Thursday, 5 February 2015

Ep 253: Martin Gabor, Shyam Subramaniam (February 4, 2015; originally aired August 17, 2011)

Rounds: Here.

Disclaimer: I watched this episode when it first aired, and although I did not recall any of it I cannot rule out memory being a factor.

Martin has reached the crucial fourth night, and Richard's asks about his consistent choice of the "perfect match" number mix, and any other game techniques he has developed.  There's nothing much of note in Martin's response, and again I have to wonder whether he provided the show with the requested interesting facts about himself.  Certainly we've not found out much about him so far in these chats.

Standing in Martin's way is Shyam Subramaniam, an aspiring novelist with a master's degree in accounting.  Shyam was an enthusiastic coin collector when he was younger, starting from around the age of 14, when his uncle travelled a lot in Africa and returned with all sorts of interesting coins.  By the time Shyam was 18 he had managed to acquire coins from around a hundred different countries.  He's since grown out of the obsession, but he certainly loved it at the time.

It's a close game tonight; Martin gets an early lead with a good find in round 1, but then risks too much in the second round and gives it mostly back.  He pulls away in the next two rounds, but Shyam manages to peg him back a little in the second numbers round, and the game is alive going into the conundrum.  Shyam solves it staggeringly quickly, and gets the come-from-behind win, 47 to 44.

I was off my game somewhat, with two bad misses.  I can partly attribute that to attempting to play this at two in the morning; lesson learned.  But solid results throughout were good enough to see me clear despite the conundrum (which I solved quickly by my standards, but not nearly fast enough to beat Shyam).

As usual, details after the jump.

Round 1: F S G U E O T N R

I had FUGS (FUG: "a stuffy or smoky atmosphere"), FUSE, GOUTS, TONGUES, and FORGETS.  I was sure there was an eight without the F, but it was not coming to me.  After time, when I allowed myself to consider the F again, I soon saw FORTUNES.

Shyam has found NOTERS for six, while Martin has stayed with the safe seven of SURGEON.  Of course, that immediately makes me realise the eight that I was searching for before: STURGEON.  David checks on what Martin's risky option was, and it does indeed turn out to be STURGEON.  That was also David's selection.

The other eight to be had is FOREGUTS.  The other sevens are FOREGUT, FORTUNE, FUNSTER, and TONSURE.


Scores: Martin 7, Shyam 0, me 7

Round 2: H D L R A I E O M

I had HARD, LAIRD ("in Scotland, a landed proprietor"), HAILED, HAIRDO, HEIRDOM (harkening back, or perhaps forward, to episode 323), and ARMHOLE.

Shyam has six again with MORALE, but this time Martin has chosen to try his risky eight.  It turns out to be MOLEHAIR, which -- as David notes -- seems like a fusion of MOLESKIN and MOHAIR.  It's not valid, however, so Martin has gone the wrong way with the risk in each of the first two rounds.  David was hoping for a C for HERALDIC, but had to settle for EARLDOM.

Seven is the limit here; the others are AIRHOLE, DARIOLE ("a type of small, cup-shaped mould"), HAEMOID ("bloodlike"), LOAMIER*, and MOLDIER*.

Martin: [invalid -- MOLEHAIR]

Scores: Martin 7, Shyam 0 (6), me 14

Round 3: Target 214 from 100 25 50 2 5 1

Those small numbers could prove troublesome, since they all divide 50.  Fortunately the target is low and not too troublesome.  I first looked at 2*107, and soon had 214 = (100 + 5 + 50/25)*2.  Looking at the standard method, the offsets are 11 and 14; the 14 is not very promising, but 11 is 2*5 + 1.  I think most people would find the tweak to get to 211 (2*(100 + 5) + 1), and getting to 214 is just tweaking that negative instead and adding the 25: 214 = 2*(100 - 5) - 1 + 25.

Shyam has got to 3 away with 211, but Martin is just one off with 213.  He has gone with 213 = 2*(100 + 5) + 50/25 + 1.  That's interesting -- he's managed a tweak, but not seen that he should have tweaked a little more to solve this exactly.  That will turn out to be a costly error.  Lily demonstrates the first of the solutions I listed, and Richard points out how that was very similar to what Martin did.

Martin: 213
Shyam: 211
Me: 214
Lily: 214

Scores: Martin 7 (14), Shyam 0 (6), me 24

First break: HORN RENT ("Lights, territory, Ireland")

I misheard "Ireland" as "island" at first, but regardless it was easy enough to find NORTHERN.

David's talk is on the origin of the word "brand".

Round 4: N C S W A U I E Y

It looks like Shyam is set on always choosing four vowels, a policy I dislike.  That said, the letters were pretty uncooperative up to that point and the E was pretty important.  Anyway, I had SWAN, SWAIN ("Chiefly Poetic a lover"), UNCASE, UNEASY, and UNWISE.  After time I noted other sixes of WINCES and SINEWY.

Shyam is not happy to only have a five to declare, and has come up with the invalid SWAYE.  Martin seems hesitant to try a six but decides to do so.  He apparently had a few to choose from, and opts for "winces... spelled correctly".  That bizarre addendum prompts Richard to ask him to spell it, but there is no mistake in Martin's choice of WINCES.  Martin's body language is full of uncertainty here; it's all a little strange.  Perhaps he's still ruing the error in round 2.  David has gone with UNWISE as his six.

Shyam has now entered the danger zone, fourteen points adrift of Martin.

There are two sevens here, though: ANYWISE and WINCEYS (WINCEY: "a plain or twilled cloth, usually with a linen or cotton warp and wollen filling").  The other sixes are WINCEY, WINSEY (variant spelling of WINCEY), INCUSE ("to hammer or stamp, as a figure on a coin"), CAUSEY (variant form of CAUSEWAY), USANCE, CASEIN (a protein found in milk), ACINUS ("a berry, as a grape, current, etc."), and SAWNEY ("sentimental").

Martin: WINCES
Shyam: [invalid -- SWAYE]

Scores: Martin 13 (20), Shyam 0 (6), me 30

Round 5: D T G O A E L V R

I had GOAT, DOTAGE, GELATO, pondered OVERGLAD but correctly rejected it (it does show up in my Scrabble list, though), and LEGATOR / GLOATER.  That's a call back to episode 251, just two episodes ago.  After time I noted two other sevens of VOLTAGE and LEOTARD.

Shyam may have been paying attention to that game as he has come up with GLOATED.  Martin, meanwhile, has opted for the nicer VOLTAGE as his seven.  David points out that LEOTARD was also available, noting it's familiarity to players of the game.

The Macquarie does not have the American spelling TRAVELOG, so seven is the best to be done here.  The others are DELATOR (DELATE: "to inform against; denounce or accuse") and LEVATOR ("a muscle that raises some part of the body").  I note that there is a skiing position called VORLAGE, but it has a capital letter.


Scores: Martin 20 (27), Shyam 7 (13), me 37

Round 6: Target 941 from 25 50 10 3 1 4

Ah, dear, my brain took a holiday in this round.  I circled around a few possibilities but came up short, and in the end had to scramble to get something down at all, only managing a feeble 950 = (50*10 - 25)*(3 - 1)... if I'd had a moment longer I could have subtracted the 4 to get to 946 and two more points, but regardless I was not very happy about it.  Just after time I saw the simple enough one off 940 = (4*25 - 1)*10 - 50.

I had noticed the target's nearness to 25*75/2, and turning that into 50*75/4 was not a stretch.  Playing around with that idea gave me a solution of 941 = (3*25*50 + 10)/4 + 1.  A bit later again I found an alternative of 941 = (50 - 3*4)*25 - 10 + 1; in this case, the solution followed naturally from thinking of 950 as 38*25.  I really wish I'd done that earlier instead of getting hung up on 19*50.  Oh, well.

Martin says that he blanked out and just has 950 -- obviously, I can relate -- while Shyam has got to 946 via 946 = 25*4*10 - 50 - 3 - 1.  A little tweaking of that idea would have got him closer: He has an intermediate result of 25*4*10 - 50, which is 950, only 9 away.  Using the 1 for a tweak would thus get him to one away with (25*4 - 1)*10 - 50 = 940.  That's the kind of technique I usually embrace, and it's certainly worth keeping an eye out for.

Lily has not solved this and has to think about it over the break.  She comes back with the second of the solutions that I listed.  It turns out there is just one other solution: 941 = (3*(50 + 25) + 10)*4 + 1.

This much-needed result puts Shyam back within striking distance of Martin, which I'm sure was a relief to him.

Martin: 950
Shyam: 946
Me: 950

Scores: Martin 20 (27), Shyam 14 (20), me 37

Second break: BEAT ACID ("Give away the crown")

A straight clue for ABDICATE.

Round 7: P F D I O E S T A


Both contestants have chosen sevens, with (as seems usual) Martin slightly uncertain about his.  Shyam went for DEPOSIT while Martin went for the riskier (but valid) DOPIEST.  David has chosen FOISTED as his seven, stating that he is sick of the letter F.

If David had thrown away that F he might have found the eight in this mix: DIOPTASE, a certain mineral.  The other sevens are TOPSIDE / POSITED, ADIPOSE ("fatty"), OPIATED, TOADIES / IODATES, and ATOPIES* (ATOPY: "a genetic tendency to develop allergic reactions").


Scores: Martin 27 (34), Shyam 21 (27), me 44

Round 8: Target 786 from 50 100 4 2 6 10

Shyam opts for another family mix, and with all the numbers being even this could be a tricky one.  Fortunately the target is also even.  The offset is 14, and it was a short step from there to 786 = (6 + 2)*100 - 10 - 4.  After time I noted a couple of alternative solutions of 786 = (100 + 50/2 + 10 - 4)*6 and 786 = 2*(4*100 - 10) + 6.  Seen while writing this up is the overcomplicated 786 = (10 - 2)*100 - (50 + 6)/4.

Each contestant and Lily has solved this with the first solution that I listed.  That leaves the score difference at just 7 points, so the conundrum matters.

Martin: 786
Shyam: 786
Me: 786
Lily: 786

Scores: Martin 37 (44), Shyam 31 (37), me 54


So down it comes to the conundrum.  And... wow.  Shyam buzzes in at the one second mark, just as the letters have finished rotating to become fully visible.  I solved it two to three seconds later once I could actually see the letters; I'd like to think there was a discrepancy in the timing as presented to the contestants and the audience, because I literally had not had enough time to take those letters in before he buzzed.  Impressive stuff from Shyam!

Note that if Martin had found the right tweak in round 3 then he would have taken this to a tiebreaker conundrum.

Martin: [no answer]
Shyam: BILINGUAL (1s)

Scores: Martin 37 (44), Shyam 41 (47), me 54

A close game tonight, and Shyam is certainly a worthy winner with that conundrum speed.  Martin's run seemed characterised by him being unsure about many of the words he tried, sometimes surprisingly so.  In the end it was one risk too many, as even a (valid) six-letter word in round 2 would have been enough for him to win tonight.  Alternatively, if he had found the right tweak in round three he could have taken matters to a tiebreaker conundrum.

Shyam lost a little too much ground here on the letters, and was lucky that Martin overstretched.  Honours were even with the numbers, but Shyam is going to need to do better with the words to continue on.  That said, if he can keep solving conundrums at that speed he will be doing well!


Mike Backhouse said...

LOAMIER (was worried about going for this but was glad to see LOAMY in my second edition. Geoff, I presume the asterisk in your write up means allowed under the new rules but not the TV ones)
x SWINE then 'courageously' added a Y for a non word. However I note from your write up Geoff that I missed the anagram of SINEWY
4*((3*(25+5)+10)+1=941 (was really happy to get this one).
Lily said she initially went for 900 and tried to work back from there before she saw the light. I did that too but was not able to change tack in time. 6*(100+50-10-(4*2)=792 (6 off)
I played this 'live' and before your write up Geoff so was pipped by Shyam. Well done on the 4s though...

Geoff Bailey said...

Yes, the asterisks indicate words only valid under my revised interpretations. I like your approach of working down from 900; I'll note that you could have modified it a little to get closer with 6*(100 + 50 - 2*10) + 4 = 784.

Sam G said...

Shyam's conundrum solve here was possibly the fastest on the show ever, and also perhaps the biggest enigma, given his struggles on many letter rounds. It is worth noting that the footage of the letters turning over on TV is not the actual turn that the contestants see (I asked a production staff member once). I think there are a few occasions where this lack of synchronisation results in imhumanly fast conundrum solves.

I remember wondering whether TONGUERS was valid, and that there might be an anagram of that. Then the SURGEON/STURGEON bit.

I also choked on Round 6, Geoff - I thought I had at least found a safe 940 based on 25*50*3/4, then realised it was wrong. Spotted (3*25*50+10)/4 + 1 shortly after noticing my mistake. (Speaking of which, Geoff, your simple one-off above makes 960.)

3. 214 = (100 + 5 + 50/25)*2
6. x (see above)
7. DEPOSIT, couldn't think of DIOPTASE.
8. 786 = (6 + 2)*100 - 10 - 4
9. BILINGUAL: ~1.5s

Mike Backhouse said...

My transcription error at round 6. The 50 was missing a 0.

Geoff Bailey said...

Thanks for the correction, Sam. I went back and looked at my notes, and what I had written down was a valid 940, just not that close to the sum I had put on the blog. I'm not sure how I managed that. I've corrected the post.