Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Only Connect Series 12: Preliminary Quarter-Final 1: Fire-Eaters vs Korfballers

OK, right, finally I can do this; so sorry to keep yous waiting. It's no secret, if you follow me, that I'm not best pleased with Only Connect's move to Friday night, not least because it now clashes with Room 101, another show I like to watch, and with my eveningly shower! I will persist for now, but I can only hope the show returns to its rightful place on David Murray's magnificent mantelpi... sorry, wrong show... on Monday nights after UC before long.

Anyway, Friday night, and the start of the group stage. Playing the first preliminary match were the Fire-Eaters, Andy Davis, Tony Moore and captain Jonathan Elliott, who defeated the Eurovisionaries and the Clareites to get this far, and the Korfballers, Taissa Csaky, Niall Sheekey and captain Michael Jelley, who have overcome the Channel Islanders and the Shutterbugs in the knockout rounds.

Round 1. The Eaters went first, and kicked off the round with Two Reeds, and the music set: we heard 'Should I Stay or Should I Go', then 'The Joker' by the Steve Miller Band, as made famous by HJ Simpson, then Marvin Gaye's 'I Heard It Through the Grapevine', and finally 'Spaceman' by Babylon Zoo. They didn't get it, their opponents did: they have all been used in ads for Levi jeans. For their own first question, the Korfballers chose Lion: 'The Ilchester Estate of Abbotsbury: the Ilchester Estate of Abbotsbury', then 'The Wonderful Company of Vintners: the Thames', then 'The Worshipful Company of Dyers: the Thames', and finally 'The Queen: open waters'. The last one gave it to them: they are the people who own the swans in those areas. The Eaters chose Twisted Flax next: 'Graffiti', then 'B-boying', then 'Deejaying', and finally 'Emceeing'. Again, they didn't see it, but their opponents did: they are the four elements of hip-hop. For their own question, the Korfballers chose Horned Viper, and got the picture set: we saw ice hockey player Rob Zepp, with '+O' in the corner, then the band Chic, also with a '+O', then Oscar the Grouch, likewise, and that gave it to them, adding the O to each gives one of the Marx Brothers! (Zeppo, Chico, Groucho, and the last one would've been a harp for Harpo!) Excellent stuff! The Eaters chose Water next: 'Occipital nerve', then 'Apostle James', then 'Antilles'; they thought it at the second, but the third confirmed, they all have 'lesser' and 'greater' variants. Left with Eye of Horus, the Korfballers saw 'Tom Dacre (Songs of Innocence)', then 'Mr. Gamfield (Oliver Twist)', then 'Tom (The Water Babies)', and finally 'Bert (Mary Poppins)'. Final one gave it to them: they are chimney sweeps. The Korfballers led 6-2.

Round 2, What Comes Fourth? The Eaters kicked off with Eye of Horus, and the picture set: we saw the Muppets Christmas Carol, then Carol Channing, and then Channing Tatum. They didn't know who the middle two were, so didn't get it; their opponents did, offering Tatum O'Neal for a bonus. For their own question, the Korfballers chose Two Reeds: 'Franklin D. Roosevelt', then 'Harry S. Wallace', and then 'Dwight D. Doud'. Both saw it to be US presidents with initials with their wife's maiden name, but neither got the right surname for JFK, the Korfballers making the mistake of offering 'John F. Onassis'. As any Simpsons aficionado will tell you, 'John F. Bouvier' is the right answer. The Eaters chose Twisted Flax next: 'Paseillo (or 'parade')', then 'Tercio de varas (or 'the part of the lances')'; they saw it to be stages in bullfighting, and, though they didn't know the Spanish, offered 'the part of the sword', which was accepted for three points. 'Tercio de muerte' is the Spanish, with 'Tercio de banderillas (or 'the part of the barbed sticks')' third. The Korfballers chose Lion next: '6 + 15 + 21 + 18 = 4', then '20 + 8 + 18 + 5 + 5 = 3'. They saw this excellent sequence to be the letters of the alphabet that spell the numbers in reverse, so '15 + 14 + 5 = 1' completes the set, with '20 + 23 + 15 = 2' third. For their final choice, the Eaters chose Water: '1994: Torvill & Dean - Olympic Ice Dance Championship', then '1995: 'Panorama' Special - Princess Diana'; they identified it as the highest rated TV programmes of those years, and correctly offered '1997: Diana's funeral' for three points, with '1996: 'Only Fools and Horses' Christmas special pt 3' third. Left with Horned Viper, the Korfballers got a music sequence, and heard Rihanna's 'Umbrella', then 'Rose Marie' by Slim Whitman, and then 'Love Is All Around' by Wet Wet Wet; they identified the sequence to be the songs that spent the longest at number one, and offered '(Everything I Do) I Do It For You' by Bryan Adams to be first for two points. (Cue a pretty good enforced singalong!) At the end of the second round, the Korfballers led 12-8.

On to the Walls. The Korfballers went first, and chose to tackle the Lion wall. They very quickly isolated 'Nicholson', 'Sherwood', 'Hoddle' and 'Pleat', which are surnames of Spurs managers. A second set of 'Kielder', 'Ashdown', 'Hainault' and 'New', which are English forests, swiftly followed. They spotted the final links and solved the wall on their second go: 'Brace', 'Gross', 'Score' and 'Nelson' are slang words for numbers, while 'Crown', 'Amalgam', 'Calculus' and 'Root' are terms in dentistry. Well solved, full ten.

The Eaters set to work on the Water wall. They too took their first two sets pretty quickly: 'Heartbeat', 'Threads', 'Downton Abbey' and 'Happy Valley' are dramas set in Yorkshire, which alas they didn't get close enough to for the point, while 'Oscillating', 'Reciprocating', 'Linear' and 'Rotary' are types of mechanical motion. They looked over the remaining clues, but appeared to forget they only had three gos, and thus used up two rather quickly. They had no more luck on their final go, and thus had to collect bonuses: 'Hercules'', 'Monday', 'Golf' and 'In the pudding' can all precede 'club', which they got, while 'Selenium', 'Lunatic', 'Jericho' and 'Month' are all named after the moon, which they also knew. So five points there, which left them trailing 22-13 going into the final round.

So, the Eaters would have to break the Verbivores' record by three if they were to triumph, as we went into Missing Vowels. 'Things connected to Jamaica' went to the Korfballers 3-(-2), so that was game over. 'Musicals merged with sci-fi films', such as 'JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR WARS' was a 2-each split. 'Moveable feasts' went to the Eaters 2-0, with time running out before they could answer the third. The Korfballers won 27-15.

A good start to the group stage. Unlucky Eaters, but you're not out of the running yet, so very best of luck in your elimination match. Well done Korfballers though, and very best of luck in your qualification match!

Next week's match: Surrealists vs Verbivores

Advanced warning: next week's UC is on at the earlier time of 7:30 due to Winterwatch intervening, while OC is on at 7pm next Friday (27th) due to Eurovision: You Decide. Which means its out of the way before the evening cup match on BBC1, but now clashes with the Simpsons on 4+1, which I usually watch it on! Grr!

Monday, 16 January 2017

University Challenge 2016-17: Preliminary Quarter-Final 1: Wolfson vs Balliol

Evening all. Here we are at the round which even Paxo is making no attempt to hide his dissatisfaction with: the QF group stage. For the next ten weeks (any unforeseen stoppages notwithstanding), eight teams fight it out over a 'thrilling' series of contests to decide who gets to play the semi-finals. So get used to the faces, we're gonna see a lot of them from now on. Fortunately, we have eight fine teams who will hopefully give their all and make it all worthwhile. Anyway, let's get on with it...

Wolfson College Cambridge defeated SOAS on a 175-each tie-break in a thrilling first round match, before defeating Jesus College 255-140 in a second round Cambridge derby. Most of Twitter's favourites for tonight, they were the same four as before:
Justin Yang, from Vancouver, studying Public Health and Primary Care
Ben Chaudhri, from Cockermouth in Cumbria, studying Natural Sciences
Captain: Eric Monkman, from Oakville, Canada, studying Economics
Paul Cosgrove, from Cookstown in Northern Ireland, studying Nuclear Energy

Balliol College Oxford won both their matches thus far quite comfortably, beating Imperial of London 220-55 in the first round, and Robinson of Cambridge 210-90 in the second. Also beloved of many a Twitterer, they too were unchanged from before:
Freddie Potts, from Newcastle, studying History
Jacob Lloyd, from London, studying English
Captain: Joey Goldman, from London, studying Philosophy and Theology
Ben Pope, from Sydney, studying Astrophysics

Off we set again then, and the group stage kicked off in not exactly the best way, with a penalty; Mr Monkman collected the drop, and his side took ten points on boys' names from the bonuses. The Wolfson captain was doubly unluckily on the next starter, giving the wrong decade by one, and losing five for cutting in on the borderline. Balliol's turn to pick up this time, but they took just one bonus. A third penalty (I believe the first time the first three starters have all seen penalties) fell Balliol back, let Wolfson back in and gave them a full sweep on the bonuses. Mr Yang then offered us 'quandary', and two bonuses gave his side a 55 point lead. The first picture round, on European inland port cities, went to Balliol, who took two, which reduced their deficit to 60-25.

Another ten fell off that lead when Mr Goldman took the next starter, and a further ten fell off thanks to the bonuses. A very prompt buzz from Mr Chaudhri put his side back on the line, but no bonuses followed, amongst them an unlucky misoffering of 'Clyde' for 'Strathclyde'. (A lady on Pointless recently, asked for a Scottish city: "it's either Glasgow or Strathclyde") The next starter saw Mr Potts win the race to say 'tit'! His side took two bonuses on French artists. They were now just five behind, but another penalty upped it to ten; a pick-up by Mr Monkman doubled it, but that was as far as it got, as, again, they dropped all the bonuses.

The music round, on classical pieces inspired by the works of Goethe, went to Wolfson, who, for the third set in a row, got nothing, which left their lead at 90-60. Another Balliol penalty, another Wolfson pick-up, and the side managed one bonus on Shakespearean quotations. Mr Monkman buzzed far too early on the next starter, losing five; Balliol picked up this time, and took a full house of bonuses. A second starter to Balliol, a second full bonus set, and they now led by five. But yet another penalty cost them it, and put Wolfson back in front again via a pick-up. Bonuses on 19th century football got them nowhere; I got Preston North End as the first ever champions of England, but nothing more.

The second picture round, on paintings using the Ruckenfigur device, went to Balliol, who swept the board, which put them back ahead, 125-110. Anyone's game going into the home straight. Two starters in a row were dropped, with Balliol losing five, before a question on the Seven Dwarves gave us one for the highlights reel, with Mr Monkman's (correct) answer of 'Sneezy'! Inorganic chemistry put them back in front by five.

Another started was dropped, before Mr Monkman won the buzzer race to identify Pauli as the physicist required; two bonuses on regions of China gave them a crucial 25 point lead going into the final minutes. And when Mr Monkman took the next starter, that was game over. Balliol went down fighting though, Mr Goldman promptly taking the final starter, and there was time for one correct bonus. At the gong, Wolfson won 165-135.

An excellent start to the group stage, with both sides playing their part in an enthralling contest. Unlucky Balliol, but you're certainly not out of it yet, so best of luck in your eliminator match. Very well done Wolfson though, and very best of luck in your qualifying match!

Mr Monkman was by far and away the best buzzer of the night, with eight, taking his series total to 21, while Mr Goldman was Balliol's best with five, increasing his to 15. On the bonuses, Wolfson converted a worrying 13 out of 33 (with two penalties), while Balliol managed a better 17 out of 23 (with a very worrying SIX penalties), thus implying this was a match won on the buzzer, in more ways than one.

Next week's match: Bristol vs Corpus Christi, I would imagine, but we'll see.

Hopefully I'll get Only Connect blogged tomorrow as well, but if not, it will be ASAP. And, just a word of warning, next Friday (27th)'s OC is on at 7pm rather than 8:30.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

University Challenge 2016-17: Second Round Review and Look Forward to the Quarter-Finals

OK, right, we've made it through the two knockout rounds, if you can call the first round a knockout round, and we've made it to the ever popular QF stage, or the group stage as would be a better name for it now. And contesting it this year, we have:
  • Edinburgh (375, 187.5)
  • Birmingham (360, 180)
  • Warwick (430, 215)
  • Emmanuel College Cambridge (370, 185)
  • Wolfson College Cambridge (400, 200)
  • Balliol College Oxford (430, 215)
  • Bristol (475, 237.5)
  • Corpus Christi College Oxford (375, 187.5)
Those are, of course, the teams' aggregate and average scores over their first two matches (note that Edinburgh's and Wolfson's excludes the ten from their respective tie-breakers). Of course, these are just raw figures, so lets take their performances into account as well. In order of aggregate score:
  • Bristol: Defeated Sheffield 210-130 in first match of series, then trounced Oriel of Oxford 265-70, largest victory of the series so far. All four players contribute on the buzzer, and their bonus rate slightly less than two thirds on both occasions. Will start as favourites, but can they repeat their performances against stronger opposition than their first two.
  • Balliol: Comfortable winners over Imperial of London, 220-55, and Robinson of Cambridge, 210-90. Again, all players pull their weight, while their bonus rates have varied from 2/3 to just over half. Only slight worry is their slow start in first match, but they too will start as lukewarm favourites to progress.
  • Warwick: Two comfortable victories over Liverpool, 235-95, and East London, 195-55, have taken them this far. Two very different victories though; their first was mainly on the buzzer, with only about half their bonuses, while their second saw fewer starters but better bonus work. Whether they can perform as well against stronger opponents, we shall see, but they too will be lukewarmly fancied to make it through.
  • Wolfson: Defeated SOAS in a thrilling 175-each tie-breaker, before easing past Jesus of Cambridge 225-140. Bonus rates decently around the 2/3 mark both times, while captain Mr Monkman has been doing most of their buzzer work, though his colleagues have done their bit too. Whatever happens, most will root for them, but their progression will largely depend on individual matches rather than consistancy.
  • Corpus Christi: Narrow winners over Jesus of Cambridge 200-175, and Peterhouse of Cambridge 175-150 yesterday. Decent on the bonuses both times, and all four add their all on the buzzer. Most likely of the bottom four to make it through IMO, but we can only judge on what we see them do.
  • Edinburgh: Narrowly won a good match against Durham 190-155, before scraping a thriller against Open on a 185-each tie-breaker. Decent teamwork on the buzzers, but their bonus rates have largely got them so far, excellent in first round, and not bad in second. Certainly not out of the race, but may not want to cut it so fine against this lot.
  • Emmanuel: Came from behind on both occasions to beat Nottingham, 175-135, and SOAS, 195-130. Pretty good on the buzzer, opposite sides of half way with their bonuses all the time. Progression certainly not out of the question, but will probably depend largely on matches between the other sides outside the top three.
  • Birmingham: Defeated Queen's of Belfast 165-105, and St Andrews, 195-115. Largely on the back of excellent buzzer performances by captain Mr Greenlees, with their bonus rates around half-way on both occasions. Will start as slight outsiders, but with their trump card Mr Greenlees, definitely capable of pulling something out the hat.
So, we start with three slight favourites, one lukewarm favourites, and four outsiders who certainly mustn't been ruled out. Push me, and I'd tip the top four to go through, but I'm ruling nothing out from the other four teams. This has been a great series so far, and I really hope that momentum and unpredictability carries on into the group stage.

It will all largely depend on the draw. It's been all but confirmed that Wolfson vs Balliol, as most of us expected, will be seen on Monday, which points to Bristol vs Corpus Christi the week after, and then a random draw amongst the other four. It really will all come down to who plays who when this time; that has largely been the story of the series so far, and it seems likely to continue.

On the diversity front, I am pleased to report the majority of the teams in the group stage have at least one female panelist: we have two with two (Warwick and Bristol), three with one (Edinburgh, Emmanuel and Corpus Christi), and three all-male line-ups (Birmingham, Wolfson and Balliol). So, we're guaranteed at least one female-containing team into the semis, which is good.

And in terms of representation, we a line-up 25% Oxford, 25% Cambridge, 25% Midlands, 12.5% Scotland and 12.5% South of England! In layman's terms, it's half Oxbridge, half other. That might sound promising for those anti-Oxbridge folk amongst yous, but bear in mind we had the same split last year, and still ended up with an all-Oxbridge final. But one can never quite tell with UC what you're gonna get.

What I hope we're gonna get is a group stage that maintains the high drama and high standard of play we've seen over the first two rounds. The group stage and final three have developed a bad tendency to fizzle out in the past two years, so lets hope that that's not the case this year. I've really enjoyed the series so far, as have most of the people I've observed on here and other sites, so fingers crossed for great things to come! Good (retrospective) luck all involved; it should be a cracker!

Back next week with UC as usual on Monday and OC back on Tuesday, which will be the norm from now on unless I say otherwise, plus possibly some more thoughts on online commentary following my short thoughts last night.

Monday, 9 January 2017

University Challenge 2016-17: Round 2: Match 8: Peterhouse vs Corpus Christi

Evening all. Before we get on to tonight's show, a word about last week's: as you're not doubt aware should you read WW and the UC Review blog, one particular member of last week's winning team was on the end of some rather vulgar commentary on Twitter. I won't dare repeat any of it here, but suffice to say, comments like them are the reason why many young and intelligent individuals, especially women, are put off trying for the show. I've said this before, and I may well go into more detail again at some point in the near future. Anyway, on with tonight: Cambridge vs Oxford for the final place in the group stage.

Peterhouse Cambridge led Queens' of Cambridge throughout their first match, though a worrying late slump saw their lead whittled down to just ten points at the gong, 160-150. Hoping to repeat that or better it tonight were the unchanged foursome of:
Ephraim Jacob Jacobus Levinson, from North London, studying English
Oliver Sweetenham, from Hinksey in Oxfordshire, studying English Literature
Captain: Natasha Voake, from New York, studying Linguistics
Xiao Lin, from Newcastle and Belfast, studying Chemical Engineering

Corpus Christi College Oxford also narrowly defeated a Cambridge college in their first match, winning a good match against Jesus College 200-175. Also no doubt hoping for more of the same or better were the also unchanged quartet of:
Tom Fleet, from Pendoggett in Cornwall, studying English
Emma Johnson, from North London, studying Medicine
Captain: Nikhil Venkatesh, from Derby, studying PPE
Adam Wright, from Winnersh in Berkshire, studying Physics

Off we set again then, and Mr Venkatesh, who Dave Clark suspects may be a Junior Mastermind alumnus, opened the scoring for the night, and his side set their ambitions straight as they took all three bonuses. Indeed, the Oxonians took the second and third starters too, and missed just one bonus from the six; one bonus from a set on WW2 propaganda Mr Venkatesh knew thanks to Dad's Army! (Good man!) Peterhouse then opened their account thanks to Mr Lin, and showed they were more than up for it too with two bonuses on the French Revolution. The first picture round, on word clouds of Shakespeare title characters, went to Peterhouse, who took two again, unluckily offering Juliet instead of Romeo for the other, which cut the gap to 70-40.

Miss Johnson stopped the Cambridge revival in its tracks by taking the next starter, and a third full bonus set, on scientific units, reestablished a clear authority. But Peterhouse weren't to be outdone, and a full bonus set of their own put them right back in the hunt. And when Miss Voake took the next starter, and her side took two bonuses, they were just ten behind. A Corpus Christi slip-up reduced it to just five, but Peterhouse had to pass up their chance to take the lead. Another dropped starter later, Mr Venkatesh made amends for his error; just one bonus followed, had now quadrupled.

The music starter was dropped; the bonuses, on classical pieces inspired by rail travel, went to Corpus Christi, who only took one bonus, but it was enough to up the gap to 120-85. It decreased when Mr Sweetenham took the next starter; one bonus was enough to put his side into three figures. A second starter in a row went to Mr Sweetenham, and two bonuses put them on level pegging, 120 points a piece. A slip-up then gave Corpus Christi a five point lead, which became a thirty point one when Mr Wright took the starter and all three bonuses on German prepositions followed.

The second picture round, on works by artists who taught at the Working Men's club, went to Corpus Christi, who took just one bonus, which put their lead at 160-115. A third starter in a row went to the Oxford side, but no bonuses were converted for the first time of the night. Mr Levinson kept his side in the game with a good quick buzz on the next starter, and two bonuses on marine zoology accompanied.

An unlucky slip-up reduced Corpus Christi's score by five, but Peterhouse couldn't pick up. Mr Sweetenham did take a very quick buzz on the next starter though, and just one bonus on Burns Night supper (typical English not knowing much about that!) reduced their deficit to just fifteen. With the match right in the balance, the next correct starter would be crucial. Well, the next starter was dropped. And the next. Miss Johnson broke the rot by taking the next, and that was game over. No time for any more answers; at the gong, Corpus Christi won 175-150.

A good close match between two good evenly matched teams. Unlucky Peterhouse, but no shame in that performance at all, and thanks very much indeed for playing this series. Well done Corpus Christi though; another good win over strong opponents, and good luck in the group phase!

Mr Sweetenham was the best buzzer of the night, taking five starters for Peterhouse, while Miss Johnson and Mr Venkatesh were joint best for Corpus Christi with three each. On the bonuses, Peterhouse converted a decent 15 out of 24 (with one penalty), while Corpus Christi managed an also good 17 out of 27 (with two penalties), and, for the first time this year, all eight players answered at least one starter correctly.

Next week: the group stage kicks off! Smart money is on Wolfson vs Balliol to be the first match, followed by Bristol vs Corpus Christi the week after, but lets play it by ear and see who shows up.

As for Only Connect, I have decided, after last night, to move my reviews back to Tuesday night, so Friday's match will be reviewing next Tuesday.

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Only Connect Series 12: Round 2: Match 8: Genealogists vs Oscar Men

So, Only Connect on Friday night; gonna take some getting used to, as is doing my reviews on Sunday night. It does at least give me something to do, as I usually struggle for things to do, and watch; normally it's whatever's on Dave in the background while I update my football spreadsheets, only its cup weekend, and there's none of that to do tonight, so here we are.

Anyway, playing on Friday evening were the Genealogists, Derek Caudwell, Andy Crane and captain Traci Whitehead, who lost to the Surrealists (already through), but survived a late slump to beat the Wrestlers, and the Oscar Men, Howard Freedman, Adrian Knott and captain Michael Slowey, who narrowly lost to the Part Time Poets (defeated by the Surrealists), but also survived a fightback to triumph over the Maltsters.

Round 1. The Genealogists went first, and kicked off the match with Eye of Horus, and the music round: we heard Thank You (Falettinme By Mice Elf Agin) by Sly and the Family Stone, then Pop Muzik by M, then Hot in Herre by Nelly, and finally Slade's Mama Weer All Crazee Now. They suspected it to be songs with deliberate misspellings in their titles at the first clue, but took the rest before knowing for sure and claiming a point. The Men opened their account with Horned Viper: 'A WHEEL WITHIN A WHEEL', then 'METHYLHEX-ANAMINE', then NINETEEN FIFTY-FIVE', and finally 'TANZANIA'. They were timed out before they could come up with anything, and their opponents had nothing to offer. This was hard: they are all composed entirely of straight lined letters. The Genealogists chose Two Reeds next: 'Three arrowheads', then 'Red hexagon containing two white triangles', then 'Blue spread eagles'; they offered 'bank logos', which was correct for two points. The Men chose Twisted Flax next: 'Lawrence (Hamlet)', then 'Richardson (The Tempest)', then 'Banderas (The Merchant of Venice)', and finally 'Winslet (The Taming of the Shrew)'. They got it just in time: they are the surnames of actors who share their forenames with characters in those plays. The Genealogists chose Lion next: 'Eurovision: Jorgen Olsen', then 'Booker Prize: William Golding', then 'Grand Slam: Ken Rosewall', and finally 'US Masters: Jack Nicklaus'. They didn't know it, their opponents did: they are the oldest winners of those categories. Left with Water for their own question, the Oscar Men got the picture set, and saw a Roman soldier, then the actor Frank Thornton, then Lady Godiva, and finally Elizabeth Fry on a bank note. They spotted them to all share their names with chocolate brands, and collected a point (the soldier being Leonidas). At the end of the first round, the teams were level at 3-each.

Round 2, What Comes Fourth? The Genealogists opened with Two Reeds: 't', then 'Sn', and then 'X'. Neither team had this: we have a ton, then tin, then ten, so something representing 'tan' would suffice. The Men chose Eye of Horus next: '4: Torre de Cristal, Madrid', then '3: Messe Turm, Frankfurt', and then '2: Commerzbank Tower, Frankfurt'. They didn't get it, their opponents did: its the tallest habitable buildings in the (current) EU, so '1: The Shard, London' satisfies. For their own question, the Genealogists chose Lion: 'Possess', then 'Unit of Chinese length', and then 'Nasty trick'. Neither side saw this excellent sequence: we have 'Own', 'Li' and 'Con', so some homophone for 'nect' would suffice to give us 'On, ly, Con, nect'! The Men chose Water next: 'Emmanuel Adebayor' (on the right), then 'Michael Essien' (centrally on the right), and then 'Yaya Toure' (centrally on the left). Again, neither side got this: 'George Weah' (on the left) would suffice, the link being African footballers and their countries of origin going west. For their final choice, the Genealogists chose Twisted Flax, and got the picture set: we saw Sir Andrew Motion, on the set of OC, then Ted Hughes, and then John Betjeman. It was obviously poets laureate, but they didn't identify Ted Hughes as the second and thus offered him. Their opponents made no mistake, and offered Cecil Day Lewis for a bonus. Left with Horned Viper for their own final question, the Men saw 'Assemble', then 'Age'; they knew it to be Marvel Avengers films, but their answer of 'Civil' was not right. The Genealogists saw 'Infinity', but were none the wiser. It's 'Infinity' again; the trick is that that the last two haven't been released yet, and are slated as 'Avengers Infinity War Part 1' and 'Part 2'. At the end of a tough second round, the teams were still tied, at 4-each.

On to the Walls. The Men went first this time, and chose to tackle the Water wall. They quickly spotted a sequence of famous Monicas, and after a few wrong tries, isolated 'Lewinsky', 'Galetti', 'Ali' and 'Seles'. They spotted some more sequences, but had no further luck isolating anything else. They were thus left to collect bonus connection points: 'Beelzebub', 'Mephisto', 'Azed' and 'EV' are crossword compilers, which they knew, 'Fiend', 'Dickens', 'Scratch' and 'Imp' are synonyms of the devil, which they also knew, while 'Gimme', 'Massau', 'Fore' and 'Rough' are golf terms, which they knew as well. So five points there.

The Genealogists were thus left with the Lion wall to deal with. They had even less luck, spotting connections, but failing to isolate anything, and were timed out completely defeated. They thus had to collect bonus points too: 'Grisham', 'Slaughter', 'Rendell' and 'Child' are thriller authors, which they got, 'Kept', 'Demon', 'Cornwell' and 'Corset' are English counties with one letter changed, which they unsurprisingly missed, 'Farthingale', 'Teddy', 'Basque' and 'Slip' are undergarments, which they did get, while 'Keep', 'Bailey', 'Chemise' and 'Glascis' are parts of a castle, which they also got. Three for that, which left them trailing 9-7 going into the final round.

So Missing Vowels would decide who took the final place in the group phase. 'Wealthy individuals' was split 2-each. 'From Newcastle-upon-Tyne', such as 'ALAN SHEARER' and 'STEPHENSON'S ROCKET', went to the Men 3-1. 'UNESCO World Heritage Sites' went to the Men 3-0. 'Assistants' only managed one clue, which the Genealogists got. At the end of the show, the Men won 17-11.

A very tough show, which both teams did well to get those scores out of considering. Unlucky Genealogists, but nothing to be ashamed of at all, and thanks for playing. Well done to the Oscar Men though, and best of luck in the group phase!

Next week: the group phase kicks off with the Fire-Eaters vs the Korfballers; will review either next Sunday or back on the Tuesday. Be back tomorrow with UC; see yous then.

Monday, 2 January 2017

University Challenge 2016-17: Round 2: Match 7: Bristol vs Oriel

Evening all. And Happy New Year! Back to regular service we go, as resume where we left off, with two second round matches to go before the ever popular group phase. Not the fixture we thought we'd have tonight, but we do, nonetheless, welcome back two teams who have waited more than long enough for their second fixture, having won their first back in heart of summer.

Bristol won the first match of the series back in July (when David C. was still prime minister!), defeating Sheffield 210-130, and looking decent on both the buzzer and the bonuses in the process. They were unchanged from that long ago occasion:
Joe Rolleston, from Tamworth, studying History
Claire Jackson, from Carshalton in London, studying Paleontology and Evolution
Captain: Alice Clarke, from Oxford, studying Medicine
Michael Tomsett, from Hinckley, studying Organic Chemistry

Oriel College Oxford last joined us four weeks later, inflicting a second consecutive first round exit on Manchester, winning 150-95, and giving us probably the best UC answer of 2016 in 'COLE PORTER?!'! They too were unchanged from that time:
Eoin Monaghan, from Banbridge in County Down, studying PPE
Alec Siantonas, from Cambridge, studying Philosophy
Captain: Nathan Helms, from Dallas, studying Philosophy
Tobias Thornes, from Hadzor in Worcestershire, studying Atmospheric Physics

Off we set again then, and Mr Rolleston had the honour of taking the first starter of 2017; a full set of bonuses on European languages showed that they were up for it tonight. A second starter to the Avonsiders, a second full bonus set, and already things were looking ominous. Sensing this, Mr Siantonas stepped in with Oriel's first starter of the night, and two bonuses on writers' middle names followed it. A Bristol slip-up went unpicked up, before the Avonsiders made the points back with that old UC staple, the NATO alphabet. The first picture round, on provinces of the Netherlands, went to Bristol, who took ten bonus points, which put them 85-20 in front.

Mr Thornes put a stop to that when he took Oriel's second starter of the match, and they took one of the resultant bonuses, unluckily missing the other two. The Oxonians then took a second starter in a row, and a bonus set on principles in physics provided them with a further ten points. Mr Tomsett broke the run and took possession back to Bristol, but the side uncharacteristically dropped all the resultant bonuses, on the Lake District; one of them asked for how much rain fell in Cumbria last December! Clearly no Carlisle fans on that team!

The music round, on violin concertos by German composers, went to Bristol, who only took one bonus; I knew one of the others, and had heard the other on an app on my Mum's iPad, but couldn't remember who it was! The Avonsiders now led 110-55, and that lead increased as Mr Tomsett took his latest starter; a bonus set on the works of Virginia Woolf provided them with a further ten. Miss Jackson followed this up by stumbling over her answer for the next starter, but Paxo knew what she meant and they got the points. A further ten meant they now had a potential match winning lead. Right on cue, Mr Siantonas came in to take Oriel back into the match, and Chinese history provided them with two correct bonuses.

The second picture round, on actresses portraying Cleopatra, went to Bristol, who took just the one bonus this time, but they still comfortably led 165-75. And when Mr Tomsett took the next starter, putting the lead at 100, you sensed that was game over. Bonuses on Northern Irish counties added ten to their score, and a very quick buzz from Mr Tomsett, coupled with a full bonus set, almost certainly put the match out of the Oxonians' reach.

Mr Helms did nonetheless valiantly try to break his side back into the match, but only succeeded in losing five points. Mr Monaghan tried his luck on the next, but missed, and Miss Jackson did the honours. Two bonuses added to their score, but the scores were purely academic now. Another starter to Mr Tomsett, two more bonuses, which they took their time with, much to Paxo's annoyance! (Angriest 'Come on!' I've heard for a while) One starter and correct bonus later, the gong put the match out of its misery. Bristol won 265-70.

An excellent start to the year, even if it was rather one sided. Unlucky Oriel, who were simply outbuzzed by a stronger team, but no shame in that at all, and thanks very much indeed for two entertaining outings! Very well done to Bristol though; a second strong win, could be dark horses for the group phase, so good luck to them in it!

Mr Tomsett was, by far and away, the best buzzer of the night, with an impressive seven to his name, while Mr Siantonas was best for Oriel with two. On the bonuses, Bristol converted an impressive 26 out of 42, while Oriel managed a respectable 7 out of 12, and both sides incurred one penalty.

Next week's match: by process of elimination, it must be Corpus Christi vs Peterhouse. And then we arrive at the group phase.

Only Connect has, of course, jumped ship and moved to Friday nights, so expect my review on Sunday or next Tuesday.

Friday, 30 December 2016

Christmas University Challenge: Matches 6-10 (Sunday 25th - Thursday 29th)

OK, this will probably be my last blog post of the year, so lets get this over and done with: the second week's play on Christmas UC! Again, I haven't really watched much of these matches since they aired, so minimalistic summaries.

Sunday 25th: Magdalene Cambridge vs St Hilda's Oxford
Magdalene: Stefan Wolff, Clemency Burton-Hill, Chris Lintott, Mike Newell
St Hilda's: Fiona Caldicott, Daisy Dunn, Val McDermid, Adele Geras

So, Christmas Day action, and, in terms of entertainment, a cracking half hour of television, highlight being a picture round on DC Thompson cartoons, which was slightly spoiled somewhat when Paxo called Oor Wullie and the Broons 'naff cartoons'! Typical sassenach! Ms McDermid took these, ending the match with eight starters to her name, as St Hilda's won 225-65. Magdalene: not a bad team, but easily second best here. 

Monday 26th: Bristol vs Nottingham
Bristol: Miranda Krestovnikoff, Kate Quilton, Will Hutton, June Myerson
Nottingham: David Florence, Nick Miller, Chris Hawkins, Frances Spalding

Kudos to both teams for having a go, but it did feel like, with all due respect, they were struggling to understand the way the game works, and thus neither could really get into second gear. The final score: Nottingham won, 75-70. Yes, a 75 point winning score.

Tuesday 27th: Kent vs Leeds
The first second round match, and by a mile the best of the series. Like last time, Kent ran out to an early lead, with Paul Ross again dominating the buzzer race. But Leeds remained within touching distance, and a timely surge on the buzzer put them on level terms. Then both sides incurred a penalty, both took the resultant starters, and at the gong it was 130-each! The first tie-breaker was dropped, the second was taken by Steve Bell, and Leeds had done it!

Wednesday 28th: St Anne's vs St Hilda's
Quite possibly the first ever match between two all-female teams! Certainly under Paxo's watch. Sadly, not as good a match as the other semi-final. It started off close, with the teams swapping starters. Then St Hilda's took a steady lead, and though St Anne's pulled close a few times, they never quite managed to catch up again. St Hilda's pulled away in the final minutes, and won 165-75.

Thursday 29th: Leeds vs St Hilda's
The final of the series started off close enough, before two consecutive penalties (including a candidate for best wrong answer ever from Mr Bell!) damaged Leeds' chances beyond repair, and though they did recover to a respectable finish, they were never really on the ball for the rest of the match. St Hilda's didn't seem as on form as they had been before, but they still emerged triumphant 160-55 to win the series.

Well done to them, and thanks very much all fourteen teams for an enjoyable mini series!

So, back to normal service on Monday, with Corpus Christi vs Peterhouse, followed by Oriel vs Bristol the week after. And don't forget, Only Connect moves to Fridays as of next week, so don't get caught out by that change. See yous on Monday, hopefully.