Saturday, 6 October 2012

Ep 65: Ian Campbell-Fraser, Michael Phillips (October 5, 2012; originally aired October 29, 2010)

Rounds: Here.

Ian Campbell-Fraser is back, getting his turn in the champion's chair after defeating Veronica Corrigan last night.  Ian enjoys cryptic crosswords and also building, especially with blocks of Lego.  He has two young children and he likes nothing better than getting down onto the floor with them and putting the pieces together, constructing some amazing things.  Ian jokes that his wife might be starting to realise that getting to play with Lego could have been his main reason for having children.

Tonight's challenger is Michael Phillips, a student who is studying a double degree in arts and science with the intention of becoming a teacher; specifically, he aims to be part of the Teach for Australia program.  Richard asks what that involves; Michael explains that, as a Teach for Australia associate, he will be placed in an educationally-disadvantaged school.  Then over the ensuing two years he will be teaching there in his own classroom, while also studying towards a diploma in teaching.

At a later point in the show there is some further chat, and it is mentioned that Michael plans to specialise in mathematics for his teaching.

Michael got the early lead in a tough first letters round, then extended it again in the fifth round.  Lack of experience in the options of the large numbers cost him in round six, though, as Ian clawed back some lost ground there and then took the lead in the following letters round.  The final numbers round was shared -- both quite far from the target -- and so it came down to the conundrum.  That ended up being too difficult for them both, and Ian scraped home the winner by 40 to 38.

I felt rather out of sorts tonight, and had some mixed results.  I ended up trying an invalid word in one round, and missed some findable better options in the final letters round.  I followed that up by failing to solve the last numbers round and then getting the conundrum only a fraction of a second before time expired.  Rather wobbly, all things considered, but it was fortunately good enough.

Round 1: D P I O D A G T I

A rather unhelpful mix to start with; I had PAID, ADOPT, and PATIO.  After time I noted DIGIT as another five, but anything longer looked rather unlikely.

Ian starts out with PAID for four, but Michael gets the early lead with PATIO for five.  David has similarly been limited to five-letter words, mentioning DIGIT and IDIOT.

It turns out that there is one six here: GADOID, a fish of a type that includes cod and haddock, amongst others.  A tough find, but I had heard of the word; checking shows that this was due to episode 406.

Michael: PATIO

Scores: Ian 0, Michael 5, me 5

Round 2: K P A B T A E S R

This round started off pretty unpromisingly, but then improved greatly at the end.  I had ABATE, ABATES, ABREAST, and PARTAKES.

Both contestants have found BRAKES (or BREAKS; we don't find out which) for six.  David has found PARTAKES for eight.

The other sevens are PARTAKE, ABATERS, TASKBAR, and possibly KARATES.

Michael: BRAKES

Scores: Ian 0 (6), Michael 5 (11), me 13

Round 3: Target 123 from 50 75 5 8 4 2

Ian takes the family mix and gets a target even easier than the 173 from yesterday.  Everyone has the solution 123 = 75 + 50 - 2 fairly quickly, and I could not be bothered looking for alternatives.

Ian: 123
Michael: 123
Me: 123

Scores: Ian 10 (16), Michael 15 (21), me 23

First break: THEN CORE ("One that is easily understood")

Such a person is presumably COHERENT.

David's talk is about three job title nicknames: fang carpenter (dentist), bait layer (cook), and gazinter (teacher).  He also makes passing mention of bean counter (accountant).

Round 4: B N T U A M E C R

Bleah, I got myself in a horrible tangle here.  I had BUNT, AUNT, and BUTANE.  I was mentally pleading for a final I and INCUBATE (the next vowel would have been an I, too), but the consonant ended up throwing me somewhat.  It seemed clear that a seven must be there, but I could not see a compelling one and in the end I gave CARTMEN a go.  That turned out to be invalid; the word for the concept I was thinking of is probably CARTERS.

After time I found CENTAUR as the safe seven.  Oh, well.

The contestants have six-letter words again, Michael with BANTER and Ian with RECANT.  David has accurately found CENTAUR.

The other sevens are UNBRACE and CENTRUM ("a centre").

Michael: BANTER
Me: [invalid]

Scores: Ian 16 (22), Michael 21 (27), me 23

Round 5: H L I O Q N E A T

I had LION, ALIEN, INHALE, and ELATION / TOENAIL.  With the Q not in contention and the H not fitting that well, seven seemed likely to be the limit.

Ian has LITHE for five, but Michael has found LOATHE for six to push his lead to 11.  That's danger territory for Ian, particularly as he regards the letters as more his strong suit.  David has opted for ELATION as his choice.

The other sevens are ETHANOL and HOTLINE / NEOLITH ("a weapon or implement of the Neolithic Period"; also someone who lived during that period).

Michael: LOATHE

Scores: Ian 16 (22), Michael 21 (33), me 30

Round 6: Target 611 from 50 25 75 100 7 8

Michael goes for a heavyweight mix, perhaps trying to shake up Ian who has confessed his limitations on the numbers.  My first thought was that 8*75 was close, and then I saw how easily the rest of the numbers would solve this, getting the solution 611 = 8*75 + 7 + 100/25.  I also considered getting a solution as 625 - 2*7, and found that it worked (with a little tweaking): 611 = 7*(100 - 50/25) - 75.  A variation of this last that I found after time is 611 = 7*(75 - 50/25) + 100.

Michael is four away with 607, that must surely be 607 = 8*75 + 7.  It rather looks like he is not familiar with the technique of using two large numbers to make a small one, and it proves rather costly.  Ian has managed to get two closer with his two-away 609 = 7*100 - 75 - (50/25)*8, demonstrating that he is aware of that technique but missing the obvious application of it.  Still, two away is a good result and gets him seven precious points back.

Lily demonstrates the first of the solutions listed above.

Ian: 609
Michael: 607
Me: 611
Lily: 611

Scores: Ian 16 (29), Michael 21 (33), me 40

Second break: SLIT TUBE ("SBS tend to do this to their movies")

They SUBTITLE them where needed, and certainly they used to have a very good subtitling service.  I hope that they still do.

Round 7: T O I H C R U S S

Another case where I wanted a fourth vowel; the hypothetical E would have made a few eights possible, and OUTCRIES in particular.  Once again I struggled a lot, finding ITCH, CHOIR, and CURIOS.  Lots of other sixes, but I could not see longer than that... until the moment when time was about to run out and I saw CHORISTS.  That was lucky for me, as it is not valid (I was thinking of CHORISTERS, no doubt) but I would have chanced it if I had managed to get it down in time, and so ended up with my second invalid word of the game.

Michael has STOIC for five, but Ian has found CHORUS for six to take the lead at a very handy moment.  David has done one better, finding OSTRICH for seven.  Oh, well done!

I was not likely to find OSTRICH, I admit.  The other sevens all seem depressingly findable, though: CITROUS, SUITORS, RUSTICS, and SOURISH.  Bother.

Michael: STOIC

Scores: Ian 22 (35), Michael 21 (33), me 46

Round 8: Target 260 from 100 50 6 7 8 8

Perhaps regretting his previous numbers selection, Michael retreats to the family mix.  He gets a low target, but the lack of any genuinely small numbers means that adjustments could be difficult.  Approaching it from 300 seemed like the sensible thing to do, but I was only able to tweak that to one away with 259 = 6*(50 - 7) + 8/8.

After time I looked at other multiples of 50, and saw that approaching from 350 was much easier, yielding the solution 260 = 7*50 - 100 + 8 + 8 - 6.

Both contestants have ended up 7 away with 252 = 6*50 - 7*8 + 8.  Tweaking would have definitely helped them to get closer, and that's exactly what Lily demonstrates, with the solution that I should have found: 260 = (50 - 8)*6 + 8.  Nice work, Lily!

Ian: 252
Michael: 252
Me: 259
Lily: 260

Scores: Ian 22 (40), Michael 21 (38), me 53


Once more I floundered, my confidence having taken a hit after the last two rounds.  I was not able to make anything out of this for a long time, trying fragments like OUT-, -OUS, and -URE without success.  Finally I saw the answer, pausing at just about the last moment possible: The final segment of the clock was just shy of fully lit.  Phew!

As should be clear from that timing, neither contestant was able to solve it either.  An unexpectedly tough conundrum from those reasonable letters.

Ian: [no answer]
Michael: [no answer]

Final scores: Ian 22 (40), Michael 21 (38), me 63

A very close game tonight, with Michael establishing what could have been a winning lead early and then conceding it back again and more.  Ian was able to take advantage of that to just barely get home, but against someone better on the numbers he would have been in a lot of trouble.  Michael played well but Ian managed to do better, and so survives to play again another day.


JT said...

Numbers selection can really be a fickle beast... I got the coundundrum pretty quickly, it's a luck of the draw sometimes....


Mike Backhouse said...

Got all the numbers today, although they did not seem excessively hard. Fairly slow on the letters, however.

BEATS (saw ABREAST too late)
Ian's way
TAMER (saw BANTER too late)
Lily's way
CHOIRS (saw CHRIST but rejected it)
missed conundrum

Jan said...

After getting a tough conundrum the last two games, I could not get this one. Tried all sorts of ways, but no cigar.
And I really stuffed one numbers round, just did not think of the 8*75 to get 600 way. Bummer. But overall I did get the win again.

75+50-2=123 (10)
7*100-75-25+8=608 (0)
7*50-100 +8 + 8 - 6 = 260 (10) was very happy with this answer

Sam Gaffney said...

Very strong all-round game from JT here, and from Mike on the numbers. I finished with a total of one eight-letter word for the week, there have been some horrible mixes.

123 = 75+50-2
611 = Lily's way, then: (75-50/25)*7+100. There are at least two other ways.
STOUSH (I also thought of CHORISTS after Ian's declaration)
260 = Mike's way, then JT/Lily's way
2.9s (sort of a compound word)

Geoff Bailey said...

Very well played tonight, JT, and you soundly beat me. Congratulations!

Likewise well done to Mike and Jan for some good work on the numbers rounds. Also, HOTLINE is a great find.

But Sam comes out ahead of everyone due to that superior conundrum speed. Well played, Sam!