Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Ep 17: Andrew Fisher, Adib Surani (July 31, 2012; originally aired August 24, 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.

Not too surprisingly, Andrew enjoys solving hard cryptic crosswords.  More unusually, though, he also enjoys composing them and has even managed to get a few published in The Times.  Impressive!

Tonight's challenger is Adib Surani, a pure mathematics student who has been winning mathematics competitions since the age of seven.  His friends know him as "a calculator substitute", and he has an ambition to one day solve the Riemann hypothesis.  That's quite an ambition, for sure.  Adib explains that the Riemann hypothesis is one of the most important unsolved problems in mathematics right now.

(That's true, although the conjecture that people care about is more the generalised Riemann hypothesis; a lot of consequences of deep interest would follow from a proof of GRH, and my impression is that the importance of a proof of RH is more to do with how such techniques might then be applied to GRH (as well as being further supporting evidence for it) than for results that flow from a proof of RH itself.)

Andrew got off to a good start with the only eight-letter word and just never let up, finding great results throughout in both letters and numbers.  Adib was not able to match him, and although he got some late points back in the last numbers game it was too little too late, and Andrew cruised through to a 64 to 29 victory.

I was all over the place today, missing a numbers game that I feel I should have solved and being too slow to find a couple of words that I would have found when in top form.  Some confusion on the conundrum kept me slow there, and I lost by over twenty points to Andrew.  On the plus side, I did manage to find a word that eluded both him and David, and that is always something to be happy about.

Round 1: N B S V I U A R E

I had BINS, BASIN, correctly rejected UNBIAS (Ben unsuccessfully tried this in episode 418), and RAVINES.  Just a little after time I saw URBANISE for eight, and knew that I was going to be behind.

Adib has BRAINS for six but, as expected, Andrew has found URBANISE.  In what will be a fairly common trend for the night, David has nothing extra to add.

The other sevens are ABUSIVE and SUBERIN ("a substance contained in and characteristic of cork tissue").


Scores: Andrew 8, Adib 0, me 0

Round 2: O T P I E L D A J

I had POET, POLITE, TALIPED ("club-footed") / PLAITED, TADPOLE, and PETALOID ("having the form or appearance of a petal"; I know this thanks to episode 336).  After time I noted down OPIATED as another seven that I had seen within time.

Adib has PLAITED for seven, and Andrew has TADPOLE also for seven.  So I've gained back the lost ground from the previous round, and outdone David as well.  A moment to cherish!

That is the only eight; the other sevens are PILOTED and OEDIPAL.


Scores: Andrew 8 (15), Adib 0 (7), me 8

Round 3: Target 505 from 75 6 3 4 9 8

I made a mess of this one.  I spent too long considering various non-working ways, and in the end was perhaps a little lucky that my "just get close" option got me to one away with 504 = 8*(75 - 9 - 3).

After time I finally thought to try the ascent from 450, and the solution came easily: 505 = 6*(75 + 9) + 4 - 3.  A bit later I saw that a little more clarity in the approach I tried early would have led to another solution: 505 = 8*(75 - 6 - 4 - 3) + 9.

Adib is three away with 508, but Andrew has done quite well to solve this with 505 = (75 + 8)*6 + 4 + 3.  Another demonstration that he knows how to "tweak"; well done, Andrew.

(This pretty much convinces me that I've lost this game already; even if I pick up the remaining two numbers rounds I'm likely to have to beat Andrew to the conundrum yet again, and I certainly wouldn't be banking on that.  I'd also have to match him in the letters for that to even be an option; all in all, I feel on the back foot already thanks to this miss.)

Lily shows another solution -- the only time she does tonight -- which is the first of those I listed above.

Andrew: 505
Adib: 508
Me: 504
Lily: 505

Scores: Andrew 18 (25), Adib 0 (7), me 8

First break: LEND YOGI ("Singing on high")

Unusual for an American spelling to be used in the word mix: YODELING.

David's talk is about the concept of blanagrams, which are like anagrams with a Scrabble blank tile as part of them.

Round 4: S M E I S A E Q N

I had SEMI, SEMIS, MASSÉ, SESAME, SEAMEN, and wondered about MEISSEN but correctly rejected it (it is a type of porcelain).

After time I realised that an anagram of MEISSEN is NEMESIS, and then spotted the possibility of NEMESIAS (NEMESIA being a type of plant).  I had to look it up to be sure that it was valid, though, and I'm not sure if I would have risked it in practice even if I had seen it within time.

Adib has SESAME for six, but Andrew has risked NEMESIAS and reaped the rewards.

That is the only eight; the other sevens are SAMISEN ("a Japanese guitar-like musical instrument, having an extremely long neck and three strings"), SIEMENS ("the SI derived unit of electrical conductance [...]"; note that it is both the singular and plural form -- SIEMEN is not valid), and MEANIES.


Scores: Andrew 26 (33), Adib 0 (7), me 8

Round 5: U I O G H D T I A

Yeesh, what a mess of unhelpful letters.  I had DOUGH, TOUGH, and wanted a final E for DOUGHIE or HOGTIED but that final A only brought AGOUTI into play -- a classic vowel dump that every Scrabble player should know.

Adib has TOUGH for five, but Andrew has AGOUTI as expected; it's the only six to be had.

Andrew: AGOUTI

Scores: Andrew 32 (39), Adib 0 (7), me 14

Round 6: Target 116 from 75 100 7 7 3 9

Adib goes for two large numbers, squandering his presumed advantage in the numbers.  The target is very easy, though, and everyone has 116 = 100 + 9 + 7 in short order... including Richard.

Adib still technically has a chance, but he will need a full monty that Andrew does not find... highly unlikely!

Andrew: 116
Adib: 116
Me: 116
Richard: 116

Scores: Andrew 42 (49), Adib 10 (17), me 24

Second break: BEER TOOT ("Food that is hard to beat")

I'm a bit embarrassed to have needed the clue to find BEETROOT from this.  All it involved was swapping the middle two letters!

Round 7: C B F C E I E P H

This is as unhelpful mix as any we've seen, I think.  I had PIECE, CHEEP, and CHIEF / FICHE (acceptable shortening of MICROFICHE).

Adib has BEECH for five, while Andrew has gone for CHEEP as his five.  David mentions his word for the first time: CHIEF.

Andrew is guaranteed the win over Adib at this point.

The other five is BICEP.

Andrew: CHEEP
David: CHIEF

Scores: Andrew 47 (54), Adib 15 (22), me 29

Round 8: Target 883 from 75 25 100 50 10 10

I need to pick up ten unanswered points here to still have a chance against Andrew, but Adib makes it difficult with the four large mix.  I groan when a pair of tens go up first, as that may be the most unhelpful option aside from a pair of ones -- just not enough variety to it.

I started off thinking about getting to 875, and an error in computation made me think I had a solution of 10*75 + 100 + 10 - 50/25... but that was only 858.  Fortunately I caught that and managed to get down one of the several two-aways I had seen: 885 = 10*75 + 100 + 25 + 10.  I was unable to better it within time; I will note that another way to 885 that I liked was 885 = (50/10)*(100 + 75) + 10.

Andrew is three away with 880, while Adib is two away with the same 885 that I had within time.  So that's a gain for both of us, but Andrew is guaranteed the win against each of us.

It turns out that 885 is the best one can do on this mix.  There's a bit of conversation at the end of the show where they talk about this mix being insoluble, but it's not clear whether this is arising from Lily's opinion alone or they have done some checking behind the scenes.

Andrew: 880
Adib: 885
Me: 885

Scores: Andrew 47 (54), Adib 22 (29), me 36


If I solve this first I can lose by just one point, which might be more disappointing than a larger loss.  When the letters were revealed I almost buzzed in with BASILECT ("the social dialect of a given language which is deemed to be least prestigious"), and while I was mentally recovering from that Andrew buzzed in with what turned out to be the correct solution.  It took me a few more seconds to solve it in any case, but I neglected to get timing on it.

Andrew: BALLISTIC (1s)
Adib: [no answer]

Final scores: Andrew 57 (64), Adib 22 (29), me 36

Andrew was in great touch today, with NEMESIAS being the standout find in the letters.  But his numberwork was particularly good also, and this was a much better game from him than yesterday.  Adib had a couple of decent results, particularly the 885 in the last numbers round, but like so many others was just overwhelmed by Andrew's phenomenal ability with the letters.  It's the crucial fourth game for Andrew tomorrow, and on this form it will come as no surprise when he wins that.


Victor said...

I found the letters a bit tricky and lost by some margin. I think beating Andrew in this episode even in good form would have been a tall order indeed. My answers:

505 = 6*(75 + 9) + 4 - 3
SESAME (ne-what-sias ??)
116 = 100 + 9 + 7
885 = 10*100 - 75 - 50 + 10

Jan said...

After reading your's and Victor's comments on the game, I am feeling slightly better about my performance.

I think it is the worst game I have had in ages? Actually, I think it was Andrew's brilliance, rather than a really poor game by me

(4+3)*75-8-9=507 (0)
100+9+7 = 116 (10)
(100*10) -50-75+10 = 885 (7)

I watched my first episode of Countdown on Monday night. Not nearly as good as our version. I have taped last night's episode, so I can whizz thru the boring bits!

Geoff Bailey said...

Some good finds from the both of you, and I particularly liked NEMESIS, Jan. I don't think that a raw score of over fifty without the conundrum is ever a terrible result, even if one would always like to do better. (I know that my general attitude towards any non-maximal rounds from myself does not always convey this. *rueful smile*)

Andrew was just too good today, and congratulations to him on that.

(And yes, you'll have a lot of boring bits to whizz through. Tim Vine has not been in good form so far, alas.)

JT said...

My answers:

(invalid dought-was thinking doubt not my best momment :/)
116- no suprises 100+9+7
Beat Andrew suprisingly 1s

Sam Gaffney said...

Andrew was at his imperious best in this episode. Adib was a pretty good player, but couldn't get close.

My answers:
505 = (9+75)*6 + 4 - 3
DOUGH (AGOUTI is an old standard, that might be lack of practice)
116 = 100+9+7 (tried several other approaches first)
885 = 100*10 - 75 - 50 + 10 (started with 880, then thought 885 must be gettable)