Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Ep 292: Deborah Kemper, Shaun Ellis (March 31, 2015; originally aired October 11, 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.

Deborah gets her first turn in the champion's seat, after her victory over Matthew yesterday.  Richard reveals that Deborah had a special anniversary recently, and asks her to tell us about it.  Apparently, a little while ago (from when the show was filmed) Deborah's 20th wedding anniversary was approaching, and her husband sat her down one day and said that he had been saving money -- where in the world would she like to go?  They ended up choosing a twenty-day cruise around the Mediterranean.

Tonight's challenger is Shaun Ellis, an online data producer whose goal is to live and work in New York.  Richard asks what the attraction of New York is; Shaun responds that he went there on his honeymoon last year for seven fantastic weeks, and when he came back to Australia he missed some of the things he had become used to: a 24-hour chemist a block away, things open all the time, and $5 cabs across town.  He can't wait to get back to that kind of living situation.  He told his brother, Cameron, about how great it was; Cameron had fewer ties, and just upped and moved to New York in response.  Now he posts on Facebook to tell Shaun what he is up to.

The contestants start out with a shared round, then Shaun took the lead in round two.  He then extended it in round four to move clear by more than the conundrum.  Deborah was not able to make any headway on that until the last letters round, where Shaun went against his instincts by gambling on a British colloquialism.  It was not valid, and that opened the door for Deborah.  But Shaun slammed it shut again by finding a good solution to the last numbers round, and was safe going into the conundrum.  Neither contestant managed to solve it, and Shaun won through, 43 to 27.

As usual, details after the jump.

Monday, 30 March 2015

Ep 291: Matthew Magain, Deborah Kemper (March 30, 2015; originally aired October 10, 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.

We've got two new contestants today, since Anthony successfully retired on Friday.  First up in the champion's position is Matthew Magain, a web and phone application designer.  But in addition to that he has written and published a children's book, called Charlie Weatherburn and the Flying Machine.  Matthew says that it is based on an Australian mathematician names Charles Weatherburn, who lived in the early 1900s and was "quite a giant" in the fields of vector analysis and differential geometry; the central character in the book was inspired by him.

And in the challenger's seat we have Deborah Kemper, an accountant who plays indoor soccer.  Richard asks why indoor rather than outdoor; Deborah explains that her husband and son were playing it, and decided that it was time to get her involved with some sport.  She plays defence when she plays.

Points were shared in the first round, and then Matthew took the lead in round two.  He extended it further with an excellent find in round five, but that was the last piece of good news for him.  Deborah solved both remaining numbers rounds while he did not, and Matthew misheard a letter in the last letters round to end up with an invalid answer.  Neither contestant could solve the conundrum, but even if Matthew could have it would not have been enough.  Deborah became the new champion with a scoreline of 43 to 32.

As usual, details after the break.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Weekly summary: Episodes 286 to 290

It was a week of good scoring for me, with all scores above 70 again.  There must be something about Mondays, as it was my least-good day and it feels like that has been a trend recently.  The second half of the week went quite well, as I managed a tie with David and Lily on Wednesday and Friday.  It is possible that I would have done so on Thursday also, as the only difference was a very difficult numbers round that we did not find Lily's answer for.

David + Lily7776798578
Me (solo)7273798378

Anthony obviously dominated the week, winning every game with a score of fifty or more.  He had a particularly close game on Thursday but got through it to become a retiring champion.  The limited leaderboard looks like this:

Anthony Kendall575151635072344
Brydon Coverdale434756617052329
Paul Breen603631645336280
Tina Rose7246635729267
Martin Gabor56585244220
Judithe Hall625143156
Emily Hawker675329149
Anushan Jegatheeswaran504741138

Thursday was the eventful day, with two potential full monties (only one of which was found) and an impossible numbers game due to Michael's choice of the rat pack.

Full Monties11
Missed Full Monties11
Tough Numbers0
Impossible Numbers11

I picked up one more maximum in each category than last week, so that's progress of a sort.  I wish I were doing a bit better on the numbers, though.  Still, I had two maximal games and one game that was only one round short of maximal, so it's going well enough.

Maximums: L35545
Invalid: L-----

Contestants sorted by average score:

Anthony Kendall344657.33
Martin Gabor220455.00
Brydon Coverdale329654.83
Tina Rose267553.40
Judithe Hall156352.00
Emily Hawker149349.67
Michael Stone49149.00
Niall Donohue48148.00
Billy Browne47147.00
Paul Breen280646.67
Anushan Jegatheeswaran138346.00
Sasha Quilty45145.00
Rebecca Skovron89244.50
Glenn Pile43143.00
Kim Butcher31131.00
Brad Tucker41141.00
Angela Miezis80240.00
Daniel McNamara40140.00
Scott Ingram78239.00
Jodi-Ann Menzies77238.50
Shyam Subramaniam72236.00
Sneha Pereira36136.00
Surya Raviganesh36136.00
Geoff Walker71235.50
Kathryn Bickerton34134.00
Miles Tilly33133.00
Samantha McLaine65232.50
Cathy Bickerton32132.00
Ajanthan Jegatheeswaran32132.00
Kim Butcher31131.00
David Lowden31131.00
Emma Watson31131.00
Karen Barber30130.00
Johanna Riley30130.00
Cormac Murtagh58229.00
Jonathan Prout29129.00
Matthew Matten28128.00
Michael Lithgow27127.00
Barry Cook26126.00
Tim Hoffman26126.00
Cameron Begley51225.50
Denver Quadros16116.00

Friday, 27 March 2015

Ep 290: Anthony Kendall, Jonathan Prout (March 27, 2015; originally aired October 7, 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.

Anthony returns for his last night until the finals.  Richard goes with a variation of the technique question, asking whether any of Anthony's training techniques for the half-marathons have helped him develop the mental stamina that has been on display here.  The answer, more-or-less, is that there is no connection.

Standing in the way of Anthony's successful retirement is Jonathan Prout, a mathematics and science teacher who also conducts historical walking tours of Melbourne.  Richard rather bizarrely says that we'll probably get to hear about those walking tours at some stage, which would only be true if Jonathan wins.  In any case, Richard takes tonight's chat in another direction by noting that Jonathan is a big karaoke fan.  Jonathan enthuses that he loves karaoke; a couple of years ago he was on a cruise and entered a karaoke competition that they held.  He made the top five and had to sing in front of 650 passengers.  His competition was an NFL anthem singer, a Russian opera singer, a Canadian jazz singer, and an Albury music teacher.  As Richard observes, that's some tough competition!  Jonathan is a little embarrassed to reveal that the song he sang was I'm Just a Gigolo.

The contestants shared points in the first two rounds, but then it was all Anthony.  He took unanswered points in the next four rounds, and his last six rounds were all maximal.  Jonathan recovered a little late in the piece to share the last two main rounds, and was only just a little slower at the conundrum, but the result was Anthony's best game so far and a 72 to 29 victory.  Anthony successfully retired, and will be back in a week or so for the finals.

As usual, details after the jump.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Ep 289: Anthony Kendall, Michael Stone (March 26, 2015; originally aired October 6, 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.

This is Anthony's fifth night, and Richard wheels out a variant of the technique question, asking why Anthony makes the choices that he does.  Anthony says that with the letters he just likes to keep the consonants and the vowels together.  As for the numbers, he goes for the classroom mix because he finds it easier to have it dictated which large number will be used.  That's a point that often eludes contestants: The easiest mix, in terms of most games being solvable, is the two-large one.  But the single large number option is only barely behind it (each mix has approximately 98% of games solvable), and can be easier to work with since there is no need to choose which large number to work with.  I'd certainly recommend it as the option for any contestants who were not too comfortable with the numbers (if the show were still going, anyway).

Tonight's challenger is Michael Stone, a software programmer.  Richard says that Michael has the "extraordinary" talent of being able to recite the decimal version of one-seventh to as many decimal places as one wishes.  I thought he was going to say "of pi", and the switch to one-seventh took me by surprise.  It's also a joke, as the decimal expansion repeats after only six digits (0.142857142857...) so there's very little memorisation required.  Well, that's a tiny bit amusing, but is that really the most interesting thing he could come up with?  A shame, if so.

Anthony got a small lead in the first round when Michael tried an invalid answer; that proved to be a costly mistake.  The next few rounds were shared, then the tables were reversed in round five as Anthony had the invalid answer; that tied up the scores.  Another shared round followed, and we went into the second break with the scores level.  Michael stumbled in the last letters round with another invalid answer, and Anthony capitalised on Michael's error by doing very well in the last numbers round to take the points and guarantee his victory.  Michael got the consolation prize of solving the conundrum, but Anthony scraped home with the win, 50 to 49.

As usual, details after the jump.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Ep 288: Anthony Kendall, David Lowden (March 25, 2015; originally aired October 5, 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.

This is the crucial fourth night for Anthony: A win here will very likely get him to the finals, particularly if he can keep his average up.  But first, Richard lets us know that Anthony used to be very competitive in rugby, and asks if he still plays it.  Anthony responds that he had to give up rugby some time ago; he grimaces as he says it was due to too many knee injuries.  As Richard observes, they've obviously been fixed if Anthony is doing all that running!  In fact, as Anthony explains, it was the reason he got into running in the first place.  Part of going through his many knee reconstructions (I wince at the thought) meant that he had to run to get back to fitness in order to be able to play sport.  Somewhere along the way he became enthused by the running itself and turned that into his sport of choice.

Tonight's challenge is David Lowden, a police officer who has proudly completed a couple of marathons.  That is two full marathons, as he points out, but since then he has cut back and now does half-marathons, just like Anthony.  He jokingly suggests that if the scores are tied at the end they should do a lap around the block to settle it.

David found an excellent word to take the initial lead, but then fell victim to a misheard (or mis-seen) letter and had an invalid answer in the second round.  A couple of shared rounds followed, but Anthony took the lead in round five and extended it in round six.  David was more than a conundrum's worth behind going into the final numbers round, so he tried to shake things up with a rat pack.  But Anthony navigated it better to be safe going into the conundrum.  He put the finishing touch on the victory with a fast solution to the conundrum, and the 63 to 31 victory gets him to his fifth game and likely into the finals.

In the rest of this write-up, I'll use "David" to refer to David Astel, and "David L" to refer to David Lowden.

As usual, details after the jump.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Ep 287: Anthony Kendall, Cathy Peck (March 24, 2015; originally aired October 4, 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.

It's Anthony's third game tonight, and Richard returns to the topic of Anthony's running; as we heard before, Anthony will be running his 20th half-marathon this weekend.  Richard asks how many full marathons Anthony has run, and it turns out that there was only one, a couple of years ago.  There is reference to a joking comment that David made in an earlier game -- that Anthony could save time by doing ten full marathons instead of twenty half-marathons -- and Anthony points out that it does not work like that.

Tonight's challenger is Cathy Peck, a retired school teacher.  This is not the first time that Cathy has been on television: Fifty years ago, she was on a show called Desmond Tester's Cabbage Quiz; as she explains it, if you got an answer correct then you got prizes.  However, you had to stand and hold the prizes in your hand.  If you dropped a prize, then you were given a cabbage in its place.  And it was very difficult holding cabbages and prizes.

Anthony took the first letters round, but his invalid answer in round two let Cathy almost catch up.  The points were shared in the first numbers round, but Anthony outscored Cathy in the next two letters rounds and it looked like he might run away with the match.  Again the points were shared in the numbers round, and then Cathy found the best option in the last letters round to claw her way back into contention.  Unfortunately, she made a simple error when writing her numbers answer in the last numbers round, and what should have been shared points again (and a chance for her to win if she solved the conundrum) turned into disaster.  Neither contestant could solve the conundrum, and Anthony registered his third win, 51 to 32.

As usual, details after the jump.