward consonants and vowels.  I had FAIR and AURIC ("of or containing gold [...]").

David J has CRUX ("a vital, basic, or decisive point") for four, but Andrew has found FAKIR ("a Muslim or Hindu religious ascetic or mendicant monk") to take the points again.  David A has found another five of KAURI, which is a tree.

The other fives are FARCI ("stuffed, as of poultry, etc."), CURIA ("one of the political subdivisions of each of the three tribes of ancient Roman citizens"), and KAFIR (a Muslim term for an unbeliever, although it is marked as derogatory and the show would rather avoid such words; just as well FAKIR is always available if KAFIR is).

Andrew: FAKIR
David J: CRUX
David A: KAURI

Scores: Andrew 12, David J 0, me 12

Round 3: Target 452 from 75 8 9 1 10 8

Gah, all those smalls are clustered at the ends, which is always a bad sign.  The target is obviously close to 6*75, but making a six is going to require using most of the small numbers.  Instead I... got entirely lost trying increasingly implausible approaches, and ended up with nothing to declare.  That was a very poor effort, particularly since I am relying on the numbers to give me a chance.

After time I quickly found one away with 453 = (8 - 1)*75 - 9*8 and then the simpler 451 = (8 + 8 - 10)*75 + 1.  Bleah.

David J has not been able to get within range, but Andrew is two away with 450 = (8 - (10 - 9) - 1)*75.  Lily was not able to do any better, which is a little surprising.

Finding that 451 would have produced a swing of 14 points, which will turn out to be crucial.  Bother.  Regardless, not having anything at all to declare is extremely disappointing.

A little more attention to the first of those one-away answers would pay dividends.  The difference from 525 is 73, with a 7 available to tweak with.  7*10 is close but needs a three, but 7*9 is 10 away and we have the ten.  That line of thought produces what turns out to be the only solution: 452 = (8 - 1)*(75 - 9) - 10.

Andrew: 450
David J: [not in range]
Me: [no answer]

Scores: Andrew 19, David J 0, me 12

First break: LEG TAUNT ("Thrown down")

Not much rearranging is required to find GAUNTLET from that.

David A's talk is about words with sailing connections: antenna, yacht, and spinnaker.  He gives the origin of 'spinnaker' as a corruption of "Sphinx's half-acre", where "Sphinx" was the name of a yacht known for carrying the sail.  (I've seen other explanations for the latter part as just "acre", or the whole as simply "Sphinxer", incidentally.)

The Wikipedia section about the etymology of 'spinnaker' disagrees, and if the claim about the term appearing in 1812 in the logboook of the USS Constitution is accurate then it would seem to be conclusive evidence against the Sphinx origin (which is from 1865 or 1866).  It is not the most compelling of cases, though, referring as it does to a document not easily accessed.  Take it with an appropriately-sized grain of salt.

Round 4: P M N E O E T L A

I had POEM, OMENTAL (I've mentioned this relatively recently in episode 409; it is the adjective derived from OMENTUM, which I'm sure makes everything clear), POLENTA, and TELAMON ("a figure of a man used like a supporting column; an atlas").  Just a little after time I saw ANTELOPE; that was a little annoying as my mind had kept circling back to ELOPEMENT during time but I did not make full use of that ELOPE fragment.

Everyone else has found ANTELOPE, although in a rare result Andrew gets it only at the last moment.  When they compare answers Andrew admits that it is somewhat scribbled.

It is the only eight; the other sevens are EMPLANE / EMPANEL and LOMENTA (plural of LOMENTUM: "a dry fruit derived from one carpel which breaks up transversely into one-seeded segments at maturity").


Scores: Andrew 27, David J 8, me 12

Round 5: O I E R F R S L D

I had FIRE, FRIER (acceptable variant spelling of FRYER), FRIERS, SOLDIER, and FOLDERS.  I note that the infamous LORRIES is in that mix, too, but fortunately no-one tried it.  After time I amused myself by wondering if the contents of a fire sale are FIRESOLD, but not seriously.  No FIRELORDS, either.

David J as FOLDERS for seven, and Andrew has "stayed with a seven" of SOLDIER.  There does not seem to be an eight, so I do wonder what Andrew was contemplating.  David A has found RIFLERS as another seven.

The other two sevens are REFOLDS and the unusual ROLFERS; ROLFER is the agent noun associating with ROLFING ("a system of soft-tissue manipulation to re-align body posture and structure in order to ease chronic pain and to improve performance").


Scores: Andrew 34, David J 15, me 19

Round 6: Target 906 from 100 4 6 7 5 3

A sadly trivial target, despite the size.  I started out with 906 = (7 + 5 - 3)*100 + 6, then adjusted to the more obvious 906 = (5 + 4)*100 + 6.  Both contestants used this method also, but Lily has gone for the kitchen sink with 906 = (6 + 3)*100 + 7 - 5 + 4.

Andrew: 906
David J: 906
Me: 906
Lily: 906

Scores: Andrew 44, David J 25, me 29

Second break: COIN SCAM ("Slipping on one of these is a good thing")

Here "slipping on" refers not to losing balance, but to the act of wearing a MOCCASIN.

Round 7: A U A H M S B G D

Another unpleasant mix.  I had SHAM and DAUBS, and that was the best I could do.  After time I eventually found AMBUSH for six, but it took me a long while.

Both contestants have found AMBUSH, which means that I am now trailing, and also unable to overtake Andrew; David J is still in with a small chance of victory, though.

The other six here is GAMBAS, as GAMBA is an acceptable shortening of the viola da gamba.  There's what looks like quite a few fives, most of which I'd have to look up and am not feeling inclined to.  Two of the common ones are ABASH and SAMBA.

Andrew: AMBUSH

Scores: Andrew 50, David J 31, me 29

Round 8: Target 407 from 3 2 3 10 4 7

After those first three rounds David J has managed to avoid losing any further ground, but he has not been able to gain, either.  That has kept the difference at 19 points still, so he has a chance but he must score ten unanswered points in this round to do it.  He calls it "the last act of a desperate man" as he asks for six small, and I approve.

It's a good mix to get in such circumstances; a reasonable spread of numbers -- although biased towards the smaller side -- with a target on the low side of medium and not immediately obvious.  Somewhat ideal for the match situation, really, as long as it is actually achievable.

I was initially tempted by the idea of 4*10*10 + 7, but getting that second 10 from the remaining values was not feasible.  Then I saw the factor of 11, and thus that 11*37 = 407.  I pulled out one way to get that 37 and happily found that the rest cooperated, giving me the solution 407 = (2*4 + 3)*(3*10 + 7).

The contestants have both ended up one away, though, and that ensures that Andrew will win.  David J's answer is 408 = 7*10*3*2 - 4*3, and with so many small numbers in that first product it must be fertile tweaking territory.  The difference is 13, and it took me just a few seconds to find the right tweak: 407 = 3*(7*10*2 - 3) - 4.  He was pretty close, if only he had seen it!

Andrew's answer uses the approach I first considered: 406 = (7 + 3)*4*10 + 2*3.  Lily has found her way to the solution that is the tweaked version of David J's answer.

Aside from that tweaked solution, the three other answers all use the factorisation 11*37.  In fact, as long as you see that factorisation it is a bit hard not to solve this; the obvious ways of making one of those factors leave the other one manageable.  I've shown one of them above, where 37 was made as 3*10 + 7; another simple way of getting 37 is as 4*10 - 3, leaving 2, 3, 7 to get the 11.  That is possible and leads to the solution 407 = (4*10 - 3)*(2*7 - 3).

The other approach one might take is to consider the 11, and 4 + 7 is clear.  The remaining numbers can be manipulated to get the 37, and the final solution is 407 = (4 + 7)*(3*(3 + 10) - 2).  An entertaining final numbers round!

Andrew: 406
David J: 408
Me: 407
Lily: 407

Scores: Andrew 50 (57), David J 31 (38), me 39


Alas, my finals series conundrum hoodoo continues.  I was nowhere near solving this one, eventually giving up after more than six minutes.  David J, on the other hand, finds the solution just shy of eight seconds in, making him the first contestant to beat Andrew in the conundrum.  A great effort!

Andrew: [no answer]
David J: LIFESTYLE (7.5s)
Me: [no answer]

Final scores: Andrew 50 (57), David J 41 (48), me 39

Great play from both contestants tonight, with Andrew finding the best results on each letters round as one would expect.  David J did well to keep up with him after that unfortunate start, and only just failed to pull off the upset win -- had he found the tweak to get 407 in round 8 he would have won by a point.  Andrew continues to impress and it is going to take some luck with the numbers to beat him, I think.

I ended up behind both contestants, and I can attribute this fairly clearly to round 3.  Not having anything to declare was carelessness, and finding the one-away would have given me a fourteen point swing and victory over both.  Missing ANTELOPE in round four was also a bit disappointing; the combination of those two would have given me safety at the conundrum, a decidedly unlikely result.  I had my chances, but I just was not up to it tonight.  Hopefully I can put up a better showing tomorrow!


Mark said...

906 = (5+4)*100 + 6
Invalid - SHAMUS

Sam Gaffney said...

Andrew was quite solid on the numbers here, and David put in a very good effort - he might well have made the Grand Final in any series but the first one.

With episodes like this that I have seen before, I have been saying that my score doesn't really count. It was just as well here, as I flopped.

I chose FRACK (the Macquarie doesn't even list FRACKING) over a four-letter word, the misspelt PELETON (it's PELOTON) over EMPANEL, and the invalid FOILERS over RIFLERS. Three invalid words puts me right up there with Andrew's quarter-final effort!

I got 451 = (8+8-10)*75+1 and 407 (Lily's way) pretty quickly after time, but would have hoped to find at least one of those within the thirty seconds.

My answers (which don't count because I'd seen this episode, and they aren't very good):

450 = (8-1-(10-9))*75
- (PELETON, correct version is PELOTON)
906 = (5+4)*100+6
408 = (10+7)*4*3*2
- (90 seconds or so)

Geoff Bailey said...

Well done with ANTELOPE and SOLDIER, Mark. My condolences on that phantom S in the last letters round, but SHAMUS is an excellent word; I hope to get to use it at some point.

Bad luck with those invalid words, Sam. Although expecting FRACK to be OK was an exercise in optimism, I'd say.

Sam Gaffney said...

Just give FRACK a few years.

BadBeatPete said...

Saw the rerun today, I did solve the 452 maths problem, albeit after 30 seconds (just).

(75-9)*(8-1)=462, 462-10=452