Monday, 9 March 2015

Ep 276: Paul Breen, Barry Cook (March 9, 2015; originally aired September 19, 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.

Paul is back for his third night, hopefully refreshed after the rest as compared with Friday's game.  Richard asks him for more information about the digital image manipulation that is Paul's job.  Paul says that it is his job to make sure that the images they have look OK once they are in the magazine.  This might involve tweaking colours, or changing or removing backgrounds, things like that.

Tonight's challenger is Barry Cook, a retired IT project manager.  Richard suggests that computer technology has changed a lot since Barry entered the field, which Barry wholeheartedly agrees with.  He started in 1961, it seems, and notes that everyone's laptop or desktop these days is much more powerful than the original machines that he started work on.  Also, back then computers used drum memory; Richard comments that one of those would not fit on your mobile phone, and Barry retorts that it would be lucky to fit into the studio.

It's a shame that Barry's comparison with computers today was not put in more perspective; to take an example, the IBM 7090 cost almost three million dollars at the time and took up considerable room (see this picture for an example, and note that the computer is much more than just the console the man is sitting at -- it includes all the tape drives in the background, for instance, and more besides).  A typical desktop today is over thirty thousand times faster (and capable of doing four things simultaneously at that speed), and much less than a ten-thousandth of the cost after converting the mainframe price to today's dollars.

Barry found a couple of very good words to take the early lead.  Paul got some of the ground back in the first numbers round, but then Barry extended it again in round four.  Paul managed to match Barry in the fifth round, and another good numbers result put him only a little behind.  Then Barry faltered in the last letters round and Paul took the lead for the first time in the game.  Neither contestant was able to make any headway on the last numbers round, and the conundrum also proved to be too difficult for them both.  Paul wobbled home with the win, 31 to 26.

I missed a couple of longer words that I would have found within time on a better day.  The numbers were handled all right, and I solved the conundrum with just a few seconds left.  A decent but not exceptional performance.

As usual, details after the jump.

Round 1: S B H M O I U A R


Paul has clearly struggled with this mix, only being able to get MUSH for four.  Barry has found the nice six of AMBUSH, which is quite well done.  David has managed to go that one better, though, finding RHOMBUS for seven.  Bravo!

There is an eight to be found here.  It did not exist as a word back when I was in school, but those who have learned their periodic tables rather more recently might know that element 107 is now called BOHRIUM, and thus find the eight of BOHRIUMS.  The other sevens are BOHRIUM, MOHAIRS, BOARISH, RHUMBAS (RHUMBA being a variant spelling of RUMBA), and MIHRABS (MIHRAB: "Islam a niche in a mosque, indicating the direction of Mecca").

Paul: MUSH

Scores: Paul 0, Barry 0 (6), me 7

Round 2: E O T N K A E R L

I had TONE, ATONE, KETONE, ANKLET, TANKER, and ETALON (a type of interferometer).  Just after time I saw ETERNAL, and was vexed to have missed it.  I've certainly found it before.

This time Paul has found TANKER for six, but Barry has found ETERNAL for another good result.  That jumps him out to a thirteen point lead, and if he keeps up this letter form then Paul is not going to be able to recover.  ETERNAL was also David's find.

The other sevens are RETAKEN and TELERAN ("a system of aircraft navigation using radar to map the sky above an airfeld, which, together with the map of the airfield itself and other pertinent data, is transmitted by television to the aeroplane approaching the field").


Scores: Paul 0, Barry 7 (13), me 7

Round 3: Target 539 from 75 25 10 5 3 8

It seemed sensible to start with 7*75, and the offset of 14 is also divisible by 7.  That highlighted the factorisation of 7*77, which is also 11*49.  The latter seemed difficult to use, but I managed to make the former work with 539 = (25 - 10 - 8)*(75 + 5 - 3).  After time I considered the descent from 550 and found the alternative, and simpler, solution of 539 = 5*(75 + 25 + 10) - 8 - 3.

Barry is four away with 535; there's lots of ways to make that, but very few that seem plausible.  My best guess is that this was (75 - 25)*(8 + 3) - 10 - 5.  In any case, Paul has managed to get to just one away with 538 = (75 - 25 + 3)*10 + 8.  Lily has gone with the solution that I found after time.

That result gets Paul back within striking distance, but it's still early days.

Paul: 538
Barry: 535
Me: 539
Lily: 539

Scores: Paul 0 (7), Barry 7 (13), me 17

First break: TABLE ICE ("No sex please, we're British")

The first part of the clue, at least, is cluing CELIBATE (rather than CITEABLE).

David's talk is about various crossings named after animals: zebra crossing, wombat crossing (somewhat similar to a speed bump), pelican crossing, puffin crossing, toucan crossing, and pegasus crossing.

Round 4: O U T F A M N I W

I had TUFA ("a porous mass of mineral calcium carbonate deposited round a spring"), TOFU, OUTMAN, and TINAMOU (a type of bird).  After time I noted AMOUNT as another six.

Paul has found FAINT for five here, but again Barry has outdone him by finding AMOUNT for six. That puts him ahead by more than a conundrum again.  David has found TINAMOU, citing it as a familiar Scrabble word.

TINAMOU is the only seven, and AMOUNT / OUTMAN the only sixes.


Scores: Paul 0 (7), Barry 7 (19), me 24

Round 5: R D P C E A E S O

I had PACED, CARPED, CAPERED, SCRAPED, and ESCAPED.  After time I considered RESPACED but checking confirmed that I was correct to reject it, and then saw PROCEEDS for eight.  That was another disappointing miss.

Paul has matched Barry this time, with both contestants finding ESCAPED.  Given what looks like Paul's advantage in the numbers, that should be enough for Paul to at least have a chance going into the conundrum.  David has accurately found PROCEEDS for eight.

The other eights are ESCARPED and PEASECOD ("the pod of the pea").  Some sources would allow SCOREPAD, but it's not in the Macquarie.


Scores: Paul 7 (14), Barry 14 (26), me 31

Round 6: Target 989 from 75 25 8 3 5 10

The numbers here are the same as in the first round, and I've complained before about how the numbers do not get properly randomised between rounds.  Lily only makes one different choice, and it seems that it coincidentally had the same value as the one she did not choose.

Anyway, the target is near 1000, and that must be a tempting start.  The offset is a very formable 11, and so gave me the solution 989 = 10*(75 + 25) - 8 - 3.

Richard suggests that the target was not that difficult -- he tends to base such claims on how soon he sees Lily stop staring at the board -- but this embarrasses Barry a bit as he has not got anywhere with this.  Paul has seized this chance, solving it in the same way that I did and closing the gap to just two points.  Lily has solved it in the same way.

Paul: 989
Barry: [not in range]
Me: 989
Lily: 989

Scores: Paul 17 (24), Barry 14 (26), me 41

Second break: OPAL TINY ("Two elements of an animal create this style")

I don't like the clue that much -- it seems perverse to call PONY an element of an animal -- but the answer is PONYTAIL.

Round 7: N C B T E A U R I

After the first four letters I wrote down a speculative CABINET.  Then I had CANT, TURBAN, and CENTAUR.  After time I noted down some other sevens: CERTAIN, CURTAIN, TRIBUNE / TURBINE, CARBINE, URINATE, and TUNICAE (plural of TUNICA: synonymous with anatomical or similar meanings of TUNIC, such as "any loose membranous skin not formed from the epidermis").  Then I found the eight of INCUBATE.

Unexpectedly, Barry has faltered here and was only able to find the five of TRICE.  Paul has done well to find CENTAUR and finally hits the lead.  David points out that we had this same mix not so long ago (it was episode 259).  Back then he found INCUBATE, and he did so this time as well.

The other eights are URBANITE / BRAUNITE (a mineral) and BACTERIN ("a vaccine prepared from dead or attenuated bacteria").

Barry: TRICE

Scores: Paul 24 (31), Barry 14 (26), me 48

Round 8: Target 486 from 75 25 5 10 1 3

Lily chooses almost the same positions again, and gets five of the same numbers.  I really do wish the crew randomised the tray between rounds.  Anyway, my first instinct was to make this as 500 - 14, and I went with 486 = (75 - 25)*10 - 3*5 + 1.  After time I noted the alternative option of 486 = 5*(75 + 25) - 10 - 3 - 1.

After Barry's unexpected stumble in the last round Paul is in good position to put the game beyond Barry's reach.  It becomes an even better chance when Barry turns out not to have managed to get anywhere with this; that's a surprising result, as getting to 500 does not present too many difficulties and small adjustments thereafter are possible.  He was shaking his head in dissatisfaction as time ran out; just one of those things, I guess.

Barry gets a slight reprieve as Paul has also faltered here.  A very odd result, with neither contestant gettting anywhere on this approachable mix.  Lily demonstrates the second of the solutions that I found.

Paul: [no answer]
Barry: [no answer]
Me: 486
Lily: 486

Scores: Paul 24 (31), Barry 14 (26), me 58


A tough conundrum!  I kept circling back to ACTIVE, which was not helpful.  Eventually I considered the -ATE fragment and found the answer of VACCINATE with just three seconds left.

This is Paul's third conundrum decider in three games, and a tough one is not good for the nerves.  Time ticks away, and neither contestant showed any signs of making progress on it.  That lets Paul scrape home again, much the same as Friday's game.

Paul: [no answer]
Barry: [no answer]

Scores: Paul 24 (31), Barry 14 (26), me 68

Another close game tonight, with the letters favouring Barry but Paul striking back in the numbers.  It seemed that Barry ran out of steam in the end and that allowed Paul to sneak through with the win.  Any of the last three main rounds could easily have yielded Barry enough points to win if he had managed to see them, with the round seven omission being the most unexpected based on previous form.  I'd have to say that I feel Paul was lucky to get through this.


Justin Thai said...

Those number shufflers (and Lily) didn't learn their lesson

BARIUMS (didn't now if it was an element or not)
539-Lily's solution
989-also Lily's solution

Geoff Bailey said...

Justin: So true! It's perfectly understandable in Lily's case -- she just has to pick numbers quickly, and it's natural to fall into familiar patterns -- but it should definitely have been someone's job in the crew to mix up the numbers between rounds.

(I can sort of see why they don't do this -- the chance of dropping things and messing up other filming is there -- but still.)

Well done to find BARIUMS and INCUBATE!

Mike Backhouse said...

BRASH (wondered about MORISH but thought it dodgy)
Lily's way
x MANITOU (remembered this as the name of a movie, but on checking, it had a capital and was not in my second edition)
Paul and Geoff's way

Mike Backhouse said...

Actually, I checked dictionaries online and MANITOU is there without a capital, just not in the Macquarie presumably.

Sam G said...

Great first four letter rounds from Barry.

I liked the way the two name tags read "Paul Barry".

3. 539 = (75-25+5)*10 - 8 - 3
6. 989 = 10*(75 + 25) - 8 - 3
8. 486 = 5*(75 + 25) - 10 - 3 - 1
9. VACCINATE - 8.9s

Geoff Bailey said...

You were right to avoid MORISH, Mike -- the Macquarie has MORE-ISH (with the hyphen) as the spelling. So if the E is present, go with HEROISM instead.

I used to want to try MANITOU, but the Macquarie does not have it. (I mentioned this the first time in episode 372, I think.) It has made TINAMOU stick in my memory, though: I think "Ah, MANITOU. No, wait, that's not valid: TINAMOU."

Mike Backhouse said...

Thanks for the info. I'll try and remember that trick for remembering TINAMOU.

I must have started playing here after episode 372 so did not see your comment. But it gave me an idea to go back and play the earlier games, being careful not to scroll down past the letters, so I don't see the answers. That way I get some more practice with the benefit of your commentaries. (I need all the practice I can get, although I do detect some improvement since my earlier games, so I guess that's something).

Geoff Bailey said...

You might want to be a bit careful with that, as we'll hopefully continue the re-runs through into series 4 (episode 301 and co). Fingers crossed, anyway.

Starting at either episode 1 or NG 18 (when I shifted to the more helpful format for showing the games) would make sense, though. I can provide links if those are not easily findable.

Mike Backhouse said...

I hadn't thought of that Geoff. Thanks for the tip as I would like to keep playing along with the TV episodes.