Thursday, 6 September 2012

Ep 43: James Weatherhead, Pravin Dullur (September 5, 2012; originally aired September 29, 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.

James Weatherhead gets his turn in the champion's seat tonight, and presumably hopes it will be the first of many such appearances.  James loves history, and in particular earlier 20th century American history.  He makes particular mention of Al Capone and Prohibition, and says that he feels it is a sometimes-neglected period of history, coming as it did between two world wars.

Tonight's challenger is Pravin Dullur, a father of two and psychiatrist specialising in child and adolescent health.  Pravin comes from the south of India, and came an impressive third in the Indian version of Mastermind (it's not mentioned which year; my understanding is that each series had 64 contestants from all around India, but of course there were likely a great many more who did not make it past selection and onto the show).

James gained an early lead in the second round, and extended it in a later letters round.  He missed a chance to go further ahead in the second numbers round, and Pravin did quite well in the last letters round to close the gap to a tantalising nine points.  That was the margin going into the conundrum with both keen to solve it to take the win.  In the end it was too difficult for them both, and James got his second win, 54 to 45.

I started off in unsatisfactory fashion, missing a word that I've found before.  A couple of parsimonious letter rounds later in the game proved troublesome, and I missed a numbers solution I would have found on a better day.  All in all, I definitely felt below par, but decent speed on the conundrum kept me well clear of the contestants.

Round 1: A S D E N O U Y T

I had DEANS, ANODES, ASTOUND, and wondered about but correctly rejected UNSTAYED.  After time I saw SOUTANE (a type of cassock) as another seven, and finally UNSTEADY.  That's a slightly incorrect statement, because I had seen UNSTEADY within time but had a mental glitch and told myself that it had a duplicated letter.  Ergh.

The contestants each have seven-letter words, Pravin with ASTOUND and James with DONATES.  I don't know why it is, but I frequently have problems seeing DONATE and derived forms of it in letter mixes.  David has found the only eight of UNSTEADY.

This is the identical letter mix to one from episode 294; I found UNSTEADY that time.  As mentioned there, SNOUTED is the other seven, and some sources (but not the Macquarie) would allow AUTODYNES for nine (or even just AUTODYNE as another eight).


Scores: 7 apiece

Round 2: R A N F I E T S O

Speaking of duplicated mixes, here's one from episode 21.  I had FAIR, INFER, FAINTER, FAINTERS, and recalled Sam once mentioning that there's no full monty from FAINTERS so that was going to be best.  I also noted alternatives of FARINOSE and SEAFRONT within time.

This time Pravin has FRONTS for six while James is unsure about FAINTERS but decides to risk it and is rewarded.  David has SEÑORITA for his eight, which makes me realise that I had missed the anagrams NOTARISE / NOTARIES as the other eights.

That is all the eights mentioned; there's too many sevens to mention, as is to be expected with the retsina mix in play.

Pravin: FRONTS

Scores: James 15, Pravin 7, me 15

Round 3: Target 411 from 100 8 8 2 5 6

I flailed around a bit on this one before settling down to find some answers.  Obviously the 5 needs to be kept to get an odd total (not strictly true -- there are two solutions that involve dividing by 2 in order to get an odd subtotal; the simpler is 411 = (8*100 + 6)/2 + 8).  A four is needed to get close, and I first went with 411 = (6 - 2)*100 + 8 + 8 - 5, then found the alternative of 411 = (8/2)*100 + 6 + 5.

Both contestants have solved this; Pravin used the first of those solutions and James used the second.

James: 411
Pravin: 411
Me: 411

Scores: James 25, Pravin 17, me 25

First break: HEAT SNAP ("It sounds like a pleasant game")

One of the early forays into a genuine cryptic clue, as a PHEASANT is a game bird.

David's talk is about the words robot, cybernetics, and android; he also makes passing mention of Daleks, repeating the possible origin of the name from an encyclopaedia volume.  As far as I'm aware, that story has been repudiated, though.

Round 4: N I R C E T M U L

This was a surprisingly difficult mix for relatively common letters.  I had NICER and LIMNER (LIMN: "to represent in drawing or painting").  After time I noted MINCER as a more common six.

The contestants have also had difficulties with this mix, and have a pair of five-letter words.  James has CRIME to Pravin's UNTIL.  David says that there were some sevens around, but only mentions NUMERIC.

The other sevens are not exactly common: MINUTER (more minute), CENTRUM ("a centre"), TUNICLE ("a vestment worn over the alb by subdeacons [...] and by bishops"), and UTRICLE ("a small sac or bag-like body, as an air-filled cavity in a seaweed").

James: CRIME
Pravin: UNTIL

Scores: James 25 (30), Pravin 17 (22), me 31

Round 5: S A E C I R N D O

I had CASE, CARIES ("decay, as of bone or teeth, or of plant tissue"), CANDIES, ANODISE, thought that ANODISER was worth a risk but then fortunately found CONSIDER as a much safer option.  After time I noted ANEROIDS as the safe anagram of ANODISER (which would have been invalid).

Pravin has CRANES for six, but James pushes his lead past the conundrum mark with his seven of SARDINE.  David has gone with CONSIDER as his eight.

The other eights are SARDONIC, SCENARIO, DIOCESAN, IDOCRASE (another name for the mineral vesuvianite), and ENDOSARC ("the endoplasm of a protozoan").

[Update: Sam Gaffney found the full monty in this mix -- well done!  It is DINOCERAS: "any member of an extinct genus, Dinoceras, comprising the huge horned ungulate mammals of the Eocene of North America; uintatherium".]

Pravin: CRANES

Scores: James 25 (37), Pravin 17 (22), me 39

Round 6: Target 387 from 100 25 50 7 2 5

Pravin opts for three of each, and I got hung up on a couple of non-working approaches.  The first was the observation that the target was close to 775/2, but without an easy way to make a 1 this was not useful (this would have been a workable approach if that 5 were a 1 instead).  The other was to reach the target as 375 + 7 + 5, but again this was not manageable.  I ended up settling for two away with 389 = 7*(50 + 2) + 25.

After time I considered other ways to tweak 7*50, and soon found a solution in 387 = 7*(50 + 5) + 2.

Both contestants have ended up five off the target with 382.  Pravin's method was 382 = (5 - 2)*100 + 50 + 25 + 7, while James was 382 = 50*7 + 25 + 5 + 2.  Note that James missed a simple final adjustment to get closer: 385 = 50*7 + 25 + 5*2.  That would have put him more than 20 points ahead and almost certainly given him the win.

Lily has found an alternative solution of 387 = (50 + 7)*5 + 2 + 100.  Nice one, Lily!

James: 382
Pravin: 382
Me: 389
Lily: 387

Scores: James 25 (44), Pravin 17 (29), me 46

Second break: TOIL CLAY ("You are in the neighbourhood of this answer")

Or to put it another way, you are in the answer's LOCALITY.

Round 7: L I U Z R E T C I

Bleah, what a mix.  If only I'd found some better words in round four I could have done a lot better here.  As it was, I had RULE and LITRE, and wondered about RETICULI.  I knew that there was some ending to RETICUL- (other than RETICULE, which I knew was valid), but was not convinced that it was RETICULUS or even if it were that RETICULI would be the plural.  I was mostly on track with this reasoning; the word I was thinking of turned out to be RETICULUM ("a network") with plural form RETICULA.

After time I noted down CRUET / TRUCE as some of the other fives, and finally saw RELICT ("a plant or animal species living in an environment which has changed from that which is typical for it") as a six.  This would also have been available in round 4, hence my comment above.  (The same could be said of UTRICLE of course, but I had not heard of that prior to looking up better words for round 4.)

James has CURT for four, but Pravin has found the good six of ELICIT.  Nice one!  That gets him to within conundrum range; he cannot afford to lose ground in the numbers round, though.

David has found UTILIZE for seven, which is also well done.  (He calls it an American spelling, but the dictionary does not list it as such.  The whole -ise/-ize debate is part of English also, and very many -ize spellings are allowed that have nothing to do with Americanisms.)  UTILIZE is listed as a variant spelling of UTILISE, and UTILISER is listed as a derived form; I'd hope that UTILIZER would thus be deemed valid, but he has sidestepped that issue for now.

The other seven is UTRICLE, as mentioned above.  The other sixes are RUTILE (a mineral) and CUTLER ("someone who makes, sells, or repairs knives and other cutting instruments").  These are all valid words in round 4, too.

James: CURT
Pravin: ELICIT

Scores: James 25 (44), Pravin 23 (35), me 46

Round 8: Target 775 from 75 100 50 5 7 4

Pravin sticks with his choice of three of each, and gets a rather easy game.  Everyone finds the solution 775 = 7*100 + 75 about as quickly as you would expect.  Just for fun I also wrote down how to get there from 875 with 775 = 7*(75 + 50) - 100.  I also looked at forming it as a multiple of 25 and found the solution 775 = (7*5 - 4)*(100 - 75), although I only finished writing it down after time expired.

James: 775
Pravin: 775
Me: 775

Scores: James 35 (54), Pravin 33 (45), me 56


Thanks to his find of ELICIT in round 7, Pravin can win the game if he solves this.  I spotted the answer early on, although I cannot say what led me to it.  Time ran out with the contestants unable to solve it, and so James got the win.

James: [no answer]
Pravin: [no answer]

Final scores: James 35 (54), Pravin 33 (45), me 66

Particularly decent words from James tonight, although a couple of difficult mixes complicated matters.  He missed an easy adjustment in the second numbers round which would have kept him safe going into the conundrum, but fortunately a tough conundrum favoured him.  Pravin played well to give himself a chance but it was not to be.


Mike Backhouse said...

My answers:

(100+50+25)X2+(5X7)=385 (2 away but closer than contestants)
missed conundrum (just cannot seem to get them in the time).

Sam Gaffney said...

I don't know if I saw this episode in 2010, but I felt bad for Pravin getting knocked out first episode. He was one of many bright contestants who have the disadvantage of not speaking English as their first language (I assume this from his heavy accent, my apologies if I am incorrect in this instance).

FARINOSE (yet another damned FAINTERS mix!)
411 = 8/2*100 + 6+5
x (tried TUMERIC, since that is how TURMERIC is often pronounced. Rejected MINUTER...)
DINOCERAS (look it up)
387 = 7*(50 + 5) + 2
775 = 7*100 + 75
Nothing, tried for ages. I had to be given the first two letters to finally get it.

Jan said...

Sam, I agree with you about Pravin. I think his way of expressing multiplication caused Lily some consternation. It sounded like he was saying 7 into.100, instead of 7 by 100 etc.

Anyway, I did ok and would have come out with a win. The only round I lost was Rd 7. And I did not get the conundrum either

(8/2 x 100) + 6 + 5 = 411 (10)
(50+25) x 5= 375 375+ (2x7) = 389 (7)
(100x7) + 75 = 775 (10)

Sam Gaffney said...

Ha ha, yes Jan: Pravin did say 7 into 100, which would normally imply 100/7 = 14.285714...

Mike Backhouse said...

Sam -you made a comment about heavyweights recently, and it prompted me to think that since the repeats started, I don't think anyone has picked that mix. You seem to have the monopoly on that, at least so far! A heavyweight champion perhaps!? Mike

Geoff Bailey said...

Congratulations, Sam, you comprehensively crushed me on this game. DINOCERAS is excellent -- I have updated the post to include this. I shall take consolation in beating you to the conundrum, but I was right royally drubbed today.

Mike: There have been a couple of goes at the heavyweight mix so far. In fact, the very first episode featured one. So did episodes 3, 12, 17, and 20.

JT said...

My answers:

Sam Gaffney said...

Hi Mike, I would declare myself the champion of selecting heavyweights, with 14/14. Hopefully someone will have the chance to break that record someday!

JT copied my number answers again.