Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Countdown series 64 episode 1: Mike Pickering, Karen Conduit (July 30, 2012; originally aired January 10, 2011)

I'm not sure if I'll keep this up -- there is already a perfectly good set of recaps for Countdown episodes over at c4countdown -- but for anyone who feels like comparing, here are my results.  I'll be taking a much more bare-bones approach to Countdown recaps than I have to the Letters and Numbers ones; it honestly does not inspire me as much.

This episode is the first of series 64, from the begining of 2011.  That's the fifth series of Jeff Stelling's run as host; I've found him the most watchable of the four hosts that the show has had since Richard Whiteley's death in 2005, but all that turnover has had its effects, with new presenters taking a while to develop that rapport with the rest of the cast which makes the show go much more enjoyably.  Jeff was replaced by Nick Hewer at the start of 2012; who knows how long Nick will last?  Of course, that's 220 episodes away, and with all respect to Countdown, I hope that SBS brings back Letters and Numbers before then.

Scoring poses a bit of a problem here, as different words are accepted.  I'm probably going to end up with some Frankenstein mishmash of scoring, which is further reason why I'm not going into too much detail here.  Words that I mention will be in the Macquarie unless otherwise noted, and may not necessarily be legal in Countdown.

The standard abbreviations in use below are DC for "Dictionary Corner", the two people who perform the same role as David does, and RR for "Rachel Riley", who has the equivalent function to Lily.  Today's contestants are Mike Pickering and Karen Conduit.

The c4countdown recap for this episode is here.

Round 1: G A E U J N D O S

I had AGUE, JUDGE, JUDGES, DOSAGE, and SONDAGE ("a deep, narrow trench, showing the stratigraphy of a site").  This latter is not valid in Countdown, where I would have had to stay with DOSAGE or JUDGES.

The other seven here is AUGENDS (AUGEND: "a number to which another number, the addend, is added").

Karen: SOUND

Scores: Mick 0 (6), Karen 0, me 7

Round 2: I D T S E O R V T

I had DITS (I was thinking of Morse code, but apparently DIT is a nautical colloquialism for "a yarn or story"), TIDES, EDITORS / STEROID, and decided to chance DIVESTOR, but without success.  There's lots of other sevens to be had here.

Mick: [invalid: ROTTERS]
Me: [invalid: DIVESTOR]

Scores: Mick 0 (6), Karen 6, me 7

Round 3: I L F O N L E I T

I had FOIL, LION, thought that Firefly fans might note FILLION, FELON, TEFLON, and LENTIL.

The seven here is TINFOIL, and OLEFIN is a six that pops up often enough (in the plural) on this show.

Karen: INLET

Scores: Mick 6 (12), Karen 6, me 13

Round 4: C A I A Y T L L P

I had CITY, LAITY, CAPITAL, and CAPITALLY.  An unexpected result from those letters!

Dictionary corner was only able to manage TYPICAL for seven, which is particularly odd as ATYPICAL is a trivial modification away.  The other eight is APICALLY, the adverb derived from APICAL ("of, at, or forming the apex").

Karen: PLAIT

Scores: Mick 6 (17), Karen 6 (11), me 31

Round 5: Target 105 from 50 7 4 5 8 8

My first solution used the factorisation considerably: 105 = 5*7*(4 - 8/8).  Then I wrote down the more standard 105 = 8*50/4 + 5, which is used by both contestants.

Mick: 105
Karen: 105
Me: 105

Scores: Mick 16 (27), Karen 16 (21), me 41

First break: BAD BIRTH ("It's where the chicks might go for a dip")

Fairly straightforward to find BIRDBATH from that clue.

Round 6: O A B T X U R N T

I had BOAT, ABOUT, TURBOT, and TURBAN.  I kept getting distracted by the not-quite-there TURNABOUT.

Mick optimistically tries OUTRANT for seven, but sixes seem to be the best on offer.  DC finds BUTTON, and Karen has OUTRAN, and the others are TRUANT, TABOUR, BURTON ("any of various kinds of tackle used for setting up rigging, raising sails, etc."), RUBATO ("the technique of varying the tempo within a bar of music without either lengthening or shortening the bar"), and ATTORN ("to acknowledge the relation of tenant to a new landlord").

Mick: [invalid: OUTRANT]

Scores: Mick 16 (27), Karen 22 (27), me 47

Round 7: M W R E A U G R I

I had WARM, WAGER, GAMIER, and WARMER.  The seven that I missed is ARMIGER ("a person entitled to armorial bearings").


Scores: Mick 22 (33), Karen 28 (33), me 53

Round 8: S N T E E R D O N

I had SENT, TENSE, RESENT, STONED, wrote down TENSORED which is valid in mathematics but I already know the Macquarie does not allow it, TENDONS, and DENOTERS.  I wasn't sure about that latter but decided to try it as it felt like a mix which should have an eight.  But DENOTERS is not valid; I made this same error back in episode 194, in fact.

The single valid eight, found by DC, is SONNETED.  (They would also allow ENDNOTES, but the Macquarie lists that as two words: END NOTES.)

Karen: [invalid: TONERS, declared as seven]
Me: [invalid: DENOTERS]

Scores: Mick 29 (40), Karen 28 (33), me 53

Round 9: D I M E O T S R A

I had DIME, TIMED, MODEST, STEROID, ASTEROID, READMITS, ATOMISED, and ATOMISER.  After time I saw MORTISED as another eight (that would not be allowed on Countdown; they do not allow American spellings if there is a different British one).

In all those eights I missed the two very findable nines: MEDIATORS and AMORTISED.  Very careless of me!  The other eights are AMORTISE and MEDIATOR -- I missed the only two that extended obviously to a nine.  Heh.


Scores: Mick 29 (47), Karen 28 (40), me 61

Round 10: Target 195 from 75 5 3 4 1 5

I started in complicated fashion with 195 = 3*(75 - 5 - 5), then added what felt like a simpler 195 = 3*75 - 5*(5 + 1).  Mick has opted for the first of these, while Karen has nothing to declare.

Mick: 195
Karen: [no answer]
Me: 195

Scores: Mick 39 (57), Karen 28 (40), me 71

Second break: TWIN DOME ("The feathers and the watch were both not working")

Clearly they were having some DOWNTIME.

Round 11: E E A Q D P E H C

I had DEEP, HEAPED, CHEEPED, and (as a joke -- it is not valid, of course) DEPECHE.  The other seven is PEACHED (PEACH as a verb being a British colloquialism: "to inform against an accomplice or associate").


Scores: Mick 46 (64), Karen 35 (47), me 78

Round 12: R N E B F O E S O

I had FERN, BORNE, and BEFORE.  I would have liked to be able to claim FOREBONES, but it's not a word.  The seven (found by DC) is ENROBES.

Mick: [invalid: FORESEEN]
Karen: SOBER

Scores: Mick 46 (64), Karen 35 (52), me 84

Round 13: A S E A P L R H O

I had ASEA (but it's not valid), PEAS / APES, PLEAS, SPHERAL, and PAROLES.

Other sevens are PARASOL, PHRASAL, REPOSAL, and EARLAPS (EARLAP: "the lobe of the ear", amongst other similar meanings).  But there is an eight: PSORALEA, which is a plant.


Scores: Mick 46 (70), Karen 35 (58), me 91

Round 14: Target 985 from 50 7 9 3 1 4

I was only able to get two away within time, with 983 = (9 + 7 + 4)*(50 - 1) + 3.  After time I was able to improve that to one away with 986 = 7*(3*50 - 9) - 1.  It turns out this is the best one can do -- the target is unreachable.

Mick is the closest with 987 = (7*3 - 1)*50 - 9 - 4, and guarantees his win.

Mick: 987
Karen: 991
Me: 983

Scores: Mick 53 (77), Karen 35 (58), me 98

Round 15: A E R O S M E T H

Heh, they do like to have fun with the conundrum on Countdown.  It looked ripe for a compound word, and I saw the SHORE/HORSE and MATE/TEAM split but could not make anything of it.  Neither could the contestants, and at the last moment I "tried" a guess of HORSETEAM... but was chagrinned to find out the actual answer was HORSEMEAT.  So close!

Mick: [no answer]
Karen: [no answer]
Me: [invalid: HORSETEAM]

Final scores: Mick 53 (77), Karen 35 (58), me 98


Sam Gaffney said...

Hi Geoff, I wasn't able to catch this episode, so I just scrolled through this blog post casually. I must tip my hat to you on CAPITALLY, my full monty sense was tingling, but I didn't get close. It can be surprisingly difficult to see the letters presented in a new format (your blog, in this case). I did, however, manage to get AMORTISED in a split second, as it is a high-probability nine I've tried to learn before.

I got 987 = (7*3-1)*50-9-4, that was a toughie. Didn't crack the conundrum, either.

I might try playing these properly and just skipping to the playing rounds each episode, I don't know. I can't quite justify spending too much time or mental energy on Countdown on top of the daily L&N repeats, without any firm prospect of Masters of the Universe.

Jan said...

Sam - they should have at least an Ashes test between us and the Brits. I guess the problem would be the dictionary.

Geoff Bailey said...

Yeah, I understand it being hard to get enthused over Countdown. I was playing this from the website version, but ran into the usual stuttering video problems. *sighs*

One positive aspect of Countdown is that the letter distributions are much more interesting; the drawback is that this results in very difficult mixes much more often. And, of course, the proportion of numbers games is too small.

Nice work with AMORTISED -- I agree, a very high probability nine, but I've missed my fair share of those. *rueful smile*

Jan: Yes, the dictionary is a big issue. The top Countdown players (or at least those from the apterous.org circuit) have been honing their word knowledge against the show's dictionary for a few years now.

One could possible try to solve this by alternating formats, but that does not take into account the higher variance of L&N. It's difficult!

Sam Gaffney said...

To be pedantic, AMORTISED would be even more likely to appear in L&N, as Countdown has many more instances of letters repeated in a set. Has L&N ever featured a round with a consonant appearing more than twice?