Monday, 9 February 2015

Ep 256: Judithe Hall, Rebecca Skovron (February 9, 2015; originally aired August 22, 2011)

Rounds: Here.

Disclaimer: I watched this episode when it first aired, and although I did not recall any of the main rounds I cannot rule out memory being a factor.  I definitely did recall something about the conundrum, which I'll get to in due course.

On Judithe's third night, Richard reveals that she taught in Hong Kong for a while.  Judithe says that she really enjoyed it; the staff and students were wonderful, and the students were voracious readers and very keen to learn.  She obviously approved of all that.

Challenging Judithe tonight is Rebecca Skovron, who is studying to be a teacher while running her own theatre company.  Richard naturally focuses on that second part, asking her what sort of productions she puts together.  Rebecca states that they do exclusively musical theatre; in response to Richard's followup question she clarifies that she does not do any of the singing, expressing her opinion that the audience should be very grateful for that.

It's another close game tonight with the contestants matching each other in most declarations.  Judithe slips slightly with an invalid declaration in the first numbers round to give Rebecca an edge, but a risky choice in the last letters round pays off and gets her level again.  Both contestants make errors on the last numbers round, and so for the second game in a row Judithe goes into the conundrum on a tied score.

Rebecca is unlucky on the conundrum, buzzing in with what I would have thought was a valid word; however, it is not the answer wanted.  She stares at Judithe while the clock ticks down, and perhaps her psychic interference works as Judithe does not find the solution.  So, once more we are onto a tiebreaker conundrum.  Again time ticks down, and on Judithe's past form Rebecca might be in trouble if the clock gets down to just a few seconds left.  But Rebecca gets there first, and takes a hard-fought victory, 53 to 43.

I started off well enough, and hit the high point in round 4 where I managed to outdo David for once.  I had dreams of a very rare victory against the combined team, but a poor miss in the next round saw that hope gone.  David then found an excellent word in round 7 to take away the consolation prize of a tie.  So near, and yet so far.  On the plus side again, I had excellent speed on both conundrums; however, I do clearly recall the issue around the first conundrum from when the show originally aired, and that is almost certainly responsible for my unusually good speed on that round.  Overall it was a good game, with much to be happy about.

As usual, details after the jump.

Round 1: N S E A T G D O E

I had SANE, GATES, DONATES, GOATEES, NEGATES, NEGATED, and DOTAGES.  After time I noted ONSTAGE and SONDAGE ("a deep, narrow trench, showing the stratigraphy of a site") as other sevens, but could not find longer.

Both contestants start out with sevens.  Rebecca amuses with her apt choice of ONSTAGE, while Judithe has DENOTES.  David mentions DONATES and NEGATES as other possibilities.

There is an eight to be had: ENDOSTEA (plural of ENDOSTEUM: "the vascular membrane lining the medullar cavity of a bone").  The other seven is TANGOED.

Judithe: DENOTES
Rebecca: ONSTAGE

Scores: 7 apiece

Round 2: B S R I U E T T M

I had BRIS / RIBS, BURIES / BRUISE, BUTTERS, TRIBUTES, IMBRUTES / TERBIUMS, and then took a punt on SUBMITTER.  Too plausible to turn down, and fortunately valid.

Again both contestants have found sevens; in this case they've both gone for MUTTERS.  David has found SUBMITTER, and that's a good start to the week.

The other eights are RESUBMIT and SMUTTIER.  The other sevens are TIMBERS / TIMBRES, TRIBUTE, MUSTIER, BUSTIER / RUBIEST*, BITTERS, METRIST ("someone versed in the use of poetic metres"; I wonder if the use of "versed" was an intentional pun), TERBIUM / IMBRUTE ("to degrade to the level of a brute"), ERBIUMS / IMBRUES (IMBRUE: "to stain with blood"), TURBITS (TURBIT being a type of pigeon), and BUTTIES*.

Judithe: MUTTERS
Rebecca: MUTTERS

Scores: Judithe 7 (14), Rebecca 7 (14), me 25

Round 3: Target 116 from 50 25 7 10 3 5

I had a surprising amount of difficulty getting this to work out in time.  The offsets of 16 and 9 are not particularly helpful, but 9 seemed the one to focus on.  It cannot be made with two small numbers alone, so the goal was to get to 125 with only one small number.  The obvious option was 5*25, but making a 9 from the rest confounded me.  Instead, I noted that I could use (50/10)*25... which is, of course, the same thing but it was easier for me to spot how to make a 9 from the rest.  The resulting solution was 116 = (50/10)*25 - (7 + 5 - 3).

After time I easily found several other solutions, indicating just how much of an influence the time limit is.  First was 116 = 50 + 3*25 - (7 + 10/5), then I saw what I should have seen at the beginning: 116 = 5*25 - 3*(10 - 7).  Somehow I forget to consider making the 9 as 3*3.  Whoops!  Then I finally got a factorisation to work with 116 = (5 - 3)*(50 + 25 - 10 - 7), and finished by considering an old favourite intermediate of 119 to get 116 = (10 + 5 + 50/25)*7 - 3.

Both contestants have got to one away, although in different directions.  Judithe declares 117, but her answer of 50*3 - 25 - 5 - 3 uses the 3 twice and is not valid.  She says that "she's done the same thing", referring back to similar issues she has had in each of her other two games.  Rebecca, however, has made no mistake with her answer of 115 = (7 - 3)*25 + 10 + 5, and gets a nice 7 point lead.

Lily has found a very nice solution of 116 = (5 + 3)*7 + 50 + 10.  Excellent stuff.

Judithe: [invalid]
Rebecca: 115
Me: 116
Lily: 116

Scores: Judithe 7 (14), Rebecca 7 (21), me 35

First break: BEAM LESS ("Put a donkey together")

Here the donkey is referring to the ASS of ASSEMBLE.

David's talk is about the origins of the word 'marzipan'.

Round 4: S N D I O W A I T

I had DINS, IONS, WINDS, and spent a long time unable to better that.  Fortunately a little before time ran out I saw DISTAIN ("Archaic to discolour; stain; sully").  After time I checked up on SIT-DOWN, finding that the hyphen was required as expected.  I noted other fives of SAINT / STAIN and TWINS, and then found a six of ADONIS.

The contestants are matched again, having found five-letter words.  Judithe indirectly references her librarian status by calling her find of WANDS "a good Harry Potter word".  Rebecca's answer of STAIN keeps her lead intact, and this game seems likely to go the distance.  David points out that DISOWN was in the first six letters and he had resonably high hopes at that point, but he could not find any improvement.

DISTAIN is the only seven.  The other sixes are IDIOTS, IODINS (IODIN being a variant form of IODINE), and TWAINS / WITANS ("the members of the national council or witenagemot in Anglo-Saxon England").

I was, of course, extremely happy at this point, having both found a full monty and outdone David in one round.  A chance for a very rare win over the David and Lily beckons.

Judithe: WANDS
Rebecca: STAIN

Scores: Judithe 7 (19), Rebecca 7 (26), me 42

Round 5: E A C P S O N K U

I had PACE, SPACE, CAPONS, and PECANS.  As time ran out I saw UNPACKS for seven, but there was not enough time left to get it down.  That pretty much puts paid to my dreams of a win over the hosts, alas.

Both contestants have found the seven of POUNCES, continuing their tight battle.  David has gone with UNPACKS for his seven.

The other sevens are UNSPEAK ("to retract (something spoken)") and UNSPOKE.

Judithe: POUNCES
Rebecca: POUNCES

Scores: Judithe 14 (26), Rebecca 14 (33), me 42

Round 6: Target 565 from 50 75 10 5 3 2

The offsets of 10 and 15 are both easily makeable from those small numbers, so this should be easy enough.  I tweaked my way there at first with 565 = (50 - 3 + 2)*10 + 75, then noted an untweaked option of 565 = 2*5*50 + 75 - 10.

The contestants continue to be hard to separate; both have solved this with 565 = 50*10 + 75 - 5 - 3 - 2.  Lily demonstrates another option of 565 = (5 + 2)*75 + 50 - 10.

Judithe: 565
Rebecca: 565
Me: 565
Lily: 565

Scores: Judithe 24 (36), Rebecca 24 (43), me 52

Second break: PINCH TAG ("After-dark headgear with a kick")

After I heard PINCH TAG I thought the answer was going to be PATCHING, but the clue made it clear that NIGHTCAP was meant.

Round 7: G R E I A L M P O

I had RAGE, LARGE, MIRAGE, IMPALE, could not remember if IMPALER was valid (it is not), IMPLORE, and EPIGRAM.

The contestants finally declare different results!  Rebecca has found MIRAGE, but Judith goes out on a bit of a limb with PALMIER.  She pronounces it like the pastry, which the Macquarie does not list; however, she gets a reprieve due to PALMY being listed as an adjective ("glorious, prosperous, or flourishing") and -- rather more unusually for the Macquarie -- the form PALMIER being explicitly listed there.  So a lucky result for her brings the scores level, while if it had not been valid she would be more than a conundrum behind going into the final numbers round.  Very much a gamble, but it paid off.

David mentions IMPLORE as a safer seven, but has found the lovely eight of LIPOGRAM ("a piece of text in which the writer has decided not to use a particular letter, resulting in the exclusion of all words containing that letter").  That puts paid to my hopes for a tie, but bravo!

The other eight is PROEMIAL, the adjective derived from PROEM ("an introductory discourse; an introduction; a preface; a preamble").  The other sevens are IMPEARL ("to make pearl-like or pearly"), PERGOLA, EMPORIA, GREMIAL ("a cloth placed on a bishop's lap while sitting during celebration of mass or conferring orders"), PELORIA ("regularity of structure occurring abnormally in flowers normally irregular"), PRIMAGE ("a small allowance formerly paid by a shipper to the master and crew of a vessel for the loading and care of the goods [...]"), and LOAMIER*.

Judithe: PALMIER
Rebecca: MIRAGE

Scores: Judithe 31 (43), Rebecca 24 (43), me 59

Round 8: Target 764 from 50 75 100 5 2 6

My first thought was to get to 750 as 6*125, with my second to instead go via 10*75.  The offset is 14 in either case, with I could get close to with 2*6.  I happily realised that the remaining 2 could come from the other large numbers if I went the 10*75 route, and so found the solution 764 = 2*(5*75 + 6) + 100/50.  After time I considered the possibility of 770 - 6 and found an alternative of 764 = (50/5)*(75 + 2) - 6.

Whatever the result in this round, the conundrum is going to matter.  Rebecca declares a two-off 766, outdoing Judithe's six-away 758.  Rebecca starts with 75*100 = 750, which is a disturbingly common mistake for people to make in the numbers round.  I don't understand how that happens, but it does.  A lot.  Presumably her solution was going to continue by adding 2*5 + 6, but she could have got one closer by simply adding those numbers for 2 + 5 + 6 and a total of 763.  (Assuming that she had actually got to 750, that is, so it's all somewhat irrelevant.)

So instead it's Judith who gets a chance to take a lead into the conundrum.  Her answer goes with (2 + 5)*100 + 50 + ... and then she realises that she has used the 2 twice and continues "... forget the other 2, and 6" to general merriment.  Another potentially costly slip -- even 756 would have been good enough for 5 points and a lead at the conundrum.

Lily demonstrates the second of the solutions that I listed.

Judithe: [invalid]
Rebecca: [invalid]
Me: 764
Lily: 764

Scores: Judithe 31 (43), Rebecca 24 (43), me 69


The conundrum is revealed, and I have an immediate sense of recognition, followed by two "answers" and the knowledge of which is the right one.  That's a lot to pack into the moment of time I had, but that's how it was.  I'll get to why in a moment.

Ten seconds in Rebecca buzzes in with UNDERFLOW.  She seems doubtful about it, and in retrospect I can see why -- it's not the sort of word one would expect on the show.  That said, it's a word I'm familiar with in computing contexts -- it is the term used when a calculation produces a number which is too small to be represented.  I seem to recall there also being geological meanings, and Chambers lists it as "an undercurrent".  However, all that said it is not in the Macquarie.  That's bad luck for Rebecca.

The rhyme of UNDER and WONDER might well guide Judithe to a solution, especially with extra thinking time, but time ticks away.  Rebecca can only wait as Judithe stares at the screen before her, and then time runs out to reveal the answer of WONDERFUL.  So we go to a tiebreaker conundrum after all.  (As an aside, I note that Judithe used the word "wonderful" twice in her pre-game chat.  If only she'd recalled that.)

Note that if Judithe had avoided her error in the previous round and declared 756 instead then she would have won here.

Judithe: [no answer]
Rebecca: [invalid -- UNDERFLOW (10s)]

Scores: Judithe 31 (43), Rebecca 24 (43), me 79

Round 10: GREAT MINK

And so on to the second conundrum.  I pulled out the -ING easily, and the K limited the remaining options.  It was another quick solve for me, and I don't think that is attributible to recollection in the same way that the previous one was.

As time slips away I think that Judithe is going to pull out yet another last-few-seconds solve, but Rebecca jumps in at the twenty second mark with the correct answer of MARKETING.  Phew!

Judithe: [no answer]
Rebecca: MARKETING (20s)

Scores: Judithe 31 (43), Rebecca 24 (53), me 89

Both contestants played pretty well tonight, but Judithe's issues with the number rounds continued.  Of the nine numbers round she played, she has had invalid declarations in four of them -- each time due to re-using a number.  A little more care on those and she would have avoided those tiebreakers.  That would be less entertaining for the viewers, but probably better for her.  Meanwhile, Rebecca played well also, and seems to be a decent conundrum solver.  She was rather unlucky on the first conundrum, where her offered word is valid in a couple of science disciplines.  I'm rather glad it did not end up costing her the game.

It was a good game from me, although a couple of extra seconds on round 5 would have made it an excellent one.  Still, I found a full monty and outdid David on one round, so that's two highlights that more than make up for the one lowlight.  A good start to the week!


Sam G said...

Had some fun here: a nine-letter word, high Round 8 subtotal, and fast conundrum. Don't know if I'd seen the episode before.

Appreciate the early blank post, Geoff.

2. SUBMITTER. In a game, declaring second, would I have stuck with TRIBUTES?
3. 116 = (50-10+7)*3 - 25. Awkward one.
6. 565 = (50-3+2)*10 + 75
8. 764 = (75*50+100)/5 - 6
9. X UNDERFLOW - 1.4s. The 'Max Power' way: wrong, but faster. The recent UNDERTOW must have contributed to this, and possibly long-term memory. Looked it up in the dictionary, got WONDERFUL at maybe a minute.
10. MARKETING - 1.3s

Geoff Bailey said...

I'm glad it helped, Sam. I'm hoping to be able to get the blank post up by around 7pm each night, depending on how busy the day is. Round 3 felt surprisingly difficult, I agree, and that's a nice solution to round 8!

UNDERFLOW was bad luck for Rebecca. I recall a certain amount of controversy about it on the website comment section at the time. It was certainly memorable for that reason, and I did recall it.

When this episode went to air I had just received the official invitation to be a contestant (received on the Friday, more precisely). I think it's that impending appearance that made me decide to blog about the show, in fact, so I was perhaps paying extra attention to episodes for two reasons at the time; the mild controversy over the conundrum, and the conundrum itself, thus had more attention paid to them than they might have at other times.

Justin Thai said...

Jolly good game this was, it's rare to see back to back Conundrum tie-breakers, I think personally this with many other games should of been shown to the SBS management,to show how good L+N was and they made a mistake pulling it.

I find it also ironic that Judithe was saved by an -ING word and then lost to one :p

TANGOES (I saw this on a previous post and still not clear if it is valid)
115-25x5-10 (frustratingly difficult)
760-(100-5)x(6+2) another frustrating one
about 9s
about a minute

The deleted message is mine I had edit it :/

Mike Backhouse said...

Didn't realise that there were two conundrums (shades of last week) but luckily played the last round on this site and all the rest off the tv game.

3*50-25-10=115 (1 off)
(6+2)*(100-5)=760 (4 off)

Geoff Bailey said...

No worries about the deleted message, Justin -- I get rid of those when I notice them. I agree, of course, about SBS having made a mistake axing the show.

TANGOES is officially valid according to David; I'm not completely happy about that, because the reasoning he gave is not very helpful. I wrote more about that in episode 405, where the issue came up. All in all, it's better to avoid the issue by going with ONSTAGE (as Rebecca did last night).