Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Ep 268: Brydon Coverdale, Miles Tilly (February 25, 2015; originally aired September 7, 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.

Brydon takes his turn in the champion's seat, and Richard opens the conversation by suggesting that Brydon would like David's job.  Specifically, he would like to be a crossword composer if he were not a cricket journalist.  Brydon agrees that he is interested in that, adding that the challenge is getting everything to fit where you want it.  While I agree that is part of it, it feels to me somewhat lesser a challenge than creating the fiendish but (mostly) fair clues that David does.

Opposing Brydon is Miles Tilly, a musician who is currently working on his fourth album.  Richard notes that Miles' second album got a nomination for an award at an international competition.  Miles expands on that to note that his second album release was nominated for Best Electronic Release at the 2005 New Zealand Music Awards (he goes by the handle "Audiosauce").  Richard asks about the style of music involved; Miles responds that it is mainly "chilled-out", with a little bit of Latin and samba styles.

It was yet another close game tonight; Miles gained the upper hand early with two good letters rounds, although I feel that Brydon probably should have done better.  But a gap in Miles' technique in the numbers round saw Brydon reduce the deficit, and a good round five result put Brydon a single point ahead at last.  Miles got those points right back in the next numbers round, then miscued by essaying a rat pack in the final numbers round.  Brydon handled it deftly, and moved into the conundrum ahead but not safe.  He did well to solve it, too, and finished the winner, 47 to 33.

I had a good night on the letters, but flailed around a bit on the numbers.  I can take some consolation in that Lily also had troubles with one of them, at least.  Despite those difficulties I still managed a total in the 70's, which is always nice to have.

As usual, details after the jump.

Round 1: M N O R D I A U G

I had NORM, MINOR, MARGIN, and ADORING -- that final G really improved matters, although I would have preferred and S for DINOSAUR.  Still, the -ING fragment is easier to spot, in general.  After time I noted ROAMING and AGROUND as other sevens, and that turning the O into an A would allow the nine of MARAUDING.  On a second viewing for this write-up I saw NIMROD in the first six letters ("someone expert in or devoted to hunting"; it seems the derogatory sense is too American to have made it into the Macquarie).

Brydon has found DRAGON for six, but Miles gets the points with AGROUND.  Interesting that neither picked up on the -ING ending.  David points it out, mentioning ADORING and ROAMING, but has found the excellent eight of GOURMAND.  Well done, David!

GOURMAND is the only eight.  The other sevens are GORMAND (variant spelling of GOURMAND), GOURAMI (a type of fish), and ORGANUM ("the doubling, or simultaneous singing, of a melody at an interval of either a fourth, fifth, or octave").

Brydon: DRAGON

Scores: Brydon 0, Miles 7, me 7

Round 2: S T L O E N H A C

I had LOST, STOLEN, HONEST, ETHANOL, and ETHANOLS.  I was hoping for a final M to convert that to METHANOLS, but it was not to be.  After time I noted some other sevens: CHALETS / LATCHES, CHASTEN, CLOTHES, and LOATHES.

Once again Brydon has a six -- this time it is CASTLE -- but is outdone by Miles' find of CHASTEN.  Good finding from Miles, and Brydon could be in a lot of trouble if he does not improve his wordwork soon.  David, accurate as ever, has found ETHANOLS.

The other eights are ESCHALOT (another name for a shallot), LACTONES ("one of a class of internal esters derived from hydroxy acids"), and CHALONES (CHALONE: "an endocrine secretion which reduces physiological activity").

Brydon: CASTLE

Scores: Brydon 0, Miles 7 (14), me 15

Round 3: Target 687 from 100 25 8 1 5 10

I got a bit flustered on this one.  I wanted to start with 9*75 as a nearish approximation, but making a 12 was not easy.  It served for a fallback one away, however, with 688 = (10 - 1)*(100 - 25) + 8 + 5.  Neither the 12 nor the 13 are particularly helpful offsets with these numbers; we can make the 13 as 8 + 5 but that does not leave much to work with for the rest.  I was not able to see my way clear of these difficulties within time.

A little after time I considered subtargets of 687 - 25 and 687 + 25.  The former did not seem immediately useful, but the latter was 712.  That attracted my attention immediately, because it is divisible by 8.  The cofactor is 89, and so I found a solution: 687 = (100 - 10 - 1)*8 - 25.

Miles is a bit off the pace with 680; I'll assume that was (5 + 1)*100 + 8*10.  Brydon gets some much-needed points with his closer answer of 685 = (8 - 1)*100 - 10 - 5.  Lily says that Brydon did very well, and she has not been able to solve this.  That could suggest that she has not been able to get to one away, which would be a little surprising.

There is only one other solution, working up from a surprisingly far away 5*100.  The difference is 187, easily recognisable as 11*17, and putting it all together gives 687 = 5*100 + (10 + 1)*(25 - 8).

Brydon: 685
Miles: 680
Me: 688
Best: 687

Scores: Brydon 0 (7), Miles 7 (14), me 22

First break: TUNA BAND ("No shortage of bread")

Here the "bread" is cluing the BUN of ABUNDANT.

David's talk is about the word 'battledore', which is the name for the racquet used in badminton.

Round 4: R D O E F W I A T

I had RODE, WIDER, WAITER, and WAFTED.  After time I noted RIOTED / EDITOR as other sixes, but could not find longer.

Once again Brydon has a six; this time it is the very nice find of FEDORA.  Miles has also found a six-letter word: WAITED.  David mentions a few alternatives -- ADROIT, WEIRDO, and RIOTED -- but has not been able to find longer.

Six is the best to be done; other sixes include ADRIFT, TOWARD, RAFTED / DAFTER, ROADIE, TIRADE, and FOETID.  Plus more others than I felt like checking up on.

Brydon: FEDORA

Scores: Brydon 6 (13), Miles 13 (20), me 28

Round 5: S L E N P I T R E

I had LENS, SPINE, SPINEL (a type of gemstone) / SPLINE ("a long, narrow, relatively thin strip of wood, metal, etc.; a slat"; it also has a verb sense, incidentally), PRIEST, REPLIES, and REPTILES.  After time I noted some other sevens of REPTILE, PRESENT, ENTRIES, and PETRELS, and the eight of LISTENER.

Miles has found another seven here with PRESENT, but Brydon has found some form with the letters to get SPLINTER.  That tightens the game right up, giving him a one-point lead.  David has gone with REPTILES for his eight.

The other eights are PILSENER, ENLISTER, EPISTLER ("a writer of an epistle") / PELTRIES (PELTRY: "a pelt") / PERLITES, and perhaps PLENTIES*.  RE-ENLIST requires a hyphen according to the Macquarie.


Scores: Brydon 14 (21), Miles 13 (20), me 36

Round 6: Target 879 from 50 75 10 3 6 9

I struggled with this numbers round, too.  The target was near my favourite intermediate of 875, and that let me get to one away with 878 = (10 - 3)*(75 + 50) + 9 - 6.  However, I was not able to do better with time, spending most of it looking for 10*87 + 9.

After time a little sense asserted itself and I considered that 870 was also 3*290; put that way it was not long before I found the solution 879 = (6*50 - 10)*3 + 9.  I also looked at the descent from 900; the offset of 21 was not particularly great to work with, but could be made as 3*9 - 6.  That left room to tweak with either the 3 or 9, and after a bit more fiddling I found how to make that work with 879 = 10*75 + 3*(50 - 9) + 6.

Brydon is three off the target with 876, which I'll guess was (75 + 9 + 3)*10 + 6.  But Miles has pipped him by one, finding the two-off 881 = (75 + 9)*10 + 50 - 6 - 3.  This time Lily has been able to solve it, using the first solution that I found after time.

Brydon: 876
Miles: 881
Me: 878
Lily: 879

Scores: Brydon 14 (21), Miles 13 (27), me 43

Second break: AREA DRUM ("Mum on a rampage")

"Mum" is MA, leading to MARAUDER.  That's an amusing coincidence given the almost-appearance of MARAUDING in round 1.

Round 7: C B A D O S U R I

It would have been interesting to see a fifth vowel, with an O making BODACIOUS an option.  Rather unlikely, though, and the R was more helpful than most other vowels would have been.  I had SCAB, BOARDS, CURIOS, CARIBOU, and tried to decide if CARIBOUS would be listed.  I knew that CARIBOU was definitely one plural form, but I thought I recalled looking at this before and seeing CARIBOUS listed as an alternative.  With a little trepidation I risked it, and that turned out to be the right call.  [Update: Searching shows that this memory was probably the result of NG 122.]

For the fourth round tonight Brydon has a six letter word; this time it is BRAIDS.  Miles has matched him with his six of CURIOS.  David has found CARIBOU for seven, and thus CARIBOUS for eight, although he said that he had to check it.

The other sevens are CUBOIDS, SUBARID ("moderately arid"), SUBACID ("slightly or moderately acid or sour [...]"), and CARIOUS ("decayed") / CURIOSA ("books, pamphlets, etc., dealing with unusual subjects, especially pornographic ones [...]").

Brydon: BRAIDS

Scores: Brydon 14 (27), Miles 13 (33), me 51

Round 8: Target 899 from 8 9 7 2 10 7

Miles opts for a rat pack, which is an interesting choice at this stage of the game.  Unanswered points will guarantee him a win, but it would be a bit surprising for a rat pack to get those.  Still, maybe he just wanted to have fun; certainly I feel that the rat pack is an underappreciated option.

The small numbers are clustered at the high end of the range, which could be problematic.  But with a large target that is probably a good thing.  Getting to 900 seemed like a good way to start, and the leftover pair of 7's made the final adjustment easy: 899 = (8 + 2)*10*9 - 7/7.

Miles' choice has backfired somewhat as he has been unable to get anywhere with this.  Brydon, however, has found the solution, as has Lily.  It turns out to be the only way to solve this.

Those points put Brydon ahead going into the conundrum, which is definitely preferable to being behind at the same position.  It feels like Miles shot himself in the foot somewhat with his choice here, though.

Brydon: 899
Miles: [not in range]
Me: 899
Lily: 899

Scores: Brydon 24 (37), Miles 13 (33), me 61


Richard points out that this is the fourth night in the row that the conundrum has mattered.  It's more engaging that way, but I can imagine that the contestants might prefer a bit more safety than that.

There were too many vowels in this conundrum for my taste.  I got hung up a bit on the -ANCE and -ENCE endings, before moving to -ATE and finding ENUNCIATE.

Brydon found the solution three seconds later, and completes a good comeback after some early difficulties.

Brydon: ENUNCIATE (12s)
Miles: [no answer]

Scores: Brydon 24 (47), Miles 13 (33), me 71

Brydon seemed a bit off the pace with the letters today, but managed to limit the damage by finding a good eight in round five.  He was able to handle the numbers better than Miles, however, and in particular that last round have him the lead when it mattered most.  There was not that much to choose between the two contestants, but Brydon's conundrum solution sealed it emphatically, and he will get his third night.  Can he be the first contestant in almost a month to make it to a fourth game?  Find out tomorrow!

I had good letters results -- I only missed GOURMAND, and that is a tough word to spot -- but let myself down a little with the numbers.  It's a minor consolation that Lily also struggled with one of them, so my solo comparison score does not suffer too much.  This week is certainly going better than last week, perhaps mostly due to the conundrums.


Mike Backhouse said...

DARING and GOURMAND just after time
(8-1)*(100-10/5)=686 (1 off)
10*(75+9+3)+6=876 (3 off)
(8+2)*10*9-7/7=899 (had this in about 15s!)

Sam G said...

Geoff, 187 is instantly recognisable as 11*17?
Perhaps in the way that 8927 is instantly recognisable as 79*113...

I remembered Brydon nailing a straightforward rat pack round using 100x something in one of his episodes. This was yet another backfiring six-small call. Is it because the contestant requesting it is usually on debut, probably playing a winner, and perhaps hasn't settled in to perform at their full potential yet?

1. ROAMING. Good spot, Mike.
3. 688 = (10 - 1)*(100 - 25) + 8 + 5
6. 879 = (6*50 - 10)*3 + 9. Hopefully long-term memory was no aid here.
7. BROADS. One of the few Countdown episodes I saw ruled CARIBOUS invalid.
8. 899 = (8 + 2)*10*9 - 7/7. Same way as back in 2011.
9. ENUNCIATE - 2.0s

Geoff Bailey said...

I agree with Sam, Mike -- seeing GOURMAND, even after time, is excellent. I was nowhere near finding it. Good game!

Sam: Well, I did say "easily", not "instantly". (Admittedly, my first instinct was to write "instantly", so you've tuned in to my psychic wavelength, but that's not what I wrote.) There's a pattern to many of the three-digit multiples of 11 that makes them easy to spot -- the middle number is the sum of the other two numbers. (That's when there's no carry involved.) But for multiples that low, I just know them.

I'm not at all surprised that Countdown ruled CARIBOUS invalid. I think I'd have decided against trying it if I did not have the quasi-memory of seeing it before. *searches* Ah, it came up in NG 122. So that explains it.

Mike Backhouse said...

Geoff and Sam, I didn't really 'see' GOURMAND as it was one of those situations where I had almost spelled it out when I was writing down my letters in a different order. But instead of first looking at them as a whole, I zeroed in on the -ING suffix for not much result. I only saw it at the last minute but too late.

I really like words like FEDORA, CARIBOUS and ETHANOLS from this game that don't immediately spring to mind when focusing on the prefix/suffix usual suspects. I'd like to improve my skills in being able to see such words.

Emily said...

(100-25)*(8+1)+10=685 (2 off)
WAITER (although I did see FARTED and WAFTED and had a chuckle)
(75+50)*(10-3)+9-6=878 (1 off)
ENUNCIATE (1 sec - I loved how carefully Brydon said it!)

Emily said...

Oops - incorrectly wrote the last solution. 8+2, not 8*2, as you all know! (I wrote it correctly last night though.)