Sunday, 28 October 2012

Ep 79: Peter Smith, Christopher Weldon (October 25, 2012; originally aired November 18, 2010)

Rounds: Here.

Peter Smith returns to the champion's chair but this time as a bona fide champion.  Richard notes that forty-seven years ago Peter was "right at the cutting edge of computing", and asks for more information.  Peter explains that he was working on a computer called CSIRAC, which was built by the CSIR (the name at the time for what is now called the CSIRO) not long after the Second World War.  (He adds "at Melbourne university", but it is not clear if he means it was built there or he was working there; certainly the latter is true but the former is not: CSIRAC was originally built in Sydney and later transferred to Melbourne.)

Richard asks for more details about it, and Peter says that the machine would have comfortably filled the studio.  (That surprises me, based on some of the photos, but perhaps the more interactive photo selection available at the museum's pages will give a better idea; presumably there was more to it than the obvious selection of cabinets, and the depth is a bit unclear.)  He says that it was immensely powerful for its day, but by comparison with today's computers: "Think of the cheapest, smallest mobile phone you can get and that would beat it hands down".  He finishes by mentioning that the computer is now in the Melbourne Museum, and he is glad that he is not in there with it.

Tonight's challenger is Christopher Weldon, a writer who has moved house fifty-seven times.  That is really quite a lot of moves, and naturally Richard asks about the reasons behind that.  Christopher responds that there has never been one real reason for it; sometimes it was an important move due to a parent having a new job, and sometimes it was because the shower head was a bit dodgy and they wanted a new one.  While he was living with his parents most of that travel was in Queensland and a bit in the Northern Territory; since he has been living by himself it has been generally Canberra and now Melbourne.

It was a nice close game tonight; Christopher got the early advantage in the second letters round, only for Peter to draw level again with a much better result in the first numbers round.  Peter then took the lead with an excellent find in round four, and carried that lead all the way to the conundrum.  Christopher needed to solve it first to win, and did so when he found an extremely fast solution to what seemed like a difficult conundrum.  Christopher got the win, 46 to 43.

I started off with a relatively poor miss -- a word I've found many times before but not this time.  I had good results for the most part thereafter, but failed to solve a tricky numbers game that was nonetheless approachable.  Christopher was too fast for me on the conundrum, but I got there in due course and my main rounds had kept me in front.

Round 1: R T T O I B U G E

I had TORT, ORBIT, and GUTTER.  I wondered about GUTTIER -- I think I've seen this declared on Countdown (it is valid there) -- but rightly rejected it.

The contestants have each found BUTTER for six.  David has gone one better, finding TRIBUTE for seven.  Oh, dear, that is a word I should have found; I've certainly done so before, although checking reveals that it was much less often than I thought.

The other seven here is GOUTIER.

Christopher: BUTTER

Scores: 6 apiece

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

I had TRIP, TRIPE, SPIRIT, and PIRATES.  I also saw that PARITIES was there (and wrote it down for good measure) so I knew that David would declare it.  Still, as I mentioned back in episode 22, it would not be considered valid by later rules and so I avoid it as a matter of principle.

Peter has SPIKER (not "one who spikes", it turns out, but rather "a stag with his first set of antlers") for six but Christopher gets the lead with PIRATES for seven.  As expected, David declares PARITIES for eight.

The other sevens are AIRIEST, TIPSIER / PITIERS, and PARTIES / TRAIPSE / PIASTRE (any of several currency units) / PIASTER (variant spelling of PIASTRE).

Christopher: PIRATES

Scores: Peter 6, Christopher 13, me 13

Round 3: Target 208 from 75 25 9 7 1 6

The offset from 200 is 8, which is also a factor of the answer.  The cofactor is a formable 26, and a solution is easy enough: 208 = (9 + 6 - 7)*(25 + 1).  And just now I have seen that descent from 225 is somewhat simpler: 208 = 6*25 + 75 - 9 - 1 - 7.

Christopher is only just within the scoring range with 218; that's a bit puzzling, actually, as it suggests it was made as 225 - 7 but further adjustments were surely possible.  In any case, Peter is only one away with 207 = (25 + 75)*(9 - 7) + 6 + 1.  Note that if he had just pushed the "+ 1" inside the brackets he would have solved this exactly.  Those three points will be significant!

Lily has found an interesting solution, descending from 250 with 208 = 25*(9 + 1) - 6*7.  Nice.

Peter: 207
Christopher: 218
Me: 208
Lily: 208

Scores: Peter 6 (13), Christopher 13, me 23

First break: ACING MAP ("Military, advertising, and political")

Those can all be types of CAMPAIGN.

David's talk is about lightning, showing up in the name Barack (as in Obama) and the words blitz and eclair.

Round 4: N T L O E O M R A

I had LONE, MOLTEN, and a familiar (thanks to Countdown) but obscure trio of TELAMON ("a figure of a man used like a supporting column; an atlas") / OMENTAL (adjective derived from OMENTUM: "a fold or duplication of the peritoneum passing between certain of the viscera [...]") / LOMENTA (plural of LOMENTUM: "a dry fruit derived from one carpel which breaks up transversely into one-seeded segments at maturity").

After time I noted down some other sevens: TREMOLO ("a tremulous or vibrating effect produced on certain instruments and in the human voice, as to express emotion") and TEAROOM.  I also wrote down MOONLET, forgetting that I had looked this up before and that the Macquarie does not list it.

Christopher has LOOTER for six, but Peter has done well to find TREMOLO and takes the lead.  David has managed to go one better again, finding ANTEROOM for eight.

That is the only eight; the other sevens here are ALMONER and ORTOLAN (a bird, otherwise known as a bobolink).

Christopher: LOOTER

Scores: Peter 13 (20), Christopher 13, me 30

Round 5: S O E Z N E C O G

I had ZONES, COZENS, and CONGEES.  CONGEE is a porridge dish; pluralisation of dishes is sometimes a bit iffy, but fortunately CONGEE is also a verb: "to take one's leave".

Both contestants have found the nice SNOOZE in the first six letters.  David had found it, but also has CONGEES for seven.

That seems to be the only seven; the other sixes are CONGEE, COOEES, possibly OZONES, CONGOS (maybe... CONGO is listed as a variant spelling of CONGOU: "a kind of black tea from China"; the "kind of" is a warning marker that suggests this should perhaps be treated as a mass noun) / COGONS (COGON being a type of grass), and CONGÉS (CONGÉ: "a bow or obeisance").

Christopher: SNOOZE

Scores: Peter 13 (26), Christopher 13 (19), me 37

Round 6: Target 559 from 50 100 7 2 2 3

The standard method applies pretty clearly, and it's just a question of how to get to 550 while retaining a 7 and 2 for the 9.  I went with 559 = (3 + 2)*100 + 50 + 7 + 2 at first, did not bother to write down the variant 559 = 2*3*100 - 50 + 7 + 2, and tweaked my way to another solution with 559 = (7 + 2)*(50 + 3 - 2) + 100.

Both contestants and Lily have used the first of those solutions, as one would expect.

Christopher had referred to taking two large numbers as the traditional choice, which prompts Richard afterwards to ask what Lily would choose.  Lily says that this combination was her favourite in the beginning but it is "so passé" now and she prefers three of each.  This comment will have implications for tomorrow's game, as it turns out, as will end-of-game chat where Richard suggests that all numbers rounds of the next game should be chosen so as to please Lily.

Peter: 559
Christopher: 559
Me: 559
Lily: 559

Scores: Peter 23 (36), Christopher 23 (29), me 47

Second break: SOUL RACE ("You might get to this in a roundabout way")

Another name for a roundabout is a CAROUSEL.

Round 7: S A S E A T F D E

Lots of duplication in this round; I had SEAS, SATES, FEASTS, and DEFEATS / FEASTED.  A final consonant was tempting here as another T would have allowed STEADFAST.  That said, there had already been a lot of T's and it is possible that none are left.

The contestants have both found seven-letter words; Peter has FEASTED and Christopher has SEDATES.  David has also picked up on the STEADFAST potential, but had to settle for DEFEATS for seven.

The other seven is DEAFEST.

Christopher: SEDATES

Scores: Peter 30 (43), Christopher 30 (36), me 54

Round 8: Target 831 from 75 100 1 2 4 7

There are a few ways to get into the scoring range, but hitting the target exactly is a little difficult.  I ended up settling for one away with 832 = 4*(2*100 + 7 + 1).

After time I managed to apply a technique that is important for good solving and I think I am only just now starting to get the hang of doing it within time.  Walking through the steps, this is how it goes: The offset for the standard method is 6, which although it can be formed does not seem to be able to be used while simultaneously leaving the right numbers to get to 825.  So we consider what other further away offsets this might correspond to: 6, 19, 31, 44, 56... that last is easily the best option, being 7*8.  That would require getting to 775, and a quick tweak from that point sees one to the target: 831 = 7*(100 + 2*4) + 75.

Similar ideas hold for other offsets; 3 might be either 28 = 4*7 or 72 = 8*9; 7 could be 18 = 3*6 or 32 = 4*8; 11 could be 14 = 2*7 or 36 = 6*6 or 64 = 8*8.  Basically, when the offset is awkward, it may be that there is a related offset which is much more manageable.  Some of the frequently arising options can definitely pay dividends if memorised; I suspect that Sam Gaffney has internalised at least some of them, based on the number of times he has used such methods.

Christopher is outside the scoring range with 808, and so is Peter who had only got to 850.  Lily has found the solution that I explained above; well done, Lily!

Peter: [not in range]
Christopher: [not in range]
Me: 832
Lily: 831

Scores: Peter 30 (43), Christopher 30 (36), me 61


I barely had time enough to look at the letters and be confused before Christopher buzzed in with what turned out to be the correct solution.  I started the backup clock, and solved this at around the eight second mark.  I'm happy with that speed on this conundrum, but it was blown away by Christopher's effort.  Well done, Christopher!

Peter: [no answer]
Christopher: SANCTUARY (1.5s)

Final scores: Peter 30 (43), Christopher 40 (46), me 61

A nice close game, with both contestants playing solidly.  A number round was the difference going into the conundrum, but then Christopher found the solution marvellously quickly and took the win.  He'll have quite the reputation to live up to on that front, now.


Mike Backhouse said...

Bombed out on the numbers. Some days are better than others!

25*(7+1)+9=209 (1 off)
MAROON (loved TREMELO - more practice needed to 'see' those words without obvious fragments)
GOOSE (feel like one, should have seen SNOOZE)
nothing - out of time - one of the easiest I have missed but I learned from it
out of range

Sam Gaffney said...

PARITIES (forgot this was not strictly valid)
208 = (9-6)*75-25+7+1 and (75+25+1)*(9-7) + 6, later: (25+7)*9-75-6+1
560 = 7*50 + 2*(100+2+3) Awful, wasted time working with a phantom 75.
831 = (100+4*2)*7+75 This modulo usage is indeed internalised, I was quite quick here.
1.0s, nice work from Chris.

Jan said...

After reading all your answers Geoff, I am annoyed that I didn't find OMENTAL as I learnt about the OMENTUM a few years ago, having surgery in that area!

I missed some obvious words, and also missed out on the conundrum again.

Lightnin' Sam is at it again with the conundrum!

6*25 + 75 - 1 - 7 - 9 = 208 (10) happy with that find
(3+2)*100 + 50 + 2 + 7= 559 (10)
(7+2)*100 - 75 + 4 = 829 (7)

Has OZONES ever been used and validated? I wasn't sure if it would be ok.

JT said...

1.3 sec

Geoff Bailey said...

Nice find with MAROON, Mike. And it's all a learning experience!

Impressive conundrum speed once more, Sam; were you helped at all by your almost-SANCTIOUS from the Masters Series quarterfinal? Bad luck on the phantom 75 but a good recovery and strong results elsewhere.

Jan: I'm not sure what obvious words you think you missed out on, because those are some pretty good letters results. Also strong numberwork, but I'm a bit bemused that you did not add the 1 to your 829; did you run out of time?

OZONES has not been attempted (that I know of); I don't know how the argument would go. On the whole I would be extremely wary of chancing it.

Jan said...

Ran out of time - I had been trying other options first.

Annoyed I didn't find tribute, anyway.


Sam Gaffney said...

That might be a coincidence with SANCTIOUS, I think it was just a real jump-out conundrum.