Monday, 12 November 2012

Ep 88: Leif Cooper, Phil Moore (originally aired December 1, 2010)

Rounds: Here.

I've changed my mind despite previous comments, so here's the details for episode 88 earlier than forecast.  For anyone who has not yet seen it due to it being skipped for the US election coverage, here are the links again: Part 1; part 2; part 3.  Thanks again to commentor Victor for finding this.  Also, in case it was missed, here is the episode 90 post.

Leif returns for the important fourth-night showdown, although this season has had many six-game contestants and even four wins may not be enough.  Richard wheels out the technique question, noting that Leif always starts with a consonant in the letters rounds.  Leif agrees, and expands on this although it honestly does not make a lot of sense to me: He likes the vowels split up rather than clumped, and there are more consonants than vowels, so he chooses the consonant first.  That is kind of backwards, really; if he started off with a vowel then he could spread the vowels out further.  But perhaps he also dislikes clumps of consonants.

Tonight's challenger is Phil Moore, an I.T. manager who has lived on three different continents.  His father was an aircraft engineer so the family travelled a lot when Phil was young (presumably the job involved his father working in rather different locations).  He was born in France, then moved to the United Kingdom, then Africa (first South Africa, then Zimbabwe), then back to the United Kingdom, and finally settled in Australia at last.  It's left him with an interest in travel, but it's not so easy now as he has two young children.

Phil took the lead in the first round with a word which turns up a lot in this game but can be hard to spot.  Leif struck back in the second round, finding the unique best answer.  Three shared rounds followed (neither contestant having any luck with the numbers round), then Leif extended his lead in the next numbers round.  Phil was able to get back some of that ground in the final letters round, and then both solved the last rather easy numbers round.  Leif was ahead but not safe going into the conundrum, and his usual technique of writing down the letters worked against him, as Phil solved it while Leif was still doing so.  Phil won the game, 45 to 37.

I had a rather mixed game, starting off with a good find but then missing many better options.  In fact, I did not get another maximum until the last numbers round; the other two numbers rounds included rather bad mental slips from me and I ended up two away in each case.  The better words were rather findable in most cases, too, so overall this was not a good result.  I did  manage to beat Phil to the conundrum solution, but only just.  It was a somewhat disappointing game, to be honest, but I had managed to do enough for the win.

Round 1: G A T R O T A D I

I had been hoping for a final E for GAROTTED, and its lack left me struggling a little.  I had GROAT (an old English coin worth four pence), ADROIT, and -- rather late in the piece -- AGITATOR.

Leif has TRAIT for five, but Phil has found ADROIT for six.  I wonder if this is the UK upbringing at work; it's a familiar word to Countdown players, where the vowel distributions are often less kind.  Certainly if your vowels are AIO it has a decent chance of being there, and it can often extend to CAROTID or PAROTID.  A little surprising that Leif did not find it given some of his excellent answers from previous games, but it is not always the easiest word to spot.  David, of course, has found AGITATOR for eight.

Incidentally, this is the first time that Leif has lost a letters round; of the fifteen previous he has won eleven and shared points on four.

AGITATOR is the only eight; the only seven is AGITATO, a musical direction, and the other six is ADAGIO.


Scores: Leif 0, Phil 0 (6), me 8

Round 2: K S C E O H T E T

I had SOCK, COKES, CHOKES, wondered about TSOTCHKE but ultimately rejected it as the Macquarie is not that strong on Yiddish loanwords (let alone variant spellings of the same), SOCKET, SKETCH, and also rightly rejected TETCHES.  After time I noted CHEEKS as another six, and finally saw KETCHES as a seven.  Disappointing to see SKETCH and TETCHES (and ETCHES, for that matter, although I did not write it down) but miss that.

Phil has SOCKET for six, but Leif has found KETCHES to claim the lead.  David has nothing to add to that.

It does seem to be the only seven; the other sixes are ECHOES, OCTETS, and KETOSE ("any of the sugars which have a ketone group or its equivalent").


Scores: Leif 7, Phil 0 (6), me 8

Round 3: Target 343 from 100 10 9 9 4 10

Leif takes a single large number, which is often approachable but the duplication in the small numbers makes this rather challenging.  Nothing seems to work out particularly well; the target is the cube of 7 and thus also 7*49, but although the 49 is easy the 7 is not.  I spent too long chasing unworkable methods, and in the end had to scramble to get even two away with 341 = 4*9*10 - 10 - 9.  That was particularly bothersome as I had seen at least one one-away during time but could not recall it by then.

Afterwards I did find a couple of one-aways; the first followed from the fact that 342 is 18*19.  I was not able to get that to work within time, but afterwards I found 342 = ((100 - 10)/(9 - 4))*(10 + 9).  As the numbers had gone up I had done some speculative multiplication and noted that 4*9*9 was 324, but then foolishly ignored that observation when the target was revealed.  That should have made one away easy with 344 = 4*9*9 + 10 + 10.  A really annoying miss, that.

Several minutes of number-pushing later, I realised that 343 is 243 + 100, and 243 is the fifth power of 3.  Since we have a pair of 9's, that would just require another 3... and that actually works.  The solution that follows is 343 = 9*9*(4 - 10/10) + 100.  A tough one!

This ended up being too tough for the contestants as well as me; I don't think that Phil even wrote anything on the pad (later checking of the video shows that he does start to write something rather unconvincingly in the last second or two).  Leif says that he does not even know what he has, which would make it automatically invalid if he tried to declare something as the total must be written down also; Phil admits that he has nothing to declare either.

Lily perhaps makes them both feel better as she does not have an answer either, describing it as very difficult.

There is one other answer to this: 343 = (100 - 10 - 9)*4 + 10 + 9.

Leif: [no answer]
Phil: [no answer]
Me: 341

Scores: Leif 7, Phil 0 (6), me 15

First break: REST MAST ("Spring, foam, or water")

Those are all types of MATTRESS.

David's talk is about words or terms derived from Julius Caesar: July, Kaiser, Tsar, and caesarian section.  He also adds Caesar salad as an indirect result, as the inventor Caesar Cardini presumably owes his name eventually to Julius Caesar.

Round 4: Y S C I E B R E T

I had SCRIBE for six, and could not see longer.  (I amused myself briefly with the possibility of CYBERSITE, but never took it seriously.)  After time I noted down some other sixes in the form of BESTIR / TRIBES, BISECT, and BERETS.  I really wish that second E had been an O instead, with both BISECTOR or SOBRIETY available as eights in that case. After time I saw that an A would also have been good, allowing the eights of BESTIARY / SYBARITE ("someone devoted to luxury and pleasure; an effeminate voluptuary").

The contestants each have six-letter words; Phil has BERETS and Leif chances the unusual BESTER.  Richard calls it "an interesting comparative", but that cannot be the sense meant since BEST is already a superlative; Leif presumably was thinking of "one who bests (someone else").  David looks it up, anyway, and is surprised that it is listed; it is a colloquial term for "a fraudulent bookmaker".  It's this kind of fortuity -- assuming that Leif was not aware of the colloquial meaning, as seems reasonable -- that is why I think what happened to Jason Taylor in episode 70 was a bit unfair.

Meanwhile, David has managed to find RECITES for seven.  Oh, dear; good vision from David, but I do wish I had seen it.  I cut down my attention to those precise seven letters at one stage, too.

The other seven is TIERCES (TIERCE: "an old measure of capacity equal to one third of a pipe, or 42 wine gallons or 159 liters").


Scores: Leif 13, Phil 6 (12), me 21

Round 5: M A S E D O M P U

It amuses me to imagine that the letters give a rejected name for Mace Windu.  Anyway, I had SEAM, DAMES, and POMADES (POMADE: "a scented ointment, used for the scalp and hair").

Both contestants have done well to find seven-letter words; Phil is unsure about his choice of SPAMMED, but the Macquarie is reasonably contempory in its online terms and it is listed.  Leif has POMADES for his seven.  David draws a computing connection between Phil's word and his find of MOUSEPAD, which he admits he had to check to be sure that it was listed as a single word.  On that front I'll note that MODEMS was also there, albeit scoring less.

That's all the eights and sevens listed.


Scores: Leif 20, Phil 13 (19), me 28

Round 6: Target 277 from 50 100 5 10 1 2

It's a rather poor set of small numbers, as they all divide the large ones; that can make adjustments difficult.  I wanted to make this as 275 + 2, but getting to 275 is rather tricky.  In the end I had wasted too much time on that and similar approaches, and in order to get something down within time I was once again two off the target with an overly roundabout route to 275 = (1 + 2)*(100 - 5) - 10.  Disappointing!

After time, less panicked, I saw the preferable version, working down from 300 like my hasty approach but more helpfully: 277 = 2*(100 + 50 - 10 + 1) - 5.  Oh, well.  And while writing this up I saw that 250 + 27 was also feasible, yielding the solution 277 = 100 + (5 - 2)*(50 + 10 - 1).

Phil is six off the target with 271, which I'll guess was 271 = 5*50 + 2*10 + 1; a bit of tweaking could have pushed that up to 275 easily enough by using 5*(50 + 1) instead.  Leif has managed to get to two away with 275 = (50 + 2 + 1)*5 + 10.

Lily has solved this, finding 277 = (100 + 10 + 1)*2 + 50 + 5.  Well done, Lily!

Leif: 275
Phil: 271
Me: 275
Lily: 277

Scores: Leif 27, Phil 13 (19), me 35

Second break: CON KEBAB ("Courage and resolution")

Properties of someone who has BACKBONE.

Round 7: R I L I N E B O R

I had LINER, BERLIN ("a large four-wheeled closed carriage hung between two perches, having two interior seats"), and NOBLER.  I also noted a Countdown favourite of LORINER (Chambers: "a maker of the metal parts of a horse-harness"), but I know from past experience that the Macquarie does not list it.

Leif has LINER for five, but Phil has found BONIER for six to close the gap to just two points.  David points out BROILER for seven, and I have to say that I'm disappointed about missing that, too.  It's been a game of many missed opportunities on my part, I feel.

The other seven is BRINIER.  The other sixes are REBORN, BOILER, OILIER, IRONER, and LINIER / INLIER ("(in geology) an outcrop of a formation completely surrounded by younger strata").


Scores: Leif 27, Phil 19 (25), me 41

Round 8: Target 105 from 100 50 10 2 8 1

Leif ideally wants to solve this exactly without Phil doing so, which would have him safe going into the conundrum.  But an easy target does him no favours, and everyone (including Richard) finds 105 = 100 + 10/2 in short order.

Leif: 105
Phil: 105
Me: 105
Richard: 105

Scores: Leif 37, Phil 29 (35), me 51


I saw the answer a few seconds in, as little scrambling was actually involved.  Leif adopted his usual policy of writing out the letters on paper so that he can arrange them in more familiar form, which is something I noted in his previous games but I don't think I've mentioned yet.  It's good to do early for the hard conundrums, but fatal to do it early for the easy ones.  By the time one works out which is which it's usually too late to usefully write them down.  In this case, he could not afford that time as Phil solves this before Leif can finish getting them onto the paper, and that's the game.

Leif: [no answer]
Phil: FINANCIAL (3.5s)

Final scores: Leif 37, Phil 29 (45), me 61

So Leif's promising run comes to an end as Phil becomes the only contestant to have beaten him in the letters, doing so twice.  Leif was not able to make up enough ground in the numbers; there were two tough rounds and a trivial one, neither of which is very conducive to outscoring an opponent.  Phil played well, though, and Leif's conundrum technique was always going to be a problem for him on the easy conundrums.


Jan said...

Thanks Geoff. Now I get to show off - humbly of course. Hehe.

Unfortunately watching it through YouTube I could not hit the pause quick enough when Phil buzzed in, to see if I could have got the conundrum.

I had one other loss. The first letters round, but apart from that it was pretty good game.

(100-10-9)*4 + 10 + 9 = 343 (10)
POMADES (7) really surprised that I knew that - I couldn't have told you the meaning, tho'
(100+10+1)*2 + 50 + 5 = 277 (10)
My second method, after doing the obvious one first - 100+ 8/2 + 1 = 105 (10)

Mike Backhouse said...

Here are mine.

4*100-9*9+10+10=339 (4 off-not great but unusually would have beat contestants. Not here though, well done Jan)
BOILER (missed that R - grrrr...)
100+50/10=105 (another alternative way)

Geoff Bailey said...

Yes, a game to be justifiably proud of, Jan. You'd have beaten both contestants and also myself, even though I got to the conundrum first -- those numbers results were just too good. Finding that solution for 343 in time was very well done indeed.

Mike: Well done on getting to 339 on the same mix; it was a tough one to even get near, as both contestant showed. A small fly in the ointment: SOUPED would not be valid, as it would only appear as part of the phrase SOUPED UP or the adjective form SOUPED-UP.