Sunday, 22 July 2012

Ep 10: Aaron Tyrrell, Stephen Farrelly (July 20, 2012; originally aired August 13, 2010)

Rounds: Here.

Disclaimer: While I have not seen this episode before, I did play through the blue book (episodes 1 to 50) around ten months ago when I was scheduled to be a contestant on the show.  Additionally, I did a quick flick through it a few months back to collect words for my posts about word validity.

Richard reveals that Aaron's first paying job was a column called "Grumpy Old Git".  Aaron explains that he was very excited to see that a writing job was up for grabs; he sent in an opinion piece as requested, and they responded that he would be great for the Grumpy Old Git column.  He was twenty-three at the time.

Challenging Aaron tonight is Stephen Farrelly, a management consultant who has also spent three years as a secondary school teacher.  Stephen is currently writing a comic screenplay set within the education department.  It is about an inept deputy vice principal who keeps getting promoted instead of demoted or sidelined.

Stephen got off to a good start with a best answer, then conceded most of that ground right back to Aaron when his next word was invalid.  Neither scored in the numbers round -- in fact, only one valid scoring total was declared all game, in part due to an error from each player -- and then points were swapped over the course of the rest of the letters rounds.  Stephen managed to get eight points ahead thanks to the numbers, but it was still anybody's game at the conundrum.  The conundrum proved too difficult for them both and Stephen scraped through with a 26 to 18 victory.

I did quite well to start with, including solving a numbers round that eluded Lily within time.  Sadly I dropped below optimal in the second very tough numbers round, but the chance to beat David and Lily was still there as Lily had also been stumped by it.  Alas, the conundrum was too hard for me and so I missed out on that chance.  Still, it was a decent game, conundrum aside, and another comfortable win.

Round 1: T N O D H I A B S

I had DOTH, OBTAIN, OBTAINS, and rejected BANDITOS -- I've checked it up before when it has been allowed in Countdown episodes, but the Macquarie does not allow it.  After time I wrote down BANDITS as another seven.

Aaron starts out a bit nervously with BASH for four, and Stephen takes the points with BANDITS for seven.  David could not better it, and has gone with BASTION as his seven.  (That's a word I need to internalise more -- it's an anagram of OBTAINS, of course, but extendable where OBTAINS is not.)

The other sevens are ABSINTH (variant spelling of ABSINTHE) and ISOBATH ("a line drawn on a chart of the oceans, connecting all points having the same depth").

Aaron: BASH
Stephen: BANDITS

Scores: Aaron 0, Stephen 7, me 7

Round 2: T U M E D R S I E

I had MUTE, MUTED, MUSTER, MUSTERED, and (helped along by episode 8) DEMISTER / DEMERITS.  After time I checked up on DEMUREST, which turned out to be listed (due to the notional spelling shift).

Aaron has STRIDE for six -- it sounds a bit like STRIVE at one point, which is why he is asked to spell it out -- while Stephen declares MURDERS for seven... but he has duplicated the S, and so it is invalid.  David has chosen MUSTERED as his eight, surprisingly not mentioning the recent DEMISTER appearance (which Aaron was present for, so should perhaps have found this time).

The other eights are DIMETERS and EMERITUS.

Stephen: [invalid]

Scores: Aaron 0 (6), Stephen 7, me 15

Round 3: Target 538 from 25 75 7 6 1 3

The target is pretty near 7*75, so it is hard to look past that as a starting point.  The difference is 13, and there's quite a few ways to get that but I started out with a simple tweak to get 538 = 7*(75 + 1) + 6.  It can also be formed as 25 - 12, so I also wrote down 538 = 7*75 + 25 - 6*(3 - 1).

Just now I have seen an alternative of 538 = 7*75 + (25 + 1)/(6/3).

Stephen is outside the scoring range with 554; I have to guess that he descended from 600 with 554 = 6*(75 + 25 - 7) - 3 - 1, but if so then he missed a chance to get only one off the target by pushing the 3 inside the brackets.  Aaron declares that he has reached the target, but his answer of 7*75 + 6 + 1 + 3 is only 535, not 538.  A simple slip from him, and neither contestant scores this round.

Lily has surprisingly been stumped by this one; after the break she comes back with the solution 538 = (75 + 6)*7 - 25 - 3 - 1.

Aaron: [invalid]
Stephen: [not in range]
Me: 538

Scores: Aaron 0 (6), Stephen 7, me 25

First break: LURE DUCT ("People who enjoy the arts have this in common with yoghurt")

Unusually, Richard gives the clue before stating the words; the intended answer to the clue is that both are CULTURED.

David's talk is about superstition, since this show was originally aired on Friday the thirteenth.  More precisely, he talks about why breaking a mirror is supposed to bring seven years of bad luck.

Round 4: O E O G Y R W A R

Too many vowels and a duplicated R make this a tough mix.  I had OGRE / GORE / ERGO, WAGER, and GROWER / REGROW.

Stephen has WORRY for five, but Aaron has found GROWER for six to take the lead.  David has also found GROWER, but additionally the lovely word ARROYO ("a creek or stream"; also "a steep-sided gully or channel").  That's a great find!

The other sixes are ARROWY / YARROW (also called MILFOIL, it is a herbaceous plant) and the American spelling GRAYER.

Stephen: WORRY

Scores: Aaron 6 (12), Stephen 7, me 31

Round 5: I N F O A E R Z N

That Z is not a promising sign; I had INFO, FANE, and INFERNO.  After time I wrote down a couple of sixes that I had seen along the way: FROZEN and FANION ("a small flag used to mark surveying stations").

Aaron has FORE for four (he makes a joke about the homophonic nature of that) but Stephen retakes the lead with FROZEN for six.  David has found INFERNO for seven.

The other seven is FANZINE ("a cheaply produced magazine written for and by members of a specific interest group and distributed outside mainstream commercial outlets").  The other sixes are ZANIER, FANNER, and FAINER (comparative of FAIN)

Aaron: FORE
Stephen: FROZEN

Scores: Aaron 6 (12), Stephen 7 (13), me 38

Round 6: Target 367 from 75 50 100 7 2 9

Stephen chooses the balanced mix; that is often challenging and this is certainly such a case.  The offsets from a multiple of 25 are 17 and 8, and neither is very easily manageable from those numbers.  I wrote down a fallback one-away 368 = 7*50 + 2*9, and in the end that was what I had to stay with.

There are a few tempting approaches; one that seemed promising was 9*41 - 2, but getting 41 as 50 - 9 requires using either the 9 or the 2 a second time.  Bother!  Three times the target is near to a multiple of 100, so 1101/3 is worth considering but hard to use.  There is that 9, though, and 3303/9 feels worthy of investigation.  But the closest I could get from that was 50*(75 - 7 - 2)/9, which is 3300/9 = 366.67.  Close, but not useful.

An approach that I considered but could not see a quick use for was 734/2.  After time I revisited that idea and finally realised that 734 was 9 away from a multiple of 25, and a solution followed easily: 367 = (7*100 + 75 - 50 + 9)/2.  That would have been very satisfying to get within time.

Aaron has not been able to make any progress on this one, and Stephen has the same one-away 368 that I did.  Lily has also been stumped by this one, so much so that there is no solution presented after the break.

Computer searching shows that all solutions do involve dividing something by 2, so this is definitely a tough one.  One of those solutions turns out to be the 9*41 - 2 approach that I had tried above, but in unexpected fashion: 367 = 9*(75 + 7)/2 - 100/50.

The only solution that does not need all the numbers is 367 = (7*75 + 9)/2 + 100.

Aaron: [not in range]
Stephen: 368
Me: 368

Scores: Aaron 6 (12), Stephen 14 (20), me 45

Second break: MINI DISH ("To reduce in size")

This is certainly one of the easier word mixes; shunt the DI to the beginning to make DIMINISH.

Round 7: S D N U E O T C F

I had DUNS, DUNES, SOUND, COUNTED, CONFUSED, and CONTUSED.  After time I added CONFUTED and CONFUTES as other eights.

The contestants each have six-letter words: Stephen has SOFTEN while Aaron has STONED.  David has chosen CONFUSED as his eight.

That is all the eights listed; the other sevens are FOCUSED, DEFUNCT, SCOUTED, FONDEST, FONDUES, CONFUTE, CONFUSE, CONTUSE, SNOUTED (SNOUT has an obsolete colloquial verb sense listed of "to rebuff"), and DOCENTS (DOCENT: "a guide, as in a zoo, museum, etc., often a volunteer with some training").

Stephen: SOFTEN

Scores: Aaron 6 (18), Stephen 14 (26), me 53

Round 8: Target 919 from 50 100 75 7 2 6

Stephen sticks with the balanced mix, quite reasonably given the results last time.  The target is somewhat larger, but this time the offset from a multiple of 25 is 6, and we have that.  It's just a question of how to make the 925 from the rest, and there are a few ways.  I went with 919 = (7 + 2)*100 + 75 - 50 - 6, which turns out to be Lily's solution also.  Within time I also wrote down the alternative 919 = 7*(75 + 50) + 100/2 - 6.

Aaron is out of the scoring range and oddly far away with 900, which could surely have been improved.  Stephen declares that he has reached the target, but his answer of (6 + 2)*100 + 75 + 50 - 6 uses the 6 twice and is invalid.

Another solution path is to note that 19 = 2*6 + 7, which allows tweaking with either the 2 or 6.  That could lead to the solution 919 = 6*(100 + 50 + 2) + 7.

Aaron: [out of range]
Stephen: [invalid]
Me: 919
Lily: 919

Scores: Aaron 6 (18), Stephen 14 (26), me 63


There's only eight points of difference so both contestants want to solve this.  I do, too, as I have a chance to outscore the David and Lily combination if I do.  But it's a tough one!  For a moment I thought it was MARMALADE, but I caught that error.  But time ticks by, and none of us can solve it.  It took me some minutes of searching afterwards before I extracted MELODRAMA from those letters.

Aaron: [no answer]
Stephen: [no answer]
Me: [no answer]

Final scores: Aaron 6 (18), Stephen 14 (26), me 63

The numbers rounds proved difficult for the contestants tonight, yielding only seven points all up.  With the contestants rarely able to extract more than six from the letters, it is no surprise that this was a very low scoring game, and in fact had the lowest winning total so far.  Stephen is going to need to watch out for those invalid answers if he hopes to continue on.


Jan said...

Hi there Geoff,

My answers,
MITRED (6) (wrote down mitered but crossed it out. It would have been ok)
6*(3-1)=12. 525+12=537 (7)
YARROW (6) (was really happy with that one)
FINER (5) (crossed out fanned and fainer)
7*50+(9*2)=367 (7)
6*(100+50+2)+7=919 (10)
And like you and the contestants, didn't get the conundrum.

But I had a good win over Stephen, so happy with that.

Mike Backhhouse said...

Have been on holidays so have some eps to catch up on. I need the practice!

(75+1)*7=532+6 =538-went over time
FINER (however wrote down O instead of S somehow, although answer was valid)
(7+2)*100=900+(50-25)-6 =919
Missed MELODRAMA (great word!)

Will be away again, but will catch up on return.

Sam Gaffney said...

I don't know if I'd seen this episode before. I have heard a different explanation about seven years of bad luck for mirror-breaking than David's vignette: that Romans wanted their servants to be careful with their expensive mirrors.

My answers:

538 = (75+1)*7 + 6
368 = 50*7 + 9*2, after time: 367 = (7*100+75-50+9)/2
CONFUSED (started with CONTUSED)
919 = (2+7)*100 + 75-50 - 6

Geoff Bailey said...

Good results all round, and congratulations on solving a really tough conundrum, Sam!

YARROW was a lovely spot, Jan -- I'd have much preferred to declare that than the pedestrian GROWER.

Good to have you back, Mike!

Minor points of pedantry: I assume you meant 368, Jan. Likewise, 75 - 50 for your last numbers round, Mike. And not sure what you mean by O instead of S in that round.

Mike Backhouse said...

Geoff- I wrote down 75 but when I did my calculations, I read it as a 25, and while I got a the right answer, would have been disqualified for the method not being correctly written down (50-25 instead of 75-50). Regarding the O instead of the S, I meant S instead of the O. Have also corrected the misspelling of my surname. More attention to detail!

JT said...

It seems the 4th night wall seems to have started well before probably the most noted 4th night wall....

My answers:
Nowhere near this

Jan said...

Oops - I did mean 368 Geoff, and that is what I had written down. The curse of my finger not hitting the right key!

Victor said...

Hi Geoff, an good game from you, bad luck on not getting the conundrum.

I've noticed in these early episodes that they seem to have gone to Countdown for conundrum ideas. I played a little on which seems to use the more noted conundrums, and I've definitely seen EAVESDROP, GLOBALISE, BOULEVARD, CORRELATE and MELODRAMA on there.

I managed a good game actually, I think the letters rounds were a bit easier than usual today:

DEMERITS (wasn't going to miss it a 2nd time)
538 = 7*(75 + 1) + 6
366 = (7 - 2)*75 - 9
919 = (2*75 + 100/50)*6 + 7

That's a bizarre solution for the last numbers, but one method of attack I always try with 3 large is to divide two of the larges effectively making it 1 large and 4 small, where your odds are reasonable since the leftover large shouldn't usually be 25. Sometimes there's 2 possible divisions you have to try but I've found it doesn't drain too much time. Also it explains my 2nd numbers game a bit. And Lily is pulling out the same damn numbers again!

Geoff Bailey said...

Great game from you, Victor, with the conundrum giving you the win over me. Curses! *chuckles*

The insight into your approach for dealing with the three-and-three mix is very interesting!

(And yes, Lily does choose the same slots a lot -- very understandable, she's only human after all. But it's vexing that they are not more randomized behind the scenes.)

Geoff Bailey said...

And good to hear from you, JT. I like your alternative solution to the 538.