Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Ep 67: Ian Campbell-Fraser, Kathryn Jones (October 9, 2012; originally aired November 2, 2010)

Rounds: Here.

This is the crucial fourth game for Ian Campbell-Fraser, with a win pushing him into the finals rankings.  For a loss to get him there he would have to score over ninety points, and I think we can safely conclude that losing with such a score is rather unlikely.  Meanwhile, Ian briefly explains what he does: Currently, he is working for the National Native Title Tribunal, whose main job is to help Aboriginal claimant groups, governments, farmers, and miners come together and reach an agreement about Aboriginal native title rights.

Tonight's challenger is Kathryn Jones, a geotechnical engineer with a bachelor of arts and a degree in engineering.  When Kathryn started university she decided that she wanted to study engineering and build bridges; after two years of that she decided that structural engineering was not for her.  Then they started talking about soil and rock and water, revealing a more interpretive side to engineering than just crunching numbers, and that re-engaged her interest.

Ian gained the early lead in the first round, and then a lot of shared rounds followed.  Kathryn finally found a better answer in the last letters round to tie up the scores.  Neither was able to make that much of the later numbers rounds -- which to be fair did have some challenge to them -- and the scores were tied going into the conundrum.  The main conundrum was a very tough one that neither could solve, so the tiebreaker conundrum was wheeled out.  It looked like it might prove likewise elusive, but Kathryn saw her way through to the answer with five seconds left and won the game 44 to 34.

I had a good series of main rounds, although I missed the best option in one letters game.  I negotiated the numbers rounds safely, although in the case of the last one only just in time.  But both conundrums defeated me comprehensively tonight so I have some sympathy for the contestants' woes.

Round 1: C A O S T G A T E

I had COAST and was struggling until the last letter.  I would have been tempted to ask for another consonant since I wanted another C for STACCATO, but that was rather poor odds.  The E worked rather better, giving me COTTAGES.  I also wrote down COSTATE ("bearing ribs") during time, although it scored less.

Kathryn has COAST for five -- it is practically spelled out on the board -- but Ian gets the early lead with AGATES for six.  That is a good find, as it can sometimes be hard to spot; David missed it in the rather similar mix from episode 436, for instance.  David has found COTTAGES for eight.

That is the only eight, and COTTAGE the only other seven.  The other sixes are COSTAE (plural of COSTA: "a rib or riblike part"), OCTETS, COTTAS (COTTA being a type of surplice), and STACTE ("one of the sweet spices which composed the holy incense of the ancient Jews").

Kathryn: COAST

Scores: Ian 0 (6), Kathryn 0, me 8

Round 2: F R D C E I T E S

This time I would have been tempted by a final vowel, hoping for a second I and RECTIFIED / CERTIFIED.  Instead, I had FIRED / FRIED, CREDITS / DIRECTS, DEFECTS, DISCREET / DISCRETE, and FIERCEST.

Both contestants have opted for CREDITS for six.  David is happy to have DISCREET / DISCRETE as his eights, enjoying the fact that they are both pronounced the same.

That is all the eights listed.  The other sevens are CRESTED, DECRIES, DIETERS, DECEITS, RECITED, and RECITES / TIERCES (amongst other meanings, a TIERCE is "an old measure of capacity equivalent to [...] 159 litres").

Kathryn: CREDITS

Scores: Ian 0 (13), Kathryn 0 (7), me 16

Round 3: Target 133 from 50 25 4 7 10 8

I had two approaches competing for attention in my mind here: The standard method would be to make it as 125 + 8, but I also noticed the factorisation of 7*19.  I started with the first approach and the solution 133 = 7*25 - 50 + 8, and then applied the second to get another solution of 133 = 7*(25 + 4 - 10).

Both contestants have solved this, but in different ways.  Ian's solution is 133 = 25*4 + 50 - 10 - 7, descending from 150 instead.  Kathryn's approach is further removed from the standard method, with her solution being 133 = 10*8 + 50 + 7 - 4.  That's two nice alternative methods on display in this round.

Lily has yet another answer: 133 = (50/10)*25 + 8.  Nice!

Ian: 133
Kathryn: 133
Me: 133
Lily: 133

Scores: Ian 10 (23), Kathryn 10 (17), me 26

First break: LIE CANAL ("Made between parties")

Different parties might make an ALLIANCE.

David's talk is about idioms with their origins in horseracing.

Round 4: Z R H U O A T B N

The Z was not a promising start!  I had HOUR, then was just thinking that a T for AUTHOR would be nice when it turned up.  I could not find longer within time, noting down TURBAN as another six.

The contestants have each found five-letter words, Kathryn with ABOUT and Ian with BRUNT.  David has found OUTRAN, AUTHOR, and TURBAN as his sixes.

The other sixes are TABOUR (variant spelling of TABOR, which is a type of drum) / RUBATO ("the technique of varying the tempo within a bar of music without either lengthening or shortening the bar") and BURTON (a nautical term for "any of various kinds of tackle used for setting up rigging, raising sails, etc.").

Kathryn: ABOUT

Scores: Ian 10 (28), Kathryn 10 (22), me 32

Round 5: D P I A E M D A T

This was definitely a time where I wanted a sixth consonant, with the actual N producing an easy seven of MEDIANT.  As it was, I had PAID and DAMPED; after time I noted down TAMPED as another six that I had seen within time, and then found the much nicer DIADEM.  Those turn out to be all the sixes.

Kathryn has TAMPED for six, and Ian has found DIADEM to match her.  David has gone that one better by finding the only seven of ADAPTED.

Kathryn: TAMPED

Scores: Ian 16 (34), Kathryn 16 (28), me 38

Round 6: Target 658 from 75 50 6 5 5 3

I was strongly tempted to make this as 650 + 5 + 3, but I just could not get to it that way.  I was concluding that I might have to settle for simply getting close when I realised that one way of doing so let me tweak my way to the solution after all: 658 = 5*(75 + 50 + 6) + 3.  Phew!

Just now, while contemplating how contestants should have gotten closer, I realised that the approach I was considering likewise yielded a winning tweak: 658 = (5 + 3)*(75 + (6 - 5)) + 50.

Neither contestant has been able to make much of this; Kathryn says that she blanked out and was nowhere close, while Ian was only able to get to 640.  Lily has found a minor variation of the solution that I found: 658 = (75 + 50)*5 + 5*6 + 3.

This round is a strong case for being prepared to simply get close.  Getting to 650 as a subgoal is reasonable, and (5 + 5 + 3)*50 or (5 + 3)*75 + 50 should both be relatively easy to find with that mindset.  Both have a 6 left over to add, allowing one to get only two away, and as mentioned above the latter actually could lead to a solution.  But even staying with 650 would have been worth points here, and that will turn out to be crucial.

Ian: [not in range]
Kathryn: [no answer]
Me: 658
Lily: 658

Scores: Ian 16 (34), Kathryn 16 (28), me 48

Second break: SOLO UNIT ("The answer is right in front of you")

The answer is the SOLUTION.

Round 7: N O E K L M I E S

I had LONE, MONK, LEMON, SOLEMN, and ruthlessly repressed the desire to try MONKEES (or, even worse, the false plural form of MONKIES).  Then I had a stroke of fortune: The CiSRA Puzzle Competition has been running over the previous week, and since I help to test those puzzles I was aware that one of the solutions was MOLESKIN.  That undoubtedly kept it fresh in my mind as I found it in this round, very pleased to have done so.

I'm glad the last letter was not a G, as then I would have had to worry about whether or not GNOMELIKE was in the Macquarie.  (It is not, as it turns out.)

Ian has MILKS for five, but Kathryn finally wins a round and ties up the scores with LEMONS for six.  That is a costly miss for Ian!  David is accurate as ever, finding MOLESKIN for eight.

That is the only eight; the only seven is KEELSON: "a strengthening line of timbers or iron plates in a ship, above and parallel with the keel".

Kathryn: LEMONS

Scores: Ian 16 (34), Kathryn 16 (34), me 56

Round 8: Target 881 from 50 100 4 1 3 10

Regardless of the outcome in this round the conundrum is going to matter; Kathryn goes with what she calls the "tried and true" method, but I'm not so sure it can be called that given the result of the previous numbers round.  Anyway...

I had a lot of troubles here; with neither an 8 or a 9 particularly handy getting close could be tricky.  Somehow I overlooked that 10 - 1 was an easy 9 that would have at least let me get close (and, in fact, one away with 882 = (10 - 1)*100 - (50 + 4)/3) and ended up tweaking my way to 880 = (4 + 3 + 1)*(100 + 10).  Then I thought about this for a moment and realised that it would be nice if I still had that 1, but 880 could also be formed as 88*10 and then I had my solution: 881 = (100 - 3*4)*10 + 1.  I just finished writing that down as time ran out, much relieved to have done so!

Just now I have seen that 900 is 6*150, a pretty reachable result.  And the remaining numbers combine handily to tweak to another solution: 881 = (10 - 4)*(100 + 50 - 3) - 1.

 Again, there's no answer in range from the contestants; Kathryn is out of range with 854, while Ian describes himself as having "crashed and burned".

Lily has found the solution that I did within time.  Well done, Lily!

Ian: [no answer]
Kathryn: [not in range]
Me: 881
Lily: 881

Scores: Ian 16 (34), Kathryn 16 (34), me 66


So, down to the conundrum with scores tied.  It's a tough one, at least for me; there's some provocative fragments like -INATE, -ICATE, -ATIC, -ETIC... but I cannot reconcile the H and U and was unable to make anything from this.  Neither were the contestants, as it turns out, which surprised me -- I thought the show would not bother to show the conundrum under these circumstances, but perhaps that only applies to unsolved tiebreaker conundrums.

I spent a goodly while afterwards trying to solve it, but eventually gave up.  Thinking about my difficulty with the H and U could have guided me there, though -- one of the few combinations where they play satisfactorily together is in AUTH- (and I had already found AUTHOR earlier this game).  Musing along those lines would have revealed AUTHENTIC as the answer.

So we go to a tiebreaker conundrum after all.  There might have been more than the one, but we'll only see the final one.  The three-way scoring ends here, but the contestant's duel continues.

Ian: [no answer]
Kathryn: [no answer]
Me: [no answer]

Scores: Ian 16 (34), Kathryn 16 (34), me 66

Round 10: BACON TAIL

Oh, dear, I got lost on this one too, although not quite as badly.  I was not able to get away from the -ATION fragment at all, continually (and unprofitably) circling back to it.  Time kept ticking away without the contestants solving it, and I started to wonder whether I was wrong and we were going to see a second unsolved conundrum.  But that was not the case, with Kathryn buzzing in correctly at the 25 second mark to take the win.

It took me another 22 seconds to find it, so once more I was out of time.  I had a good game but then was soundly defeated by a pair of conundrums.

Ian: [no answer]
Me: [no answer]

Final scores: Ian 16 (34), Kathryn 26 (44), me 66

Whew, what a finish.  The letters play from the contestants was reasonable, with the longer options not the easiest to spot.  But either could have spared themselves some conundrum nerves by getting into scoring range on the latter numbers rounds; a strong argument for the importance of getting close where possible.


Sam Gaffney said...

Great first eight rounds, Geoff. I saw your way to 658 just after time, and was annoyed because I had used 5*125 as the base for Round 8 in the previous episode.

133 = 7*25-50+8
AUTHOR (I would have chased vowels for AUTHORIZE)
660 = (5+5)*(75-6-3)
881 = (10-4)*(100+50-3) - 1
16.2s It's more nervewracking when you know the conundrum will be solved (the televised tiebreaker always is).

Jan said...

Geoff, I feel better that I could not spot either of the conundrums either!

Sam, if nobody gets the first tiebreak conundrum, do they just keep going until someone solves one, and then only show the main one, and the solved tiebreaker?

I was reasonably happy with my game, but not as good as yesterday's game.

(10-7)*50 - 25 + 8 = 133 (10)
ABORT (5) thought of ranout, but not outran
(3+5)*75 + 50 + 5 + 6 = 661 (7)
After time
6-5=1. (3+5)*(75+1) + 50 = 658
100-3*4 = 88. 88*10 + 1 = 881 (10)

Sam Gaffney said...

Jan, apparently they had to do ten for one episode!

Mike Backhouse said...

Here are mine:

Ian's way
(5+3)*75+50+6=656 (2 off)
(10-1)*100-(4*3)=888 (7 off)
missed conundrums (I didn't know that about the conundrums, Sam, but I guess it makes sense. I suppose there must be other things that are filmed that don't make it to air. I liked the bloopers, and would love to see more of those- but I guess that will never happen now).

Have you heard anything further Geoff about the future of the show? There appears to be continuing and persistent disappointment in the comments on the website.

Geoff Bailey said...

Thanks, Sam, I have to get a lucky win over you on occasion. :) Great vision on AUTHORIZE, incidentally -- if I'd thought of it I would have gone chasing it also. And very impressive speed on that first conundrum!

I'd say that was a pretty good game on your part, Jan, and nice numbers work. Glad to see you found the appropriate tweak for round 6 after time, too.

Decent results from you, too, Mike -- you'd have beaten both contestants, even if one of them solved the first conundrum. That's the importance of getting in scoring range on tough numbers rounds!

I think that, given the length of time, any return of the show is rather unlikely at this point. There does not seem to be enough time to organise everything and film new episodes before the current series of Countdown runs out, and that was always my informal benchmark.

(They could perhaps hustle and get things done in short time -- I seem to recall that they only had two weeks to get the first episodes of series four done -- but the hard part here is organising the contestants.)

Mike Backhouse said...


It is great to beat the contestants, which I sometimes do. However it is difficult to post sometimes with the very high standard of play here on your site, most of which invariably pip the contestants.

Still, I love the gsmes and the challenge! I will be disappointed when the L&N repeats come to their inevitable conclusion.