Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Ep 272: Brydon Coverdale, Niall Donohue (March 3, 2015; originally aired September 13, 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.

Before we get to the contestant introductions tonight, David remarks that he was "poetically ambushed" last night (as I mentioned at the end of the write-up for episode 271).  He feels it is only fitting that he gets a chance to respond, which he does:
Letters are electric: They tell stories, excite.
They have flashes and fusions that sparkle all night.
Whereas numbers... are just numbers.
Heh.  I do recall that opening from him rather vividly; he set the joke up well, getting a good scansion going, only to drop it completely to emphasise the flatness that he associates with the numbers.  I had not recalled Lily's poem that prompted him to respond that way, however, so seeing the episodes again has restored some useful context.  That said, at the time I was perhaps a little miffed, and I composed this in response:
There's a beauty, when seen through math'matical eye,
In the simplicity of one, in the transcendence of π.
Or the dance of the primes; they've an endless supply
of curious and interesting patterns to spy.

Numbers lay the foundations on which we build high;
They guide us to truths that none may deny.
Language is fluid, tricksy, and sly;
Words may deceive, but the numbers... don't lie.
And now, back to our regular coverage.

Win or lose, this is Brydon's last night until the finals.  Richard asks about his highlights from the previous games; I guess I find this slightly better than asking about technique, but not by that much.  Brydon says that there were a couple of earlier games that went down to the conundrum, and he's not sure that he can handle another one of those.

Tonight's challenger is Niall Donohue, a worker in the energy industry.  That involves installing things like shower heads, light globes, or other things -- anything that can reduce the electricity requirements and carbon footprint.

Niall chanced a colloquialism in the first round, and that was a costly mistake.  The two contestants had equal-scoring results for the rest of the game, except for the last two numbers rounds.  Niall took the points on the first of those to take the lead at last, but Brydon did well on the last one to sneak back into first place.  With just four points separating the contestants going into the conundrum, we had the situation that Brydon was hoping to avoid.  They both struggled with it, but with just a few seconds left Niall buzzed in and it looked like Brydon's run was at an end.  However, Niall had done so out of desperation alone, and his answer was invalid.  Brydon scraped by thanks to that first round result, winning 52 to 48, and successfully retired.  We'll see him again in the finals.

I was in good shape until I tanked it on the last numbers round.  I also had my difficulties with the conundrum, but was glad to solve it and push my score into the seventies again.

As usual, details after the jump.

Round 1: H T A C M E L I R

From about the M onwards I was hoping for ALCHEMIST, and it very nearly arrived.  Alas, the final letter was not the required S.  As it was, I had CHAT, MATCH, CLIMATE, THERIAC ("an antidote to venomous bites, etc., especially an electuary made with honey"), REMATCH, rightly rejected CHIMERAL, and METRICAL ("relating to metre or poetic measure").  After time I noted down some of the other sevens I had seen: CLAIMER / MIRACLE / RECLAIM, CHIMERA, and THERMAL.

Both contestants declare seven, but Niall says that his is dodgy.  It runs out to be MITCHER, and in some places that would be colloquial for a truant.  Chambers, for instance, lists MITCH as a dialect word for "to play truant, esp from school".  It does not list MITCHER, however, and the Macquarie has neither.  An unfortunate start for Niall, but there were many other sevens to try instead.  Brydon demonstrates this with his nice choice of CLIMATE.  David has gone with METRICAL as his choice.

The other eight is RHEMATIC ("relating to the formation of words").  The other sevens are ARTICLE / RECITAL, ETHICAL, MATCHER, THERMIC (variant of THERMAL), CHARLIE (colloquial for "a fool; silly person"), MICHAEL (also colloquial, this time for "the vagina and external female genitalia"), ARCHLET, HEMATIC (variant spelling of HAEMATIC, a medicine that acts on the blood), MALTIER*, and LATHIER* (LATHY: "long and thing").

Niall: [invalid -- MITCHER]

Scores: Brydon 0 (7), Niall 0, me 8

Round 2: E N G S D O U R A

I had SEND, SOUND, GUERDONS, DANGEROUS, ASUNDER, and AGROUND.  After time I noted another eight of ARGUENDO ("Law in the course of argument").

Again both contestants have sevens.  This time Niall's option is the safer GROUNDS, while Brydon has gone with ORANGES.  David points out that a final E would have yielded UNDERGOES, but the A gave him DANGEROUS.

The Macquarie does not list NOSEGUARD, so DANGEROUS is the only nine.  The other eight is RONDEAUS.  There's lots of other sevens: GUERDON / UNDERGO, RONDEAU, GARDENS/ DANGERS / GANDERS, DRAGONS, AROUSED, SOUNDER / RESOUND / UNDOERS / ENDUROS, SURGEON, GROANED, ORANGES / ONAGERS, DANSEUR, GROUSED / DROGUES, GERUNDS, SUGARED, SONDAGE ("a deep, narrow trench, showing the stratigraphy of a site"), and AUGENDS (AUGEND: "a number to which another number, the addend, is added").


Scores: Brydon 0 (14), Niall 0 (7), me 26

Round 3: Target 110 from 75 1 9 3 4 6

With such a small target my instinct was to make it from small numbers alone; the option of 10*11 seemed fairly likely, and I made it work with 110 = (9 + 3 - 1)*(6 + 4).  I also noticed the target was near 3*4*9 = 108, and tweaked that to another solution: 110 = (3*9 - 1)*4 + 6.  Finally, I considered using the 75 after all -- the offset is 35, leading reasonably easily to 110 = 75 + (6 - 1)*(4 + 3).  After time I realised that I could have saved a number with 110 = 75 + 4*9 - 1.

Both contestants have solved this with the approach of 75 + 35.  Brydon went with 110 = (3 + 4)*(6 - 1) + 75, while Niall -- who was writing right up until time ran out and just got there -- took a slightly more scenic route with 110 = 6*4 + 3 + 9 - 1 + 75.  Lily demonstrates a kitchen sink approach of 110 = (6/3)*75 - (9 + 1)*4.

Brydon: 110
Niall: 110
Me: 110
Lily: 110

Scores: Brydon 10 (24), Niall 10 (17), me 36

First break: CUTE PLAY ("Bon appétit, Blinky Bill")

I was stuck on this -- the -LY fragment seemed the only way to use the Y, but the rest does not cooperate -- but then the clue made it easy to find EUCALYPT.

David's talk is about some words that come from Arabic: 'fatwa', 'mufti', and 'shufti'.  (I'm using the spelling from the transcript for that last -- the Macquarie does not list it, instead plumping for 'shoofty' as its spelling of choice.  I agree with the transcript, I should add, as does Chambers.)

Round 4: I E A O N S T F M

I had AEON, NOISE, FAINTS, FAMINES, and FOAMIEST.  I was trying to recall the eight that did not involve the F, and after time it came to me: MASONITE.

Once more the contestants declare seven-letter words; this time Brydon has MOISTEN to Niall's FAMINES.  David flirted with FANTOMISE (obviously not valid), then found MANIFEST and used the remaining O for MANIFESTO.  Very nicely done!

The other sevens are INMATES / MAINEST (by abuse of the single-syllable rule), FOMENTS, ATOMISE / ATOMIES (ATOMY being an archaic term for an atom), ANOMIES (ANOMIE: "a social vacuum marked by the absence of social norms or values"), FAINEST, FOMITES (plural of FOMES: "a substance, as bedding or clothing (but not food), capable of transmitting infection"), MONTIES*, and ATONIES*.


Scores: Brydon 10 (31), Niall 10 (24), me 44

Round 5: K R U T I N L E B

I had RUIN, TRUNK, UNLIT, BUNKER, BLINKER, TRIBUNE / TURBINE, and was tempted by BURNLIKE but rightly rejected it.  After time I noted that this was close to yesterday's conundrum -- just change the K to a P to get BLUEPRINT.  I also noted the other sevens of BULKIER and NUTLIKE.

Yet again it's sevens, with both contestants finding BLINKER.  David had it also, and mentions TURBINE as another possibility.

Seven is the best to be done here; the others are REBUILT, BLUNTER, TUBLIKE, and URNLIKE.


Scores: Brydon 17 (38), Niall 17 (31), me 51

Round 6: Target 656 from 25 50 4 1 8 8

The offset of 6 was not immediately approachable, at least not without using up too many small numbers.  I wrote down a fallback 658 = (8 + 4 + 1)*50 + 8 and kept looking.  Fortunately I realised that 56 was 7*8, and a tweak sorted the rest out: 656 = (50 + 25 + 8 - 1)*8.

There has not been much to choose between the contestants so far, with only Niall's invalid declaration in round one leading to a difference.  But this time we have a difference, with Brydon declaring 658 (presumably the fallback option that I listed above) but Niall solving this.  Niall used the same solution that I did, and that puts him into the lead for the first time.  Interestingly, he solved it quite quickly, finishing writing just ten seconds in.  Lily has solved it the same way.

That calculation makes 656 as 8*82, but there's a shorter way to do that: 656 = (50 + 4*8)*8.  The only other solution is a disguised variant of it: 656 = ((25 + 8)*4 - 50)*8.

Brydon: 658
Niall: 656
Me: 656
Lily: 656

Scores: Brydon 17 (38), Niall 27 (41), me 61

Second break: FOND NICE ("Swindler pays the price")


Round 7: H C P O A G E T D

I had CHOP, speculatively wrote down EPOCH for when an E turned up (but missed POACH), and PATCHED.  I briefly wondered about HECTAPOD, but was right to avoid it.  After time I noted CATHODE as another seven.

In keeping with the way things have been, the contestants each declare seven-letter words.  They have both gone for PATCHED in this case.  David points out the alternative of CATHODE.

The remaining sevens in this mix are POACHED and POTHEAD.


Scores: Brydon 24 (45), Niall 34 (48), me 68

Round 8: Target 956 from 100 50 4 7 8 8

A large target, ending in 56 again.  I got so hung up on trying to use 7*8 that I somehow forgot that tweaking was an option.  I could not find a way to make it work; time got short, and as I scrambled to get something -- anything! -- down it expired on me.  What I had started to write down wasn't going to get me within range in any case; I lost the plot, basically.  As usual, as soon as the time pressure was off I saw how to resolve my difficulties with a tweak: 956 = 8*(100 + 7) + (8/4)*50.

This time Niall has not been able to get within range, but Brydon has done well to get to just two off with 958 = (8 + 7 + 4)*50 + 8.  That should have been quite findable, but I got hung up on trying to make the solution exactly.  Brydon reaps the rewards of having a fallback, and rightly so.  Lily then makes it look terribly easy with her solution of 956 = (100 + 8)*7 + 4*50.

There's a few other solutions, but one of them would have been more findable if I had known those alternatives to round 6.  Effectively, they were making an offset of 256 as 4*8*8, and the same is applicable here: 956 = 7*100 + 4*8*8.  Bother.

Brydon: 958
Niall: [not in range]
Me: [no answer]
Lily: 956

Scores: Brydon 31 (52), Niall 34 (48), me 68


So, we come to the conundrum with it mattering -- exactly the situation that Brydon said that he hoped to avoid at the start of the game.  Still, at least he is ahead.  I got hung up on -ENCE for a while, and even when I considered the -ED ending it still took me a bit to find NEGLECTED.  Still, I got there.

It looked like neither contestant would solve this, but with three seconds left Niall buzzed in.  That turned out to be an act of desperation, as he gestures helplessly and suggests CENTLEDGE.  Brydon gets the few remaining seconds, but is not able to solve it in that time.  Still, his good result in the last numbers round carries him to victory here, and to successful retirement.

Brydon: [no answer]
Niall: [invalid -- CENTLEDGE (27s)]

Scores: Brydon 31 (52), Niall 34 (48), me 78

So, a very close game tonight.  The contestants declared seven-letter words in every letters round, and only Niall's invalid choice let Brydon score there.  There was little to choose between them in the numbers this time, but Niall's solution gave him slightly more points than Brydon's near miss.  If Niall had only had a valid seven to declare in round one that would have been enough to get him through, but instead Brydon successfully retires.  Congratulations, Brydon!

I'm disappointed at my freeze in round eight, but other than that I did pretty much as well as I could have.  MANIFESTO was always going to be too difficult for me to spot, I think, unless the letters helpfully spelled it partially out.  I could see myself missing it even if I found MANIFEST, for that matter.


Justin Thai said...

Niall was unlucky to get Brydon, who with L+N retiring champion is also a $300,000 man

658-(8+4-+1)x50+8 (spotted (25+50+8-1)x8 too late :()
956-(100+7)x8+(8/4)x50 (last second as it gets!)
10-11 sec

Geoff Bailey said...

Well done on solving round 8 within time, Justin -- a very commendable result! Is round two a typo, though? You can have AGROUND, or GROUNDS, but not AGROUNDS.

Justin Thai said...

Oh jeez I forgot AGROUND is an adjective, oopsie

Mike Backhouse said...

I had some bad luck on this game. I wrote down wrong letters in three games. N instead of M in rounds 1 and 4 and sadly only used my notes. And T instead of C in round 7, although given what had happened earlier, I used the screen as well as my notes and managed a 7.

Bit of a wake up call really.

x LATCHER (a dodgy guess-had I written down M, I would have almost certainly have declared the safer REMATCH)
AROUND (should have seen AGROUND!)
FASTEN (had I written down the M, I hope I would have got MOISTEN, as I was looking for -EN words)
Niall's way
8*100+4*(50-8)-7=961 (4 off)

Emily said...

Great poem Geoff! Thanks for sharing.
And I agree with Justin. If Niall had been in the next game instead, as one of two new challengers, it would have been interesting to see how far he went.

DANGEROUS (Saw it at the last minute! I really have to get back in the mindset of always assuming there's a nine to be found in the mix, treating it like a conundrum.)
FIESTA (Groan. Had one of those letters games where the letters blurred together and I was lucky to get anything down!)
BLINKER (I also saw BLUEKRINT after last night's conundrum! And couldn't see much else for a few seconds.)
(8+8-7)*100+50+4=954 (2 off)
NEGLECTED at 20ish seconds

Sam G said...

Niall could have had a good streak if he hadn't been thrown up against Brydon first game. I remembered that he speculated on a conundrum at one point.

I nailed everything but METRICAL here, with much time to spare every round. As with all of these reruns, faint subconscious memory may have helped.

3. 110 = 75 + (6-1)*(4+3)
4. MANIFESTO. Like DANGEROUS, a high-probability nine I've come across often.
6. 656 = (50 + 25 + 8 - 1)*8
8. 956 = (100 + 8)*7 + 4*50