Saturday, 1 October 2016

Ep 187: Tony Loui, Mark Povey (September 27, 2016; originally aired April 19, 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 Tony Loui's fifth night, and Richard wheels out the question about strategy.  Tony manages to give more of an answer than most contestants do, which is a nice change.  With the letters, he tries to make the longest he can from the first five or six letters so that he has a four- or five-letter word, then builds from that.  For the numbers, he tries to make it simple by using the biggest number first and get the closest that he can, and then adjust.  That's certainly an approach that I advocate, and it works quite often.

Tonight's challenger is Mark Povey, a storeman who served in the Royal Australian Navy for twenty-one years.  Richard asks about highlights of Mark's career in the navy; Mark does not get very specific, but does mention that he was on the ground for six months doing services with the United Nations in Mogadishu.  Aside from that, just a lot of time spent away from home, and that is when his fondness for crosswords, particularly David's cryptics, blossomed.  He has yet to finish one, but hopes to do so one day.

Things started out poorly for Tony, as he duplicated a letter in the first letters round.  Mark capitalised on that swing by finding a good word in the second round, building a 13 point lead after just two rounds.  But Tony rallied in the numbers, scoring points to narrow the gap to six.  A shared round followed in the letters, then Tony levelled the scores in round five.  The second numbers round was too difficult for both contestants, so they were tied going into the second break.

It looked like we were heading for a nailbiter of a finish, but Tony blew the game wide open by finding a full monty in the last letters game.  Mark was still in with a chance, but the numbers were not cooperative for him and instead Tony extended his lead.  The conundrum also turned out to be too hard for the contestants, so it was round seven that decided it all.  Tony won by 49 points to 21, a winning margin that does not reflect most of the game.

Ep 186: Tony Loui, Steve Simmons (September 26, 2016; originally aired April 18, 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 the crucial fourth night for Tony Loui; a win here will surely put him into the finals.  In the pre-game chat, it is revealed that Tony has a prior interaction with both David and the Macquarie dictionary: About three years ago he entered a weekend cryptic crossword competition in the Sydney Morning Herald.  He describes himself as "lucky enough" to get it right, and then lucky to be drawn out first.  So he won a third edition Macquarie dictionary from solving a David Astle cryptic crossword.

Tonight's challenger is Steve Simmons, an English teacher who teaches Academic English.  That is for international students wishing to study at Australian universities (or other tertiary institutions).  And, huh, that's all the chat we have with Steve -- seems a bit short.

A miserly mix limited both contestants to fives in the first round, but thereafter the words went Tony's way.  Steve was unable to find longer than five (with the exception of one invalid answer); the numbers provided little scope for gain, and Tony was safe going into the last numbers round.  The conundrum ended up being too difficult for both contestants, and Tony finished the victor, 62 to 25.

Friday, 30 September 2016

Weekly summary: Episodes 181 to 185

This week may well have the biggest aggregate difference between myself and David and Lily, starting off with a whopping 30 point gap on Monday.  I struggled with the letters this week, missing several full monties and conundrums.  I ended up averaging 14 fewer points a game, a statistic I hope is not repeated.

David + Lily9587719777
Me (solo)6576599364

Tom won the first two games of the week, then Tony Loui burst onto the scene with three strong games, including the best score by any contestant this series.  If he keeps that performance up then he will easily take the top spot from Tamara.  Greg's only hope of staying in contention is for Tony to lose his next game.

Tamara McMahon546463525448335
Barry Harridge755145543959323
Matthew Thomason466449445265310
Victor Tung442951434742256
Oli Bryant714660555432318
Richard Hartley565357424232282
Jack Dell5973405036258
Greg Beers3559463833211

It was a week with many full monties available: David found five of them, and there was an obscure sixth one also on offer.  This might be the highest-scoring week, although Wednesday's set was very parsimonious.  Lily was confronted by one unreachable target this week, but otherwise solved everything.

Full Monties2125
Missed Full Monties11
Tough Numbers0
Impossible Numbers11

My numbers performance was on part with previous weeks, but my letters work was way down and I missed three conundrums.  Combined with a glut of missed full monties, it's no wonder that my scores were so far behind David and Lily.

Maximums: L22342
Invalid: L1----

Contestants sorted by average score:

Tony Loui*179359.67
Tamara McMahon335655.83
Barry Harridge323653.83
Oli Bryant318653.00
Peter Kougi52152.00
Matthew Thomason310651.67
Jack Dell258551.60
Rohan Long153351.00
Jason Dunn102251.00
Colwyn Buckland51151.00
Brian Morgan151350.33
Luke Brattoni149349.67
Mel Cox149349.67
Rob Hunt99249.50
Raf Goodens98249.00
Gary Beer49149.00
Ryan Turk48148.00
Jeremy Rosen95247.50
Richard Hartley282647.00
Samuel Hastings186446.50
Daniel Drumm92246.00
Tom Fooks133344.33
Jonathan Goodman44144.00
Victor Tung256642.67
Greg Beers211542.20
Kannan Sethuraman210542.00
Kathryn James123341.00
Jodi Knight82241.00
Avi Chanales163440.75
Margaret Frangos79239.50
Peter Stephenson78239.00
Paula Messer77238.50
Brett Chaiyawat188537.60
Janine Huan37137.00
Had Thomas37137.00
Aram Kalyanasundaram36136.00
Luke Warden72236.00
Pat Sincock71235.50
David Waddell71235.50
Damien Chua35135.00
Ralph Lurie35135.00
Helen Hewitt34134.00
Jayden Spudvilas-Powell34134.00
Michael Bakker66233.00
Nathan Boadle33133.00
Alison Crowe33133.00
Chris Cincotta32132.00
Everson Kandare32132.00
Cameron Ling32132.00
Neil McInnes32132.00
Ben Ripley32132.00
Felix Johnson95331.67
Mike Vitale63231.50
Howard Smith62231.00
John Marsiglio31131.00
Alex Ford30130.00
Bryce Lawrence30130.00
Jon Avotins29129.00
Matt Pitcher29129.00
Kapil Chauhan28128.00
Tim Shiel28128.00
Graham Smith55227.50
Phillip Gao27127.00
Anna Gunn27127.00
David Gunn27127.00
Glen Chandler26126.00
Nicky Henderson24124.00
Preeti Goel23123.00
Louise Kuchmar23123.00
Vikas Ahuja22122.00
Laurence Guttman21121.00
Richard King21121.00
Rob Carter20120.00
Rosemary Stafford20120.00
Nicky Betts19119.00
Liam Murphy18118.00
Basil Theophilos18118.00
Jenni Bradford17117.00
Seb Dworkin17117.00
Frank Rice15115.00
Vanessa Rule15115.00
Dane Watkins15115.00
Dan Boxshall14114.00
Cathy Henry14114.00
Susan Bee13113.00
Mali Konda13113.00
Rhys McCaig13113.00
Matthew Ball12112.00
Matt Bolton12112.00
Kym Logan616.00

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Ep 185: Tony Loui, Laurence Guttman (September 23, 2016; originally aired April 15, 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.

Tony Loui is back for his third night, and Richard refers to Tony as a keen traveller.  Tony states that he loves travelling, and last year was lucky enough to go to the last remaining ancient wonder of the world: The Great Pyramid of Giza.  Richard asks about the wonders of the modern world, and Tony indicates that he has seen four of them already, with the three left to see being the Taj Mahal, the statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio, and Machu Picchu.

Tonight's challenger is Laurence Guttman, a secondary school teacher who teaches both mathematics and English -- a combination that Richard describes as slightly unusual.  Laurence says that he has always enjoyed English, but has had mixed fortunes in the past with mathematics.  In particular, in his first year of university, when he "possibly wasn't taking things as seriously as [he] should", his father was the lecturer.  That is something that Laurence advises against if anyone else is in a similar situation, which I think is very understandable.  He also advises against then failing the course taught by one's father, which is something that he did.  Oops!

Tony was a little unfortunate to start off with an invalid word in the first round, as the Macquarie did not list the medical term that he found.  But a spate of invalid answers from Laurence (four invalid answers in the following five rounds) gave Tony a comfortable lead, and he was twenty-six points ahead going into the second break.  Tony scored points in the last letters round, ensuring his victory, and although Laurence rallied a little after that it was too late.  Tony gained his third win, 44 to 21.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Ep 184: Tony Loui, Alison Crowe (September 22, 2016; originally aired April 14, 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.

Tony Loui gets his turn in the champion's seat tonight, and we find out that he took a year off from being a doctor and instead worked as a flight attendant (travelling overseas); he adds that he loves travelling.  Richard asks how Tony found the experience, and Tony agrees with Richard's remark that it was a huge change.  Coping with the effects of flying can be difficult, and it was hard work, but he found it to be thoroughly enjoyable.

Tonight's challenger is Alison Crowe, a physical education student and competitive rower.  In fact, Alison has twice represented Australia in rowing -- she has been in two under-23 teams.  That involved racing overseas, in Germany and the Czech Republic (some details can be found here).  She lists that as probably one of the greatest things she has done so far.

It was a dominant performance from Tony tonight: He started off by finding a full monty, and followed up with an eight-letter word to sprint out to a huge early lead.  He continued to score well with the letters, and the numbers offered little scope for Alison to regain the lost ground.  Tony was a certain victor going into the second break.  He rounded off an excellent game by solving the conundrum quickly, posting a final winning score of 83 to 33.

I was having an even better game than Tony, as it turns out, but then the SBS website became uncooperative, refusing to advance past the end of round five.  I had to give up on it and come back a day or so later; that interruption, I believe, was responsible for my poor performance in round six as I came back to it cold (as it were).  A shame, as I felt in really good form at the time.

Friday, 23 September 2016

Ep 183: Tom Fooks, Tony Loui (September 21, 2016; originally aired April 13, 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 the third night for Tom Fooks, and the topic turns to knitting.  Tom says that he is part of a very esteemed club of motorcycle riders who knit.  (Sadly, he does not mean an actual club.)  He mostly knits little toys for cousins and friends and such, but occasionally does other things.  For instance, he has just completed a scarf, which he hopes will help out come winter.

Tonight's challenger is Tony Loui, a medical officer in a regional private hospital.  Tony also works as a hotel doctor in the Sydney CBD, so when a four- or five-star hotel has a guest who is ill, he might get called in to look at them.

The game started out quite closely, with matched scores in the first two letters rounds.  An error from Tony in the first numbers round saw Tom take the lead, but Tony levelled the scores again in the next letters round.  The remaining letters rounds provided no advantage to either contestant, but Tom was just slightly off the pace in the numbers; Tony solved them exactly, giving him a winning lead going into the conundrum.  It turned out to be too hard for everyone, so the game finished 52 to 32 in Tony's favour.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Ep 182: Tom Fooks, Helen Hewitt (September 20, 2016; originally aired April 12, 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.

Tom Fooks is back in the champion's seat tonight, but this time he has a win under his belt.  We find out that Tom rides a motorbike -- he loves the feeling of being on it -- and his favourite place to ride is down the Great Ocean Road.

Tonight's challenger is Helen Hewitt, a primary school teacher and netball umpire.  Helen has been an umpire for some time: She started off playing netball, then after she got older and had a few injuries she still wanted to be involved so she switched to umpiring.  Helen supervises over at Netball Victoria.

Helen fell victim to a phantom letter in the first round, allowing Tom to take an early lead.  A couple of shared rounds followed; then a good find from Helen put her ahead by a single point.  The fifth round was also shared, but then Helen faltered in the second numbers round, missing a relatively easy solution and catapulting Tom back into the lead.  He found an excellent word in round seven to push further ahead, but then he blanked on the last numbers round.  That gave Helen a chance, but she was unable to capitalise on the opportunity; she entered the conundrum behind by eleven points.  Tom solved it quickly in any case, finishing the winner with 55 points to 34.