Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Ep 263: Geoff Walker, Rachel Furness (February 18, 2015; originally aired August 31, 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.

Geoff Walker gets his turn in the champion's seat, and Richard brings up the topic of Geoff's interest in bushwalking.  In particular, that he has done some spectacular walks west of Alice Springs.  Geoff agrees, and names the location: The West MacDonnell Ranges with the Larapinta Trail.  He enthuses that it is a wonderful walk, even though it can be tough going.  In particular, it is really nice when you are walking along the ridge tops, because you have long-distance views for kilometres around.  "Absolutely beautiful", he finishes.

Taking up the challenger's position is Rachel Furness, a child speech pathologist.  Apparently Rachel has a bucket list -- well, not so much a bucket list as a "pre-turning-forty list" -- that she is trying to get through.  One of them is appearing on a TV show, so that one is satisfactorily taken care of.  Richard asks what else is on the list, and Rachel mentions completing the Rubik's cube and learning to surf.  She thought that Lily might be able to help her with those; Lily disclaims any ability with the Rubik's cube, but is confident about being able to help with the surfing.

Geoff got off to an unfortunate start with an invalid word; it's the sort of thing that some familiarity with the Macquarie would suggest avoiding, but of course contestants don't end up with a copy until they have already lost.  He had two more invalid answers in the next three rounds, and was perhaps fortunate to only be 11 points behind at the halfway mark.  Matters were a little more even thereafter, but a perhaps-tactical choice by Rachel of the rat pack in the last numbers round was too difficult for either to solve, and that guaranteed her the win.  The conundrum went unsolved, and Rachel became the new champion with 35 points to 23.

I had some good results in the letters today, although I should have done better in the first round.  I struggled a bit with the numbers, in contrast, needing extra time to find the best options in two of the rounds.  It still seemed like decent results, although once again the conundrum was just too hard for me.

As usual, details after the jump.

Round 1: B T L C R U I E S

I had CURB, CUBIT, RESULT, was rightly dubious about SUBTLER, BUSTIER, and RELICTS (RELICT: "a plant or animal species living in an environment which has changed from that which is typical for it").  After time I noted SUBERIC ("of or relating to cork") as another seven, and then CURLIEST and BRUCITES (fresh in my memory from episode 259, BRUCITE is a type of mineral) for eight.

Rachel has BRUISE for six, while Geoff has essayed the seven of SUBTLER.  Alas, David has to check up on that; as experience shows, the Macquarie mostly does not list comparatives explicitly unless a spelling shift is involved.  The single-syllable rule does not apply, and SUBTLER is not valid.  David points out that BUTLERS would be a safe anagram of it, and has found CURLIEST for eight.

The other eights are BURLIEST and UTRICLES (UTRICLE: "a small sac or bag-like body, as an air-filled cavity in a seaweed").

Geoff: [invalid -- SUBTLER]
Rachel: BRUISE

Scores: Geoff 0, Rachel 0 (6), me 7

Round 2: P D N O F A E R I

I had POND, PRONE, PONDER, was dubious about FIREPAN (it's not in the Macquarie, but Chambers has it: "a metal vessel for holding fire"), PROFANE, and thought that PROFANED was probably valid.  I was confident enough to try it, and fortunately PROFANE does have a verb sense and all was well.  After time I noted PINAFORE as another eight, and PANDORE (a type of lute) as another seven.

Rachel has six again, this time with FRIEND.  And again Geoff declares this.  This time, however, his choice of PROFANE is valid.  A shame he did not append the D, but I'm sure he was glad to get the points after the previous round.  A little surprisingly, perhaps, David does not point out the option of PROFANED, but has instead gone for PINAFORE.

PINAFORED is not listed, unfortunately (in general, the Macquarie seems reluctant to list adjectives formed from nouns in such a way, which saves space).  PAN-FRIED is listed but only with the hyphen, so the best words not yet covered are sevens: APRONED (not a counter to my previous observation, as APRON is listed with a verb sense) / OPERAND / PADRONE ("a master, as of a vessel"), PADRONI (plural of PADRONE) / PONIARD, and ANEROID.

Rachel: FRIEND

Scores: Geoff 0 (7), Rachel 0 (6), me 15

Round 3: Target 361 from 100 7 2 5 5 10

I recognised the target as the square of 19, but 19 is a very awkward number to make in general.  I wrote down a quick approximation of 360 = 7*5*10 + 2*5 -- it wasn't worth the tweak to save a number -- and ended up unable to do better within time.  A little after time I realised that turning the 100 into 50 was much more profitable, leading to 361 = 7*100/2 + 10 + 5/5.  And somewhat later again I glanced back at this round and realised that I could make both 19's after all: 361 = ((100 - 5)/5)*(10 + 7 + 2).  That was a careless and costly oversight.

Those turn out to be the only two solutions.  Rachel declares nine away with 370, but Geoff has got two closer with 368.  However, his answer of (5 - 2)*100 + 7*10 - 2 uses the 2 twice, and is invalid.  It's easy to get a bit mixed up as to which value is duplicatd; if he'd instead subtracted the 5 that was left over then he would have been just four off the target with 365, good for 7 points.  It turns out that Rachel has taken the same approach, but without that final erroneous subtraction; that gets her five points, so there's a twelve point turnaround on Geoff's confusion between 2 and 5.

Lily has solved this, using the first of the solutions that I listed.

Geoff: [invalid -- wrong answer]
Rachel: 370
Me: 360
Lily: 361

Scores: Geoff 0 (7), Rachel 0 (11), me 22

First break: COAST ACT ("Abrupt style in music")

That style is STACCATO.

David's talk is about birds named after occupations: butcher bird, weaver bird, tailor bird, and secretary bird.

Round 4: D S Q E U T A E N

I had USED, SAUTÉD (not valid; I think I had a mental slip because the accent made me think of FIANCÉ and FIANCÉE, with both one- and two-E forms are acceptable), EQUATED, QUESTED, SEQUENT ("that which follows in order or as a result"), and UNSEATED.

The contestants have each found seven-letter words.  Rachel's choice is EQUATES, but Geoff has erred again with his declaration of QUEENED.  That uses too many E's, so he has his third invalid answer in four rounds; he's lucky to only be eleven points behind.  David has found the best option of UNSEATED.

The other sevens are SAUTÉED and DETUNES.

Geoff: [invalid -- QUEENED]

Scores: Geoff 0 (7), Rachel 0 (18), me 30

Round 5: K R S F C I O U H

I wrote down FORKS and FROCKS speculatively after the early consonant rush, then added RISK, CURIOS, and was very pleased to find ROCKFISH in this apparently unpromising mix.

Rachel has FRISK for five, but Geoff gets some much needed points with his choice of FROCKS.  David is on target once more, having found ROCKFISH.

After ROCKFISH, sixes are the best to be done.  The others are CHORUS, CHOIRS / ICHORS / ORCHIS ("any orchid"), HOURIS, KIRSCH / CHIRKS (CHIRK being listed as a synonym for CHIRP), HOICKS, CHIRUS (CHIRU being a type of antelope), and FICHUS ("a kind of scarf of muslin, lace, or the like, generally triangular in shape, worn about the neck by women, with the ends drawn together or crossed in front").

Rachel: FRISK

Scores: Geoff 0 (13), Rachel 0 (18), me 38

Round 6: Target 365 from 100 2 5 9 7 3

Working up from 300 worked pretty straightforwardly with 365 = 3*100 + 9*7 + 2.  After time I considered the option of 315 + 50 to get 365 = 5*7*9 + 100/2, and then channelled the missed solution from round 3 to get 365 = 7*100/2 + 3*5.

Both contestants have solved this, using that first method.  Lily has also opted for that; it really did seem the clear way to procede.

Geoff: 365
Rachel: 365
Me: 365
Lily: 365

Scores: Geoff 10 (23), Rachel 10 (28), me 48

Second break: INTO DATE ("Against excessive love")

That would be ANTI + DOTE, or ANTIDOTE.

Round 7: T R W C G E A E S

I had CREW, CRATE, CREATE, CREATES, and pondered STAGECREW.  I decided -- correctly, but still reluctantly -- that it was not likely to be listed as a single word.  I was expecting the two-word phrase to be listed, but it was not.

Geoff has WAGERS for six, but Rachel extends her lead with her find of CREATES.  David was not able to better it.

The other sevens are SWEATER, ERGATES (ERGATE: "the worker ant"), and CERATES (CERATE: "an unctuous (often medicated) preparation for external application [...]") / ÉCARTÉS (ÉCARTÉ: "Ballet a position in which one arm and the leg from the same side of the body are extended").


Scores: Geoff 10 (23), Rachel 17 (35), me 55

Round 8: Target 374 from 1 3 7 9 2 9

Geoff needs unanswered points in this round to stay in contention.  So it is possible that Rachel's choice of six small numbers was a tactical decision; it was certainly a good one if so.  Most contestants struggle with the rat pack, and many of them just kind of shut down in response, not able to do much without some large numbers to help them.  On the other hand, maybe Rachel just wanted a bit more variety in the numbers rounds.

I noticed that the target was near 378, which is 6*7*9.  I made the 6 as 2*3, which alas was a mistake.  That left a 1 and 9 to tweak with, and I could not use them to make the remaining 5, even with tweaking.  It did suffice for a one away 375 = (9*7*2 - 1)*3, and that was my limit within time.

After time I finally noticed the factorisation 11*34, and that led easily enough to 374 = (3*9 + 7)*(9 + 2).  Then I reviewed my original approach but made the 6 as 9 - 3 instead; that left a 1 and 2 for tweaking, and that was much more useful: 374 = (9*7 - 1)*(9 - 3) + 2.

Neither contestant has been able to get anywhere with this mix.  Lily, on the other hand, has done well to spot the 11*34 factorisation and so find the solution listed above.  Well done, Lily!  Rachel's choice has paid off (whether or not that was the intent) and she will be the new champion.

There is only one other solution, which can be considered as a tweak of my original approach, but quite a hard one to find: 374 = ((9*3 + 1)*7 - 9)*2.

Geoff: [not in range]
Rachel: [not in range]
Me: 375
Lily: 374

Scores: Geoff 10 (23), Rachel 17 (35), me 62


I was completely lost on this one, despite considering the correct ending a few times; I gave up after five minutes.  I've had a bad run on the conundrums this week so far.

The contestants are likewise stumped, and so there are no further changes to the score.

Geoff: [no answer]
Rachel: [no answer]
Me: [no answer]

Scores: Geoff 10 (23), Rachel 17 (35), me 62

Those invalid answers really cost Geoff today; if his first-round answer had been correct then he would have won, even.  (For that matter, a simple correction in round three would have tied up the scores at the end.)  Each contestant had some good patches, but neither played consistently well; in the end Rachel avoided the outright mistakes and that was enough to get her home.

I was pretty happy with my letters performance today, particularly ROCKFISH in round 5.  However, I missed some numbers options that I would have liked to get within time.  On a better day I would have picked up maximums on all of the main rounds; they were definitely findable.  However, the conundrum was the personally hardest one I've had for a long time, and I was never going to make optimal on that.


Justin Thai said...

Typo Lily got 374

Geoff Bailey said...

Thanks, Justin -- I had her results and mine flipped. Fixed now.

Mike Backhouse said...

Geoff, those of us who use your site get a game analysis that goes way beyond the TV program. I have the L&N books that just give one numbers solution (if any) the contestants' words and one from David. Thanks for your analysis.

(5-2)*(100-5-7)=364 (3 off while enough to pip the contestants, not you Geoff!)
5*(100-3*9)=365 (went slightly over time. I think this method might be different to the ones you noted Geoff)
x bombed out here!

Sam G said...

I remember playing this episode against a friend so that I would be more familiar with the feeling of playing against a live opponent in my upcoming episode(s). I flogged him. I remembered once I worked out the conundrum, which I didn't solve at the time.

1. BUTLERS. CURLIEST was quite gettable.
2. PROFANE. Wondered about adding the D...
3. 361 = 7*100/2 + 10 + 5/5
5. FROCKS. Tried -FISH.
6. 365 = (9-3-2)*100 - 7*5
8. one off: 375 = (9-3)*7*9 - 2 - 1.
Too rushed to see where to tweak, which was: 374 = (9-3)*(7*9-1) + 2
9. ESCALATOR ~15s.

Geoff Bailey said...

Thanks, Mike. And yes, that is a different method in round 6 -- nice one! That's the shortest solution, incidentally. I had tried to make 5*73 work from the small numbers alone (it turns out not to be possible), but did not see how simply the 73 could be made using the 100.

Sam: That's an interesting insight into your preparation methods; do you feel that it made much difference? Also, I am not at all surprised at the result. *chuckles*

Sam G said...

I'm sure it didn't hurt, I tried to do everything I could think of that might make 1% difference. A lot of contestants probably never get to show their full potential - most are knocked out first round, when they have had the least time to adapt to playing for real instead of at home.

Rachel is a great example of this: compare her number round performance in her first episode to her second episode.