Friday, 20 July 2012

Ep 9: Aaron Tyrrell, Lara Cassar (July 19, 2012; originally aired august 12, 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.

Aaron and his girlfriend recently travelled to South America, where they were fortunate to remain unscathed despite a series of incidents going on around them.  They went to see Machu Picchu, and on the trail there one of the women they were travelling with actually fell off the edge.  Fortunately it was only about a twelve foot drop (still could be quite nasty!) and they managed to lift her back up again.

Then the floods came and "pretty much wiped out the town".  A bit later in the trip they were in Chile; they flew out of there and a week later the earthquake hit.  It sounds like a good thing their entire trip had not been scheduled for a week later!

Tonight's challenger is Lara Cassar, a social researcher who has also been a massage therapist, a film producer, and a volunteer lifesaver.  But Lara's favourite job was being a tour guide on the Sydney Harbour Bridge.  She enjoyed meeting the many different people, and (of course) the view was always spectacular.

The contestants were mostly matched on the letters rounds; Lara had just the better of it, although she saw a phantom letter in the last letter round to give most of that advantage back.  But Aaron had the comprehensive advantage in the numbers, finishing the game in strong style.  He solved the conundrum in quick time -- the fastest of any contestant so far -- for a comprehensive 61 to 35 victory that admittedly was closer than the scoreline might suggest.

I had a wobbly game today that could have been very good instead with a bit better decision-making.  I had problems in three letter rounds; I talked myself out of the best answer in two of them, once for a lesser result and once for an invalid longer one.  The third round was another invalid option that did catch me by surprise; with sufficient thought afterwards I might have realised that, but there's just not that much time to think about such things.  Aside from those three I had optimal rounds, including getting to the conundrum first, and in the end it was enough.

Round 1: N L S U O H E N O

I had SOUL, HOLES, LOOSEN, UNLOOSE, and UNLOOSEN.  Then, rather oddly, I talked myself out of UNLOOSE and UNLOOSEN, thinking that the meaning I ascribed to them would be more appropriate for simply LOOSE and LOOSEN.  Which is pretty much the case, but it's one of those oddities of the English language that UNLOOSE and UNLOOSEN mean essentially that same as LOOSE and LOOSEN.  A poor decision cost me two points and an optimal round.

The contestants start with a pair of fives, Lara with HOUSE and Aaron with SHONE.  David found LOOSEN, and then UNLOOSEN.

UNLOOSEN is the only eight, and UNLOOSE the only seven.  The other sixes are HOUSEL (an archaic term for Eucharist) and possibly NELSON; I think that NELSON is all right as it has a stand-alone headword, but on the other hand the definition just says to see "full nelson" and "half-nelson".  It might be ruled that it appears only in combination, and so is not valid.

Aaron: SHONE

Scores: Aaron 0 (5), Lara 0 (5), me 6

Round 2: F A Z E T I R P I

I had FAZE, FATE, PIRATE, and FIREPIT.  Unfortunately, FIREPIT turns out to be invalid, and not even a hint of it in the dictionary.  I was taken aback by that, as I genuinely thought it was a concept even if it would be two words.  So not the most auspicious start to the game, talking myself out of the best option in the first round, and then having an invalid one this time.

Aaron has found PRIZE for five, but Lara gets the early lead with PIRATE for six.  David comes through with the very impressive eight of APERITIF ("a small alcoholic drink, as a cocktail or glass of sherry, often taken as an appetiser").  He makes a passing joke about dentures, pronouncing it as "a pair o' teeth".

That seems to be the only word longer than six; some sources list TRAPEZII as a possible plural of the TRAPEZIUS muscle, but the Macquarie does not.  (In fact, the Macquarie does not list TRAPEZIUS at all, rather disappointingly.)

The other six is PITIER.  Chess players may be familiar with the term PATZER for a poor chess player, but the Macquarie does not have it.

Aaron: PRIZE
Me: [invalid]

Scores: Aaron 0 (5), Lara 6 (11), me 6

Round 3: Target 141 from 50 100 2 7 3 7

Aaron sticks with the family mix and gets an easy target; everyone finds 141 = 100 + 50 - 7 - 2 in short order and waits for time to run out.  While doing so I wrote down the alternative 141 = (50 - 2 - 7/7)*3 for good measure.

I'll note that Lily's writing on the board has started to develop a bit more expression this round than the small neat letters of previous games.  Nothing overstated, it's just a bit larger and a trifle less precise.

Aaron: 141
Lara: 141
Me: 141
Lily: 141

Scores: Aaron 10 (15), Lara 16 (21), me 16

First break: MID SPRAY ("A building for mummies")

I question the use of the singular article in that clue, but it clearly wants the answer of PYRAMIDS in any case.

David's talk is about the word doppelgänger, and the derived term googleganger ("a person with the same name as oneself, whose online references are mixed with one's own among search results for one's name").  Since that show was aired, googleganger was named the Macquarie Dictionary's word of the year in February 2011.

Round 4: E D S A C O T K U

I had CASED, CODES, COASTED, and then was quite pleased to spot STOCKADE; I recalled David finding this in what turns out to be episode 340.  I could not better it, but wrote down DOCKETS and STACKED as other sevens.

Both contestants have found seven letter words; Aaron opts for SCOUTED while Lara chooses COASTED.  David has found STOCKADE this time, too, which is excellent work.

It appears to be the only eight; the other sevens are STOCKED and ACETOUS ("sour; vinegary").


Scores: Aaron 10 (22), Lara 16 (28), me 24

Round 5: N S D I E G L C A

The -ING combination turns up with cooperative letters, but I tried for too much.  I had DINS, DINES, GLIDES (missing SINGED and SINGLED along the way), DEALINGS, and wondered about DESCALING.  I thought that it was probably not valid -- the term for removing fish scales being simply SCALING -- but the chance at a nine is hard to turn down.  I wavered, and chose the wrong option, as DESCALING is not valid.

After time I noted SCALDING as another eight.

The contestants have found sevens, with Lara choosing SINGLED while Aaron has CANDLES.  Neither seems to have used the -ING as well as they could have, something that any aspiring contestant should watch out for.  David has selected SCALDING as his eight.

The other eights are LEADINGS / SIGNALED (acceptable American spelling of SIGNALLED).

I usually say that only three vowels tends to play best with -ING, but I should point out that a fourth vowel here would have replaced the C with an O, allowing ALONGSIDE for nine.

Me: [invalid]

Scores: Aaron 17 (29), Lara 23 (35), me 24

Round 6: Target 896 from 75 100 50 6 10 1

Lara chooses the often-tricky three of each, and there is some challenge to be had.  The only obvious way to the offset of 4 is (10 - 6), but that uses up the numbers that are going to be key to reaching the result.  Fortunately the 1 allows tweaking options, and I found the solution 896 = 6*(100 + 50 + 1) - 10.

Lara declares 901, which is very bemusing.  There's a lot of ways to 901, but only one of them is not some form of 900 + 1; that exception is the very unlikely ((6*75)/50)*(100 - 1) + 10, so I'm going to assume that she had a mental slip, forgetting which direction she wanted to head from 900 and adding 1 instead of subtracting it.  Aaron, however, is just one off the pace with 895 = 75*10 + 100 + 50 - (6 - 1).

That tightens up the scores, giving Aaron the lead for the first time, but by a single point.

Lily demonstrates that Aaron was just a minor tweak away from a solution, as she has solved it with 896 = (75 - 1)*10 + 50 + 100 + 6.

Aaron: 895
Lara: 901
Me: 896
Lily: 896

Scores: Aaron 17 (36), Lara 23 (35), me 34

Second break: CARE LOSS ("A sport where the net is not where you'd expect it")

That's a pretty amusing (and accurate) description of LACROSSE, although the goals often also have nets.

Round 7: P O I V F E U C M

A messy mix, and it will come as no surprise that I don't like the fourth vowel in this situation.  I had FIVE, MOVIE, and PUMICE.

Aaron has MOVIE for five, but Lara has VOICES for six... which uses a phantom S, and her answer is invalid.  An unfortunate oversight, and the first time that she has not scored in a letters round.  David has found PUMICE also.

PUMICE looks like the only six; the other fives are VOICE, OPIUM, and COUPÉ.

Aaron: MOVIE
Lara: [invalid]

Scores: Aaron 17 (41), Lara 23 (35), me 40

Round 8: Target 254 from 25 100 50 6 3 10

Lara is now behind, and cannot afford to be outscored by Aaron in this round.  She sticks with the same balanced mix that did not work out for her last time, and I'm not sure how sound a strategy that is.  Still, best to go with what you feel your strong points are.

I overcomplicated this with the solution 254 = 10*25 + 100/50 + 6/3, but it got the job done.

Lara is one away with 253, presumably 10*25 + 3 or similar.  But Aaron has found 254 = 3*50 + 100 + 10 - 6 to solve it exactly and guarantee his victory.

Lily shows a variant of Aaron's approach: 254 = 3*100 - 50 + 10 - 6.

Aaron: 254
Lara: 253
Me: 254
Lily: 254

Scores: Aaron 27 (51), Lara 23 (35), me 50


A bit of an easy conundrum this time, with not much letter shifting to do and one of the component words having a related meaning to guide one to the solution.  I was a bit slower than I would have liked as I hesitated for a check, but buzzed in at the two-second mark.  Just as well I did not hesitate any longer, as Aaron buzzed in with the solution just a second later.  Lara attempted to buzz at about the same time, but her movement was a bit less frantic and that may have made the difference.

Aaron: LEGISLATE (3s)
Lara: [no answer]

Final scores: Aaron 27 (61), Lara 23 (35), me 60

Aaron gets the new high score of the show so far, on the back of 32 unanswered points in the last four rounds.  Neither contestant particularly pulled out anything special in the letters, but Aaron dealt with the numbers much more successfully than Lara, and paired with the conundrum that blew out the margin of victory considerably.  Tomorrow is that crucial fourth game hurdle; can he get past it?


Jan said...

I got the conundrum really quickly too. It felt too easy though!

Invalid word - fazed
100+50-7-2=141 (10)
(6*2)*75=900-1=899 (7) But Aaron got closer
3*100-50+4=254 (10)
And got the conundrum before Lara (10)

And so just got a win in over Aaron, thanks to the conundrum.

Jan said...

PS HOUSEL was an interesting word. I am a Church worker and had never heard it before

Sam Gaffney said...

David's "googleganger" talk rang a bell, so this must be about where I began watching L&N. I have seen many of the episodes from this point on, so my results must be taken with a grain of salt.

Luckily I saw DESCALING with only two seconds to go - at first I was disappointed that I didn't have enough time to write it down! Its absence from the Macquarie parallels the invalid DEBONES from Ep299.

My answers:

141 = 100+50-7-2
896 = (10-1)*100 - 6*50/75 (started with Geoff's way)
254 = 3*50 + 100 + 10 - 6

Geoff Bailey said...

Jan: It was certainly one of the easier conundrums, but it's still good to see it quickly. I was going to say that FAZED was fine, but then I realised that there was no D in the mix. Whoops!

Minor nitpick on round 8: There was no 4, so presumably that was 10 - 6; as long as you'd written it down correctly, all is well.

That was good vision to see the 900 option that you chose; the advantage of multiplication is that it leaves tweaking options open. In this case, you could have turned it into a solution with 6*(2*75 + 1) - 10. Close!

Sam: I'll get the salt, then. *grins* Looks like I scraped home against you thanks to the conundrum -- phew! Also, I love your 896 solution -- that's a technique I don't spot nearly enough.

Sam Gaffney said...

Everybody seemed to find the conundrum easier than I did, perhaps I processed it a different way, rather than just flipping ALSI to ISLA in the middle.

Using the large numbers to make fractions (that aren't the inverse of integers) is quite satisfying when it works, it took me a while before I started to spot opportunities regularly.

Jan said...

Geoff - I did do the 10-6 to get 4, just my writing down was messy! Thanks

JT said...

It took me a while before I realised Parfait in round 2 was invalid :/ My letters are quite fair as I tend not to really concentrate on them in the book, only really flicking throught it.

With the condunrum I feel Sam "head's down, thumbs up" technique is the best, as most players tend to raise the arm to press the buzzer costing them about .5-1 second, which it seems can make a difference between a win and a loss.

Anyway my answers:
141-100+50-7-2 (there's also (7*7-2)*3)which completly bypasses the large numbers)
1.5s- Don't think I'll ever be this quick in a conundrum!!

Geoff Bailey said...

Ooh, PARFAIT is a lovely word -- just a shame there was only that one A. And a nice observation about 141 without the large numbers, too.

Buzzer speed... that's possibly a bit of a sore point with me. *chuckles* But certainly there's something to be said for that style, at least when solving speed is quick.

Sam Gaffney said...

Cheers JT, you've hit the nail on the head - a lot of players chew up precious fragments of a second with a slow buzzer press. I did put a bit of thought into my technique, finding a position that had a lot of weight behind the heel of my palm and allowed me to exert the maximum downward force. My version of Bruce Lee's "one-inch punch".

I also positioned my head to remove the distraction of reflected light on the glass panel.