Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Ep 82: Christopher Weldon, Nick Carr (October 30, 2012; originally aired November 23, 2010)

Rounds: Here.

This is Christopher Weldon's fourth night, and a win here will put him in good position to move into the finals rankings.  Richard talks about Christopher's so-far impressive conundrum speed and jokingly suggests that Christopher's typing speed may be a contributing factor.  Christopher plays up to it well, saying that maybe his typing speed is increased exponentially by having only one button to focus on.

Tonight's challenger is Nick Carr, a GP who does regular radio and TV segments.  Nick says that David's crosswords are both the highlight and the lowlight of his weekends.  He adds that he used to enjoy his weekends, sitting back and reading the papers.  Now he sits there scratching his head over David's crosswords all weekend; he doesn't get to read anything any more.  But of course, when he does manage to get one out it is all the sweeter for the difficulty.

It was a close game tonight, one that kept us guessing up until the end.  Christopher started off promisingly with points in the first round, then several shared rounds followed.  (Nick overlooked a simple modification of his first numbers game that would have given him points there, mind you.)  Then Nick found an excellent word to claim the lead, only for Christopher to take it right back again in the next numbers round.  Nick was unlucky that his attempt for the last letters round was not valid, and the result of all this was that Christopher was ahead by precisely ten points going into the conundrum.  It looked like time would expire without it being solved, but with less than two seconds left Nick found the answer and took the game to a tiebreaker conundrum.  He ended up solving that, too, somewhat more quickly, and took a deserved 54 to 44 victory.

I played reasonably well, just dropping the one letters maximum in the main rounds.  Some of my numbers solutions were a bit overcomplicated, but they got the job done and that is what counts.  David had found that maximum that I missed, but then I found a longer word in the tough final letters round, and the chance to tie was still available.  Unfortunately, that first conundrum was too hard for me; I solved the second one rather quickly but the damage was done and the tie slipped away.  Still, some nice words on offer tonight and a good game despite the conundrum woes.

Round 1: S G E A L D E O S

I almost came unstuck in this round, as I misheard the D as a V and did not catch that until time expired.  Consequently, I had SAGE, GALES, an invalid GLOVES, and AGELESS.  Fortunately my best word did not use the V, but once I realised the error sevens were much easier to come by; I noted down LASSOED, DOSAGES, and GLASSED as familiar options that have all turned up before.

Nick has SEEDS for five, but Christopher has found EAGLES for six to get the early lead.  David has gone with SLEDGES as his seven.

The other sevens are GLOSSED / GODLESS, ELODEAS (ELODEA being a type of plant), and ALDOSES (ALDOSE being a type of sugar).

Christopher: EAGLES

Scores: Christopher 0 (6), Nick 0, me 7

Round 2: F I C T O E C R I

Ergh, not that nice letters, and the duplication makes it worse.  I had OTIC ("of or relating to the ear; auricular"), COIF, and EROTIC.  I noted OCCIFER, which is sometimes used for a drunk person trying to say "officer" when addressing the police, but correctly assumed that it would not be listed.

The contestants each have four-letter words, Nick with RICE and Christopher with RIOT.  David mentions CRITIC as a six, but has found ORIFICE for seven.  Well done, David!

There are two other sevens here: ICTERIC (jaundiced, essentially, as ICTERUS is another name for jaundice) and ORECTIC ("of or relating to desire; appetitive").  The other six is CICERO ("a European unit of measurement for type, slightly larger than the pica").  Note that CITRIC is not valid (CRITIC is the safe anagram) as it is only listed in conjuction with ACID.

Christopher: RIOT
Nick: RICE

Scores: Christopher 0 (10), Nick 0 (4), me 13

Round 3: Target 765 from 25 50 100 1 9 10

Those small numbers could be troublesome, with nothing in the middle zone.  I decided early on that I wanted to make this as 775 - 10 and the rest was fairly easy, leading to 765 = (9 - 1)*100 - 25 - 10.

Both contestants have reached 760; Christopher's way was 760 = (25 + 50)*10 + 9 + 1.  Note that he had two small modifications to get one closer; he could have pushed the "+ 1" inside the brackets to get to 769, or he could have added (100 - 1)/9 for 761.  The latter may be a bit hard to see, but the former is the kind of adjustment that comes pretty naturally after a bit.

Nick, meanwhile, was even closer to finding a better option; his answer was 760 = (9 - 1)*100 - 50 + 10.  If he'd just taken a moment after getting to 800 to calculate that he wanted to subtract 35 then he would surely have found the solution that I did.  Or if he had tried subtracting 25 instead of the 50... on such small decisions better solutions depend.

Lily has found a delightfully compact solution of 765 = (50 + 1)*(25 - 10).  Nice one, Lily!

I completely overlooked the factor of 9 this time; the cofactor is 85, so there are a couple of easy solutions based on that: 765 = 9*(50 + 25 + 10) and 765 = 9*(100 - 25 + 10).

Christopher: 760
Nick: 760
Me: 765
Lily: 765

Scores: Christopher 0 (17), Nick 0 (11), me 23

First break: UNCLE ICY ("One 'wheely' easy clue")

Not hard to find UNICYCLE given that hint.

David's talk is about words derived from the Latin pedis, meaning "foot" (actually, "pedis" is the genitive case; the base word is pes).  The words he mentions are pedal, pedestrian, pedicure, centipede, millipede, impediment, and pedigree.

Round 4: R N A A F M I E R

More duplication; so far each round has had a duplicated vowel and a duplicated consonant.  I had AFAR, FARM, FARINA, MARINER, FIREMAN, and AIRFRAME ("the whole body of an aeroplane without its engines").  I was not certain about that last option; I knew that I'd seen it on Countdown and had looked it up, but I could not remember the result.  Fortunately I made the right decision in this case.

The contestants continue to match each other, this time with six-letter words; Christopher has FAMINE and Nicke has FARMER.  David has found AIRFRAME, mentioning that he knows it thanks to Michael Crichton (presumably it was a term in one of his books), and it is the only eight.

The other sevens are FIREARM, REFRAIN, and AIRFARE.

Christopher: FAMINE

Scores: Christopher 0 (23), Nick 0 (17), me 31

Round 5: H T R U I S E U B

Another duplicated vowel, but no consonant duplication this time.  I had HURT, HURTS, HIRSUTE ("hairy"; a few times in the past I've tried to misspell this as HIRSUIT, but I know better now), and BUSTIER (the item of clothing).  After time I noted BUSHIER as another seven.

Christopher has BRUSH for five, but Nick has also found HIRSUTE to get the lead at last.  A fine word!  David has found HIRSUTE, BRUTISH, and BUSHIER as his sevens, and that is now all of them listed.

Christopher: BRUSH

Scores: Christopher 0 (23), Nick 7 (24), me 38

Round 6: Target 595 from 75 25 50 6 2 10

When the small numbers went up and were all even I noted that things might be awkward if the target were odd.  That turned out to be the case, although the divisibility by 5 helped a bit.  I considered adding the 75 (or 25) as a final step, and then the factor of 10 could be used.  The solution that followed was 595 = 10*(50 + 2) + 75, which can also be considered as a tweaked version of 575 + 2*10.

Still within time, I finally noticed the option of 600 - 10/2, getting the alternative solution 595 = 6*(75 + 25) - 10/2.  What I did not notice was that 50/10 could have been used equally well as that last step; I still have problems spotting the option of dividing a large number by a small one.

Nick is unexpectedly far away with 600, while Christopher is just one off with 594 = 50*10 + 75 + 25 - 6.  That gets him back those points conceded to Nick in the previous round.

Lily has found another option: 595 = (6 + 2)*75 - 50/10.

Christopher: 594
Nick: 600
Me: 595
Lily: 595

Scores: Christopher 0 (30), Nick 7 (24), me 48

Second break: SAD ABATE ("Home for information")

That's one possible description of a DATABASE.

Round 7: D L A O X D A N O

And the duplication is back with a vengeance, with one consonant and two vowels duplicated.  This is a rather tough mix!  I had LOAD and ANODAL (variant form of ANODIC: "relating to an anode or the phenomena in its vicinity").

Christopher has LOAN for four, but Nick tries the six of AXONAL.  It's a fine word, and legal in Scrabble, but the Macquarie lists only AXON (and AXONE) but not AXONAL.  David has been restricted to five with DOONA.

ANODAL looks like the only six; the other fives are NODAL and ADDAX (a type of antelope).

[Update: Playing through this during the second re-run, I spotted another six of DOOLAN: "NZ Colloquial an Irish Catholic".]

This result puts Christopher precisely ten points ahead of Nick, which is always interesting territory.  If the Macquarie had listed AXONAL then the scores would be tied instead.  Also, since I've now found a word longer than David I have gained back that ground lost in the second round, and the tie is now a possibility again; just two rounds left to negotiate!

Christopher: LOAN
Nick: [invalid]
David: DOONA

Scores: Christopher 0 (34), Nick 7 (24), me 54

Round 8: Target 695 from 50 75 100 3 10 4

The target is 100 more than last time, so my thoughts naturally turned to a similar approach.  I was happily able to make that work and found the solution 695 = (50 + 3*4)*10 + 75.  After time I remembered my 175-times table and found the alternative solution of 695 = 4*(100 + 75) - 50/10.

Both contestants seemed to find this rather easy, which told me that I had overlooked something.  Indeed, they had both solved it with 695 = (4 + 3)*100 - 50/10.  Heh, I did not even see that route to 700.

Christopher: 695
Nick: 695
Me: 695

Scores: Christopher 10 (44), Nick 17 (34), me 64


So, down to the conundrum with Christopher precisely ten points ahead, raising the possibility of a tiebreaker conundrum.  Plus, I could tie David and Lily if I solved this... but I got hung up on the not-there GENERATE (although I did see OUTRANGE for eight) and was not able to get there.  Time ran down and it looked like Christopher would win by default, but with less than two seconds left Nick buzzed in with the correct answer, sending the game to the tiebreaker.  It took me just over a minute longer to finally find it.

Christopher: [no answer]
Nick: ENTOURAGE (28.5s)
Me: [no answer]

Scores: Christopher 10 (44), Nick 27 (44), me 64

Round 10: PINE VEXES

The scoring for the three-way game stops at the previous round, of course.  That X stood out like a sore thumb, and I had the solution in a second.  It was Nick who ended up solving it a bit after the ten second mark, beating Christopher to the solution again and taking the win.

Christopher: [no answer]
Nick: EXPENSIVE (11.5s)

Final scores: Christopher 10 (44), Nick 27 (54), me 74

A nice tight game, and I do enjoy it when there are two conundrums.  We would not have had the second if AXONAL had been valid, mind you.  Both played reasonably well, but Nick's HIRSUTE and AXONAL were the best words of the day (from contestants, that is; David's find of ORIFICE was impressive).  Christopher's conundrum performance had been good in the previous games but somehow this second one eluded him.  He finished on a round 200 points from four games, which is not enough to make it to the finals but is still excellent scoring.


Mike Backhouse said...

A mixed game for me. Some of those letters games were tough, I did ok in the numbers and I loved the finale by the contestants.

x- got ICIER after time
Chris' way
Lily's way (always happy to get Lily's solve)
Nick's way (the method was almost the same as the previous game I played- that is, reducing by 5 by dividing 50 by 10)
missed first conundrum but unusually for me saw the second almost immediately)

Sam Gaffney said...

Geoff, you've put your Round 3 score in as 760. All the number rounds having so many multiples of 5 made the targets quite achievable.

Nice conundrum work on ENTOURAGE in particular from Nick, I was happy to see him win. I still can't remember seeing an episode where someone loses the first conundrum but wins the second.

REFIT (seconds too late with CRITIC)
765 = (50+25+10)*9
595 = (75+25)*6 -10/2 More elegant is: 10*(50+2)+75
695 = (100+75)*4 - 50/10 and (75-3)*10 - 100/4

Geoff Bailey said...

Congratulations, Mike -- you'd have beaten both contestants, by my reckoning. Nice to solve a conundrum, too!

Strong game from you, Sam, and particularly impressive conundrum speed tonight! Thanks for the correction on round three; I have fixed it now.

Jan said...

I had a mixed game too. My 3rd letters round, I totally missed the easy solution, and ended up 1 away. Apart from that, I was reasonably happy. Got the second conundrum really quickly, but the first one took me over the 30 second mark.

(50+25+1)*10+9=769 (7) (thought to get 4 away instead of 5 away might help my scoring)
6*(25+75) - 50/10 = 595 (10)
LAND (4)
75*10 - 50 - 4 = 696 (0)
40 secs
2 secs

Geoff Bailey said...

Nice work on those conundrums, Jan -- even though it was outside of time you still solved that first one much faster than I did. Also, good adjustment to 769 -- it would have paid handsome dividends against the contestants.

JT said...

Chris probably goes into the victims of repeat recordings...