Monday, 20 June 2016

Ep 128: Avi Chanales, Barry Harridge (June 17, 2016; originally aired January 26, 2011)

Rounds: Here.

Avi Chanales is back for the crucial fourth game tonight, and Richard turns the topic of conversation back to Avi's childhood fascination with countries and flags.  After Avi had mastered the flags he went on to the capital cities; he printed out a list of all the capitals and taped it above (his bed, presumably -- he breaks off here to point out that he had a bunk bed).  He started with Afghanistan and went on from there.

Standing in Avi's way is Barry Harridge, a retired secondary and university mathematics and statistics teacher.  Barry was also very much involved in the early days of computing, back in the days of punched cards.  As he puts it, "you had to sit at this great... enormous great machine, punch away at the cards, and you fitted, say, about twenty or so characters on one card.  Then you'd start another card, and so on.  You might have about fifty or so cards; submit it overnight, get it back the next morning, and then find you'd left a comma out."  It was certainly a time-consuming way to work.

It was quite the one-sided game tonight.  Barry consistently outdid Avi in the letters rounds, and the numbers rounds were easy enough that both solved them.  Barry found the full monty on offer, too, and had the game wrapped up going into the second break -- an impressive achievement!  The conundrum ended up proving too difficult for both contestants, but Barry had still scored quite highly in his 75 to 30 win.

I was just able to keep ahead of Barry thanks to a couple of good finds, but nearly lost it at the end when I dropped a findable maximum and could not solve the conundrum.  Fortunately for me he was not able to gain on those rounds, or I could have had my first loss for the series.

Round 1: C S H E O I F N A

I had ECHO, CHOSE, FICOES (plural of FICO: "the merest trifle"), FINCHES, FASHION, and FANCIES / FIANCÉS.  Casting about for longer I saw OCEANFISH, but was right to reject it.

Avi has CHOSEN for six, but Barry has found FINCHES for seven to take the points.  David notes FASHION as another seven.

The other sevens are ACINOSE ("consisting of acini", which are (in one definition) the small parts of a compound fruit like a blackberry or mulberry) and FASCINE ("a long bundle of sticks bound together [...]").


Scores: Avi 0, Barry 7, me 7

Round 2: H S D I A E P T O

I had DISH, SHADE, SHAPED, wondered about POTASHED (not valid, although it is in the Scrabble list), ADIPOSE ("fatty"), was also dubious about SIDEPATH (again, not valid but in the Scrabble list), and finally saw a safe eight of DIOPTASE (a mineral).  After time I noted POSITED / DEPOSIT as other sevens, and then somewhat later saw POTHEADS for another eight.

Just like the previous round, it's six-seven from the contestants, with Avi having SHAPED while Barry quips that he likes OPIATES.  David has found PITHEADS (PITHEAD: "the top of a mine shaft") for eight.

That's all the eights listed.  The other sevens are PITHEAD, POTHEAD, OPIATED, HOISTED, TEASHOP, TOPSIDE / DOPIEST, TOADIES / IODATES, HEPTADS (HEPTAD: "a group of seven") / SPATHED (adjective derived from SPATHE: "(in a plant) a bract or pair of bracts, often large and coloured, subtending or enclosing a spadix or flower cluster"), APHIDES (plural of APHIS: "any insect of the genus Aphis") / DIPHASE, DASHPOT ("a device for damping vibrations, consisting of a piston attached to the part whose movements are to be damped and fitted into a cylinder containing a fluid such as oil"), and OPHITES (OPHITE being a type of rock).

The word APESHIT* is only listed as part of the phrase GO APESHIT, so would not be valid.


Scores: Avi 0, Barry 7 (14), me 15

Round 3: Target 375 from 75 25 2 7 4 6

A bagatelle for those familiar with the 75-times tables; I went with 375 = (7 - 2)*75.  The target is also 15*25, and I wrote down an alternative solution of 375 = (2*4 + 7)*25.

Both contestants have solved this; Avi went with 375 = (7 - 6 + 4)*75, while Barry used the first of the solutions that I found.  That was also Lily's approach.

Just for variety, while writing this up I have seen another option of 375 = (6 + 4)*(25 + 7 - 2) + 75.

Avi: 375
Barry: 375
Me: 375
Lily: 375

Scores: Avi 10, Barry 17 (24), me 25

First break: SPEED HOG ("An ovine canine")

That would be a SHEEPDOG, of course.

David's talk is about the word cooee.

Round 4: D F C N E O I L R

I had FEND, COINED, FONDLE, was unsure about FONDLER (valid), and was similarly uncertain about ONFIELD (not valid).  Fortunately that led me to see the full monty of CORNFIELD, so I did not have to angst over those decisions.  After time I noted CONFIDE as another seven (it was there in the first seven letters, really should have seen it earlier), and CONFIDER as an eight.

Once again Avi has a six, this time COILED.  But Barry has found CORNFIELD for nine, and that is turning this game into a blowout.  It looks like he found it after only about seven seconds, which was way faster than me.  Well done, Barry!

The other eight is INFOLDER (someone or something that infolds, with INFOLD being a variant of ENFOLD).  The remaining seven is CONIFER.


Scores: Avi 10, Barry 35 (42), me 43

Round 5: T S N E I E T B A

I had NETS, STEIN, TENETS, BASINET, NEATEST, and BETAINES.  Somewhat after time I saw another eight of TETANISE ("to induce a condition of tetanus in (a muscle)").

Avi is down to five this time, with BITES, while Barry has found BEANIES for seven.  David has spotted the eight of ANISETTE ("a cordial or liqueur flavoured with aniseed").  Nice one!

The other eight is TABINETS (TABINET being a variant spelling of TABBINET: "a fabric resembling poplin, made of silk and wool").  The almost eight is TETANIES* (TETANY: "a state marked by severe intermittent tonic contractions and muscular pain, frequently due to a deficiency of calcium salts"), done in by the Macquarie's reticence about listing plurals for words ending in Y.

The other sevens are TABINET, BETAINE, SATINET / INSTATE ("to put into a certain state, condition, or position"), BEASTIE, ETESIAN ("recurring annually (applied to certain Mediterranean winds)"), BATISTE ("a fine, delicate fabric of plain weave"), and BATTENS.  This last may be familiar as part of the phrase "batten down the hatches", but the reason for that phrase is that a BATTEN is "a strip of wood, as one used to secure the edges of a tarpaulin over a hatchway".


Scores: Avi 10, Barry 35 (49), me 51

Round 6: Target 308 from 100 75 25 3 6 5

The offset of 8 can be made as 5 + 3, so the subtask is to get to 300 with the rest; I went with 308 = 6*(75 - 25) + 5 + 3 (which took me embarrassingly long to see).  Then I noticed an alternative option of 308 = 3*100 + 5 + 75/25.

Barry is 39 points ahead, so Avi is already on the ropes -- he must score unanswered points her to stay in with a chance.  But the target is too easy and both contestants have solved this using the second solution that I listed.  That gives Barry the win before the second break -- quite the drubbing!  Lily demonstrates another solution of 308 = (75 + 6/3)*100/25.

Avi: 308
Barry: 308
Me: 308
Lily: 308

Scores: Avi 20, Barry 45 (59), me 61

Second break: KIWI EELS ("Me, too")

That is, LIKEWISE.

Round 7: X R C E U E S M G


Avi is trending downwards, this time having CUES for four.  Barry has found EXCUSE for six, but missed (or chose not to risk) the extension to EXCUSER that David points out.

The other sevens are EXCURSE ("to go on an excursion") and MUREXES (one plural form of MUREX).


Scores: Avi 20, Barry 51 (65), me 67

Round 8: Target 550 from 50 100 10 3 1 9

Multiples of 25 are rarely problematic, multiples of 50 even less so.  I started with 550 = 9*50 + 100, then noted a couple of alternatives of 550 = (10 + 1)*50 and 550 = (9 - 3 - 1)*(100 + 10).

Again both contestants have solved the numbers round, with the same solution: 550 = (9 - 3 - 1)*100 + 50.  That was also Lily's approach, but David pipes up with an alternative: 550 = (9 - 3)*100 - 50.

Avi: 550
Barry: 550
Me: 550
Lily: 550

Scores: Avi 30, Barry 61 (75), me 77


I failed badly on this one.  I thought that -SHIP was the most likely ending, but somehow could not make it work.  If on the show I might have chanced ENWORSHIP at the last moment, but I knew it was not right.  It actually took me over a minute extra to see OWNERSHIP.  Gah!

I take some consolation in the fact that neither contestant was able to solve this, so it wasn't just me with the oversight.

Update: A commenter points out that SHIPOWNER is also a valid solution, so this is a rare instance of the show using a conundrum with multiple solutions.  (The other instance that I can think of is episode 87.)

Avi: [no answer]
Barry: [no answer]
Me: [no answer]

Scores: Avi 30, Barry 61 (75), me 77

This was a very one-sided game, with Barry scoring points in every main round while Avi was only able to get points from the numbers.  Since those letters rounds included a full monty for Barry, it's no surprise that the final margin was very large in his favour.  If only the conundrum had been a little more tractable, he would have debuted with a score in the eighties, and that would have been quite the achievement.

It seems to me that Barry has been the best of the contestants so far, so I'm making an early call that Barry will successfully retire.  I definitely felt a bit fortunate to end up ahead of him by enough to be safe at the conundrum, and I'll not be at all surprised if he hands me my first loss of the series.  (Although I will, of course, aim to prevent that.)  That said, the numbers were a fairly gentle lot tonight, so we've yet to get an idea of how he handles those.


Mike Backhouse said...

Well done on the full monty Geoff.

FISHES then FASHION just after
Geoff's way
had EXCUSER but went with the safter EXCUSE
x but did come up with POWERSHIN (I wish...)

Mike Backhouse said...

Just realised that I used S twice in FISHES.

Geoff Bailey said...

POWERSHIN sounds like an excellent thing to have in a soccer match!

Sam G said...

Barry helped out with the UNICEF L&N function in Melbourne last year. He said he'd been a contestant and producer on the show, but I didn't recognise him at the time.

3. 375 = 75*(7-2)
6. 308 = 3*100 + 5 + 75/25
8. 550 = (10+1)*50
9. OWNERSHIP - 12s

Unknown said...

Just a second or two too late I saw 2 solutions to the conundrum OWNERSHIP and SHIPOWNER. The show aims to have a unique solution but slipped up this time.

Geoff Bailey said...

Thanks for catching that, Unknown responder. Post adjusted to make a note of that; this is the second case that I'm aware of (the other being episode 87). And now that you've pointed it out, I think I'd stumbled across this ambiguity before, when choosing conundrums, and so had to avoid using it.