Saturday, 28 December 2013

Christmas University Challenge 2013: Matches 1-5 (Friday 20th - Friday 27th)

Well, hope you all had a good Christmas. I had a relatively calm and uneventful one.

We're now half-way through Christmas UC, so time for a quick run through of the story so far. A few slight changes: the set has been slightly reorganised, and Paxo is now sporting that beard of his. Nothing major, just those two trivial things.

Friday 20th: Reading vs Emmanuel Cambridge
Reading: Cornelia Parker, John Simpson, Joan Smith, Jay Wynne
Emmanuel: Hugo Rifkind, Mary Ann Ochota, Simon Singh, Rory McGrath

Well, for once, we didn't begin the series with a very close contest. Emmanuel were clearly stronger on the buzzer, and that proved the crucial element. Simon Singh, the scientist who re-wrote a Katie Melua song, got six starters, which is what the Reading team got between the four of them. Cornelia Parker provided a comedy moment by answering a starter no-one knew with the very random 'sausages'! In the end, Emmanuel won 185-85, and we'll definitely be seeing them again next week.

Saturday 21st: Kent vs Lancaster
Kent: Rebecca Lenkiewicz, James Wong, Fi Glover, Robert Wade
Lancaster: Brian Clegg, Ranvir Singh, Roger Ashton-Griffiths, Matthew Fort

Again, not a terribly close affair. Lancaster had the clear edge on the buzzer throughout, with Kent being immobile for large portions of the game. Roger Ashton-Griffiths got seven correct answers, which is more than Kent got altogether (six). Though Kent did recover to respectability late on, they couldn't catch the opposition, and Lancaster won by 160-100. Whether that's a good enough score to bring them back next week is still up in the air.

Monday 23rd: Keele vs Aberystwyth
Keele: Francis Beckett, Dr Maggie Atkinson, Ian Moncrieff, Steve Jackson
Aberystwyth: Dan Jarvis MP, Elfyn Llwyd MP, Tim Brain, Chris Leek

Another match won on the buzzer, with Dr Atkinson getting six starters for Keele (five of which were before the music round), while Aberystwyth only got seven between them. After the second picture round, Keele led 125-35. But Aberystwyth rallied in the final minutes, and pulled their way to respectability, despite running into a set of bonuses of marzipan in Germany! We also got a slight Easter Egg towards the end, in the form of a second long rogue shot of Paxo dressed as Santa! In the end, Keele won 140-95; I doubt that score will be enough to bring them back next week, but we shall see.

Thursday 26th: Gonville & Caius Cambridge vs Christ Church Oxford
Caius: Quentin Stafford-Fraser, Helen Castor, Mark Damazer, Lars Tharp
Christ Church: Michael Dobbs, Adam Boulton, Andrew Graham-Dixon, Mehdi Hasan

Probably the best match so far. Caius had the clear edge throughout on the buzzer, getting most of the starters, and the bonuses generally fell their way too. Whenever Christ Church did get starters, their bonuses were usually on science, which none of them were experts in! At one point, the Oxonians accidentally buzzed in during one of the opposition's bonus rounds! Caius also provided hilarity, due to Mr Damazer's habit of saying 'of course it is!' after being told the answer to a bonus they hadn't got; Paxo did not let this go unremarked upon, and turned it into a runner! At the gong, Caius won by a huge 255-65; their bonus rate was 26 out of 39, which is very good, and we will definitely see them again next week.

Friday 27th: St Hugh's Oxford vs Stirling
St Hugh's: Liz Forgan, Alex Hibbert, Suzy Klein, Rowan Pelling
Stirling: John McLellan, Muffy Calder, Paul Lewis, Richard Lochhead MSP

Another amusing match to finish this summary. St Hugh's were stronger on the buzzer in the first half of the match, though they did have a habit of conferring on starters; Ms Pelling had to be told off for doing so at least three times! At one point, Suzy Klein was also given the points for an answer despite not buzzing for it. Although St Hugh's were better on the buzzer, their bonus rate tapered off as the match went on. Stirling did manage a late rally to respectability, but didn't quite catch up. At the gong, St Hugh's won 125-95, which, unfortunately, won't be enough to bring them back next week.

So, half-way through the series, and with two preliminaries to go, the two Cambridge teams, Caius and Emmanuel, are definitely through. A winning score of 160 or more will be sufficient to bring any of the remaining four teams back as well.

I'll be back next weekend to report on the remainder of the series. Until then, have a Happy New Year!

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Only Connect: Series 8 Grand Final

OK, I haven't been watching Only Connect much as of late, but I have been following the series, and keeping track of where we are. And last night, we arrived at the final. Both teams took the scenic route to get this far, winning their first match, then losing their second, but winning their third. And, though both went into their semis as the underdogs, they both won through comfortably. Whoever won would deserve the title.

Taking part in last night's final were: the Bakers, Tim Spain, Matt Rowbotham and captain Peter Steggle; and the Board Gamers, Hywel Carver, LAM and JOW reader Michael Wallace and captain Jamie Karran.

Off we set, starting as usual with What's the Connection. The Bakers went first, and their first question concerned crossword clues to 'Victoria', some of which I didn't understand until I watched it back just now. The Board Gamers got the dreaded music question, which turned out to be about songs on the subject of song writing. The Bakers dropped their next question, and the Board Gamers failed to convert, but did come up with a good alternative answer!

The Board Gamers' next question was about Number 1s on scales, which they didn't get, allowing the Bakers to get a bonus. The picture question also went to the Bakers, but they didn't manage it, and it was the Board Gamers' turn to pick up a bonus. Karran and co ended the round finely, getting three points after just two clues in a question about unwinnable positions. At the end of the first round, they led 5-3.

Moving on to the sequences round, and the Bakers dropped their first question, leaving the Board Gamers to come up with an amusing but wrong answer, which VCM seemed genuinely amused by. But they made up for that by taking three points on their next question. But the Bakers outdid them by getting their next answer after just one clue for a full five points!

The rest of the round saw the Board Gamers get two from one of their questions, and drop their other, giving the Bakers a bonus; the picture round went to the Bakers, but neither they nor their opponents could take the points. At the end of the round, the Board Gamers were just ahead, 10-9. Close final!

And it got even closer in the next round, where both sides got a full 10 out of 10 out of their Connections Walls (in both teams' case, the first time they'd successfully done so). This meant, going into the final round, the Board Gamers were still ahead, 20-19.

Everything to play for in the Missing Vowels round. Though the Bakers buzzed well in this round, the Board Gamers buzzed better. The highlight of the round was a set of questions on X-rated parodies of famous films, which provided a bit of light hilarity. But, at the end of the round, and the show, the Board Gamers had won it, 28-21.

Very well done to the Board Gamers, on a very well deserved victory! But well done to the Bakers too, who did very well to get to the final as well, especially as, as Michael Wallace said on Twitter last night, it was their first attempt at a quiz show. And to reach the final of Only Connect is always a pretty good achievement, whether you win or lose.

Well done to all involved.

And so concludes the final regular Only Connect on BBC4. The show has been promoted to BBC2 for its next run, so will presumably follow on immediately after UC.

Speaking of which, the standard of this years' Christmas UC seems to be a bit higher than previous years, though still a bit more low scoring than usual. I will post a summary of the series so far on Friday.

Until then, take care, and have a Happy Christmas!

Monday, 16 December 2013

University Challenge 2013-14: Round 2: Match 7: Liverpool vs Cardiff

So, the final regular match of the year, and yet another result few could've foreseen! And also, did anyone else have the show skip the opening credits and cut in during Paxo's intro?

Liverpool scored the second highest score of the first round, when they utterly trounced Keele 295-40. An impressive tally, but one mainly earned through buzzer work, and thus questions have been asked about whether they could handle a better team on the buzzer. We would find out, for the unchanged team of:
Catherine Monks, from Bolton, studying Classics 
Daniel Jenkin-Smith, from Birmingham, studying French and English
Captain: Chris Spencer, from Salisbury, studying Tropical Medicine 
Luke Nugent, from Southport, studying Medicine

Cardiff, on the other hand, won through a low scoring first round affair over Exeter, winning by 145-95. They were let down by a weak showing on the buzzer, but did well with the bonuses when they got them. Were they to buzz better, they could pull a shock off. They were also unchanged, and were still:
Eleri Evans, from Pembrokeshire, studying Maths 
Sara Caputo, from Torino in Italy, studying History 
Captain: Roderick Lawford, from Barking, studying Music, Culture and Politics 
Tom Parry-Jones, from St Asaph, studying Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies

So, on paper, a clear advantage to Liverpool. But then, Downing had a clear advantage over Queen's, and look what happened there.

At first, it was hard to pull them apart, with the teams sharing the first two starters, and both getting two bonuses each. Then Cardiff began to pull out a bit, aided by a penalty incurring from the opposition. And when Tom Parry-Jones took the first picture starter, all four Cardiff players already had at least one starter each. After the bonuses, on places in Britain and the States with shared names, Cardiff led 85-15.

Liverpool pulled back with the next starter, but no bonuses followed. Cardiff took the next, and were very lucky on one of the bonuses, answering 'Yes Prime Minister' when 'Yes Minister' was what was wanted, and were given the points! Not too sure I'd have accepted that, but I guess they were sort of the same series; YPM was a sequel, as it were.

Anyway, Liverpool got the next two starters, but they didn't seem to be doing too well on the bonuses, getting just two of the resultant six. The music round was on well-known classical pieces performed on the ukelele (yes, really!); Cardiff took the starter, and all the bonuses, and increased their lead to 140-55. And when Tom Parry-Jones got the next starter, bettering their first round score, the bonuses took their lead into three figures.

Catherine Monks, who had been somewhat impressive in that first match, brought Liverpool back into the match, and two bonuses followed this time. But back hit Cardiff, and their score hit 200, and Liverpool looked in trouble. The second picture round, on portraits of European figures who gives their names to EU initiatives, went to the Liverpool, but they were still behind by 200-95.

Another starter went to Liverpool, and they were now into three figures. But they were still struggling with the bonuses, generally only getting one or two per set. If they were going to catch Cardiff, they would need to improve their conversion rate. Catherine Monks did get another starter, but only one bonus followed one again.

Cardiff victory now looked pretty certain, and when Tom Parry-Jones took the next starter, it was certain. Liverpool did manage one more starter, but no bonuses went with it. One more starter to Cardiff, and the gong went; Cardiff had completed the shock, and won by 230-145.

Well well well, so now we have two candidates for the 'shock' Cromarty(IV) hinted at. Bad luck to Liverpool, who clearly struggled against a better team on the buzzer, but 145 is still perfectly respectable, and well done anyway for a good showing. But very well done to Cardiff, who, like Queen's, have redeemed themselves after a slow first round showing, and best of luck to them in the QFs. They could yet have more surprises to spring.

The stats: Tom Parry-Jones was the night's best buzzer, getting five starters for Cardiff, while Catherine Monks was, again, best for Liverpool with four. The Liverpudlians were let down by a bonus rate of just 11 out of 30, and incurred two penalties too, thus suggesting they did indeed win that first match on the buzzer. Cardiff, however, converted 22 bonuses out of 35, which is very good, and aided them to their victory. Well done to them indeed.

So, now we're off for the festive period. Christmas UC begins on Friday, and continues sporadically over the festive fortnight. We'll presumably resume with SOAS playing Reading in the final second round match in the New Year.

As for Only Connect, we now have our two finalists. I won't give any details away, but the final should be, interesting.

Monday, 9 December 2013

University Challenge 2013-14: Round 2: Match 6: Manchester vs Queens'

So, here we are again with the penultimate regular match of the year. One more next week, and then Christmas UC takes us into the New Year, where we will resume with the final second round match.

Reigning champs Manchester were given a closer than expected first round match by Brasenose College Oxford, but still emerged on top by 215-105. However, would playing away (in Salford, rather than just across the road) have any effect on their performance this time? We would see, for the unchanged team of:
Edward Woudhuysen, from London, studying History 
Joe Day, from Bideford in Devon, studying Physics with Astrophysics 
Captain: Elizabeth Mitchell, from Birmingham, studying PPE 
Jonathan Collings, from Manchester, studying Geography

Queens' College Cambridge won the closest match of the first round, beating Durham by 190-170. Playing Manchester is never an easy task, but facing up to it tonight were the also unchanged team of:
Paul Merchant, from Surrey, studying Modern Languages 
Rachel Gregory, from Sheffield, studying Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic 
Captain: Rhys Jackson-Jones, from London, studying Astrophysics 
David Phillips, from St Albans, studying Maths

Off we went again, and Queens' buzzed first, but were wrong, allowing Manchester to sneak in and take a full set of bonuses. A rare starter not buzzed in on by either side followed, before Manchester came back, and again took a decent haul of bonuses. Queens' got off the mark next, and took one bonus on British raptors. The Cambridge side also took the second picture round, on cuts of meat, but a storming start by the opposition meant they trailed 90-25.

Despite subsequently incurring a penalty, Manchester weren't fazed, and continued a strong run on the buzzer. The bonuses were generally falling well for them as well. Queens' responded with a starter and a full set of bonuses on the 1904 Olympics, including one about how the Marathon winner was disqualified for using a car! (Thanks to QI, I also knew that) And when Mr Woudhuysen took the next starter, he ensured all four Manchester players had at least one correct starter to their name.

The music round, on songs used for wake-up calls on space shuttle flights, also went to Manchester, and their lead now stood at 150-50. But Queen's then took two starters in a row, and narrowed it down a little bit. But it would take more than that to immobilise Manchester, and they hit straight back, and the lead was back to 100 in no time at all.

On to the second picture round, on British queens and consorts, and areas of the states named after them. Queens' (rather appropriately) took the starter, and were a bit unlucky to miss all three bonuses on very narrow slips. Manchester's lead now stood at 190-90. Not quite a match winning lead, but you got the impression that if Manchester could string a few starters and a good haul of bonuses together, it would be all over.

And that they did. Two starters in a row from Joe Day seemed to confirm this impression, and when Jonathan Collings took the next starter, and all three bonuses followed, it looked like game over. But it didn't stop there: Manchester had turned on the back burners now, and were motoring away on both buzzer and bonus. David Phillips did manage one more starter for Queens', which hauled his side into three figures, which they certainly deserved.

There was no stopping Manchester though, and with a couple of minutes to go, they broke 300, the third side to do so this series. At the gong, Manchester had won by 325-110. But a great portion of that lead was achieved in the final minutes, and I'd say it was closer than that.

Still, it's yet another impressive victory for Manchester, and they're into the QFs once again. Bad luck to Queens', who did very well considering a great deal of vanquished Manchester opponents over the years haven't even reached three figures. A good effort by Queens' all the same, considering their opposition's showing. Looks like playing away has had no effect on them at all.

The stats: Jonathan Collings was by far best buzzer of the night, with nine starters, and the side converted 32 bonuses out of 48, which is highly impressive. Rachel Gregory had the most starters for the Cambridge side, with four, and the side managed 9 correct bonuses out of 21. Both sides incurred one penalty.

So, as I said earlier, one more match next week, and they we break for Christmas UC. We shall wait and see what that holds for us this year.

I won't mention how Jamie Karran and co got on on their Only Connect semi-final tonight; my advice is you watch it.

Monday, 2 December 2013

University Challenge 2013-14: Round 2: Match 5: Trinity vs Peterhouse

So, after two matches memorable for completely different reasons, what would tonight's UC outing bring us? An all Cambridge affair, that's what. And two impressive teams as well.

Trinity College Cambridge were the most impressive performers of the first round, when they trounced the very good Christ Church Oxford team 300-150. To beat a decent team by that big a score is no mean feat. The Trinity team remained the same:
Matthew Ridley, from Northumberland, studying Economics 
Filip Drnovsek Zorko, from Slovenia, studying Natural Sciences 
Captain: Ralph Morley, from Ashford in Kent, studying Classics 
Richard Freeland, from Glamorgan, studying Maths

Peterhouse Cambridge also gave a memorable first round showing, coming from well behind to beat Balliol College Oxford impressively by 250-145. Clearly not to be underestimated were the (also) unchanged quartet of:
Mark Smith, from Colchester, studying Theology 
Edmund Zimmer, from Twickenham, studying Classics 
Captain: Alex Davis, from Dorchester in Oxfordshire, studying Physics 
Melanie Etherton, from Exeter, studying Natural Sciences

So, two good Cambridge teams who had performed very well in their first showing; shame we had to lose either of them really. The presence of Filip Drnovsek Zorko, aka JOW and LAM regular and stat-provider 'opaltiger', was what swung my support in favour of Trinity.

Off we went then, and Trinity began almost as strongly as they did before, getting the first two starters, and a fair haul of bonuses. But a slip-up from our man Filip allowed Peterhouse to get off the mark, and get two starters in a row; just one bonus came from these two though.

On to the first picture round, on Asian F1 circuits. Peterhouse zigged with Singapore, Trinity zagged with Malaysia. And then proceeded to answer 'Singapore' to all three bonuses! This time, the tactic didn't work! Still, Trinity were ahead 45-25. But Peterhouse were keeping them in check, and and soon the scores were level. A third starter for Edmund Zimmer gave his side the lead; two more starters followed, and Trinity looked to be in trouble.

But our man Filip soon stepped in with a quick buzz, and brought them back into the game. But this had been Peterhouse's quarter, and after the music round, on European cities in classical music, they still led 100-60. Another starter brought their score to double Trinity's.

Filip and co needed to get going quickly, and did so with two starters, and one full set of bonuses. And when Filip got a starter about his home nation of Slovenia, they were well back in the game, and took the lead with another full set of bonuses. The second picture round was on purpose built art galleries in England; the starter was dropped, as were two further starters, before Trinity took the bonuses.

Trinity had now recovered to lead 130-110, Peterhouse having incurred two penalties since their last starter. The momentum was now with Trinity though, and soon they had built up a head of steam on the buzzer. Like in their heat, the bonuses were generally going with the starters at a fair rate.

Soon, their lead had reached match winning level, and they were safely through. But they weren't going to stop, and kept getting both starters and bonuses until the gong was finally struck. Trinity's final winning margin was 240-110.

Very unlucky for Peterhouse, who did very well in the first half, but ran out of steam after the music round, and remained stuck for the rest of the show as Trinity marched ahead. As I said earlier, it's a shame that either of these two good sides have to go so early, and Peterhouse did perfectly respectably considering, so well done to them. But well done again to Filip and co on another good performance, and best of luck in the quarter-finals!

The stats: Ralph Morley was Trinity's best buzzer, getting six starters, while Edmund Zimmer's five was Peterhouse's best tally. On the bonuses, Trinity converted a good 24 out of 39, while Peterhouse could only managed 8 out of 24. And both sides incurred two penalties.

So, where to next? We'll find out next week, I guess. I also understand we'll be getting another series of Christmas UC over the festive period, so we'll have that to look forward to too.

And also be sure to check out Cromarty(IV)'s extended thoughts on last week's match, which I put up this morning.

University Challenge: Cromarty(IV) on Southampton's match against Bangor

Greetings from Southampton!  It hardly feels like two minutes since our game against Loughborough was on the air, but here we were again on University Challenge last week, facing off with last year’s semi-finalists, Bangor University.  Here are a few recollections from the surreal POV of a contestant in this fixture.

We arrived at MediaCityUK with plenty of time to go before we were due to take to the studios, and one of the ways that we passed the time was to watch the Clare – Christ Church match from backstage.  Between us, we couldn’t predict a winner with any confidence, but even so, the sense of disbelief among us when the game went to a tiebreaker was palpable!  I don’t think I’ve ever been so close to the edge of my seat when watching UC – probably because the two teams involved in this tiebreaker were teams that I’d got to know personally!  “Beat that,” I thought to myself thereafter.  “How can we possibly top that game for sheer spectacle?”

The battle of wits between Clare and Christ Church was certainly a very tough act to follow.  Nevertheless, when we took to the studio for our second-round game (accompanied by Susu the cat, as ever), I felt much more at ease with the whole thing than I had done in our previous games.  Maybe I was finally starting to get used to it.  Or maybe not.  My pretence of a steady nerve fell to pieces as soon as Paxo unveiled the first starter for 10.

Before the cameras started rolling, I’d noticed at least two members of last year’s Bangor team sitting in the audience, giving heavyweight backing to our opponents.  When Anna Johnson bagged the first starter and her quartet proceeded to sweep the board on a lovely bonus set about statues of fictional characters, a convincing victory for Bangor looked like a clear and present danger!  (We were fully aware that they could be a fiery team on the buzzers because they impressively snared one of the pre-show warm-up starters in double quick time.)

An early intervention from Bob on the starter that followed meant that we were able to tick off another entry on the “list of things that you have to do while you’re on UC”, namely to go into negative points!  Our stay in that most ignominious of regions didn’t last long, though, as Matt, Bob and David grabbed one starter each in quick succession to pull us out into the lead.  The “colours of the year” bonuses that came our way were delightful, especially “Tangerine Tango” – we deciphered the two clues that led us to that name, but it sounded so implausible that we were slightly reticent when declaring it as our answer!  Who thought the power of guesswork could get us so far?  Well, you certainly wouldn’t get that question on a National Lottery quiz…!

With the first picture starter, depicting 5th Avenue in New York City, Matt established himself as a force to be reckoned with on the buzzer.  I was pleased that we got to deal with the NYC picture bonuses – I’ve only visited the city once, and that was nearly a decade ago, but my younger self was mesmerised by his experiences there, so I hoped I could call on my travel log to beat the bonuses.  Alas (or thankfully, depending on which way you look at it), my teammates identified Times Square and Broadway almost before I’d had a chance to look at the pictures!

Following on from NYC was a starter question that couples nicely with the Dvorak episode from last week’s match, in a slightly morbid manner of speaking.  Paxo asked us to spot the next country in a clockwise sequence after Ethiopia that borders Sudan, and I buzzed in on a knee-jerk reaction and said “South Sudan”.  Our esteemed chairman paused before saying no, which led me to fear that I’d made a disastrous mistake.  Apparently, I had, because the answer on his card was Kenya… but close inspection of an accurate world map reveals that since the partitioning of Sudan in 2011, Kenya shares a border only with South Sudan!  We should have got 10 points!  (Surprisingly, and perhaps disappointingly after the Dvorak situation, the Daily Mail hasn’t got all fired up about this South Sudan question…)

I don’t regret not challenging the call in the studio, however.  It would only have disrupted the flow of the episode at a time when I was really focussed on moving forward.

Matt narrowly beat me to the buzzer on a starter about the cathode ray tube thereafter, and this was not the last time he would do that in this game!  The resulting bonuses were on 20th century history, which made my eyes light up somewhat, although I was ultimately less helpful than I would have liked.

A starter about the coat of arms of a European country fell very nicely into David’s pocket, gaining us some bonuses on graphic novels – the subject promised little for me personally, but the bonuses turned out to be quite gettable.  When we abruptly said Watchmen instead of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, I realised our mistake precisely half a second too late – and this was not the last time that this would happen in this game!

Following my second narrow defeat in a buzzer race by Matt, on a starter about the Copenhagen Interpretation of quantum mechanics, we failed to deliver on a bonus set about the Orange Prize, which inevitably led to some mockery from Paxo!  It was surprisingly enjoyable being on the receiving end of one of his insults, primarily because nobody can expect to take part in UC without being in that position, but also partly because we had it coming after the Margaret Atwood moment!

The music starter fell to Matt in the space of about one second, in which time I hadn’t even worked out what was playing!  Now that I’ve watched the question in the broadcast, I can just make out the word “firestarter”, but even then, I wouldn’t be able to buzz any faster.  What followed was an intriguing series of bonuses on songs that were banned by the BBC, which was a subject that I know has been employed before on UC.  Perhaps that’s why I had a feeling that Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s Relax would not be turning up in this round.  Instead, we got Walk Like an Egyptian by The Bangles, which I recognised, although I had no idea that those over-paranoid lefties at the BBC had banned it during the Gulf War.  Matt’s George Formby impression helped me to recall the name George Formby on the last bonus.  That incident speaks volumes about the merits of teamwork on UC: I didn’t recognise Formby from the song, but Matt did, only he couldn’t recall the name, and it was thanks to his Formby impression that we were able to drag it up.  As a result, we were ahead by 145-20.

Two starters were quickly dropped, including one featuring a line from A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  I was disappointed not to have recognised the line, because when I was back in school, several of my friends and peers acted in a short production of this play, which I absolutely loved watching – and which I almost auditioned for before chickening out, much to my severe regret later on!

Following on from them was a good starter about the average kinetic energy of gaseous molecules; I recalled some A-Level physics knowledge and identified the expression as “3/2 kT”, prompting Paxo to correct my “three-halves” to “three-over-two”, for reasons best known to him!  The bonuses that this unlocked were also beauties, all about crystal lattices.  Polonium was an old quiz chestnut, but the latter two were only gettable thanks to the chemistry teaching that I received during my first term at Southampton.  That’s what I go to university for!

Catriona Coutts tried “Queen Anne Fund” on the next starter, but she was wrong; she’d narrowly beaten me on the buzzer race, and I would have said exactly that, so I didn’t know what to say when we had a free go.  I did know what to say for a subsequent starter about how many decades separated the first manned spaceflight and the last Space Shuttle mission – suddenly, I had reason to be very thankful that I’d been so intrigued by space exploration when I was much younger!

When a starter about the notorious Oxford comma came up, Matt beat me to the buzzer for the third time (and quite a few other contestants, according to the broadcast), unlocking some bonuses on national trails, during which my tentative guess of “Devon” did us no favours.

Bangor took the second picture starter, giving them a shot at a great bonus set involving military/political figures.  Our chain of 12 starters had ended, allowing us to rest our voices for a while!  Taking stock at this point, I didn’t quite believe what the scoreboard was telling us.  Having been silenced by SOAS for much of our first game, and struggled to shake Loughborough off our tails in our second, we had somehow built up a 200+ lead in the first three-quarters of this match.  I had never thought that this was possible – all four of us have decent all-round knowledge, but we’re no David Stainers or Kevin Ashmans (I certainly have no right to call my general knowledge fantastic), and we knew that Bangor had secured a good victory in their first round.  If anything, the moral of this story is that split-second victories in the buzzer races really can add up to something spectacular, and a set of questions that fall very nicely for one team over another can make all the difference, especially if both teams are competent.

In the final quarter, we suffered from two major embarrassments!  The first was when Matt answered a cell biology bonus (a favourite area of his!) with hemi-desmosomes, only for Paxo to stop the recording and have a long consultation with the adjudicator upstairs, who eventually declared that hemi-desmosomes was not correct… the correct answer being desmosomes.  The second came in a bonus round on “isograms”, which are defined as names in which no letter is repeated.  I think we all know that Liechtenstein is not an isogram.  On the plus side, one of the other isograms in question was Scunthorpe, which just so happens to be my dad’s place of birth, and where many of his immediate family still reside!

Bangor grabbed another starter and swept the board on some bonuses about the UN, but we were very much on full speed ahead, and Bob, David and I swept up the remaining starters, taking us over the magic 300 mark.  The oxidation state starter was a home question for a chemist – I clearly remembered when my A-level chemistry teacher identified hydrogen peroxide as an unusual molecular species, in that it contained oxygen in the -1 oxidation state (as opposed to the more usual -2), so I was able to pull that out of my hat on cue.

My second consecutive starter, the last one of the whole game, was definitely my finest hour on the buzzer.  “Cape Fear,” said Paxo – at which point I was thinking “Which one?  There are two films of that name!” – “The Age of Innocence” – I saw the only answer that he could possibly be after, and went straight for it on the buzzer.  They were connected by their director, Martin Scorsese, and nothing else that I was aware of.  I thereby accomplished a feat that Ronnie Corbett accomplished off-screen in 1980 by “answering the question before it was asked”!  With this answer, my nine-year-old self’s fascination with films and film credits finally became worth something, so it was my favourite buzz-in of the game for that reason.

The gong interrupted the bonus set that followed, leaving the final score at 335-60.  “You guys are on fire,” said a dumbfounded Paxo – but he was not as dumbfounded as us!  Bob’s delightfully unexpected “I won’t do a Guttenplan” remark said it all.  I’m relieved that the editors didn’t cut it out!  What I half-wish they had cut out was my “goodbye from Southampton” moment – for the second time in a row, I managed to do a Corporal Jones by saying goodbye distinctively behind cue!

Commiserations to Bangor, though; as I’m not the first to observe, they’re a much stronger team than the scoreline suggests, with a strong first-round victory under their belts, and a bonus conversion rate in this game of 77%, which is undeniably very respectable.  It just goes to show that we certainly focussed our resources in the right area between our first and repechage matches, namely buzzer prowess.  They always say there’s no smoke without fire, and if starter questions and buzzing in constitute fire, bonuses are analogous to smoke.  Bangor had the smoke in this game, but we had the fire (which The Prodigy started!), and that was what made all the difference.

After the cameras stopped rolling but before we left the set, Paxo asked Anna Johnson to elaborate on what her studies constituted.  The private lives of dogwhelk were then explained in great detail, which provided our chairman, the audience, her teammates and our quartet with great amusement!

When I headed back to the Manchester hotel that evening, I took stock of the day’s highly dramatic proceedings.  We were official quarter-finalists.  That was the stage that I’d really hoped we could get to.  Of the five Southampton teams that have tackled the show before us, none of them made it past the second round.  We were the first team from our university to get to the quarters.  That was quite a thought to end on.

I also discovered that night that The Saturdays had achieved a long-overdue No.1 on the UK Singles Chart.  That was the icing on the cake of an amazing 24 hours!

Thanks once again to Cromarty(IV) for these thoughts!

Monday, 25 November 2013

University Challenge 2013-14: Round 2: Match 4: Bangor vs Southampton

Er, how do I respond to that?! The same way I always do: with a straight review of yet another extraordinary edition of UC! What a series this is turning into!

On the top row tonight, we had Bangor, who comfortably defeated Aberystwyth in the final match of the first round by 230-110. They remained unchanged from before, and were still:
Owain Wyn Jones, from Abertawe in Swansea, studying Medieval Welsh History 
Daisy Le Helloco, from Dorchester, studying English Literature 
Captain: Catriona Coutts, from Angelsey, studying English Literature with Creative Writing 
Anna Johnson, from Chippenham, studying Marine Biology

Apparently, Miss Johnson's studies focus mainly on 'imposex in the common dog welk'! And yes, she did say that! Paxo was dumbfounded!

On the bottom row tonight, we had Southampton, who lost their first match to SOAS 230-155, but survived to the repechage, where they beat Loughborough 185-80. The unchanged team still comprised:
David Bishop, from Reading, studying Physics 
Richard Evans, from Frimley in Surrey, studying Chemistry 
Captain: Bob de Caux, from West Sussex, studying Complex Systems Simulation 
Matt Loxham, from Preston, studying Respiratory Toxicology

With JOW and LAM reader Richard 'Cromarty(IV)' Evans amongst themselves, Southampton had my support tonight. But, realistically, I did not know who would win here.

Miss Johnson took the first starter for Bangor, and they took a full set of bonuses on statues of fictional characters. Bob de Caux interrupted the next starter incorrectly, dropping his team back to -5. But Matt Loxham made up for that with his first starter of the night, and the side soon pulled level. A misstep from Bangor allowed Southampton to take the lead, and, after the first picture round, on streets in New York, they led by 70-20.

And, from then on, they never looked back. They began to ace the buzzer race, and pull away into a very strong lead. And when they did get starters wrong, Bangor were unable to seize the opportunity. Soon, the lead was into three figures, and Paxo felt the need to tell Bangor there was still plenty of time left. Of course, he means well when he says this, but it is a sure sign that you're in big trouble, and only Manchester last year have gone on to win after being told this (though Pembroke came close).

The music round was on songs that were once banned by the BBC; it was the latest starter taken by Matt Loxham, and his side took all three bonuses, and their lead was now 145-20. The next two starters were dropped by both sides, before Southampton resumed their buzzer race acing. There seemed to be a lot of science based starters again tonight, which probably helped Southampton on the buzzer, as they were all science studiers, while Bangor only had one.

By the second picture round, Southampton's lead had not just broken 200, but smashed it! Owain Wyn Jones finally stopped them in their tracks, and took the second picture starter for Bangor, their first starter since the first one of the match. They side took one bonus, which took the gap to 240-35. There wasn't much chance of Bangor recovering the gap, but could they pick the pace up, and reach respectability?

'Fraid not. Southampton resumed their buzzer work, and their score was beginning to creep towards 300. A starter about Welsh allowed Owain Wyn Jones to pull his side up a bit more, and a full set of bonuses on the UN lifted them out of the 'Sub-50 club', which they definitely deserved to do. But this was as far as they could go; there was no telling how far Southampton could go though, as Bob de Caux was first to the buzzer to spell 'excerpt'.

Another starter from David Bishop, and Southampton reached 300. And it didn't stop there, as there was time for our man Richard Evans to get two more starters, and haul the side to the biggest score achieved on the show since Manchester trounced Newcastle two series ago. At the gong, they had won by a massive 335-60!

What an amazing performance from Richard and co, and a thoroughly deserved epic win! Paxo was amazed too, and remarked on how even their guesses were right, leading Bob de Caux to say he wouldn't 'do a Guttenplan'! Quite!

Spare a thought for poor Bangor though; they definitely did not deserve to get trounced like that, after their good performance in the first round. They were just repeatedly beaten on the buzzer tonight, and there's not much you can do when the opposition is just repeatedly beating you to it. Well done to them anyway.

When they did get to play, Bangor did very well, getting 7 bonuses out of 9; Owain Wyn Jones got two starters in their cause. All four of Southampton got at least three starters; Matt Loxham was best buzzer with seven, and the side converted 32 bonuses out of 52. Both sides incurred one penalty.

I'll say it again: what a series this is turning into! Maybe the much needed change of set was what did it! Whatever the case, I'm sure this won't be the last memorable affair we see this year.

As for Only Connect, Jamie Karran and co were back tonight as well. I won't say how they did though.

Monday, 18 November 2013

University Challenge 2013-14: Round 2: Match 3: Clare vs Christ Church

Well, how about that?! An Oxbridge match, so bound to be interesting in some way, but how many non-contestants saw that coming?!

In the Cambridge corner, Clare College, who beat Loughborough 195-155 in the first round, and were unchanged from before:
Tom Watson, from Navenby in Lincolnshire, studying Chinese studies 
Carys Redman-White, from Hampshire, studying Veterinary Medicine 
Captain: Tom Wright, from Sevenoaks, studying Theology 
Mark Chonofsky, from Boston, studying Physics

In the Oxford corner, Christ Church, who lost their first match to Filip 'opaltiger' Drnovsek Zorko's Trinity team, but (just) survived to the repechage, where they comfortably beat Durham; they were also unchanged from before:
George Greenwood, from Exeter, studying PPE
Andreas Capstack, from Norway, studying PPE
Captain: Ewan MacAulay, from Hong Kong, studying Chemistry
Phil Ostrowski, from Poland, studying Cardiology

If I'd had to pick a winner before this match, I'd have said Christ Church. But looking back on my review of Clare's first match, they converted bonuses almost as well as the Oxford side did against Trinity. So we could expect a close match.

Off we set, and Christ Church stormed off the mark with the first two starters of the match, and three of six bonuses. But back came Clare with the next two starters, and they too secured three of six bonuses. A superb early buzz from Tom Wright handed them the lead, and it was at that moment I began to think we could be in for something here.

The first picture round was on family trees from the works of Ms J. Austin; Christ Church got the bonuses, and clearly had no idea on any of them, resulting in much hilarity! At one point, Ewan MacAulay asked if any of his colleagues had read any Austin! Paxo told them it served them right, and they should read more! After all that, they trailed 60-45.

An early interruption from Christ Church handed Clare back the advantage, and a set of bonuses of optical illusions. Back hit Christ Church, who seemed very happy when their resultant bonuses were on cell biology; I think they've had a set of those in each of their matches! Just one bonus was converted this time though. In shot Mark Chonofsky with another superb interruption. At this point, the teams were roughly equal on the buzzer, but Clare seemed stronger on the bonuses.

The music round went to Clare, and their lead increased to 115-75. We finally saw a starter get dropped, before George Greenwood identified Major and Brown as the two most recent men to make the direct jump from No 11 to No 10. No bonuses followed, but they swept the board on their next set, on European capitals, and the gap was down to five points.

And then up it went again courtesy of Mark Chonofsky. The second picture round was on depictions of horse racing by French artists. The starter was dropped, and Clare dropped all the subsequent bonuses, leaving their lead at 140-110.

Into the home stretch now, and either side could take the match with a run of momentum. Christ Church hit first, and a set of bonuses of characters in the Tempest saw them only get one. The next starter was dropped, but the one after went to Clare, and up went the gap again. Back hit Christ Church, and this time they took the resultant bonuses saw the gap fall to just five points. And the next starter gave Christ Church their first lead since the start of the game. But no bonuses followed.

Back shot Clare, and they took the lead back! Just one bonus went with it, but at stakes as close as these, every little helped! The next starter asked for the spelling of 'facsimile'; Ewan MacAulay took his time answering, but was correct, and the scores were level! Just one bonus would be enough, but before they could answer the first one, the gong went! It was a tie, 165-each!

So, it was down to whoever got the next starter correct. Tom Wright just beat Ewan MacAulay to the buzzer... and was right! Clare had done it!

What a superb match! Best for a wee while. Very well done Clare for a very good showing, and best of luck for next time around. But very hard lines to Christ Church; they played superbly in all three of their efforts, and, as Paxo said, were very entertaining too, and were so unlucky to just get pipped this time. A good effort.

The stats: Mark Chonofsky was the night's best buzzer, getting seven starters, while Ewan MacAulay, as usual, led for Christ Church with four. On the bonuses, Clare converted just 11 out of 33; Christ Church converted 12 out of 31, but also incurred a penalty. Those stats just give you a sense of how evenly matched these two good teams were, and how easily it could've gone the other way.

If this is the sort of close match we should be getting used to, this is going to be a thrilling series!

Sadly, Only Connect wasn't as close, but a good effort from the winning team, who are now through to the semis. The losers could yet join them if they win their next match.

Monday, 11 November 2013

University Challenge 2013-14: Round 2: Match 2: Downing vs Queen's

Well, who saw that coming?! Apart from the teams in the quarter-finals, obviously!

Downing College Cambridge easily defeated St John's College Oxford in the first round 260-115, and came joint fifth in the end of Round 1 rankings posted by Filip 'opaltiger' Drnovsek Zorko of the Trinity team. They were unchanged from the first round:
Tom Claxton, from Grantham, studying Natural Sciences
Georgina Phillips, from Shoreham-by-Sea, studying Geography
Captain: John Morgan, from Abingdon, studying Theoretical Chemistry
Tom Rees, from Guildford, studying Maths

By comparison, Queen's University Belfast narrowly won the first match of the series, beating Aberdeen by a low-scoring 140-105, and finished bottom in opaltiger's rankings. Very much the underdogs tonight were the unchanged team of:
Suzanne Cobain, from County Down, studying History
Gareth Gamble, from Lurgan in County Armagh, studying Medicine
Captain: Joseph Greenwood, from Manchester, studying Irish Theatre
Alexander Green, from Lytham in Lancashire, studying Plasma Physics

But matches aren't played on paper. Remember Bangor's victory of Durham last series?

Indeed, Queen's got off to the better start, with Gareth Gamble getting the first two starters of the match. The third was dropped, and Downing didn't get going until the fifth. The first picture round was on recipes from a cake cookbook by a Ms D Smith. Paxo seemed amazed when Gareth Gamble got the starter, and then, when the side failed on the bonuses, remarked that he would be postponing his trip to their place for tea! (According to UKGS, he has used that line before in the past)

Queen's currently led 70-10, and a fourth starter for Mr Gamble added to that lead. But Downing pulled back with the next starter, and a full set of bonuses showed that they could yet pull back the gap if they could string a good run together. Queen's were unlucky to miss one starter, not wording the answer quite right, allowing Downing to take the points.

The music round, on classical pieces used in sporting events, allowed Queen's to extend their lead to 115-50. Another unlucky miss handed Downing a starter, but that seemed like a blip, as Queen's were acing the buzzer race, and making a mockery of their afore-mentioned ranking. They has soon eclipsed their score from the heat, and their lead had reached three figures by the time of the second picture round.

I'm sure I'm not the only viewer who guessed Gormley when asked for a sculptor! Tom Rees of Downing said it too for ten points, but no bonuses followed, leaving the deficit at 170-80. And when Queen's took their lead back into three figures with the next starter, it looked like they had won the game. But Downing were still going to give it a go, ending the match with a run of starters, though, again, not many bonuses went with them. One set, on novels published in 1928, saw the side employ the tactic of saying the same answer to all three bonuses; on this occasion, it didn't work!

At the gong, Queen's had completed their surprise victory, 210-135. I wonder if this is the 'shock' Cromarty(IV) hinted at a couple of weeks ago. Bad luck Downing, who, as Paxo said, didn't seem as on form tonight, but he added that 135 is a respectable leaving score, which is also true. A good pair of showings. But very well done to Queen's for proving their worth, and best of luck next time!

The stats: Gareth Gamble got six starters for Queen's, five of which came before the music round, and the side converted 19 bonuses out of 36, with one penalty. John Morgan's four starters were the Cambridge side's best tally, and but only 9 bonuses out of 27 may well have contributed to that surprise loss.

I imagine this won't be the last 'shock' we see this year.

The annual Only Connect Children-in-Need special tonight. Didn't see much of it, but 'twas a very close one. Watch it, and you'll see what I mean.

Monday, 4 November 2013

University Challenge 2013-14: Round 2: Match 1: York vs Somerville

Here we are again people; Monday night, and time for University Challenge. And with no prior word on who was playing, tonight's match was going to be surprising in more ways than one.

York easily defeated Bath in Round 1, 270-70, but were never really threatened by their opposition, thus raising doubts over how they'd perform against a better team on the buzzer. They remained:
Greg Carrick, from Hull, studying Maths
Brian Morley, from Liverpool, studying History and English Literature
Captain: Jeremy Harris, from Droxford in Hampshire, studying Medeival History
Laura Kemp, from Colchester, studying Chemistry

Somerville College Oxford also had an easy first round victory, defeating the decent Pembroke College Cambridge team 250-145. Given that their points were earned against better opposition (who fell just ten short of the repechage), they would probably be favourites for tonight's match. They were still:
Hasneen Karbalai, from Calgary in Canada, studying Medicine
Zac Vermeer, from Sydney, studying Law
Captain: Michael Davies, from Blackburn, studying PPE
Chris Beer, from Blyborough in Lincolnshire, studying English Literature

Here we went then, and Somerville had the better of the opening exchanges, scoring well on the buzzer, and fairly on the bonuses. York's first action on the match was a penalty, and aside from that, they were being beaten on the buzzer. However, the side did take the first picture round, on regions of Northern Ireland, and swept up the bonuses. This left Somerville's lead at 70-20.

The next starter asked for two landlocked countries in Africa; York only supplied one answer, and Somerville supplied two, one of which was wrong; we never did find out what the four correct answers were. Somerville resumed normal business courtesy of Zac Vermeer getting two starters in a row. The side was unlucky to narrowly miss the next starter, on the best current estimate of the age of the Universe, allowing York to pick up the points.

The music round was on arias relating to alcohol, allowed Somerville to increase their lead to 120-35. York stepped back in with the next starter, and two bonuses followed, but any hopes of a recovery were quashed when Somerville took two starters in a row, and a full set of bonuses on the 1912 US election went their way as well. York were now just over 100 behind, but then Brian Morley managed two consecutive correct starters, including the second picture starter. The bonuses, on figures of the Italian renaissance, allowed York to close the gap to 160-95.

A third consecutive starter went to Mr Morley, and you began to wonder if York could pull back and win this. The next three starters were dropped, before Zac Vermeer finally got one right, and a full set of bonuses gave Somerville more breathing space. But back struck York, and the lead shrunk again. But when Chris Beer took the next starter, and all the bonuses went Somerville's way, it now looked like they had won the match.

At the gong, Somerville had won by 240-135. A good and deserved win for the Oxford side, who, having defeated two good sides, could be considered a good bet for the title. Bad luck to York, who clearly struggled against a better team on the buzzer, but a fair performance nonetheless, and nothing to be ashamed of at all.

The stats: Michael Davies was narrowly the night's best buzzer, getting five starters, while Brian Morley's four (matched by Zac Vermeer) was York's best tally. On the bonuses, York managed a reasonable 14 out of 21, while Somerville finished the match with an equally good 23 out of 36, thus suggesting the Oxford side won the match on the buzzer. The sides incurred one penalty each.

As for Only Connect, tonight saw the return of Jamie Karran and co. I won't say how they did in case you haven't seen it yet.

Friday, 1 November 2013

University Challenge: Cromarty(IV) on Southampton vs Loughborough

Hi all, I’m the shady figure known on these pages as Cromarty(IV), a name which combines my interest in the eternally hypnotic tones of the Shipping Forecast and one of the notation systems that I regularly deploy in my chemistry degree.  (By writing Roman numerals immediately after the name of an element in a compound, often a metal, it denotes its oxidation state, which is roughly analogous to the charge that the element would carry if the compound were purely ionic.  I couldn’t resist choosing IV for my penname, because Cromarty-Four doesn’t sound too far removed from “Cromarty, Forth”, which are two consecutive area names in the Shipping Forecast!)

In fact, I’m Mr Evans from the Southampton University Challenge team.  Earlier this week, our repechage match against Loughborough beamed its way onto BBC Two, and so I thought I’d share a few recollections from the contestants’ desks.

I was awaiting the filming of this repechage match with a mixture of anxiety and excitement.  I’ve been wanting to appear on UC for at least 9 years, and as exhilarating as our first-round match against SOAS was, I was terrified that it would be my only game.  So when we got the call back to the repechage stages, we resolved to play a much more brutal game on the buzzers.  We didn’t want to get outplayed on the buzzers again and to leave the competition through silence!

These two repechage games were the first in the series to be filmed in MediaCityUK, Salford, rather than Granada Studios, Manchester.  Shortly after our arrival there on the day of filming, we met the teams from Durham, Loughborough and Christ Church, and learnt that our opponents would be Loughborough.  My mind immediately cast itself back to the British Universities Lifesaving Championships held the previous week, at which I watched my friends flying the flag for Southampton… and the Loughborough team winning a large number of events.  I thus had an “old score” to settle with Loughborough, making the match-up an extremely interesting one!

In the studios, following Paxo’s introduction of our team, I was able to introduce myself without fluffing my lines, which was a small achievement in itself!  (In the first round, I somehow came out with “I’m originally from Frimley in Surrey”, and I thankfully managed to drop the “originally” for this game.)  I then turned my head to face our captain, Bob De Caux, which I hadn’t done in the first round.  It was another UC quirk which I just had to have a go at!  Unfortunately, there was no fanfare for our team mascot, Susu the cat, this time around.

So on came the first starter for 10.  The first clue of a question about “a given name” played very much to the strengths of our ancient history specialist, David Bishop, who grabbed it impressively quickly.  This unlocked a series of bonuses on Parliament, so I was very eager to have a go at them!  Sadly, the Septennial Act of 1715 was not something which I knew anything of, and I am still kicking myself for not remembering that the Parliament Act was a direct response to the political deadlock at Westminster in 1910.  Thankfully, I managed to avoid flopping completely on this subject that I’m very interested in, by identifying the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act as a product of Nick Clegg’s latter-day constitutional meddling.  This took us to 15-0, so there was plenty of room for the game to go either way.

For the second starter, on a three-letter prefix, I considered “exo” almost at once, but wasn’t brave enough to chance my luck.  Bob was, and he earned us some bonuses on songbirds in poetry.  I’m ashamed to admit that I’m not as well-read as I would like to be, so these bonuses were never going to be my cup of tea, but I did manage to offer up the correct answer to one of them!  The bad news was that my poor old blackbird wasn’t submitted as our final answer!  On the recording, I am audibly surprised when Paxo looks in our direction and says, “No, it is a blackbird”!

This was shortly followed by a great starter about the British monarchy, another favourite subject of mine (I think there’s a bit of a trend developing here).  Embarrassingly, I failed to pick up on the fact that William IV’s widow was certainly not Queen Victoria’s mother, and Charles II’s widow was certainly not James II’s mother, so my minus-five for saying “Queen Mother” was my just desserts!  However, this premature buzz meant that I could tick another prestigious item off my list of “things that I just had to do while I was on UC” – namely to lose five points like that.  When the question continued, only to reveal a strong emphasis on the line “..who is NOT the mother of his successor”, I felt rather foolish!

My next positive contribution to the game was to recall one of the most often-churned-out nuggets of information from GCSE and pre-GCSE biology, namely that malaria is transmitted by female Anopheles mosquitoes.  I then almost redeemed myself for missing the blackbird question when a starter related to British wildlife came up, but Ali Thornton beat me to it, identifying red and grey squirrels and getting a set of bonuses on websites that I certainly wouldn’t have been able to navigate.

Then came the first picture round.  It was to do with the recent US presidential election.  It was a fantastic subject area for me – or at least it could have been, had we not gone one election too late every time!  I had a sinking feeling that I should have pushed 1992 a lot harder for the final bonus, what with Texas showing up red again, a sure sign of the presence of a Bush.  But I have no regrets over 1984/1980 – Reagan, Mondale and Bush Snr were all around for both, so there was very little to choose between for those two years!  (For the starter, I unfortunately didn’t look closely enough at the red Massachusetts, so I was thinking along the same lines as Matt.  When he came out with “bellwether states” and then couldn’t stop himself from elaborating further, we could all tell that he was wrong!  That moment was one of our favourites from this particular episode.)

By the time the music bonuses rolled around, I was just starting to think to myself, “I’m not being very useful in this game” – after all, the only thing I’d really done was to lose five points!  I’d also lost a buzzer race to Kathy Morten of Loughborough by what felt like nanoseconds, and hence missed the chance to relish some chemistry bonuses that would have been home questions for me.  (Watching these questions back, I’ve noticed – or, rather, my sister noticed – that Paxo asks Loughborough to identify a “cation” that forms a white precipitate when tested with silver nitrate solution, although the correct answer is an anion – the very opposite of a cation!  Someone among the question setters has been rather sloppy!)

I would also have loved to get the “You’ve Got to Pick a Pocket or Two” bonuses, as my family are all fans of the musical genre – but I might well have said “Omid Djalili” as Loughborough did, and thus been berated by Paxo!  (On that note: Paxo clearly wasn’t aware that Djalili has actually played Fagin in the West End, and that this answer wasn’t as bad as he thought!  And if Laurence Olivier had ever taken the role, that really would be unmissable…)

The music bonuses gave Loughborough a five-point lead, so I was more anxious than ever to get back into the game.  It was a great relief all round for the team when Bob worked to his strengths and solved a word puzzle relating to Asian countries.  When I watched the episode back this week and saw the last of the bonuses that followed, I immediately knew that the country that was governed by Spain for 400-odd years from 1492 was Cuba, which was not what we came up with in the game.  It just goes to show that the old story is very true: the studio lights do have a habit of frazzling your mind at times!

I should point out now that, back in 2007, five members of my local chess club appeared on Eggheads.  In their episode, Judith Keppel failed to identify the numerical series that started with 6 and 28 – they are, in fact, perfect numbers, and I looked the term up shortly after the episode aired.  It turned out that the next two perfect numbers after 28 were 496 and 8128.  So when Paxo read out a starter question that began, “8128, 496”… I had a feeling that there was only one way this was going.  I mashed my buzzer and said 6, gaining me one tally on the starter chart.  (I seem to remember sounding ridiculously overexcited when I said 6, and much to my relief, it doesn’t show too badly on the broadcast!)

Our reward was a set of bonuses on bread.  The good news was that I am renowned in my household for eating more bread than everyone else put together – I absolutely love the stuff!  The bad news was that I am not a baker, and nor do I know very much about international breads, so I couldn’t offer much in the bonuses.  The other good news was that we had definitely regained the initiative and were beginning to power away on the scoreboard.

I threw a bit of a spanner in the works by buzzing in on a subsequent starter as a knee-jerk reaction to hearing the name F Scott Fitzgerald.  The QI klaxons silently went off all around me as I said The Great Gatsby.  Bob later admitted that he knew the correct answer, but his buzz-in wasn’t at knee-jerk speed, so a good opportunity was sadly missed there.

David got an opportunity to stand in the spotlight when a series of bonuses on military engagements of the 1500s came our way, and he ably took control of them, with a small amount of support from my appalling pronunciation of Tenochtitlan (or “Tenoch”, according to Paxo)!  The starter that followed shifted the focus from centuries-old history to 20th and 21st century affairs, so the onus was on me to get this one.  (Actually, the broadcast shows that Matt turns and looks in my direction hopefully midway through the starter!)

“Add the number of the current French republic” – I pictured the number 5 in my head – “ the number of permanent members of the UN Security Council” – I pictured another number 5 and made 10, then waited for the next clue – “What number results?”  I was extremely surprised that this question didn’t go on any further.  Either way, I took to the buzzer and made 10 more points.  The adrenaline rush from going to the buzzer so quickly was fantastic, which is yet another reason why I strongly encourage anyone who’s thinking of applying to appear on UC to get out there and have a go! 

The following bonuses were on “an acid”, namely uric acid.  Strangely enough, Matt’s first starter in our first round game was also about uric acid.  I, still dazed from saying the number 10, couldn’t think of the name, so we went with a bit of a comedy answer to move the game on; I hope “ornithic acid” will never fail to make me smile!

With less than 3 minutes to go to the gong, and our lead standing at 105 points, I allowed myself to break slightly out of the mindset that I’d been adopting all through the game (“You’re probably not going to win”), and I accepted that we were home and dry.  I had decided even before our first-round match to go into every game expecting to lose, as I do whenever I play chess, thus forcing me to play with all guns blazing all the way through – largely because of the sad story of last year’s Lincoln College, Oxford team.  But our lead felt absolutely unassailable by this point.  I felt sorry when Katie Spalding buzzed in on the next starter to no avail, with a resigned tone of defeat in her voice.  Grant Craig won a terrific buzzer race on a chemistry starter thereafter, beating Bob and I by the narrowest of margins, allowing Loughborough to take their bow with a set of bonuses on their institution’s famous strength – sports!

The final starter of the game involved a quotation about treaties with Russia.  I had a flashback to my A-Level history course on German nationalism in the 19th and early 20th (ie up to 1919), in which that exact quotation (or a form of it) featured prominently at one stage.  The buzzwords “which statesman” were all I needed to hit the buzzer, deliver the Iron answer “Bismarck” and bring the curtain down on the show.  Just as Bob was answering the first bonus on our behalf, the gong went, confirming a victory for Southampton by 185-80.  (We had to reshoot the “Kim” answer several times.  We variously jumped the gong, were beaten by the gong and got drowned out by the gong, while we were supposed to be saying “Kim” just on the gong, which led to much mirth from Paxo!)

I’m slightly less happy now with the outcome of this show than I was in the studio.  There were plenty of bonuses that were very gettable for us, but we just threw them away somehow or other.  But the main line was, and is, that we had succeeded in doing what we came back to do: we were much better on the buzzers than before.  We’ve seen many times that a team with ultra-fast buzzer speed can win a match with deeply lacklustre bonus conversions simply by keeping their opponents quiet.  That was why we had to up our game on the buzzers, and I’m pleased that we managed to do so.  185 is not a bad score by any means, or so I felt while I was sitting in the chair.  We nearly made 200, but I was happy to settle for 185 – on the condition that we scored at least 190 in round 2!

I ended the show with the notoriously slightly clumsy “Goodbye from Southampton” moment, in which I unintentionally channelled the great Corporal Jones by waving and saying goodbye considerably later than my three allies!

When I phoned home a few hours after leaving the set, I summed up the experience with just six words.  I had won a game of University Challenge, something that I’d wanted to do since I was ten years old.  “I can die a happy man,” I said.

(Thank you Mr Evans for your comments; much appreciated!)

Monday, 28 October 2013

University Challenge 2013-14: Repechage Play-Off 2: Southampton vs Loughborough

And so, off we set again, for another round of University Challenge. The second play-off tonight, with the winners taking the final place in the second round. Two very likeable teams, who both scored 155 in their first match, so very little between them in that sense.

Southampton were comfortably beaten by SOAS in their first match, but scoring their points against such a good team means they were the favourites for tonight's match, in most peoples' books. With LAM and JOW reader and contributor Cromarty(IV) amongst their number, the unchanged quarter were:
David Bishop, from Reading, studying Physics
Richard Evans, from Frimley in Surrey, studying Chemistry
Captain: Bob de Caux, from West Sussex, studying Complex Systems Simulation
Matt Loxham, from Preston, studying Respiratory Toxicology

Loughborough lost a tighter match to Clare College Cambridge a week prior (the day Paddy won the Jackpot on DoND). It took them one starter more than their opponents to reach that score, hence their ranking below Southampton, but still a respectable effort. There were also unchanged from before:
Ali Thornton, from Penicuik in Scotland, studying Banking, Finance and Management
Cathy Morten, from Southampton, studying Aeronautical Engineering
Captain: Grant Craig, from Bonybridge near Falkirk, studying Analytical Chemistry
Katie Spalding, from Ipswich, studying Maths

So, very little between these two teams. It could go either way. 

David Bishop took his first starter of the series, getting Southampton off the mark first. More starters went Southampton's way, but very few bonuses went with them. Katie Spalding was unlucky to miss one starter, answering 'Dowager Queen' when 'Queen Dowager' was what was sought. Loughborough did manage one starter before the first picture round, on US states which ticket candidates in US election represented. Southampton led by 55-20.

The next starter went to Loughborough, and a full set of bonuses on rugby players allowed them to pull within five points. The next starter, on the horses of historical figures, saw at least three players race to their buzzer; Bob de Caux got there first, increasing Southampton's lead, though, again, only one bonus went their way. Loughborough weren't getting as many starters, but their slightly better bonus showing allowed them to keep in touch.

The music round, on renditions of You've Got to Pick a Pocket or Two, went to Loughborough, who produced laughter with suggestions of Laurence Olivier and Omid Djalili! It did, however, allow them to sneak into the lead, 70-65. But Bob de Caux immediately took it back for Southampton, and two further starters allowed the side to pull away into three figures. An interesting set of bonuses on people born on the same day went to the side, with two bonuses falling their way too.

The second picture round was on representations of months in the Bedford Hours, and both sides narrowly missed the starter by being a month out both ways! Southampton got the bonuses, and now led 135-70. Not quite a match winning lead yet, but it would be if they kept getting starters.

And that they did, and when Richard Evans completed a complex piece of arithmetic, their lead reached three figures, and the win was secure. Grant Craig did pull one starter back for Loughborough, ensuring all eight players had answered at least one starter correctly, but just one bonus came out of a complex set of gold winning athletes and their surnames. An odd moment happened when Ali Thornton interrupted incorrectly, but Southampton did not get the rest of the question.

At the gong, Southampton won by 185-80. A close match in the first half, but Southampton pulled away in the second for a respectable win. Bad luck Loughborough, but you still pretty well, and shouldn't be disheartened over either loss at all. But well done Cromarty(IV) and co, and best of luck next time!

The stats: Bob de Caux was the night's best buzzer, getting five starters for Southampton, and the side converted 15 bonuses out of 33 (with two penalties), which is OK, but may need to be improved on next time. Cathy Morten got two starters for Loughborough, with her colleagues getting one each, and the side managed 7 correct bonuses out of 15 (with one penalty).

Next week: the second round begins. No word on the draw yet. Good to see extra care being taken to avoid accidental spoilers though.

Monday, 21 October 2013

University Challenge 2013-14: Repechage Play-Off 1: Durham vs Christ Church

Good evening, from Ayrshire, for the first of the repechage play-offs. If I understand correctly, this was the first match recorded after the show moved to Salford. So, what would a change in location do? Well, apart from Paxo being zoomed in on from slightly further back than before, not a lot. We'll see what playing away does to Manchester's performance when we see them again later.

Durham narrowly lost to Queens' College Cambridge back in early August, by just twenty points, and with a score of 170, twenty points higher than their opposition tonight. Despite that, most would consider them the underdogs tonight; they were unchanged from before:
Alex Richards, from Derbyshire, studying Chemistry
Daniel Hulme, from Staffordshire, studying Theoretical Physics
Captain: Matt MacKenzie, from Gloucestershire, studying History
Oliver Burnham, from Hampshire, studying Chemistry

Christ Church Oxford were unlucky to draw the formidable Trinity College Cambridge team in their first match, but despite getting trounced, they still came away with an impressive score of 150, and only missed a handful of bonuses along the way. Their score was just enough to bring them back, so back again were:
George Greenwood, from Exeter, studying PPE
Andreas Capstack, from Norway, studying PPE
Captain: Ewan MacAulay, from Hong Kong, studying Chemistry
Phil Ostrowski, from Poland, studying Cardiology

So, on paper, not much between them, with Durham having a slightly higher score. But Christ Church's score was achieved against the best team of the first round, and that combined with their bonus rate made them the favourites tonight.

Early on, honours were even, with starters being swapped, and bonuses coming by the plenty. Phil Ostrowski was lucky to get away with a rather long pause after not answering a starter fully at first; but was given the benefit of the doubt, and became the second Christ Church to get a starter right in the series! The first picture round, on logos of international organizations, went to Durham, and they led 60-40.

Then, up surged Christ Church, and away they pulled. Unlike in the heat though, Ewan MacAulay was being aided by his colleagues, who were also adding their two cents on the buzzer. A dropped starter finally came when Mr MacAulay buzzed wrongly, and Paxo dared Durham to take a guess; the guess that came amused Paxo so much he didn't think it was worth guessing!

Phil Ostrowski admitted he was embarrassed to be able to identify Celine Dion for the music starter, but Paxo reassured him it was fine, as it got his team the points! The side swept the bonuses, on Canadian female vocalists, much to Paxo's amazement! Christ Church now led 135-60, and shortly afterwards, George Greenwood made sure all four Oxonions had at least one starter under their belts. The resulting bonuses saw the Oxford side take ages conferring on one bonus, and make Paxo crease up in the process!

Trying to break Durham back into the match, Daniel Hulme buzzed early on the next starter, but he didn't phrase his answer properly, allowing Christ Church to take the points. Matt MacKenzie made a similar mistake afterwards, giving the Oxonians more wheat to their mill. Durham finally broke back into the game with the next starter, but no bonuses followed.

And then the second picture round, on the dogs of US presidents. In each case, the breed was required, and the president as well for the bonuses! Ewan MacAulay narrowly missed the starter, allowing Durham to sneak the points, and the bonuses. More hilarity ensued! Durham now trailed by 200-80, but Daniel Hulme pounced on another Oxford error, giving all eight players at least one starter to their name.

Now into three figures, Durham needed to sweep the remaining starters up, but Christ Church wouldn't let them, and the next starter confirmed their victory. Now playing for pride, Durham did manage a late rally, stringing together two starters and a good tally of bonuses. The final points of a good match went to Christ Church, and at the gong, they had the win by 245-140.

Paxo was correct in saying 140 is a good score to lose with against such a good team. A shame to lose yet another promising Durham side so early, but they didn't disgrace themselves at all, and gave a good account of themselves in their two matches. Well done to Christ Church though for an entertaining victory, and, like so many others in the second round already, a favourable draw could see them make further progress.

The stats: Ewan MacAulay led again for Christ Church, this time with six starters, only one more then Phil Ostrowski managed, while Matt MacKenzie was Durham's lead buzzer with four. On the bonuses, Durham managed a respectable 13 out of 24 (with one penalty), while the Oxonians converted 23 out of 36, which is a slight step back from their first match, but still very good indeed. Good play all round.

Next week's match: the second repechage match between Southampton and Loughborough (good luck Cromarty(IV)!)

As for Only Connect, tonight we saw the first of the elimination matches between sides that lost their first match. Another close one too; shame to lose either side.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

University Challenge 2013-14: First Round Review and What We Can Expect Next

So, we've reached the end of the first round. So, time for the usual check-up post.

The fourteen teams safely into Round 2, listed in order of qualifications with their scores and winning margins, are:
  • Queen's University Belfast (140, 35)
  • Reading (180, 60)
  • Trinity College Cambridge (300, 150)
  • Queens' College Cambridge (190, 20)
  • Clare College Cambridge (195, 40)
  • SOAS (230, 75)
  • Manchester (215, 110)
  • Liverpool (295, 255)
  • Peterhouse Cambridge (250, 105)
  • York (270, 200)
  • Somerville College Oxford (255, 110)
  • Cardiff (145, 50)
  • Downing College Cambridge (260, 145)
  • Bangor (230, 120)
So, what can we expect from those raw stats? Well, Trinity got the highest score of the first round, but not the biggest win. Liverpool and York got lower scores, but won by much bigger margins. But, I maintain that Trinity are better bets to reach the QFs, as they defeated a much stronger team in their first match. It's all well and good to thoroughly trounce your opponents, but it might not be entirely down to your skill.

I will need to see how Liverpool and York fare against stronger opponents before we decide if they should be seriously considered for the title. Many times in recent years, teams that have trounced their first opponents have struggled against stronger teams (Imperial last year, and Edinburgh three years ago).

Aside, from Trinity, I would also say SOAS are good bets to reach the QFs, as they also defeated a good team who managed a good score by a decent margin. I suppose it helps that they are probably a great deal older than most of the others, but, then, SOAS is one of those institutions that is just more likely to have older students (as was said by someone last series).

Aside from those two, I have no idea who to tip for the QFs. There are a whole load of teams who could make it with a favourable draw. And a couple who will have to pick the pace up to survive.

Also, as has been already noted, this year's Manchester team don't seem as strong as their predecessors. Of course, they may well pick up the pace next time around (we all know how badly last year's Manchester team began, and they went on to win the whole thing).

On to the repechage, where the four teams competing are:
  • Durham (170, 20)
  • Southampton (155, 75)
  • Loughborough (155, 40)
  • Christ Church Oxford (150, 150)
This is a fine example of the stats only telling half the story, as Christ Church, the lowest scoring and most trounced of the four, I would actually say are the favourites against whoever they face (past form says Durham), as they earned a good score against superb opposition, and converted about four fifths of their bonuses en route. So, unless Ewan MacAulay has an off-day (lets not forget, he was responsible for all of his side's starters in that match), I would definitely say his team are the most likely to make it through. (Mind you, we all thought Lincoln were most likely to make it through the repechage last year, and look what happened there)

Overall, the first round this year was much better than the first round last year, where only a handful of teams broke 200; this year, only a handful of winning teams haven't! And the standard feels better than last year too. I can only hope things will not tail off, and we will be in for a good repechage and second round.

Still no word on the draw for next Monday's match, but Durham vs Christ Church would be my best guess, followed by Southampton vs Loughborough. Hopefully, we'll know for sure shortly.

Monday, 14 October 2013

University Challenge 2013-14: Round 1: Match 14: Aberystwyth vs Bangor

So, the final first round match! It's been a long round, hasn't it? An all-Welsh affair, with both sides aiming to score 155 or more to make it into the repechage, whatever happened. Pleasingly, no accidental spoilers have leaked out in the past week, so none of us knew what to expect tonight.

Aberystwyth University was part of the University of Wales until 2007, having been around in various forms for well over a century beforehand. It hasn't been seen on UC for some years, its last appearance being in 2006-07, where the team reached the QFs before losing to eventual winners Warwick. Playing for them tonight:
Simon Thomas, from Warminster in Wiltshire, studying Strategic Studies
Matthew Campbell, from Inverurie, studying Strategy
Captain: Ned Bishop-Harper, from Canterbury, studying Managing the Environment
Daniel Guy, from Epping, studying Biology

Nice to see someone from my neck of the woods on the show.

Bangor University has a similar history to its opponents, having been founded in 1884, and also becoming its own uni in 2007. Lest we forget, their team reached the semi-finals last year, before bowing out to Manchester. One of last year's team, Adam Pearce, remarked yesterday that this year's captain was his team's reserve, and he knows two more of them. They were:
Owain Jones, from Swansea, studying History
Daisy Le Helloco, from Dorchester, studying English Literature
Captain: Catriona Coutts, from Angelsey, studying English Literature with Creative Writing
Anna Johnson, from Chippenham, studying Marine Biology

So, both teams knew what they had to do, and off we set. Bangor struck first, with Daisy Le Helloco providing correct answers to the first two starters. Aberystwyth got off the mark, but went backwards to -5 before getting their first starter of the night. The first picture round was on jerseys used in the Tour de France; Bangor took this, increasing their lead to 75-15.

And almost immediately, everyone of the Bangor side had a starter to their name. A good set of bonuses on pairs of celebs, the first of whom's surname is the second's first name, gave them a full set of bonuses. Step in James Guy, who managed two consecutive starters for Aberystwyth, and a fair amount of bonuses went with them. The music round was on genres whose names are also dances; Bangor got the starter, and seemed to take their time answering the bonuses, not for the first or last time.

Bangor's lead was now 115-55, and another good buzz from Daisy Le Helloco increased it. Again, the side took their time with the bonuses. An early buzz from Bangor allowed Aberystwyth to get back into the match, and a full set of bonuses followed. A second starter and bonuses for Aberystwyth reduced the Bangor advantage to just 25 points. The second picture round, on depictions of female authors, gave Bangor more room to manoeuvre, and increased the lead to 140-100.

Into the final minutes, with the gap still closeable. Catriona Coutts became the latest in a long list of quiz show contestants to mistake Cardinal Wolsey for Thomas Cromwell, and to think he was executed (which he wasn't). Another starter went to Aberystwyth, but no bonuses followed. And this, alas, was as far as Aberystwyth could make it, and the remaining non-dropped starters went to Bangor. Again, the side took their time with the bonuses.

At the gong, Bangor won by 230-110. A good first victory for the side, despite their taking their times with their bonuses, and, like so many others, a favourable draw could see them do well in the later stages. Bad luck Aberystwyth, but a respectable effort.

The stats: a late surge saw Catriona Coutts emerge as Bangor's best buzzer with five starters, while Daniel Guy's three was Aberystwyth's best tally. On the bonuses, Abersywyth managed a decent 11 out of 18 (with one penalty), while Bangor's final tally was 22 out of 37 (with two penalties), which is also a good tally.

So, the repechage teams are: Durham (170), Loughborogh and Southampton (155 each) and Christ Church Oxford (150). Four good teams, so we should be in for some good matches, we hope.

Next week: the first repechage match. No word on the draw yet, but my best guess is Durham vs Christ Church.

Tune back in tomorrow for a short summary for the first round, and what we can expect next.

Monday, 7 October 2013

University Challenge 2013-14: Round 1: Match 13: St John's vs Downing

It's Monday night, so it must be University Challenge time. And, with the first round nearing its close, the fight for the repechage is heating up. Scoring 160 or more would guarantee tonight's losing team a place in it. And it was an Oxbridge match, and, if the previous three were anything to go by, there was a chance we could've seen that.

St John's College Oxford was founded in 1555, and is now, like its Cambridge namesake (who we've already seen this year lest we forget) once was, the richest college in the university. A long list of alumni include a certain Mr T. Blair. The college last appeared back in 2009-10, where they impressively reached the final before losing to Alex Guttenplan's Emmanuel team to finish second. Hoping to go one step further this year were:
Ted Elgar, from Blackheath in London, studying History and Politics
Tom Finch, from Appleford in Oxfordshire, studying Classics
Captain: Jonathan Lane from Carmarthenshire, studying Medicine
Tom Salt, from Oxfordshire, studying Maths

Downing College Cambridge was founded in 1800 with the legacy left by Sir George Downing, builder of Downing Street. A long list of alumni include John 'Basil' Cleese, the late Michael Winner and, er, my Grandfather! The college last sent a team in the 2010-11 series, where they lost to eventual winners Magdalen College Oxford in the second round. Playing tonight were:
Tom Claxton, from Grantham, studying Natural Sciences
Georgina Phillips, from Shoreham-by-Sea, studying Geography
Captain: John Morgan, from Abingdon, studying Theoretical Chemistry
Tom Rees, from Guildford, studying Maths

A lot of Toms tonight. And this series overall, in fact.

Both teams got off the mark quickly, sharing the first two starters, and getting one bonus each. Then, Downing stepped into gear, and began to pull out into the lead. After the first picture round, they led by 75-15.

A set of bonuses on brothers went to Downing next, and I got one on a complete guess of Edwards IV and Richard III. An incorrect interruption then gave St John's a chance to get back into the game, and two bonuses from a set of new entries into the OED gave them two correct answers. But Downing soon resumed normal business, and pulled away through the three figure barrier.

St John's did take the music round, which required them to name the instrument being played, which was probably as hard as it sounded. The gap now stood at 120-50 in Downing's favour, and it grew when Tom Ress didn't fall into the trap of saying Darwin coined the term 'Survival of the Fittest' a la Alan Davies on QI. The subsequent bonuses required two soundalike words to be spelt out, and an amusing moment came when Mr Rees was nominated, then tried to renominate Miss Phillips! She eventually gave the right answers.

Downing secured the 160 points that ensured we'd be seeing them again one way or another. St John's pulled back with two starters in a row, getting them towards three figures. The second picture round was on restaurants and the chef associated with them. Tom Rees very quickly shot in with the Fat Duck and Heston Blumenthal (as did I as well) almost as soon as Paxo finished his preamble! Paxo seemed rather surprised he knew it!

Downing's lead was now 205-85. St John's didn't stand much of a chance of catching Downing, but could still reach the repechage with a good run of questions. An unlucky penalty didn't help them much, and then Downing put their feet down again, and added to their already impressive score. Two starters were dropped, including one where the answer had a leeway of one either way; both teams' answers were two away on either side!

Another starter went to Downing, and it now looked unlikely St John's could gather the momentum to reach the repechage. They did manage a short sprint in the closing minutes, breaking three figures and reaching respectability. At the gong, Downing won by 260-115.

St John's definitely didn't disgrace themselves, but they were just comprehensively beaten on the buzzer by Downing. A very good first showing by the Cambridge side though, who, again, could do well this year with a favourable draw. The Toms Claxton and Rees got five starters each, and the Cambridge side converted 25 bonuses out of 42. Tom Finch's four starters was the best individual tally for St John's, who managed 10 correct bonuses out of 21. Both side incurred one penalty.

Safely through to the repechage: Durham (170), Loughborough and Southampton (155)

Next week's match: Aberystwyth vs Bangor in the first first round match.

Again didn't see much of Only Connect tonight, but a comfortable win for the winning team, whose captain's brother was part of the Draughtsmen, who were runners-up two series ago.