Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Ep 26: Kashi Ross, Naween Fernando (August 13, 2012; originally aired September 6, 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.

This is Kashi's last night for the main games, win or lose; the pre-game chat pretty much amounts to only that, with Richard barely giving her an opportunity for a word.

Facing Kashi is a very familiar Naween Fernando, described as an accountant who likes to stay indoors on Sundays but makes an exception when it comes to Scrabble.  Naween has competed in every World Scrabble Championship since 1995, and his best placing was third in 2005.  At the time this episode was filmed that was better than Andrew Fisher, although that has since changed.

Naween was in strong form from the outset, finding a good eight-letter word while Kashi's seven was invalid.  He continued to score strongly, with Kashi unable to find a valid word longer than six throughout the evening.  The first two numbers games were too easy and offered little scope for advancement, and Naween had the game won before the last (slightly more difficult) numbers round.  He took the points there although he did not solve it exactly, and finished off by getting the conundrum for an impressive debut score and a 73 to 32 win.

Naween offered very little chance to beat him, but I was happy to be keeping up.  It was still level-pegging after round 7, but I solved the last numbers round that he did not; the game might have ended in a tie but I managed to get the conundrum first, and took the victory with what turned out to be an optimal game.

Round 1: I U A S D T C E N

I had SAID, AUDITS, and DISTANCE.  This was kind of a tough mix until that final letter -- AUDITS is the maximum without the N.

Kashi has the invalid CAUSTIC for seven, which would be a lovely word except for the duplicated C.  Naween has found SINUATED for eight (SINUATED being an acceptable alternative form of SINUATE: "bent in and out; winding; sinuous").  David describes his find of DISTANCE as a little more common, but still worth eight points.

Once Naween declared SINUATED I saw that its anagram AUDIENTS (AUDIENT: "a listener") was also there, and that is the only other eight.  There are quite a few sevens.

Kashi: [invalid]

Scores: Kashi 0, Naween 8, me 8

Round 2: I O I A H D R K E

A fairly uncooperative set of letters; I had RADIO and HAIRDO.  The final E was no help at all, and that was where I stayed.

Kashi has HARKED for six, and Naween chooses HAIRED as his six.  David asks Naween to spell his word, presumably in case he had accidentally declared HARED as six instead of five.  The sixes that David found are HAIRDO and AIKIDO.

Naween got lucky in this instance; HAIR is not listed with a verb sense in the Macquarie (UNHAIR is, though), nor is HAIRED listed as an adjective.  Precedent from later shows would be to disallow this, but the show was a bit more relaxed about things back then.

The other sixes are ROADIE and DARKIE (which has a derogatory meaning, but is also another term for the LUDERICK, which is a type of fish).

Naween: HAIRED

Scores: Kashi 6, Naween 14, me 14

Round 3: Target 309 from 75 3 9 7 10 6

The standard method is very tempting, just requiring generating a 4.  I went with 309 = (7 - 3)*75 + 9 at first, then experimented with the factor of 3 to find the alternative solution 309 = 3*(75 + (10 - 6)*7).

Kashi and Naween have both solved this with the first of those solutions, while Lily has the essentially similar 309 = (10 - 6)*75 + 9.

Kashi: 309
Naween: 309
Me: 309
Lily: 309

Scores: Kashi 16, Naween 24, me 24

First break: BORED YAK ("Another place where letters live")

Since I watch at the computer, it was pretty easy to find KEYBOARD from this.

David's talk is about Thomas Bowdler and the term bowdlerise.

Round 4: O E I U L P T H S

I had LIEU ("place; stead"; this most usually is part of the phrase "in lieu of" but does have the requisite stand-alone meaning), POLITE, HOSTILE (amusing by contrast with POLITE), and ISOPLETH ("a line drawn on a map or chart through all points having the same numerical value of any element, or of the ratio of values of two elements") / HOPLITES (HOPLITE: "a heavily armed foot soldier of ancient Greece").

(HOPLITE is a word I was more familiar with, and it has come up a few times in Countdown games that I have played through.  Each time it was pluralisable then ISOPLETH was also available, of course, and ISOPLETH has the advantage of being pluralisable itself.  I was quite pleased that this time I saw ISOPLETH first and HOPLITES second.)

Kashi has PLUSH for five, but Naween has found HOPLITES for eight, stretching his lead to 16.  David also found HOPLITES as his choice.

The other eight is SULPHITE, although you have to know to check under SULFITE ("a salt of sulfurous acid") to find it listed.

The other sevens are HOPLITE, LOUTISH, PITEOUS, OPHITES (OPHITE being a type of rock), HOLIEST / EOLITHS (EOLITH: "a crude flint implement characteristic of the earliest stage of human culture, shaped by, rather than for, use"), PILEOUS ("of or relating to hair"), STIPULE ("(of some plants) one of a pair of lateral appendages, often leaf-like, sometimes thorns, at the base of a leaf petiole"), and TUPELOS (TUPELO being a type of tree).

Kashi: PLUSH

Scores: Kashi 16, Naween 32, me 32

Round 5: B A S O E L N A F

I had BOAS, BASE, SABLE, ABALONE, and a speculative ABALONES.  Pluralising seafood is not always allowed, but I thought that I had looked this up before and it was OK.  Fortunately that turned out to be the case: The plural form is listed as either ABALONE or ABALONES.

Kashi has FABLES for six but Naween has once again found an eight with ABALONES.  His lead is now out to 24, so Kashi needs a victory in at least some form of word round (letters round or the conundrum) in order to have even a chance of victory.  That's definitely on the unlikely side at this point.

ABALONES and ABALONE are the only eight and seven.  The other sixes are FELONS, NOBLES, ANOLES (ANOLE being a type of lizard), and BEANOS (BEANO is listed as a colloquial form of BEANFEAST: "a festivity; celebration; a lavish feast").


Scores: Kashi 16, Naween 40, me 40

Round 6: Target 159 from 75 10 3 7 9 2

Naween goes for a familiar single large number, and gets a good spread of numbers but a disappointingly low target; everyone finds 159 = 2*75 + 9 in short order.

With time to kill I looked for other possibilities and found 159 = 3*(7 - 2)*10 + 9; Lily had done the same, commenting that when it is too easy she looks for more complicated ways.  Still within time I found the solution I like most, using the factor of 3: 159 = (7*9 - 10)*3.

Kashi: 159
Naween: 159
Me: 159
Lily: 159

Scores: Kashi 26, Naween 50, me 50

Second break: MEAN BEST ("A place where you can usually find a bargain")

A reference to the term bargain BASEMENT.

Round 7: P E C A G S U M E

Richard points out that it is still possible for Kashi to win; that would require Kashi to outpoint Naween in this round, though.  Since he'll be declaring second that's very against the odds.

I had PACE, CAGES, SPACE, PEACE, wondered about PEACES but didn't like it enough to write down, and was relieved to find CAMPUS to make that concern irrelevant.

Kashi also has CAMPUS for six while Naween has tried PEACES as his six.  David explains that PEACE is an abstract noun but rules that the meaning of "a state of being tranquil or serene" is pluralisable and thus PEACES is acceptable.  He has ESCAPE as his six, which is the safe anagram of it.  He also laments not being able to have CAMPESE, which amused me as I had had similar thoughts.

That seems to be all the sixes listed, with nothing longer (some sources list ESCUAGE, but not the Macquarie).  With the points shared, Naween is guaranteed the win.

Naween: PEACES

Scores: Kashi 32, Naween 56, me 56

Round 8: Target 234 from 50 1 5 4 3 9

I picked up on the factor of 9 immediately; the cofactor is 26, and I managed to get a solution from that: 234 = (50/(5 - 3) + 1)*9.  Then I tried the standard method, applying a tweak to get 234 = 5*(50 - 3) - 1.  As time ran out I found a way to use the factorisation to avoid the 50, but did not get it down quite in time: 234 = (3*(5 + 4) - 1)*9.  I also noted that approaching this from above should lead relatively easily to the solution 234 = 5*50 - 9 - 4 - 3.

Kashi was not able to get anywhere near it, while Naween falters for the first time with a two-away 236 = 50*4 + (3 + 1)*9.  Note that a simple tweak would have seen him home with 234 = (50 + 9)*4 - (3 - 1).

Lily has yet another solution: 234 = 5*50 - (3 + 1)*4.

Kashi: [not in range]
Naween: 236
Me: 234
Lily: 234

Scores: Kashi 32, Naween 56 (63), me 66


If Naween solves this first then we'll end up tying, which I'd regard as a good result.  But I saw the answer pretty much instantly, and somewhat to my surprise had the win.  Naween found it at the nine second mark to push his score above 70, the second highest game score so far and the highest without a full monty.

Kashi: [no answer]
Naween: ALCHEMIST (9s)

Final scores: Kashi 32, Naween 56 (73), me 76

[I'll note that one of the things that I think helped me with this word was due to my time as a contestant: On the first day that I was at the show, children from St Michael's school were part of the audience.  David set them a challenge of finding the single word anagram of "St Michael's", and it may have stuck.]

Kashi bows out with some decent play -- I think CAMPUS was particularly good, and FABLES was not far off the best option -- but Naween was as excellent on the letters as we would expect.  He only just missed out on an optimal game, which I think would be a contestant first.  (I'm sure Sam would quibble about calling it optimal with a 9 second conundrum solution, mind you.)  Regardless, Naween was just too good today but Kashi will still make it to the finals.


Mike Backhouse said...

As soon as I saw Naween, I knew sadlly Kashi would not be the retiring champion.

My answers:

SHOUT (how did I miss hoplites? Just kidding!)
50+5X4+(9-1)X3=234 (scenic route!)

Happy with that last maths solve. Saw that it was divisible by 3 and was lucky to get the required 78 with the remaining numbers.

Sam Gaffney said...

I definitely saw this episode when it first aired, so although I got optimum answers, it is not particularly meaningful. It was when I saw ABALONES that I knew for sure.

I went too early on the conundrum (~1.1s), but might just have found the real answer with enough time to declare it.

No, I don't think a 9sec conundrum solve is quick enough to declare a perfect game, but seven optimum answers from Naween was still a respectable effort.

Jan said...

I was hoping for some wins in the next few games, so felt deflated when I saw Naween. I had one win against him when I was 1 closer to the target in the last numbers game.

STAINED, STANCED (0) I knew there would be at least one better, but have not memorised my scrabble lists!
Hoiked - invalid
(10-6)*75 + 9 = 309 (10)
2*75 + 9 = 159 (10)
(50-1)*5 = 245 9+4-3 = 10. 245-10 = 235. (7)

JT said...

With the exception of Geoff and Sam expect a long week for the most of us as we watch Naween amzing letters play.

My Answers:
Just Beat Naween to it offically 8.5

Geoff Bailey said...

Nice kitchen sink to 234, Mike, although the addition of brackets would have made it easier to see what you meant: 234 = (50 + 5*4 + 9 - 1)*3. You were on the right track with CHEMICALS, too...

Well played even though seen before, Sam. I think you have a better memory than me for episodes, but even so I'd imagine that only ABALONES might have benefited from this -- I know you've found HOPLITE(S) before.

HOIKED would have been a great word, Jan. A shame that the Macquarie requires HOICKED; I hadn't known that. (Also: STANCE is not a verb, I'm afraid, so STANCED would not be valid -- DECANTS is a safe anagram of it.) ESCAPE was an excellent find in round 7 -- it escaped my eye!

JT: There's still hope, and you had a pretty good game! By my reckoning you ended up only four points behind Naween -- finding ESCAPE would have given you the win. Well played!

Anonymous said...

Im glad Naween won this match and Kashi lost and didn't become a retiring champion. She cheated a few episodes before (writing a few more letters after the 30 seconds time limit) then quite frankly she doesn't deserve to be a retiring champion.