Saturday, 2 July 2016

Ep 132: Barry Harridge, Susan Bee (June 23, 2016; originally aired February 1, 2011)

Rounds: Here.

Barry Harridge has made it to the fifth night, and should make the finals even if he loses here.  Of course, he'd rather win.  Richard opens by noting that Barry has been exceptionally good with the words, and mentions that Barry has built up a resource that helps him in this regard.  Barry explains that he has put together a "consogram list", where words are organised by putting their consonants first.  (From later context, those consonants are then sorted and words with identical consonants are grouped together.)  He gives an example with C, N, R, T, where he would mumble to himself "curtain, nectar, citrine..." and so forth.  As a result, he called this list "a thesaurus of mumbles".  (Incidentally, this kind of thing is why I think it's best to pick vowels first against Scrabble players -- taking the consonants early just gives them more time to recall the appropriate parts of such lists.)

Tonight's challenger is Susan Bee, a freelance writer who also works as a museum guide.  Susan works in a house museum; she describes the house as a sort of eccentric Victorian Gothic mansion, set in beautiful grounds with a pleasure garden, vegetable garden, and paddocks.  She sort of trails off after "paddocks", implying there is more to the grounds (as one would expect), but presumably those were the standout features.

Barry gets his usual very fast start, with two excellent eight-letter words.  He followed it up by finding a good solution to the first numbers round, and was 26 points ahead going into the first break.  The remaining letters rounds went a bit each way, with Barry rather surprisingly missing a full monty that Scrabble players would be expected to find, and both contestants were unable to score points in the numbers (Barry due to errors of calculation, while Susan was not able to get within range).  The conundrum was likewise elusive, so those first three rounds made all the difference: Barry won in a surprisingly low-scoring game, 39 to 13.

Barry's start was too good for me, and I was sixteen points behind at the halfway mark.  Fortunately I was able to capitalise on the full monty opportunity, and pick up some useful points in the numbers rounds as well to be safe going into the conundrum.  I was pleased to solve it (particularly after yesterday's invalid answer), and get home with the win in what started off looking like a serious loss possibility.

Round 1: T L H D E O S B U

I had HELD, THOLE ("a pin inserted in a boat's gunwale or the like, to act as a fulcrum for the oar"), HOSTED, BLUSHED, TOUSLED, BUSTLED, and HUSTLED.  It felt like there should be longer, but it took me a little while after time to find DOUBLETS for eight.

Susan has HUSTLED for seven, but Barry continues his fine opening form in the games by finding DOUBLETS.  That's an excellent find by him, and puts me on the back foot immediately.  David does not have anything to add to this.

DOUBLETS is the only eight.  The other sevens are DOUBLET, DOUBLES / BLOUSED (BLOUSE as a verb: "to hang loose and full"), BOLDEST, SHOUTED, LOUDEST, HOTBEDS, BEHOLDS, and BOLETUS (any mushroom of a certain species).


Scores: Barry 8, Susan 0, me 0

Round 2: K N E R U T I N O

I had KERN ("(in electronic typesetting) to reduce the space between (characters) so that they fit together snugly"), RUNE, TRUNK, UNITER, ORIENT, and ROUTINE.  I felt on the back foot with this mix, and it got worse after time when I spotted NEUTRON and thus NEUTRINO as an eight.  Two rounds in a row where I was slow to see findable eights.

This time Susan has a six of RUNION; she thinks that it is a vegetable of some kind, but it is not in the Macquarie, and online searching does not suggest any such meaning either.  It is not costly to her, as Barry has got off to another blistering start by finding NEUTRINO.  That's a devastating one-two punch from him, and I have to hope that he falters on the numbers as he has in the past.  Again, there's nothing David can add to this performance.

NEUTRINO is the only eight; the other sevens are REUNION, INTONER / TERNION ("a set or group of three; a triad") / NOINTER ("Tasmania a spoiled or difficult child"), and EINKORN (a type of wheat).

Susan: [invalid -- RUNION]

Scores: Barry 16, Susan 0, me 0

Round 3: Target 922 from 75 25 100 3 4 6

Barry continues to opt for the balanced mix, and a large target can often be challenging.  I was about to start with (6 + 3)*100 when I realised that I wanted to keep the 3 aside for the final offset.  Fortunately I was able to find a solution that way: 922 = (6 + 4)*100 - 75 - 3.  Then I saw that I could make the 900 a different way, which allowed another solution via a tweak: 922 = 3*(75*100/25 + 6) + 4.  There's a few variations on these ideas.

Barry's body language indicates that he is done at the halfway mark, which suggests that I may not be able to get any ground back in this round.  Indeed, he has found the first of the solutions that I did, as did Lily.  (There's a minor hiccup here when he says to multiply by ten but means to multiply by one hundred, but it is sorted out easily.)  Susan has got to just one away with 921, presumably (6 + 3)*100 + 25 - 4; a good effort but not enough in this situation.  Barry's lead is now a rather large 26 points at the first break.

Barry: 922
Susan: 921
Me: 922
Lily: 922

Scores: Barry 26, Susan 0, me 10

First break: CHAIN LAP ("A religious little tramp")

The term "little tramp" refers to Charlie Chaplin (or more precisely, to one of his famous roles), and the adjustment to CHAPLAIN is then easy enough.

David's talk is about the word hazard.

Round 4: S O F J E A N P E

Susan gets a horrible mix of consonants, and it's no wonder that everyone struggles.  At first I had a phantom L (no idea where I got that from) for SOLE and ALOES, then realised my error.  I wrote down PEONS for five, and was unable to better it.  After time I noted other fives of OPENS and PANES.

The contestants have likewise been limited to five-letter words, with Susan opting for JEANS while Barry went for JAPES.  David agrees that this was a tough mix, one of the nastiest to far, and has chosen PEONS as his answer.

There are various other fives, of which I'll just mention AEONS, but the six here is PAEONS (PAEON: "a metrical foot of four syllables, one long (in any position) and three short".

Barry: JAPES
Susan: JEANS
David: PEONS

Scores: Barry 31, Susan 5, me 15

Round 5: N R S I E A T G I

As a Scrabble player, Barry must be deeply familiar with the retsina mix.  When it turns up after the first seven letters he even comments that they are lovely letters.  I thought the final choice of a vowel was a bit strange, though: While a U would give SIGNATURE, and an E allows RESEATING (but there's a trap here for Scrabble players as they might try GRATINEES, which is not in the Macquarie), an A is no good and an O is also bad (another potential trap, with Scrabble allowing ORANGIEST).  I'd have expected a consonant to bring better rewards on average.  (Indeed, of the common consonants, only an N would not allow a nine; the other bad ones are F, J, Q, X, and Z.)

Anyway, I had RISEN, ARISEN, RETINAS, GRANITES / ANGRIEST / INGRATES, and GRAINIEST.  I was a little concerned that I might be done in by the Macquarie here, but I can't affort to fall behind by another full monty's worth.  Fortunately for me, GRAINIEST is valid.

Susan has found SEATING for seven, but Barry surprised me by only having GRANITES for eight.  That's a very unusual miss for a Scrabble player, no matter how bad Barry claims to be.  Against all expectations, I'm suddenly in the lead.  David, of course, has found GRAINIEST.

GRAINIEST is the only nine in the Macquaries (Scrabble would allow some others, such as GIANTRIES).  The other eights here are RAINIEST / INERTIAS, GANTRIES / RANGIEST / ASTRINGE ("to compress; bind together; constrict") / GANISTER (a type of rock), and STINGIER / IGNITERS / RESITING.  TASER is only listed as a noun, so TASERING is not allowed.


Scores: Barry 31 (39), Susan 5, me 33

Round 6: Target 542 from 50 25 6 3 5 7

I've spent all game playing catch-up, and I'm already a bit mentally worn.  My first thought was to make the target as 550 - 5 - 3, but I could not make that work.  The second idea was 500 + 6*7, which had tweaking possibilities, but I could not unravel a solution from that within time.  Unfortunately, these musings took me too long so that when I had to write an answer down the best I could scramble within time was the six-away 536 = (7 + 3)*50 + 25 + 5 + 6.  I had miscalculated that in my head as one away when I started; I caught the error in time to write the correct total, but it was still a bad result as I could have written down the simple 543 = (6 + 5)*50 - 7 to get just one away.

With the calmness of extra time, I found one way to tweak my way to a solution: 542 = 6*(50 + 7) + (5 + 3)*25.  Then I considered working from 7*75 and found another: 542 = 7*(50 + 25 + 5) - 3*6.  Finally I saw the untweaked version of that original idea: 542 = (25 - 3*5)*50 + 6*7.  So much easier without the panic of time pressure!

Susan was stumped by this one; she says that she had a brainwave once she put her pen down, but it was too late.  She actually started writing something literally as the clock stopped, but perhaps she was pulled up on that.  Meanwhile, Barry has checked his answer and finds that he has made an error.  So neither contestant has an answer to declare here.

Lily is on point, finding the last of those solutions that I listed above.

Barry: [no answer]
Susan: [no answer]
Me: 536
Lily: 542

Scores: Barry 31 (39), Susan 5, me 38

Second break: BECK COMA ("Always good if you can stage one of these")

That would be a COMEBACK, and I resonate with that as I've started, but not completed, one of those this game.

Round 7: B D C A E R O I D

Only a full monty will let Susan back in the game, and the letters almost cooperate.  I had BEAD, BRACED, BROCADE, and BROCADED.  I also noted that a final T would have allowed the nine of BACTEROID ("any of various minute rodlike or branched organisms, many of which are bacteria, as in the root nodules of nitrogen-fixing plants"), which some viewers may recall getting a mention in episode 15, Andrew Fisher's high-scoring game.

Barry has found CARBIDE for seven, but Susan has spotted BROCADED for eight.  That's a good result from Susan, but alas, a bit too late.  David has found that BARCODED is a valid anagram of it; he says that he thought it would need a hyphen, but that is not the case.  I'll expand on that a bit: The noun BAR CODE is only listed as two words, but the verb BARCODE ("to identify by means of a bar code") is one word.

That's both eights listed.  The other sevens are BARCODE, BRAIDED, BOARDED / ROADBED, RADIOED, and AEROBIC.


Scores: Barry 31 (39), Susan 13, me 46

Round 8: Target 639 from 25 50 6 2 1 7

The target is clearly 9*71, but it does not seem possible to make both a 9 and a 71.  The nearby multiple of 50 is 13*50, and it happens that a tweak finishes it off: 639 = (7 + 6)*(50 - 1) + 2.  Then I observed that the offset from 625 was 2*7 = 14; this prompted me to find another answer of 639 = 2*(6*50 + 7) + 25.

Susan was not able to get within scoring range, and Barry is unsure about whether he has 634 or not.  His explanation goes (50*2 + 1)*6 + 25, which is 631, and then says, rather strangely, that he was going to add 8 but that is too much.  Of course, there is no 8; presumably he was momentarily confused because 631 is 8 away from the target.  What he had actually found was a route to 638, just one away, assuming that he added the remaining 7.

Lily has found a solution, quite nicely: 639 = (50 / 2)*25 + 6 + 1 + 7.

Barry: [wrong answer -- 634]
Susan: [not in range]
Me: 639
Lily: 639

Scores: Barry 31 (39), Susan 13, me 56


Down to the conundrum, and the placings are decided.  I got hung up on -ATION for a little bit, but once I considered -ATOR I immediately found the answer of INCUBATOR.

Neither contestant was able to solve this, so their scorelines remain unchanged.

Barry: [no answer]
Susan: [no answer]

Scores: Barry 31 (39), Susan 13, me 66

Barry started out extremely well, but then fell away at the end (fortunately for me!).  As mentioned before, the numbers are definitely a potential weak point for him; note that Susan scored no points on them, and had she managed 27 points (I think 24 was certainly feasible as 10/7/7) then she would have won.  Barry makes it through to his sixth game, but his performance has been dropping.  Can he retire successfully?

I was rattled by being so far behind to start with, and I think that contributed to my poor effort in round six.  Fortunately the second half went much better for me, especially that unanswered full monty.  (Although note that if GRAINIEST had not been explicitly listed, as it needs to be, that would have been a 26 point swing to Barry and the final margin would have been just nine points to me.)

1 comment:

Mike Backhouse said...

BOLTED and BUSTLED just after time
Susan's way (1 off)
RATINGS (well done on the full monty Geoff)
(5+6)*50-7=543 (1 off)
(6+7)*(50-1)=637 (2 off)