Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Ep 66: Ian Campbell-Fraser, Michael O'Neill (October 8, 2012; originally aired November 1, 2010)

Rounds: Here.

Ian Campbell-Fraser returns as champion, and is introduced as having taken six months away from the city to watch life go by... often from the top of a camel.  That statement obviously cries out for more details; Ian explains that not long after he finished university, he and a couple of friends decided that they would travel around Australia (he calls it "that great journey that a lot of people aspire to").  Ian was based in Perth and they got as far as Broome, so they did not even get to leave the state!

Ian adds that, due to "a strange combination of circumstances", his mates both returned to Perth and he was left in Broome with no money to keep going and no money to return home.  So he had no choice but to spend six months on Cable Beach, which he says is probably Australia's most idyllic spot.  And, he continues, there are plenty of camels there and it's a great way to see the countryside.

Tonight's challenger is Michael O'Neill, who is currently studying a bachelor of science degree in genetics and pharmacology.  Richard asks where Michael hopes that line of study will take him, and Michael responds that hopefully it will lead to doing work on some particular disease, maybe cancer or some sort of mental illness, and even more hopefully to then finding a cure or treatment for it.

Ian started out with an unluckily-invalid word, but regained the lost ground in the next round.  The first numbers round was easy and solved by both, then an invalid word from Michael allowed Ian to get further ahead.  Ian continued to score points in the letters rounds, and only a better numbers answer in the second numbers round kept Michael in contention.  He needed to score points in the last numbers round to have a chance, but although Ian's answer was invalid so was his, and that guaranteed Ian the win.  Neither solved the conundrum, and the final scoreline was 34 to 22 in Ian's favour.

I almost had a really good game.  I struggled in the first round but spotted a good word in time, then managed to find a longer word than David in a later round.  I was on track for a rather rare chance to beat the combined David and Lily score but then I completely botched a numbers round, ending up without anything valid to declare (and only just avoiding an invalid declaration).  The rest went about as well as it could, with the usual issue of slow speed on the conundrum.

Round 1: S P E A B L I O H

Ooh, boy.  This mix would have been greatly improved by a T for BAPTISE, HOSPITAL, or HOPLITES / ISOPLETH (or now that I think of it, SPOLIATE: "to despoil; plunder").  I was a bit thrown without it, ending up with APES, SABLE, and -- rather late in the piece -- ABOLISH.  I must have been helped there by Esther Perrins having found it in episode 46 (I missed it at the time); it is not the most findable of words.  I also saw OPALISE but knew that it was not valid, thanks to the checking I did for the corrigenda to book 1.

Michael starts with SHAPE for five, while Ian tries POSABLE for seven.  That's good use of the -ABLE fragment, but unfortunately for Ian the word is not in the Macquarie and so Michael gets the points.  David has found another seven in the form of PHOBIAS.  Oh, very nice!

There is one other seven: BOLSHIE (meaning a Bolshevik, but it also has adjective senses such as "obstinate; difficult"); David talked about this word in episode 432.

It is possible to do better, though.  BASOPHIL is "a cell, especially a white blood cell, having an affinity for basic dyes".  Even better, BASOPHILE is listed as an acceptable variant spelling, so this round had the unfound full monty.

Ian: [invalid]
Michael: SHAPE

Scores: Ian 0, Michael 0 (5), me 7

Round 2: I E N F T O U T R

I had FINE, FEINT, ROUTINE, and then spotted a word I've been hoping to have a chance to use for around a year now: RITENUTO ("(a musical direction) more slowly").  I almost overlooked it, but the right memory surfaced at the right time.  Phew!

Michael has FINER for five, but Ian claims the lead with NUTTER for six.  David opts for FORTUNE as his seven, so I have managed to outdo him in this round -- a very rare circumstance! 

The other sevens are NUTTIER -- I was a little surprised that David did not point out that Ian could have inserted an I into his word to get this -- and TRITONE (a musical term: "an interval consisting of three whole tones").

Michael: FINER

Scores: Ian 0 (6), Michael 0 (5), me 15

Round 3: Target 508 from 50 75 5 1 8 5

Ian chooses the family mix, and the general idea is pretty clear: Get to 500 and add that 8.  A possible refinement is to use the 8 for tweaking since a 1 is present, but it is not necessary -- everyone finds the solution 508 = (5 + 5)*50 + 8 fairly easily.

Ian: 508
Michael: 508
Me: 508

Scores: Ian 10 (16), Michael 10 (15), me 25

First break: LIMB SAGA ("Yet another place you will find letters")

They are often carried around in MAILBAGS.

David's talk is about words involving gendershifting, and how we have ended up with the terms manny (a male nanny), manscaping, guyliner, and bromance.

Round 4: I S E T N D O K D


This time Ian has the five with INKED, and Michael declares NESTED for six but realises that he has used the E twice.  David has chosen KINDEST as his seven.

The other sevens are KIDDOES, DOESKIN, DISTEND, and DENTOID ("shaped like a tooth").

Michael: [invalid]

Scores: Ian 10 (21), Michael 10 (15), me 32

Round 5: M A E S F D U Y O

I had SAME, DAMED, AMUSED, FAMOUS, rejected FAMOUSED, and MOUSED.  After time I noted down two other sixes that I had seen within time: MEDUSA and MOUSEY.  Then I saw SAMOYED as a tempting seven, but I had looked this up in the past and knew that it was only listed capitalised.  I was a little worried about the anagram of SOMEDAY, but checking reveals that the Macquarie only lists it as SOME DAY.

Michael has FADES for five, but Ian has FAMOUS for six and gets ahead by more than the conundrum at last.  David could not better it, opting for AMUSED as his six.

The other six is FOAMED.

Michael: FADES

Scores: Ian 16 (27), Michael 10 (15), me 38

Round 6: Target 216 from 100 75 6 6 10 5

Michael also goes for the family mix, and... oh, dear.  I got all kinds of lost on this one, because I recognised the target as the cube of six and we already have two sixes.  I spent far too long trying unsuccessfully to manufacture a third one, and in the end scrambled to get anywhere close, writing down 100 + 75 + 5*10 - 6 - 6.  I had not had time to properly calculate the total and wrote down a hopeful 215 just as time ran out, but I knew something was not right and checking revealed that the total was actually 213.  That left me without anything to even declare, sinking any hopes I had of beating David and Lily's total tonight.

With a little more calmness after time I realised that the required 41 was pretty easy from the small numbers, yielding the solution 216 = 100 + 75 + 5 + 6*6.  A bit later I found that 6*36 was a much more profitable line of investigation than 6*6*6, given me the solutions 216 = 6*(100 - 75 + 5 + 6) and 216 = 6*(100/5 + 10 + 6).  Bother!

Ian is three away with 219 (presumably 219 = 100 + 75 + 5*10 - 6) but Michael is just one away with 215 = 6*5 + 100 + 75 + 10.  That gets him seven precious points and back within striking distance.

Lily demonstrates the first of those solutions that I found after time.  Nice work, Lily.

Ian: 219
Michael: 215
Me: [no answer]
Lily: 216

Scores: Ian 16 (27), Michael 17 (22), me 38

Second break: KNIT WELD ("As did the little star")

That star TWINKLED, of course.

Round 7: P A E R C I N C R

I had PARE, CAPER, PRINCE, and a slightly risky PRANCER.  I ended up deciding that if it was good enough for a reindeer then it was good enough for me to try; that was fortunately the correct decision.

Michael has CARER for five, but Ian once more gets a dangerous lead with PRANCER for seven.  David has found the much nicer seven of CAPRICE, and that does seem to be the only other one.

Michael: CARER

Scores: Ian 23 (27), Michael 17 (22), me 45

Round 8: Target 637 from 25 50 100 4 3 5

My first observation was that the target was 12 away from 625, and 3*4 = 12.  625 is 25*25, so I spent a bit longer than I should have trying to use the 5 and the large numbers to get me another 25 before I realised that I was overcomplicating things again.  Thinking of it instead as 5*125 leads easily to the solution 637 = 5*(100 + 25) + 3*4.  Still within time, I found a simpler tweaking approach of 637 = 4*(100 + 50 + 3) + 25.

Ian declares an eight-away 629, but Michael has a chance to get back within range with his declaration of 633.  He starts off with 25*3*(5 + 4)... and then realises that he has used a couple of the numbers twice.  (Presumably his answer in full was 633 = 25*3*(5 + 4) - 50 + 5 + 3.  Oh, dear.)

That brings Ian's answer back into contention.  And... well, it honestly comes across rather poorly.  Here's what happens: Ian starts with (4 + 3)*100 - 50 - 25, which is 625.  At this point he is four away from his declaration of 629 but only has the 5 left, so something has clearly gone off the rails.  He then says, "plus the four..." -- he drags the "four" out a little, and it comes across as though he is trying to work out what has gone wrong -- and continues after a short pause "...plus the five, my apologies, which gives us 630".

Richard pulls him up at this point, checking that he originally declared 629.  Ian agrees, saying that he has realised that his calculations used the four twice.  Which, well, that happens -- we've certainly seen it often enough -- but the right thing to do in such a case is to either admit the error yourself or state the actual calculation and let the show pick it up.  Changing your calculation to a new one that you did not even write down is emphatically not the right thing to do; regardless of how innocent the motivation behind it may have been, it all comes across as rather shifty on his part, and he should have known better.

So, both contestants ended up with invalid answers, guaranteeing Ian the win.  Lily demonstrates the first of the solutions that I found.

Ian: [invalid]
Michael: [invalid]
Me: 637
Lily: 637

Scores: Ian 23 (27), Michael 17 (22), me 55


The "BLA" cluster at the beginning makes the potential -ABLE fragment stand out pretty clearly, and although I briefly flirted with the nonsensical SEMIRABLE it did not take too long to correct that (although longer than I would have liked).  Neither contestant ended up able to solve this, though, and the scores remained unchanged for the second round in a row.

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

Final scores: Ian 23 (27), Michael 17 (22), me 65

A close game thanks to various invalid declarations.  Michael was really a bit behind on the letters, not finding any valid words longer than five.  Ian picked up a handy, and ultimately winning, lead as a result, but showed that he was definitely catchable in the numbers.  Michael was not the contestant to do it, but maybe tomorrow's shall be.


Sam Gaffney said...

I thought CORGIS wouldn't be valid when I was a contestant, but got burnt with SAMOYED here - the trick seems to be that if the dog is named for a region, it is capitalised (e.g. German Shepherd), otherwise it is safer (e.g. golden retriever).

Speaking of canines, Michael looked like he had just come off the set of Teen Wolf 3.

I believe I saw this episode in 2010.

508 = (5+5)*100 + 8 (good speed from Michael here)
x (SAMOYED, selected over AMUSED)
216 = 100+75+5 + 6*6 (had technical issues, some possibility I was too late)
637 = (100+25)*5 + 4*3 (did Ian look guilty here?)
1.2s (it was a quick spin, so my time looks slightly more impressive than it was)

Jan said...

I had one of my best games, ending up with a score of 70. I got the conundrum but was much slower than both Geoff and Sam. And I was really happy to find CAPRICE - not that I knew what it meant.

I felt sorry for Ian with that last numbers game. I was surprised he didn't go red!

HALOES (6) checked I could spell it that way
(5+5)*50 + 8 = 508 (10)
100+75+ 5*6 + 10 = 215 (7)
5*(100+25) + 3*4 = 637
15 secs

Mike Backhouse said...

Pretty ordinary game for me:

POLES (wasted time with -ABLE suffix)
FITTER (would love to have got TRITONE- which is the interval used in the intro of Purple Haze by Jimi Hendrix, a musical hero, who I saw play it live in Baltimore!)
Ian's way
10/5*100+6+6=212 (4 off)
Ian's way as stated rather than written (7 off)
missed conundrum

Going away for 10 days. Might try and catch up when I get back.

Geoff Bailey said...

Heh, I hear you about the Teen Wolf look, Sam. Bad luck on Samoyed -- your rule sounds plausible, but you'd still have to know that Samoyed was a region/people in the first place. Still, a good game nonetheless and that impressive conundrum speed sees you home again.

And another great game from you, Jan. Finding CAPRICE was particularly good, I'd say.

Mike: Wow, a live Jimi Hendrix concert -- that must have been an amazing experience! PACER is good; amongst other meanings, it is a type of horse. I hope your time away is for enjoyable reasons!

Sam Gaffney said...

Indeed, I had no idea that Samoyed was a place or people.

Mike, I believe the first two notes of The Simpsons theme are another well known tritone.

Mike Backhouse said...

Yes, Sam, you're right. A great theme!

And Geoff, thanks re PACER. And yes, enjoyable reasons...holidays!