Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Only Connect Series 12: Group B Round 1: Match 3: Part-Time Poets vs Oscar Men

Well, after last night's epic UC, Only Connect would have to go some way to match that tension! Playing in last night's match were the Part-Time Poets, Nina Grant, Katie McGettigan and captain Jenny Harris, and the Oscar Men, Howard Freedman, Adrian Knott and captain Michael Slowey. Most of yous will remember Miss Harris and our old friend Nina Grant as UC alumni, but Miss McGettigan is one too, having captained the team from Exeter College Oxford that went out in the first round of the Gail Trimble series 08-09.

Round 1. The Men went first, and kicked the match off with Two Reeds: 'Feather (West Yorkshire)', then 'Silver (Northamptonshire)'; this was enough for them to see that putting 'stone' after them gives place names in those counties, for three points. The Poets opened their account with Lion: 'Queen Beatrix, Aruba', then 'Benazir Bhutto, Islamabad', then 'Sabiha Gokcen, Istanbul', and finally 'Indira Gandhi, New Delhi'. They didn't get it, nor did the opposition: they are women who have airports names after them in those locations. The Men chose Twisted Flax next, and got the music set: we heard what sounded like the Monster Mash, then Mr Bowie's 'Ashes to Ashes', then 'Peggy Sue Got Married' by Buddy Holiday; they had run out of time by now, and had to guess, and guessed wrong.. The Poets heard the final snippet, 'Let's Twist Again', but had no answer. They are sequel songs, the first tune actually being Monsters' Holiday rather than the classic, as heard in I Love Lisa. The Poets chose Eye of Horus next, and got the picture set: we saw a still from the BBC's adaptation of Mrs Gaskell's 'North and South', then two identical selections of meat, then some mince pies; they spotted at this point that they are rhyming slang for parts of the body, for two points. The Men chose 'Horn-ed' Viper next: 'The Nabateans', then 'Makka Pakka', then 'Alley Oop', and finally 'Old Mother Shipton'. They identified them as all having lived in caves, and collected the point. Left with Water, the Poets saw 'David Aaronovitch (Victoria University of Manchester) 1975', then 'Miriam Margolyes (Newnham College Cambridge) 1963', and instantly offered 'University Challenge contestants' for three points! (I hope yous all got FIVE on that!) At the end of the first round, the Poets led 5-4.

Round 2, What Comes Fourth? The Men began the round with Eye of Horus: 'Poor rates', then 'County rates', and then 'Community Charge'; they offered 'Business rate', which wasn't right. The Poets offered 'Poll Tax', which was incorrect, as that's what the third clue represents. 'Council Tax' completes the set, the sequence being local taxation in England and Wales. The Poets chose Water next, and got a music question: we heard 'She Left Me On Friday' by Shed Seven, then 'Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting', and then 'Everyday is Like Sunday'; that gave it to them, and they offered (and were forced to sing!) 'I Don't Like Mondays', for two points. The Men chose Lion next: 'Rhodes', then 'Lesbos', and then 'Euboea'; they offered 'Cos', which was wrong. Their opponents offered 'Crete', which was correct, the sequence being Greek islands in order smallest to largest. For their own question, the Poets chose Two Reeds: 'Counter-intelligence', then 'Terrorism', and then 'Revenge'. They didn't get it, their opponents did: they are what 'Spectre' stands for in the Bond film of the same name, so 'Extortion' would be fourth. For their own final choice, the Men chose Twisted Flax, and got the picture question: we saw some Romanian currency the Leu, then the MGM lion, and then a 'Lei' girl; both teams identified the clues, but not the sequence, failing to offer 'Lee' of some sort for any points. Left with Horned Viper, the Poets saw 'Beyonce = XLVII', then 'Bruno Mars = XLVIII', and then 'Katy Perry = XLIX'; they spotted it to be Super Bowl half time acts, but their answer of 'Beyonce = L' was wrong. Their opponents offered 'Coldplay = L', which was accepted for a bonus, Coldplay having been the headliners and Beyonce having come on later. (Though some on Twitter, including OC alumnus Chris 'monkseal' Rubery, say the Poets' answer should have been accepted) At the end of the second round, the Poets led 8-6.

On to the Walls. The Poets went first, and chose to tackle the Lion wall. Having quickly spotted some links and attempted some unsuccessfully, they isolated 'Cobra', 'Saracen', 'Hunter' and 'Nightshade', which are characters from Gladiators. They then quickly isolated 'Power', 'Jet', 'Six' and 'Expansion', which can all be followed by 'pack'. Almost as quickly, they had solved the final sets: 'Wild', 'Election', 'Walk the Line' and 'Mud' are Reese Witherspoon films, while 'Mountain', 'Cow Face', 'Lotus' and 'Crescent Moon' are yoga positions. So a well worked full ten there.

The Men thus had to equal that, or come close to, to stay in touch as they set to work on the Water wall. They isolated their first set somewhat quicker: 'Chisel', 'Adze', 'Bradawl' and 'Plane' are woodwork tools. A second set, 'Rambutan', 'Guava', 'Avocado' and 'Durian', which are tropical fruits, followed very quickly. They worked out the remaining sets, and isolated them on their second go: 'Tangram', 'Tentaizu', 'KenKen' and 'Crossword' are types of puzzle, while 'Jigsaw', 'Monsoon', 'Oasis' and 'Mango' are women's fashion stores. Another full ten there, which meant the Poets led 18-16 going into the final round.

So, it would all come down to Missing Vowels. 'Adjectives involving animals', such as 'DOG-EAT-DOG', went to the Men 1-0 (with the Poets getting one right but one wrong). 'Things an estate agent might say' (a topical set for my Dad! Don't ask why) went to Poets 2-1. 'People who share their surnames with birds' went to the Men 2-1, and that was time. The Poets had snuck the win, 21-20!

A very good close match between two very good teams, which nicely complimented the great UC match yesterday. Unlucky Men, but your score is definitely enough for the play-offs, so best of luck then. Very well done Poets though, and best of luck in the next round!

Next week's match: Genealogists vs Surrealists

Monday, 19 September 2016

University Challenge 2016-17: Round 1: Match 11: Wolfson vs SOAS

Evening all. Well, I don't know about you, but I'm drained after tonight's quiz hour! I was already feeling tired enough after a good day at work, and, after a few hours rest, most of it spent listening to Alice Cooper, I was ready for some hardcore quizzing, and we certainly got that! For tonight's runners-up, a score of 180 or more would guarantee a return, but something around 160 would probably do.

Wolfson College Cambridge was founded in 1965 as University College, and is a mostly postgraduate college: alumni include musician Matthew Fisher and retired politician Rupiah Banda. It has only appeared once before in the BBC series, when its team unluckily lost to Sussex by just five points in the 2003-04 first round. This year's foursome were:
Justin Yang, from Vancouver, studying Public Health and Primary Care
Ben Chaudhri, from Cumbria, studying Natural Sciences
Captain: Eric Monkman, from Oakville, Canada, studying Economics
Paul Cosgrove, from Cookstown in Northern Ireland, studying Nuclear Energy

The London School of Oriental and African Studies, or SOAS for short, dates back to 1916, and is also predominately postgraduate; alumni include musician Paul Robeson and Asian politician Aung San Suu Kyi. It last sent a team three series ago, who had a good run to the semi finals before losing to eventual runners-up Somerville. This year's quartet were:
David Bostock, from Cheltenham, studying Southeast Asian Studies
Magda Biran-Taylor, from Harrow, studying Southeast Asian Studies
Captain: Henry Edwards, from London, studying Near and Middle Eastern Studies
Odette Chalaby, from London, studying Near and Middle Eastern Studies

Off we set again then, and Mr Monkman very confidently got the game underway by identifying The Colour of Magic as the first Discworld novel, as did I; a full bonus set on scientists and their musicians, including Richard Feynman and the bongos (thanks Big Bang Theory!). Mr Monkman took a second starter as well, but just one bonus followed this time. Three starters in a row were then dropped, all three incurring penalties, one of which, for Wolfson, was one of those borderline ones. Ms Biran-Taylor finally stopped the rot by taking SOAS's first starter of the night, and the Londoners took just one bonus on explosives. The first picture round, on islands in the Greater Antilles, went to SOAS, who took two bonuses, unluckily missing the third, which put them on level pegging, 30-each.

Mr Monkman restored Wolfson's lead, and a bonus set of the Battle of the Somme provided them with five more points. (I really should have done better on that set, given I've actually been there) Mr Edwards pulled SOAS within five, and they took the lead thanks to a full bonus set on rice cultivation. Back came Wolfson thanks to Mr Cosgrove, and they retook the lead with two bonuses. Mr Monkman appeared to realise his answer to the next starter was wrong as he was saying it; Mr Bostock picked up the points, and SOAS took two bonuses, again unluckily missing the third.

The music round, on classical recordings by Ms Jacqueline du Pre, went to Wolfson, who took just the one bonus, which put them back in front 80-75. That lead was wiped out when Mr Monkman slipped up on the next starter, but SOAS couldn't capitalise. They did, however, when Mr Monkman incurred a second penalty in a row, and a bonus set of the Nobel Economics Prize provided them with two correct answers. Mr Monkman made up for his errors by taking the next starter, but just the one bonus followed this time. SOAS then incurred one of those borderline penalties (thus ensuring that the result wouldn't be tainted in any way), allowing Wolfson to take the points, and break into three figures first. Mr Yang took the next starter, and a full bonus set meant Wolfson now had a bit of daylight between their opponents.

The second picture round, on female tennis players who've completed the Singles Career Grand Slam, went to SOAS, who swept the board, cutting the gap to 130-115, and setting up a grandstand final stretch. Mr Edwards pulled them within five when he took the next starter, and a second consecutive clean sweep put them ahead again. Wolfson then incurred yet another penalty, allowing Mr Edwards a second consecutive starter; no bonuses followed this time. With the bit between his teeth, Mr Edwards took a third starter in a row, on types of penguin(!), and one crucial bonus followed.

But back came Wolfson, with Mr Monkman pouncing on a SOAS error, and the side wasting no time on the bonuses, shouting answers out before Paxo could complete them! An unlucky error from SOAS then handed Wolfson the next starter and the lead, and a second consecutive full bonus set meant SOAS now had it all to play for. Mr Edwards very quickly took the next starter, the side took two bonuses to draw level... and that was the gong! A 175-each tie!

Well well well, we haven't had one of these for a while! Normal tie-breaker rules: first to buzz in with the right answer takes the points. Mr Chaudhri was first in with the right answer on the question, and put Wolfson over the finish line!

An absolutely fantastic match between two very good, evenly matched teams, that went right to the wire! Very unlucky SOAS, but, as Paxo said, 175 will surely get you into the play-offs, so very very best of luck then. Very very well done to Wolfson though, and very best of luck to yous in the next round!

Messrs Monkman and Edwards were joint best buzzers of the night, with six each for their respective teams. On the bonuses, Wolfson converted 20 out of 30 (with five penalties), while SOAS managed 19 out of 29 (with four penalties); that's how close it was! Nine penalties must be a collective record of some sort, but all eight players got at least one starter right, so that sort of makes up for it! What a match!

After the credits, though, some sad news: Mr Bostock has sadly passed away since recording the series. A look at the SOAS website reveals it was just earlier this month. Such sad news; my deepest condolences go to his family.

Next week's match: Queen's University Belfast vs Birmingham

Only Connect saw three more UC alumni show up for an equally good close match! More on that tomorrow night.

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Only Connect Series 12: Group B Round 1: Match 2: Wrestlers vs Clareites

OK, it's Only Connect time, with the second match of the second group. Playing last night were the Wrestlers, Steve Hoar, Tom Mead and captain Colin Daffern, and the Clareites, Elysia Warner, Olivier Grouille and captain Sarah Binney. If you missed my reminder last night, you'll recall the Clareites as 3/4 of the Clare College Cambridge team who competed in last year's UC, losing to Warwick in the first round.

Round 1. The Wrestlers went first, and kicked off the match with Eye of Horus: 'The Golden Man (2007)', then 'Adjustment Team (2011)', then 'We Can Remember It for You Wholesale (1990); this gave it to them that they are books by Philip K Dick that were adapted into films, for two points. The Clareites opened their series account with 'Horn-ed' Viper: 'Betsan Powys (Welsh-language version)', then 'Peter Snow (Radio 4 revivial), then 'Clive Anderson (Discovery Channel version)', and finally 'John Humphrys'. The last one gave it to them: they are the hosts of various versions of Mastermind, and I'm claiming my first ever FIVE pointer for that question! (Thanks UKGS!) The Wrestlers chose Twisted Flax next, and got the music question: we heard 'On The Wings Of Love' by Jeffrey Osborne, then Mendelssohn's 'O for the Wings of a Dove', then 'Flying Without Wings' by Westlife; that gave it to them that 'wings' was the connection, for two points. The Clareites chose Lion next: 'Paganini: Violinist', then 'Dice: Bones', then 'Cocaine: Dandruff', and finally 'Ambrose Bierce's magnum opus: Dictionary'; that gave it to them that the former have been called 'The Devil's' latter, for a point. The Wrestlers chose Two Reeds next, and got the picture round: we saw Ant and Dec, then the Beatles, then the Olympic rings, and finally the front of an ambulance. They didn't quite get close enough to it, but their opponents recognised that the photos had all been flipped (Dec was standing on the left in the Ant and Dec picture!), which earned them a bonus. Left with Water for their own question, the Clareites saw 'Single-fingered rock-climbing hold', then 'Spanish monkey'; this was enough for them to offer 'Mono' for three points! Well worked out that. At the end of the first round, the Clareites lead 6-4.

Round 2, What Comes Fourth? The Wrestlers went first, and began the round with Eye of Horus: alas, after seeing 'Nasal', Mr Daffern buzzed by mistake, and they were forced to answer. They naturally couldn't get it. The Clareites saw 'Frontal' and 'Parietal', but couldn't capitalise; 'Occipital' completes the set, the link being bones of the skull. Mercifully, the Wrestlers wouldn't have got it anyway. The Clareites chose Water next: 'Birmingham' with a red B, then 'East London' with a red E, and then 'Glasgow' with a red G; they spotted it to be alphabetical single letter postal districts, but couldn't get the right answer. Their opponents could: 'Liverpool' with a red L completes the set. For their own question, the Wrestlers chose Lion: 'Barack Obama: Inherent Resolve', then 'George W Bush: Iraqi Freedom'; they thought it might be things promised by presidents pre-election, and offered 'George Bush Sr: No New Taxes'. Not right. Their opponents saw 'Bill Clinton: Desert Fox', and offered 'George H Bush: Desert Storm' for a bonus, the link being code names for Iraq operations. For their own question, the Clareites chose Twisted Flax: 'The counter', then 'The sofa', and then 'The shower'; they thought it to be the lyrics to Craig David's 'When We Were In Love' (didn't we have that last series, or was that UC?), and thus got it wrong. The Wrestlers knew it to actually be Shaggy's 'It Wasn't Me', and offered 'On camera' for a bonus. For their own final choice, the Wrestlers chose Horned Viper, and got the picture set: we saw some sausages cooking, then some mustard (I had it at this point), and then some green jelly. They didn't get it, their opponents did: 'custard' completes the set, though they didn't know the reason. It is, of course, 'Food, Glorious Food' from Oliver!. (Despite my distaste for musical theatre, I knew this thanks to the song being used for QI buzzers a couple of weeks back!) Left with Two Reeds for their own final question, the Clareites saw 'Doux', then 'Moelleux', and then 'Demi-sec'; they offered 'Sec' for two points, the link being sweetness of French wines. At the end of the second round, the Clareites led 10-6.

On to the Walls. The Clareites went first, and chose the Water wall to tackle. They quickly spotted some connections, but had trouble isolating anything. They finally isolated 'Japanese Chin', 'Griffon Bruxellois', 'Maltese' and 'Pomeranian', which are breeds of toy dog. They spent a while trying various permutations, before they finally identified a second group of 'Greek', 'St Peter's', 'Lorraine' and 'Calvary', which are crosses. They couldn't isolate the final set, losing their lives, and had to collect bonus points: 'Big Short', 'Information', 'Drunkard's Walk' and 'God Particle' are works of non-fiction, which they didn't get, while 'Judge Rinder', 'Masterpiece', 'Tipping Point' and 'Loose Women' are ITV daytime shows, which they did get. So, five for that.

The Wrestlers thus had the Lion wall to deal with. They too spotted some quick links, but had no luck, until they slotted in 'Mat', 'Goggles', 'Garden' and 'Pong', which can all follow 'beer'. They had a few more gos before isolating 'Kahn', 'Cromwell', 'North' and 'Stone', which are famous Olivers. They tried to work out what was left, but they too ran out of lives, and had to pick up bonuses: 'Pedal', 'Key', 'Belly' and 'Agraffe' are parts of the piano, which they didn't get, while 'Hardy', 'Irons', 'Hammer' and 'Davis' are actors who have played twins. (And kudos to them for giving mention to Laurel and Hardy's classic 'Our Relations'!) So four there, which left them trailing 15-10 going into the final round.

So, still all to play for going into Missing Vowels. 'Adjectives involving parts of the face', such as 'BEADY-EYED', went to the Clareites 2-0. 'Things people say when shaking hands' was split 2-each. 'Noted people born in St Louis' was another 2-each split. 'Taxes' went to the Clareites 3-1, and that was time. The Clareites won 24-15.

Another good match well played. Unlucky Wrestlers, but 15 is a score perfectly in contention for the play-offs, so hopefully you'll get another go. Well done Clareites though, and very best of luck next time!

Next week's match: Part-Time Poets vs Oscar Men

Monday, 12 September 2016

University Challenge 2016-17: Round 1: Match 10: Edinburgh vs Durham

Evening all. Tonight's match was between two institution who have fielded a total of (looks up Sean Blanchflower's stats table) 32 teams in the 22 BBC series prior to this one, and also my parents happen to collectively be alumni of both as well, so no bias in their household tonight! (Though I suspect only my dad was watching!)

Edinburgh University was founded by James I/VI in 1582, making it Scotland's fourth uni, while England still had just two; alumni include Olympic legend Sir Chris Hoy, funnyman Michael McIntyre, my dad and numerous friends. After an unbroken run of 13 consecutive appearances, they've been absent for the past four years; their joint best BBC performance is when they reached the semis in 94-95 and 01-02. This year's foursome were:
Luke Dale, from York, studying Late Antique, Islamic and Byzantine Studies
Euan Smith, from Aberdeen, studying Classics
Captain: Joe Boyle, from Brighton, studying Ecology and Environmental Science
Emily Goddard, from Wilmslow in Cheshire, studying Chemistry

Durham University is England's long awaited third university, founded in 1832; alumni include newsreader George Alagiah, MOTD deputy presenter Gabby Logan, BBC stalwart Jeremy Vine and my mum. It was mysteriously absent from last series; they reached the semis two series ago, and won the contest in 77 and 99-00. This year's quartet were:
Thomas Brophy, from Hatfield, studying Maths
Owen Stenner-Matthews, from Cardiff, studying Defence, Development and Diplomacy
Captain: Cressida O'Connor, from Harrogate, studying Law
Nat Guillou, from Jersey, studying Arab World Studies

Off we set again then, and Miss O'Connor identified the Rubik's cube for the first starter, as did I, and two bonuses on the work of Nora Ephron followed suite. A penalty then followed, allowing Mr Dale to get Edinburgh off the mark, and the side firmly set their stall out by taking a full bonus set on astronomy. Miss O'Connor made up her mistake by taking the next starter for Durham, and the side took one bonus to take them back in front. The first picture starter, on maps of UK island communities, went to Durham (Mr Boyle's wrong starter answer was Aland, no Ireland, Twitter!), who took two from the set, which gave them a lead of 50-25.

Neither side identified the new recommended alcohol consumption limit for the next starter; Mr Stenner-Matthews took the next for Durham, but no bonuses on British theatres followed. Miss Goddard took Edinburgh's second starter of the night, and they took two bonuses on elements beginning with 'Th'. (Thanks to Tom Lehrer, I knew all three!) Mr Smith took a second in a row for Edinburgh, and one bonus put them on level pegging. Good match so far between two even teams.

The music round, on pop songs that pay tribute to actors, went to Durham, who took just the one bonus again, which nonetheless took them back into the lead, 75-60. The next starter was dropped, before Mr Smith moved Edinburgh back within five, and a full bonus set put them in front by a nose. A second starter in a row went Mr Smith's way; just one bonus this time, which they didn't let Paxo finish before answering! Miss O'Connor broke Durham back into proceedings; two bonuses put them within five, before Mr Guillou identified Poland for the next starter, putting them ahead again. One bonus followed, before Mr Smith put Edinburgh back in front with a starter and two bonuses, setting proceedings up for a tense finish.

The second picture round, on paintings personifying Death, went to Edinburgh, who took two again, which gave them a lead of 140-110 going into the home straight. Neither side identified krait snakes for the next starter, but a very prompt buzz from Mr Stenner-Matthews gave Durham back possession; alas, they couldn't get anything from the bonuses. Two starters in a row were dropped, before Miss O'Connor took a crucial starter for Durham; the two bonuses that followed put them on level pegging again!

So, into the final shoot-out! Miss Goddard shot first, taking Edinburgh back in front, and a very timely full bonus set gave them a twenty-five point cushion. Mr Guillou took ten off that cushion thanks to (what looked like) an educated guess on the next starter, and two bonuses put them within five! Mr Stenner-Matthews buzzed next, but no answer came; to add insult to injury, A, Mr Smith took the points, and B, as Paxo was just about still talking when he buzzed, they lost five for a borderline interruption. And when Edinburgh swept up the resultant bonuses, that was game over. At the gong, Edinburgh won 190-155.

A very fine match indeed, between two very closely matched teams, that could've gone either way til right at the end, and thankfully that borderline penalty at the end didn't make any difference. Unlucky Durham, but I would imagine 155 will be enough to bring you back the way this series has gone, so, hopefully, best of luck in the play-offs. Very well done Edinburgh though; a fine performance against a very good opposition, and very best of luck in the next round.

Mr Smith was the best buzzer of the night with six, while Miss O'Connor was best for Durham with four. On the bonuses, Edinburgh converted a very good 20 out of 27, while Durham managed just 13 out of 30 (with two penalties); so it was Edinburgh's better showing on the bonuses that won the night, but well played both teams. Great game!

Next week's match: Wolfson College Cambridge vs SOAS of London

Only Connect tonight saw 3/4 of last year's Clare Cambridge UC team show up tonight; more details on how they and their opponents got on tomorrow evening.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Only Connect Series 12: Group B Round 1: Match 1: Fire-Eaters vs Eurovisionaries

OK, we now move on to the second group of the OC first round draw. Same rules as the first half: six winners go through, four highest scoring runners-up get a second go in the play-offs. First half worked pretty well, though if either of the two one-time losing teams in this half of the draw score more than 13, they can feel hard done by IMO.

Anyway, the first two teams in this half of the draw were the Fire-Eaters, Andy Davis, Tony Moore and captain Jonathan Elliott, and the Eurovisionaries, Ciara Kennedy, Aaron Boardley and captain Paddy Duffy, a former UC researcher. (Thanks to Ted 'Caius' Loveday for pointing this out on Twitter)

Round 1. The Eurovisionaries went first, chose Eye of Horus, and instantly got the music set: we heard The Angel's Farewell from Elgar's Dream of Gerontious, then Sinatra's Angel Eyes, then Angel From the Realms of Glory (as sung by the King's College Cambridge choir), and finally 'Heaven Must be Missing an Angel' by Tavares. They spotted the link with the final clue, for a point. The Eaters chose Water for their first question: '4-2-8 Shiba-koen, Minato-ku, Tokyo', then '3655 Las Vegas Boulevard South', then 'The Promenade, Blackpool'; at this point, they offered 'locations of towers that look like the Eiffel Tower'. Close enough for two points, though the final clue would've been '5, Avenue Anatole France, Champs De Mars', which is the Eiffel Tower itself! The Eurovisionaries chose Twisted Flax next, and got the picture set: we saw Peter Tosh from the Wailers, then John Bull, then two cobblers, and finally two Dutch flags. They eventually figured it out: they are all synonyms for 'nonsense'. (Double Dutch being the final clue) The Eaters chose Lion next: 'He has 39 social-security numbers', then 'He is a practising Muslim', then 'He faked his birth certificate'; at this point, they offered 'things that have been said of President Obama', which earned them two points. The Eurovisionaries chose Horned Viper next: ''From the roots' (Greek)', then ''We can' (Spanish)', then ''We ourselves' (Gaelic)'; that gave it to them that they are translations of the names of political parties in their respective languages, for two points. Left with Two Reeds, the Eaters saw 'Black Hole (Star Trek 2009)', then 'Wormhole (Donnie Darko)', then 'Flying around the Earth (Superman)'; this was enough for them to offer 'means for achieving time travel', which was correct for two points. At the end of a good first round for both sides, the Eaters led 6-4.

Round 2, What Comes Fourth? The Eurovisionaries kicked the round off with Lion: '100: Johnny Briggs', then '200: Alec Bedsar', and then '300: Fred Trueman'. Neither team knew it. The link is English Test bowling milestones, so '400: James Anderson' would be fourth. The Eaters chose Twisted Flax next: '3: EAT', then '2: CAT', and then '1: CET'; they offered '0: GMT', which was an acceptable answer, the link being time zones and the numbers of hours ahead of us they are. The Eurovisionaries chose Eye of Horus next: 'May-Britt & Edvard Moser (Medicine)', then 'Carl & Gerty Cori (Medicine)', and then 'Frederic Joliot & Irene Joliot-Curie (Chemistry)'. Agonisingly, their answer of 'Marie & Pierre Curie (Chemistry)' was not right. Their opponents changed 'Chemistry' to 'Physics', and picked up a bonus. For their own question, the Eaters chose Water, and got a music question: we heard some disco-sounding music, then Faure's 'Pavane', and then 'America' from West Side Story; they recognised it to be the opening themes for the BBC's coverage of World Cups, but went the wrong way, and thus got it wrong. Their opponents made no mistake, offering 'Nessun Dorma' for a bonus, and triggering a very reluctant and clueless enforced sing-along! (The first piece, from the 2002 World Cup was called 'God is Beckham', apparently) For their own final question, the Eurovisionaries chose Horned Viper: 'The Informer', then 'The Grapes of Wrath', and then 'How Green Was My Valley'. Neither team got this: the sequence is Oscar winners directed by John Ford, so 'The Quiet Man' would complete the set. Left with Two Reeds again, the Eaters got the picture set, and saw Kaa the snake from the Jungle Book, then the horse from War Horse, and then the Three Billy Goats Gruff, with one circled. They spotted it to be the Chinese zodiac, but didn't get it right; their opponents knew the monkey came next, and offered an acceptable answer for a bonus. At the end of the second round, the Eaters led 9-6.

On to the Walls. The Eaters went first this time, and opted for the Lion wall. They saw some links, and, after some wrong answers, isolated 'Belly roll', 'Eastern cut-off', 'Scissors' and 'Western roll', which are high-jump methods. A second group, 'Flop', 'Kicker', 'Under the Gun' and 'Gutshot', which are Poker terms, followed. They looked over what was left, worked out the links, and solved it on their penultimate guess: 'Milkcap', 'Horn of Plenty', 'Giant Puffball' and 'Oyster' are types of mushroom, while 'Apple-pie', 'Camp', 'Bunk' and 'River' can all precede 'bed'. A well worked-out full ten there.

The Eurovisionaries thus had to match that to keep in touch, as they tackled the Water wall. They also spotted some early links, one of which was famous men called Dick, which they eventually isolated with 'Cheney', 'Advocaat', 'Francis' and 'Turpin'. They saw some of the remaining links, but couldn't solve any more in the allotted time, and thus had to pick up bonuses: 'Anniversary', 'Emperor', 'Skaters'' and 'Minute' are waltzes, which they got, 'Macaroni', 'Humboldt', 'Adelie' and 'Chinstrap' are types of penguin, which they also got, and 'French fork', 'Balbo', 'Goatee' and 'Van Dyke' are types of beard, which they also got too. Five there, which meant the Eaters led 19-11 going into the final round.

As we saw last week, still all up for grabs going into Missing Vowels. 'Adjectives involving food', such as 'HAM-FISTED', went to the Eurovisionaries 3-1. 'Similes involving 'black'', or 'As black as...' 'THE ACE OF SPADES', went to the Eaters 2-0. 'Cities of the Mississippi' went to the Eaters 4-0, and that was time. The Eaters won 26-14.

A good match well played by both team. Unlucky Eurovisionaries, but hopefully you'll get a deserved go at the play-offs. Well done Eaters though, and very best of luck in the next round.

Next week's match: Wrestlers vs Clareites

Monday, 5 September 2016

University Challenge 2016-17: Round 1: Match 9: Open vs Salford

Evening all. Two teams of mostly mature students joined us tonight, though not surprising in the case of one of them, which has a reputation for sending teams of a more advanced age; after last week, I've checked, and they don't seem to have played each other in any prior series. The winners go through to the second round, the runners-up would need to beat 130 to stand a chance of returning in the play-offs.

The Open University was founded by Harold Wilson in 1964, and began operating in 1971, with students studying at home in evenings; alumni include performers Sir Lenny Henry and Sheila Hancock and musician Mickey Dolenz. It won the show in 1984 and again in 1998-99; after that, it wasn't seen again until two years ago, where they went out to Magdalen in the second round. This year's foursome were:
Rob Mitchell, from Leicestershire, studying Maths
Dale Crawford, from Shropshire, studying Maths
Captain: Sarah Banks, from North Uist in the Western Isles, studying Maths
Mags Adamson, from Gloucester, studying Music

Salford University is a plate glass uni founded in 1967 after the Robbins report; alumni include ex-Doctor Christopher Eccleston, ex-Gandhi Sir Ben Kingsley and funnymen Jason Manford and Peter Kay. It hasn't been seen on UC since 2001-02, when it lost to Newcastle in the second round; bits of its team's first round match from two series earlier are on YT courtesy of the other team's captain. This year's quartet were:
Robert White, from Halifax, studying Civil Engineering
Mark Sanders, from London and Manchester, studying Information Systems Management
Captain: Bradley Wakefield, from Bradford, studying Aeronautical Engineering
Peter Smith, from Durham, studying Real Estate Management

Off we set again then, and Mr Sanders took the night's first starter for Salford; the side took just the one bonus on apples. Mr Mitchell, who Millionaire aficionados will know as one of two contestants to answer the £500,000 question wrong, opened Open's account (no pun intended) by taking the second starter, and they  too took just the one bonus from their first set. Mr Crawford put Open into the lead by identifying the play Kinky Boots for the next starter, and a full bonus set on physics proved bread-and-butter for the three mathematicians on their team, a full set following. The first picture round, on British model villages, went to Salford, who also swept the board, leveling the scores at 40-each.

Open returned to the lead thanks to Mr Mitchell, but just one bonus on lord chancellors added to their score. Salford responded with a starter and sole bonus of their own, leveling the scores again, before taking the lead back, and moving ahead with a full bonus set on the work of author Joan Didion. The apparent stalemate between the teams was broken when Mr Smith indentified the cyclist Dave Brailsford for the next starter; just one bonus followed this time, but a good match so far.

The music starter, on US jazz 'ambassadors' during the Cold War, went to Open, but they missed all the bonuses, not least by answering two with Glenn Miller, who was missing presumed dead by the time of the Cold War! The deficit now stood at 95-65, but Mr Crawford took another ten off of it when he took the next starter; the side did well to get one bonus from a tough set on legislation. Mr Crawford took a third starter in a row to pull Open with five, and a full bonus set on opera gave them the lead back again, and broke them into three figures. Ms Adamson now added to Open's score with a very prompt buzz; a bonus set on the Iranian city of Nishapur gave them ten further points to their lead, before Mr Mitchell added ten more to the starter, and then a further ten more came from the resultant bonuses.

The second picture starter was dropped by both sides; the bonuses, on paintings depicting Jacob wrestling with the angel, went to Open, who missed all the bonuses again, but they now led 155-95. Mr Mitchell just about provided an acceptable answer to the next starter, and a full bonus set meant Salford would have to rule the roost from now on to stand any chance. A chance came when Mr Crawford unluckily lost five on the next starter, and Mr Smith took the points; despite taking their time with the bonuses, no further points came.

And when Mr Crawford made up for his error by taking the next starter, that was game over. A somewhat topical bonus set on Asian G20 member states provided them with two correct answers, before Ms Banks took her first starter of the night to break them through two hundred. Just one bonus on 'fear' novels followed, but it was immaterial by now. Mr Sanders took the final starter for Salford, but there was no times for bonuses. At the gong, Open won 210-115.

A pretty decent match between two pretty decent teams who generously offered each other applause at the gong. Unlucky Salford, who simply slipped away in the second half, and may well have emerged on top against different opposition, but well done anyway on a fair effort and thanks for playing. Very well done Open though; a fine performance against decent opposition, and very best of luck in the second round!

Messrs Mitchell and Crawford were joint best buzzers of the night, with five starters each, while Messrs Sanders and Smith were joint best for Salford with three each. On the bonuses, Open converted an OK 19 out of 36 (with one penalty), while Salford managed a respectable 9 out of 18.

Next week's match: Edinburgh vs Durham, in the battle of my parents' alma maters!

Only Connect moved into the second half of the first round draw tonight; more on that tomorrow evening, of course.

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Only Connect Series 12: Group A Play-Off 2: Verbivores vs Channel Islanders

OK, we're up to speed now, lets do this week's Only Connect. Playing the second Group A play-off were the Verbivores, Phyl Styles, blog reader Tom Cappleman and captain Graeme Cole, who were narrowly outdone by the Psmiths in their first match, and the Channel Islanders, Sean and Caroline McManus and captain Tabitha Osbourne, who lost out to the Korfballers two weeks ago. Winners would take the final Group A place in the second round.

Round 1. The Islanders went first, and kicked off the match with Eye of Horus, and the picture set: we saw Nikita Kruschev, then Daniel Radcliffe, then a crocodile on a rock, and finally a burning candle. They saw it in the nick of time: they are visual clues to Elton John songs. The Verbivores opened their account with Horned Viper: now, they saw 'That Great Charmer (1979)', recognised it to be an anagram of Margaret Thatcher, and instantly offered anagrams of prime ministers for FIVE POINTS! Very well done there! (Also, the old joke about 'Tony Blair MP' being an anagram of 'I'm Tory Plan B'!) The Islanders chose Water next: 'Chance Medley', then 'Non Compos Mentis', then 'Of Theft Under 1 Shilling', and finally 'Of a Lesser Offence'. They didn't quite get it, nor did their opponents: they are jury verdicts. (The Islanders offered 'not guilty verdicts', of which only the second clue applies) The Verbivores chose Twisted Flax next: 'Minotaur', then 'Frobscottle', then 'Moloko Plus', and finally 'Duff'. They guessed fictional beers; not right. Their opponents simply offered fictional drinks, which earned them a bonus. For their own question, the Islanders chose Two Reeds, and got the music set: we heard Bobby Darin's 'If I Were a Carpenter', then Beyonce's 'If I Were a Boy', then 'If I Were a Bell' from Guys and Dolls; they didn't notice the link, but their answer at this point of 'songs where the singer wishes they were something else' was accepted for two points. Left with Lion, the Verbivores saw 'Controlled Radio 4 (1996-2000)', then 'Discovered P x 1/V (1662)', then 'Sang Fantine's solo (2009)', and finally 'Directed Isles of Wonder (2012)'; they made an educated guess that they were all people called Boyle, and were correct for a point. (James, Robert, Susan and Danny) At the end of the first round, the Verbivores led 6-4.

Round 2, What Comes Fourth? The Islanders began the round with Water: 'Valentine's', then 'Canal', and then 'Foinavon'; they offered 'Becher's Brook', which was correct for two points, the link being Grand National fences going backwards. The Verbivores chose Two Reeds next: 'Hamlet', then 'King', and then 'Father'. Neither team got this: they are what Hamlet addresses the ghost of his father as, so 'Royal Dane' completes the set. The Islanders chose Twisted Flax next, and got the picture set: we saw actor Don Johnson, then actress Celia Johnson, and then disgraced sprinter Ben Johnson; they spotted the link, and offered 'Amy Johnson', which was accepted for two points. The Verbivores chose Horned Viper next: they saw 'Omnishambles', recognised it to be Oxford Dictionary Words of the Year, knew it to be an emoji, but their answer of a smiley face emoji was not accepted. The Islanders saw 'Selfie' and 'Vape', but couldn't improve on their opponents answer. The crying laughing emoji is the correct emoji to complete the set. Unlucky that. For their final choice, the Islanders chose Lion: '4teen', then '6teen', and then '7teen'. They offered '8een'; not right. Their opponents tried '9teen'; correct! It is the 'teen' numbers where you simply add a number to 'teen' and don't remove any letters. Left with Eye of Horus for their own final question, the Verbivores saw 'Zero', then 'Diet', and then 'Life'; they knew it to be types of coke, but didn't get the right answer. Their opponents did: 'Original' coke completes the set, the link being the increasing number of calories. At the end of the second round, the Islanders led 9-7.

On to the Walls. The Verbivores went first, and chose the Water wall. They spotted some links, unsuccessfully tried some groups, then eventually isolated 'Spud', 'BB', 'Machine' and 'Flare', which are types of gun. After spending some time looking over the remaining clues and trying groups, they finally isolated 'Tartare', 'Carpetbag', 'Salisbury' and 'Chateaubriand', which are steak dishes. With little time left, they tried quickly to resolve it, but couldn't within three, and had to settle for bonuses: 'Diane', 'Sick Boy', 'Renton' and 'Begbie' are characters in Trainspotting, which they didn't get, while 'Angel of the North', 'Quantum Cloud', 'Another Place' and 'Field' are works by Antony Gormley, which they did. Five points there then.

The Islanders thus tackled the Lion wall. They also saw some links early on, and quickly isolated 'Herald', 'Recorder', 'Chronicle' and 'Echo', which are local newspapers. They then isolated 'Serpent', 'Cornet', 'Clarion' and 'Sackbut', which are brass instruments. They studied the remaining clues, and resolved them perfectly: 'O2', 'Genting', 'Odyssey' and 'Hydro' are UK arenas, while 'Bugle', 'Par', 'Redruth' and 'Mousehole' are towns in Cornwall. A full ten there, which gave them a lead of 19-12 going into the final round.

So, still a game up for grabs going into Missing Vowels. Indeed, 'Things found on a CV' was a clean 4-0 sweep to the Verbivores. 'Things that could help you fall asleep' went to the Verbivores 3-1. 'Cartoon dogs and their owners', such as 'SANTA'S LITTLE HELPER AND THE SIMPSONS', also went to the Verbivores 3-1. 'Things that proceed 'monger'', such as 'CHEESE' and 'IRON', was split 1-each, and that was time. The Verbivores snuck home 23-22!

A great close match between two excellent teams. Unlucky Islanders, who were just pipped in the final round, but a great effort and thanks for playing. Very well done Verbivores though, and very best of luck to yous in Round 2!

Next week's match: Fire-Eaters vs Eurovisionaries