Friday, 27 February 2015

Ep 270: Brydon Coverdale, Michael Lithgow (February 27, 2015; originally aired September 9, 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.

Brydon has the crucial fourth game tonight; a victory here gives him a good chance of making the finals, but a loss likely keeps him out.  Richard wheels out my least favourite question, asking Brydon about his technique in the game.  There's really nothing any contestant can answer that is enlightening, and that's pretty much the case here.  It always comes across as a lost opportunity to learn more about the contestants, and always makes me wonder if they did not provide enough talking points.

Tonight's challenger is Michael Lithgow, a water sampler and competition snooker player.  Richard asks for more information, and Michael obliges.  He works for an independent laboratory that does water sampling for Melbourne Water; that is their main client.  They do routine testing for the reservoirs, water tanks, and taps all around greater Melbourne to make sure it is clean and safe.  As for the snooker, Michael got into that when he turned 18 -- his father plays snooker with the RSL competition in Melbourne, so once he was old enough his father could take him there and teach him.

Just like yesterday's game, Brydon gets sevens to his opponent's sixes in the first two rounds.  It's pretty much all Brydon thereafter, too, as Michael declares an invalid word after the first break and round five also goes seven-six to Brydon.  The first two numbers rounds were fairly simple, but the last one was more difficult than the family mix usually produces.  Again Brydon navigated the hazards well while Michael faltered.  The conundrum was too difficult for both, but Brydon had still managed to get his score into the sixties, winning 61 to 27.

I did reasonably well myself, just two letters rounds shy of maximal.  (Admittedly, on one of those my actual choice might have caused derision in the at-home audience.)  When the last numbers round turned out to be too troublesome for Lily I even ended up unexpectedly ahead in the solo game.  The conundrum was tricky, and for a while I thought another solo victory would slip away from me, but I got there with just two seconds left to round off a very good week for me on the game.

As usual, details after the jump.

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Ep 269: Brydon Coverdale, Sasha Quilty (February 26, 2015; originally aired September 8, 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.

Brydon is back for his third night, and we find out that another possible career path he would enjoy is travel writing.  He has been to around twenty-five countries now, and he would like to keep travelling as much as he can.  Richard asks if there is any particular writer's style that Brydon would like to model himself on.  Brydon notes that Bill Bryson has always made him laugh, so he would love to have his job as well: Travel writing with humour, as Richard puts it.

Tonight's challenger is Sasha Quilty, a hot rod fan who is currently building one of her own.  Apparently there's other people working on the same car as well, as she says that they are building it in three different locations at the moment -- parts here, parts there.  Eventually it should all come together to be a beautiful blue hot rod.

The scoreline may not reflect the closeness of this game.  Brydon won the first two rounds with seven letter words to Sasha's six (the reverse of how yesterday's game started), but most of the rest of the rounds were shared.  Sasha was unable to close that early lead, however, and Brydon extended his lead in the last numbers round to guarantee victory.  Sasha solved the conundrum first, but Brydon was the winner, 56 to 45.

I had a good game, except for one major omission: I got lost on one numbers round and ended up not getting anything down in time.  Ouch.  I was just short of maximal on the rest, however, and still managed to score in the seventies.

Brief details after the jump.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Ep 268: Brydon Coverdale, Miles Tilly (February 25, 2015; originally aired September 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.

Brydon takes his turn in the champion's seat, and Richard opens the conversation by suggesting that Brydon would like David's job.  Specifically, he would like to be a crossword composer if he were not a cricket journalist.  Brydon agrees that he is interested in that, adding that the challenge is getting everything to fit where you want it.  While I agree that is part of it, it feels to me somewhat lesser a challenge than creating the fiendish but (mostly) fair clues that David does.

Opposing Brydon is Miles Tilly, a musician who is currently working on his fourth album.  Richard notes that Miles' second album got a nomination for an award at an international competition.  Miles expands on that to note that his second album release was nominated for Best Electronic Release at the 2005 New Zealand Music Awards (he goes by the handle "Audiosauce").  Richard asks about the style of music involved; Miles responds that it is mainly "chilled-out", with a little bit of Latin and samba styles.

It was yet another close game tonight; Miles gained the upper hand early with two good letters rounds, although I feel that Brydon probably should have done better.  But a gap in Miles' technique in the numbers round saw Brydon reduce the deficit, and a good round five result put Brydon a single point ahead at last.  Miles got those points right back in the next numbers round, then miscued by essaying a rat pack in the final numbers round.  Brydon handled it deftly, and moved into the conundrum ahead but not safe.  He did well to solve it, too, and finished the winner, 47 to 33.

I had a good night on the letters, but flailed around a bit on the numbers.  I can take some consolation in that Lily also had troubles with one of them, at least.  Despite those difficulties I still managed a total in the 70's, which is always nice to have.

As usual, details after the jump.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Ep 267: Anushan Jegatheeswaran, Brydon Coverdale (February 24, 2015; originally aired September 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.

Anushan is back for his third night, and getting past that has been a bit of a problem for contestants recently.  But before we find out about that, Richard notes that Anushan has "musical inclinations", as he puts it.  Anushan explains that he plays the mridangam -- Richard asks for the name again, and fair enough, too (I'm glad I have transcripts to work from!) -- which is a kind of double-sided drum.  It's a classical Indian instrument, and Anushan has been learning it for about ten years.

Tonight's challenger is Brydon Coverdale, a cricket journalist.  Brydon has been on five tours around the world to watch and cover the cricket; he mentions in particular that he went to the 2011 World Cup earlier that year, which was in India and Sri Lanka.  That was 7 or 8 week's worth, and great fun.  He certainly enjoys his career!

The contestants were very closely matched tonight.  They tied the first three letters rounds, and each one won of the others.  The numbers were similarly close, and the small differences in their results shook out to give Brydon a slender two point lead going into the conundrum.  It was anyone's game to win, but ultimately the conundrum was too difficult for both.  Brydon becomes the new champion, winning 43 to 41.

I had a mental slip in round one that cost me the best answer, but otherwise did pretty well.  The semi-highlight was finding a word (an hour or so after time, mind you) that David did not get.  This week is definitely going much better than last week -- I hope the trend continues!

As usual, details after the jump.

Monday, 23 February 2015

Ep 266: Anushan Jegatheeswaran, Kim Butcher (February 23, 2015; originally aired September 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.

We start the week with Anushan in the champion's chair, after his victory over Rachel last week.  Richard informs us that Anushan is able to walk on his hands and also manipulate things with his feet.  He asks how that started, and Anushan says that it was when he was quite small.  Initially he would lean against a wall, but then he tried pushing himself off it and just started walking around.  Somewhere along the way he learned to turn off light switches with his feet.

Tonight's challenger is Kim Butcher, a music teacher and very keen op-shopper.  She collects a lot of things from them, such as tourist scarves and vintage tablecloths.  She tends to buy her clothes by the kilo; in fact she is wearing one of her op-shop finds tonight.

Kim took the early lead in the first letters round, but Anushan took it back in the first numbers round.  The lead changed hands again in each of the next two rounds, partly due to an invalid word from Kim, and Anushan took advantage of that to move clear going into the second break.  But he fell from grace by trying an invalid word himself afterwards, and with the final numbers round tied it was anyone's game going into the conundrum.  It was Anushan who solved it first, getting his second win with a scoreline of 47 to 31.

I picked up a maximal game tonight, with the only way to improve it being to shave some seconds off the conundrum.  A very happy start to the week for me!

As usual, details after the jump.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Weekly summary: Episodes 261 to 265

I had adequate results this week, but -- except for Friday -- always ended up significantly behind David and Lily's combined score due to the conundrum.  The shortfalls were exacerbated by an invalid word on Tuesday, and two numbers rounds on Wednesday that I did not manage to solve.  On Thursday I had the good result of outdoing Lily in a numbers round; in fact, it would have been an optimal game if not for the conundrum.  On Friday I finally managed to get that tie I'd been trying for all week, which was a relief.

David + Lily7675797477
Me (solo)6457626777

This week was pretty similar to last week, as far as results went: The champion was only able to win Thursday's game.  Rachel looked in decent form but was not able to defeat Anushan; it's been a while since anyone got even as far as four victories.  The limited leaderboard looks like this:

Martin Gabor56585244220
Judithe Hall625143156
Emily Hawker675329149
Rachel Furness355440129
Rebecca Skovron533689
Jodi-Ann Menzies492877
Shyam Subramaniam472572
Geoff Walker482371

There was only one full monty on offer the entire week, and that was sufficiently obscure that it was missed by everyone.  Lily was foiled by the numbers only once, with Thursday turning up a difficult target that was very nicely solved by Rachel.

Full Monties0
Missed Full Monties11
Tough Numbers11
Impossible Numbers0

My maximum counts for the main rounds were essentially the same as last week, but it was a tough week as far as conundrum-solving went.  I only managed to get Friday's one out within time, and mostly it wasn't even close.  I had an invalid word on Tuesday, which did come as a bit of a surprise; I hadn't realised I was taking a risk with OUTLIE.

Maximums: L32453
Invalid: L-1---

Contestants sorted by average score:

Martin Gabor220455.00
Judithe Hall156352.00
Anushan Jegatheeswaran*50150.00
Emily Hawker149349.67
Rebecca Skovron89244.50
Rachel Furness129343.00
Brad Tucker41141.00
Daniel McNamara40140.00
Jodi-Ann Menzies77238.50
Shyam Subramaniam72236.00
Geoff Walker71235.50
Ajanthan Jegatheeswaran32132.00
Emma Watson31131.00
Cormac Murtagh58229.00
Matthew Matten28128.00
Cameron Begley51225.50

Friday, 20 February 2015

Ep 265: Rachel Furness, Anushan Jegatheeswaran (February 20, 2015; originally aired September 2, 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.

Rachel returns for her third night, and Richard asks her about her job of child speech pathology; in particular, he asks what kind of things she helps children with.  Rachel answers that the most common issue is "sounds, errors with their sounds and making them clearer".  She also sees many children that are not using a lot of words or do not have a great grasp of expressive language.  Richard asks how difficult improving a child's speech can be, and Rachel responds that it can sometimes be quite difficult, but the earlier they work with them the better the outcome.  They can even usefully start as young as ten months old.

When we had the long shot of the set at the start of the episode I thought that SBS had messed up and shown yesterday's game again.  The reason is that tonight's challenger looks fairly familiar; in fact, it's Ajanthan's brother Anushan Jegatheeswaran, an accounting and sports management student.  Richard points out the family relation, as you would expect, and asks if their is any sibling rivalry over the show at home.  Anushan agrees.

It's a very close game tonight, and there's very little to choose between the contestants.  Anushan missed his chance to jump to an early lead when he overlooked a simple extension to his word in round one.  He finally got that lead in the first numbers round when Rachel was surprisingly far away, but then an invalid word from him allowed Rachel to narrow the gap.  Rachel took the lead with an excellent solution in the second numbers round, only for Anushan to ties the scores in the last numbers round.  I thought we were going to go to a tiebreaker, but Anushan solved the conundrum in the last second to become the new champion, 50 points to 40.

I had a good game to finish off the week, and I am particularly happy with my round 4 answer.  That was the one that made me think I might be in with a chance of matching David and Lily, and I was able to keep up that form to do so.  I've struggled all week to do that, but this time was finally able to solve the conundrum and get that precious result.

Brief details after the jump.