Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Ep 21: Kashi Ross, Erez Gordon (August 6, 2012; originally aired August 30, 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.

There are two new contestants tonight due to Andrew Fisher's successful retirement on Friday.  Taking the champion's position is Kashi Ross, a teacher who has recently been playing competitive Scrabble around Australia.  Kashi has also played over twenty-three thousand online games of Scrabble over the last five years.  As Richard points out, that is an average of over twelve games a day which sounds like an enormous time investment.  Kashi clarifies that the vast majority of the games she plays are fast ones where each side has only three minutes to play, so it is only a bit over an hour per day.

In the challenger's position is Erez Gordon, a hospitality consultant who won The Age Good Food Guide's Service Excellence Award a few years ago.  (That was in 2002, in recognition of his performance as Maitre d'Hotel of Jacques Reymond.)  Erez loves good food and wine, and travelling the globe to find it.  Richard asks if the food options determine where Erez travels, and Erez agrees that they play a major role but often it is simply about places where you have not been before.  He notes that when he went to the Bahamas he was disappointed to find that they had no regional cuisine at all; the locale more than made up for it, though.

Kashi got off to an early lead in the first round, although neither contestant used the retsina mix to best advantage.  She extended that lead in the first numbers round, and the contestants were essentially matched for the rest of the main rounds.  Neither managed to score in the last two rounds, with the conundrum feeling somewhat difficult, and Kashi won 48 to 31.

I had a reasonable game, but missed three of the best letters results.  The first was a bit careless, but the other two were words I was always going to struggle to see.  Against that, I very nearly tied with the David and Lily combination when David had a mental bobble of his own, being two letters off best on one round.  It just goes to show how it can happen to anyone!

Round 1: O A F T E R N S I

A decent set of letters, and then the I made it a retsina mix and eights were the clear order of the day.  I had FEAT, AFTER, TREASON / SENATOR, NOTARISE / NOTARIES / SEƑORITA, FAINTERS, and SEAFRONT.  I recalled Sam once commenting that there were no full monties available from FAINTERS, so eight was the best to be done.

Erez has ASTERN for six but is outdone by Kashi's choice of FAINTER for seven.  She was clearly thinking of the comparative, but FAINTER is also a noun and hence pluralisable.  David points this out, and mentions NOTARISE as another eight.

The other eight is FARINOSE ("resembling farina", where farina is "flour or meal made from cereal grains [...]").  There's lots of sevens, as is to be expected when retsina is in play.


Scores: Kashi 0 (7), Erez 0, me 8

Round 2: M G A L U O N H R

I really struggled on this; I had GLAM (although I was not certain, but it is all right), MAUL, ALONG, and a fairly late spot of NORMAL.  The contestants both declared seven and I promptly saw GLAMOUR as the obvious extension of my very first word.

The contestants, indeed, had both found GLAMOUR, and that's the best to be done.  David explains how the word has connections both to magic and to grammar.

The other sevens are LANGUOR, UNMORAL (which I'd seen and not thought was valid, but it is defined as "non-moral; having no moral aspect, neither moral nor immoral"; I'd have thought that AMORAL would be the word of choice for this concept), and ORGANUM ("the doubling, or simultaneous singing, of a melody at an interval of either a fourth, fifth, or octave").

The other sixes are GLAMOR (variant spelling of GLAMOUR), LANGUR (a type of monkey), LANUGO ("a coat of delicate, downy hairs, especially that with which the human foetus or newborn infant is covered"), and MORULA (which I've mentioned a few times before; I'm feeling lazy, so here's Wikipedia's take on it).


Scores: Kashi 7 (14), Erez 7, me 8

Round 3: Target 426 from 75 50 3 9 4 6

Standard method time, of sorts, but getting there from 450 is much more tempting with the difference being 24 and the 450 reachable in multiple ways.  I first found 426 = 9*50 - 4*6, then realised that the other approach allowed a tweak for a nice short 426 = 6*(75 - 4).

Erez is fairly far away with 434, that I can only guess was 434 = 6*75 - 9 - 4 - 3.  But Kashi has solved it exactly with the first of those solutions that I listed; Lily shows the second as her solution.

That puts Erez into danger territory at 17 behind, and he has some work to do to recover from that.

Kashi: 426
Erez: 434
Me: 426
Lily: 426

Scores: Kashi 17 (24), Erez 7, me 18

First break: COST DIME ("What can housework and airlines have in common?")

They don't cost a dime, but they can both be DOMESTIC.

David's talk is about a couple of acronyms: KIPPERS ("Kids In Parents' Pockets Eroding Retirement Savings") and SITCOM ("Single Income, Two Children, Oppressive Mortgage").

Round 4: E T O B D C E I L


Both contestants have found six-letter words; Kashi had BOILED while Erez had TOILED.  David mentions COILED to complete the rhyming trio, but has managed to take that extra step with DECIBEL for seven.  Well done, David!

That seems to be the only seven; there are a decent spread of other sixes, but I'll just mention EDIBLE, BODICE, and DOCILE.


Scores: Kashi 23 (30), Erez 13, me 24

Round 5: D E I A S N P S E

I had AIDE / IDEA, IDEAS, PANSIES, and ANISEEDS.  Not too long after time I found DISPENSE as another eight.  I wasn't entirely sure about ANISEEDS, but I thought it worth the risk and the definitions provided (either a seed or a herb) are pluralisable so all is well.

It's sixes from the contestants, with Erez opting for PASSED while Kashi chooses PAINED.  David, very surprisingly, has not been able to better that... but when Richard starts the next segment he throws back to David who had found DISPENSE almost immediately after that remark.  David says that it gives him an appreciation for the difficulties that the contestants face.

Those seem to be the only eights, but there are a few other sevens: ANISEED, DISEASE / SEASIDE, PENISES, DESPISE, and APSIDES (plural of APSIS: "either of two points in an eccentric orbit, one (higher apsis) farthest from the centre of attraction, and the other (lower apsis) nearest to it").

David: [in extra time] DISPENSE

Scores: Kashi 23 (36), Erez 13 (19), me 32

Round 6: Target 754 from 50 75 25 10 9 6

The standard method suggests keeping 10 - 6 to make the 4, and the question is whether the rest can get us to 750.  They can, and I found the solution 754 = 9*75 + 50 + 25 + 10 - 6.  It's more natural to get close with 10*75, though, and I was able to get this to a solution also within time: 754 = 10*75 + 6 - 50/25.

Both contestants are one away with 753 = 10*75 + 9 - 6.  Lily demonstrates the second of the solutions above.

Kashi: 753
Erez: 753
Me: 754
Lily: 754

Scores: Kashi 23 (43), Erez 13 (26), me 42

Second break: FINE FACE ("This may well wake you up in the morning")

A great many people become more wakeful due to CAFFEINE.

Round 7: C U H I A R Z E T

I had CHAIR, very briefly CHIRAZ but realised that I was misspelling SHIRAZ, and CURATE.  My "there's something here" sense was going off strongly, but I think it was misled by the almost-presence of EUCHARIST.  After time I noted CURIAE (plural of CURIA: "one of the political subdivisions of each of the three tribes of ancient Roman citizens") and ZITHER as other sixes.  (The zither was mentioned relatively recently, as one of Jenny Blair's talking points in episode 7 was that she played the zither.)

This time it's fives from the contestants, with Kashi having CRAZE while Erez has CHART.  David laments that he is not allowed to have ZURICH, but in any case has bettered it with HAIRCUT for seven.  Nice one!

The other sevens are the mineral AZURITE and THERIAC ("an antidote to venomous bites, etc., especially an electuary made with honey").

Kashi: CRAZE

Scores: Kashi 23 (48), Erez 13 (31), me 48

Round 8: Target 419 from 25 75 6 8 7 8

Erez needs unanswered points from this round to have a chance.  As the numbers went up I noted the appearance of one of my familiar combinations (6*7*8 = 336) but the target was moderately far from that and I moved onto other things.  The standard method suggests keeping the 6 safe for a final subtraction, but the 6 is also wanted for the most obvious way of getting near.  Fortunately a little tweaking came to the rescue and I found 419 = 6*(75 - (8 - 7)) - 25.

After time I found an alternative approach that did not need tweaking to get to the 425: 419 = 8*75 - 7*25 - 6.  And then I revisited my original idea and realised that it did work out quite handily -- I could have saved myself a decent amount of effort if I'd just computed the difference; the ensuing solution is 419 = 6*7*8 + 8 + 75.

Neither contestant has been able to make progress on this; Kashi has nothing to declare and Erez is miles away with 476.  That feels very odd; if nothing else, a one-away 418 = 6*75 - 25 - 7 should have been pretty findable.  But the lack of points for Erez guarantees Kashi the win.

Lily shows an alternative approach to that final offset by 6: 419 = 6*75 - 25 - 7 + 8/8.  Nice one.

Kashi: [no answer]
Erez: [not in range]
Me: 419
Lily: 419

Scores: Kashi 23 (48), Erez 13 (31), me 58


That Y is clearly worth investigating, but it took me a while to get anywhere with it.  I finally found the solution twenty seconds in, rather surprised that a plural was used in the conundrum.  Neither contestant solved it, and the scores remain unchanged.

Kashi: [no answer]
Erez: [no answer]

Final scores: Kashi 23 (48), Erez 13 (31), me 68

The contestants were reasonably matched, with only those two rounds of difference between them.  GLAMOUR was a good find (from both) but otherwise there was nothing that particularly stood out from these results.  Kashi got the win, and we'll see how she goes tomorrow.


Victor said...

Interesting that a scrabble player missed NOTARISE. Also, a strange conundrum - I didn't think plurals are allowed, are they? Last time we had a plural conundrum (ep 443) it cost me the game, perhaps.

I managed a good game today, though admittedly R2, R5 and R7 were last-second spots. Thanks to your blog I have now learned the word THERIAC.

426 = 6*(75 - 4)
ANISEED (such a late spot that I forgot about the second S in the selection)
754 = 75*10 + 6 - 50/25
419 = 6*(75 - 8/8) - 25

Sam Gaffney said...

Ah, FAINTERS - such a killjoy.

FARINOSE (wrote down all six eights)
426 = 6*(75 - 4)
754 = 9*75 + 50+25 + 10-6
419 = 6*75 + 25 - 7*8

Erez said...

Hilarious. My ignominious failure up in blog lights for all to relive. Thank you. You've just managed to make my letters and numbers experience just that little bit more humiliating. ;)

Jan said...

Hi Geoff, I had another 50 pointer, so fairly happy. Interesting yours and Sam's comments about plural conundrums. I can use that excuse for my failure to get it!

(9*50) - (4*6) = 426 (10)
50/25 = 2. 6 - 2 =4
75*10 + 4 = 754 (10)
(8 + 8) = 16
16*(25 + 1) = 416

Jan said...

Sorry, it was Victor that made the comment about plural conundrums, not Sam

Geoff Bailey said...

Whew, some good solving on record today!

But first of all, welcome, Erez! Always nice to hear from another contestant. I disagree about your portrayal of your performance, mind you, as I think would anyone who has been on the show.

Excellent solving from you, Victor -- I'm glad that you've learned THERIAC from here. Now if only I could remember it! *chuckles*

And similarly from you, Sam. In fact, both of you would have managed rather unusual ties with the David/Lily combination if you'd solved the conundrum, with the round five words making up for the decibel deficit.

Incidentally, I very much like that 419 solution of yours, Sam -- the fact that 7*8 gives an offset of 6 could be very handy on occasion.

And congratulations on yet another fifty point game, Jan. You're churning them out!

The plural conundrum is definitely unusual -- I think it should be avoided in general as it makes the problem into eight + S, instead of nine. That said, the two of them we've seen so far (thanks to Victor for the reminder about episode 443) were definitely toughies!

JT said...

I think that Erez played very well against a future L+N finalst in Kashi and was unlucky not to get a win. My play was very mixed having some good and bad rounds (the good was technically beating David in Round 5 and getting the condundrum quickly, the non-terminal y didn't trip me up here.)

My answers
754 = 75*10 + 6 - 50/25
-Utterly screwed this one up

Sam Gaffney said...

I tried a few wrong paths on 419 first - trying to save the 6 wasn't working out. And yes, knowing a lot of mod 25 results can really pay off in L&N.

On a side note, if anybody hasn't seen young Adam in the recently televised Countdown episodes, it is worth checking him out, he is a fantastic player in all three facets of the game.