Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Ep 106: Kathryn James, Rhys McCaig (May 18, 2016; originally aired December 27, 2010)

Rounds: Here.

Kathryn James gets her turn in the champion's seat tonight, and we find out that she plays indoor soccer.  She has done so for a couple of years, and is "more of a defender", having scored a total of one goal last year.

Tonight's challenger is Rhys McCaig, and IT consultant with an interest in politics, to the extent that he attended the inauguration of Barack Obama.  Rhys happened to be nearby at the time for a wedding, and knowing that the inauguration was coming up he scrambled to find a ticket online; he paid an exorbitant amount of money for it, but says it was possibly one of the most exciting moments of his life.

It was a low-scoring affair tonight, with no number targets being reached and only one word as long as seven letters found.  Rhys was in trouble from the start, finding only very short words (at one point declaring a three); Kathryn also had a bit of trouble finding long options, so her advantage was smaller than might have been expected.  Rhys managed to score points in the first numbers round to reduce the gap, but Kathryn stretched her lead over the next two letters rounds.  Rhys finally scored points in the last letters round, putting him barely within conundrum range, but then Kathryn sealed the win in the final numbers round.  She followed that up by solving the conundrum, for a 41 to 13 victory.

I was doing quite well until the last two rounds, and on track for a maximal game.  But I got lost in the final numbers round and so missed my chance to equal David and Lily.  Kathryn beat me to the conundrum, but I had a comfortable lead over both contestants in any case.

Round 1: N T O A R I H K O

A couple of unhelpful consonants at the end here.  I had RANT, RATION, and ORATION.  I also considered HAIRKNOT and rightly rejected it, and noted TROIKA as another six.

Rhys starts with HAIR for four, but Kathryn takes the round with her six of RATION.  David points out the extension to ORATION.

The other seven is HORNITO ("a low oven-shaped mound, common in the volcanic districts of South America, etc., usually emitting hot smoke and vapours from its sides and summit").  The other sixes are THORIA (a particular oxide of thorium), KATION (variant spelling of CATION), RATOON ( "a sprout or shoot from the root of a plant (especially a sugar cane) after it has been cropped"), THORON ("a radioactive isotope of radon, produced by the disintegration of thorium"), and KIRTAN ("Hinduism devotional poetry recited by devotees, the group repeating lines sung by a leader").

Kathryn: RATION
Rhys: HAIR

Scores: Kathryn 0 (6), Rhys 0, me 7

Round 2: B E D I F D E N A

I had BIDE, BIDED (probably not valid; the past tense is listed as BODE, with BIDED getting a separate mention only for the phrase BIDE ONE'S TIME), DEFEND, DEFINED, and BANDIED.  After time I checked up on FEEDBIN, finding that it is not valid.

Rhys has once again been limited to four with FEED, while Kathryn has FINED for five.  She did describe it as a safe five, so presumably she had a potential longer word in mind (BIDDEN, maybe; it is archaic but valid).  David points out again that Kathryn's word could have been extended, this time to DEFINED.

Both sevens have been listed, and they are the best to be done.

Kathryn: FINED
Rhys: FEED

Scores: Kathryn 0 (11), Rhys 0, me 14

Round 3: Target 785 from 75 25 100 6 5 8

The offsets for the standard method are 10 and 15; starting with 8*100 seemed like a good idea.  Happily I spotted an easy route to 15 and so found 785 = 8*100 - 75/5.  After time I considered making a 3 from 75/25, and so found an alternative of 785 = 8*100 - 5*75/25.  Somewhat later I noticed that the offset of 15 is also an offset of 40, which is 8*5, and so spotted another solution: 785 = 8*(100 - 5) + 25.

Kathryn is two away with 783 (my best guess is that this was 783 = 5*6*25 + 100 - 75 + 8), but Rhys has managed to get one closer with 786 = 8*100 - 25 + 5 + 6.  That's some much-needed points for him, particularly since it seems like he might not get many points in the letters rounds.

Lily has solved this with the second of the solutions that I listed above.

Kathryn: 783
Rhys: 786
Me: 785
Lily: 785

Scores: Kathryn 0 (11), Rhys 0 (7), me 24

First break: ALONG AID ("A slanted position")

That would be a DIAGONAL.

David's talk is about back-formations, such as sculpt or laze; he cites other examples of obsess and babysit.

Round 4: O R G E P T A B G

I had OGRE / GORE, GROPE, PORTAGE, and PROBATE.  I'd hoped for the final letter to be an A for ABROGATE, but the next vowel would not have been an A in any case.

Rhys continues his poor letter form with the surprisingly short three of BAG.  Kathryn has BOATER for six, and that puts her exactly ten points ahead.  This is definitely trouble for Rhys.  David has found PORTAGE for his seven.

The remaining seven here is POTAGER ("a small kitchen garden").

Kathryn: BOATER
Rhys: BAG

Scores: Kathryn 0 (17), Rhys 0 (7), me 31

Round 5: R T E E A S T S W

I had TREE, EATER, EATERS, TESSERA ("each of the small pieces used in mosaic work"), SWEATER, and SWEATERS.

It's longer words from the contestants this time, with Rhys finding STARES for six but once again outdone by Kathryn who has found TEASERS for seven.  David lists the eights of SWATTERS, RESTATES, and SWEATERS.

The remaining eight is ESTREATS (ESTREAT: "a true copy or extract of an original writing or record, as of a fine").

Kathryn: TEASERS

Scores: Kathryn 0 (24), Rhys 0 (7), me 39

Round 6: Target 862 from 75 50 25 7 1 1

As soon as the pair of ones went up I thought this would be a difficult one.  Fortunately the target was somewhat near my favourite 875, and I was able to tweak my way to one away with 861 = 7*(75 + 50 - 1 - 1).

Rhys clearly needs to make up ground here, but it's a tough mix to even attempt it.  He ended up well outside the scoring range with 774, which is an unlikely result, since the only ways to get that involve subtracting a 1 from 775.  Did he get confused and think that 762 was the target, or just misread 775?  Regardless, he cannot score points for that.  Fortunately for him, Kathryn is also outside the scoring range with 875.

Lily does not mention how well she did, simply saying that sometimes the targets are impossible.  I think in later series she would have said how close she managed to get, but this early on it tended to be only a case of solved or not solved.

The target is unreachable, so one off is the best to be done.  There's only one other way to get that close, with 861 = (25 - 7)*(50 + 1 + 1) - 75.

Kathryn: [not in range]
Rhys: [not in range]
Me: 861

Scores: Kathryn 0 (24), Rhys 0 (7), me 46

Second break: ARISE CAP ("Where planes do their travelling")

That would be in their AIRSPACE.

Round 7: D C A O I J P N U

I had CODA, PANIC, UNPAID, and JOCUND ("Poetic cheerful; merry; gay; blithe; glad").

If Kathryn outscores Rhys here, she will win the game.  She has found POUND for five, but Rhys has come alive at last with the six of ADJOIN.  David has gone with JOCUND as his six.

The other six here is ANODIC ("relating to an anode or the phenomena in its vicinity").

Kathryn: POUND

Scores: Kathryn 0 (24), Rhys 6 (13), me 52

Round 8: Target 272 from 75 25 6 9 5 10

I've been going pretty well up to this point, but I really had trouble with this one.  I had to struggle to even get to one away with 271 = 10*25 + 75 / 5 + 6.  It seemed like this must be solvable, but it still took me quite a while to find a solution afterwards.  I first got there by noticing that the target was 5*6*9 + 10 / 5; that uses the 5 twice, but it can be finessed: 272 = (25*6*9 + 10)/5.  Then I revisited the standard method, putting the 9 and 6 aside to make the offset of 3.  Getting to 275 with the rest was surprisingly difficult, but I managed it with 272 = 10*(25 - 5) + 75 - (9 - 6).  What made seeing this tricky is that the 275 is not really made solely with multiples of the large numbers.

Rhys's good find last round has put him back in contention, but he still needs to take points here in order to have a chance.  He has once again ended up outside the scoring range with 285 (perhaps 10*(25 + 5) - 9 - 6?), while Kathryn picks up some points with her answer of 275 = 75*(9 - 6) + 5*10.  Lily has solved this with the last of the solutions that I listed above.

Later checking confirmed that there were very many solutions; my two favourites came from the factorisation 16*17: 272 = (10 + 6)*(9 + 5 + 75/25) and 272 = (25 - 9)*(75 + 10)/5.

Kathryn: 275
Rhys: 285
Me: 271
Lily: 272

Scores: Kathryn 0 (31), Rhys 6 (13), me 59


A tough conundrum!  None of the common patterns seemed to fit, and it just wasn't coming together for me.  Kathryn buzzed in at the eleven second mark, but it took me twice as long to see the answer of ACCORDION.

Kathryn: ACCORDION (11s)
Rhys: [no answer]

Scores: Kathryn 10 (41), Rhys 6 (13), me 59

Both contestants seemed to struggle today, but Rhys had by far the worst of it.  It never really felt like he was in contention, and in the end Kathryn cruised home to victory.  She will need to improve if she is to last the distance, though -- there were many findable better options tonight.

I'm disappointed at being so close to a maximal game only to falter at the end, but happy to have done well on the letters tonight.  Hopefully tomorrow will be even better!


Mike Backhouse said...

8*100-(75/25*5)=785 (went over)
(7+1)*(75+25+1)+50=858 (4 off)
6*(75-25-5)+10-9=271 (1 off and went over)

Sam G said...

3. 785 = 8*100 - 75/5
6. 861 = 7*(75 + 50 - 1 - 1)
8. 272 = (25+9)*(6 + 10/5)
9. ACCORDION ~13s. Was working with a phantom H for a while.