Friday, 27 February 2015

Ep 270: Brydon Coverdale, Michael Lithgow (February 27, 2015; originally aired September 9, 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 has the crucial fourth game tonight; a victory here gives him a good chance of making the finals, but a loss likely keeps him out.  Richard wheels out my least favourite question, asking Brydon about his technique in the game.  There's really nothing any contestant can answer that is enlightening, and that's pretty much the case here.  It always comes across as a lost opportunity to learn more about the contestants, and always makes me wonder if they did not provide enough talking points.

Tonight's challenger is Michael Lithgow, a water sampler and competition snooker player.  Richard asks for more information, and Michael obliges.  He works for an independent laboratory that does water sampling for Melbourne Water; that is their main client.  They do routine testing for the reservoirs, water tanks, and taps all around greater Melbourne to make sure it is clean and safe.  As for the snooker, Michael got into that when he turned 18 -- his father plays snooker with the RSL competition in Melbourne, so once he was old enough his father could take him there and teach him.

Just like yesterday's game, Brydon gets sevens to his opponent's sixes in the first two rounds.  It's pretty much all Brydon thereafter, too, as Michael declares an invalid word after the first break and round five also goes seven-six to Brydon.  The first two numbers rounds were fairly simple, but the last one was more difficult than the family mix usually produces.  Again Brydon navigated the hazards well while Michael faltered.  The conundrum was too difficult for both, but Brydon had still managed to get his score into the sixties, winning 61 to 27.

I did reasonably well myself, just two letters rounds shy of maximal.  (Admittedly, on one of those my actual choice might have caused derision in the at-home audience.)  When the last numbers round turned out to be too troublesome for Lily I even ended up unexpectedly ahead in the solo game.  The conundrum was tricky, and for a while I thought another solo victory would slip away from me, but I got there with just two seconds left to round off a very good week for me on the game.

As usual, details after the jump.

Round 1: R C I D E F U T S

I had an uncertain RICED (not valid), FRIED, CRUDITÉ, and CRUDITÉS / CURTSIED.  After time I noted CRUDEST as another seven.

Michael starts of with the six of STRIDE, but Brydon has found CRUSTED to take the early points.  David mentions SURFEIT as another seven, but has found CURTSIED for eight.

Both the eights are listed above, although my revised rules would also allow CURDIEST*.  The other sevens are CREDITS / DIRECTS, FRUITED, CRUISED, DUSTIER, FUSTIER, FEUDIST, and ICTERUS (jaundice).

Michael: STRIDE

Scores: Brydon 0 (7), Michael 0, me 8

Round 2: H B O A I G T A N

Michael takes the fourth vowel too early; as I've said before, once the -ING enters consideration it's almost always better to stay with just the three vowels.  In this case the next consonant would have been an S, allowing BOASTING for eight.  As it was, I had BIGHT, BOATING, BATHING, and OBTAIN.

Michael has six again, with OBTAIN.  That's a good find in general, as it's not always an easy option to spot.  But Brydon has seven points again with BOATING, and just like yesterday is off to a fourteen point lead after the first two rounds.  David points out the usefulness of -ING, with BOATING, ABATING, and BATHING, and that turns out to be all the sevens.

Michael: OBTAIN

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

Round 3: Target 503 from 25 7 3 10 4 2

On to the numbers, with Michael presumably hoping to make some headway against Brydon.  But the target is a bit easier than he would have hoped for.  The standard method was clearly the way to go, leading directly to 503 = 25*2*10 + 3.  After time I noted the kitchen sink approach of 503 = (2*25 + 4 - 3)*10 - 7.

Both contestants have solved this, opting for the same approach that I first used.  There is some variation in the order of the multiplication, but Lily points out that it is the same solution.  It was also what she used.

Brydon: 503
Michael: 503
Me: 503
Lily: 503

Scores: Brydon 17 (24), Michael 10, me 25

First break: ARCH SEEM ("Money needed for this wool")

The "money" is the CASH of CASHMERE.

David's talk is about "U" and "non-U" English.

Round 4: E S W D E O L N T

I had WEDS, WEEDS, STOLEN, and DOWNEST.  I'm not proud of that one -- it reads awkwardly -- but the single-syllable rule kicks in.  (I think it's most justifiable under the interpretation of DOWN as "depressed", incidentally).  After time I noted the less controversial sevens of TOWELED (American spelling) and DENOTES.

Both contestants declare six-letter words this time, so Michael is not going to make any progress here.  In fact, it's worse than that, as his declaration of SWOLEN is invalid -- he needed another L, of course.  Brydon has chosen SLOWED as his choice of the many sixes on offer.  David has gone that one letter better, as he often does, finding NESTLED.

But there is an eight to be found here: LETDOWNS.  The other sevens are LETDOWN, LEWDEST, and DOLENTE ("(a musical direction) sadly; plaintively").

Michael is now a full twenty points behind, and I can't see him coming back from that deficit on current form from both contestants.

Brydon: SLOWED
Michael: [invalid -- SWOLEN]

Scores: Brydon 17 (30), Michael 10, me 32

Round 5: S R A D P I E H C

I had RADS (RAD: "a non-SI unit of absorbed dose of ionising radiation [...]"), PAIRS, PRAISED, correctly rejected PARISHED, PARCHED CHAIRED, and CRASHED.  After time I checked up on CHARDIES*; CHARDY is listed as a colloquial term for chardonnay, but -- as usual -- the plural form is not explicitly give.  Some time later I finally thought of the valid anagram of it: RACHIDES (one plural form of RACHIS).

Yet again Michael has six to declare, and that does feel off the pace with those letters available.  It could so easily have been seven, too, as his choice was PRAISE -- just think of it as a verb rather than a noun and add the D.  Michael nods ruefully as David points this out to him.  Meanwhile, Brydon has CRASHED for his seven to extend his lead.  David, going one better again, has found the excellent eight of SERAPHIC.

The other eights are RAPHIDES ("acicular crystals, usually composed of calcium oxalate, which occur in bundles in the cells of many plants") and EPACRIDS (as I mentioned relatively recently in episode 251, EPACRID is another name for EPACRIS, a type of shrub).

American dictionaries would likely allow CRISPHEAD, an American term for iceberg lettuce, but the Macquarie does not have it.

Michael: PRAISE

Scores: Brydon 24 (37), Michael 10, me 39

Round 6: Target 505 from 75 100 5 7 8 5

Heh, I took the hard option here.  As soon as I saw the target was in the 500's I wanted to start with 7*75.  The offset of 20 is easy enough to make, so I found the solution 505 = 7*75 - 100/5.  Then I considered the alternative of 5*101 and found 505 = (100 + 8 - 7)*5.  And then I finally found the obvious approach of 505 = 5*100 + 5.  I do make life difficult for myself sometimes.

Both contestants have solved this, using the last of those options.  They both did so rather faster than I did, too.  Lily turns out to have used the second of the solutions that I listed.

Brydon: 505
Michael: 505
Me: 505
Lily: 505

Scores: Brydon 34 (47), Michael 20, me 49

Second break: NET MARCH ("Visit Shakespeare's Venice for the answer")

This is a reference to the play "The MERCHANT of Venice".

Round 7: X A M E N U T S L

Michael must outscore Brydon here to even have a chance at victory, and needs 7 points beside.  The X is a bad sign on that front.  I had EXAM, NAME, TAXMEN, UNSEAT, and AMULETS.

Michael has finally found a seven: MANTLES.  But Brydon ensures his victory by finding LAMENTS to match it.  David has gone with AMULETS as his choice.

The other sevens are MANTELS (MANTEL being a variant spelling of MANTLE), LUNATES (LUNATE: "a crescent-shaped bone in the proximal row of the carpus"), and LUXATES (LUXATE: "to put out of joint; dislocate").

Michael: MANTLES

Scores: Brydon 41 (54), Michael 27, me 56

Round 8: Target 487 from 25 100 6 9 7 10

The offsets for the standard method are 12 and 13, and they can occasionally be awkward.  In this case the 13 can be made as 7 + 6, but it does not seem feasible to get to 500 with the rest.  I was a little lucky to stumble upon a working option here: I considered working up from 450 as 6*75, and miscomputed the offset as 47 instead of 37.  47 is 6*9 - 7, so I thought I had a solution for a moment.  Then I realised my error, but the remaining 10 was exactly what was needed to correct it: 487 = (100 - 25 + 9)*6 - 7 - 10.

Michael shakes his head as time runs out -- he has not managed to get anywhere near this.  Brydon, meanwhile, has done well to get one away with 488 = (10 + 9)*25 + 6 + 7.  Lily surprises me by not having solved this, and all of a sudden I'm ahead in the solo game, with just the conundrum to negotiate.  Fingers crossed!

There are a couple of other solutions.  One that might be found is based on realising that the offset of 13 is also an offset of 63, so we have a subtarget of 550 with the 7 or 9 available for tweaking.  That leads to 487 = 7*(100 - 9) - 6*25.

Brydon: 488
Michael: [not in range]
Me: 487

Scores: Brydon 41 (61), Michael 27, me 66


This felt like a tough conundrum.  Certainly the plethora of O's confused me, and the F did not help matters.  Eventually I considered the option of FOOL, and although not quite right it did guide me to FOLIO and so just in time to the answer of PORTFOLIO.  Phew!

Neither contestant is able to solve this, so the scores remain unchanged.

Brydon: [no answer]
Michael: [no answer]

Scores: Brydon 41 (61), Michael 27, me 76

Brydon has been getting better with every game, and his total seems likely to get him through to the finals even if he does lose on Monday.  Certainly he outplayed Michael in both facets of the game and the final scoreline reflected that.

My lucky result in round 8 gives me a much coveted win over the hosts in the solo game.  That's assuming that David would allow DOWNEST, mind you, so I'll try not to overdo the celebration.  I managed to solve all five conundrums this week -- only just on tonight's one -- and that's a very happy result.


Justin Thai said...

Yeah I don't like the contestants "technique" question either, considering Brydon's cricket writing I think that more interesting question could of been such as who is best cricketer right now? (I would choose AB De Villiers if you were asking this question right now, 2011 is harder though :p)

Brydon looks like he hitting his straps now..

10x2x25+3 (Pet peeve of mine when a contestant don't know when a solution is the same, it's not the first time it's happened)
505-contestant's solution
36s frustrating

Mike Backhouse said...

Good game and write up Geoff as ever.

CASHIER (unusually found a noun when searching for the -IER suffix-also had PARCHED within time)
Lily's way.
6*(100-25+7)-9=483 (4 off)
x frustrating indeed Justin, but you were not far off.

Mike Backhouse said...

Typo at first numbers, total should be 503 not 203.

Emily said...

PHRASED (Though about risking CHARDIES but probably wouldn't have. CHARDY is listed but not the plural, so made the right call.)
(6*7+9)*10-25=485 (2 off, and admittedly I was still scrawling the last two numerals when time ended, but I'm pretty sure it would have been allowed)

Happy weekend to you, Geoff! And all.

Emily said...

Sorry about the double-up on the CHARDIES lesson!

Geoff Bailey said...

Ooh, I like CASHIER, Mike. Nice one! Good vision to spot CHARDIES, Emily, and better judgement to avoid it.

Justin: I'm not sure that's the sort of question I want asked either -- again, it doesn't really tell us something about the contestant. It would still be better than the technique question, though.

Sam G said...

Brydon was strong this episode, I think it was the last one I saw before my shooting began. At the time, he struck me as a very solid contestant - didn't miss many easy gets.

Good in-time find on 487, Geoff.

1. FRUITED. I declared CURTSIED in one of my own episodes...
3. 503 = 2*10*25 + 3
6. 505 = 75*5 - 100/5
8. one off: 488 = (10+9)*25 + 6 + 7. After a few minutes: 487 = (6*10+9)*7 + 100/25
9. PORTFOLIO - 2.05s. Not sure I got this in 2011.