Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Ep 12: Stephen Farrelly, Sudesh Piyatissa (July 24, 2012; originally aired August 17, 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.

Tonight Richard reveals that Stephen plays competitive lawn bowls.  Stephen notes that he has been doing so for twenty-five years; he took it up after his AFL days.  Richard asks what it is that appeals to him about the game, and Stephen responds that part of it is the way that the ball curves -- there are no straight lines.

Challenging Stephen is Sudesh Piyatissa, who is in his final year of studying medicine.  Sudesh would like to star in a comedy, but if that does not work out he will return to his fallback position of being a neurosurgeon.  His acting experience so far appears to be playing a superhero (with the power to see into the future) in a play for the Melbourne University Sri Lankan Students' Association.

Stephen got off to an unfortunate start with an invalid word, and Sudesh found good results in the next two rounds to take a twenty-three point lead at the first break.  Stephen managed to get ground back in the remaining letters rounds, and was ten points behind at the final numbers game.  His declared solution would have tied things up at the conundrum, but a careless error from him cost that chance and guaranteed Sudesh the win.  Both contestants buzzed in at approximately the same time, with Sudesh just being a fraction faster.  His answer was incorrect and so Stephen got the consolation prize of solving the conundrum, but Sudesh took the win 37 to 30.

I started out a little uncertain, but managed to find good answers just within time on the first three rounds.  Thereafter I settled down and cruised through the rest of the game, culminating in a reasonably fast solution to the conundrum and a very satisfactory optimal game.

Round 1: T O S E I G D R L

Pretty good letters to start, although I've kind of developed a dislike for L's in this game; for whatever reason I often struggle to use them effectively.  Or maybe I'm just becoming a bit superstitious. *chuckles*

I had TOES, DIGEST, GOITRES, wondered about GODLIEST (it turns out to be acceptable), STEROID, and STODGIER.  After time I saw the possible anagram of GRODIEST, but that is a bit too colloquial even for the Macquarie.

Sudesh has found SLIDER for six, but it gets the points when Stephen's seven of GRISTED is invalid.  David has gone with STODGIER as his choice.

STODGIER and GODLIEST seem to be the only eights; there are a lot of sevens, and I'll only list a scattering of the common ones: SOLDIER, GLIDERS / GIRDLES, EDITORS, LOITERS, and GLORIES.

Stephen: [invalid]
Sudesh: SLIDER

Scores: Stephen 0, Sudesh 0 (6), me 8

Round 2: N R O V E A D S U

I had OVER, wondered about ANDOVERS (I'm not sure why; I think I was confusing it with ANDIRONS somehow; it's not valid, anyway), AROUSED, RESOUND, and then somehow that led me to RONDEAUS (one plural of RONDEAU -- the other being RONDEAUX -- which is a type of poem) for eight, helped by David having found it in episode 405.  After time I noted SAVOURED as another eight.

Stephen has DROVES for six, but Sudesh has found AROUSED for seven to take the points and an early thirteen point lead.  David has found RAVENOUS for eight.

That's all the eights; the sevens are DEVOURS, SAVORED (variant spelling of SAVOURED), VENDORS, NERVOUS, RONDEAU, ASUNDER / DANSEUR ("a male ballet dancer"), and SOUNDER / UNDOERS / ENDUROS (ENDURO: "a long-distance race for off-road motorcyclists or for mountain-bike riders").  Despite the experience of anyone who has had a word processor crash on them, UNSAVED is not listed.

Stephen: DROVES

Scores: Stephen 0, Sudesh 0 (13), me 16

Round 3: Target 753 from 100 75 25 50 6 1

Stephen departs from his usual policy and selects four large numbers.  I got a little hung up on the possibility of 3*251, and was not able to make it work.  With time running out, I decided to settle for getting close, and fortunately stumbled upon a solution: 753 = 6*(75 + 50) + 100/25 - 1.  Phew!  (A minor point of technique here: With four large, it is usually better to make 125 via 75 + 50 instead of 100 + 25, since the former leaves the possibility of 100/25 open.  That came in useful here.)

After time I saw the much simpler 753 = (6 + 1)*100 + 50 + 75/25.

Stephen is two away with 751 -- perhaps 6*100 + 75 + 25 + 50 + 1, but there are many other options.  But Sudesh has solved it using the second solution I listed above, which is also implied to be Lily's solution.  That gives him a commanding lead of twenty-three points, and Stephen has a lot of work to do to recover from that.

There are only two other solutions: 753 = (6 - 1)*(100 + 50) + 75/25 and 753 = 6*100 + (75/25)*(50 + 1).

Stephen: 751
Sudesh: 753
Me: 753
Lily: 753

Scores: Stephen 0, Sudesh 10 (23), me 26

First break: VINE ROOM ("Not a fussy eater")

Someone who eats anything is an OMNIVORE.

Round 4: C P T E O F X E A

I had POET, EXPECT / EXCEPT, and TOECAP / CAPOTE ("a long cloak with a hood").  After time I added ECOTAX ("a tax levied against companies, organisations, or individuals who cause pollution [...]").

Sudesh has EXACT for five, but Stephen makes a small comeback by finding EXCEPT for six.  David has gone with EXPECT and ECOTAX for his sixes.

The other six is FACETE ("facetious").

Stephen: EXCEPT
Sudesh: EXACT

Scores: Stephen 6, Sudesh 10 (23), me 32

Round 5: T I S H O D R E N


Sudesh has SHORED for six, but Stephen has outdone him again with SHORTEN for seven.  David mentions that SHORTEN has anagrams of THRONES and HORNETS, but has gone one better with HEDONIST for eight.

Those seven points get Stephen back within ten points, which is a good result after that start.

The other eight is HORNIEST.  There are a lot of sevens, as is to be expected from such letters.

Stephen: SHORTEN
Sudesh: SHORED

Scores: Stephen 6 (13), Sudesh 10 (23), me 40

Round 6: Target 680 from 75 50 1 6 8 9

The target is very near 675, and the offset is manageable.  I soon had 680 = 9*75 + 6 - 1; then I decided to use the factor of 8 to get the alternative solution 680 = 8*(75 + 9 + 1).

Stephen is fairly far away with 653, and I have to assume that he has made an error in arithmetic as there's no really plausible way to get that while aiming for 680.  Sudesh is two away with 678 = (8 + 1)*75 + (9 - 6); if he had used the 9 instead of 8 + 1 he presumably would have found the solution.  Lily demonstrates the first of the solutions that I listed.

Stephen: [not in range]
Sudesh: 678
Me: 680
Lily: 680

Scores: Stephen 6 (13), Sudesh 10 (30), me 50

Second break: MICE TANG ("A strong attractive power or charm")

From the words I thought this was ENIGMATIC at first, but that uses the I twice.  It was not too hard to adjust it to MAGNETIC.

Round 7: B A A L E G C N A

I had ABLE, GABLE, and BALANCE.  The triplicated A does make this a difficult mix to work with.

Sudesh has CABLE for five, but Stephen completes a good comeback in the letters by finding BALANCE for seven to get the difference back to ten points again.  David had found BALANCE also, and notes CABANA as a six.

The other sixes are BANGLE, GLANCE, CABALA (variant spelling of KABBALAH: "(among certain Jewish rabbies and medieval Christians) a system of esoteric philosophy, based on a mystical interpretation of the Scriptures"), ANLACE ("a medieval dagger or short sword, worn in front of the person"), and GALENA (a mineral that is the chief source of lead) / ANLAGE (another term for the PRIMORDIUM: "the first recognisable, histologically undifferentiated stage in the development of an organ").

Stephen: BALANCE
Sudesh: CABLE

Scores: Stephen 13 (20), Sudesh 10 (30), me 57

Round 8: Target 652 from 75 50 9 8 6 1

The standard method works handily, and I found 652 = 8*75 + 50 + 9 - 6 - 1.  After time I found the tweaked descent from above: 652 = 9*(75 - 1) - 8 - 6.

(Some of you will have noted that this is the same set of numbers as from the previous round, and that two of those small numbers came from the first round, too.  Annoyingly much overlap there.)

Sudesh declares one away while Stephen declares that he has a solution.  That would tie the scores up going into the conundrum, but his answer of 8*75 + 50 + 8 - 6 has used the 8 twice and his solution is invalid.  A very careless error costs him the game, as Sudesh has made no mistake with 651 = 75*8 + 50 + 1.

Lily demonstrates the modification to Stephen's attempt that is my first solution.

Stephen: [invalid]
Sudesh: 651
Me: 652
Lily: 652

Scores: Stephen 13 (20), Sudesh 10 (37), me 67


I started by checking the -ING fragment, but was soon convinced that there were too many vowels for that.  Then I spotted the reorganisation of the start that yielded the solution, to round out a good game.

Both contestants buzz in just shy of the seventeen second mark, Stephen quite noticeably whereas Sudesh has had his hand resting above the button and does a simple quiet press that gets his there first.  His guess of HARBOURING was not correct, though, and Stephen gets the remaining time.  He takes another second to double check his answer, then buzzes in with the solution.

Stephen: NEIGHBOUR (17.5s)
Sudesh: [invalid] (16.5s)

Final scores: Stephen 13 (30), Sudesh 10 (37), me 77

This was Stephen's best game, finding a couple of seven-letter words with BALANCE being a good find.  But his invalid answers cost him dearly, as did his general difficulty with the numbers.  Sudesh had the good find of AROUSED in the second round, but it was his numbers rounds that made the biggest difference.  He needs a little work on those final adjustments, though -- he could easily have solved all three of them with a touch more care.

I was pleased to have matched David and Lily, and even more to find out that I had achieved an optimal game.  I've been close to that several times this series, sometimes frustratingly so.


Jan said...

Hi Geoff,

Thanks for your nitpicking on the last game. In my book I did write down 7 instead of 10, but mucked it up writing it down here. Maybe commenting here in the early hours of the morning, when I can't sleep, isn't such a good idea. Hopefully now I will do it error free!

I missed out on a number of good answers - found some a couple of seconds too late, but would still have had a win against Stephen and Sudesh

100+(6-1)=700+50+ 75/25=753 (10)
FACET (0) I will have to remember facete
9*75=675 +6-1= 680 (10)
Stuffed it up - wrote it down wrong
And didn't get the conundrum

I have decided to write down 0 if I don't get as good as one of the players, so it's easier for me to work out my score.

Sam Gaffney said...

My answers:

753 = 6*(75+50)+100/25-1;(6-1)*(100+50)+75/25;(6+1)*100+50+75/25 (wrote all three)
680 = 8*(75 + 9 + 1)
652 = 8*75 + 50 + 9 - 6 - 1
Several minutes!

Sam Gaffney said...

Stephen must have been kicking himself about Round 8.

Geoff Bailey said...

I have to agree, Sam, or if he wasn't then he should have been. That re-use of the 8 with 9 and 1 still available was a serious oversight. Even just sticking with the 651 that Sudesh found would have taken the game to a tiebreaker conundrum.

On the other hand, a valid seven on the first round would have won him the game outright. If only he had seen your GRISTLE there! It's a nice word, and a good game from you.

Another good result from you, too, Jan -- I like VENDORS, HINDERS, and BANGLE in particular.

Victor said...

Well done on a perfect game Geoff!

My answers:
753 = (6 + 1)*100 + 75/25
680 = 9*75 + 6 - 1
652 = 8*75 + 50 + 9 - 6 - 1

JT said...

I suspect SBS were on a tight schedule as the same numbers came up for the last two number games. Watching the video shows that Lily picked the numbers from the same area. I can't be sure of this as I've never been on the show maybe you Geoff or Sam may have a better idea how the if any number shuffling happened

My Answers

753-Same as Jan
680-again same as Jan plus Geoff
This was interesting I'd found the answer when Sudesh buzzed but I would of beaten by Stephen if he got there first offically at 17s

Geoff Bailey said...

Thanks, Victor -- it looks like you had a pretty fine game yourself!

JT: After the numbers game the used values and the container are removed for the next segment. Some stage hand or somesuch puts the numbers back into the container. Then at the next numbers round Lily selects from the container as usual.

What happens, of course, is that the used numbers are typically put right back into the empty slots. The numbers may not end up exactly where they started, but the set of numbers does (if you see what I mean).

Lily, being human, is a rather poor random number generator and has patterns in the way that she selects numbers from the container. Consequently, she often chooses numbers from the same spots, which means that she may end up with exactly the same numbers again if the mix is the same. That is what happened here, and on many other occasions.

This is the sort of thing that a stage hand would ideally take care of behind the scenes -- rearranging numbers randomly without Lily's knowledge. Then it does not matter that she chooses from the same spots.

Of course, that means that the stage hand's lack of randomness becomes an issue, but it would do so in ways that were less apparent and did lead to more variety in the numbers rounds.