Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Ep 119: Jack Dell, Peter Stephenson (June 6, 2016; originally aired January 13, 2011)

Rounds: Here.

Jack Dell is back for his fifth night, but we may have run out of talking points for him, as the chat is just about his performance in the games so far.  That always feels like a missed opportunity.

Tonight's challenger is Peter Stephenson, an accountant at the Auditor-General's office with a background in science and physics.  (I'm amused by the implication that physics is not science.)  Peter has also run a great many marathons -- twenty six of them since he was a teenager.  That's certainly a lot!  Richard asks how Peter manages to maintain a sufficient level of fitness to keep doing that.  Peter does not quite answer that, but indicates that his motivation is terror of getting too big, as he drinks lots of beer.

Jack started off with a nice find in round one for the early lead, then extended it in round two when Peter saw a phantom letter.  Peter quickly recovered, though, with a good numbers solution allowing him to reduce the deficit to three points.  Jack tried for too much in round five, ending up with an invalid word to give Peter the lead.  Two shared rounds followed, and then the final numbers round gave Peter a winning lead going into the conundrum.  Neither could solve it, and Peter won 49 to 36.

I did well tonight, except for missing the conundrum.  It was solvable, but I just did not see it within time.  I was happy to find a full monty in the main rounds, and between that and the letter rounds I was able to open up a decent lead over the contestants for a solid win even without the conundrum.

Round 1: M T C O I O E R P

I had OMIT, wrote down a speculative OSMOTIC but the S never arrived, COMET, EROTIC, MORTICE, COMPORT, and PROMOTE.

Peter starts off with MOOTER for six, but Jack takes the points with his seven of COMPOTE.  David has found PROMOTE, although he slips that into the conversation as he often does, and does not specifically draw attention to it.

Some sources list COMPOTIER as a dish for holding compote (it also appears to be a French word for a fruit bowl, and shows up in several paintings by Cezanne), but it's not in the Macquarie.  That does leave seven as the limit, with the others being PORTICO and METOPIC (adjective derived from METOPE: "Architecture one of the square spaces, either decorated or plain, between triglyphs in the Doric frieze").


Scores: Jack 7, Peter 0, me 7

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

Peter does one of my least favourite things on the show, by taking four vowels immediately without seeing what the consonants are like.  In this case they fit together badly enough that I'd have definitely wanted a sixth consonant.  That would have been an R, giving some easy sevens (such as FRIENDS) and the eight of BRANDIES.  As it was, I had IDEA, ABIDE, ABIDES, and BASINED (an adjective) / BANDIES (BANDIE being colloquial for a bandicoot).

This time it is Jack with the six of BIASED, while Peter declares the seven of DEAFENS.  Of course, that uses an extra E and is invalid, giving Jack an early thirteen point lead.  David has opted for BANDIES as his seven, although he uses the verb sense.

The other sevens are DIABASE (a type of rock) and NAIADES (one plural form of NAIAD: "one of a class of water-nymphs fabled to dwell in and preside over streams and springs").

Peter: [invalid -- DEAFENS]

Scores: Jack 7 (13), Peter 0, me 14

Round 3: Target 764 from 25 100 9 6 5 7

Jack takes the family mix, and starting with 7*100 is pretty clear.  Tweaking with the 9 gets to one away, and the adjustment is simple: 764 = 7*(100 + 9) + 6 - 5.

Jack is five away at 759, which I'll guess was 7*100 + 6*9 + 5 -- that's the sort of thing that happens when tweaking is overlooked.  But Peter has solved this exactly with 764 = 7*100 + 5*6 + 25 + 9, and so makes up most of the ground lost in the last two rounds.  Lily demonstrates the solution that I found.

Peter had a good solution, but the way he presents it is a bit unhelpful to both Lily and the audience (this is perhaps more pronounced in the later number rounds).  He does so as "7*100 = 700, 5*6 = 30, 25 + 9 = 34", and then add them all up.  A more usual presentation of the same idea would be "7*100 = 700, put that aside, 5*6 = 30, 700 + 30 = 730, 730 + 25 = 755, 755 + 9 = 764".  That way there's only one number under consideration most of the time, and it flows better when explained.  It also requires less work to check, which is good because Lily has to do that while she is writing it up and still keep her own different solution in mind.  When I was a contestant we were given pretty explicit instructions about how to present numbers solutions, and watching this I can see why.

Jack: 759
Peter: 764
Me: 764
Lily: 764

Scores: Jack 7 (13), Peter 10, me 24

First break: SANE TACT ("Do this to catch a musical fish")

This is a punny clue for CASTANET, or "cast a net".

David's talk is about boxing terms that have entered the wider English language.

Round 4: E I A E R V L T S

I had EVER, RIVAL, RETAIL, SALTIRE ("Heraldry an ordinary in the form of a Saint Andrew's Cross") / REALIST, and struggled to see an eight here.  Fortunately I leapfrogged that by finding the nine of VERSATILE.  After time I noted VARLETS as another seven.

Both contestants have found REVEALS for seven.  David has found VERSATILE, and also the more common RELATIVES.  Huh.  I looked at -IVATE several times, but overlooked -ATIVE.  Bother.

There is a third nine here: LEVIRATES (LEVIRATE: "a custom of the ancient Hebrews, requiring a man under certain circumstances to marry the widow of his brother or nearest kinsman").  The eights are RELATIVE / LEVIRATE, EARLIEST / ATELIERS (ATELIER: "the workshop or studio of an artist"), ELATIVES (ELATIVE: "a superlative or intensifier"), and VELARISE ("to pronounce with velar articulation"; here "velar" is "produced with the back of the tongue held close to or touching the soft palate").


Scores: Jack 7 (20), Peter 10 (17), me 42

Round 5: N T O A S B O H E

I had TANS, BOATS, and BATONS.  After time I noted other sixes of BOOTHS and SOOTHE, and spotted SEABOOT but knew from past checking that it is not valid.

Peter also has BATONS for six, but Jack has gone out on a limb with BOATSHOE.  That's not valid, as it turns out, but it is only listed as two words.  David has found a nice six of BATHOS ("a ludicrous descent from the elevated to the commonplace; anticlimax").

There is a seven here, and it was somewhat similar to David's find: BENTHOS ("the animals and plants that live on the floor of the sea or lakes").

Jack: [invalid -- BOATSHOE]

Scores: Jack 7 (20), Peter 16 (23), me 48

Round 6: Target 155 from 75 100 6 9 10 6

Huh, a surprisingly challenging low target.  I found success by checking 75 + 80 to give me 155 = (9 - 6/6)*10 + 75.  Then I noticed the more prosaic solution of 155 = 100 + 75 - 10 - 9 - 6/6.

Both contestants have solved this; Peter has gone with the second of those options.  Jack has found the nice alternative of 155 = 100 + 6*6 + 10 + 9; this is also how Lily solved it.

Jack: 155
Peter: 155
Me: 155
Lily: 155

Scores: Jack 17 (30), Peter 26 (33), me 58

Second break: POACH RAP ("Often advisable to do this with caution")

That would be APPROACH.

Round 7: R G N E I O L M R

I had REIGN, REGION, and MERLION ("an imaginary marine creature having the head and trunk of a lion and the body of a fish; the national emblem of Singapore".).  I approve of Jack's decision to try a sixth consonant, as will be no surprise to regular readers of this blog; once the -ING comes in, six consonants are usually best.  Unfortunately, the duplicate R did not end up helping at all.  After time I noted MONGREL as another seven, and saw some classic Countdown words of LORIMER and LORINER but knew they were not in the Macquarie.

Jack decides to play it safe with MINGLE for six, while Peter has chosen IGNORE.  As is clear, Jack was tempted by MINGLER; that would have been valid, as it turns out.  Then again, I'll note that IGNORER was also valid; maybe if Jack had tried seven then Peter would have as well.  David has gone for GREMLIN as his seven.

That's all the sevens listed, and the best to be done.  As an aside, only a final S or D would have given a full monty here, with MORSELING or MOLDERING / GOLDMINER.


Scores: Jack 17 (36), Peter 26 (39), me 65

Round 8: Target 834 from 50 75 4 8 10 2

My first thought was to make this with a tweak somehow as 8*(100 + 4) + 2.  Of course, making 100 is not so easy; fortunately I realised that I did not have to tweak after all, and so found 834 = 10*75 + 50 + 4*8 + 2.  Then I found a simpler option of 834 = (75 + 8)*10 + 4.

Jack is one off with 835; in some ways that is a more difficult target than 834.  But Peter has solved this exactly with the first of the solutions that I had, although he again phrases it in more confusing fashion as the sum of 75*10, 8*4, and 50 + 2.  Lily has also solved it this way.

Those ten points give Peter the win, but there are still points to be played for.

Jack: 835
Peter: 834
Me: 834
Lily: 834

Scores: Jack 17 (36), Peter 36 (49), me 75


I was not able to unravel this one within time.  Nor were the contestants, as it turns out, so the scoreline remains unchanged.  When time expired I finally jotted the letters down and saw the answer of PROFUSION a couple of seconds later.

Jack: [no answer]
Peter: [no answer]
Me: [no answer]

Scores: Jack 17 (36), Peter 36 (49), me 75

Jack bows out at last, with a good overall total of 258 that should get him into the finals.  He finally ran into a contestant with good number skills and numbers targets just hard enough to give them a lot of points.  Peter played well to ensure that advantage carried him to victory.

I'd have matched David and Lily if I solved the conundrum.  So close!  I needed to resort to writing down the letters during time, but I've spoken before about the tradeoff involved in doing so.


Mike Backhouse said...

Well done Geoff, especially getting the full monty.

6*(100-75)+6+9-10=155 (a different method)
10*(75+8)+4=834 (probably went over)

Sam G said...

Jack was a hot-and-cold contestant, particularly on numbers. Some major highs.

3. 764 = (100+9)*7 + 6 - 5
6. 155 = 100+75-10-9- 6/6
8. 834 = (75+8)*10 + 4
9. PROFUSION ~30s, if Richard talked for a couple of seconds.