Monday, 19 March 2018

University Challenge 2017-18: Elimination Quarter-Final 2: Fitzwilliam vs Emmanuel

Evening all. In a good mood tonight, so was up for a good game tonight, and thankfully we got one to boot! Two Cambridge sides, both of whom had certainly shown a great deal of promise in the earlier rounds, but who had both come unstuck in somewhat different ways in their preliminaries. Winners would survive to play Newcastle on Easter Monday, runners-up would bow out.

Fitzwilliam scored 200 in both their earlier matches, firstly against Leicester, and then Magdalen of Oxford, before Merton recovered from a slow start to overpower them in their prelim, winning 270-125. Hoping to bounce back from that tonight were the unchanged four of:
Theo Tindall, from Bristol, studying Russian and Arabic 
Theo Howe, from Forest Hill in Oxfordshire, studying Japanese Studies 
Captain: Hugh Oxlade, from South Woodford in London, studying History 
Jack Maloney, from Harpenden in Hertfordshire, studying Medicine

Emmanuel also, I've just realised, scored the same score in the first two rounds, a close win over St Hugh's of Oxford followed by an easier win over Strathclyde, but they were narrowly pipped by Edinburgh in their prelim match. Also hoping for a prompt recovery were the also unchanged line-up of:
Ed Derby, from Manchester, studying Physics   
Kitty Chevallier, from Hampshire, studying Arabic and Hindi   
Captain: Alex Mistlin, from Islington, studying Politics and International Relations   
James Fraser, from Bristol, studying Medicine

Off we set again then, and Ms Chevallier won the race to the buzzer on the first starter, with many trying to buzz in as Paxo read out the trigger words; one bonus from a tough bonus set requiring an author and the decade the book in question was published followed. Mr Derby kept up Emmanuel's prompt start with the next starter, and footballers who shared their name with US presidents proved more to their liking, taking a full house. Fitzwilliam opened their accounts on the next starter, Mr Oxlade doing the honours with 'John of Gaunt', but bonuses on genetics failed to add to their score. The first picture round, on maps showing cities with a shared final letter, went to Fitzwilliam, who this time took a full house, reducing the gap to 40-35.

A second starter in a row from Mr Maloney gave then gave them the lead, and unlocked an amusing bonus set on Monty Python's Dead Parrot sketch, of which they took two, and sadly the inevitable 'Pining for the Fjords' answer was not correct! Mr Maloney again came in for Fitzwilliam on the next starter, and a full house of bonuses, that Mr Oxlade pretty much dealt with by himself, increased their advantage to double Emmanuel's score. Mr Fraser decided that was enough though, taking his side back into the game, and they too took a full bonus set, on Icarus in popular culture. Emmanuel's right winger then took a second starter in a row, and one bonus put them level pegging. Fitzwilliam quickly took the lead back though, and an amusing bonus set on feuds between writers gave them two correct answers.

The music round, on rock music guitar solos, went to Emmanuel, who took one bonus, and sent Twitter into meltdown on another by mistaking Led Zeppelin's 'immortal' Stairway to Heaven for Oasis! They thus trailed 100-95, but retook the lead with the next starter, though someone on Twitter has claimed Fitzwilliam's wrong answer may have been correct; the bonuses allowed Mr Fraser the pleasure of offering his own name as a correct answer! An unlucky penalty then handed Fitzwilliam back possession though, and they took the lead back with a full house of bonuses. Vice versa then, as Fitzwilliam slipped up, and Emmanuel picked up; two bonuses followed, in what was turning into a back and forth match.

The second picture round, on stills from films whose directed also acted in them, went to Fitzwilliam, who took another full house, which gave them the lead back 145-130. Ms Chevallier bit straight back for Emmanuel though, but her side drew a blank on bonuses on the coordinates of peaks. Nonetheless, with just five in it, this looked like a grandstand final straight.

Mr Tindall blinked first, with 'Kyrgyzstan', and his side took two bonuses on helium, giving them a match winning advantage if they could take the next starter. But Ms Chevallier took it instead, keeping her side in the game, but they missed a set of bonuses they really needed at least one of. Just for added tension, the next starter was dropped. And the one after as well! But when Mr Maloney answered 'clan' on the next, that was game over. No time for any bonus answers; at the gong, Fitzwilliam won 175-150.

An excellent close match between two evenly matched sides, well played both! Unlucky Emmanuel, just missing out right at the end, but no shame on a repectable series of performances, thanks for playing! Well done Fitzwilliam though, and best of luck in the play-offs!

The stats: Messrs Maloney and Fraser were joint best buzzer of the night, with four each for their respective sides, Mr Fraser ends Emmanuel's campaign their best buzzer with 14 over four matches. On the bonuses, Fitzwilliam converted a strong 18 out of 25, while Emmanuel managed 13 out of 27, with both sides incurring one penalty, so, after a run of matches decided on the buzzer, it was the bonuses that decided this one.

Next week's match: Bristol vs Edinburgh, followed by Newcastle vs Fitzwilliam

Only Connect moved on to its qualifier matches tonight, blog of which I hope to bring you by the end of the week.

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Only Connect Series 13: Elimination Match 2: Detectives vs Beaks

OK, so EastEnders has decided to do its own mini horse meat scandal, five years after it would have been topical! And funny! Not even The Simpsons waits that long to try and parody something! Thankfully, Only Connect is never bound by those issues, it is timeless, although a few questions from the early series are likely out of date by now.

Anyway, playing the second elimination match last night were the Detectives, Ian King, Tim Harrison and Captain Tim Hall, who have beaten the Theatricals and the Arrowheads, but lost to the Escapologists, and the Beaks, Rob Cromarty, Aidan Sproat-Clements and captain Dan Sproat-Clements, who beat the Disparates and the Dandies in the earlier rounds, but were overcome by the Belgophiles.

Round 1. The Detectives kicked the proceedings off with Water: 'Putt's Law', then 'Dunning-Kruger Effect', then 'Peter Principle'; they offered 'psychological interpretations based on a person's intelligence', which was close enough, the actual link being psychology about incompetence. The Beaks opened their account with Eye of Horus, and the picture set: we saw a teacup and saucer, then a chest of drawers, then a demisemiquaver; they suggested 'demi', as were correct, the first two being 'demitasse' and 'demilune'. The Detectives chose Twisted Flax next: 'Denmark, Iceland and Greenland', then 'Korea, South Korea and Japan', then 'Palk, India and Sri Lanka'; they offered 'used to be one entity', not correct. Their opponents saw 'Hormuz, Iran and Oman', but couldn't pick up: they are straits and their locations. The Beaks chose Lion next: 'Phone driver', then 'Ed Towers', then 'Loin'; they came in at this point with 'anagrams of the Only Connect hieroglyphs', and collected two points! Excellent set! (Victoria proceded to reel off some more possible clues there!) The Detectives chose Two Reeds next, and got the music set: we heard 'Dolphins' by Tim Buckley, then 'Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?' (sadly not Apu's version!), then Elton John with 'Bennie and the Jets', and finally 'When The Saints Go Marching In'. They saw them to all have NFL teams in their names, and collected a point. Left with Horned Viper, the Beaks saw 'The Butterfly Lion', then 'Gangsta Granny'; they came in here with 'David Walliums novels', but were not correct. Their opponents saw 'The Selfish Giant' and 'Charlotte's Web', but could not get it right: they are children's stories in which the title characters dies. At the end of the first round, the Beaks led 4-3.

Round 2, What Comes Fourth? The Detectives opened the round with Eye of Horus: 'Banking and insurance company formed in 2001', then 'American cable channel', and then 'Standard writing pencil'. They saw them to be 'HBOS', 'HBO' and 'HB', so offered 'Hydrogen', as in 'H', for the points. The Beaks chose Water next: 'Parietal', then 'Clavicles'; they identified the first clues as 'Head' and 'Shoulders', so offered 'Metatarsals', as in 'Toes', for the points. The Detectives chose Lion next: 'Tom Snyder', then 'Craig Kilborn', and then 'Craig Ferguson'. They offered 'James Corden', the sequence being hosts of The Late Late Show, and were correct for two points. The Beaks chose 'Horn-ed' Viper next, and got the picture set: we saw a woodland scene accompanied by 1974, then Major Gowan from Fawlty Towers alongside 1997; they saw it to be something to do with prime ministers, but their buzz at this point was not correct. Their opponents saw a map with The Hague highlighted, but also had nothing to offer. The sequence is Conservative leaders who lost a general election, so something for 'Howard', such as 'Howard the duck', alongside 2005, would suffice. (The first clue being 'Heath' of course) For their final choice, the Detecives chose Two Reeds: '1-10: 4', then '11-20: 4'; they offered '31-40: 2', and were correct, the sequence being the number of prime numbers in those ranges. ('21-30: 2' would be third) Left with Twisted Flax, the Beaks saw 'My Fair Lady', then 'The Sound of Music', and then 'Oliver!'. They offered 'Chicago', and were right, the sequence being musicals that have won the Best Picture Oscar. (Of course, had La La Land actually won last year, this would be a different sequence!) At the end of the second round, the Detectives led 10-9.

On to the Walls. The Beaks went first this time, and chose to tackle the Lion wall. Despite identifying some possible links, isolating sets proved easier said than done. Eventually, they isolated 'Cover', 'Gully', 'Point' and 'Long on', which are cricket fielding positions, followed shortly by 'Ditch', 'Gutter', 'Culvert' and 'Channel', which are water conduits. They couldn't get the rest in their three goes though, and had to retrieve bonuses: 'Catcher', 'Slip', 'Pat' and 'Boy' can all follow 'Cow', which they didn't see, while 'Trench', 'Butch', 'Creek' and 'Banish' all become a language when the first word is changed, which they also failed to spot. Four there then.

The Detectives could thus widen the gap if they could better that on the Water wall. They had their first set pretty quickly: 'Lilac', 'Mauve', 'Puce' and 'Plum' are shades of purple. A second set, 'Lily', 'Cucumber', 'Anemone' and 'Gooseberry', which can all follow 'Sea' to give a different organism, followed a short while later. They also came unstuck trying to solve however, and also had to try for bonuses: 'Mary', 'Bend Sinister', 'Pale Fire' and 'Lolita' are novels by Nabokov, which they got, while 'Violet', 'Edith', 'Cora' and 'Isobel' are characters in Downton Abbey, which they also knew. Six there, which upped their lead to 16-13 going into the final round.

So, Missing Vowels would decide the fate of the teams. 'Things you might do if angry', such as 'RANT AND RAVE', and 'SCREAM BLUE MURDER', was split 2-each. 'Long form names of countries' proved hard, with the sides tying 1-each. 'Things people say when shaking hands' went to the Beaks 4-0. 'Old terms for doctors' only had time for one clue, which the Detectives took. The final score: a 20-20 tie!

Haven't had one of those for a while! So, captains only on one clue, first buzz gets only chance to answer. The deciding clue: 'DM NDFY DDM NDF YDNT'. Mr Hall was first in: 'DAMNED IF YOU DO, DAMNED IF YOU DON'T', and was right!

A good close contest, well played both sides there. Unlucky Beaks, but nothing to be ashamed of, a fine series of performances, thanks for playing! Very well done Detectives though, and best of luck in the play-offs!

Next week's match: the Vikings vs the Inquisitors

Monday, 12 March 2018

University Challenge 2017-18: Qualification Quarter-Final 2: Merton vs Edinburgh

Evening all. Into the home straight now, just six more matches after tonight. In fact, if this were a regular elimination format, this would have been the grand final this week.As we get to the business end of the tournament, this is also the final match where the runners-up will be coming back, presumably against Bristol in the first play-off. Winners would join St John's in the semis.

Merton College Oxford have very comfortably strolled through the series thus far, beating King's of Londonin the first round, the Oxford Brookes in the second, and the very decent Fitzwilliam team 270-125 in the prelims. Hoping to carry this on tonight were the unchanged foursome of:
Edward Thomas, from Kent, studying Ancient and Modern History  
Alexander Peplow, from Amersham in Buckinghamshire, studying Medieval Studies  
Captain: Leonie Woodland, from Cambridge, studying Physics  
Akira Wiberg, from Sweden and Japan, studying Molecular and Cellular Medicine

Edinburgh, by contrast, have won their three games thus far by close margins, beating fellow quarter-finalists Ulster by five in the first round, the decent U.C.L. also by five in the second, and in their first quarter-final a late sprint saw them beat Emmanuel 125-110. Hoping to pull something of a Wigan off tonight were the also unchanged four of:
John Heaton-Armstrong, from Edinburgh, studying Russian and History 
Stanley Wang, from Edinburgh, studying Speech and Language Processing 
Captain: Innis Carson, from Glasgow, studying Chemistry 
Philippa Stone, from Oxford, studying Biology

Off we set again then, and controversy on the very first starter: all we heard was "Who is the only person to have won both an Academy Award and a Nobel Prize?" before Mr Peplow promptly came in with 'George Bernard Shaw'; he was marked correct, but the Twittersphere points out that Bob Dylan has also done that particular double! Tut tut question setters! Merton set their stall out with a full bonus set, and when Mr Wiberg took a second prompt starter in a row, were already looking on match-winning form. Just one bonus came this time though. Merton then lost five, but Edinburgh couldn't pick up; then vice versa, and Merton did pick up, taking all three bonuses to boot. The first picture round, on flags of administrative sub-divisions that would be in the top 20 largest countries if independent, went to Edinburgh, who took a full house, cutting their deficit to 60-20.

Another very quick buzz from Mr Peplow that I somehow foresaw him making(!) increased that lead, but no bonuses on British film makers came with it. US philosophers proved more to the Oxonians' liking, taking a full set, before Mr Peplow came in quickly again on the next starter, but no bonuses on astronomy came this time. Mr Carson came in well on the next starter, identifying Irn Bru as the product that lost an 'O' and changed an 'EW' to a 'U' in 1946! Female authors who wrote under a male penname provided the Scots side with one correct answer.

The music round, on classical pieces evoking witchcraft, went to Merton, with Edinburgh dropping five in the process; a rare full music bonus set gave the Oxonians a lead of 135-30. Already it looked like they had the game sewed up, and as if to prove that idea, Ms Woodland took the next starter, and a good old school UC bonus set, on pairs of place names where the last letters of the first and the first of the second are the same, such as Lublin and Lincoln, gave them a full house. Mr Peplow then showed he's been watching his early Simpsons by identifying 'stoicism' for the next starter, and one bonus on scientific terms beginning 'allo' went with it.

The second picture round, on illustrations of scenes from the Ring Cycle, went to Edinburgh, who took two bonuses, leaving the score at 175-50. A second starter in a row went the Scots side's way, and dogs in art provided them with two correct answers, including another Simpsons classic, 'Dogs Playing Poker'.

What looked like a technical interruption but which was actually fair enough on rewatch then cost Edinburgh five, and allowed Merton to take the points, with 'Gibbon' getting a mention for the umpteenth time this series, and a full house put them up to 200 for the fourth time this series. Mr Carson appeared to take an educated guess of 'Nelson's Column' for the next starter, but was correct, and his side took two bonuses. Ms Woodland took the final starter, but her side missed both the bonuses there was time for. At the gong, Merton won 210-85.

Another pretty good match despite being rather one-sided. Unlucky Edinburgh, but no shame in that performance at all, best of luck in the play-offs. Very well done Merton though, on another barnstorming performance, and you'd have to say they are now hot favourites for the title; very best of luck in the semis!

The stats: Mr Peplow and Ms Woodland were the best buzzers of the night with four each, while Mr Carson was Edinburgh's top buzzer with three. On the bonuses, Merton converted a good 21 out of 32 (with one penalty), while Edinburgh managed an also good 10 out of 15 (with three penalties), so it was another match won convincingly on the buzzer.

Next week's match: Fitzwilliam vs Emmanuel. Then, I'd guess, Bristol vs Edinburgh, followed by Newcastle vs next week's winner.

Only Connect somewhat closer tonight, but no spoilers, I'll save it for my blog later in the week.

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Only Connect Series 13: Elimination Quarter-Final 1: Wanderers vs Eco-Warriors

OK, here we go with Only Connect. Same format as UC, and we arrive at the same point at the same time, except OC does it in a different, more logical order. Eliminators first, then qualifiers, and then the play-offs. Makes more sense, but, TBH, I kinda prefer UC's more scattered way of doing it.

Anyway, playing last night were the Wanderers, John Payne, Richard Arthur and captain Sanjoy Sen, who beat the Pedagogues and fellow QFs the Inquisitors, but were beaten in their preliminary by the Vikings, and the Eco-Warriors, Jonathan Kershaw, Peter Barlow and captain Brett Bostock, who came the early rounds by beating fellow QFs the Escapologists and the Snake Charmers, but were overcome by the Inquisitors in the prelims.

Round 1. The Warriors kicked the show off with Two Reeds: 'Pojdzze. kin te chmurnosc w glab flaszy!', then 'Portez ce vieux whisky a la luge blonge qui fume', then 'Hoj bly gom vandt fraek sexquiz pa wc', and finally 'The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog'. That gave it to them, and me: they are pangrams, ie sentences that contain every letter of their respective alphabets. The Wanderers opened their match with 'Horn-ed' Viper: 'Hillary Clinton, Yemen, January 2011', then 'Jennifer Lawrence, Los Angeles, February 2013', then 'The Edge, Vancouver, May 2015'; they offered that they all fell over in those places then, and picked up two points for it. The Warriors chose Twisted Flax next: 'Snuppy', then 'Mewtwo', then 'Boba Fett', and finally 'Dolly'. They offered that they are clones, and collected another point. The Wanderers chose Eye of Horus next, and got the picture set: we saw Sally Field, then Charles II; mistaking the latter for Descartes, they tried 'fields', not right. Their opponents saw Jerry Springer and Jarvis Cocker, and offered 'spaniels' for the bonus. For their own question, the Warriors chose Lion: 'Adriano (Brazil)', then 'Anna (USA)', then 'Perse (Iran)'; they offered that adding 'polis' to the end of them give cities in those countries, and collected two points there too. Left with Water, and the music question, the Wanderers heard 'Sono Andati?' from La Boheme, then Terry Jacks with 'Seasons in the Sun', then 'A Little Fall of Rain' from Les Mis; they suggested 'weather', which was not correct. Their opponents heard the Bee Gees' 'I've Gotta Get a Message to You', but were none the wiser; they are songs sung by dying people. At the end of the first round, the Warriors led 5-2.

Round 2, What Comes Fourth? The Warriors opened the round with Twisted Flax, and a music question: we heard Al Stewart's 'Year of the Cat', then David Bowie with 'Art Decade', and then the iconic 20th Century Fox music. They didn't spot it, nor did their opponents: increasing periods of time, so something for Millennium, such as Mr R. Williams' song (as performed by the teams!), would suffice. The Wanderers chose 'Horn-ed' Viper next, and got the picture set: we saw some Kit-Kats, then a rainbow coloured lollipop, and then a toasted marshmallow. They didn't get it, their opponents did: they are Android operating systems, so 'Nougat' would come fourth. For their own question, the Warriors chose Two Reeds: 'Children, Schools & Families', then 'Energy & Climate Change' (I had it here), and then 'Business, Skills & Innovation'; they offered 'Brexit', which was correct, the sequence being the most recently created government departments. The Wanderers chose Lion next: 'Hawkeye Pierce', then 'Fancy Smith', and then 'Monica Geller'. Neither side got this: they are characters played by Alan Alda, Brian Blessed and Courteney Cox, so David Duchovny's 'Fox Mulder', or Danny Dyer's 'Mick Carter', would complete the sequence. For their final choice, the Warriors chose Eye of Horus: '13-19', then 'One of the X-Men', and then 'Trained Japanese assassin'. They didn't get it, nor did the opposition: the clues are 'Teenage', 'Mutant' and 'Ninja', so something for 'Turtles' would complete the set! Left with Water again, the Wanderers saw 'R______R', then '_N____N_', and then '__B__B__'. They didn't get it, nor did their opponents: it is chess pieces based on their starting position, going inwards, so '___QK___' would be fourth. At the end of the second round, the Warriors led 8-2.

On to the Walls. The Wanderers went first, and chose to tackle the Lion wall. After spotting some potential links early on, they were unable to isolate anything at first, until they eventually slotted in 'Superior', 'Goose', 'Tongue' and 'Nature', which can all follow 'Mother'. That was all they could come up with though, so had to go for bonuses: 'Jester', 'Merlin', 'Magic' and 'Hollywood' are pilots from Top Gun, which they got, 'Iceman', 'Interlude', 'Electra' and 'Wilderness' feature in the titles of Eugene O'Neill plays, which they didn't get, while 'New Scientist', 'Countryman', 'Wildlife' and 'National Geographic' are science and nature magazines, which they did get. Four points there.

The Warriors could thus put the game beyond realistic reach with a good result on the Water wall. They isolated a first set reasonably quickly: 'Buxton', 'Bolsover', 'Matlock' and 'Whaley Bridge' are places in Derbyshire. Again, though, they couldn't get any more slot-ins, and thus also had bonuses to collect: 'Glossop', 'Threepwood', 'Ukridge' and 'Psmith' are PG Wodehouse characters, which they got, 'Wooster', 'Prince Regent', 'Little' and 'Roper' are characters played by Hugh Laurie, which they also got, while 'House', 'Third', 'Search' and 'Labour' can all precede 'party', which they didn't see. Another four there, so as you were, the Warriors led 12-6 going into the final round.

So, just about still to play for in Missing Vowels. 'Popular bedtime stories' was split 2-each. 'Special editions of Walkers crisps', such as 'BUILDER'S BREAKFAST' and 'SALT AND LINEKER' went to the Warriors 3-(-1). 'Inquisitive film titles', such as 'DUDE, WHERE'S MY CAR?' and 'O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU?', was a clean sweep to the Wanderers 4-0, and that was time. The Warriors led 17-11.

A tough match, some good hard questions, well played both sides all things considered. Unlucky Wanderers, but nothing to be ashamed of, a very respectable series performance, and thanks very much for playing! Well done Warriors though, and best of luck in the play-offs!

Next week's match: the Detectives vs the Beeks in the second eliminator.

Monday, 5 March 2018

University Challenge 2017-18: Elimination Quarter-Final 1: Bristol vs Ulster

Evening all. Well, the snow that's been causing a great deal of trouble up here finally seems to have gone away thanks to a day of half-heavy rain, so we can finally get back to normal service as far as my life outside Quizzy Mondays is concerned. On, therefore, to the first eliminator quarter-final of this year's UC; runners-up would bow out, winners would stay on for the play-offs for a shot at the semis.

Bristol reached the group stage fairly comfortably with victories over Trinity of Cambridge and Trinity of Oxford, but came unstuck in the preliminaries where they lost 225-130 to Newcastle after a late sprint from the opposition. Looking to recover from that tonight were the unchanged four of:
Ollie Bowes, from Market Harborough, studying Music 
Kirsty Biggs, from Southampton, studying Maths 
Captain: Sam Hosegood, from Bedford, studying Chemical Physics 
Dom Hewett, from Stroud, studying English

Ulster came through the repechage, narrowly losing to fellow quarter-finalists Edinburgh, then beating St Anne's of Oxford and Warwick to reach the group stage, where they lost to St John's in their prelim, despite a good fightback in the final minutes. Also looking to press on were the also unchanged line-up of:
Cathal McDaid, from Buncrana in County Donegal, studying English Literature  
Kate Ritchie, from Waringstown in County Armagh, studying Fine Art  
Captain: Ian Jack, from Peterhead, studying Pharmacy  
Matthew Milliken, from Comber in County Down, studying Education

Off we set again then, and a prompt buzz from Mr Biggs got the ball rolling for the night; his side firmly put their stall out with a full bonus set on Nobel literature winners. Mr Hewett then added the second starter of the night, but just the one bonus went with it this time. A good starter then asked which planet's name can be spelt using some of the first letters of all the planets' names, if that makes sense; Mr Hosegood identified it as Venus, and the side added two further bonuses to their score with it. The first picture round, on cities vulnerable to a rise in sea levels, went to Bristol, with Ulster dropping five on a replacement starter; two bonuses were taken, giving the Avonsiders a lead of 80-(-5).

A classic UC starter, chemical number arithmetic, was then taken by Mr Hosegood, which gave his side a 100 point lead with the bonuses. Mr Milliken broke Ulster's duck with 'Rodin's The Kiss', but the side were unable to take any of the resultant bonuses on Russia. Bristol resumed normal service thanks to Mr Bowes, and took two bonuses, unluckily missing out on the third. Neither side identified the colour Sorrel, which I mainly know as the name of contestants on an early Weakest Link and a late DoND; Mr Hewett had the next correct answer, and one bonus on the human brain followed.

Neither side recognised Alan Menken's score for Disney's Little Mermaid for the music starter; the bonuses, on other Disney scores by Mr Menken, went to Ulster, but they couldn't take any of them (I managed two and a half), which left them trailing 125-15. A slip-up from Bristol allowed them to take a second successive starter though, but the bonuses, on French directories, once again failed to add to their score. A prompt buzz from Mr Bowes reawoke his side, and two bonuses put the match out of realistic reach. Mr Hosegood made sure when he took 'ecology' for the next starter, and they took just the one bonus this time on the work of Greta Garbo.

The second picture round, on tennis players who have courts named after them, went to Ulster, who took two bonuses, which left the score at 155-45. Another Bristol starter, taken by Ms Biggs, only really added to Bristol's score, as did one bonus on literary characters with three letter surnames. The match was long done and dusted now, but could Ulster avoid joining the Sub-50 club?

Alas, not, as Bristol saw out the remaining starters, Mr Hewett taking 'Bangladesh' for the next, and one bonus on French painters following. Mr Hosegood was next in, but bonuses on India provided them with no further points, not that it mattered by now. Mr Hewett took the final starter, but there was no time for any bonuses; at the gong, Bristol won 205-45.

An entertaining match, despite being rather one-sided. Unlucky Ulster, but no shame in going out in this stage, after a very respectable and entertaining series of performances, thanks very much for giving us them! Well done Bristol though, on another strong win over good opponents, and best of luck in the play-offs!

The stats: Messrs Hosegood and Hewett were joint best buzzers of the night, with four each, while Messrs Jack and Milliken taking two each for Ulster, Mr Jack ends their campaign their best buzzer, with seventeen over five matches. On the bonuses, Bristol converted 16 out of 36, while Ulster managed just 2 out of 12, with both sides incurring one penalty.

Next week's match: Merton vs Edinburgh

Only Connect had its first eliminator match tonight too, though of course they do it in a different order to UC; blog of that hopefully done this week.

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Only Connect Series 13: Preliminary Quarter-Final 4: Belogophiles vs Beaks

OK, on with Only Connect. I'm still not convinced about using this extended format for OC, at least not in its current way. The old way, using it from the off so all teams got at least two matches, was much better IMO.

Playing last night were the Belgophiles, Helen Fasham, Phil Small and captain Ben Fasham, husband of Helen, who defeated the Lapsed Physicists and the Meeples en route, and the Beaks, Rob Cromarty, Aidan Sproat-Clements and captain Dan Sproat-Clements, husband of Aidan, who also came straight here by beating the Disparates and the Dandies.

Round 1. The Beaks kicked the night off with Water: 'Argument tent', then 'Fan gathering tent', then 'Heating system vect'; they identified them as requiring 'con' at the start and 'ion' at the end to give words meaning those, and collected two points. The Belgophiles opened their account with Eye of Horus: 'Tsar Alexander II', then 'King George VI', then 'The Arc de Triomphe'; they identified them to have horse races named after them, and also picked up two points. The Beaks chose Two Reeds next, and got the picture set: we saw Pope Benedict XVI, then Ronald McDonald, then Moira Stewart as Vicky Page in 'The Red Shoes', and finally Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. They didn't get it, their opponents did, offering that they all famously wear red shoes for the bonus. For their own question, the Belgophiles chose Twisted Flax: 'Death of Kublai Khan', then 'Battles of El Alamein', then 'Second Paris Olympics', and finally 'Columbus reaches the Americas'. They offered that they occurred in years that are number anagrams of each other, and picked up another point. The Beaks chose Horned Viper next: 'Rudyard Kipling (1888) Daniel Dravot', then 'T.H. White (1958) Arthur', then 'Michael Dobbs (1992) un-named but probably Charles III', and finally 'J.R.R. Tolkein (1955) Aragorn'. They saw them to be the authors and publication years of novels with kings in the title, and the king in question, and picked up a point. Left with Lion, and the music question, the Belgophiles heard the theme to 'Murder on the Orient Express', then the French song 'Je t'en ce fait le train', then the Doobie Brothers with 'Slow Train Running', and finally 'Midnight Train to Georgia' by Gladys Knight and the Pips. They didn't see it, their opponents did for a bonus. At the end of the first round, the teams were tied on 4-each.

Round 2, What Comes Fourth? The Beaks opened with Twisted Flax, and the picture set: we saw two matches, a standard and a digital with a circle round the latter, then a zoomed in picture of a record, and then a pair of glasses with one lens removed. They didn't get it, their opponents did: the clues represent 'digital', 'single' and 'lens', so something for 'reflex', such as that hilariously bad game show hosted by Shane Richie, or as they offered, a nightclub in Reading, would've sufficed. For their own question, the Belgophiles chose Eye of Horus: 'Wife of Henry VII', then 'Queen Elizabeth I', and then 'Wife of George VI'; they saw them to be English/British queens called Elizabeth, so offered 'Queen Elizabeth II' for the points. The Beaks chose Two Reeds next: '4: H', then '3: F', and then '2: R'. They didn't get it, nor did their opponents: they are letters with four, three and two end points, so '1: P' would complete the sequence. Nice little question that. The Belgophiles chose Horned Viper next: 'Humperdinck', then 'Quackmore', and then 'Donald'. They tried 'Daffy', not right; their opponents tried 'Huey', correct, the sequence being various generations of Donald Duck's family! For their own final choice, the Beeks chose Lion: 'Uruguay' with three lines above it and on the left, then 'Lesotho' with three lines but slightly more rightwards, and then 'Swaziland' under the lines even righter. They didn't get an acceptable answer, nor did their opponents: they are the four countries entirely south of the Tropic of Capricorn, so 'New Zealand' on the very right under three lines would be fourth. Left with Water, the Belgophiles saw '6', then 'Connecticut', and then 'Heraldic gold'. They didn't get it, their opponents did: the clues represent 'VI', 'CT' and 'OR', so something for 'IA' would complete the sequence. Now, they offered 'Indiana', which was not strictly acceptable, but Victoria recognised that they had the right idea, so let them have the points. She said she'd also have taken something that represented 'Y', as in 'VICTORY', so fair enough I guess. At the end of the second round, the Belgophiles led 7-6.

On to the Walls. The Belgophiles went first, and chose the Lion wall. Their first set arrived pretty quickly after some earlier errors: 'Chaplaincy', 'Maternity', 'ENT' and 'Outpatients' are hospital departments. A second set, 'Lee', 'Kotto', 'Bean' and 'Waltz', which are surnames of actors who've played Bond villains, followed. They identified what was left, and solved the wall on their third go: 'History', 'TNT', 'A & E' and 'Nickelodeon' are US cable channels, which they got, while 'Hermione', 'Potemkin', 'Discovery' and 'Kiel' are naval mutinies, which they didn't get. Seven points there then.

The Beaks thus could sneak into the lead if they could better that on the Water wall. After a few wrong goes, they eventually isolated 'Cole', 'Speed', 'Milburn' and 'Albert', which are surnames of Newcastle United footballers, which they couldn't quite get, so dropping three there, followed in short order by 'Station', 'Dip', 'Dog' and 'Shearer', which can all follow 'sheep'. They had the wall solved on their first attempt: 'St Katharine', 'Prince's', 'Tobacco' and 'Alexandra' are UK docks, which they got, while 'Oats', 'Dice', 'Lawn' and 'Eyes' are things that can be rolled, which they also spotted. Seven there as well, which left the Belgophiles ahead 14-13 going into the final round.

So, Missing Vowels would decide who went which way in the contest. 'Things found in a motorway service station' went to the Belgophiles 2-1. 'Friends in children's literature', such as 'POOH AND PIGLET', went to the Belgophiles 2-1 as well. 'Anagrams of 'GANISTER'', such as 'ANGRIEST' and 'TASERING' went to the Belgophiles 2-0, and that was time. The Belgophiles won 20-15.

Another good match, close throughout, well played both sides. Unlucky Beaks, good luck in the elimination round, well done Belgophiles, best of luck in the qualifier round!

Next week's match: the Wanderers vs the Eco-Warriors in the first eliminator.

Monday, 26 February 2018

University Challenge 2017-18: Qualification Quarter-Final 1: Newcastle vs St John's

Evening all. No lighting issues this week, but the heating is on full pelt in preparation for the cold snap on its way later this week. Well done, BTW, to blog reader Jack Bennett, of UC and OC fame, who won the first heat of this year's Brain of Britain this afternoon, beating top opposition in the form of Andy Tucker (BoB, Mastermind and OC finalist) and Sanjoy Sen of the Wanderers from OC. On with tonight though, with the first place in the semis at stake.

Newcastle won a low scoring first round match over Sheffield Hallam, but have improved in their two matches since, first beating Southampton in the second round, and then Bristol in their first quarter-final, 225-130. Hoping to carry on this upwards spiral were the unchanged four of:
Jack Reynard, from Leeds, studying Medicine 
Molly Nielsen, from London, studying Medicine 
Captain: Jonathan Noble, from Newcastle, studying for a PGCE 
Adam Lowery, from Sunderland, studying Chemistry

St John's breezed through the early rounds with comfortable wins over St Andrews and Corpus Christi of Cambridge, before beating Ulster in their preliminary, surviving a second half fightback to win 185-135. Hoping for more of the same tonight were the also unchanged line-up of:
John-Clark Levin, from Los Angeles, studying Politics and International Studies  
Rosie McKeown, from Kingston-upon-Thames, studying French and German  
Captain: James Devine-Stoneman, from Southall in London, studying Superconducting Spintronics  
Matt Hazell, from Ringwood in Hampshire, studying Veterinary Medicine

Off we set again then, and an immediate penalty from Newcastle gave St John's the first starter of the night; two bonuses on film biographies kicked off the night's scoring. Mr Noble took his side back into positives straight away, but the Tynesiders could only take on of their first bonuses. Ms Nielsen put them on level pegging, and bonuses on astronomy gave them the lead. The first picture round, on lists of an artist's work in their original language, went to Newcastle, who took just the one bonus again, giving them a lead of 50-20.

Another penalty knocked five off the lead, but St John's couldn't get close enough to the right answer to pick up. Ms McKeown reawoke her side with the next starter though, just the one bonus following, sufficient to put them ten behind. Mr Levin took the next starter to put them level, and a full bonus house gave them the lead back. Back bit Newcastle though, Mr Noble doing the honours with 'Miller', and they retook the lead with two bonuses. St John's then proceeded to incur three consecutive penalties, none of which Newcastle were able to pick up, though their lead did increase times four in the process. Mr Levin finally broke the rot with 'Thailand', and the side quickly recouped the lost points with a full bonus set, also giving them the lead back. And a second St John's starter in a row maybe suggested they would be starting to shift into gear now; one bonus followed.

The music round, on palindromic classical pieces, went to St John's, who took just the one bonus again, nonetheless increasing their lead to 100-65. That lead increased when Mr Reynard's answer of 'succeeded a dead president' was harshly but fairly disallowed when the question asked what event preceded a list of presidents taking office; Mr Levin picked the points up with 'the assassination of their predecessor'. The bonuses were on US politics too, specifically shutdowns (no mentions of the two we've had this year!), and two were taken. Ms Nielsen finally brought Newcastle back into the game, and a full bonus set on Anglo-Saxon kings showed they certainly weren't out of it yet.

The second picture round, on paintings commissioned by the British War Memorials Committee, went to St John's, who took one bonus, increasing their lead to 135-85. Still up in the air, as proven when Mr Reynard identified 'pheasant' for the next starter ("Watch out Mr Pheasant, get back in the hedge!", as my Mum used to say when one strayed into the road!"); one bonus was sufficient to take the Tynesiders into triple figures and set up a grandstand finale.

Mr Noble kept their hopes alive with 'De Valera', and one bonus was taken on events mentioned in Billy Joel's 'We Didn't Start the Fire', the other two being, as Ken Bruce would say, 'ONE YEAR OUT!' When Mr Reynard took the next starter though, the Tynesiders had a chance to take the lead should they take a full set; they could only manage two (I got the one they didn't), sufficient to put them level. Ms McKeown blinked first on the next starter, giving St John's the lead back, and one crucial bonus was taken via the 'give the same answer three times' trick. And when Ms McKeown took the next starter, that was game over; the gong went during the bonuses, St John's won 160-135.

An excellent match between two very evenly matched teams, up for grabs until literally right at the end. Unlucky Newcastle, but a brave effort nonetheless, very best of luck in the play-offs. Very well done St John's though, and very very best of luck in the semi-finals!

The stats: Ms McKeown was the best buzzer of the night, taking her series total thus far to 20, while Ms Nielsen and Mr Noble were joint best for Newcastle with three each, Mr Noble their current top scorer with 14. On the bonuses, Newcastle converted 14 out of 24, while St John's managed 15 out of 28, with both sides incurring three penalties, so, once again, it was a match won on the buzzer. Well played both, enjoyed that match!

Next week's match: Bristol vs Ulster

Only Connect reached its final preliminary tonight, a blog of which I hope to do this week, circumstances permitting.