Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Ep 47: Esther Perrins, Sam Chow (September 11, 2012; originally aired October 5, 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.

This is Esther Perrins' third night, and Richard asks about the origins of her word technique.  Esther says that it goes back to the earliest days of her growing up -- she cannot recall a time when they were not playing word games.  She mentions Scrabble and Lexicon in particular; I'd not heard of Lexicon before, but it seems that Richard is familiar with it.

Tonight's challenger is Sam Chow, a student doing a double degree in commerce and science.  Sam is president (or was, rather, in 2010) of the Melbourne University Mathematics and Statistics Society, who produce one of my favourite events of the year: The MUMS Puzzle Hunt.  Sam enjoys playing chess and doing distance running, and also tutors university and secondary students in specialist mathematics.  He was a member of Australia's team to the International Mathematical Olympiad in 2005, getting a bronze medal.  (That year was unusual in that every member of the Australian team gained a bronze medal.)

Both contestants played well tonight, and neither was able to get any advantage over the other.  The numbers rounds were sadly unchallenging, probably the easiest set of three in any game so far.  That presumably was bad luck for Sam who may otherwise have been expected to gain some ground on those.  Both contestants scored equally in the main rounds, but it was Esther who solved the conundrum first to finish with the win, 75 to 65.

I was in the same boat as both contestants, matching them throughout.  David managed to find two better options but they were hard to see and I'm not overly upset about missing them.  That led to a three-way tie going into the conundrum, and fortunately I managed to solve it first.

Round 1: T L E I N C A R G

I had TILE, INTEL / INLET, ARTICLE, and then the G brought a lot of eights into play.  I wrote down CLEARING and spent the rest of the time looking for a nine, but it's just not there.  Afterwards I noted some of the other eights: TRIANGLE / INTEGRAL / RELATING / ALTERING and CREATING / REACTING.

Both contestants have also gone with CLEARING, so we're off to a fine start.  David notes the presence of CLARINET, and if the G had not turned up I might well not have been able to match that; I don't think I've seen CLARINET on the other occasions when it has arisen.

The other eights are ALERTING, CATERING / ARGENTIC (an obsolete word meaning "of or containing silver, with a valency greater than the corresponding argentous compound"), and CLEATING.

Taking a fourth vowel would replace the G with an O, duplicating a mix from episode 388 and allowing CLARIONET (a variant spelling of CLARINET) for nine.


Scores: 8 apiece

Round 2: O E I A K R S H B


The contestants have different words this time, but the same length; Esther has BOARISH and Sam has SHAKIER.  David mentions BEARISH as another seven.

The remaining unmentioned seven is ISOBARE, a variant spelling of ISOBAR.


Scores: 15 apiece

Round 3: Target 275 from 100 50 25 75 8 5

Esther continues her choice of four large numbers, but gets a low multiple of 25 which should not prove much challenge.  I started with two simple options of 275 = 8*25 + 75 and 275 = 5*50 + 25, then eschewed the small numbers entirely with 275 = (50/25)*100 + 75.

As expected, the contestants have solved this.  Sam uses the second of those methods I listed, while Esther has found another option in 275 = 5*25 + 50 + 100.  Lily demonstrates the first of those solutions that I had.

Esther: 275
Sam: 275
Me: 275
Lily: 275

Scores: 25 apiece

First break: GIVEN TEA ("Less than zero")

From the words alone I got the vowels slightly wrong and thought it was NAVIGATE, but the very straight clue set me right as it clearly indicates NEGATIVE.

David's talk is about terms arising in gaming culture: pwn, skillz, noob, and kekeke; he says they are all examples of leetspeak.

Round 4: E O A P D T M S R

I had DOPE, DEPOT, POMADE, STAMPED, and MAESTRO.  After time I noted some other sevens, but there are many: POMADES, DEPORTS / SPORTED, and DAMPEST.

Equal results yet again from the contestants; Esther has STAMPED while Sam has DAMPERS.  David has managed to find the only eight, though: ADOPTERS.

Lots of sevens here.  I was perhaps fortunate that Sam did not select a fourth vowel, as I would have been strongly tempted by IMPASTOED.  While some sources do list that, the Macquarie is not one of them.


Scores: 32 apiece

Round 5: C D I O S Y E P C

Not the best of mixes; I'd have been strongly tempted by a final vowel as an I (which it would have been) allows EPISODIC for eight.  As it was I had DISCO, POISED, COPIES, and COPIED.  It took me probably another minute after time ran out to find CODICES (plural of CODEX) as a seven, and it turns out to be the only one.

Somewhere along the line I noted that if the Y were an E then the letters could spell CODPIECES.  This was, alas, not a useful observation.

A tough mix, and it's not too surprising that neither contestant found the seven.  Sam had POISED while Esther had COPIED.  David has found CODICES, and that's excellent solving.  Well done, David!

There's a fair few other sixes; I'll note SPICED and DECOYS as two of the more common ones.

Esther: COPIED

Scores: 38 apiece

Round 6: Target 101 from 100 25 2 1 9 3

Sam goes for a family mix, and I think that's an error if he assumes that he is better at the numbers -- too much chance of it ending up being too easy.  That is the case here, and everyone looks a bit embarrassed at how easy it is: 101 = 100 + 1, of course.  For fun I also had 101 = 3*(25 + 9) - 1, but the former solution is what everyone uses.

Lily jokes about having a different solution of 101 = 100 + 2 - 1.

Esther: 101
Sam: 101
Me: 101
Lily: 101

Scores: 48 apiece

Second break: MUM MONTE ("Once this answer starts, it's hard to stop")

Sounds like an answer with a certain MOMENTUM.

Round 7: M L I A G T O D E

I had MAIL, GLOAT, GODETIA, and GLOATED.  After time I noted LIGATED as another seven, but could not find an eight.

Yet again the contestants have matched, with Sam having GLOATED and Esther having LIGATED.  David has nothing further to add, and all of the sevens have been listed.


Scores: 55 apiece

Round 8: Target 600 from 25 75 5 9 8 1

The scores are tied going into this round, so the conundrum is guaranteed to be significant.  Sam persists with the family mix, and gets another disappointingly easy target.  Everyone has 600 = 8*75, and although there are several other options it's not even worth listing them.

Esther: 600
Sam: 600
Me: 600

Scores: 65 apiece


Down to the conundrum, and whoever solves this will win.  The -ULAR ending can be tempting, but I was fortunate to look at -OUS first and successfully untangle the rest fairly quickly.  Esther was rather relieved to get there only a second or two later, and Sam is extremely unfortunate not to progress.

Esther: GLAMOROUS (5s)
Sam: [no answer]

Final scores: Esther 65 (75), Sam 65, me 75

Disappointing numbers rounds ruined any chance of separating the contestants on that front, and they both performed well on the letters.  It's a shame that either had to lose; if there was ever any case for a contestant being given a second chance then Sam would certainly be my first choice.  If the numbers had been anything other than trivial he might well have taken the win, but of course it is only an assumption that he would outperform Esther on those.

Regardless, a great game and two great contestants; there's been a particularly good run of them recently.  It is hard to imagine tomorrow's match living up to this level, but I'm looking forward to finding out.

A further note: Sam is the contestant with the highest losing score so far, a record that he still holds (according to a comment that Liam Bastick once made on the SBS website).  I have the second-highest, or at least I did when that observation was made.


Sam Gaffney said...

I definitely watched this episode in 2010, I remember it well: even the targets and solutions for Rounds 2&3 (also, the 100+1 answer is on YouTube). Has there been a less fortunate contestant than Sam Chow? Seven numbers were all that was required to solve the three targets, which could be an L&N record. Mind you, a maths whiz should not have been selecting the family (wuss) mix twice - what is it with you Olympiad types selecting numbers that maximise your opponent's chance of an easy ten points? (Having said that, I'm not sure my points gain on heavweight mixes was any better than the other mixes in my episodes; but with a large enough sample, I expect it would.)

I think I scored the same as I did two years ago, the contestants' letters rounds were mostly easy to match, but very hard to beat.

275 = 5*50+25
101 = 100+1
600 = 75*8

Jan said...

I had one of my best games, actually leading Esther and Sam into the conundrum. But Esther beat me to that. I was on my way to finding glamorous, had the ROUS ending, but unfortunately didn't hit pause quick enough, and so heard the answer. I think I would have got it, but not sure.

100+25*5+50=275 (10)
ADOPTERS (8) really happy I found that one
100 + 3 - 2 = 101 (10) just for another variation!
(5+1)*(75+25) = 600 (10)

Geoff Bailey said...

Great games from both of you, and extra congratulations to Jan for finding ADOPTERS. I agree with Sam -- the contestant's words were mostly easy to match but rather hard to better, and you managed that. (Only round 2 had the contestants dipping into difficult territory.)

JT said...

Sam C was VERY unlucky to get such easy maths games losing any percieved advantage he had with the numbers, the 100+1 I Believe is the most watch L+n video on YouTube. But despite being a hater of the family max like Sam G, I defend Sam C choice of the family mix, it was just the random numbers genartor being very unkind and we have seen family mix can challenging.

My Answers

Geoff Bailey said...

One thing I meant to mention and forgot was that this was also an unusual game on the letters front: There was not a single U in the letters rounds. That may have worked against Esther in the same way that the easy numbers worked against Sam, although to a lesser extent.