Sunday, 7 August 2016

Ep 150: Margaret Frangos, Greg Beers (August 5, 2016; originally aired February 25, 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.

Margaret Frangos returns for her second night, and Richard says that there is a connection between Margaret and the Macquarie dictionary that David is using.  As Margaret explains, she studied English linguistics at Macquarie University in the late 1970's, and had to do a paper at the time about what should and should not go into a dictionary; it was very much on everyone's mind then -- the first edition was published in 1981, and would have been in the works for some considerable time.  Margaret adds that two of the lecturers that she had were very involved in the executive committee that was formed to put the dictionary together.  Richard suggests that Margaret was thus part of the genesis of the show's reference book; Margaret would like to be able to say that is true, but does not think that much of her paper was used.

As an aside, Margaret was somewhat hoarse during this episode; it's a good thing this was the last episode of the day.

Tonight's challenger is Greg Beers, a customs broker and very keen coin collector.  Greg likes to collect Australian coins, particularly the older ones but also the newer issues.  He has always found it fascinating that a coin can be worth a lot more than its face value, in some cases many of thousands of dollars.  He even has some of those, but mainly they are worth a lot less than that.

The game was a little low-scoring, and that's been a theme all this week. The contestants started out with a pair of five-letter words, then Margaret took the lead in round two.  Greg struck back immediately with points in round three, going into the break one point ahead.  Another shared round followed, then Greg did well to find a good answer in round five and move seven points ahead.  The scores should have been tied going into the second break, but an error from Margaret in the seoncd numbers round meant that Greg moved fourteen points ahead instead.  The next two rounds produced no swing, and Greg was safe going into the conundrum.  Margaret managed to solve it, but the damage from her error in round six was too much: Greg won the game, 35 to 31.

Round 1: L E S U N E H R A

I had LUNES, LUSHER, UNLEASH, and rightly rejected UNLEASHER.  After time I noted other sevens of HEALERS and HAULERS.  I also observed that an I instead of one of those E's would have yielded the nine of INHAULERS.

It's fives from the contestants, with Margaret having SHALE while Greg had SHARE.  David has opted for UNLEASH as his seven.

The remaining seven in this mix is UNREELS.

Margaret: SHALE

Scores: Margaret 0 (5), Greg 0 (5), me 7

Round 2: E I E T D R Y C O

I was somewhat distracted by the not-there DIRECTORY, but had DIET, TREED, DIRECT / CREDIT, and RECITED.

Greg has been limited to the four of DIET, but Margaret has found CREDIT for six.  David has found the very nice seven of COTERIE.

The other sevens are CORDITE and DECOYER.

Margaret: CREDIT
Greg: DIET

Scores: Margaret 0 (11), Greg 0 (5), me 14

Round 3: Target 237 from 50 75 25 10 4 10

Bleah, I made a mess of this.  Starting from 250 seemed sensible, but only gave me one away with 236 = 10*25 - 10 - 4.  I spent some time trying to get 162 + 75, but it just is not feasible.

A little after time I finally considered making the target as 240 - 3, and viewed the right way it was easy: 237 = 4*(50 + 10) - 75/25.  Bother.  Somewhat later I looked at the factorisation 3*79, and with that in mind a solution also presents itself: 237 = (50/25 + 10/10)*(75 + 4).

Margaret is two away with 235 -- perhaps 4*50 + 25 + 10 -- but Greg has got one closer with the same 236 that I had.  That makes up for last rounds's loss, and gives him the lead by the barest of margins.  Lily has found the first of the solutions that I listed.

The above are essentially the only types of solution; there are some minor variations, but the idea of either making 240 - 75/25 or 3*(75 + 4) is present in all solutions.

Margaret: 235
Greg: 236
Me: 236
Lily: 237

Scores: Margaret 0 (11), Greg 7 (12), me 21

First break: EMUS COST ("Essential for superheroes")

Superheroes usually wear distinguishing COSTUMES.

David's talk is about Popeye the sailor man, and the possibility that the comic strip in which he appeared is responsible for the words jeep and goon, or at least for their widespread use.

Round 4: A B T E R F I C M

I had BATE, BEAR, AFTER, BAITER, CAMBER, and FABRIC.  I'd have definitely chosen a final vowel here, hoping for an A and FABRICATE.  It would have been an A, too.  Oh, well.

It's fives from the contestants, so this continues to be a close game.  Margaret had CRIME to Greg's CRAFT.  David has accurately found the only seven of FIBRATE.  Well done, David!

There's a few other sixes, of which I'll just mention TIMBER and METRIC.

Margaret: CRIME

Scores: Margaret 0 (16), Greg 7 (17), me 27

Round 5: D A G A P O L O R

I had PAGODA, and lamented that DROP GOAL was not one word.  After time I checked up on LAP-DOG, but the hyphen is required.

Margaret notes that she could not have PRADA, to her regret, and so has been stuck with the four of DRAG.  But Greg has found PAGODA for six, and that stretches his lead to seven points.  Margaret needs to tread carefully now.  PAGODA was also the best that David could do.

The other six is APODAL ("having no distinct feet or foot-like members"), but the seven here is PODAGRA ("gout in the foot").

Margaret: DRAG

Scores: Margaret 0 (16), Greg 13 (23), me 33

Round 6: Target 148 from 75 25 4 6 10 9

The target is near twice 75, so my first thought was to use that for 148 = (75 - (10 - 9))*(6 - 4).  Then I opted for a more additive approach with 148 = 75 + 25 + 6*9 - 10 + 4.

Greg is two away with 146, but Margaret has got one closer with 149 = 75*(6 - 4)... but then she cannot find where she took the one away.  Oh, dear -- that is a costly mistake; it is the difference between levelling the scores and being 14 points behind.  Greg has made no error in his answer of 146 = 75 + 25 + 9*4 + 10.  If he had just swapped the 10 and 9 in that answer he would have got one closer with 149.

Lily has found another solution: 148 = 25*6 - 10 / (9 - 4).

Margaret: 149
Greg: 146
Me: 148
Lily: 148

Scores: Margaret 0 (16), Greg 13 (30), me 43

Second break: BAY CLAIM ("A good way to leave things")

Particularly partings, perhaps, to be done AMICABLY.

Round 7: N E T A S N I E H

I had NEAT, ANTES, TISANE, NEATENS, HASTEN, was unsure about ATHEISE (not valid), and STHENIA ("Pathology strength; excessive vital force").

It's fives from the contestants, with Greg finding STAIN while Margaret has the somewhat opposite answer of SHINE.  David has found INTENSE for seven.

The other sevens are ETHANES, THEINES, and ETESIAN ("recurring annually (applied to certain Mediterranean winds)").

Margaret: SHINE

Scores: Margaret 0 (21), Greg 13 (35), me 50

Round 8: Target 746 from 75 25 4 8 5 3

The standard method of 750 - 4 is clearly tempting; I went with 746 = (8 + 5 - 3)*75 - 4.

Margaret desperately needs points here in order to still have a chance, but has perhaps succumbed to pressure -- she has not managed to get anywhere.  That gives Greg the win regardless, and it is perhaps a good thing for him -- his answer of 749 starts with (75 + 25)*8, and then trails off into error.  As he observes, his next step was to subtract 45, made as 15*3.  That's clearly wrong, but even if it were correct his result would have been (75 + 25)*8 - 3*15 - 4 = 751, not 749.  If Margaret had found even a simple 750 she would have gained seven crucial points.  This shows the importance of getting something down in the numbers rather than holding out for an exact solution.

Lily demonstrates the same solution that I had.

Margaret: [no answer]
Greg: 749
Me: 746
Lily: 746

Scores: Margaret 0 (21), Greg 13 (35), me 60


I lost a little time here doing the double check, but did see the answer of CONSCIOUS fairly quickly.

Time ticked by, but at the eighteen second mark Margaret found the solution, becoming the only contestant this week to solve a conundrum.  It was not quite enough to win, but hopefully was a nice consolation prize.

Greg's hand pressed at the buzzer just after Margaret hit it, but it seems to have been more of a reflexive response than him finding the solution at the same time.

Margaret: CONSCIOUS (18s)
Greg: [no answer]

Scores: Margaret 0 (31), Greg 13 (35), me 70

The most decisive moment of this match was round 6, where Margaret's error produced fourteen points of turnaround.  If she'd just managed to correctly sort that one out she would have won the game; similarly if she had managed to get any scoring result in round 8.  She definitely lost this game on the numbers.  Greg managed to do just enough, and completed the week of challengers winning.  Will this trend continue next week?  We'll find out soon enough.


Mike Backhouse said...

DOTED and COTERIE just after
Geoff's way (1 off)
75*(6-4)-(10-9)=149 1 off, and Geoff I suspect this is what Margaret was going for. After time got Lily's way.
75*5*8/4-3=747 (1 off)

Geoff Bailey said...

Oh, I agree -- Margaret must have had 10 - 9 = 1 somewhere on her paper, or at least in her head, but had not fully written things out. A very costly error on her part!

Nice work on finding COTERIE, even after time. I didn't see it.