Friday, 1 July 2016

Ep 131: Barry Harridge, Frank Rice (June 22, 2016; originally aired January 31, 2011)

Rounds: Here.

It's the crucial fourth night for Barry Harridge, and it looks like we're out of talking points for now.  Richard asks whether Barry practised being the carry-over champion over the weekend.  Barry manages to work in a comment about trying to do the crossword by DA, but really there's no substance here.

Tonight's challenger is Frank Rice, an education consultant who loves applying mathematics to everyday situations.  When asked for examples, Frank cites using Pythagoras' Theorem to check that they had correctly marked out their tennis court.  And that's it... two short contestant chats today; were they already running late this early in the filming?

It was another one-sided game, with Barry jumping to an early lead in the first two letters rounds.  Frank was not able to get anywhere with the first numbers round, and Barry took a 21 point lead into the first break.  He extended that in the next numbers round; Frank managed to stop the rot over the next few rounds but was not able to peg Barry back at all.  Barry was safely ahead going into the conundrum; he buzzed in with an incorrect answer, but still finished a comfortable victor, 54 to 15.

I managed to match David and Lily throughout, but then messed up on the conundrum by buzzing in too early.  So close!

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.

Tuesday, 28 June 2016


Apologies for the sudden silence (as it were).  Work became extremely busy for a while, and I've not had the time for this, not even to play through the games.  My next post should be on Wednesday (tomorrow) evening, and it will no doubt take me a while to churn through the backlog.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Ep 129: Barry Harridge, Nathan Boadle (June 20, 2016; originally aired January 27, 2011)

Rounds: Here.

Barry Harridge gets his turn in the champion's chair, and Richard opens by saying that, back in Barry's teaching days, there was a time that Barry "brought together the letters and the numbers".  Barry explains that he had a mathematics class to teach, and the class included both computer science and literature students; they did some work with Lewis Carroll's symbolic logic, and on the final exam they were asked to use this symbolic logic to analyse the fundamental premise of Catch-22.

Tonight's challenger is Nathan Boadle, a circus performer, trainer, and fitness coach.  Nathan used to be part of the Flying Fruit Fly Circus, a circus for people between eight and eighteen that is based in Albury, where Nathan grew up.  His main area of performance was aerial, so he could swing off anything that hung from the roof.  Richard simplifies this a bit to Nathan being a trapeze performer, which Nathan mostly goes along with.

The game started out much like yesterday's game, with Barry dominating in the letters and the first numbers round being too easy to pose a problem for either contestant.  Barry was a daunting thirty-one points ahead after five rounds, and it looked like we were slated for another blowout.  But a tricky numbers round gave Nathan a chance, and then two invalid answers from Barry allowed Nathan to close the gap to just seven points going into the conundrum.  Barry recovered to solve it quickly and scrape through with the win, 51 to 33.

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Weekly summary: Episodes 124 to 128

I started out poorly, risking an invalid word on Monday and generally being off the pace in every round.  Tuesday was marginally better, and then the latter half of the week was quite good.  Friday's game was somewhat challenging, with Barry putting in a strong performance.

David + Lily7185757488
Me (solo)5961747277

Oli beat Rob, then Avi stopped him just short of successful retirement.  Oli has the highest combined total so far, and must be back for the finals.  Avi got to four games, but ran into Barry on the last and that ended his run.

Matthew Thomason466449445265310
Oli Bryant714660555432318
Jack Dell5973405036258
Brett Chaiyawat2559284234188
Avi Chanales53374330163
Luke Brattoni535244149
Kathryn James464136123
Jason Dunn5943102

There were three full monties to be had this week; David and I each found two of them, although I did not risk one of them.  Lily was in good solving form, with just the one impossible target making things difficult.

Full Monties112
Missed Full Monties11
Tough Numbers0
Impossible Numbers11

I had a terrible start to the week, with my first solo total in the 50's thanks to an invalid answer.  The next day was not much better, but thereafter things picked up.  Wednesday was particularly good, and could well have been maximal if I had just been a little faster in round two.

Maximums: L13424
Invalid: L1----

Contestants sorted by average score:

Barry Harridge*75175.00
Oli Bryant318653.00
Matthew Thomason310651.67
Jack Dell258551.60
Jason Dunn102251.00
Luke Brattoni149349.67
Raf Goodens98249.00
Ryan Turk48148.00
Jonathan Goodman44144.00
Kathryn James123341.00
Jodi Knight82241.00
Avi Chanales163440.75
Peter Stephenson78239.00
Brett Chaiyawat188537.60
Janine Huan37137.00
Aram Kalyanasundaram36136.00
David Waddell71235.50
Jayden Spudvilas-Powell34134.00
Neil McInnes32132.00
Ben Ripley32132.00
Bryce Lawrence30130.00
Louise Kuchmar23123.00
Rob Carter20120.00
Liam Murphy18118.00
Basil Theophilos18118.00
Seb Dworkin17117.00
Vanessa Rule15115.00
Dane Watkins15115.00
Rhys McCaig13113.00
Matt Bolton12112.00

Monday, 20 June 2016

Ep 128: Avi Chanales, Barry Harridge (June 17, 2016; originally aired January 26, 2011)

Rounds: Here.

Avi Chanales is back for the crucial fourth game tonight, and Richard turns the topic of conversation back to Avi's childhood fascination with countries and flags.  After Avi had mastered the flags he went on to the capital cities; he printed out a list of all the capitals and taped it above (his bed, presumably -- he breaks off here to point out that he had a bunk bed).  He started with Afghanistan and went on from there.

Standing in Avi's way is Barry Harridge, a retired secondary and university mathematics and statistics teacher.  Barry was also very much involved in the early days of computing, back in the days of punched cards.  As he puts it, "you had to sit at this great... enormous great machine, punch away at the cards, and you fitted, say, about twenty or so characters on one card.  Then you'd start another card, and so on.  You might have about fifty or so cards; submit it overnight, get it back the next morning, and then find you'd left a comma out."  It was certainly a time-consuming way to work.

It was quite the one-sided game tonight.  Barry consistently outdid Avi in the letters rounds, and the numbers rounds were easy enough that both solved them.  Barry found the full monty on offer, too, and had the game wrapped up going into the second break -- an impressive achievement!  The conundrum ended up proving too difficult for both contestants, but Barry had still scored quite highly in his 75 to 30 win.

I was just able to keep ahead of Barry thanks to a couple of good finds, but nearly lost it at the end when I dropped a findable maximum and could not solve the conundrum.  Fortunately for me he was not able to gain on those rounds, or I could have had my first loss for the series.

Ep 127: Avi Chanales, Neil McInnes (June 16, 2016; originally aired January 25, 2011)

Rounds: Here.

It's the third night for Avi Chanales, and Richard turns the conversation to the subject of tutoring that Avi does.  Avi explains that his university is located in a notoriously underprivileged community, so once a week he goes to public schools in the area to tutor fifth graders in mathematics and reading.

Tonight's challenger is Neil McInnes, a managing director of a company called Way Out Evacuation Systems.  It's unusual for a company to get explicitly mentioned like that; I would have thought the show's producers were wary of providing advertising.  Anyway, that company's main business is 'glow in the dark' technology, used for escape signs on ships and submarines, or incorporated into stair-nosings in stadiums.  As Richard says, this is for cases when an emergency happens and the ordinary lights fail.

Neil started off with a small gain in the first round, then was unlucky that his declaration in the second round was not in the Macquarie.  That let Avi tie up the scores, and then a second invalid answer from Neil in the first numbers round put Avi into the lead.  A shared round followed, then Neil closed the gap to a single point in round five.  Avi fought back immediately, solving the second numbers round to go a crucial eleven points ahead.  The next two rounds were shared, and Avi was safe going into the conundrum.  Neither contestant was able to solve it, so Avi got through with the win, 43 to 32.

I had a decent game; I did drop three letters maxima, but only one of those was findable for me.  The numbers were cooperative, and I managed to solve the conundrum to push my solo total into the seventies again, which is where I like to be.