Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Ep 71: James Parton, Dennis Callegari (October 15, 2012; originally aired November 8, 2010)

Rounds: Here.

The SUMS Puzzle Hunt is on all this week, and it's likely to take up most of my free time.  Rather than delay the writeups, I'll put more bare bones versions up at first and then adjust them later.  With luck, this will lead to greater appreciation for my usual style. *chuckles*

James Parton returns for the crucial fourth match; can he win through and make his way into the finals rankings?  We'll find out shortly, but first it is mentioned that many years ago James worked in a casino.  He says that one of the games he dealt (an odd choice of terminology for a dice game) was craps, which he describes as one of the most challenging mathematically -- there are 63 possible bets so you needed to know the odds for all of those bets.

Tonight's challenger is Dennis Callegari, a technical science and fantasy writer who has published a book on Captain Cook.  Dennis also owns, or will very soon, a scale model of the Endeavour; later chat reveals that the reason for the equivocation is that he has the kit but has not yet assembled it.  He says that it is a pretty major construction effort, needing both time and space, and he has not yet managed to get the combination right.

Richard asks where Dennis's interest in Captain Cook comes from, and Dennis responds that he has always been interested in the history of exploration.  Some years ago he was working for the Department of Defense and they had restored some artifacts from the Endeavour that had been recovered off the Queensland coast.  That prompted him to write the history of the loss, recovery, and restoration of the artifacts.

It was a rather close game, with the only difference in the letters being due to Dennis declaring an invalid word.  They each gained a little on the numbers, but otherwise matched each other throughout and so James was ahead but not safe going into the conundrum.  James has yet to solve a conundrum, and that trend continued as Dennis got to it first for the come-from-behind victory, 49 to 46.

I had another good game, matching David and Lily throughout as well as solving the conundrum quickly. It turned out this was one round away from optimal, with the better option being a word that I had not heard of.  Still, a good result is a good result..

Round 1: E I E A H C S K U

I had ACHE, ACHES, and HACKIES (HACKIE being slang for a taxi driver).  I also wondered about CHAISE, thinking of "chaise longue", although it would only appear in combining form in that case.  Checking after time showed that it is acceptable after all, as CHAISE has a meaning of "a light, open carriage, usually with a hood, especially a one-horse, two-wheeled carriage for two persons".

The contestants start with a pair of sixes; Dennis has CHEEKS and James has risked CHAISE.  Richard makes the same observation that I did about the chaise longue, and David checks and gives it the nod.  David has found HACKIES.

HACKIES is the only seven; the other sixes are HACKIE, HAIKUS, SEICHE ("an occasional rhythmical movement from side to side of a standing wave [...]"), and HÁČEKS (the HÁČEK is a diacritical mark, and my favourite one because it is the only one that is used in its own spelling).

As an aside, staying with three vowels in this mix would have brought in the right replacement consonants for the full monty of SKETCHIER.

Dennis: CHEEKS

Scores: James 0 (6), Dennis 0 (6), me 7

Round 2: T A R E N M E S A

I had TEAR, MEANT, and EMANATES / MANATEES.  Only after time did I stop to consider EMANATERS, but I doubt I'd have chanced it.  It is not valid, so that's all good.

James has MANTRAS for seven, and that's a rather nice word; Dennis declares an eight, though, and may get the early lead.  Unfortunately, he realises as he says it that REMASTER has one too many R's in it and his answer is invalid.  David has gone with MANATEES as his eight.

The other eights are SERENATA ("a form of pastoral cantata, often of a dramatic or imaginative character") / ARSENATE (a salt involving arsenic) and AMREETAS (AMREETA being a variant spelling of AMRITA, a term from Hindu mythology: "the ambrosial drink of immortality").

Once again there was almost a full monty here; choosing five vowels this time would have allowed REANIMATE.

Dennis: [invalid]

Scores: James 0 (13), Dennis 0 (6), me 15

Round 3: Target 159 from 75 50 3 5 10 9

An inevitable family mix, and the low target plus helpful numbers mean that this was always going to be easy.  The standard method is to make this as 150 + 9, and it's just a question of how.  I started with 159 = 3*50 + 9, which was also how Lily and Richard solved it, and then avoided the large numbers entirely with the solution 159 = 3*5*10 + 9.

Both contestants have solved this, as expected.  James used the second of those solutions, while Dennis had the alternative approach of 159 = (5 - 3)*75 + 9.

James: 159
Dennis: 159
Me: 159
Lily: 159
Richard: 159

Scores: James 10 (23), Dennis 10 (16), me 25

First break: HOLE TRAP ("Superabundance")

Such an abundance would reflect a PLETHORA of items.

David's talk is about the word daks.

Round 4: P I R N E O S D A

Good letters, but not quite enough for a nine.  I had PINE, PINER (which I was not sure about, but turns out to be a Tasmanian term for "a timber-getter employed in the Huon pine trade"), OPINE, OPINES, and then the A brought in some familiar words: ANEROIDS and OPERANDS / PANDORES (PANDORE being a type of musical instrument).

The contestants have each found six-letter words, James with SPIDER and Dennis with REPAID.  David says that there are many eights here, but only mentions PARODIES and SPRAINED.

The other eights are PONIARDS and DIASPORE ("a natural hydrated aluminium oxide [...]").

Once again there was the potential for a full monty here; three vowels only would make DRIPSTONE a possibility.

Dennis: REPAID

Scores: James 10 (29), Dennis 10 (22), me 33

Round 5: I E E U O T F T N

I had OUTIE, TONITE ("an explosive made of guncotton, a nitrate, and a nitro compound, used especially for blasting"), and OUTFIT.  After time I saw TENUTO (a mark to indicate that a note or chord is held or sustained to its full time value) as another six, and its plural form TENUTI is also available from this mix.

Both contestants have gone with UNFIT for five; David has selected OUTFIT as his six.

That's all the sixes, and it is the best to be done.  There is a ballet move called a FOUETTÉ, but the Macquarie does not list it.

James: UNFIT
Dennis: UNFIT

Scores: James 10 (34), Dennis 10 (27), me 39

Round 6: Target 947 from 100 25 3 5 3 9

A large target could be challenging.  I overlooked the standard method to start with, considering 8*125 at first but not being able to do anything with that.  Looking at it from below, I wrote down a one-away 946 = 9*(100 + 5) + 3/3, then realised that a slightly different tweak would get me a solution with 947 = 9*(100 + 3) + 25 - 5.  Then I finally considered the standard method of 950 - 3, finding the alternative solution 947 = 9*100 + 25*(5 - 3) - 3.

Dennis is outside the scoring range with 960, but James is just two away with 949 = 9*100 + 25 + (5 + 3)*3.  Lily has solved this, using the second of the solutions that I showed above.

That gives James a fourteen point lead, which is dangerous for Dennis (particularly with so few rounds left).

James: 949
Dennis: [not in range]
Me: 947
Lily: 947

Scores: James 10 (41), Dennis 10 (27), me 49

Second break: AXLE RENT ("Not inside")

A straight clue for EXTERNAL.

Round 7: I A E A E P C F T

I had APACE and FACIAE.  As I mentioned back in the first episode of this series, FACIA is a variant spelling of FASCIA ("a long flat board covering the ends of rafters", amongst other definitions), and the plural form of FASCIA is FASCIAE.  The plural form of FACIA should thus be FACIAE but it is not explicitly listed.  Under the interpretations that I hope that David would make, FACIAE should be allowed, but a strict reading of the rules would disallow it.

The contestants match again, each having FACET for five.  David amuses by calling James "The Hawaiian" due to his continual selection of vowels.  Very apt!  He has found APIECE for six, much safer than FACIAE.

The other sixes are FACETE (an archaic term for "facetious; witty") and CAPITA (plural of CAPUT: "Anatomy any head or headlike expansion on a structure, as on a bone").

It turns out that I had an optimal game aside from this round.  The spoiler is the eight of FACETIAE ("amusing writing or witty remarks"; it is explicitly listed as a plural form, but there is no associated singular of FACETIA).

James: FACET
Dennis: FACET

Scores: James 10 (46), Dennis 10 (32), me 55

Round 8: Target 582 from 75 50 2 3 1 9

Although I could have considered other approaches, for some reason I wanted to use 7*75.  The difference is 57, and a short tweak yields a solution: 582 = (9 - 2)*(75 + 1) + 50.  I can't say what led me to want to try it this way, but thinking about the target as 575 + 7 might also lead to this reasoning.

James is seven away with 575, but Dennis has got back the ground that he needed with his one-away 581 = (9 + 1)*50 + 75 + 3*2.  That gets him back within striking distance just when he needed it.

Lily demonstrates another solution that she found by first dividing by 2: 582 = (75*(3 + 1) - 9)*2.

James: 575
Dennis: 581
Me: 582
Lily: 582

Scores: James 10 (46), Dennis 10 (39), me 65


Down to the conundrum, with Dennis needing to solve it to win.  I saw the answer pretty quickly -- just one of those ones that seems clear with no reasoning behind it.  Dennis solved it a bit shy of the ten second mark, and becomes the new champion.

James: [no answer]
Dennis: COMPANION (9.5s)

Final scores: James 10 (46), Dennis 10 (49), me 75

With the best will in the world, I confess that I am glad to see The Hawaiian lose at last.  All those vowels were producing letters rounds that were not sufficiently interesting, and I can hope for better ones tomorrow.  There was not a lot between the contestants today, honours even in the numbers and pretty much in the letters also except for Dennis's invalid answer.  But Dennis showed the conundrum-solving ability that James appeared to lack, and it ended up being the difference.


Jan said...

Geoff, I don't think I have been so pleased in L&N to see a challenger win! I liked David's name for James - the Hawaiian

I will follow your link and see what the SUMS puzzle hunt is

Had a pretty good game, with a final score of 70.

CHEEKS (6) thought of HACKIES but didn't write it down
10/5*75 + 9 = 159 (10)
9*100 + (5-3)*25 - 3 = 947 (10)
FACET (5) wanted pieface to be a word!
(9+1)*50 + 75 + 3*2 = 581 (7)
10 secs

Sam Gaffney said...

What bothered me about James's Hawaiian leanings was that it didn't seem to serve any tactical purpose, it just spoiled a number of rounds.

159 = 3*50 + 9
PARODIES, SPRAINED - Great letters, I felt like there was a nine in there.
947 = 9*100 + 25*(5 - 3) - 3
x botched the writing of 583

Geoff Bailey said...

Jan: I agree with you, as was probably clear from my many remarks. I had no problems with James himself, but his letters choices were, well, mostly not fun.

ARSENATE is a fine find, and I love the idea of PIEFACE. *chuckles* One not-so-good point, though: PRISONED is not valid. I've wanted it a few times in the past, presumably as a variant of IMPRISONED, but PRISON is only listed as a noun and there's no specific adjective PRISONED listed. Sorry.

Sam: I think they did serve a tactical purpose in that James appeared to feel that he might potentially lose a lot of ground in the letters. Choosing five vowels minimised his risk in that regard, I think. Certainly Kathryn finding MISSHAPEN in his first game would have done nothing to refute such an opinion.

JT said...

Vowelaholic do work when they don't go banannas on it like James...

HACKIES-i acutally thought like the kicking hacky