Friday, 14 September 2012

Ep 49: Liam Bastick, Dean Schwab (September 13, 2012; originally aired October 7, 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.

It's Liam Bastick's first night as champion, and Richard comments that music is a large part of Liam's life.  Liam reveals that he owns twenty thousand CDs, which certainly seems like a lot to me.  Liam used to work for the BBC and acquired a good deal of promotional material as a result, which explains part of that.  His partner has suggested to him that he should sell the CDs and buy the house outright; I'm not sure how much second-hand CDs sell for these days, but that may be a rosy view of their worth.

Challenging Liam is Dean Schwab, a football umpire and insolvency specialist with a degree in accounting; Dean is hoping to becoming a chartered accountant by the end of the year.  He is also a keen coin collector, having done so for most of his life (his grandfather got him started).  His pride of collection is a penny from 1904.  (Australia did not have its own currency until 1910, and pennies not until 1911, so it is presumably a British penny.  Such a coin in mint condition might be worth as much as $150, or so a cursory search suggests to me.)

Dean fell victim to a phantom letter in the first letters round, and did not seem able to recover from that.  Liam steadily forged ahead in both facets of the game; Dean managed to get some ground back in the fourth round with a good word that he could easily have made better, but that was it for him.  Liam rounded out a good night by solving the conundrum fairly quickly for a comprehensive 60 to 7 victory.

I... yeesh, this hurts.  I had a reasonable game, really, but I was about five seconds too slow to make it into a fantastic one.  The opportunity was there to outdo both David and Lily in the same game, and not only that but to come out genuinely ahead in a head-to-head against them.  I missed the longer word, though, and an unlikely-to-be-repeated chance went begging.  I could still have salvaged a higher solo total by solving the conundrum, but it was too difficult for me, and what could have been great became merely good.

Round 1: C L D A U E S D R

I had CAUL, LACED, CAUSED, SECULAR, LADDERS, wondered about CLADDERS and CUDDLERS, and CUDDLES.  I was a bit tempted by CUDDLERS but correctly decided it was too risky, so stayed with seven.  That was the right decision -- CLADDERS is not valid, and neither is CUDDLERS although it would be accepted in Scrabble.

The contestants each start with seven-letter words, Liam with CRADLES and Dean with RECLUSE.  But Dean has made the common error of reusing a letter and his answer is invalid.  David has found CRUSADED for eight.

The other eight is ADDUCERS (ADDUCER being the agent noun derived from ADDUCE: "to bring forward in argument; cite as pertinent or conclusive").

Dean: [invalid]

Scores: Liam 7, Dean 0, me 7

Round 2: D A T O F N I E T

I had TOAD, FANTOD (marked as obsolete: "a temperamental mannerism or affectation; performance"), FAINTED, and NOTATED.

Dean has FINED for five, but Liam extends his lead due to DONATE for six.  I'm a little surprised that FAINTED was missed, but David has outdone me in any case with ANTIDOTE.

Great solving from David; the other eights are TETANOID (which I might have seen if I had considered the -OID fragment; it is the adjective derived from TETANUS) and FETATION (a new word to me, it is listed (twice, bizarrely) as an American version of FOETATION: "pregnancy; gestation").

The other sevens are DEFIANT and TAINTED.


Scores: Liam 7 (13), Dean 0, me 14

Round 3: Target 661 from 75 10 9 3 10 8

Liam chooses a single large number as usual; my first instinct was to try to make this as 675 - 14, but how to make a 14 was not obvious.  Then I considered it as 670 - 9 and that turned out to be much easier, giving me the solution 661 = 10*(75 - 8) - 9.  With that sorted out I was able to revisit my original idea and get it to work: 661 = 9*75 - (3*8 - 10).

Dean is oddly far outside the scoring range with 680; I'm genuinely at a loss to explain that one especially as 9*75 is closer.  Liam has managed to get just one away with 660 = 9*75 - (10 + 8 - 3).

Lily has another solution in 661 = 8*75 + (10 - 3)*10 - 9.

Liam's lead is now up to an imposing twenty points, and Dean is in a lot of trouble.

Liam: 660
Dean: [not in range]
Me: 661
Lily: 661

Scores: Liam 7 (20), Dean 0, me 24

First break: PAYS MYTH ("The Stones had this for the devil")

A reference to the Rolling Stones song SYMPATHY for the Devil.

David's talk is about the words septum, uvula, and fraenum.

Round 4: S A N P I U C E S

I had SPAN, PAINS, PANICS, and then a trio of uncertain eights: PACINESS, INSCAPES, and INSPACES.  That left me oscillating between trying to convince myself that one of those eights was all right and trying to find a seven to fall back on.  That meant, of course, that I was not concentrating on what I should have been: Finding better words.  A few seconds after time expired I considered the -ANCE ending and immediately saw PUISSANCE (listed as archaic for "power; might; force") for nine.  Argh!

With a findable nine gone begging, it was a minor consolation to correctly select the only valid one out of those eights: INSCAPES (INSCAPE: "the essential inner nature of a thing, person, emotion, etc.").  PACINESS is listed in some sources but not the Macquarie, and INSPACES seems to be just an inaccurate recollection of INSCAPES.  I wasn't certain about INSCAPES, but without a seven to fall back on it was the better option.

Liam has PANICS for six, but Dean has found the good AUSPICE ("a propitious circumstance") for seven.  A great find, but rather odd that he did not think to pluralise it for AUSPICES; that is what David has done.

So David missed the nine also; that's a minor consolation in one way, but also makes the game somewhat more frustrating in another -- I could have had a personal record solo gain over David and Lily if I had seen it within time.

Still, seven points to Dean gets him closer to contention, and more importantly a gain in the letters is a hopeful sign.  He still needs a few more good results, though.

The other eight is ISSUANCE, and the other sevens are INSCAPE, PANSIES, UNCASES / USANCES, CASEINS (proteins in milk), SUPINES (plural of SUPINE: "(in Latin) a noun form derived from verbs, appearing only in the accusative and the dative-ablative [...]"), and INCUSES (not the plural of the bone INCUS as I thought it would be -- that plural is INCUDES -- but the present participle of the verb INCUSE: "to hammer or stamp, as a figure on a coin").


Scores: Liam 7 (20), Dean 0 (7), me 32

Round 5: O E A M W B N S B

I had BEAM, BEMOAN, and BEMOANS / AMBONES (one plural of AMBO: "(in early Christian churches) one of the two raised desks from which gospels and epistles were read or chanted").

Dean has BEAMS for five, but Liam gets back the seven points conceded in the last round with BEMOANS.  David has found the other seven of ENWOMBS, and that is all of the sevens listed.


Scores: Liam 14 (27), Dean 0 (7), me 39

Round 6: Target 543 from 75 25 50 6 5 2

Dean shakes things up a bit in the numbers with three of each, and I approve of this tactic.  The offsets are 7 and 18, both of which might be usable but the 7 is more tempting.  Putting the 5 and 2 aside for it, the aim is to reach 550 from the remaining four numbers; that feels like it should be manageable and indeed it was, giving me the solution 543 = 6*(75 + 25) - 50 - 5 - 2.

Dean is seven away with 550; since 550 = (6 + 5)*50 with plenty of room for adjustment thereafter, this is a bit off the pace.  Liam is two away with 545 = (6 + 2)*75 - 50 - 5, and his lead is now over twenty points -- Dean must outscore him on the next letters round to even have a chance of winning.

Lily was not able to solve this one within time, but after the break comes back with the solution above.

Liam: 545
Dean: 550
Me: 543

Scores: Liam 14 (34), Dean 0 (7), me 49

Second break: CRAB HOLE ("Unmarried to a degree")

Two separate definitions for a BACHELOR.

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

The postponement of vowels until the end meant that I did not get to build as things went.  I had CURLIEST as my first word, and then wrote down CUTTERS as a backup in case I was overcome by doubts about CURLIEST.  After time I noted CLUTTERS as a safer eight (although I was pretty confident about CURLIEST), and checked up just in case LECTURIST turned out to be a synonym for LECTURER (it does not).

Dean has CRUST for five, guaranteeing that Liam will win the game (Dean needed at least seven points here to have a chance).  Liam has SITTER for six to extend his lead, and David has opted for CLUTTERS.

The other eights are SURTITLE and UTRICLES (plural of UTRICLE, which would have been useful twice in episode 43: "a small sac or bag-like body, as an air-filled cavity in a seaweed").  Rather to my surprise the potential other eight of SLUTTIER is not valid because SLUTTY itself is not even listed.


Scores: Liam 14 (40), Dean 0 (7), me 57

Round 8: Target 628 from 75 25 6 1 7 9

The benefits of premultiplication paid off here: I had noted that 6*7*9 = 378 as the numbers went up.  The target was a provocative 250 away from that, so it was a question of whether a little tweaking would make that achievable.  A little bit of experimentation confirmed that it was, and gave me the solution 628 = 7*(6*9 + 25) + 75.

As time ran out I noticed the more prosaic approach of 628 = (7 + 1)*75 + 25 + 9 - 6.  Oh, well.

Dean is 10 away with 618, but Liam has solved this with the second solution above.

Liam: 628
Dean: 618
Me: 628

Scores: Liam 24 (50), Dean 0 (7), me 67


I missed my chance to take a comprehensive lead with the full monty in round four, but thanks to Lily's slip in round six I can still outpoint them on solo aggregate if I solve this conundrum within time.  But there's too many vowels and I got lost in the wrong fragments (-ATE, -AGE, -ANGE).  Liam solved this seven seconds in, but it took me another minute and a quarter before I finally saw the answer.

Liam: GUARANTEE (7s)
Dean: [no answer]
Me: [no answer]

Final scores: Liam 34 (60), Dean 0 (7), me 67

Liam was too good for Dean tonight, but still a bit short of where he should have been on several rounds.  That suggests that his opponents are going to have opportunities to beat him and may set the scene for some interesting games ahead.  Dean found the best word of the day in AUSPICE, but sadly that was his only scoring round.


Jan said...

I like playing Liam. I can beat him, but when the really good champions are there, like you and Sam, I struggle! I did wonder about CUDDLERS too, in the first round, but went for one of the sevens.

9*75 - (10+3) = 662 (7)
BOWMAN (or bowmen) (0) thought of enwombs, but didn't write it down
(2*5)*50 + (75-25) - 6 = 544 (7)
(7+1)*75 + 25 + (9-6) = 628 (10)
about 10 secs for the conundrum

Sam, I was looking at the page with the champion stuff, (on the L&N website) and saw your amazing numbers solution. But I think I have an easier solution, and wondering why you went the way you did? Was it just showing your great maths skills and a bit of intimidation? I hope it it ok me asking that question?!

JT said...

I feel as I had one of my better letters performances, undoubtly this is where Liam can be beaten...

close to 3 minutes

Sam Gaffney said...

I remembered that Dean had found one really good unpluralised word in this episode. Liam has been much better at conundrums than letter rounds so far.

x (invalid: CUDDLERS)
661 = (75+10)*8 - 10 - 9
543 = (75+25)*6 - 50 - 5 - 2
632 = 9*75 - 6*7 - 1 (Had better, but searched too long for 628. Afterwards: 628 = (75-1)*9-25-6-7
~9s (just behind Liam again)