Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Ep 16: Andrew Fisher, Alexis Harley (July 30, 2012; originally aired August 23, 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.

The chat with Andrew mostly just rehashes his performance from yesterday.  Andrew notes that he saw the potential for FUMIGATES prior to the last tile being drawn, but that he saw NAUGHTIER just at "the last minute"... and I know it's an understandable phrase to use, but it grates every time.  In any case, the video suggests that he found it just under halfway through, but for a player of his calibre that could well feel like a very long time.

Tonight's challenger is Alexis Harley, a university lecturer in English literature.  Alexis plays online Scrabble and describes herself as a "bespectacle bagpiping bilbiophile".  Richard picks up on the bagpipe aspect of that and asks for more information.  Alexis explains that she and her mother were sitting outside a recorder lesson -- they were a bit early -- and her mother asked her what instrument she would like to take up when she dropped recorder.  Alexis knew that her mother was thinking flute or violin, or possibly something like saxophone at the worst, so she tried to think of the most obnoxious answer that she could.  He mother was kind enough to take her up on it, as she puts it.

It was a night for Alexis finding six-letter words only to be beaten by Andrew's seven-letter ones; that happened three times and together with the conundrum going Andrew's way proved an insuperable hurdle.  There were a couple of tricky number mixes tonight; they went a bit each way although Andrew did the better, and the net result was his second victory, 63 to 32.

I had a great round in the letters, finding optimal answers that included two words longer than those found by Andrew; one of those also outdid David.  However, I struggled in the numbers, missing a couple of adjustments to reach the target.  One of those I should definitely have found, while the other was deservedly tough.  But Lily was on target with both of them, so I ended up significantly behind the combined total.  Against that, I managed to beat Andrew to the conundrum solution again, much to my surprise.  All things considered, a pretty good game!

Round 1: T M D E A I S P G

I had TAMED, MASTED, IMPASTE ("to cover with or enclose in a paste"), IMPASTED, and STAMPED / DAMPEST.  After time I noted down a couple of other sevens that I'd seen within time: PASTIME and GAMIEST.

It was a good thing for my mental wear-and-tear that a final O was not chosen, as then I would have had to decide if IMPASTOED was valid.  It is not, as it turns out, but I might well have jumped the wrong way on that one.

Alexis has DIGEST for six but Andrew has found MAGPIES for seven.  David has found the only eight of IMPASTED also.

The other sevens are MISDATE, MIDGETS, SIGMATE (as I mentioned in episode 15, this is "having the form of the Greek sigma or the letter S"), and the old favourite AGISTED (also mentioned in episode 15, AGIST is "to take in and feed or pasture (livestock) for payment").

Alexis: DIGEST

Scores: Andrew 0 (7), Alexis 0, me 8

Round 2: N B O C A U R F E

I had BANCO (the Macquarie describes this as "(the call of a player in certain games of chance, such as baccarat, indicating a desire to bet against the bank)"; that's really only appropriate for the chemin-de-fer variant of baccarat, while in the more common punto banco version it would indicate a desire to bet on the bank), CARBON, and FURNACE.  Somewhat after time I added BACONER (a pig suitable for being made into bacon) as another seven.

Both contestants have found BOUNCER for seven; I am a bit bothered at missing that, although to be fair I was looking for eights at that point.  David has also found it, and notes FURNACE as an alternative seven.

The other seven is UNBRACE.


Scores: Andrew 7 (14), Alexis 7, me 15

Round 3: Target 604 from 25 75 7 2 8 10

With 600 being very formable as 8*75, this feels like it should be easy.  But although one away is quite simple in both directions, I failed to get to the target within time.  My fallback one-away answer was 603 = 8*75 + 10 - 7.

After time I found how to get the remaining 4 after all: 604 = 8*75 + (25 - 10 - 7)/2; this turns out to be Lily's eventual solution.  That should have been findable, but the solution I am embarrassed about missing is 604 = 8*75 + 2*7 - 10.  Ouch.

An alternative that I have seen just now (based on 10 - 56 to get the offset of 4 from a multiple of 25) is 604 = 8*(75 - 7) + 10 + 2*25.

Alexis has "done disastrously", which presumably means she has no answer to declare, but Andrew is one away with 605 = 8*75 + 7 - 2.

Andrew: 605
Alexis: [no answer]
Me: 603
Lily: 604

Scores: Andrew 14 (21), Alexis 7, me 22

First break: LUNGE TRY ("This answer required immediately")

An easy clue for URGENTLY.

Because this aired just after the 2010 election, David's talk is about the words candidate, ballot, blackball, and parliament.

Round 4: O A N S I R H O C

I had IONS, IRONS, HONORS, wondered about CHIRONS (this is not valid; I was thinking of CHITON, as it turns out: "(in ancient Greece) a garment for both sexes, usually worn next to the skin"), ANCHORS / ARCHONS (ARCHON: "a higher magistrate in ancient Athens"), CHORION (I mentioned this in episode 439; it is "the outermost of the extra embryonic membranes of land vertebrates [...]"), and CHORIONS.

Alexis has CHOIRS for six, but Andrew has found another seven with ANCHORS; he describes it as "a safe seven", so probably he saw but was unwilling to risk CHORIONS.  David has CORONAS for his seven.

The other sevens are RACOONS (RACOON being a variant spelling of RACCOON) and ISOCHOR ("a line representing the variation in pressure with temperature, under a constant volume"; it may also be spelled ISOCHORE).

Alexis: CHOIRS

Scores: Andrew 14 (28), Alexis 7, me 30

Round 5: T X R D E U A C L

I had TRUE, TRADE, and TRADUCE ("to speak evil or maliciously and falsely of; slander, calumniate, or malign").

Alexis has CRADLE for six, once again outdone by Andrew's seven of CURATED -- the fifth straight round in which he has scored seven points.  No mention of what David found, so it was presumably that.

The other sevens are DEXTRAL ("of, relating to, or on the right-hand side") and LUXATED (LUXATE: "to put out of joint; dislocate").

Alexis: CRADLE

Scores: Andrew 21 (35), Alexis 7, me 37

Round 6: Target 844 from 100 25 75 8 4 1

Alexis opts for the often-difficult balanced mix, and again getting close should not prove difficult but actually reaching the target is a bit harder.  The offsets are 6 and 19, neither of which is obviously straightforward (but I should have remembered something, as demonstrated by Lily's solution).  I did not write down the obvious one-away 845 = 8*100 + 75 - 25 - 4 - 1 at the beginning, and so I ended up with the somewhat more complicated one-away 843 = 8*(100 + 4 + 1) + 75/25.

It took me a while after time to find that the offset of 31 was approachable on those numbers: 844 = 8*(100 - 4) + 75 + 1.  I'd considered a few offsets, but not that.

Andrew is outside the scoring range, while Alexis is five away with 849 = 8*100 + 75 - 50 - 1.  She oddly overlooked subtracting the final 4 from that.

Lily is on target as ever, taking advantage of what I would like to have realised: 6 and 19 are both very close to a quarter of a multiple of 25.  That let her find the solution 844 = 8*100 + (75 + 1)/4 + 25.  Nice one, Lily!

The only other solution is a souped-up version of that: 844 = ((25 + 8)*100 + 75 + 1)/4.

Andrew: [not in range]
Alexis: 849
Me: 843
Lily: 844

Scores: Andrew 21 (35), Alexis 7 (14), me 44

Second break: OUT VISOR ("To excel is to be a...")

When the words were announced I thought it was VIRTUOUS at first, but the clue helped me fix the vowel error to find VIRTUOSO.

Round 7: T D H T O A E R G

I had DOTH, OATH, HATED, wondered about TROTHED (it is not listed), DOTAGE, and then was very pleased to spot GOATHERD for eight.

The contestants have also found eights; Andrew has GAROTTED while Alexis has GOATHERD.  Great solving from each of them, and finally a score other than seven from a round.  But with the points shared Andrew is now guaranteed to win.

Those are the only eights.  The sevens are GAROTTE and ROTATED.

I'll note that GAROTTE is listed with spellings of GAROTTE, GARROTE, and GARROTTE.


Scores: Andrew 29 (43), Alexis 15 (22), me 52

Round 8: Target 550 from 100 75 50 2 7 1

Alexis stays with the balanced option, but gets a multiple of 25 and that is not likely to pose a problem.  I wrote down four solutions before I got bored: 550 = (7 - 2)*100 + 50 (Alexis also solved it this way), 550 = 7*75 + 50/2 (which turned out to be Andrew's solution), 550 = 7*50 + 2*100, and 550 = (7*2 - 1)*50 - 100.

Lily demonstrates yet another way: 550 = (7 - 1)*75 + 100.

Andrew: 550
Alexis: 550
Me: 550
Lily: 550

Scores: Andrew 39 (53), Alexis 25 (32), me 62


There's a lot of fragments here that I often look at when the appropriate letters are around: -IVE, -JECT, AD-... and they can be put together to form the solution.  I saw it pretty much straight away, and paused at the one second mark, extremely surprised to have beaten Andrew to it.  I unpaused and he promptly buzzed in, so there was very little in it.

Andrew: ADJECTIVE (1s)
Alexis: [no answer]

Final scores: Andrew 39 (63), Alexis 25 (32), me 72

Andrew was never in trouble tonight; Alexis needed to find some more of those sevens to put the pressure on.  He had the luxury of declaring second in round 4, which allowed him to stay with the safe seven instead of risking his presumed eight -- although it would have paid off if it were CHORIONS, as I assume it was.  Some tricky numbers rounds would have allowed a skilled numbersmith to get some crucial ground back and take him to the conundrum, so this was definitely a game with potential to go either way.  Round 7 was the highlight of the match with both contestants finding excellent eight-letter words.


Jan said...

I was pleasantly surprised how I went in this game. Another second or two and I would have got the conundrum, and I wish I had written down IMPASTED in the first round. Has IMPASTED come up before? Or maybe I have used it in Scrabble, but I wasn't certain about it.


BOUNCER (7) also found BACONER - accepted in the Maq dictionary on-line
8*75 + 10 -7 = 603 (7)
8*100 + 75 - 25 = 850 -4-1= 845 (7)
(7-2)*100 + 50 = 550 (10)

So, a pretty good game. I have just played today's game, and have done so poorly!

Sam Gaffney said...

I was quite happy here:

604 = 8*75 + 7*2 - 10
843 = (100+4+1)*8 + 75/25 Later: (100-4)*8+75+1
550 = 7*75 + 50/2

Geoff Bailey said...

Jan: I've mentioned IMPASTE a couple of times (episodes 301 and 323) but usually chosen PASTIME instead. Similarly, in the relatively recent episode 6 I mentioned IMPASTES but opted for PASTIMES. Good game from you, which would have been made even better if you had chanced IMPASTED!

And a really good game from you, Sam. Congratulations!

Victor said...

I had a decent game and it was still game on at the conundrum but Andrew just beat me to it - I pressed just after his buzzer sounded.

605 = 8*75 + 10/2
845 = 8*100 + 75 - 25 - 4 - 1
GAROTTED (wow, so many variant spellings allowed!)
550 = (7 - 2)*100 + 50

Geoff Bailey said...

Nice work, Victor! Andrew is certainly tough to beat on the conundrum, though.

The many spellings of GARROTTE is something that I've had "up my sleeve" for a fair while now... but I don't think I've ever seen it in practice. A bit frustrating, really. *chuckles*

JT said...

I will point out that when Andrew wanted "Four from the bottom row" Lily picked from other spots, not that it mattered much but just a thought...

My answers
605-8*75 + 7 - 2
550-(7 - 2)*100 + 50