Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Ep 101: Brett Chaiyawat, Jason Dunn (May 11, 2016; originally aired December 20, 2010)

Rounds: Here.

Whoo, it's been a while; we'll have to see whether I can remember how to do this again!  My brain is a bit frazzled from the MUMS Puzzle Hunt (currently going on), so this could be a rocky start.  Certainly I've become used to the more relaxed pace of guessing at time.  Anyway, on to the show:

Brett Chaiyawat is the returning champion, having finished the previous season on four wins without loss; a fifth win will almost certainly put him into the finals.  Richard points out that there has been quite a gap due to the finals series, and asks if Brett has been practising.  Brett responds that he has been learning from the finals and they were amazing.  Richard notes that Brett is now the longest carry-over champion, due to the long gap, a record Brett is quite happy to hold.

The first challenger of the new season is Jason Dunn, who has spent time working in a chemistry lab, is a budding novelist, and also is part of an improvisational theatre group.  Richard opines that improvisational theatre can be quite challenging, and Jason agrees, but adds that you do have moments of magic when you get up and do it.

Brett started out with an excellent word to take the early lead, but then stumbled in the next round with an invalid spelling.  Jason took the lead thanks to a tough first numbers round, and Brett continued to have difficulties with word validity.  He needed to make back ground with the numbers, but the remaining ones were just too easy.  Jason was safe going into the conundrum, and solved it some twenty seconds in to win by 25 points, 59 to 34.

I was showing the signs of brain fatigue as well as rustiness, mostly unable to hit the letters maxima and only just getting there in the first numbers round.  Fortunately I managed a couple of small pickups, and solved the conundrum quickly to get home ahead of the contestants.  Phew!

Round 1: A O I N C N T I A

This mix was looking all right, but Brett went hard on the vowels, presumably in search of an E.  I had ICON / COIN, CONTAIN, ACTION / CATION, and NATION.  After time I thought I had found another seven of CANTINA, but apparently it is not in the Macquarie.

Brett decides to "risk" an eight, prompting Jason to declare "a low-risk six".  I paused at this point to find a potential eight, and it took me a couple of minutes to find INACTION.  I feel I should have seen it, or at least been closer to it, but I think I mostly stopped looking after finding CONTAIN.  In any case, Jason has gone with NATION and Brett has indeed found INACTION, kicking off the game in fine style.  Well done!

INACTION is the only eight, and the best to be done.  The other sevens are NICOTIN (variant spelling of NICOTINE), ANIONIC (adjective derived from ANION, a negative ion), ACTINON ("an inert gas, an isotope of radon, of mass number 219, produced by the disintegration of actinium"), and ACTINIA (a type of sea anemone).


Scores: Brett 8, Jason 0, me 0

Round 2: M D R P A E E O G

Jason gets his first selection of the round, and it looks like it should be more promising than it is.  I had PRAM and DAMPER, then rightly rejected PREMADE.  After time I noted another six of AMPERE, but could not better it.

Jason declares DAMPER for six, and looks to be outdone when Brett declares a seven.  But Brett has come unstuck here; his answer of GROAPED is not valid (presumably he was thinking of GROPED).  David has found the legitimate seven of MEGAPOD ("having large feet").

Interestingly, it seems that David must not have looked that up to check it was in the Macquarie; if he had, he would presumably have seen that the next entry was MEGAPODE (any bird in the family Megapodiidae, such as the brush turkey).  Aside from words already mentioned, six is the limit.

Brett: [invalid -- GROAPED]

Scores: Brett 8, Jason 6, me 6

Round 3: Target 732 from 25 100 75 3 9 3

And onto the numbers rounds; Brett goes with Lily's favourite balanced mix.  The small numbers are all divisible by 3, which could be an issue.  My first attempt was to start with 9*75, but the offset of 57 was inconvient.  Tweaking that would have got me to one away with 733 = 9*(75 + 3 + 3) + 100/25, but my thoughts had taken a different turn.  My next adjustment had been to 9*75 + 100 - 25 = 750, effectively making 10*75, and the offset of 18 was 9*2.  Unfortunately there was no 2 to be had, but 18 is also 6*3.  That led me to consider making the 750 as 6*125 instead, and thus finding the factorisation 6*122; a solution easily followed: 732 = (9 - 3)*(100 + 25 - 3).

Brett has found it too challenging, and not managed to get anywhere with this.  Jason barely scrapes into the scoring range with his find of 741 = 75*9 + 100 - 25 - 3*3.  Lily has found the solution that I did, and it turns out to be the only one.

Brett: [no answer]
Jason: 741
Me: 732
Lily: 732

Scores: Brett 8, Jason 6 (11), me 16

First break: PERIL CUB ("Place for the people, by the people")

Such a place would be a REPUBLIC.

David's talk is about some terms linked by the number two: diploma, biscuit, bifocals, and the pseudonym Mark Twain.

Round 4: S C O E D H I I R

I had CODES, COSHED, HORDES, and HEROICS.  After time I noted CHOIRED as another seven.

It's sixes from each contestant, with Brett having SCORED and Jason HORDES.  David has found ORCHIDS as a nice seven.

The other sevens are COHEIRS, CHIDERS, CIRSOID ("varix-like; varicose"), and ERICOID ("(of a leaf) small and sharp-pointed, as the leaf of an erica or other heath").  My revised rules would additionally allow DISHIER*.


Scores: Brett 8 (14), Jason 6 (17), me 23

Round 5: U E E L S T R U X

That pair of U's is likely to be unhelpful, and the X is not particularly good either.  I had LEES, ELUTES (ELUTE: "Chemistry in chromatography, etc., to remove by dissolving, as absorbed material from an adsorbent"), LUSTRE / RESULT / RUSTLE, and pondered EXULTERS but decided that it was just a bit too unlikely for the Macquarie.

Brett decides to risk an eight again, but he is definitely less confident about this one.  Meanwhile, Jason has gone with what he describes as an obscure six of ELUTES.  That gets the nod, but Brett's choice of EXULTERS is not listed, and I'm glad that I avoided it.  David has gone with RESULT / LUSTRE as his sixes, and could not manage better.

It turns out that there is a seven here: LUREXES.  The remaining sixes are LUSTER / SUTLER ("History a person who followed an army and sold provisions, etc., to the soldiers") / ULSTER ("a long, loose, heavy overcoat, originally made of cloth from northern Ireland"), EXERTS / EXSERT ("to thrust out"), EXULTS, UTERUS / RETUSE ("(of a leaf, etc.) having an obtuse or rounded apex with a shallow notch"), and SETULE (variant of SETULA: "(of plants and animals) a short blunt seta or bristle-like part").

Those invalid answers have cost Brett his good early lead, and now Jason is a worrying 9 points ahead.  It's certainly not conclusive, but Brett cannot afford to lose more ground or it might be over before the conundrum.

Brett: [invalid -- EXULTERS]

Scores: Brett 8 (14), Jason 12 (23), me 29

Round 6: Target 483 from 50 75 8 6 9 10

My first instinct was to get close with 6*75, adjust closer with the 50, and then the remaining offset of 17 was handily 9 + 8.  Putting that together gave me 483 = 6*75 + 50 - 9 - 8.  I then contemplated the standard approach of 475 + 8, but was not able to find any good use of that within time.

After time I looked back at my solution and realised that I was just doing 500 - 17, and could make this more simply as 483 = 10*50 - 8.  I also spent a bit more thought on the 475 + 8 route, and found two solutions that way: 483 = 10*50 - 75 / (9 - 6) + 8 and 483 = (10 + 9)*(75 - 50) + 8.

Both contestants have solved this.  Jason has apparently followed similar thought processes to me, since he has the first of those solutions that I found; Brett, however, has found the simpler version.  Lily has found a nice alternative solution, tweaking her way to that 475 + 8 with 483 = (50 + 10 - 9)*8 + 75.

Brett: 483
Jason: 483
Me: 483
Lily: 483

Scores: Brett 18 (24), Jason 22 (33), me 39

Second break: FLUB DEED ("A confusing mix-up")

Such a mix-up might well BEFUDDLE.

Round 7: I A A N R R N E S

Yuck, excess duplication is usually problematic.  I had RAIN, INNER, and ARISEN.  I noted NARNIA there, but even at my most optimistic would not try NARNIAS.  After time I noted another six of SIERRA, but checking confirmed that SIERRAN was not listed.  I also observed that changing one of the N's into a G would have yielded the nine of GRANARIES.

It's sixes again from the contestants, with Jason having SINNER, while Brett attempts the unusual SAINER.  It seems likely that this is a similar issue to GROAPED, where he has got the vowel incorrect in SANER, but David points out that SAIN is listed: "Archaic to make the sign of the cross on as to protect against evil influences".  It seems briefly possible that Brett has found an interesting word, but -- alas! -- there is no corresponding SAINER.  That makes a third invalid word for Brett, and now he is behind by more than the conundrum.

David has managed to find the only seven of INSNARE.  This is listed as a variant spelling of ENSNARE, and so we have the usual situation where INSNARER* could be argued for but a strict reading precludes it.  (ENSNARER is listed, but INSNARER is not explicitly listed).

After those words, sixes are the best of the remainder.

Brett: [invalid -- SAINER]

Scores: Brett 18 (24), Jason 28 (39), me 45

Round 8: Target 141 from 100 50 10 8 9 4

Jason is 15 points ahead, so Brett needs unanswered points here to have a chance.  Jason takes a conservative two large numbers, and gets an easy target; I went with 141 = 100 + 50 - 9.

Both contestants have solved this, as expected, and that is bad news for Brett.  Jason goes first, surprising Lily with a slightly scenic route of 141 = 100 + 4*10 + 9 - 8.  Brett has gone for the simpler version that I had, as has Lily.

Brett: 141
Jason: 141
Me: 141
Lily: 141

Scores: Brett 28 (34), Jason 38 (49), me 55


I looked at this and had that immediate sensation of "I know this", but still took a second or so to actually find the answer of VEGETABLE.

Both contestants end up writing on their paper, and that is not something that one sees too often -- usually at least one prefers to just stare at the screen and rearrange the letters mentally.  There's a tradeoff to be made: If the conundrum is easy, it's best not to start writing as that takes up time and attention; on the other hand, if it is difficult then writing down the letters can help greatly.  So one has to guess which will be the better approach.

This conundrum was difficult for the contestants, but with a handful of seconds left on the clock Jason finds the solution, pushing him over the half century.

Brett: [no answer]
Jason: VEGETABLE (25s)

Scores: Brett 28 (34), Jason 38 (59), me 65

It was tough to make headway in any of the rounds tonight; very few offered the scope for a good find that the opponent would not see.  Brett did well to find such an option in the first round, but thereafter stretched too far and ended up with three invalid words.  With the numbers rounds not going well for him -- Jason managed to scramble points in the only difficult one -- it was too much of a handicap to overcome.  So Brett finishes his run with five games; that leaves him with a chance of making the finals, but his cumulative total of 188 points is a bit low; in series one, the only five-game contestant had a cumulative total of 233 points -- effectively a full game more than Brett at the rate he was scoring.

It is hard to assess Jason's performance in this game; he had solid but unexceptional results, and those turned out to be good enough.  We'll have to see how he goes tomorrow.


Mike Backhouse said...

Excellent write up and performance Geoff. It was interesting playing 'live' with TV again and being closer to the pressure contestants must be under.

(3+3)*(100+25)-9 = 741 (9 off) saw solution after time
6*75+(50/10)+1=481 (2 off)
VEGETABLE (approx 10s as I freeze framed it)

Mike Backhouse said...

Typo in second numbers. Bracket should be before 75 not 50.

BadBeatPete said...

Round 1 - Inaction
Round 2 - Damper
Round 3 - (75+9)*(3*3)=756, 756=25=731 (1 away)
Round 4 - Heroics
Round 5 - Lustre
Round 6 - (50*10)-(9+8)=483
Round 7 - Insane
Round 8 - (100+50)-9=141
Round 9 - Vegetable (Total time 1 second)

BadBeatPete said...

I meant to put - instead of = when subtracting 25 from 756.

A shame that I can't edit the post once I have published it :(

Justin Thai said...

Like Brett probably was from his layoff, I was rusty not having watch L+N for a long time, although had some good parts I guess...

Went totally blank
CHORES (CHOIRED found a little too late)
between 1 and 2 sec

Geoff Bailey said...

Thanks, Mike. And good news: SNARER is listed.

Pete: Another strong game from you -- well done!

Justin: Nice work to spot INACTION, and I sympathise with you about the rustiness. Hopefully you'll work that out soon.