Friday, 13 February 2015

Ep 260: Emily Hawker, Jodi-Ann Menzies (February 13, 2015; originally aired August 26, 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.

Emily is back for her third night, after two strong games.  Richard opens the chat by asking about her daughter, Ashley, who is 14 months old (at the time of filming, presumably).  It turns out that they watch Letters and Numbers together (and it is the only show that they do).  Richard enquires, a little optimistically, about whether Ashley is showing any signs of playing the game.  Emily expresses her doubt about Ashley being able to solve the conundrum at any point in the near future, and on further questioning says that there are no signs as yet of Ashley having a preference for the letters or the numbers.

Tonight's challenger is Jodi-Ann Menzies, who apparently loves to sing.  She guesses that enjoyment started at school, where she sang in the choir, and then she "graduated" into an adult choral group.  She's now taking private singing lessons.  Apparently her favourite place to sing is in the car; David interjects to point out that doing so is called "car-aoke".  Oh, dear.

Emily took the early lead in round 1, but thereafter it was almost all Jodi-Ann's way.  Emily's risky option in the second round was invalid, and Jodi-Ann managed to outdo her in the first numbers round to gain the lead.  Jodi-Ann found good words thereafter, and went into the final numbers round an even 20 points ahead.  Emily kept her hopes alive with a good solution in that round, but still needed to solve the conundrum in order to force the tiebreaker.  It had all the setup for a major comeback, but the person who buzzed at the 30 second mark was not Emily, but Jodi-Ann, who came through with a 49 to 29 victory.

I had good results tonight, but twice had the disappointment of seeing a better word without having enough time left to get it down on paper.  It's been a long week -- I'd forgotten how much time these posts take to write up.  Fortunately there's the weekend to recover.

As usual, details after the jump.

Round 1: R G E N C I O F H

I had REIGN, REGION, and FORCING.  After time I noted other sevens of FOREIGN and ECHOING.

Jodi-Ann starts off with HINGE for five, while Emily starts off in good fashion by also finding FORCING.  David, however, has managed to go one better with the -ING, finding COHERING.  Well done, David!

The other eight is OCHERING (OCHER being the American spelling of OCHRE; as a verb, it means "to colour or mark with ochre").  The other sevens are OCHRING, CONIFER, and CHEFING.

Jodi-Ann: HINGE

Scores: Emily 7, Jodi-Ann 0, me 7

Round 2: A U T R S O E Z E

Jodi-Ann pauses after the Z turns up, and for some reason chooses a fifth vowel.  Very bemusing.  I had STAR, ROUTS, AROUSE, and OUTSEE.  I toyed with the idea of OUTSEER, but I knew that OUTSEE was in the block entries and it was too unlikely even for a main entry, really.  However, any time spent thinking about that was a waste -- with a second left I spotted ROSEATE ("tinged with rose; rosy") but that was not enough time to get it down on paper.

Both contestants opt for six-letter words, but Emily is rightly worried about her choice of SEATER.  David checks up on it, and it is not valid.  Jodi-Ann, on the other hand, has found a safe anagram of it: TEASER.  Again, David finds the best option with AUSTERE.

AUSTERE and ROSEATE are the only sevens.  The other sixes are ROUTES / OUSTER / OUTERS (OUTER as a noun has a few meanings, including part of an archery target), ZEROES, ORATES / OATERS (OATER being another name for a western, in the movie sense, due to oats being a food for horses), STEREO, ERSATZ ("serving as a substitute"), EATERS / RESEAT / EASTER (not the holiday, but the single-syllable rule applied to EAST) / ARÊTES (ARÊTE: "a sharp ridge of a mountain"), AZURES, AZOTES (AZOTE being an obsolete term for nitrogen), ZESTER, ZOSTER (another name for the skin disease shingles), URATES (URATE being a type of chemical), UREASE (a certain enzyme) / RESEAU ("a network"), and RETUSE ("(of a leaf, etc.) having an obtuse or rounded apex with a shallow notch").

Emily: [invalid -- SEATER]
Jodi-Ann: TEASER

Scores: Emily 7, Jodi-Ann 6, me 13

Round 3: Target 197 from 50 75 100 3 1 8

I recognised the target immediately as one of those formable from the large numbers alone, but without the 25 the standard method was the way to go, giving me 197 = 8*(75 - 50) - 3.  Then I noticed that the small numbers could make the 25 anyway, and wrote down the alternative 197 = (50*100 - 75)/(3*8 + 1).  I'd definitely have declared that option on the show, in the hopes of intimidating my opponent.

Emily is 3 off the pace with 200, which I'll guess was (3 - 1)*100.  It really is a tempting start, but also a bit of a snare since it cannot easily be improved upon.  Jodi-Ann has managed to avoid that trap and found 198 = 100 + 75 + 8*3 - 1.  That's seven well-deserved points for Jodi-Ann, who takes the lead.

Lily has gone with the first of the solutions I listed.

Emily: 200
Jodi-Ann: 198
Me: 197
Lily: 197

Scores: Emily 7, Jodi-Ann 6 (13), me 23

First break: HEEL BOLD ("If you solve this, I'll owe you one")

It took me around a minute to extract BEHOLDEN from those letters.

David's talk is about four words for a clumsy or awkward person: 'oaf', 'lunk', 'klutz', and 'lummox'.

Round 4: A I O L D M T A P

I had LOAD, DIATOM, and was happy to spot DIPLOMA and DIPLOMAT about halfway through.  I wondered about DIPLOMATA as a possible plural form of DIPLOMA -- the -ATA ending does apply to some words of similar origin and formation -- but decided it was too risky.  That was the right decision; although some sources do list that plural form, the Macquarie is not one of them.

Both contestants have been restricted to five-letter words here, which is not too surprising.  DIATOM is an old standby of mine, but if you've not come across that before it's not necessarily easy to do better than five.  In any case, Emily has PLAIT while Jodi-Ann has ADOPT.  As he did yesterday, David says there were quite a few sixes or sevens here, which I think overstates the situation a little.  He mentions OPTIMAL (a lovely find, I wish I had seen it) and DIPLOMA, and so of course has seen DIPLOMAT for eight.

The other eight is LIPOMATA, one plural form of LIPOMA ("a tumour made up of fat tissue"); see what I mean about the -ATA ending?  The other seven is MATILDA ("a swag", as should be familiar from Waltzing Matilda).

The other sixes are LIPOMA, IMPALA, OPTIMA / MATIPO (a type of tree), APODAL ("having no distinct feet or foot-like members"), ALODIA (plural of ALODIUM, variant spelling of ALLODIUM: "land owned absolutely, not subject to any rent, service, or other tenurial right of an overlord"), and AMIDOL (used to develop photographs).

Emily: PLAIT
Jodi-Ann: ADOPT

Scores: Emily 7 (12), Jodi-Ann 6 (18), me 31

Round 5: W N S E I D B E A

I had NEWS, SINEW, DEBASE, BESIDE, ANISEED, and was dubious about BASINED (not valid).  After time I noted SINEWED as another seven (not listed as an adjective, but SINEW has a verb sense: "to furnish with sinews").

Once more Emily is restricted to five letters with BEADS, and that's not a good result here.  Jodi-Ann takes full advantage of that slip by finding BEANIES for seven.  That puts Jodi-Ann 13 points ahead, and Emily is in trouble; aside from that first round she has not really looked comfortable here, in stark contrast to her previous two games.  David remarks that BEANIES turns up reasonably often in this game, and has gone with NEWBIES as his seven.

The other sevens are ENDWISE, BANDIES (BANDIE being colloquial for a bandicoot), and BAWDIES* (BAWDY as a noun being another term for BAWDRY: "indecent or lewd talk").

Emily: BEADS

Scores: Emily 7 (12), Jodi-Ann 13 (25), me 38

Round 6: Target 685 from 50 100 3 4 10 2

My first thought as I looked at the target was that the standard method should apply, with the offset of 10 already present.  My second thought was that it might be a little tricky since there wasn't a 25 or 75; fortunately the 50 could be divided by 2.  After that, it was a pleasing moment to realise that everything else cooperated to give an answer of 685 = (4 + 3)*100 - 50/2 + 10.

Both contestants have got to 5 away with 680.  That feels a little disappointing to me -- experienced tweakers should find (4 + 3)*(100 - 2) = 686 fairly easily.  Anyway, Jodi-Ann went with 680 = (4 + 2)*100 + 50 + 10*3.  There's a minor stumble at the beginning as she says "Four plus two gives you eight", gets a bit of a look from Lily, and corrects that to six.  I'm a little bemused by that, because I think at other points the show has taken a bit of a hard line about allowing contestants to correct such statements.  I mean, I think that what happened here was a good thing, just not consistent with another time.  But I'm not sure my memory is trustworthy on this front, so take that with a minor grain of salt.

Emily has gone for the different approach of 680 = (4 + 3)*100 - 2*10; a shame she missed the tweak for one off.  Lily has found the same solution that I did.

There's a few other solutions, but another that uses the same 675 + 10 approach is 685 = (4*100 + 50)*3/2 + 10.

Emily: 680
Jodi-Ann: 680
Me: 685
Lily: 685

Scores: Emily 7 (19), Jodi-Ann 13 (32), me 48

Second break: PETAL HEN ("It never forgets")

A fairly easy clue for ELEPHANT.

Round 7: N S H O U E R B C

I had NOUS, SHONE, was rightly dubious about HOUSER (not valid), figured that CHERUBS was probably OK but preferred another option, and settled on UNHORSE as a safer seven.  Alas, too much effort spent on that, and again just as time ran out I found a better option of BRUNCHES.  After time I noted that down, as well as BUNCHES.

Emily has been limited to six here, with her choice being CHORES.  Jodi-Ann has found CHERUBS, and David checks up on it, pointing out that the expected plural form is CHERUBIM.  Indeed, CHERUBIM is listed as the main plural form for the biblical/theological senses, but CHERUBS is also listed as acceptable for the other senses (a generic term for certain types of people, and also a variant name for the prawn CHERABIN).  David has found two eights here, BOUNCERS and BRUNCHES.

Those 7 points for Jodi-Ann stretch her lead to 20 points, meaning that there's a possibility we could go to yet another tiebreaker conundrum.  Emily would have to solve the next numbers round (without Jodi-Ann doing so) and then get the conundrum first, but it's certainly possible.

The other eight is BRONCHUS ("either of the two main branches of the trachea").  The other sevens are BOUNCER, BOUNCES, OBSCURE, UNROBES / BOURNES, COHUNES (COHUNE being a type of palm tree), and CONURES (CONURE being a type of parrot).


Scores: Emily 7 (19), Jodi-Ann 20 (39), me 55

Round 8: Target 405 from 25 50 3 1 1 7

Starting with 7*50 was instinctive, but did not seem very helpful.  So I adjusted that to 8*50, and then realised that I could tweak that to a solution since the remaining 5 was 8 - 3.  Putting it together gave 405 = (7 + 1)*(50 + 1) - 3.  Then I went back to the ascent from 350, and realised that the offset of 55 was 56 - 1; since 56 is 7*8, that meant tweaking was a real possibility.  It required a little care to make it work, but I got it to do so with 405 = (50 + (25 - 1)/3)*7 - 1.

Jodi-Ann declares 404, which I will assume was (7 + 1)*50 + 3 + 1, but Emily has given herself a chance by finding the first solution that I listed.  She only gets it at the last moment, slightly overrunning time as it turns out, but not egregiously so.  That's a good result when she desperately needed it, and the audience applauds.  Lily solved it in the same way.

The only other solution is 405 = (25*(50 - 1) - 7)/3 - 1.

Emily: 405
Jodi-Ann: 404
Me: 405
Lily: 405

Scores: Emily 17 (29), Jodi-Ann 20 (39), me 65


On to the conundrum, then, with Emily still in contention.  There's a few too many L's in it, though, and that throws me for a bit.  The -LY ending seems almost certain, and I tried -ALLY for a while.  The best I could manage with that was LEGALLY, though (DELEGALLY was hardly a contender).  Switching to considering -AGE as a fragment got me to the right "sound", however, and so led me to the answer of ALLEGEDLY.

Both contestants scribble on their paper and then stare at the results.  Time ticks away and neither really looks like getting there; Emily gives a sort of rueful laugh as the last seconds expire, and then Jodi-Ann thumps her hand down on the buzzer with the clock fully lit; she can only barely have made that.  On review, she was writing something rapidly just before she buzzed; I hope she did not think that she needed to have it written down before buzzing.

Emily: [no answer]
Jodi-Ann: ALLEGEDLY (30s)

Scores: Emily 17 (29), Jodi-Ann 20 (49), me 75

So, an uneven game comes down to a nailbiting conclusion.  Emily was possibly feeling the effects of a long day at the studio; certainly she did not seem to play nearly as well as she had in the previous two games.  That said, Jodi-Ann found some good results, and, with that last-moment conundrum solution to pad out the final difference, Emily would have needed better results in probably three rounds (or more) to have won.  A big ask, and Jodi-Ann was simply the better contestant on the day.

I was frustrated by being just a second or two too slow to see the best answer in two of the rounds, but realistically it was a decent game for me.  It's just so easy to see how it could have been better.  Maybe I'm a glass-half-empty kind of person. *chuckles*


Justin Thai said...

It was interesting to see both contestants write out the conundrum, personally I just try and get it off the screen.

Emily looked like she suffered from the long day of recording (Richard jokingly saying if she would like chocolate before 1 round) and as Sam and Geoff face would of faced similar problems maybe you could tell us the ways you coped.

Anyway a shocker game for me:
197-Lily's way
404-(7+1)x50+3+1 (saw the tweak too late)
4-5 seconds

Mike Backhouse said...

A shocker for me too Justin. Like yesterday I only pipped the contestants in round 6.

x SAUTEER tried for this dodgy 7 than a safe 6. That's the way it goes.
3*(75-8)-1-2=198 (1 off) and after time Lily's way
BASED (loved ANISEED Geoff)
Lily's way
Justin's way (1 off)

Geoff Bailey said...

Justin: I agree, it's usually best to try and get it off the screen -- if it's a fast one, the time lost writing it down is bad. On the other hand, reorganising the letters to suit one's solving style is very handy, so if it's a tough one then it's definitely worth writing it down. The tricky part is knowing which option to go with!

In this case, they both looked at the screens for a bit first, and then moved to writing it down. Appropriate strategy, in my opinion, although I admit I tend to delay such writing until time has already expired. *laughs at self*

Sam would be in a better position to talk about coping with the long days, as he was in five full episodes on his first day of filming. In contrast, my first episode was the last of the day; I had some issues, but I think they are attributible to first-game settling in rather than the day itself.

In general, I had a great time, and was energised and enthusiastic for the episodes. When I got eliminated, it was not due to poor finds (although I really should have found better on one of them), but just not quite hitting the high notes. Tiredness may have been a factor, I guess, but it didn't feel like it at the time.

Sam G said...

Yes, Emily had run out of steam by this episode, as she acknowledged herself in a previous blog comment. Jodi-Ann had some good answers, though.

Justin, I made sure to switch off mentally between every round - e.g. not listening to the hosts' patter or trying to solve the eight-letter words for ad breaks. This was something I learnt from playing cricket - a batsman has to switch off between deliveries so that he can retain concentration over a period of (hopefully) several hours. I generally did not watch the other games being filmed while I was waiting to shoot mine, either. By chance, this did keep me from seeing a couple of useful words that would reappear in my own episodes, but I stand by the strategy.

Much more caffeine was consumed than a normal day, too.

I don't think that Geoff was tired or off his game when he lost, he was just unlucky to have very few opportunities to pull away from a solid opponenent. I had two games like that myself. Some letter rounds have easy finds that can't be bettered, and many number rounds are straightforward.

Also, if Geoff had his time over, he probably would have chosen zero or four large numbers, and had his hand on the buzzer for the conundrum. Not that I want to (overly) rub it in...

3. 197 = 8*(75 - 50) - 3. Nice find, Geoff.
4. PLAIT. I can't say I enjoy David's smart remarks when there are many better words.
6. one off: 686, forget how. Then saw (100+10/2)*(4+3) - 50
8. 405 = (50 + (25 - 1)/3)*7 - 1, also Geoff/Emily's way.
9. ALLEGEDLY - 1.9s

All the conundrum times I post are estimates based on where the clock hand is pointing when I pause the TV.

Geoff Bailey said...

Sam: Perhaps 686 = (4 + 3)*(100 - 2)? (A little more plausible than 686 = (10 + 4)*(50 - 3 + 2).) Nice alternative solution!

Sam G said...

Both plausible. Have plenty of 49x table practice from heavyweight mixes.

Mike Backhouse said...

Sam, thanks for your comments about handling the five games on one day. A very interesting insight.

Emily said...

Oh man. Yes, I was feeling the effects of an extremely long day we finished filming at 7 (the Monday and Tuesday episodes both went to their tenth tiebreak conundrums, which also explains poor Cameron's exhaustion in his game against me).
But no excuses - I just totally lost the plot, and J-A didn't! Full credit to her for a great game.
(I did actually take Richard up on the offer of chocolate before the last numbers round. It worked. Should have had some more before the conundrum!!)

Geoff Bailey said...

*winces* Ouch, 7pm is crazy late. Everyone must have been desperate to get home! I was extremely fortunate in my days of filming (I don't think I can claim any credit for it), which Gillian said were two of the fastest days they'd had. I think they finished a bit before 4:30? A vast difference, that's for sure!

Also, welcome back!

Sam G said...

Ha, I didn't realise there were two consecutive episodes of ten conundrums!