Friday, 5 October 2012

Ep 64: Veronica Corrigan, Ian Campbell-Fraser (October 4, 2012; originally aired October 28, 2010)

Rounds: Here.

Veronica Corrigan is back for her fifth night, hoping to get closer to successful retirement.  But first, some more about her, and in particular her interest in wine.  As mentioned earlier, Veronica went away for a while after she finished school; when she returned she started working in a wine store.  She was rather fortunate as her boss owned a winery and so was able to teach her a lot about winemaking, as well as tasting and things like that.

Tonight's challenger is Ian Campbell-Fraser, a native titles lawyer and public servant who is also a huge Elvis fan.  (He probably liked slim Elvis, too. *rimshot*)  Richard asks if Ian has "made the pilgrimage" to Graceland, and Ian responds that he has -- several years ago now -- and it was quite moving.  At the end of the tour they take you past Elvis's grave and he confesses that he shed a tear.

The contestants start off equally matched in the letters rounds, then Veronica gained the lead by solving the first numbers round.  They both had good words in the next round but Ian's was the longer, cutting into that lead of Veronica's.  Another matched round, and then Veronica got back that lost ground in the second numbers round.  She was ten points ahead going into the last numbers round and looking strong, but then a surprising miss from her in a rather easy round saw Ian level the scores going into the conundrum.  That greatly improved his chances, of course, and he was able to take advantage of it with a quick solution to what could have been a very tough conundrum.  Veronica's run comes to an end as Ian wins, 53 to 43.

I started out fairly well, finding a couple of less easy maxima.  Two more difficult rounds followed where I missed better options that were findable -- Lily missed the numbers answer too, which is some comfort -- and then things continued back on track until the conundrum, which I only just solved with a few seconds left.  A good game except for that conundrum speed, really.

Round 1: D S G O E I H C U

I had DOGS, DOGES (DOGE: "the chief magistrate of the old republics of Venice and Genoa"), GEOIDS (as I mentioned recently in episode 62, a GEOID is "an imaginary surface which corresponds with the mean sea level over the ocean and its extension under the continents"), SIGHED, DUCHIES, and then DOUGHIES for eight.  (I recalled DOUGHIE from the extraordinary running food theme of episode 333; it is slang for both a doughnut and a stupid person.)  After time I noted down a couple of other sevens: COUGHED and SOUGHED, recalling this latter from it's appearance a few days back in episode 61.

The contestants have each found seven-letter words; Ian shows that he was paying attention from the audience for that previous episode as he has found SOUGHED, while Veronica has opted for COUGHED.  David has found DOUGHIES for eight, and it seems to be the only one.

The other sevens are DOUGHIE, HIDEOUS, DOUCHES / HOCUSED (both HOCUSED and HOCUSSED are acceptable spellings, similarly to FOCUSED and FOCUSSED), and CHIGOES (CHIGOE is a type of flea).

Veronica: COUGHED

Scores: Veronica 0 (7), Ian 0 (7), me 8

Round 2: S T A C N I O J S

I had CAST, CANTS, ACTIONS / CATIONS, and CONSIST.  I might have gone chasing an E for CANOEIST / ACONITES, to be honest, but the J was certainly a stroke of misfortune.  When considering what to declare I worried that CONSIST might only appear in conjunction ("consist of"); it turns out to be OK, thought: While both "consist in" and "consist of" are listed as phrases in the definition, it does have a separate verb sense ("to be compatible or consistent").  It also has a noun sense which I had not been aware of: "Railways the arrangement of the rolling stock of a train, exclusive of the locomotive"

The contestants each have seven-letter words again, Veronica with CATIONS and Ian with ACTIONS.  David's choice was also ACTIONS, and it seems that longer is not possible.

The other sevens are CASINOS / CASSINO (a card game) / CAISSON (a rather interesting concept but the description is a bit long, so here's Wikipedia's explanation), ATONICS (ATONIC: "an unaccented word, syllable, or sound"), TOCSINS (TOCSIN: "a bell used to sound an alarm"), and SCOTIAS (SCOTIA: "a concave moulding, as at the base of a column or the angle between the wall and the ceiling").

Veronica: CATIONS

Scores: Veronica 7 (14), Ian 7 (14), me 15

Round 3: Target 379 from 50 25 7 5 9 4

The standard method is the clear favourite here, with the 4 being handy to adjust by.  I wrote down two solutions within time, but there are others: 379 = 5*(50 + 25) + 4 and 379 = 7*50 + 25 + 4.

Ian has ended up seven away with 372, but Veronica has solved this with the first of the solutions that I listed.  Lily then demonstrates the second of them as an alternative.

Veronica: 379
Ian: 372
Me: 379
Lily: 379

Scores: Veronica 17 (24), Ian 7 (14), me 25

First break: DARN BUOY ("On the edge")

The edge represents the BOUNDARY.

David's talk is about the meanings of the names of four breeds of dog: corgi, dachshund, shar pei (or shar-pei), and basenji.

Round 4: I L F E A T B P O

I had FILE, TABLE, POTABLE, and LIFEBOAT.  Those last two were fairly late spots, and I was pretty happy about both of them.

Veronica has the nice FOIBLE for six, but Ian has found POTABLE for seven, greatly reducing Veronica's lead.  David has also found LIFEBOAT, and mentions that he is particularly pleased to have done so as compound words are often hard to spot in this game.

The other sevens are FLEAPIT and FOLIATE.

Veronica: FOIBLE

Scores: Veronica 17 (24), Ian 7 (21), me 33

Round 5: G R M R E A I R L

Huh, a tripled letter; that happens very rarely.  I had GERM, LARGER, worried about MILAGRE, and MILAGE (variant spelling of MILEAGE).  I decided that when I had seen MILAGRE in use it was almost certainly in foreign speech so I stayed with six.  That was a correct recollection; MILAGRE turns out to be Portuguese for "miracle".  After time I checked up on MARRIER -- I had not even bothered to write it down as I would have thought it too risky to try -- and found that it was valid after all.  Oh, well.

Both contestants have gone with LARGER for six, but David has found MARRIER to outdo us all.

The other sevens are ARMIGER ("a person entitled to armorial bearings"; this word has popped up a few times in Countdown games I have played through, but I am yet to see it) and GREMIAL ("a cloth placed on a bishop's lap while sitting during celebration of mass or conferring orders").  That latter is an anagram of MILAGRE, so maybe I shall find it again some day with that connection in place.

Veronica: LARGER

Scores: Veronica 23 (30), Ian 13 (27), me 39

Round 6: Target 403 from 50 100 75 2 9 10

Ian tries the frequently-tricky balanced mix, and getting an offset of 3 seems rather challenging.  I wrote down a backup 402 = 10*50 - 100 + 2, but was not able to better it within time.

It took me a while afterwards before I hit upon the idea of getting the required offset as 2*9 + 10; that makes 28, which is 25 + 3, so the aim is to get to 375 with the rest of the numbers and able to tweak with either 2 or 9 in the process.  Both can be done; I first found the kitchen sink solution of 403 = 2*(100 + 50 + 9) + 75 + 10, and then managed to save a number with 403 = 9*(50 + 2) + 10 - 75.

Ian has not been able to get anywhere near the target, but Veronica is just two away with 401 = (100 + 75)*2 + 50 + (10 - 9).  Note that if she had pushed the (10 - 9) inside the part being multiplied by 2 then she would have managed one closer with 402.  It's this kind of small adjustment that contestants often seem to miss, and it can be a very powerful technique.

Lily has not been able to get any closer than 402, and must have consigned it to the "too hard" basket as there is no request for thinking time.

It turns out that there are a few other ways to make the 403, but almost all of them require adding or subtracting 75 after a multiplication and that can be a hard thing to spot.  There is an exception, though, using an approach which I had wanted to make work but had not been able to: 403 = 9*45 - 2.  The 45 is formed rather cunningly as three quarters of 60, for the solution 403 = ((50 + 10)*75/100)*9 - 2.

Veronica: 401
Ian: [not in range]
Me: 402
Lily: 402

Scores: Veronica 23 (37), Ian 13 (27), me 46

Second break: RAIN DORY ("Middle of the road")

I briefly wondered if there was such a thing as an IRONYARD, but then realised (aided by the clue) that the answer was much more ORDINARY.

Round 7: N S T F E I E A B

I had SENT, TINES, FEINTS, BASINET, and then only just within time found BETAINES.  Considering that I mentioned this twice in the last week (episode 59 and episode 62) I would hope to have seen it sooner, but at least I did not miss it entirely!

Both contestants have found FASTEN for six.  David has found the very nice eight of BENEFITS, and it looks like the only other one.  Well done, David!

The other sevens are BETAINE, BENEFIT, BEANIES, FAINEST, BEASTIE, and ETESIAN ("recurring annually (applied to certain Mediterranean winds)").

Veronica: FASTEN

Scores: Veronica 23 (43), Ian 13 (33), me 54

Round 8: Target 173 from 25 50 3 10 2 5

Ian retreats to the family mix, which makes sense as he cannot afford to have Veronica outscore him in this round.  He gets a very easy target, and this should mean that he would need to solve two conundrums first in order to win.  That might mean the first two-conundrum game of the show's history!  But first, there's this round to get through...

Getting to 175 and subtracting 2 stands out pretty clearly, and there's oodles of ways to do it.  I started with 173 = 3*50 + 25 - 2, then continued with 173 = (10 - 3)*25 - 2 and finished with 173 = 5*25 + 50 - 2.

After time I experimented with other approaches; my favourite of them is 173 = (50*10 + 25)/3 - 2.  I also managed to take a completely different tack and make it as 17*10 + 3 with the solution 173 = 10*(25 - 50/5 + 2) + 3.

Veronica surprises by being one away with 172; that is rather unexpected and could prove very costly.  Indeed, Ian has solved this with the first of the solutions that I listed (it was also Lily's way), and the scores are now tied.

That weakens Veronica's position greatly; if she had solved this then she would have been happy with a conundrum that she solved first, or that was too hard for both of them.  Even if Ian got there first she would still have had a second chance with the tiebreaker conundrum.  But now the game must continue until someone solves the conundrum and her odds have shrunk dramatically.

Veronica: 172
Ian: 173
Me: 173
Lily: 173

Scores: Veronica 23 (43), Ian 23 (43), me 64


I got flummoxed by all that duplication, and with the letters being relatively common I did not have much of a place to start.  The -IST and -ATIC fragments seemed plausible, but before I could really get anywhere Ian buzzed in (with what turned out to be the solution).  I started the backup timer, and only barely solved it within the remaining time.  A tough conundrum for me and a good solution from Ian.

Veronica: [no answer]

Final scores: Veronica 23 (43), Ian 33 (53), me 64

There was really not that much separating the contestants; Ian had the only letters gain, but Veronica proved to be generally more adept at the numbers.  But her unexpected miss on the last numbers round gave Ian a chance that he was good enough to take, and on such small things the game can turn.  Veronica stays in a slightly tenuous seventh position on the finals rankings, and Ian hopes to work his way towards there.


Jan said...

Having trouble sleeping, so I am pleased that I can come here and give my answers.

I was so happy yesterday being the only one to get the conundrum right first go, and tonight I just sneaked in before Geoff with 20 secs for the conundrum.

Had one invalid word - floatie - I thought being a good Aussie word it might be there, but no. Reckon it's just as much used, or more, than DOUGHIE!

SOUGHED (7) pleased I remembered that
CATIONS (7) surprised David looked that up
7*50 + 25 + 4 = 379 (10)
Floatie - invalid
MIRAGE (6) would GAMIER be ok?
(100+75)*2 + 50 + (10-9) = 401 (7)
3*50 + 25 - 2 = 173 (10)
20 secs

Mike Backhouse said...

I had a bad game today with a few invalid words.

CHOSE (saw HOUSED and DOUCHES? just out of time and missed OUGH fragment)
Veronica's way
LIBATE (took a chance on this one being a verb and bombed out)
REARING (invalid- wrote down N instead of M. Tried for another different word after hearing the answers and got RAILER within 30 secs)
Veronica's way (2 off- noted your suggestion Geoff, I usually do look for ways to add to the number being multiplied-but not today!)
(5+2)*25-3=172 (1 off-saw solution too late)
missed conundrum

Just not firing today...but have learned some lessons for future reference.

Mike Backhouse said...

Noted that DOUCHES was ok.

Geoff Bailey said...

Nice work, Jan; GAMIER would indeed have been acceptable, but MIRAGE is nicer. You were a bit unfortunate with FLOATIE (an odd omission from the Macquarie), although I would have been concerned that it was only FLOATY if I'd seen it.

LIBATE was a valiant try, Mike -- bad luck! And as long as you've learned some lessons, the game is a success. *smiles*

Sam Gaffney said...

Very good finding on the letter rounds from Geoff. I remembered Ian's face, he played very well (Veronica didn't have a bad game), but he looks vulnerable on the numbers.

I definitely saw this game when it first aired, I remembered David's vignette about the dog that doesn't bark. The word POTABLE also seemed familiar, I believe it was this episode that taught me how to pronounce the word.

379 = 50*7 + 25 + 4
POTABLE (saw boat, but compounds like LIFEBOAT or REDCOAT seem to be tough)
MIRAGE (wavered, but rejected MARRIER)
402 = 10*50-100+2. After a couple of minutes: 403 = (10-2)*(50-9)+75
173 = 5*25 + 50-2
~10s, disappointing

Geoff Bailey said...

Thanks, Sam -- looking back at it those three eights were pretty decent spots (although whether BETAINES would get the nod or not is still a little unclear to me, to be honest; still, I saw it, and that's the important thing). I like your 403 solution -- taking advantage of 72 to get the offset of 3 is one of those things I can see afterwards, but have yet to really apply within time.

JT said...

A shame Veronica couldn't retire, mind you there are many other people who I feel are unlucky to not retire...

about 2 minutes