Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Ep 56: Jayanthi Viswanathan, Peter Stegelman (September 24, 2012; originally aired October 18, 2010)

Rounds: Here.

Jayanthi Viswanathan has her third game tonight, and we find out that she is a huge crime fiction enthusiast.  Jayanthi's favourite way to relax is with some Agatha Christie -- "a little bit of murder, a little bit of intrigue", as she puts it.

Tonight's challenger is Peter Stegelman, an accountant who loves travelling, watching cricket and football, and enjoys baking.  Peter very much enjoys getting in the kitchen and whipping up a cake or a slice; he says that what he does best is probably chocolate cake, and I have to say that is a fine thing to be proficient in.

Jayanthi started well in the letters, getting a good early lead, but Peter pegged some of it back in the first numbers round.  Jayanthi extended her lead again in the next letters round, then an invalid declaration cost her points.  Two shared rounds followed, and then Peter capitalised on Jayanthi's weakness in the numbers to take the lead going into the conundrum.  He solved it first in any case, getting a 49 to 34 point win.

I missed a few words I would have liked to have found, but it was still a reasonable performance.  I solved the conundrum quickly, although in part that was due to buzzing in with the wrong answer in mind but correcting that within time.  Once more I avoided the trap of a tempting invalid word, and finished with quite a comfortable victory.

Round 1: A E I S N T G O R

The -ING went up, but then Jayanthi disappointed me by calling for a fourth vowel.  They are pretty good letters and the retsina is in play, but that O squashes chances of a nine.  I had SANE, TISANE, TEASING, and ORGANISE.  Lots of eights here, but I spent the remaining time looking for a nonexistent nine.  Some sources would allow ORANGIEST, but I knew the Macquarie did not.

After time I noted down some of those other eights: INGRATES / ANGRIEST / GANTRIES and NOTARISE / NOTARIES / SEÑORITA.

Peter starts out with STRONG for six, but it's no surprise that he is beaten by Jayanthi's seven of STINGER.  With such helpful letters around sevens are plentiful.  David had hoped that such good letters would produce a nine, but it just wasn't there; he has opted for ORGANIST for eight.

The other eights are NEGATORS / ESTRAGON (another name for tarragon), ROASTING, RANGIEST / GRANITES / ASTRINGE ("to compress; bind together; constrict") / GANISTER (a type of rock), and GENITORS (GENITOR: "a father in the biological sense, sometimes distinguished from a legal or acting father").

As I've said many times, with -ING in play I strongly favour taking only three vowels; I certainly think the fifth consonant should have been taken first in case it shifted the odds.  Assuming that that had been done then 18 of the possible continuations would have led to full monties; the eight that do not are the vowels A and O, and the consonants F, J, N, Q, X, and Z.  To my mind, that strongly favours the consonant.

The actual H would have formed INGATHERS.  So perhaps I was fortunate that Jayanthi chose a fourth vowel, as I would have known there was a nine but been unable to recall it within time -- it is one of those words I don't spot easily.

Jayanthi: STINGER

Scores: Jayanthi 0 (7), Peter 0, me 8

Round 2: A H S E U B T A C

I had SHEA (a type of tree, whose nut is used to make shea butter), ABUSE, BATHES, and BATCHES.

Peter has suffered the surprisingly common problem of failing to pluralise -- his word is BATCH.  Jayanthi extends her lead to thirteen points by choosing CHEATS for six.  David notes that Peter could have had BATCHES, but has found CHATEAUS as an eight.  Nice vision from David.

The other sevens are CHATEAU and BUTCHES.

Jayanthi: CHEATS
Peter: BATCH

Scores: Jayanthi 0 (13), Peter 0, me 15

Round 3: Target 711 from 75 50 10 1 2 4

I spotted the factor of 9 immediately, and the cofactor is 79.  That quickly led to the solution 711 = (10 - 1)*(75 + 4).  After time I realised that the near-multiple of 10 led to an arguably simpler solution: 711 = (75 - 4)*10 + 1.

Jayanthia is nine away with 720, but Peter is only two away with 709 = 75*10 - 50 + 2*4 + 1.  Note that if he had used (2 + 1)*4 at the end he would have reached 712, only one away.  But two off is still good enough to get him onto the scoreboard, which he must be happy about.

Lily has found another solution, preserving the 10 and 1 to make the final 11: 711 = (50*2 + 75)*4 + 10 + 1.  Nice one, Lily.

Jayanthi: 720
Peter: 709
Me: 711
Lily: 711

Scores: Jayanthi 0 (13), Peter 0 (7), me 25

First break: SOUR VANE ("Hungry bird")

When Richard read out the words I thought this was SOUR VEIN for SOUVENIR, but the clue did not fit.  That let me correct the spelling of VANE and find RAVENOUS as intended.

David's talk is about the words wiki and ukulele (an odd combination, but they are both words of Hawaiian origin).

Round 4: I E N U D R I B E

Bleah, vowels.  I had NUDE and RUINED, and angsted over BENDIER.  I wrote it down semi-confidently, but I got a nagging feeling of unease almost instantly that kept growing.  It got to the point that I talked myself out of it, and that turned out to be the correct decision.  Why BENDIER is not OK but CURLIEST is is anyone's guess, but that is how the Macquarie sees it.

After time (once I had stopped trying to decide if BENDIER was OK) I found the safe anagram of it: INBREED.

Peter has BRINE for five, but Jayanthi has once again outdone him with BINDER for six.  David has found INBREED as his seven.

The other seven is URIDINE: "a nucleotide of uracil and ribose, present in all living cells [...]".

Jayanthi: BINDER
Peter: BRINE

Scores: Jayanthi 6 (19), Peter 0 (7), me 31

Round 5: A U I R S C L E T

Another set of very compatible letters; I had SCAR, CARLS (CARL being an archaic term for a farmer or a bondsman), SECULAR / RECUSAL, ARTICLES / RECITALS, and UTRICLES (UTRICLE: "a small sac or bag-like body, as an air-filled cavity in a seaweed").  After time I noted CURLIEST as an anagram of it, which prompted my musings above about BENDIER.

Peter has SCARLET for seven, but Jayanthi declares a risky eight of... SCALIER.  She has miscounted, and her answer is invalid.  That gets Peter back within striking distance, which he was no doubt relieved about.  David says there are many eights but the best one was CURTAILS.

The other eights are AURICLES (AURICLE: "a part like or likened to an ear"), STERICAL (variant form of STERIC: "relating to the spatial relationship of atoms in the molecule"), RETICULA (plural of RETICULUM: "a network; any reticulated system or structure"), and SURICATE (the meerkat).

Jayanthi: [invalid]

Scores: Jayanthi 6 (19), Peter 0 (14), me 39

Round 6: Target 146 from 50 100 9 1 5 2

A rather boring game, alas.  Everyone has 146 = 100 + 50 - (5 - 1) in short order, and of course there are variations possible but nothing particularly worth mentioning.

Jayanthi: 146
Peter: 146
Me: 146

Scores: Jayanthi 16 (29), Peter 10 (24), me 49

Second break: EAR TRUCE ("Famously from the Black Lagoon")

A reference to the famous (or infamous) movie CREATURE from the Black Lagoon.

Round 7: A I O J C M E N T

This is the disappointing round for me.  I had CAMEO and ACTION, and knew that there was a seven there from CINEMA + O but could not bring it to mind.  After time I managed to recall it at last: ENCOMIA, plural of ENCOMIUM ("a formal expression of praise; a eulogy").

Both contestants have gone with COMET for five.  David wanted to use the J (of course) and managed to do so with JACONET: "a lightweight cotton fabric, used in the manufacture of surgical dressings".  Well done, David!

The other sevens are ACONITE and NEMATIC ("of or relating to one of the forms of liquid crystals").

Jayanthi: COMET
Peter: COMET

Scores: Jayanthi 16 (34), Peter 10 (29), me 55

Round 8: Target 191 from 25 50 100 9 8 2

Peter introduces some variety into the numbers by asking for three of each -- the first non-family mix for a few games -- but gets what should be an easy target.  I started with 191 = 2*100 - 9 (which is also Lily's solution) and then wrote down another option for personal amusement: 191 = 100 + 50 + 25 + 2*8.

Somehow Jayanthi has ended up one away with 192, but Peter is on track with 191 = 100 + 2*50 - 9.  That gives him the lead for the first time in the game.

[Update: Much later, I realised that Jayanthi must have gone with 192 = 100 + 50 + 25 + 9 + 8.  Even though my second solution was very near this such an explanation simply did not occur to me.]

Jayanthi: 192
Peter: 191
Me: 191
Lily: 191

Scores: Jayanthi 16 (34), Peter 20 (39), me 65


I buzzed in almost immediately thinking of FASCINATE, but managed to correct that fast enough to count.  Peter got there a little over halfway through time, and took the win.

Jayanthi: [no answer]
Peter: FANTASTIC (16s)

Final scores: Jayanthi 16 (34), Peter 20 (49), me 75

Too many vowels around for my taste tonight, and some easy numbers, but it was a close game and that is generally good to watch.  Jayanthi was consistently better on the letters while Peter was likewise better on the numbers, so it is fitting it came down to the conundrum.  Perhaps a small consolation to Jayanthi is that her invalid declaration did not end up being the difference between victory and defeat.


Mike Backhouse said...

My answers:

75*10-50+4*(1+2)=712 (one off but beat contestants)
contestants' way
Peter's way (I also missed the 100*2 component suggested by Lily
missed conundrum

Interesting analysis Geoff as always.

Jan said...

I had another win, with my score in the 60's. It would have been in the 70's, if I had corrected my wrong conundrum - FASCINATE, as quickly as you did, Geoff.

Looking at your weekly stats, I can see that an average in the 60's is pretty good

(75+1)*10 - 50 = 710 (7)
100+50- (9-5) = 146 (10)
2*100 - 9 = 191 (10)

Jayanthi's wrong answer in the last numbers game shows the pressure of being on the show. I'll bet she could get the right answer in about a second doing it at home!

Sam Gaffney said...

SENORITAG might be about the best set of letters to have no full monty. I noticed that INGATHERS was possible with that next H, it is one I have seen a lot.

A few tough maximums on the words this episode, but boring numbers. I flopped on the conundrum, taking about a minute to solve a very basic word, I couldn't get past FASCINATE.

Jayanthi could have won this episode quite easily if she'd declared correctly in Round 5 and hit the simple target in Round 8.

711 = (75 - 4)*10 + 1
BINDER (saw INBRED, but only thought of it as an adjective)
ARTICLES (more promising letters with no nine)
146 = 100 + 50 - (5 - 1)
ACTION (awkward mix)
191 = 2*100 - 9
about a minute

Geoff Bailey said...

Strong results from everyone again, which is nice to see. As far as Jayanthi's round 8 goes, I have very belatedly realised that this must have been 192 = 100 + 50 + 25 + 9 + 8. With descent from 200 so obvious such an option simply did not occur to me (even though my second solution was almost identical).

Sam: I guess I was doubly lucky there was no sixth consonant in round one, then. *chuckles* I agree about the tough maxima; I was a bit annoyed about ENCOMIA, as that was (I think) the first time on the blog I found a word longer than David, although only after time (in episode 307). I kept an eye out for it thereafter, but the recognition has faded with time.