Friday, 27 May 2016

Ep 112: Matthew Thomason, Matt Bolton (May 26, 2016; originally aired January 4, 2011)

Rounds: Here.

This is the crucial fourth night for Matthew Thomason, and Richard informs us that Matthew has done a lot of travel programs as part of his TV writing and directing career.  He points out that they look glamorous, but asks about the life.  Matthew responds that it is very enjoyable, but you don't get to "sit and do the touristy thing".  On the other hand, some great experiences can result.  Matthew relates an anecdote from one time when he was shooting in Pompei (and possibly in Pompeii, for that matter).  At lunchtime, the guide took them to a place where tourists don't generally go; the owner of the establishment took them aside, cooked them a special pasta and served them home-made wine, and they ended up having lunch in a 3000-year-old gymnasium.

Tonight's challenger is Matt Bolton, a database administrator who works for Oxfam Australia, and owns a geodesic dome house.  Richard asks why he decided on such an interesting architecture for his house.  Matt says that the unique structure of it was what appealed to him and his partner.  The house is actually two domes, made up of triangular sections that combine into hexagons and pentagons, making a shape somewhat similar to a soccer ball.

The contestants started with a nice pair of sevens, but then the wobbles set in -- each of their answers for the next two rounds were invalid.  Matthew managed to creep ahead in the fourth round, but it was the sixth round that effectively ensured his victory, as an error from Matt gave Matthew the unanswered points.  A good find in the final letters round ensured Matthew's victory; the final numbers round was too challenging for both contestants, but Matthew solved the conundrum in very quick time to pad out his scoreline, finishing the victor with 44 points to 12.

I missed a full monty in the second round, but managed to avoid the invalid options that the contestants found.  Aside from that I managed to hit maxima most of the way, except for the final numbers round where I discarded an approach too soon.  I was happy to solve the conundrum just ahead of Matthew, giving me a good final score with some nice words found.

Round 1: N R L E A E B T T

I had LEARN, ETERNAL, RENTABLE, and BLEATER.  After time I noted BATTLER as another seven.

I seem to have been on the contestants' wavefronts, as they have both found sevens that I listed; Matt has BLEATER and Matthew has BATTLER.  David mentions ENABLER as another seven (which is incorrect -- the Macquarie does not list it), but has also found RENTABLE for the eight.

The other sevens here are ENTREAT / RATTEEN (obsolete variant spelling of RATINE: "a rough woollen cloth, formerly in use chiefly for travelling coats") / TERNATE ("consisting of three; arranged in threes"), TENABLE, ABETTER, 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"), and RETABLE ("a decorative structure raised above an alter at the back, often forming a frame for a picture, bas-relief, or the like, and sometimes including a shelf or shelves, as for ornaments").

Matthew: BATTLER
David: [invalid -- ENABLER], RENTABLE

Scores: Matthew 0 (7), Matt 0 (7), me 8

Round 2: D O S E R T O E P

I had DOES, STRODE, ROOSTED, OERSTED (a unit of magnetic field strength), and SPORTED / DEPORTS.  After time I noted REPOSED as another seven.

Both contestants confidently declared eights, which set me back.  I spent a couple of minutes looking for better, eventually emerging with the dubious REPOSTED / POSTERED.  I don't think I'd have chanced them even if I had seen them (I think I did see REPOSTED in time, but not bothered to write it down), and I was thus somewhat vindicated when checking confirmed that they were not valid.  I kept on searching in case there was something better, and after noting down TROOPED as another seven I finally saw TORPEDOES for nine!  It turns out that TORPEDOS is also an acceptable plural form, so this was my best guess as to what the contestants had found.

It turns out both contestants have gone for POSTERED, so neither gets points.  David is as on track as ever, slipping the word TORPEDO into his ruling, and thus later TORPEDOES for nine.

There are two other eights here: DOORSTEP and PROTEOSE ("any of a class of soluble compounds derived from proteins by the actions of gastric juice, etc.").  The other sevens are TORPEDO, POOREST, DEPOSER, STOOPED, SPOORED, and TEREDOS (TEREDO: "a shipworm (genus Teredo)").

Matthew: [invalid -- POSTERED]
Matt: [invalid -- POSTERED]

Scores: Matthew 0 (7), Matt 0 (7), me 15

Round 3: Target 500 from 75 100 6 4 8 4

We don't have a five directly, so I went via 600 instead: 500 = 8*75 - 100.  Then I made the five for the alternative solution 500 = (6 - 4/4)*100.

Matt is three away with 497, but Matthew declares two closer with 499.  He looks a bit unsure, though, and his answer of 6*100 - 75 - 8*4 + 4 is actually equal to 497.  That leaves him with an invalid answer.  Matt has taken a different route, starting with 4*100 + 75, then stops and indicates that he has used the 4 three times, so his answer is also invalid.  I guess he was going with 4*100 + 75 + 4 + 4 + 6 + 8?  He could have just gone with 4*100 + 75 + 4*6 and got to 499, so that's a bad oversight.

I'm surprised that neither contestant made a 5 to get to the second solution that I list above, and even more surprised that they both managed to get invalid answers.  That's an unfortunate start to the game for both of them, but at least they haven't lost ground as a result.

Lily demonstrates that solution, which of course makes it all seem so simple.

Matthew: [invalid]
Matt: [invalid]
Me: 500
Lily: 500

Scores: Matthew 0 (7), Matt 0 (7), me 25

First break: SALTY PUP ("An unusual bill")

The clue is referencing the famous "duck bill" of the PLATYPUS.

David's talk is about the word donga, a type of prefabricated shelter in use in the arctic.

Round 4: S A R O K A C I N


Matt has been limited to COINS for five, while Matthew finally takes the lead with CROAKS for six.  David is on track as usual, having found OCARINAS for eight.

The other sevens are OCARINA, RANSACK, ANORAKS, and ARNICAS (ARNICA being a type of plant).

Matthew: CROAKS

Scores: Matthew 0 (13), Matt 0 (7), me 33

Round 5: O I Y P C U J N S

Wow, what a nasty mix.  I'd hoped for that U, as it turns out, and had COPY, COYPU, COYPUS, SONIC, and COUSIN.

Both contestants have found fives, Matthew with JOINS while Matt has found the nice JUICY.  David is pleased that they have both used the J, but has opted for COYPUS as his answer.

The other six here is JUPONS (JUPON: "a close-fitting tunic, usually padded and bearing heraldic arms, worn over armour").

Matthew: JOINS

Scores: Matthew 0 (18), Matt 0 (12), me 39

Round 6: Target 980 from 75 100 3 4 1 10

With the target being so close to 1000, the option of 10*98 was clearly tempting.  That worked well enough, giving me 980 = 10*(100 - 3 + 1).

Matt thought he had 980, but on review he says that he does not have it.  That's unfortunate for him -- presumably if he had correctly calculated his total he would have had something near to declate.  (Unlike Countdown, contestants on Letters and Numbers are required to write down the total as well as their working; I did not realise this for a couple of episodes while I was on the show, and I'm not entirely certain that I had written my totals down in cases where I solved it exactly.)  In any case, that error does not end up costing him since Matthew has solved this with 980 = 10*100 - 75/3 + 4 + 1.

Lily takes a slight scenic route in her answer of 980 = (100 - (4 - 3 + 1))*10.  There are a few other solutions, but the one I overlooked and should have seen is 980 = (10 + 3)*75 + 4 + 1.

This result has finally enabled Matthew to get some distance from Matt, and at this rate Matt is definitely in trouble.  All those invalid answers are costly!

Matthew: 980
Matt: [no answer]
Me: 980
Lily: 980

Scores: Matthew 10 (28), Matt 0 (12), me 49

Second break: CRANE LAB ("A famously wet Bill")

From the letters I thought this would be BALANCER, but that did not match the clue.  After some further thought I realised that the intended answer was BARNACLE, referring to the bawdy song "Barnacle Bill the sailor".  That seems a strange reference for a supposedly family-friendly show.

Round 7: B F I E H F A D W

Not a great mix, but that W was surprisingly helpful.  I had BIFF, BIFFED, WHIFFED, amused myself with the idea of BADWIFE as a pseudo-opposite to GOODWIFE (an archaic term for "the mistress of a household"), and BADDIE.

Matt was limited to WIDE for four here, but Matthew has found BIFFED to guarantee his victory.  David has found WHIFFED for seven.

The other six here is BAFFED (BAFF: "to strike the ground with a golf club in making a stroke").  The fives are ABIDE, WHIFF, FIFED, and HAWED.

Matthew: BIFFED
Matt: WIDE

Scores: Matthew 10 (34), Matt 0 (12), me 56

Round 8: Target 759 from 75 100 5 8 7 4

I'm disappointed with myself at this one; I wrote down a one-off 760 = 7*(100 + 8) + 4 as a fallback, and was not able to do better within time.  When time ran out I looked back an option I had discounted (8(*100 - 7) + 15), and saw that it would work after all: 759 = 8*(100 - 7) +75/5.  Bother!

Neither contestant has managed to get anywhere here, which seems somewhat poor.  Lily has ably found the solution that I found after time.

There are a few other solutions, but the one I like most uses the factorisation 23*33 to get 759 = (100 - 75 + 8)*(4*7 - 5).

Matthew: [no answer]
Matt: [no answer]
Me: 760
Lily: 759

Scores: Matthew 10 (34), Matt 0 (12), me 66


I saw the answer of AMBULANCE very quickly, and just as well -- just after I unpaused the video again, Matthew buzzed in with the correct answer.

Matthew: AMBULANCE (2s)
Matt: [no answer]
Me: AMBULANCE (1.5s)

Scores: Matthew 10 (44), Matt 0 (12), me 76

It was not high scoring from either contestant tonight, although to be fair some of the letter mixes were rather uncooperative.  But a lot of points went begging, with three rounds not yielding points for either contestant.  Matthew managed to be just a bit better on the letters tonight, which was enough for the win, but it would have been much much closer against a contestant who was adept at the numbers.  That seems not to have been Matt this time, but is something to watch out for.

I obviously did quite well against the contestants, and only dropped two maxima tonight.  Unfortunately one of those was a missed full monty, so the difference between my solo total and that of David and Lily looks rather large.  Still, it's better than I usually do this late in the week, so that's nice.


BadBeatPete said...

Round 1 - Rentable
Round 2 - Reposted
Round 3 - (8*75)-100=500
Round 4 - Anoraks
Round 5 - Juicy
Round 6 - ((100-3)+1)*10=980
Round 7 - Whiffed
Round 8 - (75-5)*8=560 (1 away)
Round 9 - Ambulance (Total time : 1 second)

Mike Backhouse said...

ROCKS then following a theme just after time SCORIA (loved ANORAKS Pete and OCARINAS Geoff!)
7*100+75-5-8-4=758 (1 off)

Sam G said...

1. BATTLER. Rejected RENTABLE, three bad rejections in a row.
3. 500 = 8*75 - 100. Not a champagne moment from the contestants.
6. 980 = 10*(100 - 3 + 1)
8. 759 = 8*(100 - 7) + 75/5
9. AMBULANCE ~3s. Well off the pace, it appears.
I feel like I didn't see one of the letters well here, as with ACCORDION the other day. Either I need glasses, my new TV is too wide for my seated distance, or some combination thereof. I will try leaning back as far as possible from now on, hopefully that works, or I will need to find a new excuse.