Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Only Connect Series 12: Elimination Quarter-Final 1: Fire-Eaters vs Verbivores

OK, Only Connect time. After this series is over, I'm either taking a break, or binge-watching some of the earlier series I didn't pay as much attention to. I won't try and review them on here if I do though, cause that went so well last time I tried that, didn't it?

Anyway, Friday's match, the first elimination match; unlike UC, the show is keeping it easy to understand which stage of the QF process is which. Playing were the Fire-Eaters, Andy Davis, Tony Moore and captain Jonathan Elliott, who defeated the Eurovisionaries and Clareites but found the Korfballers to be too much, and the Verbivores, Phyl Styles, blog reader Tom Cappleman and captain Graeme Cole, who have lost twice, to the Psmiths in the first round and the Surrealists in their preliminary, and won twice, beating the Channel Islanders and Taverners by a point each.

Round 1. The Verbivores opened the night's procedings with Horned Viper, and the picture set: we saw a shire horse, then a terrier dog, then a Chippendale dancer; they recognised the horse to be a Clydesdale and the dog an Airedale, so offered 'dale' for two points. The Eaters opened their account with Lion: 'Wymendon' in green, then 'Brixiestan' in light blue, then 'Holeburne' in red; they offered 'former names of Tube stations in their line colour', correct for two points. The Verbivores chose Eye of Horus next, and got the music question: we heard Tony Bennett singing 'Just in Time', then 'The Time Warp' from the Rocky Horror Show, then 'Time in a Bottle' by Jim Croce; they saw the link, and picked up another two points. The Eaters chose Twisted Flax next: 'The cleaner you are the dirtier you get', then 'Money back if he walks', then 'Hydrates and fuels you better than water', and finally 'Are you beach body ready?'; they spotted in time to be 'banned advert slogans', and collected a point. The Verbivores chose Two Reeds next: 'Joe Biden's 2008 presidential bid', then 'Players running on to pitch at Ibrox', then 'David Brent delivering motivational speech', and finally 'Chris Eubank entering ring'. They offered 'all done via dance'; not right. Their opponents didn't know it either, my Dad did though: they all feature Bon Sco... sorry, Tina Turner's 'The Best'. Left with Water, the Eaters saw 'Norman Wisdom (2010, 2015)', then 'Peter Falk (2011, 2012)', then 'Tony Hart (2009, 2015)'; they offered that the first years are when those persons died, and the second is a year they were mistakenly thought to have just died due to them being in the news for something else! Two points for that. At the end of the first round, the Eaters led 5-4.

Round 2, What Comes Fourth? The Verbivores began with Twisted Flax: '4: Belgium', then '3: Luxembourg', and then '2: Andorra'; they tried '1: Monaco', which was correct, though not for the reasons they suggested, numbers of borders with France, the actual sequence being countries with 4, 3, 2 and 1 actual land borders (so the UK would be an acceptable answer). The Eaters chose Eye of Horus next: we saw an N in a circle with a small section shaded black, then H in the circle with a larger portion shaded light grey, and then C in the circle with a larger still portion shaded darker grey (does that make sense?); they suggested that the circle would next feature an O and the rest of the circle shaded another colour. Correct, the sequence being the composing elements of the human body, nitrogen, hydrogen, carbon and oxygen respectively. The Verbivores chose Two Reeds next: we saw an M on its side and a 13, didn't fall into the trap of thinking it was a sigma, and picked up FIVE points for offering 'sideways P 16'! Excellent shout! The Eaters chose Lion next, and got the picture set: we saw Durham Cathedral with a 4, then St Paul's Cathedral with a 3, and then York Cathedral with a 2. Neither side saw it: Canterbury Cathedral with a 1 would be fourth, the sequence being the seniority of their bishops in the Church of England. For their final choice, the Verbivores chose Horned Viper: 'Tours (1940)', then 'Bordeaux (1940)', and then 'Vichy (1940-44)'; they spotted it to be where the French government has been based, and offered 'Paris (1944-present)' for two points. Left with Water again, the Eaters saw 'Titled lady', then 'Ancient Greek township', and then 'Two nickels'; they identified them as 'Dame, 'Deme' and 'Dime', and offered something representing 'Dome', such as 'Eden Project biospheres', for two points. At the end of the second round, the Verbivores led 13-9.

On to the Walls. The Eaters went first this time, and chose the Lion wall. It took them little time to isolate the first two sets: 'Canopic', 'Bell', 'Cookie' and 'Leyden' are types of jar, while 'Root', 'Cook', 'Stokes' and 'Anderson' are England cricketers. They spent a good long while looking over the final clues, and solved the wall on their final try: 'Runner', 'Lima', 'Tonka' and 'Navy' are types of bean, while 'Broad', 'Over', 'Fore' and 'Type' can all precede 'cast', which they didn't spot, dropping a clean sweep. Seven points there then.

The Verbivores thus could pull further away if they could crack the Water wall. They too found their first set pretty quickly: 'Maigret', 'Bean', 'Blackadder' and 'Fowler' are characters who have been portrayed by Rowan Atkinson. A second set came quickly too: 'Riverjack', 'Eggeater', 'Treeboa' and 'Hornedviper' are snakes. (Hang on, does this mean we've been writing it wrong all this time?) They soon had it wrapped up: 'English', 'Deviation', 'Lamp' and 'Wing' can all follow 'Standard', while 'Solution', 'Attrition', 'Abrasion' and 'Hydraulic action' are elements of river erosion. A full ten, which put them 23-16 going into the final round.

So, Missing Vowels to finish the show, with the Eaters needing a good effort to pull it back. 'Battles of the English Civil War' went to the Eaters 3-1. 'Plays by Eugene O'Neill' finished 1-each. 'Life peers', such as 'CP SNOW', where just one vowel was missing(!), went to the Eaters 2-1, and that was time. The Verbivores won 26-22.

Another good match well played by both sides. Unlucky Eaters, but a perfectly respectable series of performances, and thanks very much indeed for taking part. Well done Verbivores though, and best of luck in your play-off!

Next match: the Beekeepers vs the Oscar Men in the second eliminator match

Monday, 13 February 2017

University Challenge 2016-17: Qualification Quarter-Final 1: Emmanuel vs Corpus Christi

Evening all. So, the first proper quarter-final match. Both tonight's teams began the group stage in the bottom half of the table, but both impressively trounced their top half opponents in their preliminaries, and tonight one of them would be the first team to reach the semi-finals. And one certainly wouldn't have betted against the runners-up making it through too.

Emmanuel College Cambridge have quietly but comfortably made it this far, coming from behind on all three occasions to beat Nottingham, SOAS, and in their first quarter-final, Warwick, who they ran away against late on to win 200-90. The same four as before lined up hopeful of going straight to the semis:
Tom Hill, from London, studying History
Leah Ward, from Oxfordshire, studying Maths
Captain: Bobby Seagull, from East Ham in London, studying Education specialising in Maths
Bruno Barton-Singer, from Wandsworth in London, studying Physics

Corpus Christi College Oxford have already beaten two Cambridge teams, Jesus and Peterhouse, both by narrow margins, before trouncing Bristol 250-70 in their first quarter-final outing. Also hopeful of bypassing the play-offs were the also unchanged four 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 opened the scoring; two bonuses on Homer's Odyssey (I'll resist any cheap Simpsons jokes!) gave the Oxonians an early advantage. Mr Seagull quickly fired Emmanuel off the mark, and they equaled their opponents score with two bonuses on the films of Gurinder Chadha. Mr Barton-Singer then gave his side the lead; just the one bonus followed this time. The first picture round, on illustrations of roulette curves, went to Emmanuel, who took just the one bonus again, giving them a lead of 50-20.

The lead increased when Mr Hill identified a list of Alexander Is; no bonuses came from a tricky set on Queen Zenobia (who gives her name to a film starring Oliver Hardy which is well worth a look). Neither side took the next starter, before Mr Venkatesh broke his side back into the match; an amusing full bonus set on psychology put them right back in the match. Another starter was dropped, before Mr Wright just avoided being docked five for a borderline incorrect buzz; Emmanuel took the points, and two points on NATO accompanied.

The music starter was dropped; the bonuses, on pieces performed by contralto singer Kathleen Ferrier, went to Emmanuel, with Corpus Christi losing five in the process. The Cambridge side took one music bonus, giving them a lead of 95-40. Mr Venkatesh took his third starter of the night for Corpus Christi, but the Oxonians got nothing from the resultant literature bonuses. Emmanuel had no luck either with their next bonus set, on political history. (I got John Major as one of two PMs who were Foreign Secretary and Chancellor beforehand) A nice bonus set on the largest countries to begin with certain letters of the alphabet proved more to the Cambridge side's liking, as they took two and unluckily missed the third.

The second picture round, on self-portraits of the artist at work, went to Emmanuel, who swept the board on the bonuses, putting their lead at 150-50. Corpus Christi could still catch up if they put their feet down; Mr Venkatesh did, but only lost five points. He then made up for that by taking his fourth starter of the night, but, again, his side got nothing from the resultant bonuses.

Emmanuel confirmed their victory when Mr Seagull took the next starter, identifying a list of words beginning 'F-I-L-O'; astronomy provided them with two correct bonuses which they took their time with, the match having already been won. The final starter was missed by both sides; at the gong, Emmanuel won 170-55.

A rather slow match, but both teams did OK considering the expected difficulty of the questions at this stage of the contest. Unlucky Corpus Christi, who were simply outbuzzed, but who aren't out of the running yet, so good luck in your play-off. Very well done Emmanuel though, and very best of luck in the semi-finals!

Messrs Barton-Singer and Venkatesh were joint best buzzers of the night, with four each for their respective teams, taking their series totals to 18 and 13 respectively, meaning the latter is now his side's best buzzer. On the bonuses, Emmanuel converted 14 out of 30, while Corpus Christi managed 5 out of 12 (with two penalties); both just shy of 50%, proving how hard the questions were tonight.

Next week's match: don't know for sure yet, but Bristol vs Warwick is my best guess, followed by Wolfson vs Edinburgh and Balliol vs Birmingham. Hopefully we'll find out of sure before long.

And I'll get on to Only Connect tomorrow night as well, as it enters the elimination stage of its QF process.

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Only Connect Series 12: Preliminary Quarter-Final 4: Psmiths vs Oscar Men

OK, moving on to Only Connect now, and the final preliminary quarter-final of that tournament. Winners go on to the qualifying round, the runners-up return in two weeks to face the Beekeepers in the elimination round. If UC kept the two phases together like this, instead of alternating, I reckon a lot more people would be able to understand the format and not get muddled all the time.

Anyway, the final two teams to enter the group phase, on Friday night, were the Psmiths, Mark Smith, Nick Holland and captain Nick Reed, who got this far by beating fellow quarter-finalists the Verbivores and the Networkers, and the Oscar Men, Howard Freedman, Adrian Knott and captain Michael Slowey, who lost to the Part-Time Poets but bounced back by beating the Maltsters and the Genealogists.

Round 1. The Psmiths kicked off the match, chose to do with Two Reeds, saw 'NBA', and then Mr Reed leaned forward and buzzed by mistake! Forced to give an answer, their guess of 'North American sporting associations' was not correct. Their opponents saw 'DreamWorks', 'Dr. Oetker' and 'Kappa', but couldn't capitalise: they all contains silhouettes in their logos. The Men chose Eye of Horus for their first question, and got the picture set: we saw the SNP's Pete Wishart, then the Rev Richard Coles, then Prof. Brian Cox; that gave it to them, they are all former keyboard players in bands. The Psmiths chose Lion next: 'Svein Grondalen: encounter with a moose', 'Alex Stepney: shouting at defenders'; that was enough for them to offer 'unusual injuries to footballers', for three points. (The unneeded clues were 'David Batty: run over by a child's tricycle' and 'Steve Morrow: dropped by Tony Adams'!) The Men chose Horned Viper next: 'It's Not Unusual (1964)', then 'Mull of Kintyre (1929)', then 'Martha's Harbour (1951)'; their answer at this point of 'films that share names with No 1 songs' was not correct. Their opponents saw 'If You Leave Me Now (2003)', but couldn't improve: the performers share their names with the Best Picture winner of the same year. Nasty! The Psmiths chose Twisted Flax next: 'Sunderland v. Derby County, 1894', then 'Eton school year', then 'Recommended daily beer intake for men', and finally '1.5'. They got it in the nick of time: they are all three halves. (The first half of the football match was played twice, with the same outcome, as the ref missed it first time after missing his train!) Left with Water, the Men got the music question, and heard Heidenroslein by Schubert, then Honeysuckle Rose, then The White Rose of Athens, and finally Kiss From a Rose. They didn't see it, their opponents did for a bonus. At the end of the first round, the Psmiths led 5-2.

Round 2, What Comes Fourth? The Psmiths opened the round with Two Reeds, and got a music sequence: we heard Eurythmics and Aretha Franklin with Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves, then Franklin singing with the late George Michael, and then Michael singing with Elton John. They saw the link, and offered Elton John's duet of 'Don't Go Breaking My Heart' with Kiki Dee for two points. (Cue the enforced sing-along!) The Men chose Twisted Flax, and got the picture set: we saw a zero, then what looked like a squashed D, and then an odd looking Q; they saw it to be the inside of the letters O, P and Q, so the inside of an R would be the same as the P, as they offered for two points. (Hope that made sense) The Psmiths chose Water next: 'Cup', then 'Plate', and then 'Bowl'. They offered 'Trophy', not right; their opponents tried 'Masters', also not right. 'Shield' completes the set, the sequence being Rugby Sevens tournaments going down the table. The Men chose Lion next: 'Pnictogens', then 'Chalcogens', and then 'Halogens'; they offered 'Noble gases', which was correct for two points, the sequence being the Periodic Table sections 15, 16, 17 and 18. For their final choice, the Psmiths chose Eye of Horus: '4th of 5 significa 'or'', then '3rd of 5 significa 'the (masc pl)'', and then '2nd of 5 significa 'and''. They didn't get it, nor did their opponents; the sequence is what the vowels represent in Italian, so '1st of 5 significa 'to'' would be acceptable. Tricky stuff tonight! Left with Horned Viper, the Men saw 'Sophia Dorothea of Celle', then 'Caroline of Ansback', and then 'Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz'; they saw it to be wives of King Georges, but didn't know George IV's wife. Their opponents did, offering 'Caroline of Brunswick' for a bonus. At the end of the second round, the Psmiths led 8-6.

On to the Walls. The Men went first, and went with the Lion wall. After spending about half the time trying unsuccessfully, they isolated 'Ras', 'Prince', 'Mirza' and 'Infante', which are terms for junior royality. A second set, 'Wilson', 'Dunlop', 'Babolat' and 'Head', which are makers of tennis rackets, slotted in with not much time left. They tried to solve the final groups, but failed in their three gos. Thus they had top pick up bonus connection points: 'Bill', 'Ness', 'Point' and 'Cape' are promontories, which they didn't get close to enough for a point, while 'Flower', 'Number', 'Sin' and 'Beetle' can all follow 'Cardinal'. Four points for that then.

The Psmiths thus tackled the Water wall. They too had little success, ultimately failing to get anything from the walls in normal time. Luckily, they got all the groups for bonus points: 'Windermere', 'Hunstanton', 'Bracknell' and 'Chiltern' are aristocrats in Oscar Wilde, 'Malvern', 'Quantock', 'Galloway' and 'Preseli' are hill ranges, 'Cheviot', 'Rambouillet', 'Ile de France' and 'Corriedale' are breeds of sheep, while 'Martinique', 'Reunion', 'Mayotte' and 'Brittany' are regions of France. Another four there, which meant they led 12-10 going into the crucial final round.

So, Missing Vowels would be the decider. 'Phrases expressing happiness' went to the Men 2-1. 'Women and their fathers' went to the Men 1-0, with the Psmiths getting one right but one wrong. 'Scout activity badges' went to the Psmiths 1-(-1), and that was time. The Psmiths had snuck home 14-12.

A very hard set of questions, both teams did well considering. Unlucky Men, but nothing wrong with that performance considering, so good luck next time. Well done Psmiths though, on another good effort, and best of luck in your next match as well!

Next week's match: the first elimination match, between the Fire-Eaters and the Verbivores

Monday, 6 February 2017

University Challenge 2016-17: Preliminary Quarter-Final 4: Edinburgh vs Birmingham

Evening all. The final preliminary quarter-final tonight, between two teams who have slipped under the radar somewhat compared to some of the other quarter-finalists, but have both played very well to get this far and have deserved to do so. Winners would go on to the qualifiers, while the runners-up would go on to the elimination round, it's really quite simple if you can keep track of it.

Edinburgh have won through two of the best UC matches of the decade (IMO) to get this far, firstly winning a good close first round match against Durham 190-155, and then scraping past Open on a tie-breaker in the second. Hoping not to have to live so dangerously tonight were the unchanged foursome of:
Luke Dale, from York, studying Late Antique, Islamic and Byzantine Studies
Euan Smith, from Aberdeen, studying Classics
Captain: Joe Boyle, from Brighton, studying Ecological and Environmental Science
Emily Goddard, from Wilmslow in Cheshire, studying Chemistry

Birmingham have twice come from behind to win both their matches pretty comfortably, firstly overcoming Queen's of Belfast 165-105 in Round 1, and then St Andrews 195-115 in Round 2. Hoping for more of the same tonight were the also unchanged quartet of:
Elliot Jan-Smith, from Derby, studying Chemistry
Fraser Sutherland, from Edinburgh, studying History
Captain: George Greenlees, from Plymouth, studying Medicine
Chris Rouse, from Droitwich Spa in Worcestershire, studying History and Politics

Off we set again then, and Mr Greenlees, Birmingham's top man in the first two rounds, opened the scoring for the night; two bonuses on early 20th century British politics accompanied, before Mr Rouse gave Birmingham a second starter. A bonus set on the late great Johan Cruyff provided another ten points. A slip-up then allowed Edinburgh to open their account, and take two bonuses of their own. Another Birmingham penalty, albeit an unlucky one for a buzz just before the question finished, allowed Edinburgh to draw level, but they couldn't take the lead. The first picture round, on flags of autonomous Spanish regions, went to Birmingham, who took one and unluckily missed another, giving them a lead of 45-30.

Mr Smith, Edinburgh's main man in the earlier rounds, opened his duck when he took the next starter, but, again, they failed to take any of the accompanying bonuses. This allowed Mr Greenlees to triple Birmingham's lead by taking the next starter, and his side took one bonus on statistics. Mr Smith fought back by identifying a list of works by Frank Lloyd Wright (sadly, Marge Simpson's hair wasn't one of them!); a full bonus set gave Edinburgh the lead for the first time the night.

The music starter saw Mr Smith first in to identify Mr Bruce Springsteen (KIRBY: 'Ah, 'The Boss'!', FRASIER: 'No, Bruce Springsteen!'); the bonuses, on pop tracks inspired by their writer's home towns, saw Edinburgh mistake Tina Turner for the late Bon Scott! They took one other bonus, which put them ahead 80-60. That lead increased when Birmingham, again, buzzed wrongly on the final word of the question, and Edinburgh took the points. One bonus followed, as did a fourth starter in a row, and two bonuses on human muscles. Edinburgh now had exactly double Birmingham's score, but Mr Jan-Smith put a stop to that by taking the next starter; a full bonus set on English words from the Nahuatl/Aztec showed that they weren't out of it yet.

The second picture round, on depictions of Bacchus, went to Birmingham, who took a second full set in a row, which meant they now trailed by just 110-105. Mr Smith tripled that lead by taking the next starter, and Edinburgh promptly took a full bonus set of their own, none of which Paxo was able to finish reading out! Back came Birmingham thanks to Mr Greenlees, and bonuses on mountain ranges gave them two correct answers, and a reduced deficit of ten. Mr Smith doubled it, but Edinburgh got nothing from a bonus set on electronics.

Mr Smith then took a second starter in a row though, and two bonuses put them within sight of victory. Mr Dale pulled them closer, and an amusing bonus set on animals with repeating names, such as the dodo or dik-dik, gave them one correct answer and two amusing (but wrong) guesses on the other two! Edinburgh now had a 55 point lead, and when Mr Smith took the next starter, that was game over. A full bonus set on pastry deserts only served to increase their lead, as did one more starter and bonus. At the gong, Edinburgh won 220-125.

A good match, close most of the way through until the final minutes. Unlucky Birmingham, who aren't done justice by that score, as they were very much in it for the most part, but who certainly aren't finished yet, so good luck in the eliminators. Very well done Edinburgh though; another excellent performance against worthy opponents, and very best of luck in the qualifying round!

Mr Smith was, by far and away, the night's best buzzer, with nine(!) to his name, while Mr Greenlees was, again, Birmingham's best, with four; both men's series totals now stand at 20 each. On the bonuses, Edinburgh converted 18 out of 39, while Birmingham managed 14 out of 21 (with three penalties).

Next week's match: I am reliably informed it is Emmanuel vs Corpus Christi in the first qualifier. A break from the past few years then; no idea where that leaves the rest of the draw, but we shall see.

Only Connect, meanwhile, will be sorted out tomorrow. For sure. Hopefully.

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Only Connect Series 12: Preliminary Quarter-Final 3: Beekeepers vs Cosmopolitans

Right, Only Connect. As if changing the day wasn't already off-putting, Friday's episode was moved to the earlier time of 7pm to accommodate the Eurovision selection show, moved over from BBC4. I suppose you may consider that karma for Victoria's jokey rant about BBC4 on last week's show!

Anyway, playing were the Beekeepers, Ian Wallace, Josh Spero and captain Mark Wallace, son of Ian, who defeated the Scunthorpe Scholars and the Policy Wonks in the first two rounds, and the Cosmopolitans, Annette Fenner, Emily Watnick and captain Amy Godel, who won close matches against the Taverners and the Tubers (or the 'Tubas' as the subtitles prefer to call them!) to get to this stage.

Round 1. The Cosmopolitans went first, and opened the night with 'Horn-ed' Viper, and the music set: we heard 'Berkeley Square' (sadly not John le Mesurier's version!), then 'Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend', then 'Bermuda Triangle', and they were timed out before they could hear the fourth. Their opponents heard 'Circle of Life' from the Lion King, and offered 'geometric shapes' for a bonus. For their own first question, the Beekeepers chose Twisted Flax: 'Casablanca > Rabat', then 'Istanbul > Ankara'; they at this point offered 'former capitals and their replacements', but were not correct. Their opponents saw 'Auckland > Wellington' and 'Sao Paolo > Brasilia', and offered 'cities larger than their country's capital' for a bonus of their own. For their own question, the Cosmopolitans chose Lion: 'The Super Bowl', then 'General Elections in France'; this was enough to give them 'things that happen on Sunday' for three points. The Beekeepers chose Water next: 'Founder, Australian wine company', then 'Flag captain, HMS Victory'; they offered 'Thomas Hardy' at this point, and were correct this time for three points. The Cosmopolitans chose Two Reeds next, and got the pictures: we saw four bags of flour, then four plates of butter, then four bowls of sugar; they identified them as the ingredients of a Victoria sponge, or to be more precise, the 4-4-4-2 sponge recipe, for two points. (Two eggs being the final clue) Left with Eye of Horus, the Beekeepers saw 'Saint James', then 'Assumption', then 'The Peace', and finally 'Good Winds'. They didn't get this, their opponents did, offering 'translations of South American capitals' for a bonus. At the end of a strong first round, the Cosmopolitans led 7-4.

Round 2, What Comes Fourth? Again, the Cosmopolitans kicked off with 'Horn-ed' Viper: '8: US Open final, Venus v Serena Williams, New York', then '9: Ahmed Shah Massoud assassinated by al-Qaeda'; they spotted it to be events of September 2001, and offered '11: World Trade Centre attacks' for three points. The Beekeepers chose Two Reeds next, and got a music sequence: we heard Katy Perry's 'ET', then ABBA's 'SOS', and then 'YMCA'; they knew it to be something to do with letters, but couldn't work out what. Nor could their opponents. It's increasing numbers of letters, so 'D-I-S-C-O' would be OK for the points. (Cue a forced singalong that went rather wrong as the teams only knew the famous chorus!) The Cosmopolitans chose Lion next: 'Gg' in blue, then 'oe' in red, and then 'o' in yellow; that gave it to them, they are the letters in the 'Google' logo in order they appear, so 'l' in green would be right for two. The Beekeepers chose Eye of Horus next: '4th: Alabama', then '3rd: Florida', and then '2nd: Mississippi'. Neither team knew this: they are secessionist states in reverse order, so '1st: South Carolina' is correct. For their final choice, the Cosmopolitans chose Twisted Flax, and got the pictures: we saw Bob Marley, then a calendar depicting Christmas Day 1843; that was enough for them to see the sequence to be the ghosts in 'A Christmas Carol', and offered 'Christmas Day 2027', or 'Christmas future' for three points. Left with Water, the Beekeepers saw 'Makes you very tall', then 'Makes your legs very long'; they thought it to the effects of what Alice drinks in Alice in Wonderland, and offered 'Restores you to normal size'. Not right. Their opponents 'Makes your neck very long', and, under the same impression, offered 'Makes you very small'. Correct for a bonus, but the sequence is the effects of the different makings of George's Marvelous Medicine in the excellent Roald Dahl book. (Possibly my favourite of his works) At the end of the second round, the Cosmopolitans led 16-4.

On to the Walls. The Beekeepers, in desperate need of a good result, opted to tackle the Lion wall. They spotted a couple of links, and eventually isolated their first set of 'Jazz', 'Gala', 'Honeygold' and 'Jonathan', which are types of apple. A second set of 'Healing', 'Join', 'Greg' and 'Show of', which can all precede 'hands', followed. The final sets slotted in pretty comfortably after that: 'Pippin', 'Merry', 'Gaffer' and 'Sam' are hobbits, while 'Twill', 'Duct', 'Ticker' and 'Cassette' are types of tape. A well resolved and much needed ten points.

The Cosmopolitans thus set to work on the Water wall. Their first set came fairly quickly: 'Jay', 'Malcolm', 'Jessie' and 'Agnes' are forenames of people with initials as a surname. A second set came pretty quickly too: 'Bay', 'Rose', 'Shop' and 'Louvre' are types of window. They studied the remaining clues, and soon had the groups sorted out: 'Picasso', 'Carnavelet', 'D'Orsay' and 'Marmottan' are Parisian museums, while 'Power', 'Hill', 'Sleep' and 'Street' can all precede 'walking', which they didn't see, thus dropping three points. Still, seven points meant they led 23-14 going into the final round.

So, Missing Vowels to finish off the show as usual. 'Road signs' finished a 1-each split. 'A few X short of a Y', such as 'CARDS SHORT OF A DECK', went to the Beekeepers 3-0. 'Overlapping countries', such as 'JAPANAMA', was split 2-each. 'Things often said in unison' only managed one clue, which was timed out. The Cosmopolitans won 26-19.

Another good match with some excellent questions. Unlucky Beekeepers, who were let down by that second round shutout, but a good effort considering, so good luck in the elimination round. Well done Cosmpolitans though, on another good showing against good opponents, and best of luck in the qualifying round!

This week's match: the Psmiths vs the Oscar Men, presumably.

Monday, 30 January 2017

University Challenge 2016-17: Preliminary Quarter-Final 3: Warwick vs Emmanuel

Evening all. You join me in hyper mood again this evening, after the FA Cup fifth round draw threw up the fantastic tie of non-league Sutton United vs Arsenal! Really hope TPTB put that LIVE on the Friday night; lets face it, it's what everyone except the EastEnders fanatics want! (They, of course, want a special sports channel to stop it interfering with their favourite soap!) I myself had a great day out at the football on Saturday; went south to watch Kilmarnock play Ross County, and witnessed the fastest goal in Scottish top flight history! But enough football, on with another important match...

Warwick have looked decently impressive so far, with comfortable victories over Liverpool in the first round, 235-90, and our friends East London in the second, 195-55. The same four as those outings were back again tonight:
Sophie Hobbs, from Birmingham, studying French and History
Sophie Rudd, from Lincolnshire, studying Computer Science and its Applications
Captain: Giles Hutchings, from Farnham in Surrey, studying Maths
Thomas Van, from Geneva, studying History

Emmanuel College Cambridge, on the other hand, have twice had to come from behind to win two good contests, against Nottingham in Round 1, 175-135, and SOAS in Round 2, 195-130. They too were the same foursome as before:
Tom Hill, from London, studying History
Leah Ward, from Oxfordshire, studying Maths
Captain: Bobby Seagull, from East Ham in London, studying Education specialising in Maths
Bruno Barton-Singer, from Wandsworth in London, studying Physics

Off we set again then, and Miss Rudd, impressive in the earlier rounds, opened the scoring for Warwick; bonuses on UNESCO World Heritage buildings provided the Coventry team with a further ten points. Mr Van added to his side's opening sprint by taking the next two starters, one of which saw him beat numerous others to the buzzer, as everyone went for the buzzer to say 'Brahms' when they heard the words 'Hungarian Dances'. Warwick took half the resultant bonuses, making up for dropping a full set by taking one as well. (Credit to Miss Hobbs too, for showing up with her arm in a sling, a true sign of commitment) The first picture round, on the names of EU member states written in languages not used in them, went to Warwick, who missed all three again, which left their lead at 65-0.

Mr Barton-Singer had had quite enough of that, and lifted Emmanuel off the mark; the Cambridge side made the most of it, as they quickly gobbled up all three bonuses. That seemed to spark something, as Miss Ward took the next starter; no bonuses came this time, but a third starter in a row plus two bonuses put them just ten behind. A fourth starter in a row, all three bonuses on the work of Aeschylus, and suddenly they had a 15 point lead.

The music round, on pizzicato interludes, went to Warwick, who missed all the bonuses again, but had reduced their arrears to 80-75. They retook the lead when Miss Rudd pounced on an Emmanuel slip-up, but a nice bonus set on pairs of place names where the final letters of the first and the first of the second are the same, again, brought them no further points. Miss Rudd was then unlucky to lose five on the next starter, offering three letters when just two were needed; Mr Hill did the honours, and Emmanuel took one of the resultant bonuses. This gave them the lead back, and Mr Seagull then made up for his earlier errors by taking the next starter; no bonuses could come this time.

The second picture round, on prolific American TV show runners, went to Emmanuel, who took just the one bonuses, which nonetheless increased their lead to 115-80. Mr Seagull added to the lead when he took the next starter, and an appropriately topical bonus set on FA Cup final venues saw them take two starters, and put them on the edge of victory. Mr Hill took the next starter, and a full bonus set on seven letter science terms pushed them over that edge.

Mr Barton-Singer confirmed that his side couldn't be caught by taking the next starter, and the resultant bonuses gave them a 100 point lead. Another starter and pair of bonuses put them just over the 200 barrier. Miss Rudd finally stopped them in their tracks by taking the final starter of the night, but the gong prevented any bonuses from being asked. Emmanuel won, 200-90.

Like last week, a match that started off close, and then became rather one sided in the second half. Unlucky Warwick, who were simply outbuzzed in the second half, but who are certainly not out of it yet, so best of luck next time in the elimination phase. Very well done to Emmanuel though; another good steady performance against good opponents, and best of luck in the qualification phase!

Miss Rudd and Mr Barton-Singer were joint best buzzers of the night, taking four each for their respective teams, and taking their overall totals to 18 and 14 respectively. On the bonuses, Warwick converted just 5 out of 18, while Emmanuel managed a decent 19 out of 33, and both sides incurred one penalty.

Next week's match: by process of elimination, it must be Birmingham vs Edinburgh

I'll get on to Friday's Only Connect tomorrow evening, but I do wish they would stop trailing it over the UC credits; it builds false hope that it's still on next!

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Only Connect Series 12: Preliminary Quarter-Final 2: Surrealists vs Verbivores

OK, apologies in advance if I seem a bit hyper tonight, but EastEnders tonight was dramatic enough to make anyone hyper. Covering Only Connect probably won't be enough to calm me down, but I'll give it a go.

Playing on Friday night in the second preliminary were the Surrealists, Jeremy Partington, Chris James and captain Jonathan Carter, who defeated the Genealogists and the Part-Time Poets in their first two matches, and the Verbivores, Phyl Styles, blog reader Tom Cappleman and captain Graeme Cole, who lost their first match to the Psmiths but twice came from well behind to beat the Channel Islanders and the Taverners to make it though.

Round 1. The Surrealists went first, and kicked off the night with Twisted Flax: 'Gray', then 'Waltz', then 'Pleasence'; they quickly spotted the link to be surnames of actors who have played Blofeld in Bond films, and claimed two points. The Verbivores opened their account with Horned Viper, and the music set: we heard Ricky Nelson's 'Teenage Idol', then 'Teenage Dirtbag' by Wheatus, then Katy Perry's 'Teenage Dream'; they spotted the link, and too claimed two points. The Surrealists chose Eye of Horus next: 'In A Lovely Place', then 'Dank Passage', then 'The Big Sheep'. They had it at the second, but took the third to be sure: they are Humphrey Bogart films with one letter changed. The Verbivores chose Two Reeds next, and got the picture set: we saw a Rolls Royce, then , then the tomb of the unknown soldier, and finally a stamp featuring Her Majesty. Neither team had this: they are all missing identification (the car being one of the Queen's license plateless cars and the painting being that featured on a Led Zeppelin cover) The Surrealists chose Lion next: 'c = s', then 'p = r', then 'H = n'. They had it at this: they are Cyrillic letters and their Roman equivalents. (H is the closest I can get to the third on my laptop) Left with Water, the Verbivores saw 'James Watson's Nobel medal', then 'Holdings in Facebook', then 'Russian mines', and finally 'Shares in Arsenal'. They didn't get it, nor did their opponents: they have all been bought by Russian oligarch Alisher Usmanov. At the end of the first round, the Surrealists led 6-2.

Round 2, What Comes Fourth? The Surrealists began with Horned Viper: 'Jeannot Lapin', then 'Le tailleur de Gloucester', and then 'Noisette l'ecureuil'. It was Beatrix Potter books in French, but they didn't know the sequence. Their opponents did, offering 'Pierre Lapin' for a bonus, the sequence being in reverse order of publication. (The books are 'Benjamin Bunny', 'The Tailor of Gloucester', 'Squirrel Nutkin' and 'Peter Rabbit' respectively) For their own question, the Verbivores chose Eye of Horus: 'Going For A Song', then 'Nationwide', and then 'This Is Your Life'. Neither side knew this, though they did both identify Michael Aspel as host of This Is Your Life and worked around that. They are shows presented by successive presenters of the Antiques Roadshow (Arthur Negus, Hugh Scully and Michael Aspel), so something presented by Fiona Bruce, such as Hive Minds, would satisfy. The Surrealists chose Twisted Flax next: we saw Henry Kissinger, then Imogen Stubbs, and then Jake Gyllenhaal. They didn't get it, nor did their opponents. They are the names of UK storms, so any famous Katie, such as Ms Derham, would be correct. The Verbivores chose Lion next: 'Brown' (in green), then 'Green' (in yellow), and then 'Yellow' (in orange). They saw it to be snooker balls in reverse order in the colours of the rainbow in reverse order, so offered 'Red' (in red) for two points. For their final choice, the Surrealists chose Two Reeds: '1981 Louis Malle film', then 'No, No Nannette's duo song', and then 'Manet's 1862-63 picnic song'. They identified them as 'My Dinner With Andre', 'Tea for Two' and 'Luncheon on the Grass', so offered 'Breakfast at Tiffany's' for two points. Left with Water again, the Verbivores saw 'Summer', then 'Conference', and then 'November'. They identified it as parliamentary recesses, and offered 'Christmas' for two points. At the end of the second round, the Surrealists' lead had been cut to 8-7.

On to the Walls. The Verbivores went first with the Lion wall. A first group quickly slotted into place: 'Christabel', 'Emmeline', 'Emily' and 'Annie' are forenames of women's suffrage campaigners. Set number two came promptly too: 'Carrot', 'Dill', 'Cicely' and 'Angelica' are members of the parsley family, but their answer of 'herbs' was disallowed. They took their time with the final clues, and solved the wall on their second go: 'Paradise', 'Parsley', 'Errand' and 'Gold' can all follow 'Fool's', which they knew, while 'Riser', 'Tread', 'Nosing' and 'Cap' are parts of a staircase, which they didn't. Six points there then.

The Surrealists thus took to the Water wall. After looking over for connections, they eventually slotted in two groups: 'Flashing', 'Dormer', 'Gable' and 'Evans' are terms in roofing, while 'Howard', 'Leigh', 'de Havilland' and 'Rutherford' are surnames of actors from Gone with the Wind. They studied the final clues carefully, and soon had it all worked out: 'Hawker Siddeley', 'Bristol', 'Vickers-Armstrong' and 'Shorts' are UK aviation companies, while 'Warwick', 'Didcot', 'East Midlands' and 'Liverpool South' are parkway stations. A full ten, which gave them a lead of 18-13 going into the final round.

So, especially given these two teams' previous good Missing Vowels form, it was all up for grabs. 'Works of literary criticism', however, proved tough for both teams, the Verbivores taking it 2-0 with the only buzzes. 'A TV sports theme tune and its sport', such as 'SOUL LIMBO AND CRICKET', also proved a challenge for the teams, with the Surrealists taking it 2-1, with the bell going before anyone could answer the fourth. The Surrealists won 20-16.

A good close match between two good teams, with some excellent questions. Unlucky Verbivores, but your certainly not out of it yet, so best of luck in your eliminator match. Well done Surrealists though, and good luck in your qualifier!

This week's match: the Beekeepers vs the Cosmopolitans, at the earlier time of 7pm, so don't miss it. As if having it on a different day wasn't confusing enough already!