Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Ep 258: Cameron Begley, Emily Hawker (February 11, 2015; originally aired August 24, 2011)

Rounds: Here.  (Sorry for the delay; SBS's content delivery was having troubles again, only getting a small way into the video before failing.  It was better after dinner.)

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.  However, for other reasons one of the rounds was spoiled for me, which I'll get to in due course.

Cameron is back, taking his turn in the champion's seat.  Richard reminds us again about how tight the last game was, and there's a little chitchat about that.  It's appropriate, I guess, but it does rob us of the chance to find out more about Cameron.

Tonight's challenger is -- oh, hey, it's Emily!  I recognised her, and that meant I recalled a comment Sam made about one of her games, and that meant I knew what was going to happen in one round.  But I digress.  Emily has a degree in linguistics and finance, and Richard observes that seems to be a perfect combination for Letters and Numbers.  Hard to argue with that!  Emily started off in finance, and specifically studied Japanese and French for a while, but then decided that the study of language was more interesting than the study of languages themselves.

Emily got off to a cracking start with a full monty, and an unanswered full monty is generally enough of an advantage to win regardless of what else goes on.  But Emily kept piling on the points, while Cameron was unable to make any progress at all.  His first two words were deemed invalid (one of them should technically have been accepted, by my reading), and indeed he never managed to match Emily in the letter rounds.  Unlike last night, the numbers did not save him; he was only able to manage five points overall, while Emily steamed past sixty.  The game was over at the second break, which is extremely early for that to happen.  The conundrum proved too difficult for both contestants, preventing Emily from reaching the 70's, but she was very happy with her 67 to 5 victory.

It's a rare day when two full monties are available, but that was the case here.  I found them both, but the second one was the "prior knowledge" case I've alluded to; without that knowledge, I am pretty sure I would not have seen it within time.  Aside from that, I matched David and Lily throughout, and had decent conundrum speed to boot.  Just one tough numbers round marred the optimal result, but it was still very good and put my final total into the 90's.

As usual, details after the jump.

Round 1: I A T G N S E M R


It was nice to see Cameron stay with three vowels here; far too often contestants spoil a promising -ING option by taking a fourth vowel.  Emily has clearly found one of the full monties in the mix; she writes it down around ten seconds in, and drawes a box around it at the halfway mark, and then sits there.  A great way to start the game, no question about it.

Meanwhile, there's the formality of the words.  Cameron declares an eight of MAGNETISM; that is doubly invalid due to using the M twice and also being nine letters long.  A shame, as it's a great word to find if the mix did support it.  Emily does have the full monty as her body language indicated; she went with STREAMING.  David notes the alternative full monties of MASTERING / EMIGRANTS.

The other eights in this mix are GARMENTS, SMARTING, SMEARING, STEAMING / MINTAGES (MINTAGE has a few noun senses, such as "the charge for or cost of minting or coining"), GRANITES / GANTRIES / INGRATES / RANGIEST / ASTRINGE ("to compress; bind together; constrict") / GANISTER (a type of rock) / ANGSTIER*, RAGTIMES, and possibly RAIMENTS depending on how the adjudication goes.

Cameron: [invalid -- MAGNETISM]

Scores: Cameron 0, Emily 18, me 18

Round 2: C T K O E L I R N

I had COTE, LOCKET, TRICKLE, and INTERLOCK.  After time I noted other sevens of TICKLER and LECTION ("a reading or version of a passage in a particular copy of a text"); I also checked up on TINKLER, but it is not listed.

Unfortunately, this was the round that I knew was coming; the reason is not direct recollection, but rather goes back to when I was trying to organise support for the show to be kept going (in my post Time for some activism).  Emily was the second commenter, and Sam stated his recollections of this game, specifically mentioning the word INTERLOCK.  For some reason that has stuck in my head, and as soon as I saw Emily I knew it was coming; by the third letter I was sure that it was this round.  So a fairer result is to score 7 for TRICKLE, but who said I'm fair?

(Incidentally, I recognised Emily because she follows this blog and her icon is the only face in that list.)

Anyway, Emily has found TRICKLE for seven, beating Cameron's choice of CLONER.  It wouldn't score anyway, but David checked up and declares it invalid.  However, I invoke a technicality here: CLONE is listed as having an adjective sense ("imitative"), so the single-syllable rule for adjectives should kick in and allow CLONER.  Of course, then good sense should also kick in and rule it invalid regardless, but I'm in a quibbling mood right now.  Back with the game, David is very happy to report finding INTERLOCK for nine.

There don't appear to be any eights here; the other sevens are CRINKLE / CLINKER ("a hard brick, used for paving, etc."), NOTICER, RETINOL, CORTILE ("an enclosed courtyard, within or attached to a building, usually roofless"), and KETONIC (adjective derived from KETONE) / KENOTIC (adjective derived from KENOSIS: "Christ's renunciation of divine privilege at the incarnation in order that He might become entirely man while remaining truly God").

So Emily has bolted out to a 25-point lead after just two rounds.  Cameron is going to need a lot of help from the numbers to make that up.

Cameron: [invalid -- CLONER]

Scores: Cameron 0, Emily 18 (25), me 36

Round 3: Target 783 from 75 8 3 5 4 7

I starting to think about 75*10, then stopped and considered that the offset from 775 was 8, which was present.  775 is 25*31, and the 75 could be divided by the 3 to make the 25; as it turned out, the other numbers could make the 31 and I had a solution: 783 = (7*5 - 4)*75/3 + 8.  After time I revisited the idea of 75*10, tweaked to get an alternative solution of 783 = (8 + 5 - 3)*(75 + 4) - 7.  The other tempting option for getting close was 11*75, and I managed to tweak that to a solution also, with 783 = (8 + 3)*(75 - 4) + 5 - 3.

Cameron is 8 away with 775; I'm curious as to how he got there, since most ways I can think of are easily improved upon.  However, we do not find out as Emily has got to just one away with 782 = (7 + 3)*75 + 4*8.  Lily has solved this, using the second of the solutions that I listed.

Cameron: 775
Emily: 782
Me: 783
Lily: 783

Scores: Cameron 0, Emily 18 (32), me 46

First break: HILL SING ("A different kind of old money")

Only have to shift one letter to find SHILLING.

David's talk is about 'Hinglish', the ongoing mix of Hindi and English.

Round 4: R T M E A F R I U


Emily opts for the "safe six" of FARMER; perhaps she considered FRUITER and rejected it.  Cameron has found the five of FRUIT; I wonder if he considered FRUITER?  David points it out in any case, and notes FIREARM as a more common seven.

The other sevens are ERRATUM and TURFIER.

Cameron: FRUIT

Scores: Cameron 0, Emily 18 (38), me 53

Round 5: S D T C E A X S E

I had SECT, CASTE, EXACTS, EXACTED, and SEDATES.  After time I checked in case CESSATED existed as a backformation from CESSATION, but it is not valid.

Cameron has the nice six of CASTES, but yet again Emily is ahead with her choice of EXACTED.  David approves of using the X, of course, and notes the alternative of SEDATES.

The other seven is EXSECTS (EXSECT: "to cut out").  The Scrabble list I use suggests TEXASES, and the stories I've heard about TEXAS make me glad that the Macquarie does not think there is more than one of it.

Emily's margin is a crushing 45 points now.  It is still technically possible for Cameron to win, but he needs a full monty in the last letters round, at least one solved numbers round, and the conundrum.  The way things have been going this week I could almost imagine it happening, as it is possible for him to score precisely 45 points and take things to a tiebreaker conundrum.  It's very hard to picture it actually happening, though.

Cameron: CASTES

Scores: Cameron 0, Emily 25 (45), me 60

Round 6: Target 787 from 50 75 25 5 3 3 

Emily opts for the usually-challenging balanced mix, and the duplicated 3 makes this a little harder.  The target is large, and options aren't great.  Obviously a decent first step is to make 10*75, and a tweak to 10*78 is not hard, but further progress is difficult.  I chose to make the 10 as 5*50/25, which gave me tweaking options with 10, 5, or 2, depending, and that meant I could adjust to one away with 786 = ((75 + 3)*5 + 3)*50/25.  I spent a while after time trying to solve this exactly -- there are some tempting intermediates, such as 792 - 5 or 784 + 3 (784 is the square of 28, so can lead to two off with 789 = (25 + 3)*(75 - 50 + 3) + 5) -- but could not get there.

Both contestants declare 780.  Emily has made it as 780 = (75 + 3)*(5 + 3 + 50/25).  In this case, she overlooked the option of using 5*50/25 to make the 10 (or even better, 50/5); doing so would have freed up a 3 to get to just 4 off and 3 more points.  Cameron, on the otherhand, has used 6*125 as an intermediate point; very few contestants seem comfortable with 125 as a multiplier, so that's nice to see.  His answer is 780 = (50 + 75)*(3 + 3) + 25 + 5.

Lily says that she got "a little bit closer", but does not say how close she actually managed.

It turns out that there is exactly one solution to this.  I was getting sort-of close in my attempted solutions as I considered dividing various things by 5, but could not quite put it together.  The solution is 787 = (75*(50 + 3) - 25)/5 - 3.

Cameron has finally registered points on the scoreboard, but Emily is now guaranteed the win.

Cameron: 780
Emily: 780
Me: 786

Scores: Cameron 0 (5), Emily 25 (50), me 67

Second break: TUTOR SUB ("Passionate explosion")

I was thinking that it was an unhelpful set of vowels, but then considering OUT- turned up OUTBURST quickly enough.

Round 7: C F H N S A O E I

I had FANS, CANOES, FANCIES / FIANCÉS, and was briefly tempted by OCEANFISH but rightly avoided it.  After time I noted FINCHES as another seven.

Cameron has another six of CHAINS, but Emily once again is one letter longer with FINCHES.  David gestures at his shirt as he reveals his word choice of FASHION.

The other sevens are FASCINE ("a long bundle of sticks bound together, used in building earthworks and batteries, in strengthening ramparts, as a protective facing for river banks, etc.") and ACINOSE ("consisting of acini", which are (in one definition) the small parts of a compound fruit like a blackberry or mulberry).

Cameron: CHAINS

Scores: Cameron 0 (5), Emily 32 (57), me 74

Round 8: Target 890 from 75 100 1 5 8 2

Emily switches to a friendlier family mix for the final numbers round, and the target looks manageable.  My first instinct was to start with 8*100, and the adjustment was easy enough: 890 = 8*100 + 75 + 5*(2 + 1).  Working down from 900 seemed simpler, though, giving 890 = (8 + 1)*100 - 2*5.  After time I noted another option of 890 = (100 + 75 + 2 + 1)*5.

Emily has solved this with the second of those solutions, while Lily has gone with the first.  Cameron says that he is short of the target, and is spoken over by Richard as he clarifies that it was with 885; presumably that was 8*100 + 75 + 2*5.

Cameron: 885
Emily: 890
Me: 890
Lily: 890

Scores: Cameron 0 (5), Emily 42 (67), me 84


And so to the conundrum, and OB- is always worth checking when those letters are available.  That guided me to a quick solution of OBSTINATE.

Neither contestant makes any headway on this, so the scoreline remains unchanged.

Cameron: [no answer]
Emily: [no answer]

A comprehensive victory from Emily, and one of the best first games the show has had, I think.  Obviously it was not so good for Cameron, whose relative weakness on the word front was exposed here (as I predicted yesterday).  Emily showed quite good form on the words, and decent results on the numbers, and will be a force to be reckoned with if she can keep this up.  Cameron handled his defeat gracefully, which was nice to see.  Good on him.

I've finally got that tie I've been seeking this week, but tainted by prior knowledge.  That aside, a strong game from me, and there's still two days left to chase that tie.  I'm looking forward to tomorrow, as long as SBS's streaming video behaves itself.


Justin Thai said...

I had a terrible game here missing that round 1 nine was the worst part cause I knew there was one there, having said that Emily put up one of (if not) one of the most impressive debuts for a contestant on L+N, Sam rarely misses a trick when it comes to his L+N observations...

Turned up blank here
3 solutions in time- Emily's, Geoff's first and also ((100+2)x8-1)+75
-not a clue

Mike Backhouse said...

(7+3)*(75+4)-8=782 (1 away and same as Emily but used different method)
(5*50/25)*(75+3)+3=783 (4 off)
x never would have thought of -OB prefix. I'll try to remember that one.

By the way, great to have another player here Justin. Welcome.

And Geoff, how far away is your time on the show? After all your good work here, I am looking forward to it.

Mike Backhouse said...

P.S. I didn't read the intro and therefore didn't know there were full monties before I played the game live off the show.

Sam G said...

Hmm, this game is very familiar, including that I got the two nine-letter words first time around. My audition was not long after this episode first aired.

I don't think a carry-over champ ever copped such a pounding as poor Cameron.

Tough numbers here.

3. one off: 782 = (7+4)*75 - 8*5 - 3
6. three off: 784 = 75/5*50 + 25 + 3*3
8. 890 = (100+2)*8 - 1 + 75

Geoff Bailey said...

Mike: I make an appearance at episode 325; if SBS keeps airing without interruptions that is 13 weeks away, on May 15. I'll be somewhat surprised (but pleased) if they do keep it up that long.

Sam: Do you really mean audition, or filming of first episode? That would be a remarkably fast turnaround time from the audition if so -- I think my filming was only a week or so after this episode aired.

Sam G said...

Audition. Would that make it a nine-day turnaround between audition and filming? That sounds about right, they didn't muck around. Not much practice time, but at least I got 2+ months between regular episodes and finals/Masters.

Geoff Bailey said...

Wow. Seems a bit rough to not have that much practice time, but apparently you did not need it. :)

Justin Thai said...

Watching it again, I think I heard Cameron say he got 885 for round 8

Geoff Bailey said...

Oh, good catch, Justin. Richard spoke over him as he said it, so it was easy to miss. I'm updating the post to mention this. Thanks!

Sam G said...

Yes, just enough practice, I suppose.

Emily said...

Oh wow! Glad to see you're still doing these. I received quite a few texts from friends that day - I didn't even realise L&N was back on.
I auditioned just a week before I was on - I think they came back ready to film so sped through the early auditions.
Bugged me that I never got a conundrum while I was on - that's usually the one thing I'm sure to get! Oh well. Still had a fun ride while it lasted!