Sunday, 21 October 2012

Ep 75: Dom Saric, Damian Foong (October 19, 2012; originally aired November 12, 2010)

Rounds: Here.

Tonight is the crucial fourth night for Dom Saric.  Can he win and get a likely finals spot?  We'll find out soon, but first Richard points out that English was not Dom's first language.  Dom agrees, adding that he was born in Croatia, and so his first language was Croatian.  When he first went to primary school here in Australia he attended English as a second language classes for two years; somehow he ended up loving the language and even took four units of English for the HSC.

Tonight's challenger is Damian Foong, a public servant with a degree in biomedical science and a diploma in languages.  Damian spent three years living and working in rural Japan; that was as part of the Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme, an initiative of the Japanese government.  While in Japan he worked as an assistant language teacher in government schools in Ibaraki prefecture.  He adds that even though it was quite close to Tokyo he had rice paddies all around his apartment -- it was very, very rural.  The nearest train station was two cities away!  Damian looks at it all positively, saying that he got the benefits of living in the countryside in terms of developing a greater understanding of Japanese culture and language than he may have done in the city.

Damian had the frequent first-game problem of a phantom letter in the first round, and then Dom won the next two rounds to build a good-sized lead.  Another good word from Dom in the fifth round extended the lead further, but Damian managed to peg back that lost ground in the next numbers round.  Damian needed to solve the last numbers round to have a chance but he was not able to make anything of it; Dom solved the conundrum to make the margin even more impressive, finishing with a 45 to 16 victory.

I was doing fairly well up until the last numbers round; I had dropped one maximum, it turns out, but David had also missed it.  But a miscalculation in that round left me scrambling and I was not able to get to the target within time -- a rather disappointing miss.  My conundrum speed was a bit slower than I wanted but got the job done, pushing the score up to the seventy mark again.

Round 1: T F E I R C A E G

I had FIRE and CRAFT, and for a disturbingly long time I was stuck there.  Fortunately I found FRIGATE for seven before time ran out, and it does seem to be the only one.  I was a bit distracted by the almost CAFETERIA here, and the next vowel would have been an A, too...

Damian declares an invalid GRATER for six (erroneously doubling the R) but Dom has found FRIGATE for seven.

Even though I did not see any, there's actually a lot of sixes here.  More than I feel like checking on, so here's some of the more common ones: CREATE, CAGIER, RECITE, FIERCE, TRAGIC, GAITER / TRIAGE, and REFACE.

Damian: [invalid]

Scores: Dom 7, Damian 0, me 7

Round 2: M R C A I E O D R

I had CRAM, CREAM, COMEDIA (variant spelling of KOMEDYA: "a once-popular Philippine dramatic form dealing with the conflict between Christians and Moors in early medieval Europe"), and CARRIED.  After time I wrote down some of the other sevens that I had seen: MARRIED / ADMIRER and CAROMED.

This time Damian has two R's to use, and he did so with ROARED.  Dom still gets the points, though, as his choice of CARRIED is longer.  David has also gone for seven, with COMRADE.

I should have thought a bit more about CAROMED, as it turns out.  A variant spelling of CAROM is CARROM, meaning that CARROMED is good for eight.  The other eight available here is AIRDROME, an American term for an aerodrome.

The other sevens are DORMICE, ARMOIRE, the variant spelling ARMORED, and CORRIDA ("a bullfighting event").

Damian: ROARED

Scores: Dom 14, Damian 0, me 14

Round 3: Target 986 from 25 100 1 7 3 2

A large target is often challenging, and this was one such.  As the numbers went up I had started thinking of the multiples of 125 (particularly hoping for 7*125 = 875 to be useful), and 8*125 is 1000 which is close.  The obvious way to make the 8 is 7 + 1, but I had switched tacks at that point to think about the remaining difference of 14, which was clearly 2*7.  Fortunately I could still make the 8 with the 2 and a bit of tweaking, and ended up with the solution 986 = 2*((3 + 1)*(100 + 25) - 7).

(I'll note that tweakers should get to one away fairly easily, with 985 = (7 + 3)*(100 + 1) - 25.)

Damian is only just in the scoring range with 976, which I'm going to guess came about by approaching it from below with 976 = (7 + 2)*100 + 3*25 + 1.  Dom has managed to get two closer by working down from above, with 978 = (7 + 3)*100 - 25 + 1 + 2.  That pushes his lead out to 19, and Damian is in quite some trouble already.

Lily has found the solution above, and not surprisingly this is the only solution.

Dom: 978
Damian: 976
Me: 986
Lily: 986

Scores: Dom 14 (19), Damian 0, me 24

First break: CRY LINED ("A number of these in your engine")

Engines have CYLINDERs in them.

David's talk is about the words tent (and the phrase on tenterhooks), bivouac, glamping, and flashpacker.

Round 4: N U I L H I E P B

I had LINE and NUBILE.  I played around (both before and after time) with the -PHILE and -IBLE endings, but without success.

Both contestants have settled on HELP for four.  David has found LUPINE for six, and it seems to be the only other one.

The fives here are BLINI ("traditional Russian or Polish pancakes [...]"; it is already plural), LUPIN (a type of plant; see also this video), NIHIL ("nothing; a thing of no value"), and PILEI (plural of PILEUS: "Botany the horizontal portion of a mushroom, bearing gills, tubes, etc., on its underside; a cap").

Damian: HELP

Scores: Dom 14 (23), Damian 0 (4), me 30

Round 5: P M O U H L A E N

I had HUMP, AMPLE, AMPOULE ("a sealed glass bulb used to hold hypodermic solutions"), and MANHOLE.  After time I noted down PNEUMA ("the vital spirit; the soul") as a six, but there is no associated PNEUMAL, alas.

Damian has PLANE for five, but Dom has found AMPOULE for seven.  David remarks on how useful Dom's medical knowledge has been to him so far, and mentions MANHOLE as his seven.

The other seven is APOLUNE ("the highest point in the orbit of a body which is circling the moon, with respect to the moon's centre").

Damian: PLANE

Scores: Dom 21 (30), Damian 0 (4), me 37

Round 6: Target 314 from 50 75 10 3 4 8

Getting close is easy enough, but final adjustments may be difficult.  I looked at keeping the 10 and 4, but then could not get to 300 with the rest.  Then I considered keeping the 8 and 3, but could not get to 325 with the rest.  A bit frustrating!  Fortunately I spotted a different approach and managed to get it to work: 314 = 4*(75 + 3) + 10 - 8.  Phew!  After time I saw that the more expensive route to 11 of 10 + 4 - 3 would have worked, with 314 = 8*50 - 75 - (10 + 4 - 3).  This turns out to be Lily's approach.

Just now I have spotted another option: 314 = 4*75 + (50 - 8)/3.

Dom is three away with 311, but Damian finally gets some ground back with 313 = 4*75 + 10 + 3.

Dom: 311
Damian: 313
Me: 314
Lily: 314

Scores: Dom 21 (30), Damian 0 (11), me 47

Second break: ANGST TAN ("An opposite to movement")

I don't think the definition is cluing the right part of speech, but the answer is clearly STAGNANT.

Round 7: Z T I E S J U A S

A round with both Z and J was always going to be a struggle; I had TIES and TISSUE.  I had also seen JESUITS, but that is capitalised, of course.  After time I found ASSIZE ("(usually plural) (formerly, in England and Wales) a trial session, civil or criminal, held periodically in certain locations by a judge (usually of the High Court) on circuit through the English counties") as another six, and since it uses the Z it's a safe bet that David will mention it.

The contestants have both found five-letter words; Dom has SIZES while Damian tries JUTES for five.  He is not sure about that one, but David gives it the nod; it is both a fibre and a plant, and although David only mentions the fibre meaning, the plant one makes it clearly pluralisable.  David has found both TISSUE and ASSIZE here.

The other sixes are SIESTA, SAUTÉS, and SUITES.

Damian: JUTES

Scores: Dom 21 (35), Damian 0 (16), me 53

Round 8: Target 556 from 100 25 8 1 10 3

Damian is still in with a chance even at this late point.  He does need to solve this round exactly, though.

In the first round I wanted to use 100 + 25; this time I wanted to use 100 - 25.  8*75 is 600 and the difference is 44; somehow I miscalculated that difference as 34, though, and thought that 8*3 + 10 got me there.  That caused me to write down an incorrect "answer" of 8*(100 - 25 - 3) - 10, which is actually 566.  I caught that error a little later, but with the time remaining I could only correct it to two off: 558 = 8*(100 - 25 - 3 - 1) - 10.

There's a lot of ways to one away, though, so that should be a below average result.  One such that I noted after time is 555 = (8 - 3)*(100 + 10 + 1), and with a bit more thought I finally turned up a solution: 556 = 8*(3*(25 - 1) + 10) - 100.

Neither contestant has been able to get within scoring range, and that means that Dom will win the game.  Lily has found a solution, taking advantage of the factor of two: 556 = ((100 + 1)*3 - 25)*(10 - 8).  Well done, Lily!

The only other solution is 556 = (8 - 1)*(100 - 25 + 3) + 10.

Dom: [not in range]
Damian: [not in range]
Me: 558
Lily: 556

Scores: Dom 21 (35), Damian 0 (16), me 60


I considered the right ending pretty much straight away, but somehow almost four seconds had gone before I found the solution.  A bit bemusing, that.  Dom managed to get there reasonably late in the piece, nudging his score higher.

Dom: INFECTION (25s)
Damian: [no answer]
Me: INFECTION (3.5s)

Final scores: Dom 21 (45), Damian 0 (16), me 70

Dom really struggled with the numbers tonight, but so did Damian.  The letters carried Dom to victory, including his third conundrum solution from three attempts.  Dom is looking in good form, and so far has a rather respectable average of 50 points a game.  He moves into the finals rankings, but we'll have to wait until next week to find out if he can successfully retire.


Sam Gaffney said...

I definitely saw this one in 2010.

986 = 2*((3 + 1)*(100 + 25) - 7)
x PHILE (I nearly grabbed LUPIN, not sure what went wrong)
314 = 4*(75 + 3) + 10 - 8
552 = 8*(100-25-10+3+1)

Jan said...

Geoff, I am ridiculously happy that you mentioned SAUTES in Rd 7. I had looked it up in the Mac dictionary online and because it had an accent, didn't know if it would be ok.

And even though I didn't beat Sam with the conundrum, I pipped you by half a second!


(3+7)*(100-1) - 2 = 988 (7) if only I had added the 1, not subtracted it etc
NUBILE (6) wanted lineup to be a word
8*50 - 75 - 10 = 315 (7). After time 4-3 = 1. 315-1=314
3*(100+8) + 10*(25-1) = 564 (5)
3 secs

Geoff Bailey said...

Jan: I don't think it has been explicitly stated, but the presumed policy on accented words is to ignore the accents for the show's purposes. I'm sure that examples have come up, although I'm not able to recall one offhand.