Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Ep 110: Matthew Thomason, Dane Watkins (May 24, 2016; originally aired December 31, 2010)

Rounds: Here.

Matthew Thomason gets a taste of the champion's seat, and it seems to be to his liking.  Tonight we find out that Matthew once shared a stage with Dame Joan Sutherland.  It was his professional stage debut, and he was working as a supernumerary (essentially, an extra), which he describes as "the lowest of the low [...] we stand around and keep very still, and try not to bump into people".  The production was an opera called Adriana Lecouvreur.  Matthew jokingly claims that at the first rehearsal he pulled Dame Joan aside, they had a chat, and agreed that she should do the singing and he should do the standing around, and that worked very well.

Tonights challenger is high school student Dane Watkins, who wants to study physiotherapy and eventually run his own clinic.  Over the last couple of years Dane has gotten into subjects such as physical education, which he says is about the theory and biomechanics of how the body works, how to heal it and prevent ourselves from damaging it any further.  (I must say, that's a far cry from what P.E. was when I was at school.)  He has found that he loves it, and he would like to grow up and learn how to apply that to help people involved in sports such as the ones he competes in himself.

At the start of round six there's another snippet revealed: Chris Scholten-Smith, the show's very first champion from episode 1, was Dane's English teacher in year 7.  Dane watched all his episodes, and apparently Chris had a big fan base back at school.

It's one of those soul-crushing games for Dane tonight -- Matthew just kept finding options that were marginally better.  It took until round six before Dane managed to get on the board at all, and I'm sure it was a relief!  Matthew scored points in every round, including a quick conundrum solution, and unsurprisingly finished greatly ahead, 64 to 15.

My game was mostly good, but once again it would have been so much better with an extra few seconds on the clock.  Three times I found better words just after the expiration of time, and one of those even eluded David's eagle eye, so that's a very rare chance to outdo him lost.  Lily stumbled in the last numbers round so that I ended up tying her and David on the solo score, but that just emphasises how much I needed to find those better words faster and so outdo them.  Maybe next time...

Round 1: B M E I R T O R E

I had RIME, TIMBER / TIMBRE, and METEOR.  After time I noted down other sixes of REMOTE and METIER ("trade; profession; line of work or activity"), and then saw TRIREME (an ancient type of boat, named for its three banks of oars) for seven.

Dane has found METRE for five (or maybe it was METER), but Matthew has homed in on TRIREME to take the early lead.  David mentions REMOTER as another seven.

The other seven here is ORBITER (my preferred rules would also allow BORTIER*, as BORTY is listed as derived from BORT: "low quality diamonds, and diamond fragments, valuable only for crushing to diamond dust").  My word list turns up BIOMETER as a potential eight, but it is not in the Macquarie.

Matthew: TRIREME

Scores: Matthew 7, Dane 0, me 0

Round 2: O E L T J I S C I

That J is a bit of a spoiler; I had JOLT, TOIL, TOILS, CLOSET, CITIES, and CITOLES (CITOLE being given in the Macquarie as a variant name for two different instruments, the cittern and the kithara).  After time I noted ELICITS as an alternative seven.

Dane has STOLE for five, but is again outdone by Matthew's choice of JOSTLE.  David has found SOLICIT for seven.

The other sevens are OILIEST / IOLITES (IOLITE being another name for the mineral CORDIERITE) and COLITIS ("inflammation of the mucus membrane of the colon").

Matthew: JOSTLE

Scores: Matthew 7 (13), Dane 0, me 7

Round 3: Target 683 from 50 25 4 7 3 10

A target that once caused me some difficulties (in episode 327).  The offset of 8 seemed troublesome, but the 17 is much easier.  That left a goal of getting to 700 with the rest of the numbers; 3*4*50 = 600 was a good jumping off point, and a tweak completed the solution: 683 = 4*(3*50 + 25) - 10 - 7.

Dane is two off with 685, which I'll take a guess was (7 + 4 + 3)*50 - 25 + 10.  But Matthew pips him by one, getting to one away with 682 = 50*10 + 7*25 + 3 + 4, and is now a daunting twenty points ahead.  Dane has a lot of work to do if he is going to catch up.

Lily makes it look easy by considering the option of 10*68 + 3 to get 683 = (50 + 25 - 7)*10 + 3.

Matthew: 682
Dane: 685
Me: 683
Lily: 683

Scores: Matthew 7 (20), Dane 0, me 17

First break: REAL CITY ("Covers two of the "three r's")

Those would be the reading and writing parts, for LITERACY.

David's talk is about three words for objects that are often given up as part of New Year's resolutions: chocolate, tobacco, and alcohol.

Round 4: P B U O F T I E Y

I had POUT, BITEY, and PIETY.  Just after time I saw BIOTYPE ("a group of organisms with the same hereditary characteristics"), which I was not certain about but I think I might have chanced anyway.

Dane has found BUOY for four, but once again Matthew has done one better with PIETY.  David thinks this was one of the nastiest mixes on the show, and has found the six of UBIETY ("the state of being in a definite place").  So if I'd gotten BIOTYPE within time I'd have actually outdone him, and levelled the solo scores; I'm even more disappointed at this miss now.

The remaining five here is BEFIT; I was a little surprised that POUTY is not in the Macquarie.

Matthew: PIETY
Dane: BUOY

Scores: Matthew 12 (25), Dane 0, me 22

Round 5: G G E V A O R T S

A pair of G's is not the most hopeful of signs, and the V is also potentially troublesome.  I had GAVE, GRAVE, GRAVES, STAGGER, and STORAGE.  After time I noted another seven of GORGETS (GORGET: "a piece of armour for the throat").

Matthew has STAGGER for seven, once more just outdoing Matthew who has GRATES for six.  David mentions STORAGE / TOERAGS as other sevens here.

The others sevens are GRAVEST, TAGGERS / GAGSTER (noun derived from GAG in the joke sense) / GARGETS (GARGET: "inflammation of the udder of cows, etc., caused by bacteria; mastitis"), and ORGEATS (ORGEAT: "a syrup or drink made from almonds (originally from barley), sugar, and a water prepared from orange flowers").

Matthew: STAGGER

Scores: Matthew 19 (32), Dane 0, me 29

Round 6: Target 207 from 100 9 8 5 2 1

The low target turns out to be very easy, with everyone finding 207 = 2*100 + 8 - 1.  I also observed the factorisation 9*23, and so found a solution in small numbers alone: 207 = ((8 + 1)*2 + 5)*9.

So Dane has finally managed to get on the scoreboard, which everyone is happy about.  But since Matthew also solved it Dane remains 32 points behind, meaning that he now needs a full monty in the last letters round in order to have a chance.

Matthew: 207
Dane: 207
Me: 207

Scores: Matthew 29 (42), Dane 10, me 39

Second break: RUST MAIL ("Generosity is its own reward")

A philosophy that leads to ALTRUISM.

Round 7: H S A E R N A F H

Oh, yuck, a pair of H's and an F.  Not a good mix, especially for Dane.  I had SHEA (a type of tree), SHARE, EARNS, SHEAF, and toyed with HASHER but was right to reject it.  Just as time ran out I saw AFRESH for six, but could not get it down in time.

Both contestants have five-letter words; Dane has FRESH while Matthew has SHEAF.  David points out that Dane could have added that A at the beginning to get AFRESH, and has also found REHASH.

So Matthew is now guaranteed to win this game; it's been bad luck for Dane, who might well have been in a better position against another player, but also good play from Matthew.

The other sixes here are the common ARENAS and the less common FRAENA (this got a mention just a week ago in episode 105; it is the plural of FRAENUM: "a small fold of membrane which checks or restrains the motion of a part, as the one which binds down the underside of the tongue").  But there is a seven here, missed by everyone: HARSHEN.

Matthew: SHEAF

Scores: Matthew 34 (47), Dane 15, me 44

Round 8: Target 979 from 100 5 9 1 1 10

Those are some pretty bad small numbers, and a high target.  But I hit upon the idea of making this as 10*97 + 9 fairly early, and so found a solution: 979 = (100 - 5 + 1 + 1)*10 + 9.

Matthew is five away with 984, but Dane has got one closer with 983.  However, when it is worked out, his answer of 100*10 - 9 - 1 - 1 - 5 is actually 984.  That makes his answer invalid; it even turns out to be the method that Matthew used for his answer.

To my surprise, Lily has not been able to solve this within time -- she was only able to get to 980.  I'll guess that this was 10*(100 - 1 - 1), but if so it is a bit surprising that she did not see the adjustment that I found.  This means that I've ended up tying David and Lily in the solo totals, and makes my letters misses even more vexing.

There is (essentially) only one other solution: 979 = (100 - 10/5)*10 - 1, where one of those 10's is 9 + 1.

Matthew: 984
Dane: [invalid -- 983]
Me: 979
Lily: 980

Scores: Matthew 34 (54), Dane 15, me 54


Matthew solves this quickly, and as I was in the process of reacting to that by pausing I also found the solution.

Matthew: GLADIATOR (3s)
Dane: [no answer]

Scores: Matthew 44 (64), Dane 15, me 54

Consistently good solving from Matthew tonight in the letters -- he did not leave much room there at all.  I think everyone was happy to see Dane get some points, but it was clearly too little, too late.  Dane handles it very gracefully at the end of the show, and that's always nice to see.

I was fortunate that the numbers let me get back ground tonight, otherwise I'd have had at most a tie against Matthew.  He's certainly keeping me on my toes, and I would not be surprised at all to lose a game to him.  Will that happen?  I hope not, but we'll just have to see.


BadBeatPete said...

Round 1 - Orbiter
Round 2 - Closet (Got "Elicits" after time)
Round 3 - (50+25)-7=68, (68*10)+3=683
Round 4 - x (I went with "Pouty")
Round 5 - Storage
Round 6 - (2*100)+(8-1)=207
Round 7 - Harshen
Round 8 - (100-5)+(1+1)=97, (97*10)+9=979
Round 9 - Gladiator (Total time : 4 seconds)

How Lily missed out the last maths problem was quite baffling. Considering how well she goes normally. :)

Mike Backhouse said...

(10+4)*50-25+7=682 (1 off)
REHASH (after pondering HASHER for a while)
9*(100+10-1-1)+5=977 (2 off)