Friday, 5 August 2016

Ep 148: Mike Vitale, Michael Bakker (August 3, 2016; originally aired February 23, 2011)

Rounds: Here.

Disclaimer: I watched this episode when it first aired, and although I did not recall any of it I cannot rule out memory being a factor.

Mike Vitale is back for his second night, and we find out that Mike and his wife look after dogs for Seeing Eye Dogs Australia.  At the moment they are looking after an eight-month-old labrador named Eve, and they expect to have her for another eight months.  Richard asks whether they are training Eve themselves, but Mike explains that training to be a seeing eye dog will be done later by professionals.  What they are doing at the moment is socialising her; she goes everywhere with them -- she even comes to his lectures (he adds, "and sleeps through them just like everyone else").  She'll go on trams, trains, buses, on visits to the shops -- all the kinds of activities that will be important for her to be familiar with later.  (She was not brought to the filming, however.)

Tonight's challenger is Michael Bakker, who is in his fourth year of a pharmacy degree.  Apparently Michael entered that degree as a result of a bet with a friend.  We don't quite get the details on what he describes as an informal bet, but he does say that the VCE can be a difficult time, particularly the pressure to work out what you'll be doing for the rest of your life.  So Michael thought, "Why not leave that up to someone else?"  His best friend applied for pharmacy, which seemed agreeable to him, so to pharmacy he went and it has suited him quite well.

The contestants found equal-scoring results in the first two rounds, and the first number round proved too difficult for both.  Another matched round followed, then Michael finally got a small lead in round five.  It did not last long, as Mike snatched the lead back on the numbers, then extended it in the last letters round.  But Michael fought back, solving the last numbers round to take a slender lead going into the conundrum.  Neither was able to solve it, so Michael won, 32 to 29.

Round 1: H P N I E T O E L

I had PINE, THINE, POINTE ("(in ballet) the tip of the toe"), HOTLINE, PLINTH, and THEINE ("caffeine found in tea").  After time I found another couple of sevens in HOPLITE ("a heavily armoured foot soldier of ancient Greece") and NEOLITH ("a person who lived in the Neolithic period").  That I was a bit of a spoiler -- if it had been E then TELEPHONE would have been an option, or an A would have allowed PHENOLATE.

It's fours from the contestants, with Michael having OPEN while Mike has PINE.  This prompts Richard to call it a tough mix, but David disagrees; he mentions HOTEL as a findable five, then the sevens of HOTLINE and PINHOLE.

The other sevens are POTLINE ("a succession of electrolytic reduction cells used to make such metals as aluminium from a fused electrolyte"), PETIOLE ("the stalk by which a leaf is attached to the stem"), and POTHEEN (variant spelling of POTEEN: "illicit distilled whisky").

There is probably an eight here: THOLEPIN (variant of THOLE: "a pin inserted into a boat's gunwale or the like, to act as a fulcrum for the oar").  The reason that I say "probably" is because where it is mentioned in the Macquarie it is split across a line, introducting hyphenation (THOLE-PIN).  I think that this hyphenation is only there because of the line split, but there's a small chance it is meant to always be there.  Chambers was not helpful in this regard, as it lists THOLE PIN as two words.

Mike: PINE
Michael: OPEN

Scores: Mike 0 (4), Michael 0 (4), me 7

Round 2: D C R S A I E N U

I had CARDS, RAIDS, SIDECAR, SARDINE, DANCERS, and DURANCES (DURANCE: "forced confinement; imprisonment").

Mike has CRANES for six, while Michael has chosen the "safe six" of NURSED.  David thought that the letters were good enough that a nine might be in the offing, but it was not quite there; instead, he has found the eight of DENARIUS.

The other eights are INDUCERS and UNRAISED / URANIDES.

Michael: NURSED

Scores: Mike 0 (10), Michael 0 (10), me 15

Round 3: Target 996 from 50 75 25 8 3 9

Mike chooses his favourite balanced mix again, and gets a very large target.  I started first by getting to 1000, which sufficed for one away with 997 = 8*(75 + 50) - 3.  Looking at other ways to get near, I noticed that I could get to 900 with 12*75, and that the offset of 96 was 12*8.  That gave me a solution: 996 = (9 + 3)*(75 + 8).

Mike is outside the scoring range with 983, perhaps (9 + 3)*75 + 50 + 25 + 8.  Michael is also outside the scoring range, although we don't find out how close he had managed to get.  Lily suggests, a little unfairly I think, that this was not that hard, and shows the solution that I found.

There's essentially only that one solution, although there are some trivial variations (replacing 75 with (50 + 25), or (9 + 3) with (9 - 3)*50/25.

So the scores are still level after three rounds, with the contestants having equal results throughout.

Mike: [not in range]
Michael: [not in range]
Me: 996
Lily: 996

Scores: Mike 0 (10), Michael 0 (10), me 25

First break: TACT RIFE ("Once, twice, three times a winner")

Sounds like going for a TRIFECTA.

David's talk is about the term duck shoving.

Round 4: E O E O T P S D F

I had POET, POETS / PESTO, and STOOPED.  Alas, FOOTSPEED is not a word.

The contestants continue to be matched, each finding POSTED for six.  David has gone one better again by finding STOOPED.

The other seven is SPOOFED.  The other sixes are DEPOSE, DEPOTS / DESPOT / STOPED (STOPE: "to mine or work by stopes"), FOOTED, SOOTED, SPEEDO, TOPEES (TOPEE: "(in India) a helmet of sola pith"), and EPODES (EPODE: "a kind of lyric poem [...]").

Michael: POSTED

Scores: Mike 0 (16), Michael 0 (16), me 32

Round 5: R D M I A S T I N

I had RAID, MAIDS, TRIADS, MIDAIRS, and MARTINIS.  After time I noted MARTINS as another seven.

The contestants finally separate, with Mike being limited to five with STAIR while Michael has found DRAINS for six.  David is on track, finding MARTINIS for eight.

The other eight is DISTRAIN ("to constrain by seizing and holding goods, etc., in pledge for rent, damages, etc., or in order to obtain satisfaction of a claim").  The other sevens are MARTINI, DIARIST, ANIMIST, SIMITAR (variant spelling of SCIMITAR), DISTAIN (an archaic verb meaning to stain or sully), NITRIDS (NITRID being a variant spelling of NITRIDE), and AMIDINS (AMIDIN: "the soluble matter of starch").

Michael: DRAINS

Scores: Mike 0 (16), Michael 0 (22), me 40

Round 6: Target 677 from 75 7 3 1 5 8

The target is very near 9*75, which soon leads to 677 = (8 + 1)*75 + 5 - 3 (or small variations on that idea).  I also considered the options of 680 - 3 or 670 + 7, finding a solution with the latter: 677 = (75 - 8)*5*(3 - 1) + 7.

Michael is five off the target with 672, but Mike has got to just one away with 678 = (8 + 1)*75 + 3.  He was so close to a solution -- just needed to think of subtracting in order to get that offset of 2.  Still, these seven points put him one point ahead, and on form so far that could be a crucial lead.  Lily points out the minor adjustment needed to turn his answer into the solution that I had first.

Mike: 678
Michael: 672
Me: 677
Lily: 677

Scores: Mike 0 (23), Michael 0 (22), me 50

Second break: RAD HAVEN ("Often found around the house")

A cunningly misleading "around" there, referring to a VERANDAH.

Round 7: R F B M E U A G R

I had BERM, UMBER, AMBER, and UMBRAGE; sadly, UMBRAGER is not a word.  I also observed that an H instead of the F would allow HAMBURGER.

Michael has GAMER for five, but Mike has done one better with FRAMER for six.  His lead grows, but it's still not conclusive.  David has found UMBRAGE for seven.

The other sixes are BURGER, FARMER, ARGUER, BREGMA ("the point of junction of the sagittal and coronal sutures of the skull"), UMBRAE (one plural form of UMBRA: "shade; shadow"), and FERBAM (a certain chemical used as a fungicide).

Michael: GAMER

Scores: Mike 0 (29), Michael 0 (22), me 57

Round 8: Target 699 from 75 8 2 10 5 1

My first thought was to tweak down from 750, and that quickly led to 699 = 10*(75 - 5) - 1.  Then I looked at working up from 675 for another solution of 699 = (10 - 1)*75 + 8*(5 - 2).

Mike has not been able to get within range, but Michael has solved this using the first of the solutions that I listed.  So he overtakes Mike going into the conundrum, and that could easily be a winning result.  Lily has also used the same solution.

Mike: [no answer]
Michael: 699
Me: 699
Lily: 699

Scores: Mike 0 (29), Michael 10 (32), me 67


Using the OB- fragment brought me quick reward in the shape of OBLIGATED.  The contestants were unable to make progress with it, perhaps brought undone by the -ABLE fragment.  Mike did use the pad from the start, which is good technique with tough answers, but it was not enough for him this time.

Mike: [no answer]
Michael: [no answer]

Scores: Mike 0 (29), Michael 10 (32), me 77

A close game, with a nice close finish.  This could easily have gone another way, particularly if Mike had found the correct adjustment in round six -- those three extra points would have meant a tied score going into the conundrum, so they would have kept going until someone solved one.  Both contestants seemed to have trouble with the letters today, but the numbers gave Michael the slight edge needed for victory.

I matched David and Lily on the solo totals, which is a pleasant result following on from yesterday's good game.  I shall hope that this form lasts!

1 comment:

Mike Backhouse said...

RAISED and, sadly, rejected UNRAISED
Geoff's solution but a few seconds over
8*(75+3-1)+5=677 another solution
x used phantom D
Geoff's first solution