Saturday, 18 August 2012

Ep 30: Naween Fernando, Andrew Bullen (August 17, 2012; originally aired September 10, 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.

We get a tiny bit more insight into Naween at last: He estimates that he spends around half an hour a day studying words.  Naween points out that he has "put in the hard yards" in the past (i.e., done a lot more focused study than that) but these days he would be happy with half an hour.

Challenging Naween is Andrew Bullen, described as a well-travelled editor of science and technology journals.  Andrew enjoys playing soccer for fun and kicking goals for his favourite charity, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.  He has been raising money for them for the past three years; last year he helped to raise over eight thousand dollars.  The soccer club helps here; they (meaning the combination of Andrew and the club) sell drinks at the home matches and run an end-of-season soccer tournament after the main one.

Naween was not in nearly the same form as yesterday's superb game, but the effect on Andrew was similar.  Several errors from Andrew hampered his cause, and in the end he was only able to score in one round when Naween was unlucky with a risky word.  Naween finished off the game with his fastest conundrum solution so far (although still a ways short of Andrew Fisher's typical speed), and a 64 to 5 victory.

I dropped just a little short of optimal, missing the best option in the same round where Naween came unstuck and accidentally writing down a wrong figure in a numbers rounds.  The other rounds were mostly straightforward, but Naween surprisingly missed a couple of better words and I was safe going into the conundrum.

Round 1: I E O A B R T C P

I had BEAR, BORATE, and PROBATE (which turned up fairly recently in episode 22). Prior to the final letter going up I noted that a D would bring BACTEROID (the obscure full monty from episode 15), but recalled that there were a couple of eights in that mix that also had not been found at the time.  I thought that one of them was BORACITE (it was; it is a mineral) but was not sure, and then was relieved to make that concern irrelevant by spotting OPERATIC as a safer eight.

Andrew has found ABORT for five, while Naween has the rather nice APRICOT for seven.  David has found OPERATIC for eight.

The other sevens are EROTICA, ICEBOAT, AEROBIC, PAROTIC ("situated about or near the ear"), ECTOPIA ("the morbid displacement of a bodily organ or part"), and PICRATE ("a salt or ester of picric acid") / PARETIC ("someone who has general paresis", PARESIS being "incomplete motor paralysis").

Andrew: ABORT

Scores: Naween 0 (7), Andrew 0, me 8

Round 2: I D O E H V I U T

Bleah, what a mix.  I had HIDE, wondered about HIVED (it turns out to be valid), VOID, and DUVET.  I'd relatively recently played through a round of Countdown where OUTVIED was possible so I knew that it was not listed in the Macquarie, and five was the best I could do within time.  Afterwards I noted VIDIOT (not valid as yet, but maybe it shall make it into the dictionary one day) and finally saw THOUED as a legal six (THOU as a verb: "to use 'thou' in discourse"; I found this out way back in episode 333).

Andrew has IDIOT for five but Naween tries HIDEOUT for seven.  Richard comments that we've had this word before, and David confirms that we have and also that it is a bit of a trap, as the hyphen is required and HIDEOUT is not valid.  (The previous instance was in episode 18, where Andrew Fisher tried HIDEOUTS, so great minds think alike.)  David has found DEVOUT as the other six.

Those are the only sixes, not that surprising given all those vowels with the awkward consonants.

Naween: [invalid]
Andrew: IDIOT

Scores: Naween 0 (7), Andrew 5, me 13

Round 3: Target 622 from 25 3 5 8 9 8

The standard method was attractive, with the target being 3 away from 25*25.  Fortunately the 25 was easily manageable, and I had the solution 622 = (8 + 8 + 9)*25 - 3.  Then I looked at getting there from below and the numbers cooperated pretty well for that, yielding 622 = 3*8*25 + 9 + 8 + 5.

Andrew is oddly far away with 417 (!), but Naween has solved this with the second of those solutions above; that was also Lily's approach.

There are a few other solutions, several of them coming from 630 - 8.

Naween: 622
Andrew: 417
Me: 622
Lily: 622

Scores: Naween 10 (17), Andrew 5, me 23

First break: RENT PANG ("We are expecting")

A straightforward reference to being PREGNANT.

David's talk is about two words related to crossword compiling: unch (an unchecked square -- one that is part of one word only) and Nina (a hidden message in a crossword).

Round 4: D E S K U B A E M

I had DESK, USED, BUSKED, DEBASE, BEAMED, BEMUSED, MEDUSAE (one plural of MEDUSA, a jellyfish), and wondered about but rightly rejected MUDBAKES.

Andrew has found BEAKED for six, but is outdone by Naween's choice of BEMUSED.  David has found that also, and MEDUSAE for good measure.

That's both the sevens, and there's a fair few sixes.

Andrew: BEAKED

Scores: Naween 17 (24), Andrew 5, me 30

Round 5: I O A E R D C G P

I had ROADIE, CAGIER, and PARODIC.  I wondered if CARGO had acquired a verb sense (and thus that CARGOED would be valid), but fortunately had no need to risk it; just as well, as it is only listed as a noun.

Naween has PRICED for six, but this time Andrew declares a seven... but it was only a six.  He realises that before he tells us what it was, so we don't even find out what his word was.  David has found CORDAGE ("a quantity of wood measured in cords") and PARODIC for seven.

The other sevens are PODGIER, PICADOR, and PERCOID (a fish of the type that includes perches).

Naween: PRICED
Andrew: [invalid]

Scores: Naween 17 (30), Andrew 5, me 37

Round 6: Target 315 from 25 50 7 1 8 7

I spotted immediately that the target was 35*9, which is to say 7*5*9 or 7*45.  I had too much trouble trying to make a 45, but once I split it up further I found a solution: 315 = 7*(8 + 1)*(7 - 50/25).  After time I looked at the standard method, and found that it worked much more easily: 315 = (7 - 1)*50 + 7 + 8.

Andrew is three away with 318, but Naween has solved this with the second of the solutions listed above.  Once again this was also Lily's solution.

There are two other solutions, both using the factor of 7: 315 = 7*(8 + 7)*(50/25 + 1) and -- managing to make that 45 directly -- 315 = 7*(50 - 1 - (25 + 7)/8).

Naween: 315
Andrew: 318
Me: 315
Lily: 315

Scores: Naween 27 (40), Andrew 5, me 47

Second break: IVY CRATE ("What a few good men couldn't handle")

A reference to a famous scene from A Few Good Men, where the truth could not be handled.  Or in this case, VERACITY.

Round 7: I U A E T C N L X

I had CITE, UNLACE, LUNATE, LUNATIC, and (courtesy of yesterday's game) the mineral ALUNITE.  After time I noted TUNICAE (plural of TUNICA: synonymous with anatomical or similar meanings of TUNIC, such as "any loose membranous skin not formed from the epidermis") as another seven.

Andrew has AXLE for four, but Naween has found LUNATIC for seven and is now guaranteed to win.  David mentions INEXACT as another seven.

The other sevens are TUNICLE ("a vestment worn over the alb by subdeacons [...] and by bishops") and CAULINE ("of or relating to a stem").

Andrew: AXLE

Scores: Naween 34 (47), Andrew 5, me 54

Round 8: Target 643 from 75 25 8 7 8 2

The target is 7 away from 650, so that stands out as the approach to take.  I shortly had the solution 643 = 8*75 + 2*25 - 7, and did not have any alternatives within time.  Except... I only noticed a short while ago that I had accidentally written 2*50 instead of 2*25, and that's my first invalid numbers round for some time.  (I'd not caught it when playing through or verifying earlier, either -- in a game situation I could well have scored points here, despite best intentions.)

Both contestants declare one away with 642.  Andrew starts with (8 - 2)*75, fails to state the subtotal and then says simply that he has made a mistake.  I'm not sure what happened there, really, but this was a good start to an alternative solution: 643 = (8 - 2)*75 + 8*25 - 7; that is the solution that Lily demonstrates later.  Meanwhile, Naween gets the points with 642 = 75*8 + 25 + 7 + 8 + 2.

There are only two other solutions; the first uses 650 - 7 also, albeit in more complicated fashion: 643 = ((8 + 8)*25 - 75)*2 - 7.  The second uses an idea that I had discarded but that turns out to be manageable: 643 = 675 - 32.  675 is 9*75, of course, and 32 is 4*8.  Neither the 9 nor the 4 is easily formed, but multiply the whole thing by 2 and they turn into 18 and 8, which are much easier.  The solution that follows is 643 = ((25 - 7)*75 - 8*8)/2.

Naween: 642
Andrew: [invalid]
Me: [invalid]
Lily: 643

Scores: Naween 41 (54), Andrew 5, me 54


This is one of those conundrums that just leapt out at me.  The J is a useful point to focus on, and ADJ- is a tempting fragment that leads to the solution.  Naween may well have been working on similar lines, and had his fastest conundrum solution to date at four seconds in.

Naween: ADJOURNED (4s)
Andrew: [no answer]
Me: ADJOURNED (1.5s)

Final scores: Naween 41 (64), Andrew 5, me 64

Good consistent play from Naween, although missing a couple of words he might have found at another time; perhaps he was tired after a day of filming.  Andrew, like Frances, was unfortunate to run into a dominant champion in his time on the show.  Andrew was perhaps a little fortunate, though; if Naween had seen and stayed with a six-letter word in the second round then Andrew would have had the unwelcome record of a zero score.

Naween has continued to score highly, and needs just 60 points in his last game to match Andrew Fisher's total of 415.  I'll be interested to see how that plays out.


Sam Gaffney said...

I didn't recall any particulars from this episode - Naween annihilating his opponent is not exactly a one-off event. However, my words were all mentioned by him or David, which always heightens my suspicions that I have seen it.

invalid: HIDEOUT
622 = 8*3*25 + 5+8+9
PARODIC (chosen over PODGIER)
315 = (7-1)*50+8+7 (quite late)
643 = 8*75 + 2*25 - 7

Jan said...

This was my worst game against Narween, and I didn't even beat him in the numbers. I went for the wrong combo to make 25 in the first numbers round. Anyway...

8-3=5. 5*5 x 25 = 625 - (9-8) = 624 (0)
(7-1)*50 + 8 + 7 = 315 (10)
ANTIC (0) how did I not see lunatic
8*(75+7) = 656 - 8 - 2 = 646 (0)

Geoff Bailey said...

ANTIC is a great word, Jan, even if it did not score the points. My condolences on the numbers this round; as a point of technique, I'll note that tweaking could have let you get one closer with that approach in the first numbers round: 620 = 5*(5*25 - (9 - 8)).

Similarly (sort of), in the last numbers round your intermediate step was 13 away from the target, and you were able to make a 10. But subtracting that 10 from 25 gives you 15, which would be one closer: 641 = 8*(75 + 7) - (25 - 8 - 2).

The commonality here is that there is a calculation in two parts that gets near, and one then looks at those parts to see if a small improvement is possible.

(A much more complicated development of that idea on the last one: 64 - 50 is 14, so a tweak and adjustment would give a one-away 642 = 8*(75 + 7 - 8) + 2*25.)

It can be a useful technique if one gets close with some leeway (such as an unused number, or some tweaking potential). Obviously it's not always applicable, but it's handy to have in the arsenal.

Jan said...

Thanks Geoff for your tweaking hints. If I had more than 30 seconds it would be great, to think thru all the various options! I am improving with my tweaking, but obviously still have a way to go!

JT said...

No Apologies needed for possible mistakes on this blog Geoff, you do a great job in keeping up with all the games that there will be times where you put in mistake ep 28.
As for this game Probably Naween's best numbers performance in his intital 6 episodes and also solid with the letters as per usual, my performance meanwhile was marred by shockers with the family mix :/.

My Answers:
Shortly after Naween

Geoff Bailey said...

Yes, definitely Naween's best numbers performance. And I'm afraid the Macquarie does not list GOADER, a little to my surprise.