Monday, 1 February 2016

Ep 29: Naween Fernando, Frances Weinberg (August 16, 2012; originally aired September 9, 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's a further wrinkle in this game, because I've been expecting a high-scoring one from Naween for some time.  It turned out to be today, so I was on the lookout for long words after the first round.  That may have been significant in at least one round.

This is Naween's fourth night, and once more there's no substance to the chat; Richard comments about Naween's consistent approaches to the selections, and asks if he has particular techniques.  Naween says that he aims to keep things simple, and remain calm if he can.

Tonight's challenger is Frances Weinberg, a physiotherapist and recent Mensa inductee.  She has two lifelong goals: To climb Mount Everest, and to become a quiz show champion.  Richard asks which she thinks is more likely, and she admits that -- having watched Naween the last few nights -- she might have to get her hiking shoes ready.

Frances looked a little nervous at the start -- fair enough, under the circumstances -- and doesn't really get to shine as Naween completely dominates in the letters.  She was recently interviewed on the SHTICK (about physiotherapy), and is a bit more vivacious there.

The letters lined up beautifully for Naween, and he started off with a pair of full monties that pretty much meant the game was over right then.  He found eight-letter words in the remaining letter rounds, and managed to keep up his scoring in the numbers rounds also.  Naween had the game wrapped up at the end of round five, the earliest it is possible to do so.  Frances was only able to get points in one round (a numbers round), and when Naween solved the conundrum the final scoreline was a devastating 94 to 10 in his favour.

I was a bit forewarned, thanks to knowing that Naween had a high-scoring game and recollecting some comments from finals episodes about his letters performance.  Once the first round produced a full monty I knew that eight was the minimum to look for elsewhere, which may have prompted me to risk a word I would not otherwise have done.  I was able to navigate the letters rounds safely and solve all the numbers rounds, and recovered from a conundrum slip to register an optimal game, although tainted by foreknowledge.

Round 1: A O E I M S N W R

I had MESA, MASON, ANOMIE ("the state of alienation experienced as a result of the absence of social norms or values"), ANOMIES, worried about that W, and then saw WOMANISER once the R turned up.  That told me that this was going to be the high-scoring game, but more about that in a moment.  I also found AIRWOMEN (one of the few -WOMEN words in the Macquarie; I first found this way back in episode 308), SNOWIER, and remembered to write down WOMANISE as another eight.

Frances has MINES for five but Naween has found WOMANISER for nine.  Wonderful solving!

The other eights here are ROMANISE ("to put into roman type") / ROMAINES (ROMAINE being a type of fabric, and also another name for cos lettuce) / MORAINES (MORAINE: "a ridge, mound, or irregular mass of boulders, gravel, sand, and clay, transported in or on a glacier").  There's a decent number of sevens, my favourite being WINSOME.

As I mentioned in the summary, in one of the finals episodes (episode 95) Richard mentioned that Naween had one game where he found two nine-letter words and three eight-letter words.  That piece of information has stuck with me, and when I spotted the full monty here I knew that this must be the round.  So for the rest of the game I was aware that eight was the minimum to aim at in the letters rounds; obviously that makes all my results here fairly suspect.

Frances: MINES

Scores: Naween 18, Frances 0, me 18

Round 2: T A L E S I N U D

I had LATE, STEAL (I was eschewing the obvious TALE and TALES), TISANE, INSULATE, and at that point pretty much expected the final D for the second full monty.  It turned up, and I had INSULATED for nine.  I also wrote down AUDIENTS / SINUATED as other eights, those being reasonably strong in my memory thanks to the recent episode 26.

Frances debates between declaring a six or a seven, and decides to go with the safe six of DENTAL.  Possibly the risky seven was DENTALS, which would have been fine -- DENTAL as a noun is a term from phonetics, referring to a sound made "with the tongue tip touching or near the upper front teeth".  Naween has found INSULATED as expected, for a mammoth 36 point lead after just two rounds.

That is most likely a winning margin; certainly it would be very hard to recover from.  If Naween plays optimally in the letters (as such an opening would suggest) it would take all three numbers rounds and the conundrum just to make up this initial deficit.  Unanswered full monties are crushing blows.  (As things turned out, if Naween picked invalid answers for the rest of the rounds he still would have won the game against Frances' remaining answers.)

Lots of sevens in this mix, as is to be expected.  The other eights are UNSALTED, UNLISTED / INSULTED / DILUENTS (DILUENT: "a diluting substance, especially one that dilutes the blood"), and ALUNITES (ALUNITE being a mineral).

With both full monties out of the way, it must be eight-letter words for the remaining three rounds.

Frances: DENTAL

Scores: Naween 36, Frances 0, me 36

Round 3: Target 705 from 50 8 5 2 10 3

The standard method suggests making this as 14*50 + 5, and it's just a question of how to make a 14.  I first found 705 = (8 + 2*3)*50 + 5, and then the alternative 705 = 2*(10 - 3)*50 + 5.  A fair way after time I was able to get the factor of 5 to work, with the solution 705 = (3*50 - (10 + 8)/2)*5.

Naween's demeanour is quite different in the numbers rounds; he has to work on those!  Frances got completely flustered and was not able to provide an answer at all, while Naween managed to get three away with 702 = (5 + 10)*50 - 8*3*2.  Note that a simple tweak would have gained him a solution with 705 = (5 + 10)*(50 - 3).  So far, Andrew Fisher is still the only contestant to have demonstrated any ability to tweak.

Lily shows another way to make the 14, getting the solution 705 = (8/2 + 10)*50 + 5.

Naween: 702
Frances: [no answer]
Me: 705
Lily: 705

Scores: Naween 36 (43), Frances 0, me 46

First break: STOP MINE ("Jobs for the family")

I was looking at this word just earlier thanks to an episode of Countdown; I found PIMENTOS then, but the anagram of it I have trouble remembering is NEPOTISM.

David's talk is about the origins of words for some of the cycling races: criterium, madison, and keirin.  He also mentions velocipede and peloton in passing.

Round 4: H B A M I C T E S

I thought for a moment that we were going to see BOHEMIAS again, but more work was required.  I had MACH, MATCH, MATCHES, BATCHES, ATHEISM, CHEMIST, and finally spotted MISTEACH for the eight.  Wow, that takes me back... it was a word that I wimped out on in episode 302, the second episode of this blog.  This time I know better!

Frances seems somewhat embarrassed to declare SHAME for five, and Naween decides to give MISTEACH a go.  David has to look it up but declares that it is fine; David has found an anagram of it as his eight: TACHISME ("a style of action painting of the post-1950s [...]").  Nice one!

The other eight is yet another anagram of this: HEMATICS.  The Macquarie is a bit unhelpful here, with HEMATIC not having a separate entry, but looking under HAEMATIC reveals it as an acceptable alternative spelling (HAEMATIC being a medicine that acts on the blood).

The other sevens are HEMATIC, AITCHES, BITCHES, CAMBIST ("a dealer in the foreign exchange market"), and SEMATIC ("serving as a sign or warning of danger [...]").

Frances: SHAME

Scores: Naween 44 (51), Frances 0, me 54

Round 5: O E U I R P N Z D

That Z feels like a spoiler; I had ROUÉ (I mentioned this just yesterday: "a debauchee or rake"), OPINE, PURINE, IRONED, POUNDER, and UNPRIZED.  I wasn't sure about that last one (which does turn out to be valid); had I not been sure that Naween had a valid eight I might well not have risked it.

Frances has a few sixes, but settles on PRIZED as her choice.  That makes Naween's choice of UNPRIZED hurt somewhat, alas.  David had the dictionary open already -- he turned to the right section approximately one second into time, which shows just how good he is -- and confirms that it is valid.  (It is in the block entries, not the main ones, which is why he has to check in two places, for those paying careful attention.)

It looks like the only eight; the other seven is DOURINE ("an infectious disease of horses [...]").

Naween is 59 points ahead, and the remaining rounds can produce at most 48 points, so he is guaranteed the win.  The end of round five is the earliest that can happen, so Naween has set a record here.

Frances: PRIZED

Scores: Naween 52 (59), Frances 0, me 62

Round 6: Target 356 from 100 50 2 6 9 1

The standard method must apply, and it's just a question of how to get to the 350.  I started with 356 = 9*50 - 100 + 6, and then found the alternative 356 = (9 - 2)*50 + 6; this second method was also Lily's approach.

Both contestants solved this with 356 = (1 + 2)*100 + 50 + 6.  Frances is very happy to finally have some points.

Naween: 356
Frances: 356
Me: 356
Lily: 356

Scores: Naween 62 (69), Frances 10, me 72

Second break: TRAIN CUT ("A bit on the quiet side")

Someone who is quiet might be said to be TACITURN.

Round 7: O E A A C L S G N

I had COLA, LACES, SOLACE (thanks to yesterday's game again), LASAGNE, and CONGEALS.

Frances has found GLANCES for seven, and she is a bit more cheerful about being beaten now that she has some points on the board.  Naween has found CONGEALS for eight, and as he notes it was a last moment find -- he started writing with just one and a half seconds left on the clock.  He writes faster than I do!

David mentions LASAGNE as one of his finds; he probably also found CONGEALS, as the dictionary is open to it so that he can give the etymology, but this is not stated.

The other sevens are CONGEAL, ANLACES (ANLACE: "a medieval dagger or short sword, worn in front of the person"), CANOLAS, and GALENAS (GALENA being a mineral, the principal ore of lead).

Frances: GLANCES

Scores: Naween 70 (77), Frances 10, me 80

Round 8: Target 147 from 50 75 7 2 6 5

A low target, but there's a small amount of bite to it.  I found the solution 147 = 2*75 - 50/5 + 7 and then managed to use the factor of 7 to get the alternative solution 147 = 7*(75 - 50 - (6 - 2)).  After time I saw another solution in 147 = 2*75 - 6/(7 - 5), and just now I have seen 147 = 75 + 50 + 2*(6 + 5).

Both contestants declare one away with 148; Frances states (7 - 6 + 2)*50 - 2, but that uses the 2 twice and her attempt is invalid.  Naween's answer is 148 = 75*2 - (7 - 5).

Lily has found yet another method using a little tweak: 147 = (75 - 5)*2 + 7.

Naween needed to solve this round exactly in order to have a chance of overtaking Andrew Fisher's high score of 95.  As it is, solving the conundrum will leave him just short of that mark, on a still-impressive 94 points.

Naween: 148
Frances: [invalid]
Me: 147
Lily: 147

Scores: Naween 70 (84), Frances 10, me 90


Phew, I just barely avoided marring a quite satisfactory game; I buzzed in at the one second mark thinking I saw REQUISITE, but recognised my mistake and found the correction within time.  It's quite probable that this was due to those excursions into the blue book, though -- it looks like it should be a tough conundrum.  Time ticks on, but Naween managed to solve this near the end, becoming the second contestant to score over 90.

Naween: TURQUOISE (23s)
Frances: [no answer]

Final scores: Naween 70 (94), Frances 10, me 100

Frances looks somewhat happier now that the game is over and she can enjoy the game for what it was: A tour de force by one of the game's best players.  Naween was simply brilliant on the words tonight, finding the best possible answers in each round.  Four of them were the only ones, and the other case was MISTEACH / TACHISME / HEMATICS, none of which are particularly easy finds.  Naween followed that up with decent contributions in the numbers rounds; although if he'd been just a fraction better there he could have overtaken Andrew Fisher's record score.

It was this performance -- although I had not known the details -- that I was thinking of when I responded to JT's comment on episode 15.  It sets a pretty high bar as far as letters performance goes.


Sam Gaffney said...

I specifically remembered WOMANISER from this episode, and poor Frances - talk about thrown to the lions! Given that the third-highest score on L&N is 81 points, a victory margin of 84 is a record that could stand for a long time (especially if the show doesn't come back).

I didn't get MISTEACH, though I got everything else, the conundrum was around 8s. However, if I hadn't seen this episode before, and didn't know that Naween had a 2x9+3x8 game at some point, I think it is unlikely I would have scored as highly. I would have got at least ROMAINES/MORAINES in Round 1, and I think I could well have got INSULATED, but I mightn't have chanced UNPRIZED, or expected to find CONGEALS.

Naween's only lightning conundrum in the episodes Geoff has blogged has been his Masters QF against Jacob, which has surprised me, as letters work like this episode led me to remember him as an omnipotent anagram monster (like Andrew Fisher). That could be partly chance, as some of his conundrums have been difficult, but Andrew does stand head-and-shoulders above everyone else on conundrum performance: eight solved out of ten, all in under four seconds.

Victor said...

Yes, poor Frances, I would not have liked to be playing in this episode. I think she handled it well - I probably would have crouched and hid under the table at some point and they'd have to drag me out kicking and screaming.

I had the foreknowledge bias from episode 95, which helped me keep pace for 3 rounds (although I've found INSULATE before so I'll claim that). Thereafter, despite knowing that Naween would come up with 8s I simply couldn't produce valid 8s in time. The numbers helped but I was nowhere near getting the conundrum.

705 = 2*(10 - 3)*50 + 5
POUNDER (could not see any 8s - was thinking maybe UNDERZIP?!)
356 = 6*(50 + 9) + 2
x (COLAGENS) (getting desperate here)
147 = 2*(75 - 5) + 7

Jan said...

I too felt sorry for Frances. Naween was on fire with this game. Two full Monties to start with. I wonder when David starts calling them full monties. And also when the number picks start getting their names.

I managed to beat Naween on 2 numbers rounds

(8/2 + 10)*50 + 5 = 705 (10)
UNPRIZED. (8). Yay!
(9-2)*50 + 6 = 356 (10)
2*75 = 150. 7-5 = 2. 6/2 = 3 150-3 = 147. (10)

Geoff, fantastic game played by you

JT said...

I'm so suprised that Frances stayed fairly calm during Naween's masterclass, which has to be undoubtely the best letters peformance ever on L+N, capping Andrew performance in ep 15 which I intially said was the best. If i were Frances I would of have probably gone bolting out of the SBS/ABC studios quicker than Usain Bolt and never watch L+N again! I did find WOMANISER although fairly late, but didn't find the second 9 next round and then faded after that in the letters and also fell in the REQUISITE trap.

My Answers:
705 = (8/2 + 10)*50 + 5.
356-had both contestants and lily's in time

Geoff Bailey said...

Some pretty good results on show here! I feel I should emphasise that, although I went into this game without specific knowledge of the words, the twin advantages of having played through these rounds before and knowing that eights were around must have been a huge factor.

I'm pretty sure that when playing through the blue book the first time I found AIRWOMEN and was rather surprised to be beaten. It's one of those chicken-and-egg situations where I legitimately found WOMANISER this time, but only because I'd been attuned to it by seeing it in a game before... which turned out to be this one.

I've got no qualms claiming INSULATED as I'd spotted INSULATE before the D arrived. MISTEACH could go either way, although I was definitely helped by knowing there was an eight. Similarly for CONGEALS -- I might well have stayed with LASAGNE if not for that knowledge that kept me searching just a bit longer. As for whether I would have chanced UNPRIZED or not... *spreads hands*

Extra kudos to Naween for brilliant wordwork in this episode under the pressure of an actual game situation. Simply magnificent.

I shared Sam's surprise about the conundrums, but I did recollect that Naween took a little longer than Andrew did. Andrew is definitely the best conundrum solver I've seen on the show, although I have seen better on Countdown.

I like UNDERZIP as a try for that round, Victor -- I completely missed the UNDER- fragment. Well spotted, even if not useful this time. Bad luck on COLAGENS, too -- good vision once more, even if it did need a double L.

Good work with those numbers, Jan, and also on getting UNPRIZED. Getting any points on the letters against Naween in this episode is something to be proud of!

A fine start, JT, with SINUATED having reasonable expectations of scoring points under other circumstances. My sympathies about the REQUISITE trap, of course.

Geoff Bailey said...

Gah, I updated this post to include a link to the rounds, and for some reason it has been reposted with today's date. Apologies to anyone who thinks this is a new post.

Mike Backhouse said...

Some great play above. I thought I was doing well getting INSULTED. Grrr...