Sunday, 5 August 2012

Ep 20: Andrew Fisher, Les Ramsay (August 3, 2012; originally aired August 27, 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.

Win or lose (and who could picture him losing at this point?), this is Andrew's last night until the finals.  Richard reminds us of the rules of retiring champions, and nothing much more is said.

Tonight's challenger is Les Ramsay, a retired electrical engineer. Some of the activities that Les spends his time on are "cooking curries, reading intrigue novels, playing golf, and he also loves to travel".  Richard asks if there is any particular destination that Les has enjoyed most; Les answers in the affirmative -- last year he spent some time travelling through Mexico and South America, and he thinks that Mexico City is a fascinating place.  It has such a cultural diversity, and there are more people in Mexico City than in the entirety of Australia.

Andrew got off to a great start with two excellent words, then outdid Les in the first numbers round and soon had a commanding lead of more than thirty points.  The only minor blip came when Andrew tried for too much and ended up with an invalid word; Les managed to gain a tiny bit of ground back in the last numbers round also, but Andrew solved the conundrum for another emphatic win (although his lowest scoring game to date), 59 to 25.

I did well in most rounds, but one of Andrew's words was just too good for me.  Although I gained some back on his invalid word and in one of the numbers rounds, it proved to be just short of enough; when he solved the conundrum first it gave him the win over me by a point.

Round 1: G M S J I U E B R

I had JIGS, MUGS / GUMS, IMBUES, and hoped for a final R for IMBRUES (IMBRUE: "to wet in or with something that stains, now especially blood"; I first noted this back in episode 388).  It turned up, and I also added the anagram ERBIUMS.  Those seem to be the only sevens.

Les has GRIMES for six, and Andrew tries ERBIUMS for seven; he has recalled David's comments in episode 18 about the acceptability of plural forms of elements.  No word on what David found, but he had to turn the dictionary to check up on ERBIUMS so it could well be that he only had a six-letter word.


Scores: Andrew 7, Les 0, me 7

Round 2: A I A O E P S C P

Bleah, unless those last four consonants had been DRRH I was always going to be unhappy with how this turned out.  Les kept calling vowels until he got that E, and that's one of my pet peeves on the show.  As it was, I had APES / PEAS, SPACE, and COPIES.  After time I added APICES (plural of APEX) as another six.

Les has SCOPE for five, but Andrew has made the great find of PAPACIES for eight.  Oh, bravo!

That's the only eight, and there are no sevens.  The other sixes are SPICAE (plural of SPICA: "an ear of grain"; this meaning is categorised as archeological, which I don't quite follow), CAPIAS ("a writ commanding an officer to take a specified person into custody"), and APPOSE ("to put or apply (one thing) to or near to another").


Scores: Andrew 15, Les 0, me 7

Round 3: Target 165 from 50 1 10 2 3 10

Lots of possible answers to this one; I started with one approach but tweaked it as I was writing it down to end up with 165 = 3*(50 + 10/2).  Then I added the original version I had thought of: 165 = 3*(50 + 1) + 2 + 10.  A bit before time ran out I used the factorisation more completely to get 165 = 3*(10/2)*(10 + 1).

Les is two away with 163, which was probably 163 = 3*50 + 10 + 2 + 1.  Andrew has solved this using the first of the solutions that I listed, and Lily shows yet another way: 165 = 3*50 + 10/2 + 10.

Andrew: 165
Les: 163
Me: 165
Lily: 165

Scores: Andrew 25, Les 0, me 17

First break: THIRD BAY ("There are millions of these around the world every day")

There are around nineteen million BIRTHDAYs each day, on average.

David's talk is about connecting the concepts of rumour and water.  He works in the phrases water cooler, watering hole, parish pump, furphy, and scuttlebutt.

Round 4: U O I E F N H O D

Les chooses five vowels yet again, which not surprisingly keeps word lengths down; I'm glad he only gets to choose twice this game.  I had FINE, FOUND, HOUND, HOONED, regretfully but correctly rejected UNHOOFED, and FUNDIE.  After time I added FOODIE and UNHOOD as other sixes.

Les has HOUND for five and Andrew has HOOFED for six.  David mentiones FOODIE and HOONED as his sixes, attracted by their slang nature.

The other sixes are HOODIE, FONDUE, and HOIDEN (variant spelling of HOYDEN, a tomboy).

Andrew: HOOFED

Scores: Andrew 31, Les 0, me 23

Round 5: W N R A I E L C N

I had WARN, RAIN, LANCER, and CANNIER.  After time I recalled CARLINE (I think I mentioned this first in episode 415; it is Scottish for an old woman) as another seven.

Les has CLEAN for five, and Andrew tries ENCRINAL for eight.  He has overreached this time, though -- the Macquarie does not list it.  David has opted for CANNIER as his seven.

Andrew: [invalid]

Scores: Andrew 31, Les 0 (5), me 30

Round 6: Target 853 from 50 75 100 2 3 10

The standard method suggests keeping the 3 separate and getting to 850 from the rest; that is not too difficult, and I wrote down the solutions 853 = 10*75 + 100 + 3 and 853 = (10 + 2)*75 - 50 + 3.

Both contestants have solved this; Les used the first of those, while Andrew found another way with 853 = (10 - 2)*100 + 50 + 3.

Andrew: 853
Les: 853
Me: 853

Scores: Andrew 41, Les 10 (15), me 40

Second break: CUBE BEAR ("Preferred cooking method for blokes")

A very Australian answer of BARBECUE.

Round 7: S L G T A E O R T


Les tries SLATTER for seven -- it is not valid -- but Andrew has outdone him with LEGATORS for eight.  David notes GAROTTES as another eight; GAROTTE is a base word that comes up reasonably often (in a few variant spellings) -- such as the recent episode 16 -- and I have never managed to see it yet.  Just one of those blind spots that I have.

Andrew is now guaranteed a win, not that this was in much doubt.

The other eight is RETOTALS.

Les: [invalid]

Scores: Andrew 49, Les 10 (15), me 48

Round 8: Target 421 from 100 50 75 25 10 4

Les shakes things up a bit with the heavyweight, but the target is a bit low.  It's also 4 away from a multiple of 25 and we have that 4, so I know already that this will be solvable as 425 - 4.  It takes fairly little effort to then find 421 = 50*10 - 75 - 4, although I also added 421 = 10*25 + 100 +75 - 4 as an alternative.

Andrew is one away with 420, which might have been 420 = 4*100 + 10*(50/25), but Les has solved this with the first of the solutions that I listed.

Andrew: 420
Les: 421
Me: 421

Scores: Andrew 49, Les 20 (25), me 58


Down to the conundrum, and I'm ahead but not safe; obviously that's not a good position to be in against Andrew and his conundrum-solving ability.  Indeed, he solved it in a couple of seconds and it took me a touch over a minute and a half to do so.

Andrew: AMPLIFIED (2s)
Les: [no answer]
Me: [no answer]

Final scores: Andrew 59, Les 20 (25), me 58

Another good effort from Andrew, with PAPACIES being the standout find of the night.  The numbers were reasonably gentle and both contestants did well on those, but Les simply could not match Andrew on the letters -- the only time he scored points on those was when Andrew overreached with ENCRINAL.  Andrew is a very worthy retiring champion, obviously.


Jan said...

Hi Geoff, I agree with you about Countdown. I think they need subtitles for us. I will try and increase my word knowledge by playing back episodes of it.
Those five vowels that Lex chose were a real pain. I have noticed on Countdown that contestants can choose just 2 vowels. That also makes it hard to find decent words.
Anyway, I had a fairly good game here

(3*50) + 10 + 10/5= 165 (10)
10*75 + 100 +3=853 (10)
50/25=2. 10/2=5. 5*100-75-4=421 (10)

Jan said...

Oops - typo in my first numbers game - should have been 10/2 to get 5. Wrote it down correctly in my book!

Sam Gaffney said...

If Toby Baldwin (who defeated Andrew in their Masters quarter-final) has been watching these repeats, he must be wondering how he was spared on the conundrum. I have certainly been reminded of why I was so worried about playing Andrew in the Masters (I expected to be seeded third behind him and Naween, which would have seen him as my expected semi-final opponent).

Including all finals, but not including Episode 19, Andrew has had conundrum solve times of (by Geoff's measure):
4 x 1sec
1 x 2sec
2 x 3sec
2 x did not get (where his opponent solved in no great hurry)

In this episode, my answers were similar to Geoff's:

(invalid - GUMBIES, Macq does not explicitly pluralise GUMBY)
165 = (10+1)*10 + 50 + 3 + 2
UNHOOD (agonised over this or HOONED)
853 = 10*75 + 100 + 3
421 = 10*50 - 75 - 4
~30s (can't be sure I would have got this within time)

Geoff Bailey said...

A nice fifty pointer for you, Jan. It sounds like you've been watching pretty old versions of Countdown (as I have, too); at some point they realised the problem and switched to the current requirement of three vowels and four consonants.

Thanks for that breakdown on Andrew's conundrum speed, Sam -- very interesting, and quite reflective of his amazing ability.

A good game from you, too, but you got ripped off by GUMBIES. I think the Macquarie is inconsistent enough that the pluralisation rule would be better off replaced by another, at least for words ending in consonant+Y.

I'd have definitely opted for HOONED ahead of UNHOOD -- Australian slang is always the better option. :)

Sam Gaffney said...

I had seen UNHOOD before, and it has a nice visual definition of a falcon's hood being removed, but you are right, Oz slang is usually a safe bet.

Victor said...

Too much risky play by me at home while trying to keep pace with Andrew, including a "press 'n' guess" conundrum attempt which didn't pay off.

GUMBIE appears as a British colloquialism in the online Macquarie, guess it just didn't make print yet. I found it a bit funny in round 2 with Andrew declaring PAPACIES, as I noted the almost-appearance of EPISCOPAL (adj.; of or relating to a bishop) there. My results:

165 = 3*50 + 10 + 10/2
853 = (10 - 2)*100 + 50 + 3
421 = 10*50 - 75 - 4
x 1s (took about 15s to solve: Richard probably would not have talked this long)