Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Ep 114: Matthew Thomason, Bryce Lawrence (May 30, 2016; originally aired January 6, 2011)

Rounds: Here.

Here we are at Matthew Thomason's sixth game, his last until the finals.  There's basically no chat with him beyond pointing out that fact, which lends credence to my observation in yesterday's game that they may well have run out of talking points for him.

Standing between Matthew and successful retirement is Bryce Lawrence, a project management student who has just deferred his studies in order to live in South America.  Bryce expands on that: He has deferred for two years in order to go and live with the Matis indigenous tribe; he will be living in the same conditions as they do for his time there.  That certainly sounds interesting (although decidedly not something that I would enjoy) but we don't find out why he is doing this -- what does he hope to do there, that kind of thing.  That really feels like a missed opportunity.

It started out as a very close game, with the contestants finding equal results in the first three rounds.  It looked like it might go down to the wire, but the second third went all Matthew's way, with two good words from him and an arithmetical error from Bryce giving him a commanding lead.  Matthew sealed the game in the last letters round, then finished off emphatically with another fast conundrum solution to make the scoreline 65 to 30.  That makes him the first retiring champion of the series.

I was in decent shape tonight, only missing the one maximum.  It also eluded David's eye, so my solo total will end up the same as him and Lily, and that's always nice.  I was slow on the conundrum, but had done more than enough to beat the contestants.

Round 1: A E N F N A D T E

I had FANE (an archaic word for "a temple"), DEAF, ANDANTE (a musical direction), DEAFEN, DEFEAT, FANNED, and TANNED.

It is sixes from both contestants, with Bryce having TANNED (he seems strangely unsure about this, which is not the best sign for his remaining rounds) while Matthew has FANNED.  David has found ANDANTE, as expected.

ANDANTE is the only seven.  The other sixes are NEATEN, ANTEED (also ANTED, past tense of ANTE, as for poker or similar games), ENNEAD ("a group of nine persons or things"), and ADNATE ("grown fast to something; congenitally attached").

Matthew: FANNED

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

Round 2: G R T T O E R U B

I had GROT, TORTE, GUTTER, BROGUE, BURGER, TURBOT, and GROUTER (not someone who grouts, but colloquial for "an unfair advantage").  After time I noted BUTTER as another six.

Both contestants have sevens; Bryce has done particularly well to find TORTURE while Matthew has gone for GROUTER.  He may have been a little lucky on that front, as the expected meaning is not in the Macquarie.  On the other hand, it did come up in episode 94, which he may well have seen just before this filming.  David has nothing to add.

Those are the only two sevens, and the best to be done.

Matthew: GROUTER

Scores: Matthew 7 (13), Bryce 7 (13), me 14

Round 3: Target 419 from 50 100 2 9 7 8

Starting with 8 or 9 times 50 seems sensible, but getting the requisite adjustment then seems hard.  I found success by looking a little further afield at 7*50; the offset of 69 can be made with the small numbers, and tweaking completes the solution: 419 = 7*(50 + 9) + 8 - 2.

The contestants are each one away, in different directions.  Matthew went with 420 = 7*50 + 9*8 - 2, while Bryce had 418 = 8*50 + 9*2.  Lily has found a nice alternative option of 419 = (8/2)*(100 + 7) - 9.

The contestants continue to be equally matched in the first three rounds, so this could be a close game.

Matthew: 420
Bryce: 418
Me: 419
Lily: 419

Scores: Matthew 7 (20), Bryce 7 (20), me 24

First break: TAUT CLAP ("A feline fling")

That would be a CATAPULT.

David's talk is about two financial schemes: Ponzi and tontine.

Round 4: N I A P I S H R E


There's finally a separation of the contestants, with Matthew's seven of SHARPEN outpointing Bryce's six of SHINER; if only Bryce had found the extension to SHINIER then we'd still be all equal.  David has found HAIRPIN and thus HAIRPINS for eight.

The other eight is HEPARINS (HEPARIN: "a polysaccharide containing sulfate groups produced in the liver, which prevents the coagulation of the blood, and is used in the treatment of thrombosis").  The other sevens are HEPARIN, HERNIAS, INSPIRE / SPINIER, SHINIER, AIRSHIP, ASPIRIN, RAPINES, SHARPIE (a type of boat), and HARPINS (variant spelling of HARPINGS: "the stout wales about the bow of a ship").

As I've mentioned before, a quirk of the Macquarie prevents HARPIES* from being valid.  HARPY is listed with separate entries for both lowercase and capitalised versions, but only the latter lists HARPIES as the plural form.  Most vexing.

Matthew: SHARPEN

Scores: Matthew 7 (27), Bryce 7 (20), me 32

Round 5: W C O A S M O E S

I kept trying to use an O three times here for MOOCOWS, but that requires the hyphen in any case (MOO-COWS).  Instead I had COWS, COMAS, wondered about MOSCOWS but rejected it, and late in the piece found CAMEOS.  Interestingly, MOSCOW does have a verb sense ("to pawn", derived from MOSCOW being a colloquial term for a pawn shop), but it is not listed as lowercase.  So I was right to reject it, but also somewhat right to consider it.

Matthew pulls further ahead, outdoing Bryce's COMAS with CAMEOS.  That's an important lead at this stage of the game, but Bryce still has time to pull it back.  David mentions COSMOS as another six.

The other sixes are OSMOSE and COMOSE ("hairy").

Matthew: CAMEOS
Bryce: COMAS

Scores: Matthew 13 (33), Bryce 7 (20), me 38

Round 6: Target 199 from 75 5 2 9 3 2

Bryce takes a single large number, and gets a target that is a little more challenging than I expected at first.  I wanted to make it as 2*75 + 49, but had to switch slightly and use a tweak to get that to work: 199 = 2*(75 + 2) + 9*5.  A little after time I noticed that 75 - 9 = 66 was very close to a third of the target, and thus found another solution of 199 = 3*(75 - 9) + 2/2.

Matthew is three away with 202, but Bryce has solved this exactly to get some much-needed ground back.  Except... his solution starts 2*75 + 9*5, but he says 9*5 = 47.  That is not correct, of course, and his answer is not valid.  (It must have been 2*75 + 9*5 + 2 = 197.  Note that if he had correctly calculated the total as 197 then he would have scored 7 points anyway, and might well have found the easy adjustment to 198 or the tweak to get to 199.)  That's potentially a game-losing error.

That brings Matthew's answer back into play; it is 202 = 75*3 - 9*2 - 5.  It's a bit odd that he did not subtract the remaining 2 in order to get to 200.  Time pressure, I guess.  Lily has solved this using the first of the solutions that I found.

Matthew: 202
Bryce: [invalid -- 199]
Me: 199
Lily: 199

Scores: Matthew 13 (40), Bryce 7 (20), me 48

Second break: KNEE SLOT ("Found in closets")

Heh.  That would be a SKELETON.

Round 7: T N B I O I F D R

That's not a very nice mix; I had BINT, DRIFT, FRONT, and FORBID.  After time I checked up on FORINT (the Hungarian currency unit, not yet replaced by the euro), which confirmed my recollection that it is not listed in the Macquarie (a strange omission).

Bryce is twenty points behind, so cannot afford to lose points here.  But it's not a good mix for him, and he has been limited to FIND for four; Matthew then takes the round and the game with his five of FRONT.  David has found the sixes of FINITO and FORBID.

There is a seven lurking here, and there goes my maximal game; it is FIBROID.  The other sixes are FIBRIN ("a white, rough, fibrous protein, formed in the clotting of blood"), NITRID (variant form of NITRIDE), TRIFID (not one of those carnivorous plants, but "cleft into three parts or lobes"), and BIOTIN (also known as vitamin B7).

Matthew: FRONT
Bryce: FIND

Scores: Matthew 13 (45), Bryce 7 (20), me 54

Round 8: Target 352 from 75 50 4 8 1 8

Bryce goes for two large numbers this time, and the small numbers are not particularly good.  The did make it very easy to get distracted, though, as the target is 4*8*11.  Fortunately I looked at the standard method first and so found the solution 352 = 4*75 + 50 + 1 + 8/8.  After time I found a shorter use of the standard method with 352 = (8 - 1)*50 + 8/4, then two ways to use the partial factorisations that I had found: 352 = 4*(8*8 - 50 + 75 - 1) and 352 = (8 + 8)*(75 - 50 - 4 - 1).

Both contestants have solved this; Bryce went with the first of those solutions while Matthew went for the second.  Lily also took that approach.

Matthew: 352
Bryce: 352
Me: 352
Lily: 352

Scores: Matthew 23 (55), Bryce 17 (30), me 64


Matthew buzzed in quickly, so I had to start the backup timer.  It took me almost fifteen seconds all up to find the answer of ANIMOSITY; annoyingly, it had been my instinctive response early on but I somehow convinced myself that it was not right.  Fortuantely I cycled back to it, but that gave Matthew the chance to beat me.

Bryce was also reaching for the buzzer as Matthew buzzed, but apparently it was with a wrong answer so would not have made any difference.

Matthew: ANIMOSITY (4.5s)
Bryce: [no answer]

Scores: Matthew 33 (65), Bryce 17 (30), me 64

Well, it started out close but then became a blowout to Matthew.  He successfully retired with a combined total of 310 and will definitely be back for the finals.  This was his highest score of any game, although not his highest winning margin.  As for Bryce, he just could not recover from that error in round six; if he had found a solution then he would still have been in contention at the conundrum.  Matthew is just too good at those, though, so would presumably have still won.

I had a good game, although that one missed maximum causes a little regret; it is a word that has come up before.  I was terribly slow on the conundrum, though; the nine-letter words have always been my weak spot.  But with a solo total matching that of David and Lily, it's a fine start to the week.


Mike Backhouse said...

8*(50+2)+9-7=418 (1 off)

Sam G said...

Bryce had a more daring hairstyle than the average contestant.

Very similar results to Geoff.

3. 419 = (50+9)*7 + 8 - 2. Wasted much time trying to get the 7*8=56 offset to work.
6. 199 = 2*(75 + 2) + 9*5. I'm surprised how popular a method this was, maybe subconscious memories.
8. 352 = (8 - 1)*50 + 8/4
9. ANIMOSITY, ~6-7s.

Mike Backhouse said...

I meant GROUTER in round two.