Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Ep 257: Rebecca Skovron, Cameron Begley (February 10, 2015; originally aired August 23, 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.

Rebecca gets her turn in the champion's seat after her tiebreaker win over Judithe last night.  Richard effuses about how exciting that game was, then shifts to asking Rebecca when her love of music developed.  Rebecca answers that it started when she was very little: She had piano lessons from the age of five or six.  Meeting her husband also helped continue that love; he is the biggest music fan she knows, and in particular a huge Beatles fan.

Tonight's challenger is Cameron Begley, a general manager for the CSIRO.  Richard notes that the CSIRO engages in a huge range of scientific work, and asks Cameron what sort of things he is involved with.  Cameron explains that he is involved on the commercial side, so he gets to work with the wonderful scientists at CSIRO and then take the results out to their customers.  (It feels a bit odd to me to think of the CSIRO as having customers, but it does make sense.)  There is also an insect collection at the site he operates in Canberra that he is enthusiastic about; additionally, he gets to work with "a whole bunch" of biotechnology scientists.

Rebecca took the lead early as Cameron seemed to struggle to find any form at the start; by the halfway mark she was a daunting 20 points ahead.  The remaining letter rounds were too difficult for Rebecca to stretch that lead, however, and Cameron fought his way back into contention with two solves on the numbers rounds.  For the third game in a row the scores were tied going into the conundrum, and neither contestant solved it.  So once more unto the tiebreaker, and this time it was Cameron who found the solution first to take home the victory, 46 to 36.

I missed a difficult option in the first round, but thereafter I was hitting the best results.  The highlight came in round 5 where I outdid David, and the potential for another tie loomed.  Alas, the conundrum was extremely difficult -- it took me almost five minutes to solve it -- and so that tie slipped away.  The second conundrum was much easier.  Another solid win for me, but when compared with David and Lily it is another case of "the one that got away".  Maybe next game...

Brief details after the jump (to be fleshed out later).

Round 1: D H R I E A N F L

I had HIRED, wondered about HAIRED (not valid), HANDIER, INHALED, and HANDLER.  I amused myself with the idea that a FIREHAND should be part of a FIREARM, but it appears that this kind of thinking is too avant garde for the Macquarie.

Cameron starts with the six of FLARED, while Rebecca has found INHALER for seven.  David notes that he went from HIRED to HAIRED (still not valid, but there was no need for him to check it) to HANDIER and then the L gave him HARDLINE.  That is valid as an adjective ("not deviating from a set doctrine, policy, etc."); the noun sense listed nearby is only as two words (HARD LINE).

The other seven in this mix is HERNIAL.

Rebecca: INHALER
Cameron: FLARED

Scores: Rebecca 7, Cameron 0, me 7

Round 2: C T U E Y R S I B

I had CUTE, CUTEY, TRUCE, CRUETS, ICTERUS (another name for jaundice), and then consideration of the -ITY ending gave me SECURITY.  I also noted that an O instead of the E would have yielded OBSCURITY -- that would have been a nice result.  After time I noted BUSTIER as another seven.

Both contestants have sixes this time, Rebecca with BRUTES and Cameron with CUTIES.  There is a certain amount of merriment about those answers being on opposite ends of the spectrum, as Richard puts it.  David points out that CURTSEY was there in the first seven letters, and then the ensuing I allowed him to make SECURITY.

The other eight is BRUCITES (BRUCITE being a type of mineral).  The other sevens are BRUCITE, CITRUSY, BUTYRIC, CURTESY ("the life tenure formerly enjoyed by a husband in his wife's land inheritance after her death, provided they had issue able to inherit"), SUBERIC ("of or relating to cork"), and RUBIEST*.

Rebecca: BRUTES
Cameron: CUTIES

Scores: Rebecca 7 (13), Cameron 0 (6), me 15

Round 3: Target 358 from 50 75 5 6 2 10

Rebecca sticks with the family mix, and my first instinct was to start with 7*50.  That would suffice for 2 away but seems hard to improve.  Then I looked at working down from 5*75 instead and noted that the offset of 17 was 2*6 + 5.  That uses the 5 twice, in a way which is not amenable to tweaking, but forunately another 5 can be made and so I had 358 = 5*75 - 2*6 - 50/10.  (Note, however, that the 6 is useful for tweaking, so I should have seen the simpler 358 = 6*(50 - 2) + 75 - 5.)  Then I looked at working up from 300 and found the simple alternative of 358 = 6*(50 + 10) - 2.  After time I noted the also-findable 358 = 6*50 + 75 - 10 - 5 - 2.

Cameron has been scribbling frantically throughout, but does not seem overly happy with the result.  We don't even find out what it is, as he simply says that he is 10 away.  I'm a bit bemused by that, as I cannot find a plausible option to get 10 away (on either side) that was not easily improved to closer.  Maybe he just ran out of time?  In any case, Rebecca has got to 2 away with 356 = (5 + 2)*50 + 6, and that takes her lead past the conundrum's worth.

Lily makes it look easy as usual with 358 = (50 + 10)*6 - 2.

Rebecca: 356
Cameron: ? ["10 away"]
Me: 358
Lily: 358

Scores: Rebecca 7 (20), Cameron 0 (6), me 25

First break: MAIN ARCH ("This person is part of the furniture")

The furniture leads pretty directly to the answer of CHAIRMAN.

David's talk is about the Latin word 'scribere' ("to write") and its many derivatives.

Round 4: A E M D T W O C P

They aren't terrible letters, but they really don't cooperate well.  I had MADE, TAMED, MOATED, COATED, CAPOTE / TOECAP, and POMADE.  After time I noted other sixes of POMACE ("the pulpy residue from apples or similar fruit after crushing and pressing [...]"), CAMPED, and TAMPED, but just could not get anything longer.

Cameron calls it a challenging mix, and has stayed with TOWED for five.  Rebecca stretches her lead to an impressive 20 pointsby finding COATED for six, and Cameron looks in trouble.  David agrees about the difficulty of this mix, having found MEADOW and COWPEA, but nothing longer.

Six is indeed the limit.  The others are DECAMP, COWPAT, and COMATE / CAMOTE (variant spelling of KAMOTE, a Philippine English term for a sweet potato).

Rebecca: COATED
Cameron: TOWED

Scores: Rebecca 13 (26), Cameron 0 (6), me 31

Round 5: K L T N I A U B A

This letter mix is even worse!  An E could have redeemed it a little (I would have opted for BATLIKE, while I am sure David would have gone for BEATNIK), but that second A was not kind.  I had KILN, KNIT, knew from past experience that the mathematical term UNITAL is not listed, BLANK, and ABLAUT ("regular change in the internal structure of word roots, particularly in the vowel, showing alteration in function and meaning").  After time I observed the obviously-proper TALIBAN, and wondered if ANTIBAULK might be a snooker term (it is not).

Cameron has another five of BUILT, matched by Rebecca with BLINK.  David expresses his struggles with a heartfelt BLANK.  So unexpectedly I'm back tied with the David and Lily combination, just needing to hold on for a few more rounds to get there.

Six is the limit here, with the others being ABULIA (variant spelling of ABOULIA: "the inability, usually pathological, to make or act on decisions"), BUNTAL ("a straw prepared from fibre from the talipot palm [...] used in making hats in the Philippine Islands"), TALUKA (variant form of TALUK: "in India: (formerly) a hereditary estate"), and KALIAN ("an Eastern pipe in which the smoke is drawn through water; hookah").

Rebecca: BLINK
Cameron: BUILT
David: BLANK

Scores: Rebecca 13 (31), Cameron 0 (11), me 37

Round 6: Target 787 from 75 2 3 4 5 5

Cameron invents the term "classroom mix" to describe one large and five small, and that's a term that caught on.  His own small claim to fame, perhaps.

Applying the standard method would suggest starting with 75*10, but as long as we're making a 10 then the option of 79*10 - 3 is well worth considering.  That works out pretty well, yielding 787 = (75 + 4)*2*5 - 3.

Rebecca is "nowhere near", but Cameron gets some much-needed points with his solution of 787 = (5 + 5)*(75 + 4) - 3.  Lily solved it the same way.

That result gets Cameron back within conundrum range, which I imagine is a relief to him.

Rebecca: [not in range]
Cameron: 787
Me: 787
Lily: 787

Scores: Rebecca 13 (31), Cameron 10 (21), me 47

Second break: TUNA INFO ("Of youth or water")

Both of which may be FOUNTAINs.

Round 7: F R H S O I E P R

The final letters round is not overly promising, although a final T for TROPHIES would have been nice.  I had a dubious FROSH (for some reason, it is American colloquialism for "a freshman"; it's not listed in the Macquarie, though, which is pretty much as expected), FISH, FIRES, and an uncertain HORSIER.  I decided to chance it -- it might have been different if I'd thought to write down a six -- and fortunately it is listed.

It's five-letter words for the contestants, Cameron with PROSE to Rebecca's SHORE.  David has found HORSIER.

The other sevens are PROSIER and ROSEHIP.  There are more potential sixes than I felt like investigating, so I'll just mention the common options of FISHER, POSHER, ROSIER, PERISH, and HOSIER.

Rebecca: SHORE
Cameron: PROSE

Scores: Rebecca 13 (36), Cameron 10 (26), me 54

Round 8: Target 385 from 75 4 5 5 3 8

I recognised the target as 35*11, but after the first round starting with 5*75 seemed more attractive.  An easy tweak produced 385 = 5*(75 + 8/4).  Then I went back to 11*35; the 11 was easy enough, but a 35 was surprisingly awkward.  I got there, though, with 385 = (75/5 + 4*5)*(8 + 3).

Cameron continues a good comeback by solving this with 385 = 5*75 + 5 + 3 + 8/4.  Rebecca is two away in an unspecified direction, while Lily has gone with 385 = 5*75 + 3 - (5 - 4) + 8.

That result levels the scores, meaning for a third game in a row the scores will be tied going into the conundrum.  At this rate I'm strongly expecting neither contestant to solve it so that we continue the pattern and get a tiebreaker conundrum as well.

Rebecca: ? ["two away"]
Cameron: 385
Me: 385
Lily: 385

Scores: Rebecca 13 (36), Cameron 20 (36), me 64


Both contestants are focused here, as you would expect; Cameron looks particularly intent as he braces his hands on either side of the desk monitor.  I am also keen to solve it, as doing so will give me that precious tied result in the solo match against David and Lily.  It's a horrible conundrum, though; MUSICALS stands out for eight but none of the usual patterns or fragments get me anywhere.  Time runs out, and I start my backup clock.  All up, it took me a total of 4 minutes and 52 seconds to find SIMULCAST.  Ouch.

As indicated, and expected, neither contestant has found a conundrum solution and we move to the tiebreaker yet again.

[Update: Commenter Justin points out that David appears to solve the conundrum at around the 7 or 8 second mark.  Wow.]

Rebecca: [no answer]
Cameron: [no answer]
Me: [no answer]

Scores: Rebecca 13 (36), Cameron 20 (36), me 64

Round 10: NUANCE BAD

This once was much more approachable for me; in part the -ANCE fragment embedded in there, and also a certain familiarity with the word ABUNDANCE due to its use in the card game Solo, which I enjoy playing with my family where possible.  I got there in a couple of seconds.

Cameron buzzes in with the answer at the fourteen second mark, and the strength of the applause and cheering makes me think that there were more conundrums played through that we did not get to see.  It seems a little stronger than might be expected for just two of them.  Regardless, Cameron has made a good comeback from 20 points behind to scrape through with the victory.  Well done!

Rebecca: [no answer]
Cameron: ABUNDANCE (14s)

Scores: Rebecca 13 (36), Cameron 20 (46), me 74

I think this was a reasonably clear case of Rebecca being generally better on the letters, while Cameron was better on the numbers.  In fact, he seemed the best so far of any of the contestants in this set of re-runs (a small sample size, admittedly).  What worked against Rebecca was those last three letters rounds being so difficult -- there really wasn't much chance to leverage her advantage into points.  When combined with Cameron solving two of the number rounds exactly, while she could not solve any, it was enough to push the scores back to tied.  It was a game that could very easily have tipped the other way; certainly I think Cameron is in trouble for future games based on his word-finding today.

I had good results today again; I don't think it was feasible for me to improve on them, really -- the best answer in round 1 was just a little too far away from consideration, and the first conundrum was diabolical.  A shame, but there it is.  I can always pretend that David would not have solved that conundrum within time either. *chuckles*


Justin Thai said...

It was good to see how classroom mix evolved, but 3 Conundrums deciders in a row? It would be hard to see that on Countdown or even Des Chiffres et Des Lettres. From what I saw of Cameron there was definitely more than two conundrums, although SBS edited pretty well to make it look like it was just 2...

TRIBES (had CUTRSEY spelt "CURTSY" *facepalm*)
-(invalid) TIBULA (Combination of Fibula and Tibia *laughs*)
787-same solution
SHORE (had FRESHER but realised my mistake)
-invalid some random word, would of never got it

I will add David was writing down on his pad during the SIMULCAST conundrum and put his pen down to look at the contestants, it's possible he got this diabolical conundrum...

Mike Backhouse said...

I was probably ahead of the contestants until the conundrum.

5*(75-2)-6=359 (1 off)
x I played both live today to no avail. SIMULCAST was particularly hard.

Geoff Bailey said...

Good observation about David, Justin. Looks like he solved it around 7 or 8 seconds in. Wow. I'll update the post to mention that. Interestingly, he seems to take longer on the second conundrum, although it's not conclusive.

Mike: No "probably" about it; in the three way game you were ahead 58-18-25, by my reckoning. Nicely done.

Sam G said...

Good game, Geoff.

Huge cheers here when Cameron solved ABUNDANCE. Each tiebreaker conundrum takes five minutes or so to set up; it is quite nervewracking, and keeps the crew from being able to leave on time. I did hear an anecdote about an episode where they had to shoot about ten conundrums in a row until one was finally solved, and the whole crew cheered uproariously when it happened.

1. HANDLER. Rejected HARDLINE, thought it would be hyphenated.
3. one off: 359 = 5*75 - 10 - 6. Afterwards: (5*50-75+10-6)*2 = 358.
5. x BALKAN. Didn't realise BALKANISE is also capitalised. Nearly declared TIBULA.
6. 787 = (5 + 5)*(75 + 4) - 3
8. 385 = (75 + 8/4)*5
9. - Didn't get it even with a few extra minutes of trying.
10. 1.5s - ABUNDANCE

Emily said...

I mentioned it elsewhere, but thought I'd leave the comment on the relevant post too - this went to ten tiebreaker conundrums. And so did the Judithe/Rebecca episode immediately before it. So the crazy excited cheering when Cameron solved the tenth in a row is partly because of that, but also because it was the 22nd conundrum we'd all sat through for the day, and there were still three episodes left to film!