Saturday, 29 September 2012

Ep 60: Yolanda Sztarr, Veronica Corrigan (September 28, 2012; originally aired October 22, 2010)

Rounds: Here.

This is Yolanda Sztarr's third night, and we find out that her greatest achievement was renovating a derelict Victorian home.  Yolanda expands on this a bit: Her boyfriend is an architect and builder, and he has done a really good design for the house, one that is quite sustainable and beautiful and minimalist.  She says it is just a beautiful place to live; obviously she is very proud of the contributions she has made towards its existence.

Challenging Yolanda tonight is Veronica Corrigan, a third-year medical student who has recently taken up ballet... again.  Veronica first started ballet when she was five and then stopped after school, which was about four years ago.  She has only just taken it up again and has found it a bit of a struggle but is enjoying it; she finds it good to have an artistic outlet to balance the rigorous study required by medicine.

The game started with a matched round, and then Yolanda drew ahead thanks to a good word and a tough numbers round.  But Veronica turned the tables in the second third, finding the longer word and a better numbers answer to take the lead by a point.  Two shared rounds followed and the difference was still one point going into the conundrum.  It proved to be rather difficult and neither solved it, so Veronica got the win by 41 points to 40.

There were some tough letters rounds today -- too many vowels tends to do that -- and I missed a couple of findable maxima, one of which was depressingly clear in hindsight.  Ah, well.  The numbers behaved themselves for me, and although I was slow on the conundrum I got there in the end.  Overall a decent game with not too much potential.

Round 1: R I O A K D P I E

Bleah, again with the vowels.  I had a speculative KAORI that I did not trust (it turns out that I was thinking of the tree KAURI, as found by David in episode 98), RADIO to replace it, and PAIRED.  I would have liked to have had APERIODIK, but of course that only works when pronounced, not spelled.

The contestants each have six-letter words, Veronica with PAIRED and Yolanda with DIAPER.  David has gone with PERIOD as his six.

It turns out that there is a seven here, one that I made a passing mention of in episode 448: PERIDIA, plural of PERIDIUM: "the outer enveloping coat of the fruit body in many fungi [...]".

Yolanda: DIAPER
Veronica: PAIRED

Scores: 6 apiece

Round 2: N T H O M I E A S

I had MOTH, MONTH, ATOMISE, and the invalid AMNIOTES.  I knew two things about that last word: It is valid in Countdown (where I have seen it several times, which is why it came to mind) but not Letters and Numbers, and it has a valid anagram for the show's purposes.  Fortunately I was able to bring that anagram to mind before time ran out: MASONITE.

I had been hoping for a D or R instead of that fourth vowel, with some options from episode 39 up for grabs like MOTHIER, ETHMOID (a particular bone), or THEROID ("having animal propensities or characteristics").  It would have been a D as it turns out, allowing ETHMOIDS for eight, but an R would have been best for THERMIONS (THERMION: "any of a class of electrically charged particles such as ions or electrons emitted by incandescent materials").  But back to what actually happened...

Veronica has HASTEN for six, but Yolanda gets an early lead with the nice ANTHEMS for seven.  David has found MASONITE for eight.

The other possible eight here is HEMATINS, with HEMATIN being a variant spelling of HAEMATIN ("a pigment containing iron, produced in the decomposition of haemoglobin as the result of oxidation of the haem component").  I don't know if that should be pluralisable or not; it's certainly a risky play.

Yolanda: ANTHEMS
Veronica: HASTEN

Scores: Yolanda 6 (13), Veronica 6, me 14

Round 3: Target 661 from 25 100 4 1 9 1

The pair of ones make this harder than normal.  There are a few tempting approaches, such as 625 + 4*9, but it's not possible to get that to work.  The target is near 9*75, though, and with an offset of 14 a little tweaking was enough to get me home: 661 = 9*(100 - 25 - 1) - 4 - 1.

Veronica is a bit far away with 625, but Yolanda has managed to just get within scoring range with 671 = (9 - 1 - 1)*100 - 25 - 4.  That gets her more than a conundrum's worth ahead, a good early lead.

Lily demonstrates the solution above; it turns out that there is only one other solution, a minor variation of the same idea: 661 = 9*(100 - 25 - 1 - 1) + 4.

Yolanda: 671
Veronica: [not in range]
Me: 661
Lily: 661

Scores: Yolanda 6 (18), Veronica 6, me 24

First break: CRUST TIN ("I could teach you how to solve this but it would be giving it away")

To teach being to INSTRUCT, of course.

David's talk, inspired by the contestant, is about the word veronica.

Round 4: D L C E A N B I T

I had LACED, LANCED / CANDLE, and CABINET.  After time -- it took me a while to spot them, which bothers me -- I also saw CITADEL / DIALECT as other sevens.

It's sixes from each, Yolanda having TABLED and Veronica having LANCED.  David has also gone with CABINET as his seven.

The other sevens are CABINED and DELTAIC / EDICTAL.

Yolanda: TABLED
Veronica: LANCED

Scores: Yolanda 6 (24), Veronica 6 (12), me 31

Round 5: P U E O I U T N Y

Five vowels and a Y.  Joy.  Once again I have cause to regret that the Macquarie does not list POUTINE, so I had POUT, PEONY, UNITE / UNTIE, UNITY, and PIETY.  After time I finally spotted POINT and thus POINTY as a six.  I really should have found that, but spent too much time being annoyed at the choice of all those vowels.

Yolanda tries the invalid POUTY for five, but Veronica gets some ground back with POINTY for six.  David has found the only other six of POINTE, the ballet term that he was expecting Veronica to have chosen.

Yolanda: [invalid]
Veronica: POINTY

Scores: Yolanda 6 (24), Veronica 12 (18), me 31

Round 6: Target 916 from 100 25 1 6 7 3

A large target, as Richard notes.  I started off overcomplicating things with improbable schemes, but saw that I could make 875 cheaply and the offset of 41 was very near the makeable 42.  That yielded the solution 916 = 7*(100 + 25 + 6) - 1, and then I looked at more of a standard approach via 925 - 9.  That was easier than my first investigations had made it seem, and a quick tweak gave me another solution of 916 = (6 + 3)*(100 - 1) + 25.

Yolanda is three away with 919 -- I can only assume that she made the 9 inefficiently as 7 + 3 - 1, for 919 = (7 + 3 - 1)*100 + 25 - 6 -- while Veronica is just one away with 917 = (3 + 6)*100 + 25 - 7 - 1.  That puts her one precious point in the lead, and could prove to be a costly oversight by Yolanda.

Lily has found another solution, again tweaking the 9 for 916 = (100 + 1)*(6 + 3) + 7.

Yolanda: 919
Veronica: 917
Me: 916
Lily: 916

Scores: Yolanda 6 (24), Veronica 12 (25), me 41

Second break: DEMON ASH ("This is as this does")

A reference to the phrase "HANDSOME is as HANDSOME does".

Round 7: A S B S I E D G I

I had BASS, BASIS / BASSI (one plural of BASSO: "someone who sings bass"), BIASED, and BADGES.  I could picture a car coming with SIDEBAGS, and I know that BIGASSED is a familiar concept, but neither is likely to be in the dictionary (not even hyphenated).  Oh, well.

Both contestants have found BADGES for six, but David has found the only seven of DAISIES.  Not the easiest of spots, that, but could have been found.

Yolanda: BADGES
Veronica: BADGES

Scores: Yolanda 12 (30), Veronica 18 (31), me 47

Round 8: Target 151 from 75 50 25 3 5 4

Veronica tries three of each for a chance, but gets an easy target.  The aim of getting to 150 and then adding 1 is clear, and I started with 151 = 75 + 50 + 25 + 4 - 3 then found the slightly simpler 151 = 3*50 + 5 - 4.

Neither contestant was challenged by this, as expected, and both selected a minor variant of my first solution: 151 = 25 + 50 + 75 + 5 - 4.  Lily then demonstrates the second of the solutions that I found.

Yolanda: 151
Veronica: 151
Me: 151
Lily: 151

Scores: Yolanda 22 (40), Veronica 28 (41), me 57


I did struggle with this conundrum.  The -ING fragment was tempting, but METHOSING did not make sense.  I shifted to -IGHT, and neither SIGHT nor MIGHT was helpful.  Neither was EIGHT or NIGHT, but the last did get me back to THING and so to the solution at last.  The contestants also had trouble with this, and it is surprisingly tricky... or maybe that's just me.

Yolanda: [no answer]
Veronica: [no answer]
Me: SOMETHING (15.5s)

Final scores: Yolanda 22 (40), Veronica 28 (41), me 67

A very close game, with Yolanda finding the word of the game in ANTHEMS.  They each won one letters round and one numbers round, but the better result from Veronica's numbers round put her crucially ahead.  This could easily have gone either way, and that makes for engaging results.

I won't miss Yolanda's vowelphilia, though.  On her eight letters rounds she averaged four and a half vowels a round, split evenly between four and five vowels.  This makes long words harder, and I would claim that it harmed her chances, too.  Some statistics about them because I'm feeling obstreperous (and yes, I know the sample size is too small for any significance):

Yolanda's average valid word length: 5 vowels: 4.25, 4 vowels: 6.50
Average maximum valid word length: 5 vowels: 7.00, 4 vowels: 7.75
Yolanda's aggregate gain/loss: 5 vowels: +1 (= +7 - 6), 4 vowels  +20.

Hopefully Veronica will be a little lighter on the vowels; we'll find out next week.


Jan said...

When Yolanda kept choosing vowels, I could imagine you getting a bit cranky about it! I certainly didn't like it.
Geoff, you certainly beat me on the conundrum this time. It took me about 2 minutes. It had so many options, with 'tion', 'ing' and 'ight' as endings etc.
I had another win, so reasonably happy

(4*100) + (1+9)*(25+1) = 660 (7)
OUTIE (0) hoped tuneup would be ok, but it's hyphened
(3+6)*100 + 25 - 7 - 1 = 917 (7)
After time I saw the tweak (3+6)*(100-1) + 25 = 916
3*50 + 5 - 4 = 151 (10)
about 2 minutes

Mike Backhouse said...

It must hurt to lose by one point, but well done Veronica.

HOMIES (sounds doubtful but I am sure I have heard it before, although it could have been Countdown)
got nothing - went down too many rabbit holes!
Veronica's way
Lily's way
missed conundrum

Jan, what is an OUTIE?

Jan said...

Hi Mike. An outie is a colloquial term for a belly button that comes out instead of going in! And it's in the Macq dictionary. I think you are right about homies. Just looked it up - it's a home boy. I think that is an American term, so interesting that it is in 'our' dictionary.

Geoff Bailey said...

*chuckles* I may perhaps be playing up my irascibility a touch, but I do think that five vowels restricts the possibilities too much most of the time. Nice find of ANOMIES in round two, Jan!

With regard to the conundrum, the word also appeared in the infamous Countdown "Gotcha" episode, where the entire filming was a prank on Richard. That particular round is here.

Sam Gaffney said...

You had similar answers to me, Geoff - they were frustrating mixes, not helped by Yolanda's vowelphilia.

Round 4 was especially painful - the letters were all OK, so there were no obvious ones to ignore (J, Q, etc).

661 = 9*(100-25-1) - 4 - 1
916 = 7*(100 + 25 + 6) - 1
BIASED (considered BIGASSED)
151 = 50*3 + 5-4 zzz...

Sam Gaffney said...

Yes, I remembered OMETHINGS from the Countdown Gotcha, too.