Thursday, 20 September 2012

Ep 53: Liam Bastick, Tristan Leech (September 19, 2012; originally aired October 13, 2010)

Rounds: Here.

This is Liam Bastick's sixth night, and his last appearance until the finals series.  Obviously he is hoping to become a retiring champion, and a win here will move him from fifth to fourth in the rankings.  Richard asks him the frequent question about his strategies, and Liam says something a little interesting: One of the things he has learned while playing instead of watching is that he loses thinking time while picking the letters, so he does better by choosing fewer vowels.  Interesting!  That also explains his rapid-fire consonant choices, to an extent.  No point giving the opponent too much of an advantage over you in that regard.

Tonight's challenger is Tristan Leech, a trainee surgeon at the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons.  Tristan also DJ's, with the nickname of "Hot Pants".  That obviously leads to further questions; Tristan explains that it began a long time ago when he played the evil Doctor Clown Pants in a staged wrestling event.  Then when he was doing student radio around the turn of the millennium he took it to Hot Pants.  Richard remarks that this was not quite what he expected from a surgeon; Tristan responds that one is expected to exercise a certain amount of decorum at work so it is good to have some outlets to express other sides of his personality.

The game started quietly enough with a pair of shared letters rounds, then Liam pulled ahead in the first numbers round.  He extended that lead in the next letters round, and then again in the second numbers round when Tristan used a number that was not present.  A further gain in the final letters round guaranteed Liam the win, which he rounded off in fine style by solving the conundrum to finish with his best total so far and a 72 to 28 victory.

I dropped two maxima that I should have found (they were easily seen after time once the pressure was off); the rest all went as well as possible, including finding a longer word than David in one round.  A fast conundrum finished things off on a positive note, and I had a decent win.

Round 1: E U A T B N P S N


The contestants each have five-letter words; Liam has BEAST while Tristan has BEANS.  David has gone with UPBEATS as his seven.

The other sevens are UNSPENT and BUTANES (the dictionary entry specifically mentions that there are two isomeric forms of BUTANE, so I have no qualms about this one).

Choosing a fourth vowel would not have yielded a full monty, but the O instead of the N would allow SUBPOENA for eight.

Tristan: BEANS

Scores: Liam 0 (5), Tristan 0 (5), me 7

Round 2: D R O M C A N I D

I had DORM, CAROM, and MICRON.  I got distracted by the not-quite-there DRACONIC and MACARONI, and did not manage to find better than six within time.  After time I noted down MACRON as another six, and then saw DIAMOND and ANDROID as sevens.

The contestants have both found CANDID, and David has also seen DIAMOND and ANDROID.

The other sevens are NOMADIC / MONADIC (adjective derived from MONAD: "a single unit or entity").

Tristan: CANDID

Scores: Liam 6 (11), Tristan 6 (11), me 13

Round 3: Target 263 from 100 3 1 6 7 10

I complicated this too much; rather than applying the standard method, I looked instead at 26*10 + 3 or 27*10 - 7.  Neither of those seemed directly manageable, although just now I have seen that the latter could have been done with 263 = ((100 - 1)/3 - 6)*10 - 7.  But a variation of that is 100 + 17*10 - 7, and that I could do with 263 = (6*3 - 1)*10 + 100 - 7.

That all took less time than it might seem from the description, and I considered the standard approach which led to an easy tweak: 263 = 3*(100 - 10) - 7.  Somewhat after time I noticed that the standard method could be applied from below with 263 = (6/3)*100 + 7*(10 - 1).

Tristan is three away with 260, but Liam has solved this with the nice solution of 263 = (100/(3 + 1))*10 + 6 + 7.

Liam: 263
Tristan: 260
Me: 263

Scores: Liam 16 (21), Tristan 6 (11), me 23

First break: HAIL STOP ("This place is sick")

It's more that the place is for the sick, as it is a HOSPITAL.

David's talk is about various terms relating to swordplay: foil, foible, forte, riposte, and repartee.

Round 4: L E R U S H O C I

I had RULE, LURES, and LUSHER.  I briefly wondered about CURLIES, but I know I've looked that up before and it is not valid.  I knew there must be sevens around, but I just could not find them in time; afterwards I saw RECOILS and CLOSURE as possible sevens.  I had spotted that a final E would have allowed LECHEROUS for nine, but it was not to be.

Tristan has CRUSH for five, but Liam extends his lead with CLOSER for six.  David has found HEROICS for seven, and between that and CLOSURE I'm starting to have flashbacks...

Neither SLOUCHER nor SLOUCHIER is allowed by the Macquarie, but there is an eight: CEORLISH is an adjective derived from CEORL: "English History a freeman of the lowest rank in Anglo-Saxon England, neither a noble nor a slave".

The other sevens are LOUSIER, LURCHES, COILERS (an unusual one; a COILER is not someone who coils, but an obsolete term for "an idler; tramp"), CUSHIER, COHEIRS, probably CHOLERS (CHOLER being another term for BILE, amongst similar meanings), COLURES (COLURE: "either of two great circles of the celestial sphere intersecting each other at the poles, one passing through the equinoctial and the other through the solstitial points of the ecliptic"), HURLIES (plural of HURLY: "commotion"), and ORCHILS (ORCHIL being one of a few types of lichen).

Tristan: CRUSH

Scores: Liam 22 (27), Tristan 6 (11), me 29

Round 5: A E O T D T L F R

I had DOTE, FLOATED, DEFLATOR, ROTATED, and FLATTER.  I was pleased to spot ROTATED (even thought I'd already found the longer DEFLATOR) because for some reason it has been a bit of a blind spot for me.

Both contestants have found FLATTER for seven, and David has not been able to beat it, settling for RATTLED as his choice.

The other sevens are FLOATER, LEOTARD / DELATOR (agent noun derived from DELATE: "to inform against; denounce or accuse"), DOTTREL (variant spelling of DOTTEREL, a type of bird), FLATTED, RETOTAL, and the American spelling TOTALED.

Tristan: FLATTER

Scores: Liam 22 (34), Tristan 6 (18), me 37

Round 6: Target 192 from 25 75 50 6 7 1

Tristan chooses three of each, an approach that I am increasingly taken by.  The target was rather familiar to me, being 3*2^6; that means that one of its factorisations is 6*32 and so I soon had the solution 192 = 6*(25 + 7).  The offset from 200 is an easily manageable 8 = 7 + 1, and that leads to a few solutions; the ones I wrote down within time were 192 = 6*50 - 75 - 25 - 7 - 1 (which was also Lily's approach) and 192 = 6*25 + 50 - 7 - 1.

Both contestants declare that they have solved this, but Tristan realises that he has invented a 2 and his solution is invalid.  Liam has found the nice solution 192 = 7*6 + 25 + 75 + 50.

Liam's lead is now a rather large 26 points, and Tristan needs a lot to go his way to still have a chance.

 Richard chats briefly with Lily about how she solves it entirely in her head; Lily says -- and I agree -- that this is actually easier, since it takes time to write down an answer.

Liam: 192
Tristan: [invalid]
Me: 192
Lily: 192

Scores: Liam 32 (44), Tristan 6 (18), me 47

Second break: HEAR DOVE ("Where the dove might be when you hear it")

That would be OVERHEAD.

Round 7: A E N I G S R C B

The -ING hit the table early, and with cooperative consonants and no excess vowels some long words should be feasible.  I had SINGE, BRACING, CREASING, and CARBINES.

Tristan has SCARING for seven, but Liam has found BEARINGS for eight to guarantee his victory.  David harks back to his talk about swordplay with the American spelling of SABERING.

The other eights are BRACINGS (since BRACING has a standalone noun sense) and BRISANCE ("the shattering power of high explosives").

Tristan: SCARING

Scores: Liam 40 (52), Tristan 6 (18), me 55

Round 8: Target 451 from 75 100 3 6 2 9

Tristan goes for an easier mix this time, but the answer is pretty obvious when you know your 75-times tables.  Everyone gets 451 = 6*75 + 3 - 2 fairly quickly.

Liam: 451
Tristan: 451
Me: 451

Scores: Liam 50 (62), Tristan 16 (28), me 65


The answer to this leapt out at me -- there really aren't that many words with two Y's in them -- and Liam got there a few seconds later.

Liam: YESTERDAY (7.5s)
Tristan: [no answer]

Final scores: Liam 50 (72), Tristan 16 (28), me 75

Liam successfully retires with his highest score so far, and did so in fairly comprehensive fashion.  Tristan was outplayed in all facets of the game but took it all in good spirit, and that is always nice to see.  Liam settles into a comfortable fourth place on the leader board, which is beginning to look a little crowded up top, with six people making it to a sixth game (and five of them successfully retiring).


Sam Gaffney said...

I definitely saw this episode in 2010, as I remember Lily talking about not having to write answers down being a plus, and my wife beating everyone to the conundrum.

I might have been a little tired by the time I played this, not bothering to write the safe ANDROID for the obviously misspelled CARDIOD (I was thinking of CARDIOID), and picking two speculators: SLOUCHER and FLOTATED. If these had been my answers in an actual game against Liam, he would have beaten me by a decent margin. I can't recall another player whose conundrum ability was so much better than that of their letter rounds.

I believe LOUCHER would be an acceptable word, as LOUCHE is a one-syllable adjective.

263 = 3*(100 - 10) - 7
192 = (25+7)*6
451 = 6*75 + 3-2

Mike Backhouse said...

My attempt:

SPENT (did not get unspent- grrr)
3*100-((7-1)*6)= 264
Liam's way
Like everyone else!
missed conundrum

Jan said...

I am surprised that Liam retired undefeated. He didn't seem as good as some of the others who didn't go all the way, but maybe it was his great skill with the conundrums that got him through.

I had another win against him, which is pleasing, only being beaten by him on the first numbers game.

BUTANES (7) I am glad this is acceptable
(6*3+7+1)*10 = 260 (0)
6*50 - (75+25) - 1 - 7 = 192 (10)
6*75 + 3 - 2 = 451 (10)
5 secs

Mike Backhouse said...


I have felt that some of the contestants who came up against Liam and other champions before him, and who lost narrowly could have gone on had things gone their way. But I guess that's the way of the show, being good on the day and being able to function at a high level under pressure.

Geoff Bailey said...

Sam: Ouch on all those invalid words!

LOUCHER is tricky, and I'm not sure which way the policy should go. The sticking point here is that the comparative is formed by appending just -R, not -ER, and the rules only state that the -ER addition is regular. One interpretation -- and I don't think we've had reliable precedent about this -- is that the -R form must still be explicitly listed since it counts as a spelling shift.

(As a point of relevance here, a lot of the single-syllable adjectives that end in E do give explicit comparative and superlative forms.)

Consequently, LOUCHER might not be allowed since those forms are not explictly given.

Congratulations on another good game, Jan -- scoring at least seven in each round (solo total) is always good.

JT said...

This was probably Liam's best performance of his stay and while his letters performance wasn't the best it just goes to show that numbers potential is very important in L+N...

dead heat with Liam

JT said...

btw Geoff I've just seen the Bloopers Reel again, with Lily stumbling over "fabulous" reapeatly, I'm just wondering if there were many re-takes of that particular scene? It was pretty funny!!!

Geoff Bailey said...

There were quite a few retakes of it! The particularly amusing bit at the time was how Lily tried to break the cycle (I'm glad that "fabulous" ended up making it to air) by changing the wording. It started off as fabulous, then became great, and finally just good. If more retakes had been required it might have turned into a bad solution! *chuckles*