Thursday, 16 June 2016

Ep 125: Oli Bryant, Avi Chanales (June 14, 2016; originally aired January 21, 2011)

Rounds: Here.

In the pre-show chat, David mentions that it was Richard's birthday yesterday, and there's the usual television fauxness of asking what he did for an event that was still in the future at the time of screening.  Richard says that he and Alison went out to a nice dinner "to celebrate [his] 73rd birthday".  That prompts some laughter from David, as Richard is overstating things somewhat -- it would have been his 55th birthday.

Anyway, on to the contestants.  It is Oli Bryant's final night tonight, and we definitely are out of conversational topics since Richard asks him about highlights from the experience so far.  Oli says that he thought the numbers were his strength, so he is particularly pleased by some of the words that he has found; he then spins out a sentence using several of his better finds.

Standing between Oli and successful retirement is Avi Chanales, an American student currently studying in Australia.  Avi majors in cognitive neuroscience at the University of Pennsylvania, and in response to Richard's question explains that this is the study of the higher mental functions of the brain, such as attention, memory, and language.

We were set for a close game, with the contestants finding matching results in the first three rounds.  Then Oli faltered, his five-letter words not enough to match Avi's sevens, and Avi had a potentially winning lead at the second break.  A tough letters round offered little scope for advancement, but it was Avi who navigated the final numbers round better and ensured his victory.  Neither could solve the conundrum, and Avi won the game, 53 to 32.

I started out well enough, but felt a little off-kilter once David found a full monty that I did not.  I dropped a few maxima after that point, culminating in a complete miscalculation in the final numbers round that left me nothing to declare.  I did solve the conundrum to bring some respectability to my solo total, and fortunately I had done enough to beat the contestants, but I'm never happy about scoring zero in a round.

Round 1: W P R N O I A I G

This mix was looking pretty poor until that last consonant.  (I'd wanted an S for PARISON, or an M for RAMPION, but there are a few other options that give sevens, such as a B for RAINBOW.)  As it was, I had WORN, PRION, PRAWN, AIRING, PAIRING, and WARPING.  After time I noted another seven of PORANGI (a New Zealand colloquialism: "mad; crazy").

Both contestants have found PAIRING for seven; David notes WARPING as another one.  David also mentions PRION, which was looking like it might be the best option prior to the G.  It's an unusual word, as he notes: It is either a type of seabird or an infectious particle linked to diseases such as mad cow disease.

That's all the sevens listed, and the best to be done.


Scores: 7 apiece

Round 2: R N S E A I R Q A

I had EARNS, ARISEN, and rightly rejected RAINERS (always very dubious) and SIERRAN (allowed by Scrabble, but not listed in the Macquarie).  After time I checked up on SNARER, finding that it is valid.

It's fives from both contestants, with Avi having RINSE to Oli's SNARE.  David notes that the start of ARISEN is usually a good one, but the remaining letters were not at all useful.

Six is the limit here; the others are ARENAS, RINSER, RAISER / SIERRA, NAIRAS (NAIRA: "the unit of currency of Nigeria"), NARRAS (NARRA being a type of tree), and ARSINE (a certain chemical).


Scores: Oli 7 (12), Avi 7 (12), me 13

Round 3: Target 117 from 50 25 9 5 2 7

I recognised the target as 9*13, but a 13 was unusually hard to come by.  So I switched back to the standard method, and discovered that it was also surprisingly difficult.  Fortunately a little tweaking got me there, but it felt lucky: 117 = 2*(50 + 5) + 7.  Then I saw how to make the 13, and the remaining numbers cooperated, giving 117 = (7 + 50/25)*(2*9 - 5).  After time I noted two other solutions: 117 = (2*50/5 - 7)*9 and 117 = (7*25 + 50 + 9)/2.

The contestants are each one off, on different sides; Oli went with 118 = 50*2 + 25 - 7, while Avi had 116 = 50*2 + 25 - 9.  Lily has found the first of the solutions that I did.

So the contestants are all square going into the first break, matched throughout.  Contestants have started well before against Oli but then faded, so if Avi persists then the unfamiliarity might cause problems for Oli.

Oli: 118
Avi: 116
Me: 117
Lily: 117

Scores: Oli 7 (19), Avi 7 (19), me 23

First break: CURL TOPS ("Chiselling out a career")

That would describe a SCULPTOR.

David's talk is about author's names used as adjectives: Seussian, Orwellian, Dickensian, Kafkaesque, Hemingwayesque, and sadist (from the Marquis de Sade).

Round 4: D R T E A E R O F

I had TREAD, TREADER, FERRATE, and RAFTERED (not an adjective, but RAFTER has a verb sense: "to furnish with rafters").

It's five from Oli with FORTE, but Avi has found REDRAFT for seven to get the lead.  I thought I was doing well with RAFTERED, but David has found a full monty here: FEDERATOR.  Well done, David!

The other eight here is FOREDATE, and the other sevens are RETREAD, DRAFTER, and DRAFTEE.


Scores: Oli 7 (19), Avi 7 (26), me 31

Round 5: L S H L N U I E B

I had HULLS, SULLEN, NUBILE, was unsure about NUBILES (valid), BULLISH, and BULLIES.

It's a repeat of the previous round, with Oli having BILLS for five and Avi having found BULLIES for seven.  That's a fourteen point lead to Avi, so it looks like Oli might be the one fading in this game.  David notes the possible seven of BULLISH.

The remaining sevens are UNSHELL and BLUEISH.


Scores: Oli 7 (19), Avi 14 (33), me 38

Round 6: Target 751 from 75 50 8 2 2 4

Oh, dear, I struggled with this one.  I wrote down the fallback of 750 = (8 + 2)*75, and then flailed about in search of ways to get an offset of 1.  As time was running out I finally considered the option of 1502/2, and saw how to do it, but could not get it down in time: 751 = ((8 + 4)*(75 + 50) + 2)/2.  Bother.

Once again in the numbers, the contestants are one off in different directions.  Avi went with the same answer that I had, while Oli did the same and then added 2.  Lily has accurately found the solution -- bravo! -- and notes that a source of difficulty here was all the even numbers with an odd target.  Somehow I did not make that observation, although I should have.

Oli: 752
Avi: 750
Me: 750
Lily: 751

Scores: Oli 14 (26), Avi 21 (40), me 45

Second break: DAB WRACK ("10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1")

No, it's not cluing a countdown, but BACKWARD.

Round 7: S T S C O A E B E

I had COSTS, COASTS, and noted BECASSE (an old term for a woodcock, but I know from past experience that it is not in the Macquarie).  After time I noted other sixes of BEASTS and BESETS.

It's sixes from the contestants, with Avi's CASTES matching Oli's COASTS.  David has managed to go one better by finding the only seven of ACETOSE (variant spelling of ACETOUS: "sour; vinegary").


Scores: Oli 20 (32), Avi 27 (46), me 51

Round 8: Target 935 from 100 75 5 7 4 6

Oli needs unanswered points here to still be in with a chance, so it's a good thing that he likes the numbers more.  I was all at sea here, although I did find some one offs such as 5*(100 + 75 + 7) + 4*6.  But I got confused at one point, when I considered trying to use a stepping stone of 7*130 = 910, and somehow in my head that became 7*130 = 930.  I ended up writing that down for my supposed one away of 7*(100 + 5*6) + 4 = 934 (actually 914).  I caught the error, but then had nothing to declare.

After time, with my thinking processes not confused, I found a suitable tweak down from 1000 with 935 = (6 + 4)*(100 - 7) + 5.

Oli has only been able to get to 955, not in the scoring range, so Avi is guaranteed to win.  He has done well to get to two away with 933 = (5 + 4)*100 + 75 - 6*7.  Lily has done better, finding a solution of 935 = 6*100 + 4*75 + 5*7.  Oh, nicely done!  The offset of 35 was not on my radar, and it should have been -- the presented solution should be easy enough to see from that point.

Oli: [not in range]
Avi: 933
Me: [no answer]
Lily: 935

Scores: Oli 20 (32), Avi 34 (53), me 51


The elements are pretty familiar to me, and once I pulled out -IUM it was a short step to POTASSIUM.  Neither contestant was able to solve this.

Oli: [no answer]
Avi: [no answer]

Scores: Oli 20 (32), Avi 34 (53), me 61

A few of the previous games have started out reasonably close, with Oli then getting away from his opponent.  This game had the same progression, but with Avi being the one to pull away.  Oli lost this in the middle rounds, with those two five-letter words not being enough against Avi.  Avi sealed things by getting close in the last numbers round, with Oli not being able to get anyway.  A good game from Avi, and Oli's run comes to an end.  He'll definitely be back for the finals, though.

I think I just went to pieces a bit after missing the full monty, but that last numbers round implosion was particularly bad.  I hope tomorrow will go better!


Mike Backhouse said...

5*25-7=118 (1 off)
(8+2)*75=750 (1 off)
(5+6)*75+100+7+4=936 (1 off and went over)

Sam G said...

3. 117 = (50+5)*2 + 7
6. one off: (8+2)*75 = 750
8. One off, but wrote wrongly.
9. POTASSIUM - 27.5s