Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Only Connect Series 12: Round 2: Match 4: Verbivores vs Taverners

Right, well, after University Challenge carried on its remarkable run of winning scores of 195, would Only Connect uphold its side of the run. Would this week's winners win with 22? Both teams tonight came through the scenic route, losing and surviving to the play-offs, then winning through to meet each other at this stage.

Playing were the Verbivores, Phyl Styles, blog reader Tom Cappleman and captain Graeme Cole, who just lost to the Psmiths then pipped the Channel Islanders, and the Taverners, Dean Reilly, Simon Gibbons and captain Mickey Alexander, who lost to the Cosmopolitans before beating the Bardophiles.

Round 1. The Taverners were put in first, and kicked off the show with Eye of Horus: 'Chief exec of TalkTalk', then '7-Up mascot', then 'Florian Cloud de Bounevialle O'Malley Armstrong', and finally 'First queen of Carthage'. The last clue gave it to them: they are all called 'Dido'. The Verbivores opened their account with Horned Viper: 'Japanese: Growing rice fields', then 'Korean: Three stars', then 'Danish: Play well'; that clue gave it to them that they are what brand names mean in their original languages (Minolta, Samsung, Lego, and the last clue would've been 'German: People's car' for Volkswagen). The Taverners chose Lion next: 'Charles Percy', then 'Cecil Scott', then 'Pamela Lyndon', and finally 'Gilbert Keith'. They didn't have it, their opponents just about did: they are the first names of authors who used initials (CP Snow, CS Forrester, PL Travers and GK Chesterton). For their own question, the Verbivores chose Water: '...Bill', then '...Baby', then '...Homepage', and finally '...Quartet'. They suspected it to be a word question, but could only come up with 'String'; not right. Their opponents were none the wiser. 'Million Dollar' are the linking words. The Taverners chose Two Reeds next, and got the picture set: we saw a carp fish, then a grouse, then a mother dog with her puppies. They spotted it from the third clue that they are words meaning 'complain' (carp, grouse, 'word beginning with 'B' that rhymes with 'twitch', and some beef would've been last). Left with Twisted Flax, and the music set, the Verbivores heard Glamorous by Fergie, then Gloria, then Lola by the Kinks, and finally Respect. They had it that they are songs where the title is spelled out. At the end of the first round, the Verbivores led 4-3.

Round 2, What Comes Fourth? The Taverners kicked it off with 'Horn-ed' Viper: 'ANITA AND THREE GIRLS: Life can be bright', then 'BERNARDO: If you can fight', and then 'ALL GIRLS: Life is all right'. They knew it to be who sings what in a song, but didn't know what came next. Nor did their opponents. The song is 'America' from Westside Story, so 'ALL BOYS: If you're all white' would come fourth. The Verbivores chose Eye of Horus next: '28: 3 in 48', then '29: 1 in 48', and then '30: 16 in 48'. They didn't get this, and their opponents couldn't provide an answer quickly enough. '31: 28 in 48' would be fourth, the sequence being how many months there are in a four year cycle. The Taverners chose Lion next: 'Chamber of Stone', then 'Prisoner of Secrets'; they identified it to be the Harry Potter series with the titles merged moving forwards, so 'Order of Fire' would be fourth. The Verbivores chose Twisted Flax next: '.2' then '.25', and then '.3'. Quite simple this one: '0.5' would be fourth, with the sequence being a fifth, then a quarter, then a third and then a half. For their final choice, the Taverners chose Water, and got the picture set: we saw some pirates, then an angry person, and then a rat. They didn't see it, their opponents did: an 'A' would be fourth, the others being 'pirates', 'irate', 'rat'. Left with Two Reeds for their own final question, the Verbivores saw 'Plymouth Argyle' in green, then 'Norwich City' in yellow, and then 'Blackpool' in orange. They saw it to be football teams and their kit colours going up the rainbow, so 'Manchester United' in red would satisfy for two points. (Though, technically, Blackpool's shirts are tangerine, not orange; same with Dundee United) At the end of the second round, the Verbivores led 9-6.

On to the Walls. The Verbivores went first this time, and chose to tackle the Water wall. This would prove a mistake, as they got completely stuck, and ultimately got timed out without anything in the bag. They could still garner connections points though: 'Timbers', 'Sounders', 'Crew' and 'Galaxy' are American association football teams, which they didn't get, 'Desire', 'Lumia', 'Optimus' and 'Xperia' are makes of smartphone, which they also didn't know, 'The Fly', 'Sweetest Thing', 'Elevation' and 'New Year's Day' are U2 songs, which they did know, while 'Frozen in Time', 'Above the Below', 'Revolution' and 'Buried Alive' are stunts performed by David Blaine, which they didn't. So just the one point there, which I think may be an unfortunate record.

The Taverners thus had a big chance if they could make the most of the Lion wall. Indeed, in complete contrast, they immediately isolated 'Into Darkness', 'Nemesis', 'The Wrath of Khan' and 'Insurrection', which are subtitles of Star Trek films. A second set followed almost immediately: 'Helter Shelter', 'Michelle', 'Glass Onion' and 'Across the Universe' are songs by a pop group called the Beatles. The final clues fitted in pretty promptly too: 'The Swarm', 'Revolution', 'Rita' and 'Big One' are rollercoasters of some sort, while 'Sketch', 'Anwar', 'Maxxie' and 'Sid' are characters in the sitcom Skins. So, a full ten, which put them ahead 16-10 going into the final round.

So, once again, Missing Vowels would decide who went through and who went out. 'Football tricks', such as 'SCORPION KICK' and 'CRUYFF TURN', was split 2-each. 'Musical trios' went to the Verbivores 3-0. 'British butterflies' was a clean 4-0 to the Verbivores. 'TV series set during the 1940s' only got one clue out, which neither team got. At the end of the night, the Verbivores had snuck another one point win, 19-18!

Well, what a way for the '22' run to end; another well played match by both teams. Unlucky Taverners, but nothing to be ashamed of in any of your efforts, so thanks very much indeed for playing. Very well done Verbivores though, and best of luck in the group stage!

Next week's match: the Fire-Eaters vs the Clareites

Monday, 28 November 2016

University Challenge 2016-17: Round 2: Match 4: SOAS vs Emmanuel

Evening all. Half way point in the second round matches, and a remarkable stat that I hadn't noticed til after last week's show: all three winning teams thus far had ended the match with 195! And to add to that, all three winning teams on Only Connect's second round had won with 22! No idea what the odds on that are! Would it continue tonight?

SOAS came through the repechage, losing by a whisker to Wolfson of Cambridge on a tie-breaker, before comprehensively overpowering Durham in their play-off, winning 270-85 on that occasion. They were the same foursome as those two prior outings:
David Bostock, from Cheltenham, studying Southeast Asian Studies
Magda Biran-Taylor, from Harrow, studying Southeast Asian Studies
Captain: Henry Edwards, from London, studying Near and Middle Eastern Studies
Odette Chalaby, from London, studying Near and Middle Eastern Studies


Emmanuel College Cambridge were trailing Nottingham for large parts of their first round match, but a strong fightback and a late sprint saw them emerge victorious by 175-135. They too were unchanged from that occasion:
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 our friend Mr Seagull slipped-up straight away, allowing SOAS to take the first starter, and to set their intentions firmly straight as they took all three bonuses. A second starter and full bonus in a row to the Londoners seemed to suggest the imperious form that won them the play-off wasn't dried up yet. A starter was dropped, before Miss Ward moved Emmanuel back into positive figures; a bonus set also on physics provided the Cambridge side with five points. Miss Ward then slipped up herself, before making amends with another correct starter, which, again, provided five bonus points. The first picture round, on the names of Ancient Greek thinkers written in modern Greek, went to Emmanuel, who swept the slate clean, and cut their deficit to 50-45.

A second starter in a row for Mr Barton-Singer gave Emmanuel the lead, and a bonus set on Shakespeare's sonnets added ten to their score. Mr Hill then had his turn to add to their score, which gave them a bonus set on plants, where they amusingly offered Rosemary instead of Thyme! Mr Edwards, top buzzer for SOAS in the earlier rounds, now took his first starter, but the London side only took five from a bonus set on former Indian states. Another starter was dropped, before Emmanuel acquired an amusing bonus set on dairy farming, which they unfortunately got nothing from.

The music round, on tracks kept in the US National Recording Registry, went to Emmanuel, who swept up the board; one of the pieces was Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, who long term viewers will remember as the subject of a famous wrong answer back in 2010-11! Emmanuel now led 115-65, but SOAS ate into the lead after Ms Biran-Taylor was somewhat leniently allowed 'Hapgar' in lieu of 'Apgar'; suspect William G Stewart would've allowed that, so fair enough that Paxo did too. SOAS swept up the bonuses, showing that they were still very much in the game. Mr Barton-Singer moved Emmanuel further ahead, but they got nothing from a tricky bonus set on proteins. A second starter in a row went to the Emmanuel right-winger, and two bonuses on symphonic poetry added to their score.

The second picture starter was dropped; the bonuses, on UNESCO world heritage cities, went to Emmanuel, with SOAS unluckily losing five in the process. They only identified Bath, but nonetheless upped their lead to 160-85. A very quick buzz from Mr Seagull pulled them to within sight of victory, and a bonus set on years of the nineteenth century saw them take two and unluckily miss the other.

But back came SOAS, as the late Mr Bostock took a starter to earn a bonus set on silent film directors, which they took ten from the move into three figures. But when Mr Barton-Singer took the next starter, just getting away with a slight pause, that was most likely game over. The resultant bonuses gave us comedy moment of the night as the Cambridge side struggled to recall something they'd discussed on the train earlier that day! They took five. Ms Chalaby took another starter for SOAS, and they went out with a bang with a full bonus set. The gong prevented the next starter being completed; Emmanuel won 195-130.

So, after another excellently played match by both sides, the run amazingly goes on! Unlucky SOAS, who were just simply outplayed by a better side on the buzzer, which would prove decisive as we'll see, but well done anyway on a very decent series of performances. Well done Emmanuel though; another strong showing against very good opponents, and very best of luck to yous in the group stage!

Mr Barton-Singer was the best buzzer of the night, with seven starters to his name, while Ms Biran-Taylor was SOAS's best with three. On the bonuses, SOAS converted a very good indeed 15 out of 18 (with one penalty), while Emmanuel managed 17 out of 36 with two penalties; so it was indeed a game won on the buzzer, with all eight players ending the night with at least one under their belts.

Next week's match: again, don't know yet, but hopefully all we be found out in the coming days.

Only Connect saw the return of the two play-off survivors from Group A tonight; tune back in tomorrow night to find out if their side of the run continued!

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Only Connect Series 12: Round 2: Match 3: Shutterbugs vs Korfballers

OK, back to Tuesdays this week, and should hopefully continue this way for the rest of the year, except maybe one week in a couple of weeks' time, though I will of course let yous know for sure nearer the time.

Anyway, playing last night were the Shutterbugs, Jasmine Leonard, Adam Ardron and captain Jenny Skene, who narrowly beat the Highgates last time out, and the Korfballers, Taissa Csaky, Niall Sheekey and captain Michael Jelley, who beat the Channel Islanders in their first outing.

Round 1. The Shutterbugs kicked off procedings with Two Reeds: 'Carucage', then 'Tallage', then 'Scot', and finally 'Danegeld'. They suspected it at the second, but the final confirmed it for them: they are former British taxes. The Korfballers began their account with Twisted Flax, and the picture set: we saw two beaters, of the sort seen in Gladiators, then a goalkeeper; this was enough for them to get it, they are positions in Quidditch! Victoria seemed most amused by this! The Shutterbugs chose Water next, and got the music set: we heard Michael Bolton, then George Formby singing When I'm Cleaning Windows; now, they offered, at this point, places in Lancashire, which Victoria accepted, even though the unheard clues would've been Dionne Warwick and Belinda Carlisle. Fair enough call IMO, they offered the key word, and thus were right to get the three points. The Korfballers chose Lion next: 'AUGUST 7', then 'APOLLO 8', then 'EXODUS 14', and finally 'QUIZ 22'. The final clue gave it to them: they are words and their Scrabble scores. The Shutterbugs chose Horned Viper next: 'British monarch: James II', then 'UK prime minister: Duke of Newcastle', then 'World triathlon champion: Jonny Brownlee', and finally 'Cuban president: Raul Castro'. They didn't get it, their opponents, and I, did: they all succeeded their brothers in that position. Left with Eye of Horus for their own final question, the Korfballers saw 'Fear does stimulate the vagus nerve', then 'Pectin does lower blood pressure', then 'Omega-3 does reduce natural inflammation', and finally 'A red sunset does mean high pressure moving from west'. Again, they had it from the final clue: they are scientific evidence for old wives tales. At the end of the first round, the Korfballers led 6-4.

Round 2, What Comes Fourth? The Shutterbugs kicked the round off with Lion, and the picture set: we saw a lotus flower, then Malcolm McLaren, and then Serena Williams. They didn't get it, their opponents did: something representing 'Ferrari' would suffice, the sequence being winners of the F1 Constructors Championship in order of how many wins. For their own question, the Korfballers chose Two Reeds: 'John Houblon' (scored out), then 'Michael Faraday' (ditto), and then 'Florence Nightingale' (likewise). They spotted it to be people who have been withdraw from being on £50, £20, £10 and £5 banknotes, but couldn't get the right answer. Their opponents offered Elizabeth Fry; now, at the time of recording, she hadn't been withdrawn from the fiver, she has now, but Victoria let them have the bonus nonetheless. For their own question, the Shutterbugs chose Twisted Flax: 'Secretary of State', then 'President pro tempore of the Senate', and then 'Speaker of the House'; they knew it was the line of succession to the US Presidency, and offered 'Vice President' for two points. The Korfballers chose Horned Viper next: '1936 - Wallis Simpson', then '1952 - Queen Elizabeth II', and then '1986 - Cory Aquino'. Neither team got this one; they are women who have been TIME magazine's Person of the Year, so '2015 - Angela Merkel' would be fourth. For their final choice, the Shutterbugs chose Water: '1st: MAX GROSS', then '2nd: TARE', and then '3rd: PAYLOAD'. They had nothing to offer, and their opponents didn't have it. '4th: CU CAPACITY' would be fourth, the sequence being labels on shipping containers. Ironically, the Shutterbugs claimed in their intro to have been looking at some being offloaded while on walkabout in Cardiff! Left with Eye of Horus again, the Korfballers saw '2013: Cold Trends (Search)', then '2014: Pokemon Challenge (Maps)', and then '2015: ChromoSelfie (Chrome)'. They knew it to be stunts pulled by Google on April Fools Day, but couldn't get the fourth. Their opponents could: '2016: Minion dropping mic (GMail)' would satisfactorily complete the set. At the end of the second round, the Shutterbugs led 8-7.

On to the Walls. The Korfballers went first, and chose the Water wall to play with. After looking over and trying some sets with little success, they eventually isolated 'Horne', 'Hancock', 'Dale' and 'Clitheroe', which are surnames of BBC Radio comedians. After spending some time trying to isolate a group of words for valleys, they eventually had 'Vale', 'Ria', 'Glen' and 'Gulch'. They tried quickly to solve the remaining clues, and got it at the last try: 'Magdalene', 'Blew', 'Lowe' and 'Grimm' are homophones of words meaning 'miserable', while 'Barton', 'Stuart', 'Berry' and 'Beard' are surnames of famous Marys. A much needed full ten points.

The Shutterbugs were thus under pressure to perform well on the Lion wall. They quickly spotted some links, and eventually isolated 'Myrrh', 'Maple syrup', 'Turpentine' and 'Cork', which are products obtained from trees. Looking over the rest, they spotted a link of words that can precede 'duck', and quickly isolated 'Lame', 'Sitting', 'Rubber' and 'Peking'. Looking over the remaining clues, they worked out the links, and soon had things wrapped up: 'Christiania', 'Edo', 'Angora' and 'Hanyang' are former names of capital cities (they offered 'erstwhile capitals', and were just about given it), while 'Cashmere', 'Vicuna', 'Qiviut' and 'Alpace' are types of wool. Another full ten, which gave them a slender lead of 18-17 going into the final round.

So, once again, Missing Vowels would be the decider. 'Things you might regret the next day', such as 'ONE-NIGHT STAND' and 'BOOZE-UP'(!), went to the Korfballers 2-0. 'Films with US state capitals in the title', such as 'THE FLIGHT OF THE PHOENIX', went to the Korfballers 2-1. 'Noted mnemonics' was split 1-each, and time expired on the third clue. The Korfballers won 22-20.

Another good close contest. Unlucky Shutterbugs, but nothing to be ashamed of at all once again, so thanks for taking part. Well done Korfballers though, and good luck in the group phase.

Next week's match: the Verbivores vs the Taverners

Monday, 21 November 2016

University Challenge 2016-17: Round 2: Match 3: East London vs Warwick

Evening all. In a break with the last six series, neither repechage team reappeared tonight. Instead, we had two teams who had a very different experience of the first round; one narrowly won a very close match, the other ran away with the highest score of the first round. Matches aren't decided on paper, especially based on first round form, so what would we get tonight?

East London, this year's token ex-Polytechnic, were on even terms with Glasgow throughout their first match, ultimately winning it on the final starter of the match, and winning narrowly 150-135. They were unchanged from that time around:
Christopher Ducklin, from Eastbourne, studying Civil Engineering
Kelly Travers, from Westcliff in Essex, studying for a Masters of Research
Captain: Jerushah Jardine, from the Lizard Peninsula in Cornwall, studying Peatland Ecology
Rachel Evans, from Grays in Essex, studying English Literature

Warwick started off on even terms with Liverpool in the first half of their first match, before hitting their stride in the second half, and running away with it to win 235-95, which would turn out to be the highest first round score. They were also unchanged from that time:
Sophie Hobbs, from Birmingham, studying French and History
Sophie Rudd, from Grimsby, studying Computer Science and its Applications
Captain: Giles Hutchings, from Farnham in Surrey, studying Maths
Thomas Van, from Geneva, studying History

Off we set again then, and Miss Rudd, by far Warwick's best buzzer first time out, identified the mammal species rodentia for the first starter; a full bonus set straight away showed that they were up for it tonight. Next, we saw 'emoji' as an answer for probably the first time! Miss Rudd took that too, and two bonuses followed this time. Mr Van added his worth by taking the next starter, and two bonuses from a nice set on childrens rhymes followed suite. East London finally got to the buzzer next, but only managed to lose five (albeit for buzzing with just one word left). Ms Travers finally broke the Londoners' duck with the next correct starter, but no bonuses followed. The first picture round, on Latin names of childrens books, went to Warwick, who swept up, and already led 90-5.

Mr Hutchings, who could well be vying for the first UC-Countdown double, took a second starter in a row, but just the one bonus followed this time (unlucky to miss another though). Already, their lead was over 100, and Miss Rudd increased it further by taking the next starter. Already, they looked home and dry, even more so when Mr Hutchings was first in with a very good answer on the next starter. They took one bonus, and unluckily missed another when Mr Hutchings said the wrong answer by mistake despite having been told the right one.

The music starter was dropped (I got it, albeit only because I'd heard it on UC before!); the bonuses, on classical works based on the tales of folk heroes, eventually went to Warwick, who only took the one, but still led comfortably, 160-5. Another starter went Miss Rudd's way, but, again, just the one bonus was converted alongside. East London finally broke back into the match when Mr Ducklin took the next starter, and they took one bonus from a nice set on pairs of novels, unluckily missing the other two. A penalty dropped them back further, but they quickly recouped the points, though got nothing from the resultant bonuses.

The second picture round, on paintings by members of the Royal Academy donated upon their induction, went to East London, who took one bonus, which put the scores at 175-40. Ms Travers then took a fourth starter in a row for the Londoners, and one bonus on Canterbury cathedral ensured they wouldn't be joining the Sub-50 club. (I can post a full list of Paxo-era members of that if anyone wants)

There was only actually time for three starters in the final straight. Miss Rudd took the second, allowing Warwick to increase their lead, which they did via two further bonuses on Japanese fiction. Miss Rudd buzzed on the third, but was beaten by the gong. Warwick won 195-55.

A rather one sided game truth be told. Unlucky East London, who were simply outplayed on the buzzer and just didn't have the bonuses fall for them when they did, but you played in great spirit, so thanks very much indeed for taking part. Very well done to Warwick though; another strong performance on the buzzer and the bonuses makes them one to watch in the group stage, and good luck to them for then.

Miss Rudd was, again, best buzzer of the night, albeit only just with five starters to Mr Hutchings' four, while Ms Travers and Ms Evans took two each for East London. On the bonuses, East London converted just 3 out of 15 (while two penalties), while Warwick managed a rather good 19 out of 30.

Next week's match: don't know, but hopefully we'll find out beforehand. All I can say is I hope its not the two repechage survivors against each other; neither deserve to go out in this round.

Only Connect returned to normal this week, with no mistakes, and a pretty good close match too. More on that tomorrow. I hope.

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Only Connect Series 12: Round 2: Match 2: Networkers vs Psmiths

OK, sorry for the two day delay, but now I can finally get round to reviewing this week's Only Connect. Yes, the one with the mistake! Kudos to TPTB for the professional way they dealt with it, having Victoria announce at the top of the show, and then confirm what it was over the end credits.

Playing were the Networkers, Frank Little, David Collison and captain Harriet Courtney, who defeated the Cousins in their first match, and the Psmiths, Mark Smith, Nick Holland and captain Nick Reed, who narrowly emerged on top over the Verbivores, who are also in the second round draw.

Round 1.The Networkers kicked off proceedings with Eye of Horus: 'Kashmir', then 'Pyrenees', then 'Lake Victoria', and finally 'Borneo'. They offered 'disputed borders'; not right. Their opponents offered 'divided between three nations', which was correct for a bonus. For their own first question, the Psmiths chose Two Reeds: 'Berk', then 'Dinas Emrys', then 'Erebor'; they offered 'dragons', which was correct. (The card answer was 'fictional dragons', but Victoria thought 'dragons' was sufficient!) The Networkers chose Twisted Flax next, and got the picture set: we saw Brendan Rodgers, then Venus Williams, then some steel, and finally Mark Owen. Neither side had it: they are the surnames of the Gang of Four. No, they're not! Roy Jenkins was in the gang of four, not David Steele! There's the famous mistake! The Psmiths chose Water next: 'Watson-Wentworth by Watson-Wentworth West', then 'Fifty Shades of Melbourne', then 'East of Macmillan'; that gave it to them, they are films where the names of a prime minister has been swapped with that of their successor. Good shout for two points. (The missing one was 'The Brown Witch Project'!) The Networkers chose Lion next: 'Northern Ireland: Council tax', then 'Wales: Voluntary organ donation', then 'Scotland: Tuition fees'; they identified things that are not applied in those parts of the UK, and picked up two points of their own. Left with Horned Viper, and the music question, the Psmiths heard 'Take On Me' by A-ha, then 'Run' by Snow Patrol, then 'Mad World' by Tears for Fears, and finally Gloria Jones singing 'Tainted Love'. Neither team knew it: these are songs that got to number one when covered by others. At the end of the first round, the Psmiths led 5-2.

Round 2, What Comes Fourth? The Networkers began the round with Two Reeds: '4th: Canada (Alouette I)', then '3rd: UK (Ariel I)', and then '2nd: USA (Explorer I)'. They didn't get it, their opponents came close with '1st: USSR (Vostok I)', but it's actually '1st: USSR (Sputnik I)'. They are artificial satellites in order of launch. The Psmiths chose Lion next: '41st: Timberwolf', then '42nd: Eagle', and then '43rd: Tumbler (pre-election); Trailblazer (post-)'. They knew it to be secret service nicknames of US presidents, but didn't know what would be fourth. Nor did their opponents. '44th: Renegade' would complete the set as Obama's codename. The Networkers chose Water next, and got a music sequence: we heard Erasure, then 'It Never Happens to Me' by the Assembly, and then Yazoo. They didn't get it, their opponents did: something by Depeche Mode would satisfy, the sequence being the career of Mr Vince Clark going backwards. (A half decent rendition of 'Just Can't Get Enough' followed!) For their own question, the Psmiths chose Twisted Flax, and got the picture set: we saw Harry from Spooks, then a GI Joe doll, and then some chap I didn't recognise. They didn't get it, nor did their opponents. We have a spy, a soldier, and the third character is a tailor, so 'Tinker' of some sort would be fourth. For their final choice, the Networkers chose Eye of Horus: 'Witham', then 'Welland', and then 'Nene'. They offered 'Ouze', which was correct. They are the rivers that feed into The Wash. Left with Horned Viper again, the Psmiths saw 'Newsbeat hands over to Scott Mills', then 'Jeremy Vine throws to second bulletin'; they knew it was what happens on the BBC radio networks at a certain time, but didn't get the right answer. Their opponents saw 'The Lunchtime Concert is introduced', but were none the wiser. They are what happens on the main four networks at 1pm, so 'Martha Kearney reads the headlines' (ie The World at One) would be fourth for Radio 4. At the end of the second round, the Psmiths led 6-4.

On to the Walls. The Psmiths had their turn to go first, and chose the Water wall. They immediately isolated a set of famous Ashleys, 'Judd', 'Banjo', 'Giles' and 'Cole', and then very quickly had a second set, 'Belch', 'Aguecheek', 'Malvolio' and 'Feste', which are characters in Twelfth Night. They looked over the remaining eight, and worked out the groups fairly quickly: 'Lyre', 'Psaltery', 'Kontra' and 'Viola' are string instruments, while 'Eruct', 'Burp', 'Gurk' and 'Rift' are synonyms for 'belch', or, as the setters put it, 'digestive wind release'! A very quickly solved full ten.

The Networkers thus had to solve the Lion wall fully too to stay in step. They made a good start, isolating 'Prospect', 'NUJ', 'Equity' and 'Napo', which are trade unions, very quickly. A second set, 'Howard', 'Daddles', 'Dad-Dab' and 'Edd', which are fictional ducks, followed. They too resolved the remaining eight with their first try: 'Britannia', 'Groat', 'Unite' and 'Crown' are British coins, while 'Leonard', 'Penny', 'Amy' and 'Sheldon' are, of course, characters in The Big Bang Theory. Another well resolved full ten left the scores at 16-14 to the Psmiths going into the final round.

So, Missing Vowels would decide who went through to the Group Phase. 'People or things with avian nicknames', such as 'BRIGHTON AND HOVE ALBION', went to the Psmiths 3-1. 'A country and its smallest state', such as 'AUSTRALIA AND TASMANIA', was a 2-each split. 'The word 'missing' is missing', such as 'IN ACTION', went to the Networkers 2-1, and that was time. The Psmiths had won, 22-19.

A good match well played by both despite the low scoring first two rounds. Unlucky Networkers, but certainly nothing to be ashamed of, so thanks for playing. Very well done Psmiths though, and good luck in the Group Phase!

Over the credits, Victoria confirmed that the gang of four question was the one with the mistake.

Next week's match: the Shutterbugs vs the Korfballers

Hopefully back to normal service next week; back on Monday with UC as usual. See yous then.

Monday, 14 November 2016

University Challenge 2016-17: Round 2: Match 2: Birmingham vs St Andrews

Evening all. On we carry with the second match of the second round. Winners tonight would go through to the increasingly unpopular group phase, the runners-up would go home. No women on tonight's show, apart from in the audience, and also, possibly, the only possible case of a team playing their own football stadium! (Sorry, you really have to know your football to get that! If anyone knows any other possible permutations where this could happen, do tweet me or tell me here!)

Birmingham were initially trailing Queen's of Belfast for most of their first match, before overtaking and running away with the match in the final stages, ultimately emerging on top 165-105. They were the same four that we saw last time:
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

St Andrews also spent much of their first match against Worcester of Oxford in a losing position, though never too far behind, and they just snuck ahead at the end to win 175-145. They too were the same four as before:
Matt Eccleston, from St Helens, studying International Relations and Spanish
James Green, from Schaffhausen in Switzerland, studying German and Persian
Captain: Toby Parker, from Bristol, studying Maths
Andrew Vokes, from Edinburgh, studying Chemistry

Off we set again then, and the match didn't exactly get off to a good start, with Birmingham incurring a penalty; St Andrews capitalised and took a full set of bonuses on devices. Mr Green went straight for his buzzer with 'Ambrose Bierce' when he heard the words 'Devil's Dictionary', only for the question to swerve a request a word from its definition instead; Birmingham took control, but only got one bonus from their first set, on November the 5th, which, had Autumnwatch not interfered, would have topically gone out last week. Birmingham took the next two starters, but, in both cases, took just one bonus from each set. The first picture round, on philosophical works in their original languages, went to Birmingham, who, again, took just the one bonus, nonetheless increasing their lead to 55-20.

A nice starter on the names of places in Somerset made it five in a row for Birmingham, and their bonus hoodoo lifted as they swept the board on a set on cell biology. Mr Greenlees, impressive in the earlier round, took his second starter in a row and third of the night, and a second consecutive bonus full house, on fish, put them into triple figures. St Andrews finally broke back into the match courtesy of Mr Vokes; a bonus set on actresses featured on the AFI's list of 20th century screen legends provided them with two correct starters, and a slight slip from Paxo, who pronounced Bette Davis' first name as 'Bet' rather than 'Betty'. (Shame William G Stewart wasn't there to correct him!)

The music starter was dropped; the bonuses, on pieces written for variations of the piano trio, went to Birmingham after a fresh starter. Just the one bonus followed as the Midlanders upped their lead to 120-40, before Mr Green reduced it by ten by taking the next starter. A complicated bonus set on geographical parallels saw the Scots side take one, and unluckily miss the other two. Mr Sutherland increased Birmingham's lead, and a bonus set on pairs of words, one of them a cheese, where the final few letters of one and the first few of the other are the same (didn't we have that a few weeks ago?) provided them with five further points.

The second picture round, on portraits of French writers whose work was banned by the Roman Catholic Church, went to St Andrews, who took a full house, keeping themselves in the game as they cut the deficit to 135-80. Mr Greenlees just about took the next starter, and a bonus set on Berlin museums offered them two correct answers and ten more points. A second starter in a row went to Mr Greenlees; a bonus set on 1996 elections gave me a very rare full set, but just the one from Birmingham, who nonetheless offer some amusement by suggesting Carlo Ancelotti was Berlusconi's predecessor as Italian PM!

A third starter in a row went to Mr Greenlees, a bonus set on human anatomy fell right into his lap, and that was game over. But St Andrews weren't going to give in yet; Mr Green took the next starter, but final words of Shakespeare characters got them no further points. Two starters in a row were dropped, with St Andrews losing five in the process, before the Scots side deservedly reached triple figures thanks to a starter and two bonuses. St Andrews took the final starter, but there was no time for bonuses. At the gong, Birmingham won 195-115.

A decent enough match despite it being sort of one-sided. Unlucky St Andrews, who were very much still in it until their opponents ran away near the end, but two perfectly respectable efforts, so thanks very much for playing. Very well done to Birmingham though; another good victory over decent opposition, and good luck in the group stage!

Mr Greenlees was, again, best buzzer of the night, with seven starters under his belt, while Mr Green, again, was St Andrews' best with four. On the bonuses, Birmingham converted a decent 18 out of 33 (with one penalty), while St Andrews managed an also good 11 out of 18 (with two penalties).

Next week's match: don't know yet, but I suspect we'll be seeing one of the repechage survivors based on the last six years.

Only Connect saw a very unusual occurrence tonight: a mistake! I mean, I know we've seen some very improbable things this year, but come on! All will be revealed tomorrow.

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Only Connect Series 12: Round 2: Match 1: Cosmopolitans vs Tubers

So, the second round of Only Connect. Thanks to Tom Cappleman for confirming our suspicions that the second round is following the first round groups, and also confirming that play-off survivors will play each other as well; this means, unless they mix things up later on, it's quite easy to foresee who's playing who.

Playing each other last night were the Cosmopolitans, Annette Fenner, Emily Watnick and captain Amy Godel, who defeated the Taverners (who survived to the play-offs and are through to the second round as well), and the Tubers, David Prevezer, Hugh Brady and captain Jack Welsby, who won out over the Bardophiles (who the Taverners defeated in their play-off). So, who would triumph in the battle of the Fifteen-to-One legend captains?

Round 1. The Cosmopolitans began the match with Twisted Flax, and the picture set: we saw a young Frank Sinatra, then a young Jane Fonda, then Justin Bieber; they spotted that all the photos were mug shots of the celebs in question, and duly collected two points for it. The Tubers opened their account with Lion: 'Malabo', then 'Conakry'; they identified them as the capitals of Equatorial Guinea and Guinea respectively, and offered 'capitals of 'Guinea' countries'. Correct, for three points. The Cosmopolitans chose 'Horn-ed' Viper next: 'Con: +0. -0 = 1', then 'Lab: +0. -40 = 1', then 'Lib Dem: +0. -40 = 1'; they knew it had something to do with election swings, but couldn't boil it down precisely. Their opponents saw the final clue of 'SNP: +50. -0 = 56', and offered the election results in Scotland for a bonus. (Coincidence that this question came the same week as that question about Mhairi Black on UC last night) For their own question, the Tubers chose Two Reeds, and got the music question: we heard 'Anarchy in the UK', then 'Word Up!' by Cameo, then 'It's Raining Men', and finally 'What I Am' by Edie Brickell & New Bohemians. They didn't get it, their opponents did: they are songs that have been covered by ex Spice Girls as soloists. (I shudder to think!) For their own question, the Cosmopolitans chose Water: 'Nguyen That Thanh', then 'Tafari Makonnen', then 'Shimon Persky'; at this point, they offered 'original names of heads of state'. Correct, for two points. (The missing clue was the nicely topical 'William Jefferson Blythe III', aka Mr Hilary Clinton) Left with Eye of Horus, the Tubers saw two clues in foreign alphabets that I can't reprint here, then the third clue of 'Alles ist moglich: Die 10-Millionen Show', and finally 'Quien quiere ser millionario?'. That gave it to them: they are the titles of foreign versions of Who Wants to be a Millionaire?. (Reminds me of the foreign version, I can't remember which, where the host prolonged tension after a final answer with a DIY ad break!) At the end of the first round, the teams were tied at 5-each.

Round 2, What Comes Fourth? The Cosmopolitans kicked the round off with 'Horn-ed' Viper: 'G C C E' (in a column', then 'D G G A' (ditto), and then 'A D D D' (likewise). They didn't get it, nor did their opponents; they are tunings of instruments in the violin family, so a columned 'E A A G', would be fourth. The Tubers chose Two Reeds: 'Higher managerial, administrative & professional', then 'Intermediate, managerial, admin've & professional'; they spotted the sequence to be NRS demographic categories, but their offer of 'Semi-skilled manual' wasn't acceptable enough. Their opponents saw the third clue of 'Supervisor / clerical / junior management, admin've & professional', and offered 'Skilled manual', which was right for a bonus. For their own question, the Cosmopolitans chose Twisted Flax: 'Meankieli', then 'Voro', and then 'Estonian'; they thought it might be languages going up the Baltic, and offered 'Finnish'. Right answer, wrong reason: they are Finnic languages by number of speakers. Still get the two points though. The Tubers chose Lion next, and got the picture set: we saw broadcaster James Burke, then the Fibonacci sequence accompanied by some traffic lights, and then the Great Wall of China and another wall. This was great: they are visual depictions of the four rounds of Only Connect (Connections, sequences and walls), so something representing Missing Vowels would be fourth! Excellent stuff, and they had it for two points. For their final question, the Cosmopolitans chose Water: '4: qwerty', then '3: 123456789', and then '2: password'. Both teams saw it to be the most commonly used passwords, but neither could complete the sequence. '1: 123456' would be fourth. Left with Eye of Horus again, the Tubers saw 'China - Indonesia', then 'United States - United States', and then 'Canada - India'. They offered 'Russia - China' which would be right. It is the largest countries in terms of land area and population increasing. At the end of the second round, the Tubers led 9-8.

On to the Walls. The Tubers went first, and chose the Lion wall to solve. This was a tough wall; they spotted some links, but couldn't isolate anything. Eventually, they locked in 'Saint-Lazare', 'l'Est', 'Bercy' and 'Austerlitz', which are Paris railway stations. Running out of time, they eventually worked out a second group, 'Eylau', 'Copenhagen', 'Jena' and 'Marengo', which are Napoleonic battles. (Why am I somehow reminded of 'Chicken Austerlitz' from last year's UC?) With little time left, they quickly tried to solve the final groups, but ran out of time. They still could collect bonuses though: 'the Lateran', 'Lyon', 'Trent' and 'Constance' are Catholic councils, while 'Rome', 'Edinburgh', 'Sheffield' and 'Istanbul' are all said to be built of 'seven hills'. Six points for that.

The Cosmopolitans thus had a chance to pull away if they could clean sweep the Water wall. They quickly spotted two links, and eventually worked out their first group: 'Sebastian', 'Prince Eric', 'Flounder' and 'Scuttle' are characters in Disney's Little Mermaid. A second group came fairly quickly: 'Lady Lazerus', 'Daddy', 'Ariel' and 'Tulips' are works by Sylvia Plath. They tried to work out the remaining groups, and soon had them isolated: 'Calibri', 'Tahoma', 'Impact' and 'Cambria' are fonts, which they got, while 'Titania', 'Umbriel', 'Oberon' and 'Miranda' are moons of Uranus; alas, they offered 'Saturn' instead, and thus dropped the set point. Seven points there, which left the scores at 15-each going into the final round.

So, Missing Vowels would decide who went through to the group phase, and who joined Open in the 'unluckily eliminated early' club. 'Things that cause pain to runners', such as 'SPRAINED ANKLE', went to the Cosmopolitans 3-1. 'Cubes', such as 'STOCK CUBE' and 'SEVEN HUNDRED AND TWENTY-NINE', was a 2-each split. 'People you might give a tip to' went to the Tubers 3-1. 'Films about assassinations' only managed one clue, which the Cosmopolitans gave just in time. At the end of the show, the Cosmopolitans won 22-21!

An excellent close match between two fine teams that nicely complimented last night's epic UC! Unlucky Tubers, who just missed out at the post, but a very creditable effort, so thanks very much for playing. Well done Cosmopolitans though, and best of luck in the group stage!

Next week's match: the Networkers vs the Psmiths