Thursday, 1 November 2012

Ep 83: Nick Carr, Christine Hodges (October 31, 2012; originally aired November 24, 2010)

Rounds: Here.

Nick Carr takes his place in the champion's seat tonight, having done well to beat Christopher Weldon yesterday with a couple of good conundrum solutions.  Richard reveals that Christopher is a fanatical player of real tennis, which Nick clarifies is what used to be called "royal tennis" -- the original game of tennis.  (As opposed to "lawn tennis", which is what most people would think of when tennis is mentioned.)  He calls it "the Henry VIII game" and adds that it was -- and still is -- played in Hampton Court.  Nick plays it several times a week; whenever he can, really.

Tonight's challenger is Christine Hodges, who is enjoying her retirement after twenty-seven years of teaching French and Japanese.  Richard asks if she is fluent in both, and Christine responds that she is not as fluent as she was (due to the retirement) but travel is a great way to keep the fluency up.

Nick took an early lead in the first round, and then extended it in the third round when Christine bobbled with an invalid answer.  She had another invalid option in the fourth round but Nick's word was better in any case; that put him more than twenty points ahead.  Nick pushed the lead out past thirty with the second numbers round, and with no full monty available in the last letters round that ensured his victory.  Christine rallied a bit in the last two main rounds to cut back the deficit, but the damage was done.  Nick buzzed in late on the conundrum with an invalid answer, but Christine was not able to solve it in the remaining time and the final scoreline was 44 to 26 in Nick's favour.

I had a somewhat poor game tonight, starting off with a pair of invalid words.  The second I thought was unlikely, but the first took me completely by surprise.  I was able to claw back some ground in two of the numbers rounds, but for the first time in over seven weeks I was not safe going into the conundrum (the last such occasion was over seven weeks ago in episode 47, the high-class confrontation between Esther Perrins and Sam Chow).  Fortunately I had my quickest conundrum solution ever, at least by the clock; the first segment had only barely begun to light.  I was rather relieved to get home safely after that start!

Round 1: N I A C E T P E S

Good letters, and a break in the full monty drought seemed like a possibility.  I had CANE, PIECES, SPICATE, and SPECIATE.  It's a rather rare occasion when I want a K instead of a T, but I had seen the potential for PEACENIKS otherwise.  After time I found PECTINES (one plural of PECTEN: "a comb-like part, process or organ of an animal") and PATIENCE (finally) and wondered about PATIENCES; PATIENCE would generally be a mass noun, but there is the card game to consider.

I was, however, rather surprised to find out that the Macquarie does not list SPECIATE.  It's a backformed verb from SPECIATION ("(in biology) the development of a new species by evolutionary processes"), but I thought it had been used enough to make it in.  Oh, well.

Christine has PANICS for six, but Nick has found PECTINS for seven to take the points.  David has decided that PATIENCES is acceptable in the context of the card game; I'm not sold on this reasoning as more natural usages would be either "games of patience" or "forms of patience", but I can also see the argument for it.

The other eights are SAPIENCE and CINEASTE ("a devotee of the cinema").

Christine: PANICS
Me: [invalid]

Scores: Nick 7, Christine 0, me 0

Round 2: H F I O M L E A T

I had FOIL, FLAME, FOLATE, FOLIATE ("to put forth leaves", amongst other similar meanings), and then decided to take a punt on HALFTIME.  I was not particularly confident in it, but since I had an invalid answer already I somehow thought that another invalid answer was less bad.  An odd bit of self-destruction, and indeed it turns out that HALF-TIME requires the hyphen.

This time Nick has FOLATE for six, matched by Christine's choice of FATHOM.  Two nice words, but David points out that FOLIATE was there for seven.

That is the only seven; the other sixes are FOETAL, LOATHE, HAMLET, MOTILE ("moving, or capable of moving, spontaneously"), HALITE (rock salt), and EOLITH ("a crude flint implement characteristic of the earliest stage of human culture, shaped by, rather than for, use").

Christine: FATHOM
Me: [invalid]

Scores: Nick 13, Christine, 6, me 0

Round 3: Target 589 from 100 25 75 3 4 6

The offsets are 11 and 14, neither of which seem particularly easy to make from that set.  Getting close is easy, and a one-away 588 = 6*100 - 3*4 should not be too hard to find, but I was pleased to spot a way to tweak my way to that 11 and found the solution of 589 = 6*(100 - 75/25) + 4 + 3.

Nick is four away with 593, but Christine declares one better with 592.  Unfortunately for her, she starts with 6*100 - 5 and then realises that there is no 5 available for use.  That brings Nick's answer back into play, and it is 593 = 6*100 - 3 - 4.  Note that he could have got to one away by then subtracting 75/25, but presumably he is not familiar with such options.

Lily has found another approach with 589 = (100 + 3)*6 - (25 + 4).

Nick: 593
Christine: [invalid]
Me: 589
Lily: 589

Scores: Nick 13 (20), Christine 6, me 10

First break: ENTER HIT ("Lucky for some; unlucky for others")

That would be the number THIRTEEN, of course.

David's talk is about the word googol, and how it lead to the name of Google.

Round 4: T G O I H R U D C

I had RIGHT, RIGHTO, and GOTHIC.  After time I noted TROUGH as another six, but could not better it.

Christine has seen a phantom N and her choice of NIGHT is invalid; Nick has found the only seven of DROUGHT -- well done!

The other sixes are GROUCH, TURGID, OUTRIG, ORCHID / RHODIC ("of or containing rhodium, especially in the tetravalent state"), and THORIC (adjective derived from thorium) / RHOTIC ("of or relating to a dialect in which a postvocalic written r is evident in the pronunciation [...]").

Christine: [invalid]

Scores: Nick 20 (27), Christine 6, me 10

Round 5: D E T S I E N P A

Another set of good letters, and only one letter different from the first round.  Another full monty seems possible, but what I had was DIETS, DESTINE, and a very dubious ANTISPEED.  I have no idea where I got that from; I thought that I had seen it show up in a word list at some point, but that memory was also tied to checking it in the Macquarie and finding it not listed.  That at least saved me from a third invalid word, but the recollection must be inaccurate as I cannot find any source that would have suggested it in the first place.

After time I noted down some of the other sevens: PANTIES, PAINTED, SAINTED / STAINED, and PEDANTS.

The contestants have each found seven-letter words; Nick has PAINTED and Christine has the nice STIPEND.  David has DESPITE as his seven.

There's a lot of sevens here, but the eight is the volcanic rock ANDESITE.

Christine: STIPEND

Scores: Nick 27 (34), Christine 13, me 17

Round 6: Target 127 from 25 50 9 7 6 3

A low target ends up being pretty achievable, although perhaps not quite as trivial as I first thought.  I started off looking at overly complicated approaches, but then good sense reasserted itself and I tried the standard method.  The version I ended up using was 127 = 3*25 + 50 + 9 - 7, but there are many others.

Christine has ended up one away with 126, but Nick has solved this with the same solution that I had.  Lily has a different version: 127 = (9 - 7)*50 + 25 + 6/3.

A bit later I managed to get the approach of 100 + 27 to work, with 127 = 6*25 - 50 + 9*3.

Christine's miss here means that Nick is now ahead by more than thirty points; Christine needs a full monty in the next round to stay in with a chance of victory.

Nick: 127
Christine: 126
Me: 127
Lily: 127

Scores: Nick 37 (44), Christine 13, me 27

Second break: SLAB YELL ("Contains three of itself")

That would be three SYLLABLEs.

Round 7: I D R U E K G T O

That K pretty much puts paid to any chance that Christine would have; if it had been an N then DETOURING would have been there.  As it was, I had RUDE, RIDGE, TRUDGE, OUTRIDE, and GROUTED.

Nick has GROUT for five, missing the opportunity to extend it to GROUTED.  Christine has GUIDER for six, getting some points back but not enough, and Nick is guaranteed to win.  David has also found GROUTED and OUTRIDE as sevens.

The other seven here is GOUTIER.

Christine: GUIDER

Scores: Nick 37 (44), Christine 13 (19), me 34

Round 8: Target 391 from 75 50 100 1 4 7

Christine also chooses the balanced mix this time; there's been a recent spate of them.  Obviously getting to 400 is easy, and a one-away 392 not that much harder.  The lack of a 25 makes the usual technique of dividing one large number by another, but the fractions that can be made turn out to be useful after all.  It's a rare technique, but very handy on occasion and this was one such, enable 6 to be turned into 9; my solution was 391 = 4*100 - (7 - 1)*75/50.

Nick is strangely far away with 385, and I'm not sure how he did that.  Christine has ended up one away with the expected 392 = 4*100 - (7 + 1).

Lily has found the same solution that I did, and it turns out to be the only one.  A nice numbers round to end the day, and I'm in front for the first time.

Nick: 385
Christine: 392
Me: 391
Lily: 391

Scores: Nick: 37 (44), Christine 13 (26), me 44


I have something at stake in the conundrum, so it's nice that I spotted the solution and buzzed in very quickly.  Extremely quickly by the clock time, as it turns out, although it was probably slow to start after the spin; in any case, it had barely started to light up the first segment when I buzzed in.  Nick gets there just after the twenty second mark, but realises that his attempt of DOMINOES is not right.  Christine is not able to solve it in the remaining time, and so the scores remain unchanged.

Nick: [invalid] (21s)
Christine: [no answer]
Me: DIMENSION (0.5s)

Final scores: Nick 37 (44), Christine 13 (26), me 54

It was a bit one-sided early one; Nick's finds of PECTINS and DROUGHT were quite good, and Christine was not able to get the ground back in the numbers.  I did like her find of STIPEND, though.  A better numbersmith would have won the game there, and Nick may well be in trouble if he runs up against such a person.


Mike Backhouse said...

An ordinary game for me. Just could not get much out of the letters.

6*100-4*3=588 (1 off)(great solve Geoff!)
Geoff's way
4*100-(7+1)=392 (1 off)- Lily's solve was great but so was yours Geoff- using fractions again- sheesh!
jumped in with DEMONISE, feeling satisfied with myself until I realised there was only one 'E'.

Jan said...

Mike had the problem of not enough e's for his solution to the conundrum. My problem was I didn't use any e's for my solution - DOMINIONS, and too many o's!

But I did enough for a win against Nick

Geoff, your solution (and Lily's) for the last numbers round is awe-inspiring!

6*100 - 4*3 = 588 (7)
(9-7)*50 + 25 + 6/3 = 127 (10)
4*100 - 7 - 1 = 392 (7)

Mike Backhouse said...

DEMONISE was only 8 letters as well!

Jacob D said...

Small world situation here! I know Nick through the Real Tennis Club in Melbourne, and strangely enough Richard asked me about the game in my second episode too! (ep. 237)
He's a very skillful real tennis player.

Geoff Bailey said...

Thanks, Mike -- I was pretty pleased with both of those numbers solutions (although Lily's way was simpler for the first one). Bad luck on DEMONISE; it's hard to know where to draw the line between buzzing in response to an impression or delaying to check a little. It was one reason that I kept my hand off the buzzer when on the show, possibly to my detriment.

Another good set of rounds from you, Jan -- solid play in both facets, and DROUGHT in particular is a good find. We'd have been tied at the conundrum.

Nice to hear from you again, Jacob! It seems like an interesting game, although I'd have to read the explanation of the chase a few more times before I figure it out, I think.

JT said...

I had two embarssing numbers round...

388-100*4-((7+1)*75/50)-most embarrasing as I had it in my head early but my writing of it was horrible