Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Only Connect Series 12: Semi-Final 1: Surrealists vs Verbivores

OK, Only Connect, on time for once. Thanks to Phyl Styles for her comment on last week's review, and I do indeed intend to go further into what I meant when I said OC wasn't the right sort of show for the extended format. Possibly tomorrow night even.

Anyway, on Friday night, we had the first semi-final! And a rematch to boot! Playing were the Surrealists, Jeremy Partington, Chris James and captain Jonathan Carter, who got here by beating the Genealogists, the Part Time Poets, the Korfballers and their opponents tonight, the Verbivores, Ms Styles, fellow blog reader Tom Cappleman and captain Graeme Cole, who have beaten the Channel Islanders, the Taverners, the Fire-Eaters and, last week, the Psmiths, who are the other team they have lost to this series. Hope yous understand all that!

Round 1. The Verbivores went first, and opened the match with Lion: 'Preion', then 'Detive', then 'Inenza'; they spotted it to be words with their shortened versions removed, and claimed an early two points. The Surrealists opened their account with Twisted Flax: 'May Irwin & John Rice (The Widow Jones, 1896)', then 'Jack Powell & David Armstrong (Wings, 1927)', then 'Beth Jordache & Margaret Clemence (Brookside, 1993)'; they identified it as notable first screen kisses, and collected two points of their own. The Verbivores chose Eye of Horus next, and got the picture set: we saw Stewart Grainger and James Stewart, then Michael Keaton and Michael Douglas, then Katy Perry and Kate Hudson, and finally David Bowie and Davy Jones. They only recognised Bowie, so didn't know it; their opponents did though, offering that the first changed their name to avoid confusion with the second. For their own question, the Surrealists chose Horned Viper: 'Vocals: Lawrence Payton', then 'Vocals: Abdul 'Duke' Fakir', then 'Vocals: Renaldo 'Obie' Benson', and finally 'Vocals: Levi Stubbs'; they identified them as the Four Tops, and picked up the point. The Verbivores chose Two Reeds next, and got the music question: we heard Haydn's 'Clock' symphony, then 'The Syncopated Clock' by Leroy Anderson, then 'Clocks' by Coldplay, and finally Bill Haley's classic 'Rock Around the Clock' (one of my least favourite songs of all time). They didn't see it, their opponents did, and collected a bonus. Left with Water for their own question, the Surrealists saw 'proximal stimulus prompting organism to make inferences', then 'buffered data-processing tasks awaiting FIFO operation', then 'bridge between Chiswick and Richmond', and finally 'least common letter in the OED'. They spotted the link at the last, and offered 'Q', or homophones of, for the point. At the end of the first round, the Surrealists led 6-2.

Round 2, What Comes Fourth? The Verbivores kicked off the round with Horned Viper, and the picture set: we saw a dart board with a dart in the four, then one with a dart in the one, and then one with a dart in the 18; Mr Cole saw it and slammed the buzzer through the desk, offering a dart in the 20 for the points, the sequence being spelling out 'DART'. (Remember when UC used to have questions like that?) The Surrealists chose Eye of Horus next: 'Peasant's Revolt', then 'Knighting of Francis Drake', and then 'Battle of Yorktown'. They saw it to be events of years ending 81, and offered 'attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan' for the points. (Slapped wrists for the graphics people who put '1351' instead of '1381' in the answer box!) The Verbivores chose Twisted Flax next: 'Wanderer' (accompanied by a single circle), then 'Horch' (accompanied by two interlocking circles); they offered 'Audi' accompanied by four rings, and were correct for three points, the sequence being the car companies that merged to eventually become Audi. The Surrealists chose Lion next: 'A,... D, E,...', then 'G,... J,... L,...', and then 'M,... Q, R,...'; they randomly guessed 'T,... X,... Z', and were right! The sequence is the letters which are not single word chemical element symbols. For their final choice, the Verbivores chose Water: 'HORN', then 'FARM' (vertically), and then 'PASTE'. They saw it to be the sample game from the official rules of Scrabble, but didn't know what would come fourth. Nor did their opponents. 'MOB' completes the set. Left with Two Reeds, the Surrealists got a music sequence, and heard 'What Shall We Do with the Drunken Sailor?', then 'Greensleeves'; they thought it to be the last night of the Proms, and offered 'Land of Hope and Glory'. Not right. Their opponents heard 'Men of Harlech', but were none the wiser. The sequence is Radio 4's 'UK Theme', so 'Scotland the Brave' would be fourth. (Cue an enforced whistle/hum-along!) At the end of the second round, the Surrealists led 10-7.

On to the Walls. The Surrealists went first, and chose to tackle the Lion wall. Spotting a set of fish quickly, they eventually isolated 'Fugu', 'Dace', 'Hoki' and 'Dab'. They searched for the remaining sets, but couldn't come up with anything else. So, bonuses to be collected: 'Stalk', 'Umbo', 'Cap' and 'Volva' are parts of a mushroom, which they didn't get, 'Oven', 'Courage', 'Auction' and 'Leaf' can all follow 'Dutch', which they did get, while 'Vaux', 'Flowers', 'Bass' and 'Castles' are British breweries. Four points there.

The Verbivores thus had a big chance to catch up if they could get a good result on the Water wall. A first set came to them quickly too: 'Irish moss', 'Wrack', 'Sargasso' and 'Tangle' are types of seaweed. A second set, 'Earl', 'Larry', 'Rodney' and 'Carole', which are forenames of famous people with the surname 'King', followed suite. They looked over what was left, and had the groups on their first try: 'Labrador', 'Irish', 'Wadden' and 'Bothnian' are North Atlantic seas, which they didn't get, while 'Dog', 'Imperial', 'Pink' and 'Stephen' can all precede 'Pound', which they also didn't get. Six points there, which reduced the gap to 14-13 going into the final round.

So, it would all come down to Missing Vowels. 'Cookery books' went to the Surrealists 2-1. 'Films titles merged with US states', such as 'THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT MARYLAND', went to the Verbivores 2-(-1). 'Types of rock' only managed one clue, which the Verbivores took. At the end of the show, the Verbivores had pipped it, 17-15!

Another fine half hour, closely fought by both teams. Unlucky Surrealists, but nothing to be ashamed of in what you've performed this series, so thanks very much indeed for playing. Very well done Verbivores though, and very very best of luck in the final!

This week's match: the Comsopolitans vs the Korfballers for the other semi-final berth.

Monday, 27 March 2017

University Challenge 2016-17: Semi-Final 1: Emmanuel vs Wolfson

Evening all. We start tonight with a top tip: if you're planning to make a chocolate cake in the near future, don't use a milk chocolate Easter egg for the icing; I tried that for my birthday last week, and it did not go well! Suffice to say, I will not being trying out for Bake-Off 2.0, not that I would given how unpromising it looks! Now that we've had some whimsy to lighten the mood, we can get down to the serious and tense business of the first UC semi-final, between two of the teams of the series in terms of personalities and performances. Winners would take the first place in the final.

Emmanuel College Cambridge are the only team to get this far by winning all their matches in normal time, beating Nottingham in Round 1, SOAS in Round 2, Warwick in the preliminaries, and Corpus Christi in the qualifiers. Hoping to become the second Emmanuel team to reach the final of the revival were:
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

Wolfson College Cambridge also beat SOAS en route, in the first round on a tie-breaker, before beating Jesus of Cambridge in the second round and fellow semi-finalists Balliol in the preliminaries; they then lost their qualifier to Edinburgh, but recovered by beating Warwick in the play-offs. Also hoping to be flying the flag for Cambridge in the final were:
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 Engineering

Off we set again then, and we began with a flashback to my secondary school English class, where we were told any stories resolved by a lottery win or inheritance would not be allowed! Mr Barton-Singer identified that as a 'deus ex machina', and Emmanuel took two bonuses on the work of Erwin Panofsky. Mr Monkman quickly moved Wolfson off in pursuit, and they took one bonus on property. Mr Chaudhri then gave Wolfson the lead, and they maintained it with two bonuses on words beginning 'Ap'. Back came Emmanuel with Mr Hill doing the honours, and bonuses on the Davis Cup proved very to their liking, taking a full set and the lead.Back bit Wolfson, and they too took a full set. The first picture round, on places with shared name elements, went to Wolfson, who took no further bonuses, and managed to annoy Paxo in the process by misunderstanding what was required of them(!), but had still opened a lead of 70-45.

Mr Yang then added his due, as Wolfson increased their lead, with a full bonus set putting them one starter away from three figures. A prompt buzz from Miss Ward stopped them in their tracks though, and Emmanuel took one bonus from a set on silent comedy, of which I got two. Mr Barton-Singer then added another strong buzz, but nothing followed from the bonuses this time, though Emmanuel had now put themselves one starter and full bonus house away.

The music round, on works by Britten based on poems, went to Emmanuel, who took two bonuses, which reduced the gap to just 95-90. Mr Monkman put a stop to that, as he took the next starter; a bonus set on Nobel prize winners of the early 20th century provided them with two correct answers, the third narrowly missed. Another starter and bonus added to Wolfson's score and lead, before Mr Monkman again came in for the next starter; no bonuses followed this time, but they had reestablished a steady lead.

Neither side took the second picture starter; the bonuses, on paintings mentioned in Proust's 'Remembrance of Things Passed' (of HIGNFY fame), went to Emmanuel who took two bonuses, reducing the lead to 140-110 going into the crucial final stage. Mr Monkman then moved Wolfson further ahead, only for them to, again, get nothing from the bonuses. Mr Monkman then fell victim to a non-interruption, but Emmanuel could not take advantage.

An agonising run of two more dropped starters added to the tension at this late stage, before Mr Hill upped it even more by taking the next starter; needing the bonuses to fall for them, Emmanuel got two on moons of the Solar System. But that man Monkman took the next starter, and when his side swept up all the bonuses, that was game over. Emmanuel finished the match with a bang though, taking the final starter, but the gong cut them off during the bonuses. Wolfson won, 170-140.

An excellent match, well played in great spirits by both sides, and kudos to Paxo for saying as much in his summation. Unlucky Emmanuel, but a fine series of good performances you can be very pleased with, so thanks very much indeed for playing this series. Very well done Wolfson though, and very best of luck in the final!

Mr Monkman was, once again, the best buzzer of the night, adding seven starters to his series tally, now standing at 42, while Mr Hill was best for Emmanuel with four, though Mr Barton-Singer finishes the side's best buzzer of the series with 21. On the bonuses, Emmanuel converted a decent 12 out of 22, while Wolfson managed an also decent 15 out of 30 (with the night's one penalty). Both decent rates those; well played both sides on a fine match!

Next week's match: Edinburgh vs Balliol, for the right to fight Wolfson.

Only Connect saw its first semi-final on Friday; I hope to do it tomorrow, but it will be done this week, I can, hopefully, assure you.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Only Connect Series 12: Play-Off Quarter-Final 2: Psmiths vs Verbivores

Right, Only Connect. I'll be honest, I don't think the show works in a format this long; I prefer it in shorter series. As opposed to UC, which, despite dragging out somewhat in the later stages, still seems to run fairly smoothly throughout, Only Connect just doesn't seem the right sort of show to run this long. But that's another matter, and possibly another article.

Anyway, playing last Friday night were the Psmiths, Mark Smith, Nick Holland and captain Nick Reed, and the Verbivores, Phyl Styles, blog reader Tom Cappleman and captain Graeme Cole. Now you may recall these two met in the first round, with the Psmiths narrowly winning. Since then, the Psmiths have beaten the Networkers and the Oscar Men, but lost to the Cosmopolitans, while the Verbivores recovered by beating the Channel Islanders, the Taverners and most recently the Fire-Eaters, but have also lost to the Surrealists.

Round 1. The Psmiths went first, and kicked off the match with Two Reeds, and the pictures: we saw a beige looking colour, then pop singer Sage the Gemini, then the Sage Gateshead, and finally some actual sage. They didn't see it, their opponents did for a bonus. For their own first question, the Verbivores chose Eye of Horus: 'In Greek: act as a question mark', then 'According to Vonnegut: 'show you've been to college''; this was enough for them to offer 'semi-colons', which was correct for three points. The Psmiths chose Water next: 'or, Virtue Rewarded', then ''Top Gear' theme tune', then 'Former capital, Duchy of Lorraine'; they tried 'womens names ending in A', not correct. Their opponents saw 'Roman hunting goddess', but their answer of 'womens names mentioned in Mambo No 5' was also wrong! They are the first names of the Mitford sisters, which both teams realised once pointed out. The Verbivores chose Lion next, and got the music set: we heard Bruce Springsteen singing 'State Trooper', then 'Ghetto Bird' by Ice-Cube, then 'Police Officer' by Smiley Culture, and finally 'Gee, Officer Krupke' from West Side Story. They didn't get it, their opponents did, offering 'the Police', which was close enough for a bonus. For their own question, the Psmiths chose Twisted Flax: 'Think Tools', then 'theGlobe.com', then 'Pets.com', and finally 'Boo.com'. They offered 'much hyped Internet companies that failed'; correct for a point. Left with Horned Viper, the Verbivores saw 'Flying Balloon Girl: West Bank', and this was enough for Mr Cappleman to spot, and them to offer, 'Banksy artworks' for FIVE POINTS! Well spotted sir! At the end of the first round, the Verbivores led 9-2.

Round 2, What Comes Fourth? The Psmiths went first, and chose Two Reeds to start with: 'Potomac: 1', then 'Congo: 2', and then 'Nile: 3'. They didn't get it, their opponents did, offering 'Danube: 4' for a bonus, the sequence being how many capital cities lie on those rivers. For their own question, the Verbivores chose Twisted Flax: 'Osborne (2005-2010)', then 'Darling (2010-2010)'; they saw it to be Shadow Chancellors, but their offer of 'McDonnell (2015-present)' was surprisingly not right. Their opponents saw 'Johnson (2010-2011)', but couldn't identify the fourth. 'Balls (2011-2015)' completes the set. The Psmiths chose Water next, and got the picture set: we saw a hieroglyphic ox, then an aleph; they saw it to be symbols developing into an 'A', so offered that, for three points. The Verbivores chose Horned Viper next: we saw the British flag and the German flag with an A each, then the same two flags with a B flat next to the British and just a B next to the German; they saw it to be the musical scales in these countries, and offered the two flags both with a C for three points. For their final choice, the Psmiths chose Eye of Horus: 'Content', then 'Padding', and then 'Border'; they didn't get it, their opponents did, offering 'Margin' for a bonus, the sequence being HTML elements on web pages. Left with Lion for their own final question, the Verbivores saw '1 (2)', then '2 (3, 5)', and then '3 (7, 11, 13)'. They spotted the sequence to be prime numbers, and thus offered '4 (17, 19, 23, 29)' for the points. (Victoria jokingly tried to deny them the points for not including the brackets!) At the end of the second round, the Verbivores led 16-5.

On to the Walls. The Verbivores went first, and chose to tackle the Water wall. They spotted a couple of sets, and isolated their first set of 'Cherry', 'Plum', 'Beefsteak' and 'Grape', which are types of tomato. After spending quite a bit of time trying, they spotted a set of words that can precede 'tower', and eventually isolated 'Cooling', 'Bell', 'Clock' and 'Shot'. They tried to resolve the wall, but ran out of tries, and thus had to settle for bonus points: 'Late', 'Tope', 'Bar' and 'Tonic' all form other words when 'Iso' is added in front, which they didn't see, while '7', 'Cream', 'Kiss' and 'Sexy MF' are songs by Prince, which they also didn't see. Four points there.

The Psmiths thus could make up much lost ground if they could clean sweep the Lion wall. They got a bit stuck trying to work out sets, and it was well into the time when they eventually worked out a first set: 'Zebra', 'Pegasus', 'Puffin' and 'Toucan' are types of road crossing. A second set followed, 'Ladybird', 'Bloomsbury', 'Penguin' and 'Doubleday' are publishers, and they then proceeded to solve the wall with barely any time left! 'Eagle', 'Orion', 'Aquarius' and 'Snoopy' are lunar landing craft, which they didn't see, while 'Sparrow', 'Swann', 'Turner' and 'Barbossa' are characters in the Pirates of the Caribbean series, which they didn't get close enough to. Six points there, which left them trailing 20-11 going into the final round.

So, Missing Vowels to finish off as usual. 'Shakespearean characters and their killer' went to the Verbivores 3-1. 'Geographic features of Australia' saw the Psmiths unluckily lose a point for a rogue 'THE', but still take the set 2-1. 'Sources trusted on 'Only Connect'' was split 1-each, with neither side working out the very tricky third clue and getting timed out! At the end of the show, the Verbivores 25-15.

Another good half hour of quizzing all round. Unlucky Psmiths, but nothing to be ashamed of in your series of performances, so thanks very much indeed for playing. Well done Verbivores though, and very best of luck in the semi-finals!

Tomorrow night's match: the first semi-final! Between (checks Radio Times), ah, a Surrealists vs Verbivores rematch, followed by the Cosmopolitans vs the Korfballers the week after. Should be good matches both of them; best of (retrospective) luck all four teams!

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

University Challenge 2016-17: Semi-Finals Preview

So, after 34 (give or take) weeks of enthralling contest, with some of the best UC matches of the decade thus far in the process, we have our four semi-finalists:
  • Emmanuel College Cambridge (Tom Hill, Leah Ward, Bobby Seagull and Bruno Barton-Singer, 740 over four matches): Won two closely fought matches against Nottingham and SOAS to reach the group stage. Won two low scoring matches over Warwick and Corpus Christi comfortably to become the only side in the semi-final draw to win all their matches in normal time thus far.
  • Edinburgh (Luke Dale, Euan Smith, Joe Boyle and Emily Goddard, 790 over four matches): Two of the matches of the season saw Edinburgh reach the group stage, with Durham and Open providing the opposition. Two surprisingly comfortable victories over Birmingham and Wolfson made them the first team from north of the border to reach the semi-finals since St Andrews in 2003.
  • Wolfson College Cambridge (Justin Yang, Ben Chaudhri, Eric Monkman and Paul Cosgrove, 930 over five matches): A tie-break victory over SOAS and a comfortable Cambridge derby win over Jesus College took them to the group stage. A narrow win over Balliol, a middling defeat to Edinburgh and a more-comfortable-than-it-looks victory over Warwick put them into the semis.
  • Balliol College Oxford (Freddie Potts, Jacob Lloyd, Joey Goldman and Ben Pope, 1070 points over five matches): Easy wins over Imperial of London and Robinson of Cambridge earned them a group stage berth. A narrow loss to Wolfson was avenged by a very easy win over Birmingham and a steady victory over Corpus Christi, as they reached the semis.
A very strong semi-final line-up, four teams all proven successes over the past weeks. And, once again, there's no obvious stand out team amongst them.

Like last year, and this year's group stage to some degree, it will likely depend on the semi-final draw, and who plays who when. It's been practically confirmed on Twitter and on The University Challenge Review blog that it is, as I suspected, Emmanuel vs Wolfson (the match everyone wants to see!) on Monday, then Edinburgh vs Balliol on the 3rd.

Two excellent matches in prospect here, and I hope, after the rather limp ending to last year's contest (no offense), the excellent standard we've come to expect this series doesn't fade in the final weeks, and we get the excellent end to the series that it deserves.

Moving on to the ever controversial subject of gender equality, the semi-final draw is, like last year, 50-50 between two all-male teams and two teams with one female on the team. Like last year then, the odds of an all male final and of a final with a female on both sides are the same.

On the subject of which, I'm afraid I must report that the stigma of objectification has reared its ugly head once again after last night's show. A Twitter search reveals a Daily Express article asking whether Miss Johnson of Corpus Christi is 'the hottest University Challenge contestant ever'. This sort of thing is hardly going to encourage female students to agree to do the show, is it? To be fair, Miss Johnson herself has given an interview to the Telegraph stating that he is surprised to have received so much attention.

On a similar subject, an article from the Huffington Post I found a few weeks back features an interview with Mr Monkman of Wolfson on the newfound 'celebrity' status his appearing on the show has brought him. In the article, he too states his surprise at his becoming a sensation, noting that he was not in any way trying to stand out in any way.

And this just highlights something I've been saying for ages: the majority of University Challenge contestants are students in their early 20s, what's more, some of them are very shy individuals who would clearly come under stress from any 'attention' their appearances join them.

Take, for example, Alex Guttenplan, the excellent captain of the Emmanuel team that won the show in 2009. A year later, he appeared on Only Connect in a special match against the Crossworders with three of his colleagues. As soon as he was introduced, Victoria started 'staring dreamily' at him in a way only she can. He was clearly uncomfortable, even though she was obviously joking around.

This just highlights the fact that some University Challenge contestants, not all but some, are not comfortable with being in the media spotlight, and should be left well alone unless they actually state they are fine with being the center of attention.

Re-reading LAM from 2010, Dave C. pointed out that Mr Guttenplan was a 19 year old student, albeit a very knowledgeable one, and expressed hope that, once the series was over, he would be left alone to carry on his studies in his own time.

The fact that most UC contestants are able to do this, with a few exceptions who go on to appear on other shows (including blog reader Jack Bennett, who recently appeared on, and won, Fifteen-to-One 2.0), shows that most people do understand this, and that is a good thing in my book.

Back on subject, this has been an excellent series of UC thus far, and hopefully the semi-finals and resultant final will keep the momentum going. Here's to a great end to the series; best of (retrospective) luck to all involved!

Monday, 20 March 2017

University Challenge 2016-17: Play-Off Quarter-Final 2: Corpus Christi vs Balliol

Evening all. Been another tough week where I've considered the future of my UC write-ups on here. I am still undecided whether, for the next series, I will carry on with my current format, or switch to something a bit more concise. We shall see how I feel over the spring recess. On with tonight though, and an Oxford derby to decide the last place in the semi-finals.

Corpus Christi began their run with victories of Jesus College and Peterhouse of Cambridge, and a thumping win over Bristol, but ran out of steam against Emmanuel, and lost 170-55. Hoping for a return to their prior form were the 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

Balliol convincingly beat Imperial of London and Robinson of Cambridge early on, before coming unstuck against Wolfson, recovering with a 265-65 win over Birmingham. Hoping to follow on from that and join their conquerors in the semis were the also unchanged four of:
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 Mr Goldman picked up where he left off last time by taking the first starter of the night. Just one bonus on Chatham House was taken, but Mr Lloyd picked up a slip-up from the opposition, and a bonus set on 'squandering' proved more to their liking, taking a full house. Mr Pope added his two cents as well, and two bonuses followed appropriately. A nice starter asked that concatenating the regnal numbers the last five monarchs (75862) gives the approximate size of which of the home nations; Mr Goldman looked like he was guessing when he answered Scotland, but was right, and two more bonuses followed. The first picture round, on flags of native peoples, went to Corpus Christi, who moved off the mark with two correct, reducing the gap to 80-15.

Mr Venkatesh added a bit of momentum for his side, taking a second starter in a row, and another two bonuses on prisons were taken. Mr Pope then returned his side to proceedings, and they reasserted authority with a full bonus set on physics. Miss Johnson bit back for Corpus Christi, and, again, the side took two bonuses. Mr Potts then ensured all four Balliol players had contributed on the buzzer; another full bonus set put them back in control, and gave us the amusing answer of 'The Sea and The Sea, the Sea'! Back came Corpus Christi with another starter and two bonuses, to just about keep in touch.

Mr Goldman promptly took the music starter, but the bonuses, on composers who wrote their music while undertaking other jobs, proved fruitless (I got Borodin though, thanks to Millionaire). They thus led 140-75, a lead Miss Johnson took ten off with the next starter; her side's bonus consistency continued as they took another two on moons. Mr Goldman looked to have just beaten his opposite number to the buzzer on the next starter, and they also took two bonuses on writer's block. Back came Corpus Christi with Miss Johnson again on the buzzer, but their consistency ended as they only managed one bonus on English ceremonial districts.

The second picture round, on ballet costumes and sets designed by Leon Bakst, went to Corpus Christi, but they got nothing from the bonuses, which left them trailing 160-120. With only a couple of starters in it, Balliol now turned on the afterburners, as Mr Goldman took the next starter; nothing came from the bonuses, but Mr Lloyd came in quickly on the next starter, and a full bonus set on important academic works put them within sight of victory.

A nice starter asked for the modern day names of two capitals whose Latin names are given to elements; Mr Goldman correctly offered Copenhagen and Stockholm, with Paris being the other, and that was most game over. Two bonuses on the Danish empire followed, before another starter and full bonus set put them well out of sight. Still, Corpus Christi ended the match with a bang, taking a starter and full bonus set of their own. One starter and correct bonus to Corpus Christi later, and that was the gong; Balliol won 240-160.

Another good high quality match between two good teams. Unlucky Corpus Christi, who never quite made up ground after a slow start, but, as Paxo said, a good strong performance nonetheless, and a fine series of performances, so thanks very much indeed for playing. Well done Balliol though; another good strong effort against proven opponents, and very best of luck in the semis!

Mr Goldman was, again, best buzzer of the night, with six, taking his overall total to 31, while Miss Johnson was best for Corpus Christi with four, though Messrs Venkatesh and Wright finish joint best overall with 15 each. On the bonuses, Corpus Christi converted a good 15 out of 26 (with the night's sole penalty), while Balliol managed an also good 24 out of 36; good rates those, both indicative of the high standard of contestant in these late stages.

Next week's match: the first semi-final! Don't know the draw yet, but my guess is TPTB will want to avoid a rematch if possible, so Emmanuel vs Wolfson (a much awaited fixture on Twitter!) and Edinburgh vs Balliol is my best guess, but we shall see.

As for Only Connect, I will get on to that this week, but not until Thursday (I hope), as tomorrow I will be doing my usual UC semi-final preview; tune back in tomorrow for that!

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Only Connect Series 12: Play-Off Quarter-Final 1: Beekeepers vs Korfballers

OK, right, we're caught up with Only Connect again. I hope, from now on, I won't fall behind again, but, again, I guarantee nothing.

Anyway, last Friday's match. Playing for a place in the semi-finals were the Beekeepers, Ian Wallace, Josh Spero and captain Mark Wallace, who have beaten the Scunthorpe Scholars, the Policy Wonks and the Oscar Men, but lost to the Cosmopolitans, and the Korfballers, Taissa Csaky, Niall Sheekey and captain Michael Jelley, whose victories have been over the Channel Islanders, the Shutterbugs and the Fire-Eaters, and whose defeat has been to the Surrealists.

Round 1. The Beekeepers went first, and kicked off the match with Lion: 'S: Onopordum acanthium' (in purple), then 'NI: Trifolium dubium' (in green); they saw it quickly to be the Latin names of national flowers of the home nations and their colours, and collected three points. The Korfballers opened their account with Two Reeds: 'Iskenderun, Turkey', then 'Kandahar, Afghanistan'; they too collected three points, identifying them as cities named after Alexander the Great. The Beekeepers chose Twisted Flax next: 'Palm Jumeirah', then 'Boscombe Reef'; another three points, as they offered 'artificial structures in the sea'. (The remaining clues weren't in the sea, but they'd got the right idea) The Korfballers chose Horned Viper next, and got the picture set: we saw some Swiss cheese, then a potato, then a shot in space of a hurricane; they spotted the link to be 'eyes', and collected two points this time. The Beekeepers chose Water next, and got the music question: we heard 'Downtown', then Take That's 'Babe', then 'Fairytale of New York', and finally 'Last Christmas'. They offered Christmas number ones; not right. Their opponents tried Christmas number twos; correct, for a bonus! Left with Eye of Horus for their own question, the Korfballers saw 'Andy Riley' (I've seen at least one person say they thought it was something to do with Father Ted after seeing that!), then 'Alison Uttley', then 'Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin', and finally 'Richard Adams'. The last one gave it to them: they all created fictional rabbits. At the end of a strong first round, the Korfballers led 7-6.

Round 2, What Comes Fourth? The Beekeepers opened procedings with Horned Viper: 'A: 1 in 13', then 'AA: 1 in 17', and then 'AAA: 1 in 25'; their offer of 'AAAA: 1 in 41' was not right, and their opponents accidentally offered the same thing! They did get the sequence right though: it's the chance of drawing an ace from a deck of cards, so 'AAAA: 1 in 49' would be right. The Korfballers chose Two Reeds next: 'Y', then 'Tb', and then 'Er'. They didn't know it, nor did their opponents: they are elements named after the village of Ytterby, in order of chemical number, so 'Yb' completes the set. The Beekeepers chose Lion next: '201220', then '132014', and then '201520'. They didn't see it, their opponents did: '162017' completes the set, if you haven't seen it, it's the years 2012-2017 run together a bit differently. For their own question, the Korfballers chose Water, and got the picture set: we saw a thumb nail, then a card shoe dealer, and then a pommel horse. They didn't get it, their opponents did: 'for want of a nail a shoe was lost, for want of a shoe a horse was lost, for want of a horse a knight was lost', and they collected a bonus. (Didn't we already have that back in Series 1?!) For their own final choice, the Beekeepers chose Twisted Flax: '4th: Maidenhead (Conservative)', then '3rd: North East Hampshire (Conservative)', and then '2nd: East Ham (Labour)'; they saw it to be the biggest majorities at the 2015 election, but didn't know what would be fourth. Nor did their opponents. '1st: Knowsley (Labour)' completes the sequence. Left with Eye of Horus again, the Korfballers saw 'Musical composition', then 'Phone-readable black squares', and then 'Canonised person'; they saw it to be things abbreviated to 'Op', 'QR' and 'St', so offered 'Ultra-violet', or 'UV', for two points. At the end of the second round, the Korfballers led 10-7.

On to the Walls. The Korfballers took their turn to go first, and chose the Water wall. After taking their time to examine the clues, and try a few sets, they eventually isolated 'Mandrake', 'Rue', 'Aconite' and 'Belladonna', which are poisons. After studying the remainders some more, they suddenly spotted a set of words that precede 'goose', and slotted in 'Canada', 'Spruce', 'Grey' and 'Mother'. After that, the final sets proved not much of a problem: 'Sarkozy', 'Barracuda', 'Mullet' and 'Achilles' all start with islands, while 'Pine', 'Hemlock', 'Cypress' and 'Fir' are trees that produce cones, or conifers. A full ten there.

The Beekeepers thus needed to do likewise with the Lion wall to stay in pace. They did get a first set sorted pretty quickly: 'Fletching', 'Nock', 'Shaft' and 'Head' are parts of an arrow. They got a bit stuck with the rest of the clues though, and it was some time before they had a second set in the bag: 'Nob', 'Nave', 'Night' and 'Not' all become different words when a 'K' is put in front. With not much time left, they tried quickly to solve the wall, but ran out of lives. So, bonus points to be had: 'Deal', 'Livers', 'Nit' and 'Snug tent' are anagrams of metals, which they didn't see, while 'Walmer', 'Cooling', 'Hever' and 'Leeds' are castles in Kent, which they did. Five there, which left them trailing 20-12 going into the final round.

So, Missing Vowels to finish off the show, with the Beekeepers needing a shut-out realistically to stand a chance of catching. 'One of the Seven Dwarves and one of the Seven Deadly Sins', such as 'SNEEZY AND GLUTTONY' (yes, really), went to the Beekeepers 3-0. 'Words that can follow 'hot'' was split 2-each. 'Social media abbreviations and their meanings', such as 'OMG AND OH MY GOD', went to the Beekeepers 2-1, and that was time. The Korfballers won 23-19.

Another good match with plenty of good quizzing, good to see the standard still good at this late stage. Unlucky Beekeepers, but nothing to be ashamed of, a good series of performances, and thanks for giving us them. Very well done Korfballers though, and good luck in the semi-finals!

Friday's match: a rematch between the Psmiths and the Verbivores, with the winners taking the final place in the semis.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Only Connect Series 12: Qualification Quarter-Final 2: Psmiths vs Cosmopolitans

Right, Only Connect. Apologies that I have fallen behind again, but I will try as hard as I can not to again, though I'm guaranteeing nothing.

Anyway, starting with the second qualification match from the 3rd of March. Playing for a place in the semi-finals were the Psmiths, Mark Smith, Nick Holland and captain Nick Reed, who have defeated the Verbivores, the Networkers and the Oscar Men to get this far, and the Cosmopolitans, Annette Fenner, Emily Watnick and captain Amy Godel, whose prior victories have been over the Taverners, the Tubers and the Beekeepers.

Round 1. The Psmiths went first, and kicked off the match with Two Reeds: 'Love Potion No. 9 (1959, 1992)', then 'Ode to Billie Jean (1967, 1976)', then 'Convoy (1975, 1978)', and finally 'Yellow Submarine (1966, 1968)'. The last one gave it to them: they are pop songs and the films they were made into, accompanied by their respective years. The Cosmopolitans opened their account with 'Horn-ed' Viper, and got the picture set: we saw a Henry hoover, then Constable's The Haywain, then a hospital matron, and finally the Khyber Pass. Again, the final clue gave it to them: they are Carry On films. The Psmiths chose Twisted Flax next, and got the music question: we heard '5.7.0.5' by City Boy, then '867-5309 / Jenny' by Everclear, then '634-5789 (Soulsville, USA)', and finally 'Pennsylvania 6-5000' as performed by Glenn Miller. They didn't see the connection, their opponents did on a guess, offering 'telephones', which was close enough for the point. For their own question, the Cosmopolitans chose Lion: 'Ali Amako', then 'Reece Thens', then 'Elize Elmopan'; they spotted it to be countries and their capitals minus their first letters, and collected two points. The Psmiths chose Water next: 'Actor who played The Joker on TV', then 'Johannesburg football club'; they offered 'the names of pop bands', which was not correct. Their opponents saw 'Ivan the Terrible, Peter the Great etc' and 'Villain in The Usual Suspects', and offered that they are all linked by names relating to 'Caesar' for a bonus. (Cesar Romero, Kaizer Chiefs FC, Tsar and Keyser Soze) Left with Eye of Horus for their own question, the Cosmopolitans saw 'Dwyfor (1945)', then 'Chatham (1766)', then 'Beaconsfield (1876)'; they offered 'earldoms assumed by prime-ministers on retirement from the commons', and collected two points. At the end of the first round, the Cosmopolitans led 7-1.

Round 2, What Comes Fourth? The Psmiths went first with Two Reeds, and got a music sequence: we heard Jessie J singing Domino, then Kylie with Spinning Around, and then Rita Ora's How We Do. They saw it to be female judges on the BBC's version of The Voice, but misidentified the third as Jessie J, so offered Rita Ora as fourth, and their opponents didn't see it altogether. The sequence is correct, so something by Paloma Faith would be fourth. (Cue the best enforced singalong ever, as Mr Smith gave a hilarious impression of Ms Faith's awful rendition of I Vow to Thee my Country, sending everyone into hysterics!) The Cosmopolitans chose 'Horn-ed' Viper next: '4: Castaway in Jamaica', then '3: Finally reached South America', and then '2: Built the city of La Isabella'. They didn't know it, their opponents did, offering '1: Landed in Dominica in 1492' for a bonus, the sequence being the four voyages of Christopher Columbus. For their own question, the Psmiths chose Water: 'LEONARD NELSON', then 'KARL MARX', and then 'JOHN LOCKE'. They spotted the sequence as being the forename and surname both going backwards alphabetically, so offered 'IMMANUEL KANT' for the two points. The Cosmopolitans chose Twisted Flax next, and got the picture set: we saw a single dash, then the same dash slightly lower down, and then a symbol for a crotchet rest. They saw the sequence, but didn't know what was fourth, ditto their opponents. They are a semibreve rest, a minim rest and a crotchet rest, so the symbol for a quaver rest would be fourth. For their final choice, the Psmiths chose Lion (and apologies that I cannot reproduce this accurately): '4 (small 5)', then '10 (small 4)', and then '11 (small 3)'. They didn't see it, their opponents saw the sequence but got the answer wrong: it's the number 4 in base 5, 4, 3 and 2, so '100 (small 2)' is fourth. Left with Eye of Horus, the Cosmopolitans saw '4: Forty-Niners' (in a slightly smaller font size), then '3: Earthquakes' (normal size), and then '2: Padres' (large size). They offered '1: Dodgers', which would be correct, the sequence being sports teams in California's largest cities, with the font implying increasing size. At the end of the second round, the Cosmopolitans led 9-4.

On to the Walls. The Cosmpolitans went first, and they opted to tackle the Lion wall. They had their first set straight away: 'Cullinan', 'Taylor-Burton', 'Hope' and 'Koh-i-Noor' are diamonds. The rest proved harder to crack, and it took them some time before they had a second set: 'Dingle', 'Hudson', 'Botany' and 'Guanabara' are bays. Looking over what was left, they had it solved in no time at all: 'Scarlett', 'Cardigan', 'Lucan' and 'Raglan' are commanders in the Crimean War, while 'Barton', 'Sugden', 'Thomas' and 'Sharma' are families in Emmerdale. A full ten there.

The Psmiths thus needed to match that to realistically stay in the game, as they set to work on the Water wall. They too found a set pretty quickly: 'Bread', 'Rhoda', 'Taxi' and 'Soap' are sitcoms. A second set, 'Robert', 'Omar', 'Ellen' and 'Uhuru', which are forenames of African presidents, followed suite. They tried to solve the wall, but ran out of lives, and thus had to collect bonus points: 'Squirrel', 'Jacob', 'Carpet' and 'Saucer' can all follow 'Flying', which they got, while 'Music', 'Dieters', 'Fish' and 'Maps' are linked by 'scales', which they didn't. So five there, which left them trailing 19-9 going into the final round.

So, Missing Vowels to finish, as usual. 'Sections of the Daily Mail website' was split 2-each. 'Names beginning with a continent', such as 'AFRICAN VIOLET' and 'ASIAN PEAR', went to the Cosmopolitans 3-1. 'Board games that don't use a dice' went to the Psmiths 2-0. 'People you might buy something from' only had time for one clue, which the Cosmopolitans took. At the end of the quiz, the Cosmopolitans won 25-14.

Another excellent half hour of quizzing, even if a bit one sided. Unlucky Psmiths, but it's still up for grabs, so best of luck in the play-off on Friday. Very well done Cosmopolitans though, and very best of luck in the semi-finals!

Next match, which I will write-up whenever I can, hopefully tomorrow: the Beekeepers vs the Korfballers in the first play-off