Thursday, 30 June 2016

Ep 130: Barry Harridge, John Marsiglio (June 21, 2016; originally aired January 28, 2011)

Rounds: Here.

It's Barry Harridge's third night, and Richard notes that Barry organises Scrabble tournaments, on quite a major scale.  He asks how Barry has managed that; Barry responds that he has been involved with Scrabble for many years, but never been a very good player.  What he does do is invoke the power of computing, having written programs to help look up words and see if they're available, or sort out the details of who should be playing who in the next round, or make results available on the internet.  Richard suggests that Barry might be understating his ability, given the quality of some of the words he has found so far.

Tonight's challenger is John Marsiglio, who has a science background and works for the Environment Protection Agency.  Naturally enough, Richard enquires as to what is involved in that.  John explains that they assess proposals by people who may want to build a new factory, or engage in some similar project, and make sure that those proposals meet the relevant environmental criteria for Victorian policies.

This game started out similarly to Barry's previous games, with him taking the first two letters rounds handily and then having some issues with the numbers.  John was able to steady in the middle third, matching Barry throughout, but was not able to recoup lost ground.  Barry sealed the win in the final letters round; John pegged back the scoreline a little in the final numbers round, but neither solved the conundrum and the final score was 45 to 31 in Barry's favour.

I was just unable to get clear of Barry for most of the game, in part due to a very poor miss in the first numbers round where I ended up with nothing to declare.  It was only in the last numbers round that I managed to outscore him, and that raised the possibility of a tie if he beat me to the conundrum.  Happily I got there quickly enough, but it's definitely been a shaky set of matches for me against Barry so far.

Round 1: D R H T S C U E I

I had RUST, CRUSTED, RICHEST, and DITCHERS (DITCHER: "Bowls a bowl which goes into the ditch [...] having touched neither the jack nor any other bowl in play").  After time I noted down some of the other sevens I'd seen: DITCHES, DITCHER, DUCHIES, HIRSUTE, and DITHERS, and also found another eight of CRUDITÉS (CRUDITÉ: "a thinly-cut raw vegetable often served with a dip sauce as an hors d'oeuvre").

John starts out with the six of DITHER -- somehow missing that he could append the S for a seven -- but Barry has found CURTSIED for eight.  He only found it at the last moment, so he wasn't entirely sure.  David pretends to be unsure about it in order to give Barry a little scare, but he already had the dictionary open to that page (it looks like he went checking up on that at around the ten second mark, incidentally).

That's both eights listed.  The other sevens are CREDITS / DIRECTS, CRUISED, CUSHIER, CHIDERS, CRUSHED, CRUDEST, DUSTIER, ICTERUS (jaundice), CITHERS (CITHER being another name for a zither), and DUTCHES (DUTCH being a British colloquialism for "wife", derived as a shortened form of "duchess").


Scores: Barry 8, John 0, me 8

Round 2: P B O I L H E C O

Not a very compatible mix here -- the -IBLE fragment is sometimes useful, but not this time.  I had BOIL and POLICE.  I spent ages feeling that I was missing something; I think this must have been the almost-there PLACEBO, due to it's recent appearance in episode 120.

John has not particularly enjoyed his first turn at the letter selection, ending up with POOCH for five.  Barry has managed to stay that step (or letter) ahead, with his six of COOLIE ("Indian English a person who carries goods, luggage, etc., especially at a railway station; porter").  David has gone with PHOBIC as his six.

That's all the sixes listed.  There's a few other fives, including BELCH, BICEP, and EPOCH.


Scores: Barry 14, John 0, me 14

Round 3: Target 995 from 50 75 25 100 5 3

Barry "daringly" goes for the four large mix, and gets a very large target.  I had a complete meltdown here; I wanted to make the target as 1000 - 5, and moreover I knew that it was possible to get to 1000 with the other five numbers.  But I got lost trying to find that method, and saw it a fraction too late, getting down most but not all of the solution within time and leaving me with nothing to declare.

Of course, a fallback two off was easy enough with 997 = 5*(100 + 75 + 25) - 3, and I had found that.  But I did not write it down because I was searching for that exact solution that I knew existed.  The one that I almost got down was 995 = (25 - 3)*50 - 100 - 5, but a variation I saw later was 995 = 25*(50 - 3) - 75 - 100 - 5.

Barry's daring has not paid off for him, as he is far away with 955; I'll guess that was 3*(75/25)*100 + 50 + 5.  If so, note that a tweak turns this into a solution: 995 = 3*(75/25)*(100 + 5) + 50.  John says that he was closer, but not close enough, with 975.

Lily has done well to find another approach, making it look vexingly easy with her solution of 995 = (50/5)*(100 - 3) + 25.  That's quite well done!

There are quite a few solution to this, but the nicely short one is 995 = (50*100 - 25)/5.

Barry: [not in range]
John: [not in range]
Me: [no answer]
Lily: 995

Scores: Barry 14, John 0, me 14

First break: HUG DREGS (Richard mimes this one)

And that mime was to indicate that he SHRUGGED.

David's talk is about various words or phrases derived from "mock": mock cream, mocktail, mockumentary, and Mocktober.

Round 4: B S T I A E R T O

I had BITS, BAITS, tried to remember which of BAITERS / BARITES was the acceptable one (it's BAITERS that is clearly valid, with a case existing for BARITES), ROTATES, and BOASTER.  After time I noted some other sevens: TOASTER, BATTIER, and SORBATE / BOATERS.

It's sevens from each contestant, with John having BATTERS while Barry has BOATERS.  David has done well to find BIRETTA ("a stiff, square cap with three (or four) upright projecting pieces extending from the centre of the top to the edge; worn by Roman Catholic ecclesiastics"), and thus BIRETTAS for eight.

The other eights are ABETTORS / TABORETS (TABORET: "a low seat without back or arms, for one person; a stool").  TOASTIER is not valid (in fact, to my surprise, TOASTY is not even listed).


Scores: Barry 21, John 7, me 21

Round 5: F N M E O A G R D

I had OMEN, FOEMAN, GROANED, and FOREMAN.  ENDOGRAM (not valid) seemed a plausible option, but not convincing enough.  After time I noted ROADMEN as another seven, and then saw the eight of DRAGOMEN ("(in Middle Eastern countries) a professional interpreter").

Again the contestants have found sevens, with John's FORAGED matching Barry's FOREMAN.  David has accurately found DRAGOMEN.  He ascribes his success in finding that word to reading Biggles books as a young boy.

FORGEMAN is not listed, so DRAGOMEN is the only eight.  The other sevens are FROGMAN, FROGMEN, GORMAND (variant spelling of GOURMAND), FORAMEN ("an opening, orifice, or short passage [...]"), and MARENGO ("(of a chicken or veal dish) browned in oil, and sauteed in a sauce of tomatoes, mushrooms, garlic or onions, and white wine") / MEGARON ("the main hall of an ancient Mycenaean house [...]").


Scores: Barry 28, John 14, me 28

Round 6: Target 440 from 50 25 7 9 10 2

The standard method applies very handily here, and everyone has found 440 = 9*50 - 10.  While writing this up, I had forgotten that I did it that way and wanted to use the factorisation 10*44, which led me to the scenic route solution of 440 = (25 + 9 + 50/(7 - 2))*10.

I just haven't been able to get at all clear from Barry so far, although I have had my chances.  I think of all the contestants so far this series I've struggled the most to get any advantage over him.

Barry: 440
John: 440
Me: 440
Lily: 440

Scores: Barry 38, John 24, me 38

Second break: FOCAL SOP ("A silly paper size")

That is referring to the FOOL of FOOLSCAP.

Round 7: S T L E O A N D N

I had LETS, STOLE, a traditional ETALONS (ETALON being a type of interferometer, and a common word in Countdown if not in this show), and SLANTED.  After time I jotted down some of the other sevens that I had seen: DONATES, DALTONS, and TENDONS.  I also observed that a final I instead of that N would have allowed DELATIONS for nine.

John has LADEN for five, but Barry has found DONATES for seven.  That puts him 21 points ahead with only 20 points left in the game, so Barry is guaranteed to win at this point.  David could not do better than seven, opting for SLANTED as his choice.

There is one eight to be had here; it is the musical direction LENTANDO ("gradually more slowly").  The other sevens are TALONED, DENTALS (DENTAL as a noun referring to certain sounds), and TOLANES (certain chemicals).


Scores: Barry 45, John 24, me 45

Round 8: Target 345 from 75 50 9 4 1 3

Applying the standard method means getting to 350, and the hybrid approach works best to leave useful small numbers: 345 = 4*75 + 50 - (9 - 3 - 1).  Then I considered the factorisation 5*69 to get another solution: 345 = (75 - 9 + 3)*(4 + 1).

Both contestants declare one away with 346.  John's solution was 75*4 + 50 - 3 - 1, so just a little more technique would have led him to the answer that I found.  Barry, however, has made an error of some kind; we do not find out what it is.  Lily demonstrates the first solution that I found (the one that John missed).

Barry: [invalid -- 346]
John: 346
Me: 345
Lily: 345

Scores: Barry 45, John 24 (31), me 55


Thanks to that last round I have a little breathing room, but a quick solution from Barry would still notionally tie things up.  Fortunately I got the answer quickly, and then time ticked down with neither contestant able to solve this conundrum.  I was a bit surprised by that, as the -ATE ending seemed moderately clear and should soon lead one to see the answer of FABRICATE.

Barry: [no answer]
John: [no answer]

Scores: Barry 45, John 24 (31), me 65

Another good performance from Barry on the words, but the numbers again proved difficult for him.  John was only able to capitalise on that once, though, and had given up too much ground on the letters to recover.  Arguably the game was lost in those first two rounds, since John never managed to get back within range after that point.  It's the crucial fourth game for Barry next time; a good win there should stand him in good stead to make the finals.


Mike Backhouse said...

5*(100+25+75)-3=997 (2 off)
Geoff's hybrid method/Lily's way

Geoff Bailey said...

Nice game, Mike!