Friday, 21 September 2012

Ep 54: Bassem Abousaid, Jayanthi Viswanathan (September 20, 2012; originally aired October 14, 2010)

Rounds: Here.

There are two new contestants tonight since Liam successfully retired yesterday.  Taking the champion's position is Bassem Abousaid, an I.T. professional who loves professional wrestling and even commentates at wrestling events.  Bassem has been interested in wrestling since it was televised in the 80's and has been commentating for it since 2004.

(I remember the professional wrestling back then!  I used to sneak out of bed on Tuesday nights after my parents had gone to bed and stay up all night watching television; the wrestling was one of the shows in the lineup.)

Taking the challenger's position is Jayanthi Viswanathan, a secondary school mathematics teacher who is the author of a textbook on introductory calculus.  Her aim is to make calculus accessible and fun; Richard asks how she manages that, and Jayanthi responds that she tries to take the jargon out of it and introduce calculus to students in a way that makes sense and builds upon what they have learned in previous years.

Bassem fell victim to a phantom letter in the first round, and never really made much progress after that.  He managed to match Jayanthi twice in letters rounds, but had another invalid answer that left him trailing significantly.  Neither contestant really dealt that well with the numbers but Jayanthi had the better of it, and she finished it all off by solving the conundrum for a 50 to 12 victory.

I had a decent game tonight, twice beaten by David but managing to outdo Lily in one numbers round to end up just ahead on the solo aggregate.  That's always a result to be happy about, and I got my second score in the 80's this week thanks to a reasonably straightforward full monty.

Round 1: U A C O T H L I K

I had COAT, COUTH, and LATCH.  I was hoping for a final P for PATCHOULI; the actual K did not do anyone any favours.  I was not able to find anything better; I did note KLATCH but recalled that it was not listed in the Macquarie.

(My memory was correct, but the circumstances are a little odd; I mentioned KLATCH back in episode 358 where I wanted it to be a verb but commented that it was only a noun.  That's true, but it's not listed at all in the Macquarie, even as a noun.  I've added a note to episode 358 to clarify that.)

The contestants have also found five-letter words; there are quite a few of them.  Jayanthi has chosen CLOTH and Bassem has gone with THINK... but there is no N, and he has fallen victim to the phantom letter.  An inauspicious start, but fortunately it does not cost too much.  David has managed to find a six of CHITAL which Richard correctly identifies as a type of deer.  Well done, Richard!

The other sixes are COITAL and LOCHIA ("the liquid discharge from the uterus after childbirth").

Staying with just three vowels would have brought in an N to replace the I, allowing sevens of UNCLOAK, UNLATCH, and LOCKNUT ("a supplementary nut screwed down upon another to prevent it from shaking loose").

Bassem: [invalid]
Jayanthi: CLOTH

Scores: Bassem 0, Jayanthi 5, me 5

Round 2: E O U N R G I D T

I had RUNE, ROGUE, and then -ING was in play.  I found ROUTING / TOURING, and DETOURING was a short step from there.

Both contestants have chosen GROUND for six, which is failing to use the potential of the -ING.  David has found DETOURING as expected.

There's no eights to be had; Chambers lists GUÉRIDON ("a small ornate table or stand") but the Macquarie does not.  Some sources list TRUDGEON, which Chambers says is an incorrect spelling of the swimming stroke TRUDGEN, but the Macquarie lists neither in any case.

There are a lot of sevens, though.  A few of the common ones are UNDERGO / GUERDON, ERODING, TONGUED, GROUTED, INTRUDE / UNTRIED, GRUNTED, and ROUTINE.

Bassem: GROUND
Jayanthi: GROUND

Scores: Bassem 0 (6), Jayanthi 5 (11), me 23

Round 3: Target 774 from 25 50 9 2 3 6

The target is one away from a multiple of 25, and my first step was to set aside the 2 and 3 to make that 1.  The question was whether the rest of the numbers could get us to 775 and it turned out that they could, giving me the solution 774 = (9 + 6)*50 + 25 - (3 - 2).  Still within time I looked at 9*75 and noticed that the difference was 99, also divisible by 9.  A quick tweak produced the enjoyable alternative solution of 774 = 9*(50 + 25 + 3 + 2 + 6).

Bassem is outside the scoring range with 755, while Jayanthi was presumably further away; she simply says that she was nowhere close.  Lily demonstrates the first of those solutions above.

Bassem: [not in range]
Jayanthi: [not in range]
Me: 774
Lily: 774

Scores: Bassem 0 (6), Jayanthi 5 (11), me 33

First break: SERF SORT ("Difficult to penetrate")

It should be difficult to penetrate a FORTRESS.

David's talk is about countries named due to people.  He clarifies that he is not talking about country names like Jordan, Chad, or Georgia, but rather the Philippines, Bolivia, El Salvador, and Belize.  (It is not clear that Belize is actually named due to a person, but it is one speculative origin.)

Round 4: A E A C S Y I N F

I had CASE, CASEIN, and FANCIES.  After time I noted FASCINE (a bundle of sticks, sort of; I mentioned it recently in episode 51) and FASCIAE (plural of FASCIA: "a long flat board covering the ends of rafters"; this got a mention all the way back in episode 1) as other sevens.

Bassem has FACIA for five; this is a variant spelling of FASCIA, so he missed out on two different ways to make this longer (FASCIA, FACIAE).  It is valid, however.  Jayanthi has found FANCIES for seven; David mentions FASCIA as another spelling, and then FIANCÉS as an anagram of Jayanthi's word.

Those are all the sevens listed.

Bassem: FACIA
Jayanthi: FANCIES

Scores: Bassem 0 (6), Jayanthi 12 (18), me 40

Round 5: E A R N O T L E S

I struggled on this one, having just NEAR and ANTLER.  The best option I could see was for a final S to give RESONATE, and that is what happened.  I should have wanted a C for TOLERANCE, though.

Both contestants declare six-letter words; Jayanthi has LEARNS and Bassem "takes a punt" on RENOTE.  He could have turned that into RENOTES without any further risk, but in any case it is not valid.  David has found RESONATE for eight.

The other eights are OLEASTER (a type of shrub or tree) and ENTRESOL ("Architecture a low storey between two other storeys of greater height, usually one immediately above the chief or ground floor; a mezzanine").

There are two other possibilities, depending on whether the plural forms are acceptable or not: TELERANS (TELERAN: "a system of aircraft navigation using radar to map the sky above an airfeld, which, together with the map of the airfield itself and other pertinent data, is transmitted by television to the aeroplane approaching the field") / ETERNALS (ETERNAL as a noun: "that which is eternal").  Both strike me as dangerous to try, but I'd prefer TELERANS to ETERNALS if push came to shove.

Bassem: [invalid]
Jayanthi: LEARNS

Scores: Bassem 0 (6), Jayanthi 12 (24), me 48

Round 6: Target 109 from 50 25 2 5 10 4

A low target should be pretty approachable.  A little thought up front pays dividends though, as it is the 4 and 5 we want to keep separate for the 9 so the 100 should be formed as 2*50 instead of 4*25.  That gave me the solution 109 = 2*50 + 5 + 4.

Bassem has probably fallen into that trap as he is one away with 110, but Jayanthi has found the above solution.  Her lead is now out to 28 points, meaning that Bassem needs an eight-letter word or longer in the next round to have a chance of winning.

Bassem: 110
Jayanthi: 109
Me: 109

Scores: Bassem 0 (6), Jayanthi 22 (34), me 58

Second break: INCH CAME ("Working in the hood")

The "hood" being referred to is the hood of a car, worked under by a MECHANIC.

Round 7: I U A P M S E D R

I had PUMA, PUMAS, AMUSED, and DAMPERS.  I spent the remaining time looking for an eight without successed; once time ran out and I wrote down other sevens I had a quick chain of DESPAIR / PRAISED and UPRAISED that led me to it.  Bother.  I also noted UMPIRES / UMPIRED as other sevens.

The contestants each have six-letter words, and that guarantees Jayanthi the win.  She has DAMPER, presumably thinking of the comparative instead of the noun and so missing the chance to append an S; Bassem has opted for DREAMS as his six.

David has followed identical reasoning to mine, from DESPAIR to PRAISED to UPRAISED.

That is the only eight, and there are a lot of sevens here.

Bassem: DREAMS
Jayanthi: DAMPER

Scores: Bassem 0 (12), Jayanthi 22 (40), me 65

Round 8: Target 941 from 75 50 6 4 2 3

A large target sets an interesting challenge.  It is 9 away from 950, and there's a couple of ways to get to 950 as 12*75 + 50.  Depending on how one proceeds there are 7 or 8 left over from the small numbers for further adjustment, but that only gets one away (still a good result!).  I managed to spot a better option, however, with a small tweak: 941 = 3*(4*75 - 6/2) + 50.  Of course, the 3 and 6/2 could be swapped to produce a trivial variation.

Bassem is well out of range with 908, but Jayanthi declares two away with 943.  She starts with 3*4*75 + 50... but then she realises that she has used a number twice.  What she might have done here is wanted to subtract both the 3 and 4, and meant to make the original 12 as 2*6 but gotten a little confused as she went to write her answer down.  Bad luck!

Lily has not been able to find a solution, but shows how from Jayanthi's start subtracting the remaining 6 and 2 gets to 942, just one away from the target.

Another solution follows from a similar approach as my solution above, which is treating the target as 891 + 50.  891 has a few helpful factorisations but the one of interest here is 11*81; that soon leads to the solution 941 = (2*4 + 3)*(75 + 6) + 50.

There's another class of solutions arising from that magic number 937½; normally that is 25*75/2, but here we work instead with 50*75/4.  There's a few variants that work; the simplest is 941 = (50*75 + 2)/4 + 3.

Bassem: [not in range]
Jayanthi: [invalid]
Me: 941
Lily: 942

Scores: Bassem 0 (12), Jayanthi 22 (40), me 75


An awkward mix, and I looked at unhelpful fragments of -LY, -ITY, and -ABLY / -IBLY without luck.  Then the answered just appeared to me, perhaps because I had encountered the word in a different context a bit earlier that day.  Jayanthi rounds out her performance by solving this a little shy of the halfway mark.

Bassem: [no answer]
Jayanthi: LABYRINTH (13s)

Final scores: Bassem 0 (12), Jayanthi 22 (50), me 85

Jayanthi did well to solve this conundrum, which did not have any useful fragments to guide one there.  She found a couple of decent words but looks like the numbers could cause her some problems.  Bassem seemed a little out of sorts, with two invalid words and not much luck in the numbers; it is quite possible that he was a standby contestant brought in at short notice due to Liam's success and that he had not had any chance to prepare.


Jan said...

I had a pretty good game, with my total being 69. Not as good as yours in the 80’s, Geoff, but nonetheless I am happy with my efforts. The only non scoring round was the conundrum.

((6*3-2)*50 ) - 25 = 775 (7) Saw Lily's way too late
ETERNALS, RESONATE (8) (I saw your comment about ETERNALS)
(2*50) + 4 + 5 = 109 (10)
PRAISED (7) (I thought of upraised but wrongly thought it would need 2 p's)
(4*3)*75 + 50 - 6 - 2 = 942 (7)

Mike Backhouse said...

My attempt:

GRUNTED (saw detouring just out of time- would have been my first nine)
Lily's way
50+(25*2)+5+4=109 (must be the only one to miss the 50*2 component!
Lily's way (even though 1 off)
missed conundrum

Sam Gaffney said...

Only the conundrum seemed familiar to me here, but my wife said she recognised a contestant (or both), so I almost definitely saw it in 2010. LABYRINTH was one of the first conundrums that I ever saw on Countdown years ago, and I have also seen it elsewhere.

Some strong word work from Jayanthi here. I started with a bizarre invented word, the rest was good, including some 937½ shenanigans in Round 8.

774 = 9*(50 + 25 + 3 + 2 + 6)
109 = 50*2 + 5 + 4
941 = (50*75 + 6)/4 + 2

Geoff Bailey said...

Nice game, Jan, and congratulations on getting the full monty! ETERNALS / RESONATE are also excellent spots, whether or not you choose to risk ETERNALS. I did not see the potential of ETERNAL there. Only a tough conundrum kept you out of the 70's.

Bad luck on missing DETOURING, Mike, and an interesting approach to 109. The important thing is that you got there! And nice numbers results from you, matching Lily throughout on a couple of less-than-easy mixes.

Sam: I'm going to guess that you were thinking of HARICOT in the first round. And I'm pleased to see that you used the 937½ approach in the last numbers round -- it did not even occur to me within time, although it should have.

Sam Gaffney said...

HARICOT is plausible, I think I've been (bean) stumped on that one in a crossword. It's when you don't know a word's meaning that these problems are most likely.

Round 8 was a perfect set up for 937½. The 4 made it easy, and those smalls provided great flexibility, there would be a huge number of targets solvable here.

JT said...

I suspect were in for a LOT of Family Mixes :/.....


Jayanthi Viswanathan said...

Hello! Well this blog was a surprise find :) I'm Jayanthi and one of the competitors on this episode (and the next two). May I say in my defence that thinking quickly with the pressure of being on camera is clearly not one of my strengths! The kids at school thought it was hilarious that my skill with letters was superior to my skill with numbers!

Geoff Bailey said...

Thanks for your comments, Jayanthi -- great to hear from you! I think most readers of this blog can relate to the issues of the camera pressure. And I can certainly relate to tending to be better at the letters when the numbers might be expected.

I hope you'll stick around, maybe join in the comparison of results. *smiles warmly*

Interactive Productions said...

Haha, this is hilarious to have found this while randomly "googling myself" Yes I'm Bassem and I can't believe I got 110 when the 109 was so obvious :)

Anyways yes the show hadn't aired yet when this episode was filmed, and I would hope I did better next time I ended up on a game/quiz show :)

Geoff Bailey said...

Nice to hear from you, Bassem. In case you had not noticed, a few of us are playing through new games if you want to join in -- just visit the most recent pages of the blog.

Good luck with your endeavours!