Saturday, 2 June 2012

Ep 296 [QF3]: Anthony Kendall, Simon Walsh (June 1, 2012; originally aired October 17, 2011)

Rounds: Here.

Disclaimer: I watched this episode when it first aired, and although I did not recall any of it I cannot rule out memory being a factor.

In the champion's seat for tonight's quarterfinal is third seed Anthony Kendall.  Anthony is a software developer and long-distance runner, and had the best final game score of anyone in the series.

Facing Anthony is the sixth seed, Simon Walsh.  Simon is an accountant and self-confessed sport tragic.  The first game he played on the show was against his wife, but hopefully that was taken in good spirit.  (I'm a bit against such things, on the whole; I know the show likes those matchups, but it guarantees that one of the pair will only get one game.  They might both have the potential to shine, if not for that.)

The game started out with a pair of matched rounds; then Anthony pulled ahead on the first numbers round -- a round that posed problems for Lily, as it turns out.  Simon gained back that lost territory in the next letters round, but then fell behind on each of the remaining letters rounds.  When the numbers failed to provide any swing -- he perhaps should have mixed it up on the last one -- Simon was out of contention going into the conundrum.  He solved it first to take the consolation points, but was left to rue what might have been; Anthony made it to the semifinals with a 54 to 51 victory.

I was doing well, and even had a chance at a rare double feature of outdoing both David and Lily on the same game... but I wimped out of the key word.  And then I had a disastrous numbers round where I got completely lost through overcomplication when the standard method would have worked well.  Only two rounds short of optimal, but what a difference they make to the score!

Round 1: L T S R E A I W C

That W really was a spoiler in an otherwise promising mix.  I had REST, ALTERS, RETAILS, WASTREL, and ARTICLES / RECITALS.  I pondered CRAWLIEST, but correctly rejected it.

Both contestants have found seven-letter words; Simon has chosen RETAILS while Anthony has WAITERS.  David has chosen ARTICLES for his eight, and also laments that CRAWLIEST is not valid.

The other eight is STERICAL ("relating to the spatial relationship of atoms in the molecule").

Anthony: WAITERS

Scores: Anthony 0 (7), Simon 0 (7), me 8

Round 2: D S N P O A E T R

I had PONDS, DONATES, PRONATED, OPERANTS, and ADOPTERS.  As time ran out I also saw PORTENDS, but not in time to get it down.  After time I added OPERANDS as another eight, but although it was a very good set of letters I could not manage a nine.

Both contestants have seven-letter words again, and they are anagrams of each other: Anthony has SPORTED to Simon's DEPORTS.  David mentions PRONATES, PRONATED, and PORTENDS as his selection of eights.

The other two eights are NOTEPADS and PANDORES (PANDORE being a variant spelling of BANDORE, a musical instrument).

With such well-matched letters, a fourth vowel is a reasonable proposition.  In this instance it would have been an I, and that would bring ANTIPODES to the table.

Anthony: SPORTED

Scores: Anthony 0 (14), Simon 0 (14), me 16

Round 3: Target 792 from 25 9 7 3 6 1

A good spread of small numbers is a hopeful sign.  The target is large, but very factorisable; I noticed it as 8*99 immediately, but with the 9 handy 9*88 was the more tempting option.  Some fiddling made that work, and I had 792 = (3*25 + 6 + 7)*9 in short order.

Simon has not been able to get anywhere close, while Anthony has ended up five away with 797 = (7*6 - 9 - 1)*25 - 3.  That's an expensive way to make the 32, but it cannot be made with just three of the small numbers so that is inevitable in a way.  Still, getting one off would be possible if it could be done without the 7 or 9; both are manageable: 791 = (7*(6 - 1) - 3)*25 - 9 and 793 = (3*9 + 6 - 1)*25 - 7.

Lily has been stumped by this one, to my surprise.  There are a great many solutions, although almost all rely on various factorisations.  But after the break she comes back with the interesting 792 = (9 + 1)*3*25 + 7*6.

Anthony: 797
Simon: [no answer]
Me: 792

Scores: Anthony 0 (21), Simon 0 (14), me 26

First break: INTRO CAT ("Good to get this, but bad to be in it")

Fairly reasonable statements about TRACTION.

David's talk is about the reason English has quite different terms for animals and the food derived from them (e.g., cow/beef, calf/veal, pig/pork, etc.).  This dates back to the Norman conquest; the animals were raised by the English farmers, so retained names of Old English background, but the food was for the French aristocrats and thus gained names of French origin.  David adds that this applied more widely, with further examples such as bread/toast and eggs/omelette.

Round 4: Q L D I E O S E R

I had IDLE, OILED, SOILED, SOLDIER, correctly rejected RESOILED, and finished with RESILED (RESILE: "to spring back; rebound; resume the original form or position, as an elastic body").

Simon has SOLDIER for seven, prompting Anthony to risk ELIDERS.  ELIDERS is not valid, however, so Simon has those seven points and the scores are level again.  David has found SOLDIER and RESILED.

The other sevens are RESOLED and OILSEED ("any of several seeds, as linseed, rapeseed, etc., which yield oil").

Anthony: [invalid]

Scores: Anthony 0 (21), Simon 7 (21), me 33

Round 5: C G N R U E A U D

Oh, dear, a pair of U's is not the best of signs.  I had RUNG, DURANCE, wondered about UNGUARD (it is not valid, although UNGUARDED is listed), UNCAGED, and wondered about UNGRACED.  I was very unsure about it, so ended up taking the safe course with DURANCE.

Simon has RANGED for six, but Anthony gets the lead again with UNCAGED for seven.  David has not been able to better seven, but he refers back to the earlier find of PORTENDS as he has found AUGURED.

The other seven is UNCURED (as of meats, I would guess).  But UNGRACED is listed after all, in the block entries.  If I'd just risked it I could have outdone both David and Lily in the one game, and you can bet that opportunities like that are very hard to come by.

Anthony: UNCAGED

Scores: Anthony 7 (28), Simon 7 (21), me 40

Round 6: Target 945 from 25 75 4 5 2 8

Oh, dear, I lost the plot on this one.  Possibly due to vexation over not going with UNGRACED on the previous round, but also because the target is very factorisable (3*5*7*9) but there are not that many useful odd numbers to work with.  I wanted to get 5*189 to work but could not, and then for some reason I fixated on 8*125... and not in a useful way.  I ended up 11 away with 956 = 8*(75 + 2*25 - 5) - 4; in fact, since I'd scrawled that down in a hurry I had thought it was 954 (and written it down as such), but at least I caught that before it could matter.  Regardless, I had nothing to declare for this round.

Even though this was a bizarre approach to consider, it could have been made to work if I had made the 125 differently.  A little tweaking from 5*25 gives a solution: 945 = 5*(25*8 + 4) - 75.  But, of course, I had committed the cardinal sin of neglecting the standard method.  We have the 5, so the aim must be to get to 950 with the remaining numbers; once I stopped to consider this approach it was straightforward: 945 = (8 + 4)*75 + 25*2 - 5.  Bother.

Both contestants, and Lily, have solved it using this latter solution.

As an aside here: In the case of two large numbers, one often ends up wanting to make a particular multiple of 25 but it is not always clear which way to go.  In this instance the requisite multiple is 38 and the small numbers are 2, 4, 8.  A technique that I find useful is to divide each of the large numbers by 25, and then solve the resulting small number problem with the understanding that those new numbers are generally only good for multiplying by.  So the new small numbers are 1 and 3, and we want to find a combination of those with 2, 4, 8 that yields 38.  The solution above was found using 38 = 3*(8 + 4) + 1*2, but 38 = 1*(8*4) + 3*2 is also valid and would give the answer 945 = 25*8*4 + 75*2 - 5.

One of the factorisations, at least, would have worked: 63*15 is 945, so 945 = (75 - 8 - 4)*(25 - 2*5).  But that would be a tough find during actual play.

A more findable option -- for those who have studied the heavyweight mix -- is to get there from 937½.  Some adjustment yields the solution 945 = (25*75 - (5 - 4))/2 + 8.

Anthony: 945
Simon: 945
Me: [no answer]
Lily: 945

Scores: Anthony 17 (38), Simon 17 (31), me 40

Second break: MOVE ONUS ("A bite worse than a bark")

A reasonable description of a VENOMOUS bite.

Round 7: F R M T I O A O H

The first four letters practically scream FORMAT, but the other vowels raised the tantalising prospect of FORMATION.  That H was not quite what was wanted, alas.  I had FIRM, FORMAT, FATHOM, and MOHAIR.  I considered that hobbits are well known for FOOTHAIR, but it seemed safe to conclude that this was not a valid word.

Simon has FROTH for five, but Anthony has FORMAT for six and gets more than a conundrum's worth ahead.  That's bad news for Simon.

David similarly was hoping for FORMATION, but has ended up with FORMAT and MOHAIR.

The only other six is one I've mentioned recently (in episode 96): THORIA, a particular oxide of thorium.  Interestingly, at least to me, another thorium derivative popped up in the series two finals: THORITE in episode 199.  Are thorium derivatives words to be learned for finals series?  I can't remember if any were prospects during the series four finals.

Anthony: FORMAT
Simon: FROTH

Scores: Anthony 23 (44), Simon 17 (31), me 46

Round 8: Target 310 from 100 50 6 10 3 9

Simon must outpoint Anthony on this round to retain a chance.  That often signals a good time to shake up the number mix, but he stays with the family mix and gets a very easy target.  I had 310 = 6*50 + 10 at first, but then the variant 310 = 3*100 + 10.

Both contestants have gone with the second of those solutions, and that ensures Anthony the win.

I had considered the possibility of 10*31 but not been able to get it to work within time.  After time I did manage to get it to work in two ways, with 310 = (9*3 + 6 - 100/50)*10 and 310 = (9*(6 + 3) - 50)*10.

Anthony: 310
Simon: 310
Me: 310

Scores: Anthony 33 (54), Simon 27 (41), me 56


The -ING stands out, and I had the solution shortly afterwards.  Simon gets it quite early, too, to narrow the losing margin to just three points.

Anthony: [no answer]
Simon: ACHIEVING (4s)
Me: ACHIEVING (1.5s)

Final scores: Anthony 33 (54), Simon 27 (51), me 66

Four matched rounds, and in the end a very close result even though the game was decided earlier.  Anthony was just a little bit better in the trickier rounds, and it proved the difference.  The game could have very easily gone the other way, with any pickup from Simon being enough to swing the result; FORMAT in round 7 was perhaps the most findable, although the first numbers round offered several ways to get close that would have been good enough.  Credit to both contestants, and Anthony makes it to the semifinals.

The meltdown on round six stopped me from beating the David and Lily combination, or even tying them, and that was a grave disappointment.  Risking UNGRACED would have let me save face, but while it was a good game from me the potential of what might have been looms larger in my mind.  Ah, well.


Sam Gaffney said...

I am glad this episode got repeated, as I missed it last year due to an SBS video-on-demand glitch.

I found Anthony to be a very strong contestant during his run. I almost never beat him on the numbers rounds, and several episodes went to the conundrum. Having corresponded with him online, I can also attest to his computer programming being even better than his maths.

My answers:

(invalid: CRAWLIEST, couldn't resist)
793 = (3*9+6-1)*25-7
DANGER (didn't risk UNGRACED)
945 = (8+5)*(75-2)-4
310 = 3*100 + 10
2s (or thereabouts)

Mark said...

Well done, Geoff and Sam.

946 = (8+2)*(25+75-5) - 4
310 = 6*50 + 10

Geoff Bailey said...

Sorry for the lack of comment responses recently. Thanks for keeping up the remarks!

Bad luck with CRAWLIEST, both of you. It was a very tempting option. I liked FAITH and your 946, Mark.

I really liked that 945, Sam -- well done!