Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Ep 52: Liam Bastick, Amanda Mendizza (September 18, 2012; originally aired October 12, 2010)

Rounds: Here.

Liam Bastick is back for his fifth night, with a win almost certainly confirming his place in the finals.  But first the talk is about football, or soccer as it was called here when I was growing up.  Liam has a passion for it, and managed to get a job as a football reporter for Derby County.  That was his second job and he loved it; he did it for four years and it was a great wrench giving it up when he came to Australia.

As an interesting coda to this, when Liam went to an Ashes match at the MCG, the person who sat next to him was a member of the Barmy Army who had swapped places with an Australian who wanted to go and sit with them and see what it was like.  It turned out that the person who was now sitting next to Liam was the person who had taken over that reporting job from him.

Tonight's challenger is Amanda Mendizza, a children's speech pathologist who collects ornamental owls.  She has done so since the early 1980's, and has almost three hundred now.  Mostly they are confined to a cabinet, but some have ended up in the courtyard or even outside.

The contestants started evenly, but two good rounds from Liam saw him get a sizeable lead.  Amanda tried a risky play that came off to reduce the deficit, but she needed to do better in the final numbers round to have a chance.  Liam was safe going into the conundrum; he buzzed in with an invalid word that gave the actual answer away; Amanda solved the conundrum, but Liam took the win, 50 to 40.

I missed a word I should have seen in the first round, but otherwise was in good shape.  I did drop a couple of other maxima but they were tough to spot; more importantly, I found a full monty that David did not.  Always to be cherished, that!  I was a bit slow on the conundrum but managed to get there, and a score above eighty is always nice to have.

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

I think I was a bit thrown by Liam's rapid-fire calling of the consonants on this occasion; it certainly cut into the extra thinking time that I would usually have.  As it was, I had MUTE, MUTED, and MATURED.  I saw a good many sevens, but could not find the eight that my brain was screaming to me was there.  After time I wrote some of them down: MATURES, CRUDEST, CRUSADE, CRUSTED, and CUSTARD, and then found TRADUCES at last.  Grrr.

The contestants start with six apiece; Liam has CREAMS while Amanda has STARED.  David mentions CUSTARD but has also found TRADUCES.

There's a lot of sevens here, of course.  The other eight is MUSCADET ("a white wine of the muscatel type from the lower reaches of the Loire").

Amanda: STARED

Scores: Liam 0 (6), Amanda 0 (6), me 7

Round 2: G P O I R A N D R

Once -ING was in play my focus was on that, although I had trouble working with the remaining letters.  I had GRIP, APRON, PARING, and -- somewhat more slowly than I would have liked -- ADORING.  I also had a lot of trouble with duplicating the wrong consonant, spotting (and having to reject) PRODDING, DROPPING, and PARDONING.

Amanda has ROPING for six, but Liam has found DRAPING for seven.  I missed that option, which illustrates the kind of difficulties I was having with those letters.  David demonstrates that -ING is not always the way to go, as he has found the only eight of RAINDROP.  Bravo, David!

The other sevens are ROARING, AIRDROP, and PONIARD (a dagger) / PADRONI (plural of PADRONE: "a master, as of a vessel").  There's a trap here to watch out for, an oversight on the Macquarie's part: While PAR is listed as a verb (in the golf sense), they do not explicitly give the participles of PARRED and PARRING, so PARRING is not valid.

Amanda: ROPING

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

Round 3: Target 351 from 25 9 1 7 7 8

I immediately homed in on the factor of 9; the cofactor is 39, and that yielded the solution 351 = (25 + 7 + 7)*9.

Amanda is fairly far away with 337; I'll guess this was 337 = (9 + 1)*(25 + 8) + 7, and she neglected to add the other 7 that would have put her into scoring range.  Not that it matters, as Liam has solved this exactly with the solution 351 = (7 + 7)*25 + (9 - 8)*1, taking his amusement in using up all the numbers.  Lily was not quite paying attention and writes this up incorrectly, leaving out the final multiplication by 1 and thus missing the point.

Lily's solution is the simpler version of that: 351 = (7 + 7)*25 + 1.

Liam is now seventeen points ahead -- danger territory for Amanda.

Liam: 351
Amanda: [not in range]
Me: 351
Lily: 351

Scores: Liam 17 (23), Amanda 0 (6), me 24

First break: JAB UNTIL ("Could not be happier")

A reasonable description of someone who is JUBILANT.

David's talk is about the mohawk, and the variations frohawk and fauxhawk.

Round 4: T O S C A I L E R

Some pretty common letters here; I had COST, COAST, SOLACE, ISOLATE, CALORIES, COSTLIER, and then saw LORICATE ("covered with a lorica", where a lorica is "a hard protective case or sheath [...]"; LORICATED is an acceptable variant, incidentally).  I have encountered this enough from Countdown playthroughs to recall that (in the Macquarie, at least) LORICATE is only an adjective so that LORICATES is not allowed, but that there are valid anagrams of it.  Once I'd hit the right mental associations I found SECTORIAL as the full monty.

After time I noted down some of the other eights: CLOISTER and ARTICLES / RECITALS.

Liam has RETAILS for seven, but Amanda has gone with the risky option of LOCATERS.  She's understandably uncertain about it, as are the hosts, and David confirms that LOCATORS is the more usual option.  But LOCATERS is also listed, and Amanda gets back some precious ground.  David has gone with CALORIES for eight.

The other eights are SECTORAL (the adjective derived from SECTOR; one meaning of SECTORIAL is as a synonym of this), SOCIETAL, CARIOLES (CARIOLE: "a small, open, two-wheeled vehicle"), and STERICAL (variant form of STERIC: "relating to the spatial relationship of atoms in the molecule").

There is another nine, too: SCLEROTIA, plural of SCLEROTIUM ("a vegetative, resting, food-storage body in certain higher fungi [...]").


Scores: Liam 17 (23), Amanda 0 (14), me 42

Round 5: H A E O N Z T D S

I had AEON, ATONE, ATONED, DONATES, HANDSET, and ZONATED.  Those turn out to be the only sevens from this mix.

Liam has HASTEN for six, matching Amanda's find of DOZENS.  David talks about how unfortunate he was here: As the letters went up he was thinking, "Just give me a D and I'll have DOZENTH", and then when that turned up he wanted an S for DOZENTHS.  He got both the letters he wanted, but when he checked the dictionary it did not list DOZENTH after all.  A shame!  He has settled on DONATES and HANDSET for seven.

It doesn't yield any longer words, but taking a fourth vowel would replace the S with an I and allow the unusual HOATZIN ("a tropical South American crested bird [...]").

Amanda: DOZENS

Scores: Liam 17 (29), Amanda 0 (20), me 49

Round 6: Target 241 from 50 25 2 3 7 9

The target is clearly 250 - 9, and there's a lot of ways to approach this; I went with 241 = (3 + 7)*25 - 9.  (Actually, I erroneously wrote 50 instead of 25 at first, but caught that a couple of seconds later.  It's important to double-check even the simple solutions!)

Both contestants have solved this; Amanda has 241 = (2 + 3)*50 - 9, while Liam has opted for a different approach with 241 = (25 + 50)*3 + 9 + 7.  Interesting!  Lily has solved this the same way that Amanda did.

Liam: 241
Amanda: 241
Me: 241
Lily: 241

Scores: Liam 27 (39), Amanda 10 (30), me 59

Second break: GLORY AGE ("An architectural monster")

A clear reference to a GARGOYLE.

Round 7: I O E B P L C F N

Gah, what a mess of consonants that don't play well together.  I had BOIL, FELON, POLICE, and wondered about PELICON.  We don't have that system here, though, and it tends to be called PELICAN instead in any case, so I correctly decided against it.

Amanda has FOIL for four, but Liam has managed to find POLICE for six.  David has found FOIBLE as another six, and that's a nice one.

The remaining sixes are PENCIL, OLEFIN (also OLEFINE, it is any one of a particular class of alkenes), PINOLE ("maize or wheat flour, sweetened with the flour of mesquite beans or with sugar and spice and used as food in Mexico, California, etc.") and ENOLIC (adjective derived from ENOL, any member of a certain class of organic compounds) / CINEOL (yet another chemical term).

But there is a seven after all: PINOCLE is listed as a variant spelling of the card game PINOCHLE.  I had noted that PHENOLIC was almost there, and if I had then recalled the anagram of PINOCHLE I might further have recalled the variant spelling... but that was all rather unlikely.  Maybe next time...

Amanda: FOIL

Scores: Liam 33 (45), Amanda 10 (30), me 65

Round 8: Target 667 from 50 1 7 3 1 8

Amanada is fifteen points behind and needs to outpoint Liam in this round to have a chance.  She chooses a single large number and gets a tantalising target.  If the 50 were 25 or 75 then this could be made as 675 - 8 easily enough, but those are not an option with the 50.  There's a tempting option as 2001/3, which is (50*40 + 1)/3 or (50*8*5 + 1)/3... but the 7 and 1 can't quite produce the 5.  So close!

I decided that trying to get to the target from 650 would use up too many small numbers, so descending from 700 was the better option.  The difference is 33, and while I could not make that exactly I could get 34 as 3*14 - 8, and that gave me a one-away answer of 666 = (1 + 1)*7*(50 - 3) + 8.

Amanda has missed her chance, ending up out of the scoring range with 637.  There's no way to make that without doing a subtraction that could be avoided and let one get closer, but time pressure can cause people to be careless.  My best guess is this was 7*91, as 637 = 7*(50*(3 - 1) - 8 - 1), but it could also have been 49*13 as 637 = (50 - 1)*(8 + 7 + 1 - 3).  In either case changing a -1 into a +1 would allow one to get closer; the latter would be a quite respectable 663 = (50 + 1)*(8 + 7 + 1 - 3), in fact.  (Using factors of 7 does get one closer, though, with the two-away 665 = 7*(50*(1 + 1) - (8 - 3)).)

Meanwhile, back in the realms of what we actually know, Liam -- who is guaranteed to win now -- had managed to just barely reach the scoring zone with 657 = (8 + 3 + 1 + 1)*50 + 7.  Note that he could have managed one closer by making the 13 as 7 + 3*(1 + 1), allowing him to add the 8 at the end.

Lily comments that this was quite hard, and she could only get one away.  Very unusually, she is called on to demonstrate this; her answer was 666 = (50 + 8*3)*(7 + 1 + 1).

It turns out that 666 is the closest that one can get; there is a minor variation to Lily's answer formed by swapping the 8 and 7 + 1, but aside from that the only ways to get even one away are the ones used by each of us.

Liam: 657
Amanda: [not in range]
Me: 666
Lily: 666

Scores: Liam 33 (50), Amanda 10 (30), me 72


Thanks to the full monty in round 4 I'm in a position to post a solo total considerably higher than David and Lily combined.  I had a chance very recently to beat them (in episode 49) but missed out due to failing to get the conundrum; I'm keen to avoid a repeat performance of that!

I was a bit slow off the mark, getting hung up on the -AGE fragment that proved unhelpful.  I experimented with CHARGE and saw the non-word CHARGERED, but was able to adjust that to a correct solution and was very pleased to have finished off the game in satisfactory style.  Liam buzzed in a little over halfway through with CHARGERED, and after time restarts Amanda quickly finds that actual answer.

Liam: [invalid] (18s)
Amanda: RECHARGED (19s)

Final scores: Liam 33 (50), Amanda 10 (40), me 82

This game was only settled late, and it really did boil down to the numbers rounds.  Amanda could have forced the game to a tiebreaker conundrum if she had got within nine of the target in the last one, or had solved the first numbers round.  Liam showed good form on both facets to ensure his win, although it was perhaps a bit wobbly.  He gets his fifth win and will be hoping to successfully retire tomorrow; doing so will most likely move him up into fourth place on the rankings.  There have been a lot of six-gamers for only just halfway through the series, and that's bad news for Esther Perrins whose chances of making the finals are looking slimmer.


JT said...

I'll put down some of my words down to Liam's knack to blurt out his letter selections quicker then a 100m metre dash...

(pretty sure invalid- ROADING)
arrgh!! nothing here floundered really badly had 665-((1+1)*50-8+3)*7 after time

Mike Backhouse said...

My results:

Liam's way
Amanda's way
MOBILE (invalid, wrote down M instead of N-I write them down and put them in my own order- usually I also check the board but obviously not today)
(1+1)*7*50+8=658 (9 away but beat contestants although not Geoff. Had inadvertently crossed out the 3 in my calculations otherwise would have added that for 661. Agree it was unusual for Lily to explain a number that wasn't the target)
too late with conundrum

Jan said...

I had another good game, and would have had an easy win. I even managed to get the conundrum before Amanda.

(7+7)*25 + 1 = 351 (10)
HANDSET (7) was particularly pleased with this one as I often miss compound words.
(7+3)*25 - 9 = 241 (10)
(8+1+3)*(50+7-1) = 672. (7)
15 seconds

Geoff Bailey said...

I can certainly sympathise about writing down M instead of N, Mike -- I did the same thing in my first appearance on the show. There was a fifteen point turnaround on that, too. *grimaces* It's easy enough to do -- Lily's enunciation is not always clear, and there have been a couple of bad instances in the past.

I'm afraid that 658 as written works out to 708. I can salvage it as ((1+1)*3 + 7)*50 + 8 -- which would explain the crossed-out 3 -- but don't know if this is what you did.

Excellent results from you, Jan. I make it a very good total of 72.

Sam Gaffney said...

Liam gave Amanda a good clue on the conundrum, one would hate to lose a game that way.

TRADUCES (I suppose it had been a long time since Geoff had last seen it)
351 = (7+7)*25 + 1
241 = (7+3)*25 - 9
665 = ((1+1)*50 - 8+3)*7 (I wasn't nimble enough to get Geoff's way in time)
~2.5s (should have been faster, but second-guessed myself)

Geoff Bailey said...

*laughs* Yes, Sam, all of one episode. It was a very irritating miss. Congratulations on another fine performance!

Geoff Bailey said...

I forgot to say: As you expected, JT, ROADING is not valid. ADORING is the safe anagram of it.