Sunday, 3 July 2016

Ep 133: Barry Harridge, Gary Beer (June 24, 2016; originally aired February 2, 2011)

Rounds: Here.

It's the sixth and final night for Barry Harridge, and the question is whether he can successfully retire.  But first we get to find out a little more about his past activities: Barry went to the first (English language) World Scrabble Championship, in London in 1991.  He attended as just a "Scrabble groupie"; however, when the Nigerians failed to turn up the organisers drew a name out of a hat as a replacement, and that is how he ended up playing in the tournament.  Barry adds that it was not too bad, because the rest of his team-mates had spent a sleepless night previously, but he'd had a really good sleep.  (Incidentally, Barry ended up coming 32nd out of 48, behind two of the other Australians but ahead of the other two.  A brief table of results is here.)

Standing between Barry and successful retirement is Gary Beer, an operations manager for an insurance brokerage firm.  Gary left the UK in 2005 for what was meant to be a twelve-month trip, but five years down the track has become an Australian citizen.  As he relates it, he had spent three months travelling around South-East Asia, and arrived in Australia needing to earn some extra money before he continued with the rest of his trip.  He started working for a company (that he is still working for), and back then it was only allowed to work for three months as a temporary employee.  So the company offered to sponsor him, and five years down the track he is still there, and has gained citizenship.  Obviously, he is very happy to be here.

Whoo-ee, this one went down to the wire.  In every single main round the contestants declared equal results, and they were identical in all but two cases.  One of those almost led to a swing, since it was a numbers round with calculation errors, but it turned out that both contestants managed to make errors and there was no swing.  So it came down to the conundrum, with both contestants on equal score.  It was a difficult one, but Barry managed to solve it and so successfully retire with a 59 to 49 victory.  Well done, Barry!

I was similarly matched with the contestants, right up until that late-game pair of invalid rounds.  That gave me just enough breathing space to scrape home with the win, despite not solving the conundrum within time.  Phew!

Round 1: S H L E O C R E A

I had HOLES, CHORES, CLOSER, got the final A I wanted for CHOLERA and CHOLERAS, then was slightly unsure about how a ruling about it would go so also noted EARHOLES and ORACLES.  A nine seemed out of the question, without a mispronounced LACEHORSE.  After time I found the safer anagram of CHOLERAS: CHORALES.

Barry starts with a confident eight, while Gary thinks that his choice is risky.  But they both have chosen CHOLERAS, so there is no swing regardless.  David rules that it is valid, and has opted for SHOELACE as his choice.

The remaining eight here is ARSEHOLE.


Scores: 8 apiece

Round 2: P I A N E D T U M

I had PAIN, PAINED, and PAINTED.  It felt like longer should be on offer, but it eluded me.  After time I wrote down some of the other sevens that I had seen: UNTIMED, IMPUTED, PETUNIA, MEDIANT (a musical term for the third degree of a scale), and AUDIENT ("a listener").  I also checked up on UNTAMPED, but it was not valid, as expected.

This time the contestants both have sevens, and again they have the same answer: PAINTED.  David has managed to go that one step better, finding the only eight of IMPUDENT.

The other sevens here are MINUTED, UNTAMED, PINETUM (an arboretum of pines), and PUTAMEN ("a hard or stony endocarp").


Scores: 15 apiece

Round 3: Target 407 from 50 100 75 3 4 7

One of my favourite numbers, but not a challenging target.  It's no surprise that everyone goes with 407 = 4*100 + 7.  Three rounds in, and identical results from the contestants; looks like we're in for a close one!

Barry: 407
Gary: 407
Me: 407
Lily: 407

Scores: 25 apiece

First break: ARCH COLA ("Overcooked, and you can draw with it")

Those are both properties of CHARCOAL.

David's talk is about the words symposium and conspiracy.

Round 4: D B G O E A F T E

I had BODGE, BODEGA ("a storehouse for wine, especially one which is above ground"), and DOTAGE.

The contestants have also found six-letter words; Gary says that he is sticking with a safe six of DEFEAT, while Barry has opted for DEBATE.  I wonder what his less safe answer was.  David has zeroed in on a seven here: FEEDBAG.  He notes that it can be made only from musical notes.

The other seven is FAGOTED (FAGOT being a variant spelling of FAGGOT: "to bind or make into [a bundle of sticks]").  Other sources would allow the adjective GOATEED, but it is not in the Macquarie.  The other sixes are BOATED, GOATEE, and TOGAED.


Scores: 31 apiece

Round 5: I E O T G R E A M

Barry switches up his usual approach of starting with consonants, and gets a bit vowel-happy.  Maybe he thought that might help him get away from his opponent?  Anyway, I had GOITRE, MIGRATE, and EMIGRATE.  After time I checked up on GEOMETRIA, but that is not a word (not in English, at least).

True to form, the contestants have both found EMIGRATE for eight.  David cannot better it, as it is the best to be done and the only eight.  The other sevens are RAGTIME and MEATIER / EMIRATE.

We're five rounds in, and the contestants are tied.  In fact, they've only had one different declaration so far.  Barry has usually been considerably ahead by this stage; how will he handle the pressure?  With two numbers rounds to go and only one letters round, he could be in trouble.  I hope so, since I have not been able to get clear either.


Scores: 39 apiece

Round 6: Target 577 from 75 3 8 2 7 7

Gary goes for a single large number, which is the option I'd generally suggest for people less comfortable with the numbers.  (Not that I am implying anything about his ability here.)  The offset from 8*75 = 600 is 23, and I soon spotted an easy tweak: 577 = 8*(75 - 2) - 7.  I also considered working up from 7*75 = 525; there the offset is 52, which I slightly overcomplicated to get 577 = 7*(75 + 8) - (7 - 3).  (Simpler would have been 577 = 7*(75 + 7) + 3.)  After time I noted another descent from 600 with 577 = 8*75 - 3*7 - 2.

There's general mirth as the contestants again declare the same result of 578.  Gary starts off with 3*2*75, but has come a cropper, as he thought that was 600 instead of the 450 that it is.  (Presumably his answer in full was 3*2*75 - 8 - 7 - 7.)  Oh, dear, that's a bad mistake to make.  So Barry has his chance to get clear; he starts with 75*7 + 7*8, suggesting that it is 583, but it is actually 581.  So he, also, has an invalid answer, and the scores are still tied.  (Presumably he subtracted the remaining two numbers to get 576, but thought he had 578.)

It remains to Lily to demonstrate a solution; she has gone with 577 = (75 - 3)*8 + 7/7.

Barry: [invalid -- 578]
Gary: [invalid -- 578]
Me: 577
Lily: 577

Scores: Barry 39, Gary 39, me 49

Second break: CLAY MIST ("Foggy and magical")

It seems a bit poor to be cluing the MIST sound of MYSTICAL when MIST was one of the component words.  Oh, well, they can't all be gems.

Round 7: Y R N I O A R L H

Barry gives a couple of disgruntled groans as the letters come up (on the A and the second R), rightly reflecting how unhelpful a mix this is.  I'd hoped for the last letter to be a W for NARROWLY, but taking a vowel for an E for AILERON was also somewhat tempting.

As it was, I had IRONY, HORNY, and considered HORNILY but eventually rejected it (rightly so).  After time I noted down other fives of HAIRY and RHINO, and that latter led me to the six of RHINAL ("of or relating to the nose; nasal").  And then I looked back at the HORN fragment and saw the possibility of AIRHORN.  I'd have definitely chanced that if I'd seen it, but that just goes to show how lucky I was, since it is only allowed as two words: AIR HORN.

Richard refers to Barry's discontent with the letters by describing it as "a two-groan mix".  Barry decides to try a seven, while Gary also has a risky seven.  In fact, the trend continues, as they have both chanced HORNILY for seven.  David was only able to find fives, citing IRONY, LORRY, and HAIRY.

The other potential seven here was HOARILY, but the Macquarie does not list it.  That leaves six as the best to be done, with the other one being HORARY ("relating to an hour").

Barry: [invalid -- HORNILY]
Gary: [invalid -- HORNILY]

Scores: Barry 39, Gary 39, me 54

Round 8: Target 492 from 50 3 3 2 6 10

Whatever happens here, the conundrum is going to count (and the possibility of a tiebreaker conundrum is certainly there).  But the round is too easy, with everyone getting 492 = 10*50 - 6 - 2 in short order.  After time I used the factorisation 6*82 for another answer of 492 = (50 + 3*10 + 2)*6; seen just now is the variation 492 = (50 - 3*3)*2*6.

Barry: 492
Gary: 492
Me: 492
Lily: 492

Scores: Barry 49, Gary 49, me 64


Down to the conundrum, and I found it very hard.  Barry did well to solve this at the eleven second mark; it took me just over three minutes in total to find the answer of ASTRONAUT.

Barry: ASTRONAUT (11s)
Gary: [no answer]
Me: [no answer]

Scores: Barry 59, Gary 49, me 64

Richard commented to David at the end that he doesn't think they've had a game quite like this.  I'll mention Sam Chow's unlucky appearance in episode 47, but many of those declarations were different (just scoring the same amount).  Certainly the contestants tonight were extremely consistent with choosing the same answers.  It's certainly a good final game to have, and Barry deservedly retires after six games of excellent word-finding.  Gary also played very well, and was unfortunate that his first game was against Barry rather than, say, any of the other opponents that Barry faced.

Aside from the conundrum, I don't think I missed much that I should have got tonight.  I'm just fortunate that it ended up being enough, thanks to those two invalid rounds from Barry (and Gary).


Justin Thai said...

Gary indeed was unlucky, but Barry's play deserved retirement.
A like how there were 2 great contestants with maths jobs (Barry, Naween) but were better on the letters :p

Also you can catch up on last week without worrying about this week as the Tour de France highlights will be on instead...


407-Everyone's solution
Utterly floundered on this one

Mike Backhouse said...

Hi there Justin. Good game.

I'll miss the show this week with the Tour de France.

4*100+7=407 (no surprise here)

Geoff Bailey said...

Ah, that's good news for me -- thanks, Justin!