Friday, 7 September 2012

Ep 44: James Weatherhead, Angus Kidman (September 6, 2012; originally aired September 30, 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 is back in the champion's seat, hoping to get his third win.  James plays a certain amount of golf, and Richard points out that the last time James played he got a birdie.  That might not seem that worthy of note (although it's certainly vastly better than I could do, I'm sure), but it's not the traditional golf meaning at work here.  James explains that he was walking down the fairway of the eighteenth hole and a budgerigar landed on his golf bag and would not leave them alone.  It was obviously already domesticated so they took it home and named it Flog ("golf" backwards).

Tonight's challenger is Angus Kidman, a freelance technical writer with a degree in linguistics and a penchant for gadgetry.  Happily, then, he managed to find a job combining both interests.  As Angus puts it, he has always loved writing and playing with computers but did not study either of them at university.  He walked out of university and "fell into" a job writing about computers, and has done it ever since.  Richard asks what kinds of gadgets Angus likes, and Angus responds that he likes most gadgets, pretty much, but particularly likes portable ones -- he wants them to be small.  He continues by saying that the whole history of computing is about stuff getting smaller, and neater, and sometimes weirder.

More information about his writing endeavours can be found at his web site.

Angus showed some solid letters play today, getting off to a good start there.  James missed a couple of chances to get ground back, and Angus was guaranteed the win going into the final numbers round.  James got the consolation prize of a quick solution to the conundrum, but Angus got the win, 58 to 47.

I had a decent game again, and I was particularly pleased with my first and final letters rounds.  I did miss two maximums, one in the letters and one in the numbers.  I'd certainly have liked to do better on those -- the numbers round in particular -- but it was at least acceptable.  There was a full monty going that I found (although it was perhaps the most high-probability one in the game) and that is always nice, and I rounded it out with a quick solve on the conundrum for a score in the 80's.

Round 1: R I A H P O I S T

I had HAIR, PAIR, PARISH, and APHORIST.  After time I noted AIRSHIP as a possible seven.

James starts out with HAIRS for five, but Angus takes the lead due to HARPIST for seven.  David has found APHORIST.

That is the only eight; there may be another seven of THORIAS, depending on how the ruling goes about mass nouns (THORIA being a specific oxide of thorium).

James: HAIRS

Scores: James 0, Angus 0 (7), me 8

Round 2: C L R U E A D G R

I had CURL, CRUEL, GRACED, CUDGEL, CURDLE, and then debated about CURDLER.  I had to rule against it, and that was the right decision, but it left me without a seven.

James has a five-letter word again; this time it is GLADE.  Angus stretches his lead by having found CURDLE for six, and is already more than a conundrum's worth ahead.  David confirms that CURDLER is not valid and compliments Angus on avoiding it; his finds were GUARDER, CRADLER, and REGULAR.

I wish I had seen REGULAR; it should have been pretty findable, but I did not look for the -ULAR ending within time.  The other seven is RUDERAL: "growing near human habitations in waste places".

James: GLADE

Scores: James 0, Angus 6 (13), me 14

Round 3: Target 190 from 75 50 10 4 9 6

The standard method makes this rather easy, and everyone gets 190 = 4*50 - 10 soon enough.  I also avoided the large numbers with the solution 190 = 10*(4 + 6 + 9), but really there was nothing of much interest to this round.

James: 190
Angus: 190
Me: 190
Lily: 190

Scores: James 10, Angus 16 (23), me 24

First break: LAY CHIPS ("Olivia got this in the eighties")

A reference to Olivia Newton-John and the song PHYSICAL.

David's talk is about retronyms, terms introduced to distinguish an old version of an object from a newer version that has become more standard.  He gives examples of analogue watch, snail mail, World War One (although according to QI the term originated early enough that it is not strictly speaking a retronym), and p-book (to distinguish a paper book from current e-books).

Round 4: M X C I E U S P T

This started with a lot of Roman numerals, but fortunately did not continue in that vein.  I had MICE, MUSIC, PUMICES, and wrote down PUMICE in case I decided against the plural form.  Fortunately I correctly decided that PUMICES was acceptable; even aside from the noun form, PUMICE is also a verb.

After time I noted IMPUTES / UPTIMES (UPTIME: "the time in which a computer or a computerised system is operational") as other sevens.

The contestants each have six-letter words; Angus is a bit doubtful about his choice of CUTIES but it is fine.  James has found PUMICE, but missed his chance to gain back ground by appending the S.  David notes that possibility and also IMPETUS, and that's all the sevens listed.

(There's an oddity here as David ties in IMPETUS to Isaac Newton, who he says he was just talking about.  That conversation must not have made it to camera, though.)


Scores: James 10 (16), Angus 16 (29), me 31

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

I had EARNS, REASON, and was having a little trouble making longer (I'd overlooked TREASON / SENATOR) until that final I made the whole thing rather simple with ORDINATES / NOTARISED, probably the highest-probability full monty in the game (RELATIONS / ORIENTALS being the other contender).  I amused myself by writing down eights in the remaining time: NOTARIES / NOTARISE / SEƑORITA, ORDINATE / RATIONED, and STRAINED.  After time I added ANEROIDS to that list.

James is a bit off the pace with STONED for six, and Angus makes him pay for it with his find of RATIONED.  If he'd had the benefit of enough rounds played as we home viewers do, he might have know that RATIONED is an anagram of ORDINATE and thus found the nine of ORDINATES.  David announces that he has found the nine of NOTARISED.

The other eights are ASTEROID, DETRAINS, SEDATION, and INTRADOS ("the interior curve or surface of an arch or vault").

That result puts Angus more than 20 points ahead, and James is in deep trouble now.


Scores: James 10 (16), Angus 16 (37), me 49

Round 6: Target 788 from 100 25 5 10 6 7

I got a little hung up on applying the standard method, with the offsets being either 12 (7 + 5) or 13 (7 + 6), but I was not able to make either work.  As a result I ended up having to scramble to get within scoring range, finishing three away with 785 = 10*(100 - 25) + 7*5.  I could have added 6 at the end, of course, but that would still have been three away.  A little more consideration of that answer (which I did not have time for) could have let me manage one away with 787 = 10*(100 - 25) + 7*6 - 5.

After time I considered the offset from 725 and a tweak led me to the answer: 788 = 7*(100 + 10 - (6 - 5)) + 25.  Tough to see in time -- although I would have liked to -- but I should have managed to get one off.  This is the solution that Lily later demonstrates -- impressive as ever!

Both contestants are seven off the pace, but in different directions.  Angus has 795 = (100 + 10)*7 + 25, and missed the opportunity to turn that into just one off the target by subtracting 6 at the end.  (That was the one-away I think I should have found in time, but if I had done so I might well have then found the further adjustment to turn it into the solution.)  James has 781 = 100*7 + 5*10 + 25 + 6.

James: 781
Angus: 795
Me: 785
Lily: 788

Scores: James 10 (21), Angus 16 (42), me 56

Second break: AISLE NUT ("Wrapped up well in cotton wool")

That would INSULATE something reasonably well.

Round 7: E K C O I S H A B

This is crunch time for James, who must outdo Angus in this round to even have a chance of winning the game.  I had COKE, SICKO, CHOKES, HACKIES (HACKIE being colloquial for a taxidriver), and BACKHOES (BACKHOE: "a small tractor (usually with rubber wheels) with a hydraulically operated scoop at the back for digging trenches, etc."; I don't know why the wheels merit specific mention).  I was a bit concerned that this might be an Americanism but thought it was worth the risk in any case; the Macquarie makes no mention of it being an American term, though, so I was probably under a misapprehension.

Both contestants have found CHOKES for six, and Angus is now guaranteed to win.  David has seen his way through to BACKHOES, rounding out yet another excellent game from him.

The other seven is, not surprisingly, BACKHOE.


Scores: James 10 (27), Angus 16 (48), me 64

Round 8: Target 258 from 75 100 3 2 6 7

I noted that the target was near 259 = 7*37, but this was not immediately useful.  While fiddling around with ways to get close I saw that the offset from 300 was 42, and solutions easily followed.  I wrote down 258 = 3*100 - 6*7 (the solution that both contestants used) and 258 = 6*(100/2 - 7), and then experimented with the standard method to find another way: 258 = (7 + 3)*(100 - 75) + 6 + 2.

Both contestants have solved this, as mentioned, and at least that saves James from the possible spectre of a single-point loss.

James: 258
Angus: 258
Me: 258

Scores: James 20 (37), Angus 26 (58), me 74


One of those situations where the right answer leaps out.  I got there quickly, and James was not that much slower.

James: BAMBOOZLE (3.5s)
Angus: [no answer]

Final scores: James 20 (47), Angus 26 (58), me 84

Angus was just too good on the letters for James to match tonight; he had some good finds, and stayed in decent touch with the numbers.  James had his chances -- if he had appended the S to PUMICE the final margin would have been just 4 points, and there were a few places he could have picked up those points if he had been in a little better form.  But Angus played quite well, and I look forward to seeing more from him tomorrow.


Mike Backhouse said...

Here are mine.

PUMICES (took a risk with the plural and it paid off)
7X100+25/5X(10+6)=780 (8 off)
2X75+100+7=257 (one off)
missed conundrum

Jan said...

I had another 50+ game, with one loss, and three wins against the contestants. I was particularly happy with BACKHOES.

(10x9) x (6+4) = 190 (10)
(7x(100+6+5) ) + 10 = 787 (7)
(100-75) x (7+3) + 6 + 2 = 258 (10)

Sam Gaffney said...

After the very-high-probability nine DINOCERAS in the previous episode, the very-highest-probability nine (I think) appears: NOTARISED/ORDINATES. Round 5 again, for our resident conspiracy theorists!

I took the right path (Lily's) on Round 6 straight away, which means I either saw the episode in 2010, had good instinct, or was lucky. I also thought of WWI when David began talking about retronyms, though that could be coincidence.

I had another struggle on the conundrum tonight. Good job from James there, he really blew hot and cold on letters.

190 = 4*50-10
788 = (100+10-6+5)*7 + 25
258 = 3*100 - 6*7
A few minutes

Geoff Bailey said...

More great results tonight. Congratulations on solving the 788, Sam, and to Jan also for getting within one of it. Further congratulations to Jan on finding BACKHOES -- that's the word of the game, in my opinion. *may be biased due to having found it*

JT said...

I played this late at night probably not a good idea, particuarlly after a long night...

My Answers
3 invalid words!-(EXPECTS,EXCEPTS and CUMINS)

I also note Jan's round 3 answer equals 900!! I assume-(6+4) is actually (6-4)

Sam Gaffney said...

GRADUALS is actually a very good find, JT - DA mentioned it when it came up in the Masters Grand Final. And I think Jan meant (10+9) instead of (10x9).

Sam Gaffney said...

Scratch that, I hadn't looked above to realise the problem with GRADUALS was the phantom letters.

JT said...

That's ok Sam I actually had GRADUAL rather than GRADUALS but took me a little while to realise the double A was the problem, I'm clearly trying to remember words that David may of mentioned which could help with my letters game.