Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Ep 46: Esther Perrins, Matt Woodley (September 10, 2012; originally aired October 4, 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.

Esther Perrins is back, hopefully refreshed after the night's sleep.  Richard mentions that Esther is a keen campanologist -- in particular, the kind of bell-ringing that involves pulling on ropes -- and asks for more information about her interest in that.  Esther explains that she has been into it for around thirty-five years; she had friends that did it and they convinced her to give it a go.  She finds it a good balance between physical and mental activity, and that's why she likes it.

Taking up the challenge tonight is Matt Woodley, who has degrees in both education and aquaculture.  Matt's first career was farming: Cultivating lobsters, oysters, and mussels.  He had always had an interest in environmental science and towards the end of high school (in 1988) he read that we had already passed the sustainable level of what we could take from the seas and it was still going up.  That was what set him on his current path; as he notes, it was a fairly new area of study back then and he had to take some of his courses off-campus.

Esther was in cracking form with the letters tonight, kicking off with a couple of good sevens.  Matt got a little ground back in the first numbers round, but Esther continued to extend her lead in the letters and also the following numbers round.  Matt needed an unanswered full monty in the last letters round to even have a chance, but although Esther came up with an invalid word it was not enough for him and the victory was hers.  The conundrum solution eluded them both, and the final scoreline was 43 to 20 to Esther.

I had a rather unsatisfactory game, consistently missing longer words that I feel I should have found; I also missed a numbers target that just needed the application of a common technique.  The result was a rather unwanted matching of my performance on episode 39 -- not a single maximum in the letters at all.  The saving grace was avoiding invalid answers despite several temptations, and managing to solve the conundrum.  Somehow that ended up being enough for me to wobble home ahead, but I was definitely playing well below my best today and that was a lucky result.

Round 1: I H L A U S G O B

I had HAIL, HAUL, HAULS, LAUGHS, and BIOGAS.  After time I noted BOUGHS as another six and later GHOULS, which might have led me to David's answer -- but I only spotted it just before David announced what he had found.

Matt has LAUGHS for six, but Esther lives up to her Scrabble reputation by finding ABOLISH for seven.  Oh, well done!  David has opted for GOULASH, and those are the only sevens.


Scores: Esther 7, Matt 0, me 0

Round 2: R E M C A S F E C

I had CREAM and SCREAM.  I was pretty sure that there was a word from SCREAM + E, but I could not find it within time.  Naturally, after time finished I finally found RACEMES (RACEME: "a simple indeterminate inflorescence in which the flower are borne on short pedicels lying along a common axis, as in the lily-of-the-valley") for seven.

Matt has found FAECES for six while Esther risks the seven of REFACES.  David notes that the RE- words can be tricky, but he had anticipated this and looked it up and it is fine (REFACE: "to renew, restore, or repair the face or surface of (buildings, stone, etc.)").

The other seven is an anagram of RACEMES: AMERCES (AMERCE: "to punish by inflicting a discretionary penalty of any kind").


Scores: Esther 14, Matt 0, me 0

Round 3: Target 519 from 25 100 75 50 7 3

Esther chooses four large numbers again, which is a relief to me as it improves my chances of making up some ground.  The target is very near 525 (which will use up the 7), and the offset of 6 can be made a few ways.  I started with 519 = 7*75 - 3*50/25 and then wrote down a minor variation of 519 = 7*75 - (100 + 50)/25.  Just now I have considered the factor of 3 to find another solution in 519 = 3*(100 + 75 - 50/25).

Esther has failed to get anywhere with this, rather surprisingly as surely she must have a grasp of the 75-times tables.  Matt has managed to get three away with 522 = 7*75 - 3, demonstrating that he can deal with the 75-times tables but is not necessarily familiar with using the large numbers to make small ones.

Lily has a minor variation of the first solution that I used: 519 = 7*75 - (100/50)*3.

Esther: [no answer]
Matt: 522
Me: 519
Lily: 519

Scores: Esther 14, Matt 0 (7), me 10

First break: DAMN RAIN ("Language that sounds a little orange")

That language would be MANDARIN.

David's talk is about how words change meaning over time, with reference to teenage slang such as wicked or sick.  He also mentions awesome, fabulous, and terrific as other words whose current meanings are somewhat different to the original ones.

Round 4: S O N R E C U M I

I had SNORE, CRONES, OUNCES, and CRIMSON.  At the last moment I wrote a desperate NUMERICS, but correctly discounted it.  The letters were so compatible that it seemed like an eight should be around, but I could not see one that I liked.  After time I added MICRONS as another seven, and finally considered the CON- fragment (a lamentable oversight) and found CONSUMER for eight.

Matt has CURES for five, and Esther as expected has found CONSUMER for eight.  David has gone with MONSIEUR as his eight, which may be a little surprising but is listed.  (He also found this in episode 331, incidentally.)

The other eights are COINSURE, INCOMERS / SERMONIC, and MUCRONES (plural of MUCRO: "a short point projecting abruptly, as at the end of a leaf").


Scores: Esther 22, Matt 0 (7), me 10

Round 5: S L E A R T U P D

I had SALE, ALTERS, PLASTER, UPDATES, and wanted UPDATERS (a familiar concept to computer users these days, as it seems most software comes with its own updater) but knew that it was not listed in the Macquarie.  After time I noted STAPLER and then what should have been a fairly findable PASTURED.  I am getting hammered in the letters rounds today.

Matt has PRUDES for six, but Esther has outdone him again with PLASTER for seven.  I feel somewhat reprieved on that front, as if she'd found the eight that I expected her to I would now be twenty points behind.  David has found one, though: PULSATED.

The other eight is PREADULT.  That's only listed as an adjective, so it cannot be pluralised.

Taking a fourth vowel on this mix would have replaced the D with an O, allowing the full monty of SPORULATE ("to undergo multiple division resulting in the production of spores").


Scores: Esther 29, Matt 0 (7), me 17

Round 6: Target 605 from 75 25 50 100 10 9

Matt also decides to try four large numbers -- Sam must be very happy -- and gets a target which is a bit challenging.  Getting one away was always going to be possible, since 625 can be made from the large numbers alone.  I failed to see a way to get to the target, though, and so ended up one off with 606 = 25*(75 - 50) - 10 - 9.

After time I finally saw how to make a useful 5 as 50/10; that's a very important technique to use in the heavyweight mix, but I still have a lot of difficulty noticing it.  That makes a solution very approachable: 605 = 9*75 - (100 - 25) + 50/10; this is the solution that Lily demonstrates later.

Matt is five off the pace with 600, but Esther has also managed to get one away with 606 = 10*50 + 100 + 9 - 75/25.

Esther: 606
Matt: 600
Me: 606
Lily: 605

Scores: Esther 36, Matt 0 (7), me 24

Second break: AGILE TAT ("If you can read this you are too close")

There is a bumper sticker with this written on it in small type; a joke about those who TAILGATE.

Round 7: T K O A R P E T I

This is my last chance to get a maximum on the letters, and I flounder.  I had ROTA, APTER (perhaps dodgy, but allowed under the single-syllable rule; PRATE / TAPER would be better options, though), TROIKA, and saw POTTIER but knew from other experiences that it was not listed.  It felt like there should be a seven, but all I noted after time was ROTATE.

Matt needs a full monty here to still have a chance, but it is just not there and Esther is guaranteed the win.  Matt has found ROTATE, in fact, while Esther has opted for POTTIER.  That's bad luck to her -- you'd have to be familiar with the Macquarie's vagaries to know to avoid it, and I nearly fell into that trap myself.  David points out its invalidity, but has found PATRIOT for seven.  Nice one, David!

The other seven is PARTITE: "divided into parts".

I've failed to find any letters maximum today, and I've already dropped one on the numbers.  I need maxima in the remaining rounds or this will be my new worst effort (since I've been keeping track of maxima).

Esther: [invalid]

Scores: Esther 36, Matt 6 (13), me 30

Round 8: Target 476 from 75 100 50 4 3 8

Matt switches things up again by choosing three of each, and that's always worth a try.  There's a temptation to get to 475 and then hope to adjust by one, but if using the obvious method to get to 475 then that final adjustment is not clear.  I noticed instead that the offset from 500 was 24, leading me to the solution 476 = 4*(75 + 50) - 3*8.  A tweaked version of this approach (seen just now) that could have been used instead is 476 = 8*(75 - 3) - 100.

After time I thought about the original idea of 475 + 1, and realised that setting aside the 4 and 3 to make the 1 would guide one to another solution: 476 = 8*50 + 75 + (4 - 3).  This is the solution that Lily found.

Both contestants have ended up one away with 475 = 4*100 + 75.  The key thing to do here was to think about making the 1 first, rather than at the end; then the above solution can be found reasonably easily.

Esther: 475
Matt: 475
Me: 476
Lily: 476

Scores: Esther 36 (43), Matt 6 (20), me 40


A tough conundrum; I got distracted by -LY and -ABLE or -ABLY fragments for a while, then somehow stumbled upon the answer at the eight second mark.  That let me scrape home a rather undeserved win; meanwhile, time kept ticking away with neither contestant able to unravel this one.  In the end it eluded them both.

Esther: [no answer]
Matt: [no answer]

Final scores: Esther 36 (43), Matt 6 (20), me 50

Excellent work on the letters from Esther, with Matt just not able to match her.  Her numberwork was also reasonable, although she had a lapse on the first numbers round.  She is definitely looking like a strong contender and it is a pleasure to watch her in action.


Jan said...

Hi Geoff, can you please have a look at the previous game's comments, and see if I have got the maths right?

I felt like I didn't have as good a game as last night, and was disappointed that POTTIER wasn't ok. How do you assess whether an IER word is going to be in the Macq dictionary?

3*(100+50) + 75 - 7 = 518 (7)
Invalid solution
pottier - invalid
(4*100) + 75 = 475 (7)

Geoff Bailey said...

Jan: Yes, I've commented there but might as well also say it here -- your revised 669 is correct.

Nice work spotting ABOLISH! I wasn't anywhere close to getting it. As for how you decide whether -IER is going to be listed, in this case I specifically recalled it was not. It feels like a lottery sometimes, to be honest; certainly I've been bitten often enough that I prefer other options if possible. That said, I'd have chanced POTTIER in the absence of experience.

Sam Gaffney said...

519 = 7*75 - (100 + 50)/25
605 = (9 - 75/25)*100 + 50/10
476 = 8*50 + 75 + 4-3

Geoff Bailey said...

Fantastic game, Sam. Consistently excellent results throughout -- well done!

JT said...

I Probably should of got PATRIOT being a mad NFL fan and I just watched NFL that morning...oh well!! CRONIES is an example of my memeory working well..

about 5 minutes