Sunday, 29 May 2016

Ep 113: Matthew Thomason, Ryan Turk (May 27, 2016; originally aired Janury 5, 2011)

Rounds: Here.

It's Matthew Thomason's fifth night, and a win here should put him into the finals.  His scoring has been decent, too, so even a loss tonight would stand him a decent shot at it, provided he scores adequately in the process.  Richard wheels out the question about technique, suggesting that perhaps we are running short of anecdotes for Matthew to tell, unlikely though that would seem -- he strikes me as somewhat of a raconteur.  In any case, Matthew indicates that there is no technique; he has done crosswords, including those by a certain DA, for many years, and he does the Target, but there doesn't seem to be a strategy behind any of it.  Sometimes he just sees a word, and other times he does not.

Tonight's challenger is Ryan Turk, an I.T. network engineer who was once verbally abused by Jim Courier, the famous tennis player, while Ryan was working as a line umpire for the Australian Open.  As Ryan relates it, he had called a ball out, and Courier responded by running over to him and screaming in his face.  There was a certain amount of instant karma here, though, although this may not have been apparent at the time: Ryan had reconsidered his call and decided that the ball was in, and was going to correct himself, but was not able to do so after that behaviour.

(This matter is covered in the ITF's Rules of Tennis, in appendix VI: Role of Court Officials, and I imagine that the line umpires are also given explicit instruction about this.  The relevant case decision is: If a line umpire realises a mistake, a correction should be made as soon as possible provided it is not as the result of a protest or appeal of a player.  Also, the result must stand in such a situation: A chair umpire must never overrule as the result of the protest or appeal by a player.)

The contestants started out with matching words in the first round, but Matthew found an excellent word in the second round to take the early lead.  He did so again in round four, pushing him clear by more than a conundrum.  The remaining letter rounds were shared, but Ryan made some good tactical choices in the numbers rounds to score points there and take over the lead going into the conundrum.  It was not enough, though, as Matthew continued his streak of very fast conundrum solutions to secure the win, 52 to 48.

I had decent results in most rounds, but unfortunately hit an invalid word in round two that set me back a bit.  I was a touch too slow with the right approach in the second numbers round, but overall managed to do enough to be comfortably clear of the contestants.  So far the winning run is continuing.

Round 1: S G E O M N U L A

There is some amusement here when, on the second choice, Matthew mistakenly asks for a T instead of a consonant.  An amused reminder about the rules is given, and we proceed.  I had GOES, MOUSE, LOUNGES, MANGOES, MANGLES, and SOLANUM (a type of plant).

The contestants have both found GNOMES for six, and David points out that it was there in the first six letters, and that you have to look past that.  He mentions LOUNGES and MANGLES as sevens, but has spotted the unusual eight of MOULAGES (MOULAGE: "the making of a mould in plaster of Paris, etc., of objects, footprints, type tracks, etc., especially for identification"; it is also a term for the mould itself).  That's a new word to me.

MOULAGES is the only eight.  The other sevens are MOULAGE, MANGELS (MANGEL being an acceptable term for MANGEL-WURZEL, a type of beet), ANGELUS ("Roman Catholic Church a devotion in memory of the nnunciation") / LANGUES (LANGUE: "Linguistics the abstract, underlying system of language possessed by all members of a speech community"), MELANOS (MELANO: "an animal characterised by an abnormal development of black pigment in the epidermis, hair, feathers, etc."), LANUGOS (LANUGO: "a coat of delicate, downy hairs, especially that with which the human foetus or newborn infant is covered"), and EUMONGS (EUMONG being a variant spelling of EUMUNG, any of certain species of acacia).

Matthew: GNOMES

Scores: Matthew 0 (6), Ryan 0 (6), me 7

Round 2: T P R E I N U C T

I had PERT, TRIPE, PURINE (a certain chemical), PICTURE, and INTERCUT.  Sadly for me, INTERCUT is not listed; I was greatly surprised by that.

Ryan has PUNTER for six, and when Matthew declared an eight I thought that he was also going to fall victim to INTERCUT, as it would fit with his television background.  But no, he has found the safe anagram of it: TINCTURE ("a solution of a medicinal substance in alcohol [...]").  Oh, well done!  David has nothing to add to this.

TINCTURE is the only eight.  The other sevens are NUTTIER, PUTTIER (not a comparative, as it might seem, but "someone who putties, like a glazier"), CUPRITE, and CITTERN (an old musical instrument).

Me: [invalid -- INTERCUT]

Scores: Matthew 8 (14), Ryan 0 (6), me 7

Round 3: Target 917 from 75 100 7 5 10 8

As has become his established habit, Matthew sticks with the two large option.  The idea of making this as 925 - 8 seems quite clear; everyone went with 917 = 10*100 - 75 - 8.

Matthew: 917
Ryan: 917
Me: 917
Lily: 917

Scores: Matthew 18 (24), Ryan 10 (16), me 17

First break: CYCLE MEN ("To be let off with nice weather")

This clue is referring to two meanings of CLEMENCY.

David's talk is about the words boofhead and dingbat, which both rose to prominence as the result of cartoon strips.

Round 4: D O A S B L I O S

I had SODA, LOADS, and BLOODS.  A little after time I finally saw DIABLOS for seven, but that turns out not to be valid -- the word I was trying to think of was actually DIABOLOS (DIABOLO being a type of toy).  Just as well I did not see it within time -- two invalid answers would have been upsetting!

Ryan has BOILS, which sounds unpleasant, while Matthew has found BLOODS.  That puts Matthew more than a conundrum's worth ahead, so Ryan has some catching up to do.  David is on track, having found DIABOLO and thus DIABOLOS for eight.

Aside from those words listed, six is the best to be done.  The other sixes are SOLIDS, BASILS, ADOBOS, ASSOIL ("to absolve; acquit; pardon"), DOSSAL ("an ornamental church hanging placed at the back of an altar or at the sides of the chancel"), and DOSSIL ("a plug of lint for a wound; a folded bandage used as a compress").

Matthew: BLOODS

Scores: Matthew 24 (30), Ryan 10 (16), me 23

Round 5: N P E O M R E D F


Both contestants have found sixes; Matthew has FORMED while Ryan has OPENER.  David has gone with FOREMEN for seven.

The other seven here is FREEDOM.

Matthew: FORMED

Scores: Matthew 24 (36), Ryan 10 (22), me 30

Round 6: Target 542 from 2 4 8 9 10 5

Ryan makes the tactical choice of six small numbers, hoping to make things difficult for Matthew.  He gets a decent set of small numbers, and a nice mid-range target.  However, I got completely hung up on trying to make this as 10*54 + 2, an approach which turns out to be impossible.  I got down a fallback one-away 543 = 9*(4 + 2)*10 + 8 - 5, but it took me too long to switch tacks.  When I did instead look at 9*60 + 2 (the same ideas as my earlier one, really, using the approach 6*9*10 + 2 in a different arrangement), I quickly saw a solution: 542 = 9*5*(8 + 4) + 2.  Sadly for me, I saw that with only a second left on the clock, and could not get it set down in time.

Ryan's plan has paid off well, with Matthew having been unable to get anywhere with this.  Moreover, Ryan has found a solution: 542 = (9 + 2)*5*10 - 8.  Huh, I never considered the option of 550 - 8; that was very careless of me.  Lily has solved it in the same way.

Matthew: [no answer]
Ryan: 542
Me: 543
Lily: 542

Scores: Matthew 24 (36), Ryan 20 (32), me 30

Second break: NORM FAIL ("The vote that isn't")

Referring to INFORMAL votes.

Round 7: N R S A I Y O T D

That Y was a bit of a spoiler among some decent letters.  I had RAINS, RAINY, and RATIONS.  After time I noted ORDAINS / INROADS as another pair of sevens.

I was a bit surprised that the contestants missed RATIONS here.  They both had sixes, with DAINTY for Ryan and STRAIN for Matthew.  David notes that RATIONS turns up a lot on the show, but opts for ORDAINS as a more interesting seven.

The eight that was available is INTRADOS ("the interior curve or surface of an arch or vault").  I was disappointed that TARDYONS was not listed (a tardyon is a particle that always moves slower than the speed of light, as opposed to a tachyon, a hypothetical particle that always moves faster than the speed of light).  The other seven here is OSTIARY ("a doorkeeper, as of a church").

Matthew: STRAIN

Scores: Matthew 24 (42), Ryan 20 (38), me 37

Round 8: Target 180 from 50 1 7 3 2 9

A bit surprisingly, Ryan notes the success of his gambit on the last numbers game but declines to repeat it.  Instead he goes for a pretty tame one large number.  There is some sense to that, though.  Before he was greatly behind, and needed some advantage to catch up.  The risk of six small thus made a lot of sense.  This time, however, even if he gets the best result Matthew can still win with the conundrum.  If he gets the worst result, however, Matthew will not even need to.  So a safe mix, expecting both to solve it, is probably a better option.

The target is low, and has many handy small factors.  I eschewed the use of the large number and went with 180 = (3*7 - 1)*9, then noted an alternative of 180 = 2*9*(3 + 7).

Matthew is surprisingly far away with 174; my best guess is that this was 3*50 + 2*(9 + 7 + 1), but it seems a bit of a stretch.  Ryan has solved this exactly, with the second of the solutions that I found.  No word on what Lily did, but it's a safe bet she found some solution.

This result gives Ryan an unexpected lead going into the conundrum, but he is not safe.  It's a lot closer than it looked like it was going to be a few rounds ago, though!

Matthew: 174
Ryan: 180
Me: 180

Scores: Matthew 24 (42), Ryan 30 (48), me 47


And so we come down to the conundrum, which on past form we would have to expect to favour Matthew.  It very much seemed like one of those "leap out at you" conundrums, and I found STRONGEST quickly.  Just like yesterday's game, as soon as I unpaused the video Matthew buzzed in with the correct answer.

Matthew: STRONGEST (2.5s)
Ryan: [no answer]

Scores: Matthew 24 (52), Ryan 30 (48), me 57

It was a relatively clear case of letters vs. numbers tonight.  Matthew had the edge in the letters -- TINCTURE was excellent -- but Ryan was able to gain back the lost ground, and a little extra, with the numbers.  It's a recipe for a conundrum showdown, and Matthew blazed his way straight to the answer yet again.  This was a match which could very easily have gone Ryan's way if he had just had a little more success with the letters.  Matthew must be relieved to get the win and make it to the sixth game; he stands a good chance of successfully retiring and will surely make the final regardless.

I dropped quite a few maxima today, but I'm mostly OK with them.  INTERCUT not being listed was bad luck, and aside from that it was only really the second numbers round that I should have done better on.  Maybe next week!


Mike Backhouse said...

x INPUTTER (had PUTTER but thought I'd take a chance!)
Everyone's way
Geoff's way (1 off)
I went the 3*60 route : 3*(50+9+1)=180
x jumped in with the incorrect SONGSTER

Sam G said...

A couple of good ones. I probably did see this one on first airing.

2. PUTTER, or perhaps NUTTIER (can't remember at the moment).
3. 917 = 10*100 - 75 - 8
6. 542 = (9 + 2)*5*10 - 8
8. 180 = (50+9+1)*3
9. STRONGEST, 1s or slightly more (pause button failed).