Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Ep 51: Liam Bastick, Chris Ryan (September 17, 2012; originally aired October 11, 2010)

Rounds: Here.

Liam Bastick faces his fourth game tonight, and there's been some pretty strong contenders in recent weeks.  Can he clear the fourth game hurdle and book a probable spot in the finals?  We'll find out, but first we get to discuss his numbers ability as Richard asks how Liam developed those skills.  Liam explains that he was the first child; his mother took time off work and from the age of two to three she taught him the times tables (up to twelve) by rote learning.  He agrees with Richard that it is an important skill to have, and I heartily agree -- having those very basic details down pat makes later developments substantially easier.

Tonight's challenger is Chris Ryan, a secondary school teacher also described as a multilinguist.  Richard asks how many languages Chris knows, and Chris responds that he is up to "about five".  His mother was (is?) Mauritian so his first language was French; when he went to school he had to learn English, and then later some Latin.  In his thirties he learned Irish Gaelic which he got involved in due to the beauty of Irish poetry.  Unfortunately, Richard's comments along the way have perhaps distracted Chris, and we don't find out what the fifth language is.

It was a close game, with honours even in the first round and Liam getting a small lead in the second.  The first numbers game was too hard for both, and when Liam overreached in the next round Chris was able to level the scores.  Chris drew ahead in the next round, and two shared rounds followed; Liam managed to gain on the last numbers round to take a one-point lead into the conundrum; he did well to solve it quite quickly to seal the win, 46 to 35.

I had a decent game except for one round, and the conundrum was too tough for me.  A slightly risky option in another round turned out to be the right decision, so there were definitely some pleasing facets to it.  Overall a satisfactory game but with room for improvement.

Round 1: A U E T D R C P S


The contestants start with a pair of seven-letter words, Chris with CURATED and Liam with CRUSTED.  David chooses CAPTURED as his eight-letter word.

There are a lot of sevens in this mix; the other eight is CUSPATED, which I've mentioned a few times before on this blog.  It is a variation of CUSPATE: "having a cusp or cusps".


Scores: Liam 0 (7), Chris 0 (7), me 8

Round 2: O E B N I L D A C

I had BONE, NOBLE, and BOILED.  That was it, although I looked at the -ABLE ending and many other useful fragments.  Not long after time I saw a pair of sevens with CELADON (a shade of green; also a type of china) and then OCEANID ("an ocean nymph"); missing that latter was a bit vexing, as I had stumbled across the word only a few hours earlier while playing through a round of Countdown.  Then I checked up on COINABLE and found out that it was valid; I'm not sure I would have risked it if I had seen it within time (although without a seven I may well have), but I should have seen it.  Oh, well.

Chris had NOBLE for five but is outscored by Liam with CANDLE for six.  But David has pulled a nine from nowhere, finding BALCONIED.  Well done, David!

That's the only nine and eight listed; the other sevens are CABINED and NODICAL (an astronomical term).

Chris: NOBLE

Scores: Liam 6 (13), Chris 0 (7), me 14

Round 3: Target 874 from 25 8 4 2 5 6

The target is obviously close to 875 = 35*25; the 35 must be formable from those small numbers, but there might not be room left to get the final offset of one.  I ended up staying with one away via 875 = (8*4 + 6/2)*25.

One of the options I had considered to get to the target was 850 + 24, but I could not get it to work.  I did find a solution after time, though, from 900 - 26 and a bit of tweaking.  The important observations here are that the multiplier involved is 36 = 6*6, a much more manageable number (from those small ones) than 35 or 34, and then the sixes can be used for tweaking.  It happens to work out well, giving 874 = 6*((8 - 2)*25 - 5) + 4.

Liam has not been able to get anywhere near, and neither has Chris, who apparently could only get to 814.  That does seem like an unusual result to have reached.

Lily is also stumped within time, but after the break comes back with the solution 874 = (25*4 + 5*2)*8 - 6.  Nice one!

There's actually depressingly many solutions to this, although a good number of them come from the factorisation 874 = 2*19*23.  With 19 = 25 - 6 and 23 = 25 - 2 easy to make, noticing either of those factors should lead to a fairly easy solution.  Of course, they aren't the easiest of factors to just notice!

Liam: [not in range]
Chris: [not in range]
Me: 875

Scores: Liam 6 (13), Chris 0 (7), me 21

First break: KING TINT ("This is great for a yarn")

Yarn is something to do KNITTING with.

David's talk is about the words prevaricate, delirium, and hysteria.

Round 4: H T M R I D O V E

This is very close to the last letters round from episode 39, which had a J instead of the V.  Consequently some of the sevens from there were easily remembered, and I had TRIM, THIRD, MOTHER, THEROID ("having animal propensities or characteristics"), and VOMITED.  After time I noted MOTHIER and ETHMOID (one of the bones in the skull) as other sevens.

Chris has MOTHER for six, and Liam risks OVERHIT for seven.  I had completed overlooked the OVER- fragment -- ouch!  Unfortunately for Liam that was too risky, and Chris gets the points.  David links Chris's choice of MOTHER to babycare, and I thought he was going to suggest VOMITED but he has gone with the somewhat more pleasant association of THRIVED.

The other sevens are VOMITER, HEIRDOM, and MOTIVED (I had not realised that MOTIVE was also a verb; it means "to provide with a motive", in the sense of motivating someone).

[Update: Sam's comment points out THORIDE again; it is not in the word list I usually use, so I'm going to tend to overlook it most of the time, alas.]

Liam: [invalid]

Scores: Liam 6 (13), Chris 0 (13), me 28

Round 5: A E U S N S L N R

I had SANE, UNLESS, LANNERS (LANNER being a type of falcon), and UNLEARNS.  That was a last-moment spot but I got it down in time; then I had to decide whether it was worth risking or not.  I've heard it used often enough (mostly about unlearning behavioural patterns) that I was willing to chance it, and that turned out to be the right decision.

Liam has RULES for five, but Chris takes the lead for the first time with UNLESS for six.  David mentions SENSUAL as a nice seven -- and I agree; I wish I had seen it -- but has also found UNLEARNS for eight.

The other eight is UNSNARLS.  The other sevens are UNSNARL, UNLEARN, UNSEALS, and RUNNELS (RUNNEL: "a small channel, as for water").


Scores: Liam 6 (13), Chris 0 (19), me 36

Round 6: Target 111 from 25 75 7 6 1 2

Such a low target and really the only challenge is in how to make the 11.  I went with 111 = 75 + 25 + 2*6 - 1, but for a bit of variety decided to use the factorisation 3*37, also getting the solution 111 = (75/25)*((6 - 1)*7 + 2).

As expected, the contestants have solved this.  Chris went with a straightforward 25 + 75 + 7 + 6 - 2, while Liam found the interesting 111 = (7 - 1)*6 + 75.  That's not the easiest approach to spot, so well done to him.

Liam: 111
Chris: 111
Me: 111

Scores: Liam 16 (23), Chris 10 (29), me 46

Second break: DUNE PLUM ("Left, right, left, right, left, right...")

Richard also added "Hmm, I bet you've got it already", but it's not clear if that was part of the clue or not.  In any case, it was describing the motion of a PENDULUM.

Round 7: I E A B C F N S T


The contestants each have six-letter words, Liam with FAINTS and Chris with FACETS.  David has opted for CABINETS as his eight.

CABINETS and FANCIEST are the only eights; the other sevens are INFECTS, BASINET, FAINEST (single-syllable rule for adjectives), FIANCÉS, and FASCINE ("a long bundle of sticks bound together [...]").


Scores: Liam 16 (29), Chris 10 (35), me 54

Round 8: Target 664 from 100 50 1 4 2 3

The small numbers are all a bit on the small side, which may make final adjustments difficult, particular a value as large as 14.  I was fortunate enough to notice the tweaking potential in 14 = 7*2, and found the solution 664 = (4 + 3)*(100 + 2) - 50.  This is also Lily's solution.

Chris is eight away with 656, but Liam is only four away with 668 = (100 + 3)*(4 + 2) + 50.  Of course, he could have managed one closer if he had subtracted 1 at the end, or even just two away if he had subtracted that 1 from 103 before the multiplication.

Those seven points may well be crucial, as they give Liam a one-point lead going into the conundrum.

Liam: 668
Chris: 656
Me: 664
Lily: 664

Scores: Liam 16 (36), Chris 10 (35), me 64


The Y is a key letter to look at, and I considered -ITY and -LY fragments but could not make anything of them on first glance.  Liam solved this very quickly, but it took me over a minute before I managed to find the solution.

Liam: FERTILITY (2s)
Chris: [no answer]
Me: [no answer]

Final scores: Liam 26 (46), Chris 10 (35), me 64

The contestants were pretty well matched tonight, with neither able to get away from the other and the lead changing a few times throughout.  Liam did very well to solve the conundrum so quickly, and that gets him the fourth win and a likely place in the finals.


Sam Gaffney said...

I had a good game, with two solutions the same as Lily's, so perhaps I saw this episode in 2010 (though no specific memories jumped out). I had come across BALCONIED as a useful word before.

Nice work on UNLEARNS, Geoff.

874 = (4*25 + 5*2)*8 - 6
111 = (25-7)*2 + 75
664 = (100+2)*(3+4) - 50

Jan said...

I had a pretty good game, not losing any round, except the conundrum.

(4*8 + 6/2)*25 = 875 (7)
DITHER, THRIVE (6) (bummer about missing thrived)
UNLESS (6) (wanted runless to be ok)
(25*7) - 75 + 2*6 - 1 =111 (10)
(4+2)*(100+3-1) = 612 + 50 = 662 (7)

Geoff Bailey said...

Devastating form from you, Sam, with only UNLEARNS standing between you and optimal. Great play!

Congratulations on what would have been a solid win, Jan. Nice results, and I agree with you about RUNLESS. Certainly it's a term that would be used occasionally in cricket.

One thing that I think happens with the -LESS words is that if the main entry is large then they are less likely to be listed. In this case, RUN has a very large number of meanings listed and extends over more than a column; that could be predicted with a bit of consideration, and so it was not entirely unexpected -- but still disappointing -- that RUNLESS is not there.

JT said...

Not my best game, although I did get the Conundrum very quickly might of been Mondayitis...


Mike Backhouse said...

My results:

CRATED (hoping for created but missed curated)
(4+2)*6*25=875 (one off but beat contestants)
Got there Chris' way
ten away
missed conundrum

Geoff Bailey said...

Congratulations on that fast conundrum, JT -- I was nowhere near it.

Mike: Your first numbers solution as written is actually 900, not 875. :(