Friday, 29 July 2016

Ep 140: Samuel Hastings, Brian Morgan (July 20, 2016; originally aired February 11, 2011)

Rounds: Here.

It's the crucial fourth night for Samuel Hastings, and we find out that he is involved in managing a fitness company.  He manages all the background work from marketing to accounts -- everything except for the fitness parts.  Somehow there's not seemed to be much substance to the chats with Samuel -- maybe he's been the victim of a slow filming day, and the production crew were trying to make up lost time.

Tonight's challenger is Brian Morgan, a retiree with a background in banking and computers.  Brian is also fanatical about bridge, and has even played it at an international level.  As he explains, he was recently on holiday in Vietnam, and on the way back he had a chance to play in a congress (for some reason this is the term used for certain bridge contests) in Kuching in Malaysian Borneo.  He says it was wonderful fun.

The first third of the game was fairly tame: Brian got a small lead in the first round, then the contestant found equal results in the second, and neither could score points in the first numbers round.  The second was slightly more lively, with Samuel finding a good word to take the lead, only for Brian to find a better word to regain it, and then again neither was able to score points in the numbers.  Brian was just six points ahead at that point, but then he outdid Samuel in the last letters round to stretch the lead to twelve points, and Samuel was suddenly in a lot of trouble.  This time both solved the numbers round, and that ensured Brian's victory.  Brian rounded it off by solving the conundrum, for a final scoreline of 46 to 24.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Ep 139: Samuel Hastings, Colwyn Buckland (July 12, 2016; originally aired February 10, 2011)

Rounds: Here.

Samuel Hastings is back for his third night.  The pre-game chat is essentially just that Samuel has a lot of hobbies, and a lot of unfinished projects as a result.

Tonight's challenger is Colwyn Buckland, who works for a national stationery supply company, and also has a love of the stage.  That turns out to be as an actor -- Colwyn and a group of his friends are in an independent theatre company called the Theatre of Rats.  Richard asks about the origins of that unusual name; Colwyn indicates that it is an inside joke from school, but also an acknowledgement that most of them don't have money, so are working from the ground up.  They have had one performance at the Brisbane Festival, a group-devised piece called Papyrophobia in Yellow.

There was very little to choose between the contestants tonight -- they had equal-scoring answers in seven of the eight main rounds.  The crucial break came in round six, when Samuel navigated the numbers better than Colwyn did, allowing him to take a seven point lead into the conundrum.  Colwyn buzzed in first, but did not have the answer, and that was game to Samuel, 58 to 51.

Ep 138: Samuel Hastings, Matthew Ball (July 1, 2016; originally aired February 9, 2011)

Rounds: Here.

Samuel Hastings takes up the champion's chair tonight, and Richard asks for some more information about Samuel's teaching methods.  Samuel expounds that he does a lot of teaching online (I linked to a video yesterday of him talking about that), so he teaches students all over the world and throughout Australia, live using the Internet, and everyone can interact.  A virtual lecture hall, is how Richard puts it.

Tonight's challenger is Matthew Ball, who travels all over Australia as a business development manager.  Richard enquires as to just how remote that travel gets, and Matthew responds that they are off to Ularu in three months.  He adds that that might be more of a bit of playtime with the clients, but he does bounce around a lot -- Brisbane one week, Hobart, then Perth, that kind of thing.  He also throws in a Melbourne mention, since that is where the filming is.

Both contestants found the same good word in round one (aided by it coming up before in the previous episode, really), then had invalid answers in the second round.  Thereafter it was all Samuel, who managed to find better numerical answers and longer words, except for one letters round that the contestants tied on.  Samuel also solved the conundrum, pushing him over the half century for a final score of 58 to 12.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Ep 137: Daniel Drumm, Samuel Hastings (June 30, 2016; originally aired February 8, 2011)

Rounds: Here.

Daniel Drumm takes his turn in the champion's seat tonight, after his close win over Felix last night.  Richard turns to the topic of the paper that Daniel recently had published (as I mentioned in the previous episode, that was Thermodynamic stability of neutral Xe defects in diamond), and asks what it was about.  Daniel explains that it was on a particular defect in diamond, involving a xenon atom, adding that these defects are relatively simple to think about: You take a couple of atoms out and put something else in, and maybe a little bit of a hole.  In response to Richard's followup question about utility, Daniel notes that this idea of making defects in any kind of semiconductor is the basis for all of modern electronics.

Tonight's challenger is Samuel Hastings, a lawyer, university lecturer, and business manager.  Samuel lectures in both criminal law and trial advocacy, and notes that he is a lawyer by training.  Richard asks whether trial advocacy is the process of teaching students how to stand up in court and present their case, and Samuel agrees: It covers how to prepare your case, strategy, and how to deliver the case in court.  (As an aside, there's a video available here of Samuel talking about Curtin University's online study options.)

Daniel started off with a good word to take the lead, and should have gone further ahead in the second round.  He was undone by the Macquarie, however, which did not list his choice and that let Samuel right back into the game.  Samuel did well in the next numbers round to gain the lead going into the first break.  Three flat rounds followed, and then Samuel found a good word to put him eleven points ahead with two rounds to play.  Daniel needed unanswered points in the last numbers round, but it was a difficult one and the points were shared.  Daniel did solve the conundrum quickly, but Samuel just barely had the win, 46 to 45.

Ep 136: Felix Johnson, Daniel Drumm (June 29, 2016; originally aired February 7, 2011)

Rounds: Here.

Felix Johnson is back for this third night, and Richard notes that Felix also works as a teacher's assistant.  In fact, as Felix explains, he does so at a German school -- he was a student there for six or seven years, and then after he finished high school he was offered a job there.  So he helps the kids learn some German.

Tonight's challenger is Daniel Drumm, who is currently undertaking a PhD in solid state physics and recently had a scientific paper published.  (That would be Thermodynamic stability of neutral Xe defects in diamond, published in August 2010.)  Richard asks where Daniel sees his physics career going, and Daniel responds that he is keeping his options open at the moment; he would really just like to apply his mind to whatever problems come his way.  This feels like one of those flubbed opportunities, where Richard gives the contestant a hook to talk about a subject but they don't take him up on that.

This game went down to the wire, perhaps aided by some difficult early letter mixes.  The contestants started out with equal results in the first round, then Felix did well to spot a good option in the second round and take the lead.  It did not last long, however, as Daniel scored points in the first numbers round to overtake Felix.  Felix managed to do better in the remaining numbers rounds, sharing the points with Daniel, and a bit each way on the letters saw the scores tied going into the conundrum.  It seemed like it should have been difficult, but Daniel saw the answer very quickly and so became the new champion, 47 to 37.

I started out a little tilted, once again being just a little too slow to see some better word options.  (The first of those would have outdone David, for that matter.)  But the rest went smoothly enough, and my numberwork was much better than yesterday.  Daniel was too fast for me on the conundrum, but I'd done enough to keep my win record this series intact.

Monday, 25 July 2016

Ep 135: Felix Johnson, Nicky Henderson (June 28, 2016; originally aired February 4, 2011)

Rounds: Here.

Felix Johnson gets his turn in the champion's seat, after last night's close win over Anna Gunn.  Richard returns to the topic of Felix's acting ambitions, and asks whether he has a preference for stage or film acting.  Felix responds that he only really has experience with stage acting so far, but he aspires to do all types of acting.

Tonight's challenger is Nicky Henderson, who works for a travel company, and has explored (and worked in) South-East Asia.  Richard enquires about the attraction of that region for her, and Nicky explains that it is a combination of the blend of cultures and the food, but also the variety -- all the regions are quite different from each other.

Both contestants found the same answer in the first round, then Felix found a nice word in the second to take the early lead.  Nicky struck back in the next two rounds to overtake him, then Felix bounced back in round five to retake the lead by a slender margin.  The next numbers round was too difficult for both contestants, and they matched each other in the last letters round.  The final numbers round again proved beyond them, due to an arithmetic slip on Nicky's part, so Felix carried that round five lead all the way into the conundrum.  Neither ended up able to solve it, so Felix just got home by three points in a low-scoring contest, 27 to 24.

This was not one of my best games, by a long shot.  I failed to solve any of the numbers rounds within time, nor even get within one.  I also missed a very findable full monty, which is always disappointing.  Fortunately for me the contestants also struggled, so I was OK on that front, but I finished way behind David and Lily.

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Ep 134: Anna Gunn, Felix Johnson (June 27, 2016; originally aired February 3, 2011)

Rounds: Here.

We have two new contestants tonight, after Barry Harridge successfully retired.  Taking up the champion's position is Anna Gunn, a union organiser who is also studying a Bachelor of Law part-time.  Richard asks what kind of challenges are involved in part-time study of the law; Anna responds that, despite her job title of "organiser", she is rather unorganised in her personal life, and you need organisation if you are studying by correspondence.  And right at the end, when exams are on, she'll be up for a week straight trying to cram everything in that she hasn't been doing during the semester.  I think it's safe to say that a good many students behave similarly.

Occupying the challenger's seat is Felix Johnson, a Media and Communications student who hopes to become an actor eventually.  Richard notes that Felix has a start on that goal, since he is involved in student dramatics.  Felix agrees, adding that he has been at university for three years now, and done three years worth of theatre as well; he has been heavily involved with the Melbourne University Shakespeare Company.  Most recently, he was director of a performance of Much Ado About Nothing, which they did as a 1920's garden party.

(It looks like Felix has continued to work on that goal; he's done mostly theatre work since then, but has a few WAAPA short films in his portfolio, and recently had a minor part in the Foxtel drama Secret City.  More details are here, for those interested.)

Later in the game, after the second break, Richard says that chatting during the break has revealed something that Anna and Felix have in common: They are both lifetime vegetarians.  Anna grew up on a farm, but her parents were both vegetarian.  They gave her and her brother a choice about what to eat, and Anna could not see herself eating any of the animals that she shared her space with, so she's always been vegetarian.  Felix did eat steak recently for a journalism article for the university, but says that he would not be likely to do it again.

It was a close game throughout, tonight.  The contestants started out with equal answers, then Felix got a small lead in the second round.  The first numbers of the night saw both contestants equally far away from the target, a little strangely, then Felix stretched his lead to eleven points.  Anna pegged him back over the next two rounds and took the lead from him, only for Felix to snatch it back on the last letters round.  The final numbers round was too hard for the contestants, as was the conundrum, so Felix rode that slender lead to victory, 31 to 27.

I had a bit of a failure in the last (very tough) numbers round, but other than that only dropped a couple of points against David and Lily.  A mostly good game for me.