Thursday, 16 August 2012

Ep 28: Naween Fernando, Daniel Pratt (August 15, 2012; originally aired September 8, 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.

On Naween's third night, again the chat boils down to stating that Naween has done well so far.  Did they use up all his conversational material on the first night?

Tonight's challenger is Daniel Pratt, an English-as-a-Second-Language teacher who lived in France for four years, then moved to Australia six years ago.  Daniel spends much of his time "scouring op shops for jazz albums", but the talk is about his lack of luck when crossing the road.  He has been hit by cars a few times; the first time was by his mother, as it turns out.  He was on his way to a hot date and was waving his mother back out of the car park and her foot slipped off the clutch a bit too fast and left him rubbing his shin and saying "ow" for the rest of the date.

(As an aside, the combination of France and getting hit by a car reminds me of one of the French dialogues that I had to translate at school.  Translated, it went something like: "Excuse me, can you tell me how to get to the hospital?"  "Certainly!  Just close your eyes and cross the road.")

Daniel played a good game and found several good words, but Naween played a better one and his letters play was optimal.  He also continued his decent numbers performance to outscore Daniel there, and solved the conundrum to give him an emphatic 64 to 21 victory.

I had a good back-and-forth tussle with Naween, not quite managing to match his wordplay but making up the ground with the numbers.  I ended up ahead but not safe going into the conundrum, but just managed to solve it first to take the win once more.

Round 1: U A O E R T C Q D

Naween goes for four vowels again, and it's a reasonable mix until that Q turns up; even so, it is still pretty manageable.  I had ROUÉ ("a debauchee or rake"), ROUTE, CURATE, EQUATOR, RACQUET, rejected OUTRACED (I know I've looked that up a few times before and it's not there), and COURTED.  After time I noted down CROQUET and TRADUCE as other sevens, but could not better them.

Daniel has EQUATOR for seven, while Naween decides to try an eight.  I thought he might perhaps come unstuck with OUTRACED (which is legal in Scrabble) but he has seen his way through to the best option of EDUCATOR.  Well done!  That was the best that David could find, too.

It is the only eight; the other sevens are REDCOAT ("a British soldier") / CORDATE ("heart-shaped, as a shell"), CURATED, and TORQUED.


Scores: Naween 8, Daniel 0, me 0

Round 2: N I F R E T G U I


Both contestants have found eight-letter words this time, although Daniel is not sure about his choice of FRUITING.  That is fine, but matched by Naween's beautiful spot of FIGURINE.  Stellar stuff from Naween so far!  David has found INTRIGUE as his eight.

That's all the eights listed.  The sevens are GUNFIRE, NIFTIER (I'll have to keep that one in mind as the valid anagram of the invalid FINITER), UNIFIER, TIERING / IGNITER, RIFTING, and TURFING.


Scores: Naween 16, Daniel 8, me 8

Round 3: Target 449 from 25 10 2 9 8 7

The standard method seems clearly the thing to try, although I got distracted for a while by the possibility of 10*44 + 9.  I found the solution 449 = 2*9*25 - (8 - 7), which is Lily's solution also.  I also saw but did not write down the minor variation 449 = (10 + 8)*25 - (7 + 2)/9.

Daniel has not managed to get anywhere with this, and Naween declares three away with 446 = 25*2*10 - 8*7 + 2.  It takes a little moment before the error is caught: He has used the 2 twice, and so the approach is not valid.

Naween: [invalid]
Daniel: [not in range]
Me: 449
Lily: 449

Scores: Naween 16, Daniel 8, me 18

First break: POLAR DIG ("The son who returns")

A reference to the parable of the PRODIGAL son.

David's talk is about the origins of the names of the elements xenon, neon, argon, antimony, bromine, and cobalt.

Round 4: C S O E L Y A E S

Not surprisingly, too many vowels for my taste once the Y showed up.  I had LOSE, LACES, and SCALES.  I got a bit distracted by the not-quite-there CASSEROLE, but not too much, really.  After time I wondered about COLEASES (which might apply to people sharing a lease), but it is not valid.

Daniel has a rather glum expression as he declares a six.  Richard tries to cheer him up about it, but then Naween declares a seven to justify the attitude.  Daniel's word was CLOSES, and Naween's was SOLACES -- another excellent find.  (I'll note that SOLACE is definitely pluralisable as a noun, but is also a verb.)

David mentions CLASSY as another six, but says that SOLACES is the best of the sevens.  As far as I can tell that is true because it seems to be the only seven; I think David got a bit tangled up in what he was trying to say.

Daniel: CLOSES

Scores: Naween 23, Daniel 8, me 18

Round 5: I A O A R D R N T


Daniel was oh-so-close with RADIANT for seven, but Naween has seen what Daniel did not by finding RADIATOR.  David has found it also, and points out that it was one of the show's early word mixes; in fact, it was the very first one, way back in episode 1.

Richard asks if David has any better, but of course he does not.  David says that he looks forward to the day that he can trump Naween; has he already forgotten the previous game, where he outdid Naween four rounds out of five?

Those are the only words longer than six.  Daniel is in big trouble now at 23 points off the pace, and it's hard to envisage him coming back from that deficit.


Scores: Naween 31, Daniel 8, me 26

Round 6: Target 533 from 50 75 9 10 2 2

The offset from 525 is 8, which is 10 - 2, and that's a tempting line of investigation.  But I'd spotted something else first, and went with the solution 533 = 50*10 + (75 - 9)/2.  Then I noted down one of the ways to apply the other approach: 533 = (9 - 2)*75 + 10 - 2.

Both contestants are three away with 536 = 50*10  + 2*9*2.  Lily's solution uses the standard method slightly differently: 533 = 50*9 + 75 + 10 - 2.

Naween: 536
Daniel: 536
Me: 533
Lily: 533

Scores: Naween 31 (38), Daniel 8 (15), me 36

Second break: RISE COUP ("If you're looking for the answer, give Gollum a ring")

A cute double meaning to "ring" there, which is Gollum's PRECIOUS.  Richard does a passable Gollum impersonation after the break.

Round 7: E I U E P D P H O

Naween breaks from his usual policy -- perhaps due to comments from the presenters this episode -- and picks a fifth vowel.  It's not the most promising of mixes; I had DUPE, PIPED, and HOPPED.

Both contestants have also gone with HOPPED, as has David.  The other six is HIPPED.

Daniel had needed to outscore Naween to have a chance, so Naween is now guaranteed the win.

Naween: HOPPED
Daniel: HOPPED

Scores: Naween 37 (44), Daniel 14 (21), me 42

Round 8: Target 288 from 50 75 8 6 4 3

The final numbers round is unfortunately a bit easy, ruining my chance to get a winning lead over Naween.  The target is 12 away from 300, with multiple ways of getting each and tweaking options as well.  I started with 288 = 4*(75 - 3), which turns out to be Lily's approach, and continued with the untweaked variant 288 = 6*50 - 4*3.  Finally I avoided the large numbers entirely with the solution 288 = 4*8*(6 + 3).

Both contestants declare solutions; Daniel goes first but says that 8*50 is 200 (presumably he was going to simply add on the remaining numbers) but it is 400, of course, and his answer is invalid.  Naween has made no mistake with his solution of 288 = 50*6 - 8 - 4.

Naween: 288
Daniel: [invalid]
Me: 288
Lily: 288

Scores: Naween 47 (54), Daniel 14 (21), me 52


And now the conundrum has lots of vowels in it!  I decided that the -OUS or -IOUS ending was most likely with that many vowels, and that happily guided me to the answer.  Naween got it just a second later, so this one was close!

Naween: DELICIOUS (6s)
Daniel: [no answer]

Final scores: Naween 47 (64), Daniel 14 (21), me 62

Naween was in great form tonight, finding the best options in each letters round.  I was particularly impressed with FIGURINE from round 2, which seemed like a tough word to spot; he was perhaps a little unfortunate that there were a couple of -ING words of equal length.  Daniel also played well, and I feel for him; against another contestant he might have scored very well on the letters.  Certainly his final score does not reflect how well he played.  Daniel took it all in good spirit -- particularly his error on the last numbers round -- and was entertaining throughout.

Naween's faces the crucial fourth game tomorrow, but even if we did not already know how it turned out he would be odds-on favourite to go all the way to retiring champion status.


Jan said...

I had another fairly good game against Naween The numbers are my friend against him

(8+10)*25 - 1 = 449 (10)
(9-2)*75 + 10 - 2 = 533 (10)
6*50 - 4 - 8 = 288 (10)
DELICIOUS (a dead heat) (10)

Geoff Bailey said...

Another very good game from you, Jan -- the numbers are where one has to catch Naween, and you took the opportunities presented. Especially well done on getting the conundrum that quickly; if you won the race there then you'd have the win.

Sam Gaffney said...

I remember watching this episode in 2010, not for the answers, but that Naween was quite gracious after beating Daniel, who did get some good words.

My answers:

invalid: OUTRACED (was sure those letters had an eight)
449 = 9*2*25 - 8 + 7
533 = 10*50 + (75-9)/2 (Lily's way first)
288 = (75-3)*4

JT said...

I'm only hopping that Naween trips up with the numbers big time as I'm not catching up with him in the letters. I've seen court as a verb online but I guess the macqurie dosen't list it so I goes to my many invalid words I've decleared :/

My Answers
Invalid (COURTED)
bit too slow 20s

Geoff Bailey said...

JT: COURTED is fine; it was one of the words in my "found within time" section. I see that the way I listed it after the rejected OUTRACED may have erroneously made it seem invalid, for which my apologies.

Nice numberwork from everyone, which is always going to be a key component when playing against Naween.

Sam: Excellent point about Naween; he handled that really well. I admit I would have liked to see more of Daniel; he had a good sense of humour about matters and a couple of quirks that were engaging rather than annoying.