Saturday, 8 September 2012

Ep 45: Angus Kidman, Esther Perrins (September 7, 2012; originally aired October 1, 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.

Angus Kidman gets his turn in the champion's chair tonight.  He gets paid to test drive the latest in technical toys; Richard asks whether Angus is more interested in the things that can be done, or the miniaturisation.  Angus responds that the miniaturisation is the important thing for him; devices can do all sorts of interesting things, but it's getting them into a small form factor so that they can always be at hand to use that has him excited.

Tonight's challenger is Esther Perrins, a former British Scrabble champion.  This continues the show's early run of strong tournament Scrabble players; in fact, Esther appears in the 1986 edition of the Guinness Book of Records for having won the British Scrabble championship with the highest three-game total there had ever been (1782 points, an extremely impressive average of 594 points per game).

Esther struck form early with a good eight-letter word, but then Angus demonstrated that the competition was very much alive by outdoing her in the second round.  The numbers round went to Angus, then Esther took the next letters round and the scores were tied at the halfway mark.  Four shared rounds followed, and for the first time two contestants were on equal scores going into the conundrum.  Esther was the one who solved it first, getting the win by 55 points to 45.

I had mostly good results throughout, but faltered in the middle third.  I was a bit too slow to see the best option in one letters round, and spent too long writing down a backup plan in a numbers round instead of checking for an actual solution.  I was beaten to the conundrum by a reasonable margin, but had fortunately done enough before that to take the win.

Round 1: C L F O I E S N D


Angus has CLOSED for six, but is a bit chagrined when Esther reveals that she has INCLOSED for eight.  David points out CONFIDES as the alternative eight-letter word, and they do seem to be the only pair.

The other sevens are CONFIDE, INCLOSE / CINEOLS (CINEOL: "[...] a terpene ether found in eucalyptus and other essential oils and used in medicine"), FONDLES / ENFOLDS, INFOLDS, OLEFINS (OLEFIN being any of a family of alkenes), INDOLES (INDOLE being a rather unpleasant-smelling amine), and CODEINS (CODEIN being a variant spelling of CODEINE) / SECONDI (plural of SECONDO: "the second or lower part in a duet [...]").


Scores: Angus 0, Esther 8, me 8

Round 2: O I T K U R C O P

Not the most well-meshing set; I had TOUR, TRUCK, and was rather pleased to spot OUTCROP for seven.

Esther has been limited to TRUCK for five, but Angus shows that this match is very much alive by finding OUTCROP also.  David has found the only other seven of PORTICO.

The sixes here are UPROOT, TROPIC, and OCTOPI.  This latter is listed as one of the acceptable plurals of OCTOPUS, along with OCTOPUSES.  I admit that was a surprise to me; the plural form OCTOPI is based on a misunderstanding about the etymology of OCTOPUS, and is frequently listed as incorrect.  My Chambers, for instance, explicitly calls out OCTOPI as wrong; it does mention the archaic alternative of OCTOPODES, though.  In any case, the preferred plural form is undoubtedly OCTOPUSES, but it seems that OCTOPI is good for the show's purposes.

Esther: TRUCK

Scores: Angus 7, Esther 8, me 15

Round 3: Target 329 from 25 75 9 1 2 10

I noted that the target was 4 away from 13*25; it was not immediately obvious how to make a 4 but I looked at how to make the 325 efficiently just in case it would work out.  That could be done using up only the 10 (and the large numbers), and fortunately I saw how to make the 4 from the rest and had a solution: 329 = 10*25 + 75 + (9 - 1)/2.

After time I spent a while trying to make the answer as 320 + 9 or 330 - 1, with the 10 to help, and eventually found another solution of 329 = (75/25)*(9 + 2)*10 - 1.

Esther is four away with 325, which I'm going to guess was 325 = (10 - 9 + 1 + 2)*75 + 25 but there are many other options that get there by using up the 1 and 2.  Angus has managed to get just one away, though, with 330 = (75 + 25 + 10)*(2 + 1); that puts him into the lead.

Lily has solved this, using the same solution that I found within time.

Angus: 330
Esther: 325
Me: 329
Lily: 329

Scores: Angus 7 (14), Esther 8, me 25

First break: FAIR GIFT ("For some, it is art")

It's true that there is some lovely GRAFFITI out there; sadly, there's also a lot of the other kind.

David's talk is about the word busk.

Round 4: H I M A T R U S I

Gah, I spent too much time in this round thinking about the wrong sorts of things instead of looking for more words.  I wanted a final E for MURIATES, but the vowel distribution had been rather unusual at this point and it did not arrive, leaving me floundering a bit.

I had MATH and ATRIUM, and wondered about ATRIUMS.  I was fairly confident that I had looked this up before and the only accepted plural form was ATRIA -- this turns out to have been a correct recollection -- so the search went on.  I noted HIATUS and then HIRSUIT, but remembered that I've made that mistake before -- the word I was thinking of is HIRSUTE ("hairy").

The worrying over ATRIUMS and HIRSUIT cost me precious time; it was not too much after time that I spotted TIRAMISU for eight.  Bother.

Angus has MATHS for five, but Esther ties the scores up with HIATUS for six.  David mentions ATRIUMS, incorrectly so (as mentioned above), but has also found TIRAMISU for eight.

The other eight is ISARITHM, another term for an ISOPLETH ("a line drawn on a map or chart through all points having the same numerical value of any element, or of the ratio of values of two elements").

The seven is SIMITAR (variant spelling of SCIMITAR).

Angus: MATHS
Esther: HIATUS

Scores: Angus 7 (14), Esther 14, me 31

Round 5: M S B E A E G L I

I had BEAMS, wondered about SEMBLAGE but realised that I was thinking of SEMBLANCE, ABLEISM ("discrimination in favour of able-bodied people"), BEAGLES, and GAMBLES.  After time I wrote down GIMBALS ("a contrivance for keeping a suspended object, as a ship's compass, horizontal"; note that there is no corresponding singular form GIMBAL) as another seven.

Both contestants have found seven-letter words; Esther has GAMBLES while Angus has BEAGLES.  David has managed to find SLIMEBAG for eight.  (I thought at first this was wrong, but it is listed under SLIMEBALL as an acceptable variation.)  Well done, David!

The other eight -- I think the plural form is sustainable -- is MILEAGES.  The other sevens are MILEAGE, BAILEES (BAILEE: "someone to whom goods are delivered in bailment"), MILAGES (MILAGE being a variant spelling of MILEAGE), and MEALIES (MEALIE: "(usually plural) South African maize").


Scores: Angus 14 (21), Esther 21, me 38

Round 6: Target 668 from 100 25 75 50 3 2

Esther no-doubt makes Sam happy by choosing four large numbers.  I made a fundamental error here, by spending too much time getting down the one-away option before looking for reaching the target exactly.  I knew that the nearby 675 could be made with large numbers alone, and that gave me one away with 669 = (100 - 75)*25 + 50 - 2*3.  But I'd spent just a bit too long on that, so that when I considered the right line of approach I ran out of time trying to get it down.  That line of thinking was that the offset was 18 from 650, which is 6 from the small numbers and 3 from 75/25.  A short tweak and the solution is clear: 668 = 3*2*(100 + 75/25) + 50.

Both contestants have ended up five away on 673, with the same method: 673 = 2*3*100 + 75 - 50/25.  A little tweaking could have seen them adjust that to one-away and get the points alone, but it was not to be.

Lily demonstrates the solution that I found just too late, although she has swapped the position of the 3's: 668 = (100 + 3)*(75/25)*2 + 50.

Angus: 673
Esther: 673
Me: 669
Lily: 668

Scores: Angus 14 (28), Esther 21 (28), me 45

Second break: LOST NINE ("These children get sent to the principal's office")

To this day, I still remember the right way to spell "principal" due to the mnemonic "the principal is your pal".  I rather doubt that INSOLENT children would agree with the sentiment, though.

Round 7: R H S A E U R V C

I had SHARE, wondered about SHARER (it turns out to be valid) but then saw that RASHER was the safe anagram of it, CARVERS / CRAVERS, and CRASHER.  After time I noted down CRUSHER as yet another seven.

Both contestants have opted for CRUSHER, keeping the scores locked up and ensuring that regardless of the numbers round result the conundrum is going to matter.  David mentions VERRUCA as a seven, and notes that the plural form is VERRUCAE so that VERUCCAS is not acceptable.  That makes his earlier mention of ATRIUMS somewhat more surprising.

The other sevens are ARCHERS and CURARES.


Scores: Angus 21 (35), Esther 28 (35), me 52

Round 8: Target 425 from 25 100 50 75 10 3

Esther stays with the four-large mix, but a target that is a multiple of 25 is rarely troublesome in such circumstances.  I went with 425 = 10*50 - 75, which is also how Lily solved it.  I also wrote down 425 = (10 + 3)*25 + 100 for good measure, but it did not seem particularly worthwhile to find further solutions.

Both contestants have solved this as 425 = 3*100 + 75 + 50, maintaining the tied scores.

Angus: 425
Esther: 425
Me: 425
Lily: 425

Scores: Angus 31 (45), Esther 38 (45), me 62


Richard points out that this is the first time the contestants have been tied going into the conundrum.  He's right about that -- there have been two instances earlier of a final margin of victory being 10 points, but in each of those cases neither contestant had solved the conundrum.  (Those are episode 8 and episode 23, incidentally.)

I was slow off the mark here, continually distracted by INTERFERED.  Esther solved this pretty quickly to take the win, and I managed to get there around five seconds later.

Angus: [no answer]
Esther: DIFFERENT (3s)

Final scores: Angus 31 (45), Esther 48 (55), me 62

This was quite a good match from two excellent competitors, and it was fitting that it came down to the conundrum to decide between them.  It's as expected that the champion Scrabble player solved it first, but Angus played a good game throughout and could well have successfully retired if he had not gone up against Esther.  It's been a pretty enjoyable week, actually, with James, Angus, and Esther all looking in good form; against many other opponents James and Angus might still be around.


Sam Gaffney said...

Angus was unlucky to get a strong opponent so early, he was a good player and quite entertaining. I always liked watching Esther play, too - she is very expressive and shows a lot of personality (and picks heavyweights).

Lily's solve for Round 6 was excellent (if I do say so myself), though my instinct was that she didn't get it quickly - it was a very tough one even for the heavyweight aficionado. I almost got it wrong by having the 2 and 3 around the wrong way until the last second.

I thought I'd had a very good game, until I checked and found that two of my words were invalid!

x (UPTICK - maybe too modern? Saw OUTCROP just as time ran out)
Lily's way
x (ATRIUMS - had no idea about ATRIA)
Lily's way
Lily's way
1.1s (first instinct was INDIFFERENT)

Geoff Bailey said...

I agree with you about Esther, Sam. A fine player, and might well have caused Andrew some trouble in the finals if she had not been jetlagged.

Bad luck on UPTICK and ATRIUMS; both are listed as valid Scrabble words, at least in the source I was using. And you'd have gotten away with ATRIUMS on the show, as it turns out. Still a rather bizarre thing, considering that David ruled out VERRUCAS later on for the same reason.

Mike Backhouse said...

My answers:

CLOSED (I feel similarly chagrined)
75-25-17=33X10=330 (1 off)
Esthers way
(75x10)-(3x100)-25=425 (A bit different to everyone else. Could I have written this out without the brackets-that is, the X has precedence? And what, if anything, is the difference between * and X for denoting multiplication?)
Missed conundrum

Geoff Bailey said...

Yes, multiplication has precedence so you can leave out those brackets. You can use 'X' (or 'x') to denote multiplication just as easily as '*', but the latter is the common convention when representing mathematics in typed text. There are a couple of reasons for this, such as 'x' often being used to represent an unknown value in algebra, so things would get confusing if it could also represent multiplication.

Similarly, in computer programming, an 'x' would look like a variable (or identifier) instead of a multiplication operator. So there again '*' is typically used solely to represent multiplication.

Mike Backhouse said...

Thanks Geoff for the response.

JT said...

I've kept up with the Heavyweights so far...

My Answers

Jan said...

I am glad Sam likes the heavyweight selections. I really miss another one or two small ones. And I got the conundrum in this game, which makes me happy.

10*25 + 75 + 2 + 1 = 328 (wish I had seen the way to make 4) (7)
(2*3)*(100-2) = 594 + 75 = 669 (7)
3*100 + 75 + 50 = 425 (10)
DIFFERENT (around 5 secs)

Geoff Bailey said...

Bad luck on CURVERS, JT, but excellent speed on the conundrum. Plus congratulations on getting the 668 -- a strong night for you with the numbers.

Jan: Your 669 does not work out as written. I could salvage it, but you may wish to check it. (I am taking 50/25 = 2 as given, I should add.) Great work with INCLOSED and the conundrum!

Jan said...

Yep, I see what I have done wrong! I didn't write it out right, and yes the 2 was got from 50/25.
Let's see if I can write it out how it was in my head
2x100 = 200
(200-2)x 3 = 594
594 + 75 = 668
Does that work?
Thank you so much for your help!

Jan said...

Sorry 669

Geoff Bailey said...

Yes, that's what I thought you meant, but it was worth drawing to your attention in case you'd intended something else. Written out in one step, that is 669 = (2*100 - 50/25)*3 + 75.