Monday, 25 February 2013

University Challenge: Preliminary Quarter-Final 4: New College vs King's

So, the final preliminary quarter-final, before the qualification and elimination process begins. Paxo informed any confused viewers that the quarter-final rules were available on the website, in sanskrit!

New College Oxford comfortably defeated two very good teams from Homerton College Cambridge and York in the opening rounds, scoring over two hundred. The unchanged quartet, therefore, must've been taken very seriously:
Remi Beecroft, from Letchworth in Hertfordshire, studying Psychology and Philosophy
India Lenon, from London, studying Classics
Captain: Andrew Hood, from Wasperton in Warwickshire, studying PPE
Tom Cappleman, from Bracknell, studying Maths

King's College Cambridge, lest we forget, came through the repechage after narrowly losing their first match to the subsequently very impressive St George's, before also defeating Homerton, and then scraping past Warwick in the best match of the second round (IMO). They also remained unchanged:
Curtis Gallant, from North London, studying Classics
Amber Ace, from Perthshire, studying Classics
Captain: Fran Middleton, from Chorleywood in Hertfordshire, studying Classics
James Gratrex, from Leeds, studying Physics

So, on paper, LAM and OW regular James Gratrex and co were going to have to go at it to beat New College. They started off well, with James getting the first starter; however, this was then followed by an early interruption on the word ecumencal ("that would be an ecumenical matter!", as Father Jack would say). New College then began an early surge, with the hitherto excellent Tom Cappleman contributing most/all of the starters.

The first picture round, on air operations of World War II, saw New College lead by 45-10. Mr Cappleman continued his impressive buzzer form through the next quarter, though the side seemed to be struggling on the bonuses, which Andrew Hood seemed to be taking rather seriously, given his very odd hand gestures. Mr Hood did contribute one starter, but Mr Cappleman was the main driving force here.

Soon, King's were 100 points behind. The music round saw James take, what appeared to be, a speculative early guess, which was right, much to his relief. His side were now behind by 110-30, and subsequently took a second starter, before Andrew Hood bought New College back into the game. Curtis Gallant buzzed early on the next starter, but was one generation too early, saying Kim Jong-il instead of Kim Il-sung.

At this stage, most of the starters had been answered, but not many bonuses. At this rate, this series may well be won on the buzzer.

The second picture round saw King's get back into the game, and they now trailed by 155-55. James tried to buzz in on the next starter, but realised he was wrong when he buzzed in. Cue Tom Cappleman, who'd had a quiet period, who pulled New College further ahead.

With the match pretty much won, New College eased off, and allowed King's to recover some of the lost ground. The closing minutes saw James and co pull back to respectability, reaching three figures, and actually ending the match strongly. At the gong, New College won by 165-125.

A good late recovery from King's, which shows that they still have potential left in them. Neither side did terribly well on the bonuses tonight: New College managing a rather low (by their previous standards) 11 bonuses out of 33, while King's managed 9 bonuses out of 25 with two penalties. Tom Cappleman ended the match with seven starters (six of which were before the music round), whilst our man James led for King's with five starters. Best of luck for next time James and co!

Next week's match: Manchester vs U.C.L., with the winners going through to the semis. Very tough match to call.

This points to Imperial vs Bangor, St George's vs New College, and Pembroke vs King's in that order for the qualification/elimination round of the quarter-finals. 

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Deal or No Deal - 18th-24th February

Well, after the drama of Love Week, this week was a pretty good follow up, with some interesting discussion points.

Monday 18th: Ryan
Winnings: £26,000
Dealt at: 5-box
Highest offer: £67,000 (2-box)
Box value: 1p

Well, £26,000 may not have been a terribly good offer at 5-box, but it was still a lot of money, so I don't blame Ryan for dealing. Unfortunate that he avoided the £250,000 in the proveout, but it did mean that he got the honour of being the first male of have the 'Scream ending'! (1p and £250,000)

Tuesday 19th: Jenny
Winnings: £750
Opened the box
Highest offer: £4,000 (11-box)
Box value: £750

Terribly unlucky game really. When your highest offer's £4,000, you know it's an unlucky game. We've seen worse, and at least Jenny got a high blue out of it, rather than pocket change.

Wednesday 20th: Theo
Winnings: £22,250
Dealt at: 5-box
Highest offer: £55,000 (2-box)
Box value: £100,000

Theo was a good player, and he was a good sport, performing a dance to YMCA when the Banker played it in response to him reminding him of them. Again, the offer he dealt wasn't terribly good, but it was a good sum of money, and it's a shame that he had the big money in his box after he dealt.

Thursday 21st: Maggie
Winnings: £8,000
Dealt at: 5-box
Highest offer: £8,000 (5-box)
Box value: £1,000

Good to see a Banker spanking; Maggie and her husband were good sports. Pregnant players have had mixed fortunes, either getting OPWs, or winning low sums.

Friday 22nd: Dave
Winnings: £15,000 (£10,000 for him + £5,000 for the Royal Marsden Hospital)
Dealt at: 8-box
Highest offer: £22,000 (5-box)
Box value: £5,000

Dave was a great player, who had his mind on donating some winnings to the Hospital's radio station, which he worked for, and was facing closure. Odd that the normally charity hating Banker should make such a large donation, but it was enough to get him to deal.

Sunday 24th: Margaret
Winnings: £4,000
Dealt at: 8-box
Highest offer: £29,500 (2-box)
Box value: £750

Another pretty unlucky game. Wiping out all the big money bar one early on often dents your confidence, and results in a modest deal. Shame that, after Margaret dealt, her luck turned and she missed the £75,000. But at least it wasn't in the box, which would've been bad after a game like that.

Overall, a pleasingly average week, with no game standing out, but plenty of talking points. Hopefully, more good stuff to come.

Monday, 18 February 2013

University Challenge: Preliminary Quarter-Final 3: Pembroke vs St George's

Well, after last week's fascinating show was overshadowed by Paxo's 'unjust' berating, I don't see much chance of a similar fallout to this week's show. It should've been a good one on paper.

Pembroke College Cambridge comfortably defeated Lancaster in the first round, then annihilated Bath in the second round with the biggest win of the series so far. They remained:
Robert Scanes, from North London, studying Natural Sciences
Emily Maw, from Oxford, studying Maths
Captain: Tom Foxall, from Birmingham, studying Classics
Jemima Hodkinson, from Portsmouth, studying Natural Sciences

St George's London were perhaps the most underrated team in these quarters, having narrowly beaten fellow quarter-finalists King's College Cambridge in the first round, and then also defeating Lancaster in the second, as Paxo pointed out. They were still:
Shashank Sivaji, from Southend-on-Sea, studying Medicine 
Alexander Suebsaeng, from London, studying Medicine
Captain: Rebecca Smoker, from County Kildare, studying Medicine
Sam Mindel, from London, studying Medicine

Well, the early momentum was with St George's, the elder of the two teams, who quickly swept up the first set of bonuses, before promptly dropping their next two. Two starters were also dropped in the opening exchanges, including a very unlucky miss by Pembroke. The Cambridge side got off the mark with the first picture round, after which St George's led by 50-10.

St George's still had the main momentum, and Pembroke just couldn't seem to make any leeway. St George's managed a full house on, what sounded like, a very difficult bonus set on the Economist. The highlight of the night for me came in the music round, on winners of the Classic Brit Awards, when one of the bonuses was the original Red Dwarf theme. Being a fan of the show, I knew it was Howard Goodall; Pembroke didn't, and they now trailed by 95-30.

The deficit increased as Rebecca Smoker took her first starter of the series, on her first buzz of the series. There seemed to be an awful lot of very tricky science questions tonight, which seemed to me to be a bit unfair on Pembroke, whose opponents would have an obvious advantage on this. When Pembroke got such a set of bonuses, Paxo remarked that St George's must be knowing all these answers!

After the second picture round, on astronomy, St George's led by 135-60. Still a closeable gap, but the way things were going, it looked unlikely that Pembroke would be able to catch them. They tried, and a full set of bonuses pulled them up towards respectability. But Sam Mindel wasn't going to take the chance of letting them catch up, and promptly took two starters in a row to cement the already certain win. Pembroke did reach three figures in the closing moments, despite missing one bonus due to interrupting Paxo before he'd finished! At the gong, St George's won by 195-105.

Not a terribly spectacular match, but a good win for St George's, who must now be taken seriously, having beaten three good teams so far. Alexander Suebsaeng continued his impressive series performance, getting five starters; the side managed 18 bonuses out of 33, which is impressive considering how tricky the bonuses seemed to be tonight. Pembroke weren't so lucky, just 8 bonuses out of 21; Robert Scanes led their buzzing with three starters. Both sides incurred one penalty each, and all eight players got at least one starter correct.

Next week's match: New College vs King's (good luck James and co!) 

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Deal or No Deal - 11th-17th February (Hollywood Heartthrobs)

Well, this week, DoND celebrated Valentine's Day with the annual series of Love Week shows. This year's followed a Hollywood Heartthrobs theme, with Noel as director.

The traditional Love Week twist returned: the player selects a 'special box', which, when opened, results in an immediate offer.

Monday 11th: Danny
Winnings: £31,000
Dealt at: 8-box
Highest offer: £45,000 (5-box)
Box value: £50
Extra offer at: 9-box

Perhaps the best game of the week. Danny was a great player, and his board was very strong much of the way through. Don't blame him for dealing when he did, even if he didn't take advantage of the extra offer. And he made a huge profit on his box, even if it wasn't quite a Banker spanking.

Tuesday 12th: Eva
Winnings: £5,500
Dealt at: 5-box
Highest offer: £27,500 (2-box)
Box value: £10
Extra offer at: 9-box

Eva was unlucky in that her 'special box' had the £250,000 in it, and the game didn't quite recover from it. It was also unlucky that, after her deal, she missed the £100,000, the only box that would keep the offer up, all the way to 2-box.

Wednesday 13th: Sully
Winnings: £19,000
Dealt at: 7-box extra offer
Highest offer: £26,000
Box value: £100
Extra offer at: 7-box

Not a bad result, even if he could've had a bit more, but I don't think he'd be too bothered about that.

Thursday 14th: Lyn
Winnings: £22,000
Dealt at: 9-box extra offer
Highest offer: £81,000 (2-box)
Box value: £100
Extra offer at: 9-box

Again, a good result despite there being more in the game. Given that she didn't have the Jackpot on the table, she was unlucky to miss it all the way to 2-box.

Friday 15th: John
Winnings: £9,999.99
Dealt at: 5-box
Highest offer: £20,000 (8-box)
Box value: 1p
Extra offer at: 7-box

Again, John was unlucky in that his special box contained the £250,000, thus crashing his offer after a brave 8-box no deal. Luckily, he kept the £100,000 in play just long enough for a bailout. A good game overall, even if the deal was a little off.

Sunday 17th: Kelly
Winnings: £3,100
Dealt at: 5-box
Highest offer: £9,000 (2-box)
Box value: £35,000
Extra offer at: 6-box

Shame to end the week with a low tariff deal gone wrong. It was unfortunate that Kelly brought a big sum to the table, then wiped all the other big sums out, meaning her offers were never going to be that big.

But, overall, a very good week, despite there being no Banker spankings. Lets hope for some more good games to come in the weeks to come.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

University Challenge: Paxman criticized for berating Tyszczuk Smith

Those of you who watched Monday's fascinating match will recall that, at one point, Tom Tyszczuk Smith of U.C.L. answered a history question with William I, when William III was what was sought. He probably just got muddled, but Paxo was not amused, and heavily berated him for his error (being 600 years out).

Earlier today, my Dad discovered an online article from the Telegraph claiming that Paxo has been severely criticized for his berating of Tyszczuk Smith, who many claim was rather nervous, and may not have taken Paxo's remarks very well. Others have popped up as well; one claimed that Mr Tyszczuk Smith spent the rest of the match staring at his desk, and not saying much. This looks to me to have been the case, though he did get one more starter afterwards.

Of course, Paxo is supposed to try and be amusing, but, sometimes, he may cross the line. His remarks may have been out of order, especially considering its not the sort of thing everyone knows everything about. Someone on Twitter pointed out that Paxo never berates people for making similar mistakes on science questions. Of course, Paxo's not science expert; a few series ago, he accidentally denied a couple of teams points on science questions due to them not giving the precise answer on his card (see Weaver's Week from mid 2007).

Twitter will usually react negatively to this sort of thing anyway. They thought Pietro Aronica's mistake from last week was hilarious, but this negative reaction from Paxo was criticized in a light-hearted way.

Of course, I am against writing disparaging things about game show contestants on a public forum where they are liable to read it, and be offended by it, but some quite happily do it, knowing they are quite safe behind a computer screen. They'd never do it in reality. Also, it's good to see the contestants themselves post on these forums, and many might get put off by this sort of thing (a few years ago, a Deal or No Deal contestant reacted badly to criticism of them made on the forum, and some users were banned as a result).

On the other hand, as someone on the (Deal or No Deal) forum once pointed out, if you agree to go on TV, you are throwing yourself open to criticism from all parties.

Of course, it is amusing to see someone get it oh so wrong, whether it be a bad decision on Deal, or a wrong answer on UC or Pointless, but berating them for doing so where they could read it and take offense is another matter.

This incident does raise a couple of questions about Paxo as a host, but he has a history of doing this (he is a lot worse with the celebs, for obvious reasons).

And it's not the first time the show has got this reaction for a negative reason. There was the infamous 'flag-gate' a couple of years back. And a female contestant who was subject of ridicule online due to her good looks.

And, of course, at the time when swerve questions were more prevalent, the show was under repeated attack, particularly in Weaver's Week.

In conclusion, this incident is just a minor incident, and will likely blow over quickly. But it does raise some interesting points, more of which I hope to cover another time.

Monday, 11 February 2013

University Challenge: Preliminary Quarter-Final 2: U.C.L. vs Bangor

So, onto the second quarter-final, and a very odd match indeed.

U.C.L. dominated Exeter in the first round, but only narrowly defeated Jesus College Oxford in the second round. The favourites tonight, with the highest collegiate of the two matchers, were:
Adam Papaphilippopoulos, from London, studying Philosophy 
Tom Tyszczuk Smith, from Cambridge, studying Medicine 
Captain: Simon Dennis, from London, studying the History and Philosophy of Science 
Tom Parton, from Staffordshire, studying Natural Sciences

Bangor won a low scoring first round match over St Andrews, before narrowly defeating tournament favourites Durham in the second round in the shock result of that round. They remained unchanged from their two previous outings:
Adam Pearce, from Barry in the Vale of Glamorgan, studying Translation Studies
Mark Stevens, from Widnes in Cheshire, studying Environmental Science
Captain: Nina Grant, from Enfield in London, studying French and Linguistics
Simon Tomlinson, from Manchester, studying Neuropsychology

Adam 'Welshguy' Pearce, a regular poster on here and LAM, took the first two starters of the match, helping his side to an early lead. U.C.L. did get into the game briefly, but only briefly, as Bangor dominated the early stages. After the first picture round, on European passports, they led by 80-10.

Then, two penalties reduced U.C.L.'s score back to zero, and, soon, they were trailing by 100-0, and a very unlikely trouncing looked to be on.

But Tom Tyszczuk Smith put a stop to that, with two starters in quick succession. The music starter was the dying words of an operatic couple; surely, I wasn't the only one thinking 'Romeo and Juliet' before they'd even played the track! Tom Parton got it eventually, and U.C.L. had now halved Bangor's lead to 100-50.

Then, U.C.L. began a surge, and were well back in contention. An incorrect interruption proved a brief blip, as they soon caught Bangor, and narrowly took the lead. Step in Simon Tomlinson, who took the second picture round, on paintings depicting the Lady of Shallot; it bought them back into the game, but their lead was now down to 120-110.

And it fell back further, when Adam [Pearce] buzzed in to early on a question about an English monarch. Tom Tyszczuk Smith did no better, confusing William I with William III, and nearly giving Paxo a coronary! He was not amused!

But, amidst this, U.C.L. had stolen Bangor's momentum, and, in the final stretch, zoomed away on the buzzer, and were soon well ahead. I couldn't help laughing when U.C.L. answered Manchester University, when the answer was Imperial College London! (See last week's match) Simon Tomlinson did get the final starter of the match for Bangor, but U.C.L. were now out of sight. At the gong, U.C.L. won by 190-125.

Very much a match of two halves; Bangor dominating early on, before U.C.L. shot into gear, and ran away in the final stretch. Bad luck Adam and co, but you're not out yet, and best of luck for next time. Simon Tomlinson managed an impressive six starters, which helped the side to 11 bonuses out of 24 with two penalties. The Toms Tyszczuk Smith and Parton both got four starters each for U.C.L., who managed 18 bonuses out of 36 with four penalties.

Next week's match: Pembroke vs St George's. This points to New College vs King's the week after.  

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Deal or No Deal - 4th-10th February

Well, after the high drama of last week, this week was a little more mundane, which is perhaps what we needed to calm us down after last week.

Monday 4th: Adam
Winnings: £900
Dealt at: 2-box
Highest offer: £3,500 (8-box)
Box value: 50p

A pretty unlucky, and emotional, game. Adam just didn't have the luck on his side for much of the match, but £900 is a decent sum of money. Much better than 50p anyway.

Tuesday 5th: Hannah
Winnings: £8,500
Dealt at: 5-box
Highest offer: £8,500 (5-box)
Box value: £5,000

Just what we needed after Adam's unfortunate game: a perfectly timed deal for a good offer. Can't ask for more than that.

Wednesday 6th: Pete
Winnings: £6,000
Dealt at: 5-box
Highest offer: £10,099.50 (14-box)
Box value: 10p

Didn't see much of this one, as I got home later than usual, but another sensible decision that paid off perfectly. It looked like a trainwreck at one point, but Pete managed to keep the £75,000 long enough for a bailout. A good result considering what had happened earlier on.

Thursday 7th: Zoe
Winnings: £100
Opened the box
Highest offer: £3,000 (5-box)
Box value: £100

A pretty horrific trainwreck. Zoe shouldn't regret her 5-box no deal very much; she mad three higher reds, and it was incredibly unlucky to hit the 10% chance of losing all three.

Friday 8th: Tom
Winnings: £12,000
Dealt at: 8-box
Highest offer: £12,000
Box value: £10

Again, a very unlucky game is countered next day by a Banker spanking from a sensible deal. Not much more to say, except that Tom may well have gone on and crashed had his partner not been there to steady the ship. Friends and family influencing the player is often unwelcome, especially if it goes wrong after they induce a deal (Paul's game from last May comes to mind).

Sunday 10th: Michael
Winnings: £3,500
Dealt at: 8-box
Highest offer: £13,000 (17-box and 14-box)
Box value: 1p

Michael was a lively character, though much calmer than Giuseppe was last week! It looked like his game was destined for disaster after the two very generous first offers, but he just managed to escape out with a decent sum before it capitulated completely.

So, overall, a low key week, which is perhaps for the best, with a themed week coming up. Love Week starts tomorrow, and runs all week; so lets hope for some good games, and a better Love Week than the last two.

Monday, 4 February 2013

University Challenge: Preliminary Quarter-Final 1: Manchester vs Imperial

So, the quarter-finals kicked off tonight. As with the last three series, the teams need to win two matches to reach the semis. This process will take ten matches to complete.

Manchester very narrowly scraped through against Lincoln College Oxford in the first round, but did much better in the second, beating Magdalen College Oxford convincingly. They remained:
David Brice, from Kingston-upon-Thames, studying Economics  
Adam Barr, from Muswell Hill in London, studying Physics with Astrophysics 
Captain: Richard Gilbert, from Warwickshire, studying Linguistics 
Debbie Brown, from Buxton, studying Pain Epidemiology

Imperial convincingly defeated Jesus College Cambridge and Bristol in the first and second rounds respectively, though were never really challenged by either. Facing their toughest match thus far were:
Pietro Aronica, from Brescia in Italy, studying Biochemistry
Dominic Cottrell, from London, studying Medicine
Captain: Martin Evans, from Oxfordshire, studying Pharmacology
Henry Guille, from Cranbrook in Kent, studying Material Science

So, a good match seemed a likely prospect.

The current champs struck first, with Debbie Brown taking the first starter. Then, twice, Richard Gilbert buzzed too early, allowing Imperial to sneak into an early lead. But the Mancunian captain redeemed himself with the first picture round, on Old English Latin letters, which his team swept the board on. This gave them a slender lead of 35-30.

The Mancunians then began to move away, with two starters in a row seeing them build a slender lead. A good buzz from Martin Evans saw Imperial back into the hunt, but David Brice scuppered Imperial's chances of a fightback by taking his first starter of the series. The resultant bonuses, on chemical energetics, saw Paxo remark that Imperial must've been kicking themselves that they didn't get them!

The music round, on choral music, followed, after which Manchester had a lead of 100-50. Imperial could still catch them with two starters, and two board sweepings. But Dominic Cottrell's subsequent early buzz only resulted in them slipping back further. However, the side began to rally, and the deficit began to fall. The second picture round, on English abbeys, subsequently followed. After the starter was dropped, Pietro Aronica caused Paxo to facepalm by suggesting Inspector Clouseau was a romantic figure created by Charlotte Bronte!

Manchester now led by 110-80, so the match was still very much up for grabs. The final stretch began with the sides swapping starters, meaning Manchester's lead remaining at 30 for a while. With not much time left, Henry Guille buzzed, but no answer came, allowing Manchester to pull away further. And when they swept the board on the resultant bonuses, the match was won. At the gong, Manchester won by 185-115.

Hard luck Imperial, but you're not out yet; the last two years have seen a team lose their preliminary, then go on to win the series, so you're still very much in it. Well done Manchester on a deserved victory. The two captains were the best buzzers, with Richard Gilbert getting five for Manchester, and Martin Evans doing likewise for Imperial. Manchester answered 17 bonuses out 31 correctly with two penalties, while Imperial managed 10 bonuses out of 24 with three penalties.

Next week's match: U.C.L. vs Bangor (good luck Welshguy and pocketmouse!) 

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Deal or No Deal - 28th January - 3rd February

What an amazing week it's been for the show! The best for months!

Monday 28th: Gaz
Winnings: £20,000
Dealt at: 8-box
Highest offer: £20,000 (8-box)
Box value: £1,000

A game that started slowly, and looked like Gaz would take the third offer. But he risked it one more round, and got out at the perfect time. Great result!

Tuesday 29th: Bronwyn
Winnings: £45,000
Dealt at: 2-box
Highest offer: £45,000 (2-box)
Box value: £10,000

Well, Power 5 wins have been becoming rare as of late, so to see one was a great enough result in itself. Bronwyn's game appeared to be slipping after the £250,000 went in the fifth round, but she kept £100,000 to 2-box with £10,000, which got her the superb offer, which she sensibly took. Great result again!

Wednesday 30th: Ahmed
Winnings: £750
Opened the box
Highest offer: £23,000 (2-box)
Box value: £750

Reasonable, or foolish decision for Ahmed to gamble £23,000 on a final two of £750 and £75,000? Well, he seemed quite happy to take the punt, and didn't seem too bothered when it backfired. It's a bit unfair to say that he was greedy, purely due to his gamble backfiring; others have taken similar risks that paid off. It's a shame, but he gave us a tense game that followed up nicely to Bronwyn's triumph (though Ahmed admitted afterwards that he may have been influenced by Bronwyn's game).

Thursday 31st: Kimberly
Winnings: £18,500
Dealt at: 8-box
Highest offer: £140,000 (2-box)
Box value: £250,000

The first time the £250,000 has come to the table this year, and the first time for two months as well. Kimberly's deal was a bit on the cautious side, but, still, it didn't deserve that proveout. No deal deserves a bad proveout like that.

Friday 1st: Giuseppe
Winnings: £18,000
Dealt at: 8-box
Highest offer: £18,000 (8-box)
Box value: 50p

Giuseppe was certainly a lively character, though his constant leaping and bounding around will definitely have annoyed some after a while. That said, his deal was a very sensible one, and it paid off superbly with the board completely falling apart in the proveout. Great stuff!

Sunday 3rd: Trish
Winnings: £36,000
Dealt at: 5-box
Highest offer: £36,000 (5-box)
Box value: £500

Another Power 5 win! First time for a long time we've seen two Power 5 wins in under a week! Trish had a similar 8-box board to Giuseppe, and the same offer, but she chanced it, and it paid off spectacularly. Another great result!

What a week! A total of £138,250 paid out! Will this great run of momentum carry on into next week, in the run up to 'Love Week' in a couple of weeks' time? Let's hope so!