Thursday, 21 June 2012

Ep 445 [M1] [QF2]: Sam Gaffney, Jeremy Schiftan (June 20, 2012)

Rounds: Here.

This quarterfinal pitches Sam Gaffney (series 4 champion) against Jeremy Schiftan, the runner-up from series 3.  Since his last appearance, Jeremy has graduated from his arts degree with a linguistics major.  That makes David happy, of course.

The contestants ended up mostly matched on the letters, although Sam did have the better of one round.  But his superior numberwork told, and just like in his grand final he knew that he was safe once he solved the final numbers round.  The conundrum eluded both contestants, and Sam got through to the next round with a 62 to 35 victory.

I had a mixed effort tonight; I had several optimal answers, but two invalid rounds cost me dearly.  I was fortunate to still be a point ahead going into the conundrum after that, but happily was able to solve the conundrum in decent time to escape with the win.

Round 1: E A I D L C N M S

I had IDEA, IDEAL, DENIAL, DENIALS, and CANDLES.  With such decent letters an eight was surely there, but I could not find one within time.  After time I noted MAIDENS and MEDICAL, and that led me to MEDICALS / DECIMALS at last.

Both contestants have also gone with CANDLES for seven, while David has accurately found DECIMALS for eight.

The other eight is another anagram of the two already listed: DECLAIMS.  There's many sevens, as is to be expected from such letters.


Scores: 7 apiece

Round 2: L O B E T A G U R

I had LOBE (of course), OBLATE, OUTRAGE, and wondered about ROUTABLE / TOURABLE but correctly rejected them.  After time I noted TEGULAR ("relating to or resembling a tile") and TROUBLE as other sevens, and that Lewis Carroll fans might see OUTGRABE in the mix (sadly, not considered valid).

Both contestants have found the nice six of GOBLET; David has found TROUBLE and OUTRAGE as his sevens.

The other sevens are OUTBRAG, BLOATER, GLOATER / LEGATOR ("someone who bequeaths; a testator"), and RUBEOLA (another name for measles, and also for German measles).  I was a bit surprised to gain in this round -- both OUTRAGE and GLOATER feel like common finds on the show; then again, I did not see GLOATER at all.

Jeremy: GOBLET

Scores: Sam 7 (13), Jeremy 7 (13), me 14

Round 3: Target 849 from 100 25 50 75 6 6

Sam is still playing it a bit coy, trying not to reveal that four large is his favourite mix.  But he chooses it, of course, and gets the duplicated small numbers that can make things awkward.  It is abundantly clear that one away will be easy, especially thanks to a tip that Sam once told me: With any single small number from 3 to 10, and the four large numbers, every multiple of 25 from 25 to 1000 can be made.  I wrote down a quick fallback 850 = 6*(100 + 50) - 75 + 25, and searched for closer.

I could not get there within time; it took a minute or so after time for me to consider multiplying by 6, since 6*800 is near 5000 = 50*100.  In fact, 849 is 5094/6, and the solution falls out easily once that is noticed: 849 = (50*100 + 100 - 6)/6, where one of those hundreds is 75 + 25.  A tough ask within time, but it was feasible if the idea was thought of soon enough.

Both contestants declare 850; Sam has used the same method I had, but Jeremy has taken a different approach with 850 = (6 + 6)*75 - 50.  But... I have made an error, mixing up my signs and writing 6*(100 + 50) + 75 - 25.  My attempt is invalid, and I've carelessly squandered the lead that I had.

Lily has not been able to better 850 within time, but after the break she demonstrates the solution above -- an excellent find.

It turns out there is just one other solution: 849 = ((100 - 6)*75 + 25)*6 / 50.  Now that's a tough find, with an intermediate value of over forty thousand!

Sam: 850
Jeremy: 850
Me: [invalid]
Lily: 850

Scores: Sam 14 (20), Jeremy 14 (20), me 14

First break: CORE ITEM ("Fast and flashy rise")

A straightforward clue for METEORIC, although it is a little strange that METEORIC is associated to something rising.  Still, that's the idiom.

David's talk is about the longest word in the Macquarie dictionary: floccinaucinihilipilification.  Personally, I was always partial to pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis.

Round 4: P E N I D E S D U

I may have still been off-kilter from the previous round, but I struggled here.  I had PINE, PINED, wondered about UNSPIED but rightly did not like it, and settled on UPENDED.  After time I found DEPENDS as a preferable seven, but I went with UPENDED.  Alas, my concern was correct: UP-ENDED requires a hyphen, and that's two invalid answers in a row for me.

Jeremy has SUDDEN for six, but Sam has found DEPENDS for seven -- the first result to split the contestants.  It's also the first round where Sam has not looked unhappy as he declares his result.  David was not able to better DEPENDS.

The other sevens are NEDDIES (NEDDY being colloquial for a horse, and also apparently an obsolete British colloquial verb meaning "to hit with a life-preserver"), DENUDES / DUDEENS (DUDEEN: "an Irish short clay tobacco pipe"), DEPSIDE ("any of a group of esters formed from two or more phenol carboxylic acid molecules"), and DISPEND (an archaic verb meaning "to pay out; expend; spend").

Jeremy: SUDDEN
Me: [invalid]

Scores: Sam 21 (27), Jeremy 14 (20), me 14

Round 5: A O E M H T C X R

That X really spoiled the potential of this mix; I had HOME and MATCH (and a HAEMO- starting fragment), but once the X went up all I could picture was seeking a final R for CHROMATE.  That is what it turned out to be, and I could not envisage a nine from that.  I also noted down sevens of REMATCH and EXACTOR within time.

The contestants are matched again, finding REMATCH for seven.  David notes that a final B would have yielded MATCHBOX, but with that R he has found CHROMATE for the eight.

The other seven is MATCHER.


Scores: Sam 21 (34), Jeremy 14 (27), me 22

Round 6: Target 372 from 100 50 9 5 3 8

Jeremy sticks with the family mix that he has chosen throughout, and gets a decent spread and a low target.  I fixated at the start on the target being 5*75 - 3, but the 75 did not seem manageable from the remaining options.  I fumbled around a bit with that idea, though, and ended up with 372 = 8*50 - 100/(9 - 5) - 3 -- this time with the signs correct.

Sam had been sending out "I solved this ages ago" vibes, which did not fit with that solution.  So I took a mental step back and saw the reasonably straightforward 372 = 3*100 + 9*8, although I did not quite finish getting it down in time.

Jeremy is two away with 374; I'm guessing this was 350 + 3*8, but there's a few ways to that 350, including tweaking with the 3.  But Sam, as guessed, has found the second of those solutions that I listed above.  This is also Lily's method.

That puts Sam ahead by 17 points, which is dangerous ground for Jeremy.  Now he absolutely needs to outdo Sam in one of the next two rounds to have a chance.

Sam: 372
Jeremy: 374
Me: 372
Lily: 372

Scores: Sam 31 (44), Jeremy 14 (27), me 32

Second break: NOTE QUIT ("The end result of division")

I could not solve this until the clue, at which point it became obvious: QUOTIENT.

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

Sam comments that he wants to avoid a full monty, and that is a reasonable concern.  He is unlikely to be pipped on the numbers, so as long as there is not a full monty he should be ahead at the conundrum, if not uncatchable.  Of course, a full monty would be fine if he found it...

That concern may have been why he hesitated so long before calling the last two letters; there's a lot of full monty potential there.  In fact, a final A, E, G, M, N, R, or W will do the job, although I had only noted the E possibility.  (Those full monties will be revealed in a few paragraphs, for those who want to think about this now.)

Anyway, I had IONS, CASINO, CASINOS, ACTIONS, and SUCTIONS.  After time I noted TOUCANS as another seven that I liked.

Sam has spotted a dodgy nine, but is sticking with a safe eight.  Jeremy has also found an eight, but for once it is not the same word; Jeremy has CAUTIONS while Sam has AUCTIONS.  David mentions SUCTIONS as the other eight, and that does seem to be all of them.

Sam's dodgy nine was SANCTIOUS, and he was right to avoid it.  The final letters leading to possible full monties were A (CASSATION: "annulment; cancellation; reversal"; it is also a type of music, strangely enough), E (CESSATION / CANOEISTS), G (AGNOSTICS), M (MONASTICS), N (SANCTIONS / CANONISTS), R (CROISSANT), and W (WAINSCOTS).


Scores: Sam 39 (52), Jeremy 22 (35), me 40

Round 8: Target 928 from 25 75 3 1 4 6

Jeremy needs to outpoint Sam on this round to have a chance; he sticks with the family mix, though, and that feels like giving up to me.  Time for six small or perhaps three of each, I'd say.

The target was big, and temptingly near 25*75/2, but I could not quite get that approach to work.  Turn the 4 into a 2 and it would, though.  The standard method suggests reaching the target as 925 + 3, but while I was getting close with 3*4*75 I spotted a different tweak and found the solution 928 = 4*(3*75 + 6 + 1).

After time I noted that the target was 1000 - 72, and wondered if that was exploitable.  Another tweak got that idea to work, with 928 = 4*(3*(75 - 6) + 25).

Jeremy is one away with 929; I'll take a guess that this was 929 = 6*(3 - 1)*75 + 25 + 4.  But Sam smiles at last when he reveals that he has found a solution; it turns out to be the standard method, tweaked, that I had been working toward before I got sidetracked: 928 = (4*75 + 1)*3 + 25.  That guarantees him the win, which is always good to have locked up before the conundrum.

Lily has used the first of the solutions that I listed as her approach.

Sam: 928
Jeremy: 929
Me; 928
Lily: 928

Scores: Sam 49 (62), Jeremy 22 (35), me 50


Down to the conundrum, and while Sam is safe against Jeremy, my invalid answers mean that I've only got a single point of advantage.  Better than being behind, but I'd imagine that I need to solve this conundrum first.  Given Sam's previous efforts on finals conundrums, I'm not that optimistic about my chances.

I looked at -ULATE moderately early on; that was not the correct ending, but when I considered what letters I had left over to go at the start the answer was a small modification away.  I was relieved to solve this one first!

The rest of the time ticked away without either solving it, and from Sam's wince he solved it approximately one second after time ran out.  Ouch.

Sam: [no answer]
Jeremy: [no answer]
Me: PERPETUAL (6.5s)

Final scores: Sam 49 (62), Jeremy 22 (35), me 60

Jeremy played well, but was unable to win any round.  He might have still had a chance at the conundrum but his "safe" numbers selections proved to be a bit more challenging than he would have liked.  Sam did well on the numbers, as he has done throughout, and deservedly gets through to the next round.  That said, his performance with the words was a bit below his best today; first game nerves after the break from the game?  Hopefully he will be in better form for his match against the winner of Friday's quarterfinal (Naween Fernando vs. Jacob Davey).

Tomorrow's quarterfinal is a repeat of the series two grand final, pitching champion Tony Loui against runner-up Matthew Thomason.  That suggests that some kind of seeding system was used after all; fair enough, but it feels a little disappointing that one of those two will not get to play someone new.


Mark said...

Congratulations Sam.

My answers:
850 = (6+6)*75 - 50
372 = 3*100 + 9*8
927 = (6+4-1)*(25+75+3)

Sam Gaffney said...

Thanks Geoff & Mark, and some good answers.

I wasn't entirely surprsied that Jeremy and I had the same answers on 3.5 words, I often found that he thought along similar lines to me when I watched his episodes.

I can't complain about the result, but I was close to doing better with letters on a few rounds here, hence the continual obnoxious looks of frustration.

1. I actually found DECLAIMS well within time, but thought "that's not a word". Afterwards, Richard was explaining to me what it means (though I always forget the definition). It made me think that he often knows a bit more than he lets on while playing the role of genial innocuous host!

2. I got TROUBLE a little bit after time here.

3. I was never going to get 849 in thirty seconds, neither solution was part of my toolbox. I think Toby Baldwin got Lily's solution in the audience before she did, she then taunted me by saying that she would have thought I'd solve that one. My fancy division answer from Ep398 was a well-rehearsed technique, however - I can't think of anything more risky than experimenting with new ways of multiplying into the thousands under pressure, you are likely to come up with nothing at the end of your thirty seconds.

4. I didn't think there was an eight here.

5. I don't remember CHROMATE being a big part of my lexicon at the time, I doubt that I was close to getting this.

6. I think Jeremy was going for 3*124, from what he said afterwards.

7. I cringed after watching myself ask Lily for no full monty, it sounded dreadfully unsporting. One of my prepared words nearly came up here, with CANOEIST+S, but the U came up rather than an E. Last night I wondered if SOUCIANTS could be a word, but you can't drop the prefix from INSOUCIANT, or pluralise it.

8. This is my second-favourite solve of episodes I played in (that have aired). It was still "game on" at this point, but I got a nice intermediate tweak in there and finished relatively early.

9. Good read, Geoff: I spotted and said "PERPETUAL" about two seconds before it was revealed. One of the cameramen suggested that this might make it to air, but alas, it did not.

Mark said...

Your "no full monty" comment didn't seem at all unsporting to me, Sam.

On another topic, how do you think you would go against Andrew?

Geoff Bailey said...

Some good answers from you, Mark -- particularly MEDICALS and AUCTIONS. I would certainly have preferred to declare one of AUCTIONS / CAUTIONS, but I simply did not see them. I think I have a bit of a blind spot with the AU vowel pair.

Sam: I didn't take those looks of frustration as obnoxious (and apologies if my post made it seem so); it was clear that you could sense that the better options were out there, and I was reacting the same way at home myself. *chuckles*

I hadn't realised that you'd found DECLAIMS within time -- ouch. Like EXCLAIM and PROCLAIM, to DECLAIM is to speak in a certain fashion (particularly appropriate to theatre). I wish I had seen it within time!

I totally agree about the riskiness of round 3, although I will note that the second solution is a modification of the approach that you have practiced so much: The target is 3*283, which is 6*283/2... so rather than dividing by 25 you divide by 50. It's a pretty big modification, though, and no wonder at all that it was not found within time. At least you got the signs right!

I agree with Mark -- it did not come across as unsporting to me, just sound play. Things could have still gone Jeremy's way even without a full monty.

Sam Gaffney said...

Hi Mark,

With respect to Andrew (most of the following applies to Naween as well), he would have trounced me on the letter mixes in the Series #1 Grand Final. In a game like that, if I wasn't able to pick up points on the numbers or conundrum, he could seriously embarrass me. Conversely, I would expect to win some games where he declared invalid Scrabble words, as he did in his Series #1 quarter-final.

If I played Andrew a hundred times, I don't know that I would win more conundrums or overall games than him (my feeling going into the Masters was that I wouldn't), but I like to think I'd get at least a respectable percentage of both.

The numbers rounds would be key - I think that he and Jeremy may have been out-of-practice going into the Masters, and didn't have enough weeks of notice to get back to their usual standard. The Series #4 finals were recorded just a fortnight before the Masters, so Toby and I were already more-or-less battle-ready; we also had the advantage of being unknown quantities, as we had not had any of our episodes televised yet.

Side notes that I forgot to mention in my earlier comment:

* My L&N experience was much shorter than TV might suggest, I had just three months between seeing the Brisbane audition notice and recording my last Masters episode. This gave me a healthy amount of time to practise and learn words, but not an eternity.

* I am not sure why I was asked if I had been recognised on the street after winning Series #4, L&N should have known that none of my episodes had been on TV yet. I didn't know what to answer at first, so what went to air was a second take.

* Sharp-eyed viewers may notice that I am not wearing my wedding band in the Masters Series, this was due to me forgetting to put it back on after showering in Brisbane, rather than any marital deterioration in the fortnight after the Series #4 finals were shot.

Mark said...

Thanks for your comments, Sam.

Mike Backhouse said...

Watched this repeat last night. My only real achievement was getting DECLAIMS in round one. Interesting insights from Sam.