Monday, 21 August 2017

University Challenge 2017-18: Round 1: Match 5: York vs Warwick

Evening all. Apologies if my blog is a bit scant this week, but A, my left hand is a bit sore today for some reason, and B, I'm listening to Monkman and Seagull's Polymathic Adventure on Radio 4 while I write this!

York University was an idea first suggested by James I, but wasn't founded until 1963; alumni include writer Graham Swift, Labour politician Harriet Harman and BBC DG Greg Dyke. It has regularly sent decent teams to UC, sitting last series out after reaching the semis two series ago. This year's foursome were:
Connor Bindler, from London, studying History
Ben Longworth, from Halifax, studying History
Captain: Benjamin Maier, from Oxford, studying English
Matthew de Sousa, from Macclesfield, studying Medicine

Warwick University was founded just two years later in 1965, and, based in Coventry, is named after the county of Warwickshire rather than the city. Alumni include Brexit bulldog David Davis, actor and writer Stephen Merchant and radio DJ Simon Mayo. It's team won UC in 2006-07, and has sent many a strong team over the years, last year's four reaching the QFs. This year's quartet were:
Flora Jackson, from York, studying English and Creative Writing
Daniel Arribas, from Madrid, studying Maths
Captain: Ben Salter, from Wiveliscombe in Somerset, studying Maths
Charlotte Symons, from Mid Wales, studying Writing

Off we set again then, and Ms Symons opened the night's scoring, and Warwick took a double of bonuses on poetry. York then lost five with their first buzz, allowing Warwick a second starter in a row, and a second pair of bonuses. This seemed to set the tone for the first part of the match, as a third starter was accompanied by two bonuses on the Rosetta Stone (tying in nicely with Monkman and Seagull's program tonight!). A second York penalty went unpicked-up on this time, but Mr Salter took the next, and, once again, two bonuses were taken. The first picture round, on events on 1817, went to Warwick, who took, you guessed it, two bonuses, which gave them a lead of 100-(-10).

Mr de Sousa had had quite enough of that, taking York's first starter of the night, and they put five points on the board by taking one bonus. Those five points were then surrendered to another penalty; Warwick picked up, and took a full bonus set on post-war US elections. Mr Maier then took York's second starter, celebrating nicely with raised arms! Two bonuses followed.

The music round, on acts who began their careers at CBGB, went to York, who took another two bonuses, which reduced their arrears to 120-40. Back came Warwick with Mr Salter taking a quick buzz though, just the one bonus on diseases accompanying this time. Mr Salter was very quick on the next starter though, handing his side a bonus set on Robert Baden-Powell, or Robert 'Baden-Pole', as Paxo called him throughout the round! All three were taken this time. York then lost another five, but Warwick couldn't pick up this time; Ms Symons took the next starter though, and just the one bonus followed again.

The second picture round, on sculptures of lions, went to Warwick (mainly thanks to the starter being from Mr Arribas' native Spain!), who took two bonuses, which left the scores at 195-35. Mr de Sousa did the right thing and tried his luck on the next starter, but was wrong, so were Warwick. Mr Longworth took the next starter though, remembering Cameroon as the winner's of the last African Cup of Nations. Bonuses on UK journeys handed them two correct answers.

With the match long over as a contest, it was now simply a question of how high both teams could get. Warwick broke 200 when they took the next starter, but got nothing from a bonus set on royal burial sites. Ms Symons then identified B and Z as the two consonants linking, among other things, Charles Dickens' pen name; the resultant bonus set on tit birds saw them take just the one correct answer, which they shouted out before Paxo could finish! Mr de Sousa took another starter for York, and a well taken full bonus set gave them a respectable score and within sight of 100. They couldn't quite get there though, Warwick took the final starter and two of the set of bonuses there was time for. At the gong, Warwick won 240-80.

A rather one sided match, but a watchable one nonetheless. Unlucky York, who were certainly not a bad team from what we saw of them, and I suspect would've beaten another team, but thanks very much for playing. Very well done Warwick though; an excellent performance against decent opposition, and certainly capable of going far in the contest with a favourable draw; very best of luck in the second round!

The stats: Mr Salter and Ms Symons were joint best on the buzzers with four each, while Messrs Maier and de Sousa were York's joint best with two each. On the bonuses, York converted a decent 10 out of 15 (with four penalties), while Warwick managed a solid 23 out of 39 (with one penalty). Like I said, could be a team to watch.

Next week's match: Oxford Brookes vs the Courtauld Institute

Only Connect on Friday as usual, with review on Sunday, and don't forget, if you missed it just now, to look up Monkman and Seagull's Polymathic Adventure online; well worth listening to!

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Only Connect Series 13: Round 1 Group A: Match 4: Eco-Warriors vs Escapologists

OK, here we go with Only Connect once again. One thing I've noticed this series is the lack of serial quizzers, ie people I've seen on other shows, which is one of the things that attracted me to Only Connect in the first place. I do check LAM every week to make sure I haven't missed anyone, but haven't been getting anything out of that.

Anyway, playing on Friday night were the Eco-Warriors, Jonathan Kershaw, Peter Barlow (not that one!) and captain Brett Bostock, and the Escapologsists, Frank Paul, Tom Rowell (a Fifteen-to-One winner last year) and captain Lydia Mizon.

Round 1. The Warriors went first, and kicked off the match with Lion: 'Giovanni Bellini, Andrea Mantegna', then 'JFK, Peter Lawford'; they identified them as pairs of brothers-in-law, and collected three good points to start the match. The Escapologists opened their account with Eye of Horus, and got the music question: we heard Dame Janet Baker, then Cole Porter, then 'Abracadabra' by the Steve Miller Band, and finally Alice Cooper's classic 'School's Out'. They suggested they share their names with Labour MPs; nice guess, but not right! Their opponents suggest that they share their names with occupations, and collected a bonus. For their own question, the Warriors chose Horned Viper, and got the picture set: we saw an Austin Allegro (prompting laughter from Mr Kershaw, who learned to drive in one!), then the singer Joe Dolce; they identified them as sharing their names with directions in music, and collected another three points. The Escapologists chose Twisted Flax next: 'Polonius', then 'Waymar Royce', then 'Reg Cox'; that gave it to them, and me, they are the first characters to die in the works they appear in (in Hamlet, Game of Thrones and EastEnders respectively; the last clue would've been 'Abel', as in The Bible). The Warriors chose Two Reeds next: 'People carrier (V)', then 'Audio format (3)'; they spotted that adding 'MP' to the brackets gives the former, and collected ANOTHER three points! Left with Water, the Escapologists saw 'Vertical and Horizontal', then 'Horizontal', then 'Two Diagonals'; they saw them to be the compositions of the basic arithmetic operators (plus, minus and times, and the last clue would've been 'Horizontal between Two Dots' for divided by), and collected two points. At the end of a high quality first round, the Warriors led 10-4.

Round 2, What Comes Fourth? The Warriors kicked the round off with Eye of Horus: 'Do 10,000 steps a day', then 'Give up smoking', and then 'Grow a moustache'; they saw it to be charity doings in various months, but were timed out before they could come up with an answer. Their opponents identified the correct link of them being charity campaigns in September, October and November, so a charity event for December, such as 'Grow a beard' for 'Decembeard', would satisfy. For their own question, the Escapologists chose Lion: 'Tiffany', then 'Eric', and then 'Ivanka'; they saw them to be the eldest children of Donald J Trump, and so offered 'Donald Jr' for two points. The Warriors chose Horned Viper next, and got the picture set: we saw some Brazil nuts, then a still from the film 'The Russia House', and then a bottle of India Pale Ale. They didn't see it, their opponents did: they are the 'BRIC' nations, so a China doll would satisfy for the bonus point. For their own question, the Escapologists chose Two Reeds: 'Minyan', then 'Field Hockey team', and then 'English jury'; they identified them as being compositions of ten, eleven and twelve people, so 'a Rugby League team' would satisfy for the points. For their final choice, the Warriors chose Twisted Flax: 'Live and Let Die', then 'The Living Daylights'; they identified them as the first films of successive James Bond actors, so offered 'Casino Royale' as Daniel Craig's first for three points. Left with Water again, the Escapologists saw 'cumber', then 'dvark'; they spotted this excellent sequence to be omitted homophones of Q, R, S and T, so offered 'sside' for three points. At the end of a good second round, the teams were tied at 13-each.

On to the Walls. The Escapologists went first, and chose to tackle the Lion wall. They isolated two sets pretty quickly: 'Aherne', 'Cash', 'Tomlinson' and 'Johnston' are actors in The Royle Family, while 'Kari', 'Willow', 'Cookie' and 'Socks' are the names of Blue Peter pets. They came stuck with the remainders for a bit though, but did solve the wall on their second go with just seconds to go! 'Bruton', 'Cowen', 'Kenny' and 'Haughey' are Irish prime ministers or Taoisigh, but they offered 'Irish presidents', so dropped three, while 'Oke', 'Roe', 'Little' and 'Nort' can precede 'hampton' to give place names. Seven points there then.

So the Warriors needed a similar performance on the Water wall to keep the pace. After some early problems, they isolated 'Chania', 'Volos', 'Larissa' and 'Patras', which are cities on Greece, and then 'Chelsea', 'Cowboy', 'Go-go' and 'Ski', which are types of boot. After that, they had everything worked out: 'Onken', 'Muller', 'Oykos' and 'Total' are makers of yoghurts, while 'Sally Lunn', 'Colston', 'Belgian' and 'Hot cross' are types of bun. A full ten there, which gave them a crucial lead of 23-20 going into the final round.

So, all to play for, and Missing Vowels would decide the winners. 'Things found on a business card' went to the Escapologists 3-1. 'Postcode areas and their postcodes' proved rather tricky, the Warriors winning 2-(-1). 'Things that happened in 1917' was split 1-each, and that was time. The Warriors won 27-23.

A good close, high quality match, well played both teams. Unlucky Escapologists, but I would imagine that will be a good enough score to come back in the play-offs, so hopefully we'll see yous again, and best of luck then. Well done Warriors though, and very best of luck in the next round!

Next week's match: Lapsed Physicists vs Belgophiles

Monday, 14 August 2017

University Challenge 2017-18: Round 1: Match 4: St Edmund's vs Magdalen

Evening all. We're back! After last week's brief pause for the LIVE athletics, which also resulted in Mastermind getting a week off as well, and both Match of the Days running late, though most are OK with that given Team GB's superb gold in the relay, even if poor Bolt was the main talking point. On with tonight, and the ever much anticipated first Oxbridge derby of the season!

St Edmund's College Cambridge was founded in 1896, and mainly caters for mature students; alumni include Thatcher ministry stalwart Norman St John-Stevas and Georges Lemaitre, originator of the Big Bang theory. (Not that one!) It hasn't appeared on UC very much in modern times, its last appearance being in 2003-04, where they reached the QFs. This year's foursome were:
Zou Tang-Sheng, from Singapore, studying Chemical Engineering
Alex Knight-Williams, from Putney, studying Mathematics
Captain: Sahaid Motala, from London, studying Economics
Ryan Blank, from San Jose, studying History

Magdalen College Oxford is the joint holder of the record for most UC series wins, all achieved under Paxo in 1996-97, 1997-98, 2003-04 and 2010-11. Founded in 1458, it's alumni include poets Wilde and Betjeman, magazine salesman Ian Hislop and political commentator turned dancer John Sergeant. The last Magdalen team to enter UC finished runners-up three series ago. This year's quartet were:
Winston Wright, from Seattle, studying Computer Science
Christopher Stern, from Dulwich, studying Chemistry
Captain: Johnny Gibson, from Glasgow, studying History
Sarah Parkin, from Hinckley, studying English and French

Off we set again then, and Mr Zou opened the night's scoring, and St Edmund's took two bonuses of the first set of the match. Mr Gibson got Magdalen running in short order, and they went one better, taking a full bonus set on sleep in the works of Shakespeare. A second starter went the Magdalen skipper's way, and two bonuses followed this time. Mr Knight-Williams then took St Edmund's back into possession, as they took two bonuses again, before pouncing on a Magdalen slip-up and taking another two bonuses. The first picture round, on French philosophical quotations, went to Magdalen, who took two bonuses once again, which left the sides level on 60-each.

It was then St Edmund's who lost five and Magdalen who picked up the drop; they, again, took two of the resultant bonuses on Mayfair. Mr Blank was then maybe a bit lucky to be let off with a slight pause before answering; the resultant bonuses saw a rare moment as Paxo had to double check and make sure that Mr Motala hadn't misheard Mr Zou's conferred answer. Mr Stern then pushed Magdalen further ahead, but bonuses on Spanish patron saints only provided one correct bonus, the first set to have less than two taken of the night.

The music starter was missed by both sides; the bonuses, on film scores whose composers won an Oscar despite having previously received a Golden Raspberry nomination, went to Magdalen, who, again took just the one, leaving their lead at 110-75. A classic UC moment followed as Mr Gibson buzzed in early on a starter requesting a spelling and gave a correct spelling, only for a swerve to reveal that he'd spelt the wrong word! St Edmund's didn't fare much better, but Mr Zou took the next correctly answered starter, only for his side to draw a blank on the resultant bonuses. Mr Gibson made up for his mistake somewhat by taking the Lady of Shallot for the next starter; one bonus followed.

The second picture round, on Chinese cultural artifacts, went to St Edmund's, who went back to taking two bonuses, which reduced their arrears to 120-105. Mr Zou then identified the word 'fluke' for the next starter, but could only provide one correct answer on his home subject of chemistry, which nonetheless leveled the scores going into the final minutes.

A slip-up from St Edmund's then gave Magdalen the lead back again, but they couldn't pick up. Another starter was dropped, before Mr Gibson identified Maine as the most sparsely populated US state east of the Mississippi; they proceeded to not let Paxo finish answering any of the resultant bonuses, taking all three very quickly! Another slip-up from St Edmund's, a pick-up from Magdalen, two bonuses, and that was game over. Mr Gibson added to the score by taking another starter and two more bonuses accompanying. Another St Edmund's penalty ended the match; at the gong, Magdalen won 185-105.

A nice match played well and in good spirit by both sides, that wasn't that one sided until the final minutes. Unlucky St Edmund's, who just fell away near the end and likely won't be back in the play-offs, but good effort and thanks for playing. Well played Magdalen though; not a bad first performance given their decent opposition, and best of luck to them in the second round!

The stats: Mr Gibson was the best buzzer of the night, with six under his belt, while Mr Zou was St Edmund's best with three. On the bonuses, St Edmund's converted 11 out of 21 (with four penalties), while Magdalen managed 19 out of 30 (with two penalties); not bad rate that, could maybe be dark horses for the next round.

Next week's match: York vs Warwick

Only Connect back as usual on Friday, with my review following Sunday. Plus, remember that non-quiz blog series I mentioned a while back? Might start it tomorrow. But we'll see how I feel.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Only Connect Series 13: Round 1 Group A: Match 3: Snake Charmers vs Extras

Alright everybody, I'm back from (just under) a week's holiday, and back to work with my look back at Friday's Only Connect, which contained one the all time great Victoria opening ramblings, 'what do ghosts eat?'! One of her answers, 'spookghetti', had me and my Dad both in hysterics!

Anyway, playing were the Snake Charmers, Thomas Rychlik, Kate Pfeffer (who I think I may have seen somewhere before, Fifteen-to-One maybe?) and captain John Howe, and the Extras, Vikram Vasu, Shrikant Narasimhan and captain Vinod Ganesh.

Round 1. The Extras opened the show with Twisted Flax: 'Bubble', then 'Indemnity' (I had it here), then 'Dutch'; they saw them to be words that can follow 'Double', and picked up the first two points of the game. The Charmers began their show with Two Reeds: 'Ties from Nottinghamshire', then 'The second Mrs Lineker from Buckinghamshire', then 'Deer from Hertfordshire'; they too collected two points, spotting them to be homophones of the abbreviations for the counties in question. The Extras chose Eye of Horus next: 'Large White Apple', then 'Bronze Bread', then 'Suffolk Mint', and finally 'Hereford Horseradish'. Neither team got this very fiendish question: they are breeds of animal and sauces they may be eaten with when cooked! The Charmers chose Lion next, and got the music question: we heard 'Razzle Dazzle', then 'Hocus Pocus', then Little Richard with 'Tutti Frutti'; they identified them as having rhyming names, and picked up two points. The Extras chose Water next: 'Noriega', then 'Toynbee'; they identified them as sharing names with characters in Fawlty Towers, and collected a good three points. Left with Horned Viper, the Charmers got the picture set, and saw Angela Merkel, then Hugh Dennis (as seen on celebrity OC), then Theresa May, and finally a portrait of the Bronte sisters. They didn't get it, neither did their opponents: they are the children of clergymen. At the end of the first round, the Extras led 5-4.

Round 2, What Comes Fourth? The Extras chose to start with Twisted Flax again: '2004 Chris Hoy', then '2008 Nicole Cooke', and then '2012 Helen Glover and Heather Stanning'. They ran out of time without answering, and their opponents were none the wiser: they are the first people to win Gold for Team GB at those games, so '2016 Adam Peaty' completes the sequence. The Charmers chose Eye of Horus next, and got a picture question: we saw Madagascar highlighted on a map alongside a '4', then New Zealand highlighted on a map alongside a '3'; they spotted it to be islands with decreasing numbers of syllables in their names, so offered an island nation highlighted alongside a '1'. This was close enough to be accepted for three points: all they actually needed was a country with one syllable alongside a '1', like France or Spain, would satisfy. (Surely, Victoria, Wales wouldn't count under Pointless' definition of a 'country'?) The Extras chose Water next: 'Largest Red', then 'Second largest Mauve-purple', and then 'Second smallest Orange-brown'. They didn't see it, nor did the opposition: they are the colours of banknotes, so 'Smallest Turqoise-blue' would be fourth. The Charmers chose Two Reeds next: '8: tune', then '7: anus'; they saw it to be the last four letters of the planets coming towards the Sun, so offered '5: iter' for another three points. For their final choice, the Extras chose Lion: 'Garbage: 25%', then 'ABBA: 50%'; they offered 'A: 100%', thinking the sequence to be the percentages of letters in band names. Not correct. Their opponents saw 'The Corrs: 75%', but didn't quite get it either; it's the percentage of women in each band, so 'Little Mix: 100%' would satisfy. Left with Horned Viper again, the Charmers saw 'Science', then 'Technology'; they identified them to be the 'STEM' subjects, and so offered 'Mathematics' for yet another three points. At the end of the second round, the Charmers led 13-5.

On to the Walls. The Charmers went first this time, and chose to tackle the Lion wall. They quickly spotted a link of characters from Buffy, and isolated 'Xander', 'Giles', 'Angel' and 'Spike'. They then spotted a set of words that can precede 'tit', and the set of 'Crested', 'Blue', 'Willow' and 'Bearded' came in. After a bit of confusion with the remaining clues, they solved the wall on their final go: 'Soft block', 'Dig', 'Libero' and 'Setter' are terms in volleyball, which they didn't get, so dropping three points there, while 'Brookes', 'Scarfe', 'Tidy' and 'Searle' are cartoonists, which they did get. Seven points there.

The Extras thus still had to solve the Water wall fully to realistically stay in the contest. They got off to a good start, quickly isolating 'Lozenge', 'Antwerp Rose', 'Brilliant' and 'Princess', which are cuts of diamond. That was all they could work out though, as they spotted numerous links but couldn't get the precise sets isolated. They ran out of time, and thus had to pick up bonus points: 'Pocket', 'Miss Havisham', 'Pip' and 'Magwitch' are characters in Great Expectations, which they got, 'Cushion', 'Baulk', 'D' and 'Baize' are parts of a snooker table, which they also got, while 'Rust', 'Black spot', 'Crown gall' and 'Canker' are plant diseases, which they also also got. Five points there, which left the scores at 20-10 to the Charmers going into the final round.

So, Missing Vowels to finish off, with the Extras needing a shutout to realistically win. 'Things worh 2 points', such as ''D' TILE IN SCRABBLE', went to the Charmers 1-0. 'Actors who played the same characters, such as 'RICHARD HARRIS AND MICHAEL GAMBON', was split 2-each. 'Long-running BBC Radio shows', including the hilarious clue of 'PM'(!)', went to the Charmers 3-0, and that was time. The Charmers won 26-12.

A rather one sided match overall, the second round proving crucial. Unlucky Extras, who alas won't be returning in the play-offs, but thanks very much for playing. Well done Charmers though, and best of luck in the second round.

Next week's match: Eco-Warriors vs Escapologists

University Challenge back to normal service tomorrow; see you then.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Only Connect Series 13: Round 1 Group A: Match 2: Geocachers vs Vikings

Right, Only Connect time. Thanks to whoever put this series' new rules on Wikipedia: basically, it's UC's format of fourteen first round matches and two play-offs to give sixteen second round teams, but, like last year, with the draw split into two groups of seven, from which the two highest scoring runners-up from each will play off. It's better than last year's format IMO, but still doesn't quite sit right with me.

Anyway, playing on Friday night were the Geocachers, Ward Broughton, Lowri Williams and captain Rhod Thomas (not the same Geocachers team that appeared in Series 4), and the Vikings, Mark Oxley, John Wilson and captain Mick Lee.

Round 1. The Geocachers opened the night's procedings with Lion, and the music set: we heard Craig McLachlan, then Holly Valance, then Natalie Inbruglia; two clues later than most people of Twitter (allegedly!), they spotted them to be actors from Neighbours, and picked up two points. The Vikings opened their account with Water: 'Beautiful Joe', then 'Traveller', then 'Black Beauty', and finally 'Me Cheeta'. They didn't get it, nor did their opponents: they are autobiographies of fictional animals! The Geocachers chose Two Reeds next: 'McMahon', then 'Bjorn', then 'Bern', and finally 'Ursula'. They didn't get it, their opponents did: they are names derived from the word 'bear'. For their own question, the Vikings chose Eye of Horus: 'Exhibit', then 'Salt and Pepper'; they saw them to be the names of rappers spelt properly, and picked up a good three points. The Geocachers chose Twisted Flax next: 'Electronic scoreboard', then 'English all-seater stadium commission', then 'Colour matchday programme', and finally 'Three points for a win'. Again, they didn't get it, but their opponents, and, thanks to Football Daily, I, did: they were all proposed by the late great Jimmy Hill. Left with Horned Viper for their own questions, the Vikings got the picture set, and saw the Karnak ruins, then Stanley Kubrick, then the band Kraftwerk; they saw that their names all starts and end with K. (Reminds me of an old UC question from many years ago!) At the end of the first round, the Vikings led 7-2.

Round 2, What Comes Fourth? The Geocachers kicked the round off with Lion again: 'Music', then 'More', and then 'E'; they didn't get it again, their opponents, and I, did: they are spin-off channels of Channel 4 in reverse order of launch, so 'Film' completes the set. For their own question, the Vikings chose Two Reeds: 'The Rio Olympic diving pool', then 'Oxidised paper', and then '17th century carrots'; this time, they didn't get it, their opponents did this time: they are things that turn or have turned ascending colours of the rainbow, so something that would turn red, such as 'An embarrassed person' would be fourth. (I remember someone on Twitter last year likened the Olympic diving pool to the Get Your Own Back gunge tank!) For their own question, the Geocachers chose Water: 'Sint Maarten', then 'Aruba', and then 'Curacao'. Neither team got this: they are the components of the Netherlands in order of size, so the mainland 'Netherlands' would complete the set. The Vikings chose Eye of Horus next: '3128', then '3130'; they saw the sequence to be the numbers of days in months merged together in order, so '3130' again would be third, and '3131' completes the set, for three points. For their final choice, the Geocachers chose Twisted Flax: 'In France', then 'On the seas and oceans'; they saw it to be Churchill's 'We shall fight them' speech, so 'On the beaches' would be fourth. Left with Horned Viper again, the Vikings, again, got the picture set, and saw Aung San Suu Kyi, then Lee Harvey Oswald, and then Abraham Lincoln. They didn't see it, their opponents did: it's a simple decrease in the number of words in their names, so someone known by one name, such as Moses, would complete the set. At the end of the second round, the Vikings led 11-7.

On to the Walls. The Vikings took their turn to go first, and chose the Lion wall. They quickly spotted a link of famous Glorias, and isolated 'Estefan', 'Vanderbilt', 'Hunniford' and 'Steinem'. A second set followed: 'Defile', 'Tarnish', 'Soil' and 'Dirty' are synonyms of each other (ie, stain). Their three gos at solved the Wall failed to do so, so they had to collect bonus points: 'Professor X', 'Lebowski', 'Sully', 'Swanson' are fictional wheelchair users, which they got, while 'Lightbulb', 'Essex Girl', 'Irish' and 'Practical' can all precede 'joke', which they also spotted. Six points there.

The Geocachers thus could make up lost ground if they could solve the Water wall. They too isolated a set reasonably quickly: 'Farage', 'Slater', 'Short' and 'Planer' are famous Nigels. After that, though, they had little luck, spotting some links but not isolating any further groups. They ran out of time, and also had to salvage bonus points: 'Carswell', 'Banks', 'Nuttall' and 'Sked' are past or present UKIP politicians, which they got, 'Castle', 'Storm', 'Wedge' and 'Table' can all follow 'Table', which they didn't see, while 'Settee', 'Chesterfield', 'Canape' and 'Davenport' are types of sofa, which they did get. So four points there, which left them trailing 17-11 going into the final round.

So just about all still to play for going into Missing Vowels. 'Farming idioms', such as 'UNTIL THE COWS COMES HOME', was a clean sweep to the Geocachers 4-0, so already just two points in it. 'Places names after people' was split 2-each. 'People (possibly) named after places' also split 2-each, and also saw my Dad and numerous Twitterers offer 'PETER SHILTON' instead of 'PARIS HILTON'! 'Famous Five books' only had time for one clue, which the Geocachers took. At the end of the show, the Vikings had snuck home, 21-20!

An excellent close match with some good quizzing on both sides. Unlucky Geocachers, but hopefully 20 will be high enough for this half of the draw and bring you back, so hopefully we'll see yous again. Well done Vikings though, and best of luck in the next round!

Next week's match: Snake Charmers vs Extras

Monday, 31 July 2017

University Challenge 2017-18: Round 1: Match 3: Southampton vs Cardiff

Evening all. If you haven't already, do try and check out the new Quizzy Mondays podcast, where Chris Ducklin of last year's East London UC team talks about the week's quiz shows. I joined him for the first episode last week, and he intends to see if other bloggers will be willing to join in too. You can find it on Twitter, @QuizzyMondays. Now, on with tonight.

Southampton University was founded in 1952, and its alumni include radio comedy mainstay Jeremy Hardy and BBC news mainstay Jon Sopel. It has regularly sent teams to UC, reaching the QFs in 2013-14; it last appeared two series ago, going out in the second round. This year's foursome were:
Juan Paolo Ledesma, from Hampshire, studying Medicine
Andrew Knighton, from Fareham in Hampshire, studying Medicine
Captain: Lorna Frankel, from Wiltshire, studying Natural Sciences
Niall Jones, from Chalfont St Peter in Buckinghamshire, studying English

Cardiff University was formerly part of the University of Wales, becoming independent in 2005, and its alumni include another BBC news regular, Huw Edwards, and failed HIGNFY presenter Neil Kinnock. It last sent a team to UC, who went out in the QFs. This year's quartet, hoping to do better than the last Welsh side to face a Southampton team did, were:
Freddie Colleran, from Halifax, studying Engineering
Daniel Conway, from Chiswick, studying Medicine
Captain: Ian Strachan, from Nuneaton, studying Chemistry
Rosie Cowell, from Newport Pagnell, studying Philosophy

Off we set again then, and Mr Jones opened the scoring for Southampton, and the first bonus set, on Sinbad the sailor, which I missed a bit of as I left the room to close the doors so I could hear properly, gave the side a full set. Miss Frankel was up next, and the resultant bonuses were also cleanly swept up. Just one bonus came with Southampton's third set, before Mr Strachan finally found his buzzer for Cardiff; alas, all he did was lose his side five, handing Southampton possession and another full bonus set. The first picture round, on maps with missing borders, went to Southampton, who cleaned up again, and already led 115-(-5).

Already, it was looking like game over as a contest, and Mr Jones only added to that thought by correctly offering Kyrgyzstan for the next starter. All three bonuses were converted once again. A second starter in a row went to the Soton right winger Mr Jones; just one bonus this time, but even at this very early stage, it didn't really matter. Mr Knighton ensured all Southampton players had at least one starter to their name, though no bonuses came with it this time. Cardiff managed to get a buzz in on the next starter, but not the right answer, Southampton couldn't either. Mr Jones only added to the Welsh side's misery by getting the next starter, but the side missed all the bonuses again, albeit amusingly as an obscure incorrect answer to the first turned out to be right for the third!

The music round saw Mr Ledesma win the race to be (AFAIK) the first UC contestant ever to correctly offer 'Katy Perry'! The bonuses, on tracks using the 'Millennial whoop', gave Southampton another full house, and a lead of 200-(-5). Finally, Mr Conway broke Cardiff's duck, and took them into positive figures. Alas, a bonus set on the work of Doris Day got them nothing more. A second starter went Cardiff's way thanks to Miss Cowell, and bonuses on landscapes proved a bit more to their liking, as they managed the one. Mr Jones restored normal service for Southampton, and a bonus set on the human skeleton was very quickly dispatched.

The second picture round, on tourist attactions built for World's fairs, went to Cardiff, who took two of the bonuses, leaving the score at 225-40. Mr Jones then fell foul of a swerve that saw his answer emerge as part of the question, but Cardiff failed to take advantage. Another two starters was dropped, before Mr Jones ended the rot by taking Southampton's latest starter. Just the one bonus followed, but at this point, it was just a question of how many more points both sides could manage.

Another starter was dropped, the next saw Mr Ledesma (and myself) identify the main breeds of swan. The bonuses got them nothing more again, before Mr Ledesma took a second starter in a row; one bonus on sparkling wine followed, as we both identified 'cava'. There was time for Mr Knighton to take the final starter, and two of the final bonuses to follow; at the gong, Southampton won 280-40.

A pretty one sided match in truth, not much more can be said. Unlucky Cardiff, who just simply never got going, but came across well when they did nonetheless, and deserve credit for making it on the show in the first place, so good on yous. Very very well played by Southampton though, and we shall most definitely look forward to seeing you again in the next round! Could be a team to watch!

The stats: Messrs Ledesma and Jones were joint best buzzers of the night, with six each, while Messrs Conway and Strachan and Miss Cowell all got one each for Cardiff. On the bonuses, Southampton converted 27 out of 44, while Cardiff managed 3 out of 9, and both sides incurred one penalty.

No show next week, as LIVE athletics gets priority, so we're back in two weeks' time. I hope.

Only Connect is on next week, and this week too for that matter. Be back with that on Sunday. Also, stay tuned for a new non-quiz series I may or may not decide to start at some point in the next few weeks.

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Only Connect Series 13: Round 1 Group A: Match 1: Stewards vs Parishioners

OK, here we go with the thirteenth series of Only Connect, something Victoria CM (who is now well known enough not to need a subtitle at the start!) was quick to point out during her intro. I understand we have yet another new format for this series, which hopefully will become clearer as the series goes on.

Anyhoo, playing the first match of Series Numero 13 were the Stewards, James Baillie, Sam Brennan and captain Samuel Cook (UC alumnus), and the Parishioners, Tracey Rawlins, Andy Rawlins (relationship unclear) and captain Ian Fellows.

Round 1. The Parishioners kicked off the new series with Eye of Horus, and the ever popular music question: we heard The Saw Doctors, then Chaka Demus and Pliers, then Jimmy Nail; this gave it to them for two points, they share their names with tools/carpentry equipment. (MC Hammer would've been the last clue) The Stewards opened their account with Lion: 'Collateral: stairwell; subway station', then 'The Firm: office building; street', then 'Jerry Maguire: stadium; airport', and finally 'Vanilla Sky: an empty Times Square'. They identified them as Tom Cruise films, but neither they nor their opponents could get the precise link: they are places where he is seen running in those films, as per a popular meme. The Parishioners chose Two Reeds next: 'pat: bone', then 'rub: disease'; they quickly spotted that adding 'ella' to the former gives the latter, and collected a good three points. The Stewards chose 'Horn-ed' Viper next: 'Fruit: LEMON', then 'BBC Sci-Fi: DOCTOR WHO', then 'Add up to 13: TWELVE PLUS ONE'; they spotted the latter in each case to be an anagram of another of the former, and collected two for that. The Parishioners chose Water next, and got the picture set: we saw a potato, then a Bible, then a dresser with an arrow at the leg; they identified them as a King Edward potato, the King James Bible and a Queen Anne leg, and collected two points. Left with Twisted Flax, the Stewards saw 'Hooters', then 'The Night Tube', then 'tripadvisor', and finally 'Sheffield Wednesday'. I was surprised they didn't get this, and unsurprised their opponents did: they all have owls as their logos. At the end of the first round, the Parishioners led 8-2.

Round 2, What Comes Fourth? The Parishioners went first again, and chose Eye of Horus first again: 'Legal personality', then 'Amendment of Treaties', and then 'Application to join the EU'. They didn't get it, but their opponents, and I, did: 'Exiting the EU' completes the sequence, which is Articles 47-50 of the Lisbon Treaty. For their own question, the Stewards chose Lion: 'Close window', then 'Cut'; they saw them to be computer control shortcuts, but their answer of 'Paste' was incorrect. Their opponents saw 'Redo', and spotted the sequence to be what happens when you press Control alongside W, X, Y and Z, so 'Undo' would complete the set. For their own question, the Parishioners chose Twisted Flax, and got the picture set: we saw John Lennon and Paul McCartney, then the two Beatles again; they saw it to be names of Popes, so offered Francis Bacon, and collected three points. The Stewards chose Water next: 'KGX', then 'MYB'; they saw it to be the codes of the stations in Monopoly, but their offer of 'FCH', was incorrect. Their opponents saw 'FST', and offered 'PDN', as in Paddington, which, unfortunately, is not the missing station. That would be Liverpool Street, so LST would complete the set. For their final choice, the Parishioners chose Two Reeds: 'either', then 'neither', and then 'potato'; they spotted it to be the words that are argued over in 'Lets Call the Whole Thing Off', so 'tomato' would be correct for two points. Left with Horned Viper, the Stewards saw 'Heaven', then 'Sense', and then 'Column'; they saw it to be words that can follow 'seventh', 'sixth' and 'fifth', so something following 'fourth', such as 'quartile' or 'wall', would be fourth, literally, for two points. At the end of the second round, the Parishioners led 14-5.

On to the Walls. The Stewards went first, and chose to tackle the Lion wall. They fairly quickly isolated 'Constantine', 'John Wick', 'Hardball' and 'Speed', which are films starring Keanu Reeves. A second set followed: 'Llewellyn', 'Herod', 'Cyrus' and 'Catherine' are rulers known as 'the Great'. They ran out of tries trying to resolve the wall, and thus had to pick up bonuses: 'Taper', 'Peter', 'Wane' and 'Fade' can all mean 'to lessen', which they got, while 'Hart', 'Rice', 'Ebb' and 'Lerner' are lyricists of musicals, which they didn't. Five for that then.

The Parishioners thus set to work on the Water wall. They quickly got stuck, however, though they did isolate one set: 'Ricochet', 'Deja Vu', 'Malcolm X' and 'Inside Man' are films starring Denzil Washington. They had no luck getting anything else though, and so too were left to rummage for bonuses: 'Standby', 'Swing', 'Cover' and 'Alternate' are understudies, which they didn't get, 'Charge', 'Heart', 'Flight' and 'Note' can all follow 'Take', which they also didn't get, while 'Exit poll', 'Cleavage', 'Ballot' and 'Hustings' are terms in electioneering. (One wonders if this series was in the bag before this year's snap poll was called, I suspect UC certainly was) So three points there, which cut their lead to 17-10 going into the final round.

So still just about in the balance going into the final round, but the Stewards would need to run the show. 'People with descriptive surnames', such as 'TAYLOR SWIFT' and 'WILL YOUNG', was split 2-each. 'Questions you might hear in a job interview' went to the Stewards 3-1. 'Winners of the Tony Award for Best Musical' was a clean sweep to the Parishioners 4-0, and that was game over. 'Ways to say goodbye', such as 'SEE YOU LATER ALLIGATOR', went to the Parishioners 2-0, and that was time. The Parishioners won 16-15.

A good start to the new series. Well done Parishioners, and good luck in the next round. Unlucky Stewards, but good job a perfectly fair performance, and you may get another chance if you are one of the two highest scoring runners-up.

Yep, another tweak to the format means now only the two highest scoring first round runners-up will get another go. Quite how this will work considering the number of shows (37) doesn't appear to have changed, I don't know, but if anyone does, do let us know.

Next week's match: Geocachers (wonder if that'll be the same team from Series 4) vs Vikings

Monday, 24 July 2017

University Challenge 2017-18: Round 1: Match 2: Trinity vs Bristol

Evening all. On we roll with the second week of Twitter's favourite prime time quiz show. At least, at the moment; plans were announced this week to bring The Weakest Link back for a one off Children in Need special, which, if well received, could lead to a run of celeb specials next year. Anne Robinson would return as host. Anyway, we'll deal with that later. For now, on with tonight's show...

Trinity College Cambridge has something of a reputation on UC, having won it three times, once under Bambi, and twice under Paxo. Founded in 1546 by Henry VIII, alumni include science pioneer Sir Isaac Newton, Joey Essex lookalike Eddie Redmayne (thanks Pointless!) and BBC loyalist Mel Giedroyc. It last sent a team to UC three series back, who went out in the group stage. This year's foursome were:
Matthew Kingston, from Greenisland in County Antrim, studying Physics
Owen Petrie, from Glan Clwyd in North Wales, studying Applied Maths
Captain: Maya Bear, from North London, studying English
Rahul Dev, from Chiswick in London, studying History

Bristol University dates back to 1909, founded by the Fry family of chocolate entrepreneurs and the Wills tobacconists. Alumni include 'comedians' Simon Pegg and David Walliams and writer David Nicholls of the excellent 'Starter for Ten'. It has regularly sent decent teams to UC; last year's team reached the group stage, going out after a great contest. This year's quartet hoping to better that were:
Oliver Bowes, from Market Harborough, studying Music
Kirsty Biggs, from Southampton, studying Maths
Captain: Sam Hosegood, from Bedford, studying Chemical Physics
Dom Hewett, from Stroud, studying English

Off we set again then, and Bristol struck first with Mr Hewett doing the honours. Nothing came of the resultant bonuses, though, and five were then lost to the first Pedantic Penalty (of what I hope will be not many) of the series; Trinity took the points, and bonuses on fictional dogs provided two correct answers. Miss Biggs then recouped Bristol's lost points, and their first correct bonus put the sides level. Mr Hosegood then gave his side the lead, with just the one bonus, on cricket, coming this time. The first picture round, on toilet signs in various languages (yes, really) went to Trinity, who took one bonus, which tied the scores at 35-each.

Mr Bowes then made sure all four Bristolians already had at least one starter under their belts, but an amusing bonus set on potatoes in art provided nothing more. Another starter to the Avonsiders resulted in no accompanying bonuses again. Trinity, by contrast, took the next starter, and got all three bonuses on the coalition government (remember when we had those?) of Lloyd George, giving them the lead. They didn't seem to be getting as many starters as Bristol, but they were getting more bonuses right when they did.

The music starter saw Mr Bowes identify Mozart's horn concerto in E flat, Kochel rating 495 (thanks Flanders and Swann!); the bonuses, on pieces predominately featuring horns, gave Bristol a much needed full bonus set, and a lead of 80-60. Another penalty, a proper one this time, then lost them five, but Trinity couldn't pick up this time. Mr Hosegood recouped his side's losses, and another full bonus set took them into three figures, and suggested they'd turned a corner on the bonus front. Or maybe not, as they got nothing from their next set. Mr Hosegood was on a roll now though, taking a third starter in a row, and bonuses on King Zog of Albania gave them one right answer, same as their next set got them.

The second picture round, on political cartoons by James Gillray, went to Bristol, who took two bonuses, giving them a lead of 160-60, and within sight of victory. Mr Hewett all but put them over the line by taking the next starter; though just the one bonus came again, and when Mr Hosegood took the next starter, that was game over. A full bonus set confirmed this.

An odd starter asked which country's name appears in that of words meaning 'underwater diving' and 'to keep eggs warm'; Mr Bowes knew it to be 'Cuba', 'SCUBA' and 'Incubate' being the words. Two bonuses came. Mr Petrie broke Trinity's silence finally, and they took two bonuses on five letter words ending in 'I'. Both sides missed the next starter, Trinity took the next, but one bonus meant they fell short of three figures. Bristol took the final starter, and that was the gong; they won 230-95.

A slow match that picked up somewhat in the second half as Bristol pulled away. Unlucky Trinity, who did perfectly OK and I suspect would've fared better against another team, but well done on a fair effort. Well done Bristol though on an excellent first performance, and very best of luck in the second round.

The stats: Mr Hosegood was by far the best buzzer of the night, with seven to his name, while Messrs Petrie and Dev took two each for Trinity. On the bonuses, Trinity converted a respectable 9 out of 15, while Bristol managed 18 out of 42 (with two penalties), suggesting they won the match on, what dxdtdemon termed last series, 'starter defence'; still, increase that bonus rate a bit, and you've got a decent outfit there.

Next week's match: Southampton vs Cardiff

Only Connect returns on Friday at 8:30, and will stay there until the end of the year at least. If I decide to review this series, I will do the first episode either Sunday or next Tuesday.

Monday, 17 July 2017

University Challenge 2017-18: Round 1: Match 1: Edinburgh vs Ulster

Evening all. We're back! After what seems like an interminable break, although TBH, so much has happened in the three months since we were last here, it, for once, does really feel like an eternity. But still, we're back! And, for the first time, I am completely unprepared for the new series! Usually, I've already got my stat tables and stuff sorted by now, but not this time! TBH, I've kinda enjoyed my rest from this blog too much, to the extent that I didn't get around to reviewing the Series 8 final of Fifteen-to-One 2.0; congrats to Max Espensen who won that, BTW. Anyway, off we set with Chapter 1 of Volume 47 of University Challenge!

Edinburgh University were with us last series, making an under-the-radar run to the semis before losing to eventual champs Balliol. Scotland's fourth university, founded in 1583, its alumni include footballer and part time writer Arthur Conan Doyle, politicians Gordon Brown and Ruth Davidson, my father and numerous old school friends. This year's team were:
John Heaton-Armstrong, from Edinburgh, studying Russian and History
Stanley Wang, from Edinburgh, studying Speech and Language Processing
Captain: Innis Carson, from Glasgow, studying Chemistry
Philippa Stone, from Oxford, studying Biology

Ulster University, making its Paxo-era UC debut tonight, was founded in 1984, and is the largest university on the island of Ireland. Alumni include comedian Omid Djalili and children's TV legend Gerry Anderson. It's first UC team of the Paxo era, and also the oldest of this year's tournament, were:
Kyle McDaid, from Buncrana in County Donegal, studying English Literature
Kate Ritchie, from Waringstown in County Armagh, studying Fine Art
Captain: Ian Jack, from Peterhead, studying Pharmacy
Matthew Milliken, from Comber in County Down, studying Education

Off we set again then, and local man (for me) Mr Jack had the honour of taking the first starter of the series, and his side taking two bonuses on travel guides. A second starter went to the Ulster captain, and one bonus followed this time. Mr Wang then took Edinburgh's first starter of the night, and his side broke their duck with two bonuses on Britain and Australia. Edinburgh's second bonus set, however, got them nothing further. The first picture round, on routes of expeditions, went to Ulster, who took two picture bonuses, which gave them a lead of 55-30.

Mr Wang then incurred the first penalty of the series; Ulster took the points and one of the resultant bonuses. Edinburgh recovered the points soon after, and a bonus set on Mexico gave them a full house. (I got chihuahua as the country's largest state) Another starter and a set of bonuses on football and poetry gave them the chance to take the lead, but they could only pull within five.

The music round, on TV theme tunes composed by Howard Goodall, saw Ulster take a full house on the bonuses, and me guess that Red Dwarf would be the last one before it was played! They now led 95-65, only for a slip-up to cost them five, and allow Edinburgh to pull within five again. A speculative buzz on 'lemonade' gave the Scots side the lead for the first time, and a full bonus set gave them some breathing space to boot. Mr Jack put a stop to that though, and a full bonus set of their own gave them the lead again. Mr Heaton-Armstrong came right back for Edinburgh, but they could only take one bonus this time.

The second picture round, on actors who played the same role on stage and screen, went to Ulster, who could also only take one, but nonetheless, it gave them the lead again, 130-125. Edinburgh took it back with Mr Heaton-Armstrong again doing the honours, but just the one bonus followed again. What looked like an educated guess put Ulster level again, and a crucial full bonus set set up a grandstand finish to start the series.

Neither side identified the correct monarch for the next starter; the next saw Mr Carson, a noted alumnus of Countdown and Only Connect, take his first starter of the night. Edinburgh too took a full set of bonuses, which might just have been enough to see them home. Indeed, Mr Milliken took the final starter, but there was no time for any bonuses. Edinburgh won the match, 165-160!

A great start to the series between two excellent teams both of whom deserve to return. Unlucky Ulster, who led much of the way through and just fell short at the end, but 160 will surely be enough to bring you back in the play-offs; best of luck there then! Well done Edinburgh though, and very best of luck in the second round!

The stats: Mr Jack was, just, the best buzzer of the night, with six starters to the five of Mr Heaton-Armstrong. On the bonuses, Edinburgh converted 16 out of 27, while Ulster managed 15 out of 24, with both sides incurring one penalty. So, that extra bonus, plus there being no time for the final set, won the match for Edinburgh. But well played both sides!

Next week's match: Trinity College Cambridge vs Bristol

Only Connect is, I understand, due to return at the end of the month, still on Friday nights. However, I am also informed that there are plans to reunite it with UC in the New Year.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Fifteen-to-One 2.0: Series 7 Final

OK, another Fifteen-to-One final to deal with. Now that Channel 4 has handed the horse racing highlights to ITV, the show is now on every day, and thus we are having longer series than before. Whereas the previous series have all been 30 or 40 episodes long, this series and the new one which has just begun are 50 shows long, so a bit more like the original series in run-time in that sense.

Anyway, playing the grand final last Friday were: Scott Dalgleish, Andy Kelly (legendary DoND alumnus, as well as OC and numerous others), Chris Morris, John Goodall, Richard Pederson, Andy Greenan, Zoe Millman, Darren Martin, Malcolm Dent, Phil Welch, John Olsen, Ashton Cull, Andrew Smithies (OC and Mastermind alumnus), Jack Bennett (blog reader and UC alumnus with Liverpool last year) and Ross Goodwin (OC and Brain of Britain alumnus and top of the finals board with 212 points).

Messrs Dalgleish, Goodall and Olsen were eliminated in the first round, and after a good second round worthy of the final, with Mr Smithies finishing fifth and Mr Bennett fourth, we had out four finalists: Zoe Millman, Darren Martin and Ross Goodwin.

It was going to take something to top the two final rounds we had last year, but this was pretty close to matching them. At first, the players were even; after ten questions, all three had answered 3 correctly.

With just ten to go, it was anyone's game, the players all within ten of each other. Then Mr Goodwin answered six questions in a row, which was enough to put him over the finish line. In the end, the show ended with Ms Millman on 101 with two lives intact, Mr Martin on 122 with two lives intact and Mr Goodwin on 151 with two lives intact.

So Mr Goodwin won the show, and the £40,000! Well done him, the first player of the revival to complete the double of topping the finals board and winning the final, and well done to all involved for another very enjoyable final!

I will, of course, cover the next final as well; should be around the same time UC resumes. Also, I do still intend to post a fuller set of my thoughts on OC (and UC) at some point; can't say when, but I will. I hope.

Friday, 14 April 2017

University Challenge 2016-17: Series Highlights

OK, my coverage of this year's UC ends tonight, with my usual end of series review. It's been a great series to watch, and to cover on here, but despite that, this could be quite hard to write.

First off, my pick for best match of each round:
  • First Round + Play-Offs: Definitely Wolfson vs SOAS, with Edinburgh vs Durham the week before a close second, and Corpus Christi vs Jesus third.
  • Second Round: Definitely Open vs Edinburgh.
  • Quarter-Finals: Wolfson vs Balliol was excellent, but for pure drama, it has to be Warwick vs Bristol.
  • The Final Three: To be honest, all were excellent, but the first final that was genuinely close throughout for a while has to get my vote.
After a few series where close matches were hard to come by, we had a good few this time then, and that has added to the excellent high standard of this series. Most of them were in the first round, and after a middle-of-the-road second round, the group stage carried on the pace, as did the final matches of the series.

In terms of teams, we were well spread again this year, though Wales was not represented. Cambridge just outranked Oxford, with six to five, while SOAS carried the flag solely for the University of London; Imperial and East London also popped in from the capital, with the latter bringing the post-'92 unis back to the show after a one series absence.

The highest score of the series was 270, achieved by SOAS in their thumping play-off victory over Durham. The biggest winning margin was 200, from Balliol's 265-65 thumping of Birmingham in the QF eliminator stage, with Bristol also scoring the same score and winning by just five less against Oriel in the second round. No more teams joined the Sub-50 club this year, the lowest score being 55, achieved by Imperial in the first round, East London in the second, and Corpus Christi in the QF qualifier stage.

Now for the highlights reel:
  • Mr Venturini's 'special interest in X-raying cheese'!
  • Oriel suggesting a Mr D Trump was involved in the Miner's Strike! Also, 'COLE PORTER?!'
  • Mr Monkman has given us too much to list! Special mention to 'Tom Bombadil!', 'Sneezy?' and 'Volfgang Pauli!', the latter of which caused me some embarrassment when, thinking about the show, I accidentally blurted it out loud at work!
  • 'Silicanes'. A harbinger of what would later happen with Open and 'Bulrich'.
  • Ms Jardine nominating a different person to give the same answer to two different questions.
  • GONG 'Monosodium glutonate.' 'That was after the gong I'm afraid!' 'Nooooooo!'
  • The return of Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, and this time they were correctly identified!
  • 'Laurence Olivier?!' Also, Mr Goldman's absolutely correct justification for having a wild guess!
  • 'The Avengers?'
  • 'Oodle-oodle?'
  • 'Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging?!'
  • 'I Wanna Hold Your Hand and She Loves Me? Yeah yeah yeah?' Also, Noddy the self-employed taxi driver!
  • 'He Who Lives By The Sword Shall Perish By The Sword!' ('You'd have made a wonderful revivalist preacher!')
Can't recall anything in particular from the final five matches; that's how good and watchable they were!

If anyone can think of any more highlights, do let me know!

Now for a few serious words.

I am going to do another series on here, but one thing I'm not going to do is go online the day after and look up what the papers are saying about the match.

I'm sure some of you will be aware that the Daily Mail tried to get in touch with Messrs Potts and Pope on Twitter and requested an interview, only for both to politely refuse while at the same time insulting the publication.

The same paper published an article asking why there aren't more women on the show, in the light of yet another all-male final. Of course, this is the same paper that, not long ago, asked whether Miss Johnson of Corpus Christi 'the hottest University Challenge contestant of all time?'.

Kudos to Miss Woods of last year's winning Peterhouse team for her excellent article in the New Statesman calling it and other papers out on this appalling hypocrisy; thoroughly worth a read.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, even if I am repeating what others elsewhere say: women need to be encouraged to appear on UC, not forced to do so via some sort of quota. Unfortunately, as long as the papers/Twitterers keep objectifying them, they will remain reluctant. Kudos to those who are prepared to appear on the show, showing the papers/Twitterers they don't care what they say.

The other issue that remains at the forefront this series is the continuing presence of 'non-interruptions' on the show. Weaver's Week appear to have, rightly, stopped counting them towards the final score in their reviews, and I will continue to call them out when they come up for as long as they remain.

In response to those who may ask me what I'd do to change it, I'd make the rule 'If a contestant buzzes wrongly, and part of the question does not get read out as a result, it's a penalty', rather than the current rule which appears to be 'If a contestant buzzes wrongly while Paxo is talking, no matter whether he is literally just finishing the question, it's a penalty'.

Overall, though, it was an excellent series, I found myself enjoying it throughout, even the low scoring/one sided matches. Kudos to the teams who took part, and on Paxo, Roger Tilling and TPTB for keeping us entertained for the past nine months or so! Bring on the next series, Paxo's 24th! Correct me if I'm wrong, but does that now make him the longest serving host?

That's it for UC this series then folks. Like last year, I'll be putting this blog on the sidelines for a while, occasionally posting when I feel the need to. See yous around!

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

University Challenge 2016-17: Best Buzzer Per Team

OK people, time for part one of my annual post series summary: the overall starter stats. If you've been following my blogs closely, you'll already know the best player for each team, but I'll repeat them here so you've got them all together:

Eric Monkman (Wolfson) - 49 over seven matches
Joey Goldman (Balliol) - 41 over seven matches
Euan Smith (Edinburgh) - 30 over five matches
Sophie Rudd (Warwick) - 28 over five matches
George Greenlees (Birmingham) - 23 over four matches
Bruno Barton-Singer (Emmanuel) - 21 over five matches
Nikhil Venkatesh & Adam Wright (Corpus Christi) - 15 each over five matches
Michael Tomsett (Bristol) - 14 over four matches

Honourable mentions go to:

Ben Pope (Balliol) - 17 over seven matches
Tom Hill (Emmanuel) - 15 over five matches
Freddie Potts (Balliol) - 15 over seven matches
Claire Jackson (Bristol) - 12 over four matches
Emma Johnson (Corpus Christi) - 12 over five matches
Ben Chaudhri (Wolfson) - 12 over seven matches

So, there's a quick selection. As usual, I have the full list for all the QF players, so if you want it, just drop me a message here or on Twitter, and I'll get it sent to you.

Be back on Friday with my usual series highlights reel and some afterthoughts.

Monday, 10 April 2017

University Challenge 2016-17: Grand Final: Wolfson vs Balliol

Evening all. Well, here we are: the 46th University Challenge grand final! And a hotly anticipated one as well, even if the pre-match coverage has been a bit partisan towards one team, or rather, one player! A fourth Oxbridge final in a row, and whichever team won the title would thoroughly deserve their place in the annals of UC history.

Wolfson College Cambridge arrived here by beating SOAS, Jesus of Cambridge, their opponents tonight, Warwick and, in the semi-final, their friends at Emmanuel College Cambridge, their only slip-up so far a narrow defeat to Edinburgh. Hoping to make it four in a row for Cambridge were:
Justin Yang, from Vancouver, studying Public Health and Primary Care 
Ben Chaudhri, from Cockermouth in Cumbria, studying Natural Sciences 
Captain: Eric Monkman, from Oakville, Canada, studying Economics 
Paul Cosgrove, from Cookstown in Northern Ireland, studying Nuclear Energy

Balliol College Oxford's run to the final saw them beat Imperial of London, Robinson of Cambridge, Birmingham, Corpus Christi of Oxford and Edinburgh, their only blip in that run being the afore-mentioned defeat to their opponents tonight. Hoping to be the first Oxford winners for six years, and complete the double with the Men's Boat Race, were:
Freddie Potts, from Newcastle, studying History
Jacob Lloyd, from London, studying English
Captain: Joey Goldman, from London, studying Philosophy and Theology
Ben Pope, from Sydney, studying Astrophysics

Off we set again then, and Mr Pope got the ball rolling for the night, beating at least two of his colleagues to the buzzer with 'Paris'; the Oxford side set their stall firmly out for the night, taking all three bonuses. Mr Monkman took his first starter of the night, identifying characters from the Magic Flute; his side converted two bonuses on foreign reptiles. The Cambridge side then took the lead thanks to Mr Chaudhri, but bonuses on medieval Earls of Orkney got them nowhere. Another starter to Mr Monkman did though, as did one resultant bonus. The first picture round, on treaties and accords and the national boundaries they resulted in, went to Wolfson, who took two bonuses, which put them ahead 65-25.

Mr Pope stopped them dead in their tracks with a good quick buzz on the next starter; only one bonus on historical duels followed, but they had stopped their opponents just as they were threatening to pull away. Indeed, Mr Monkman then slipped up on the next starter, and the one after as well; Balliol picked up the points at the second time of asking, and two bonuses on cosmology gave them the lead. Mr Pope then gave them some breathing space as he took the next starter, and another two bonuses followed. At this stage, the sides were level in terms of correct starters, but Balliol's better bonus work meant they had the advantage.

The music round, or rather, the audio round, on Radio 4's Reith Lectures, went to Wolfson, who took a much needed full bonus set, which put them level on 80-each. A good quick buzz from that man Monkman gave them the lead again, and a good bonus set on Tudor executions, requiring any one of three successive years, saw them take two and narrowly miss the other. Both sides missed the next starter, a piece of chemical number arithmetic; Mr Monkman took the next, but just the one bonus followed. Yet another 'non-interruption', which I seriously hope TPTB are paying attention to the growing annoyance at, then cost Wolfson five, and allowed Balliol back into the game; they took two bonuses on flowering plants to cut the gap to ten points. What a great final this was turning out to be!

The second picture round, on modern reinterpretations of famous artworks, went to Balliol, who took just the one bonus, unluckily missing the others, which gave them a slender lead of 115-110 going into the home straight. Mr Goldman, who'd had a quiet first half of the show, now seemed to have finally found his range, as he took a third starter in a row, and a crucial full bonus set on physics gave them room to manoeuvre. Back came Wolfson, with Mr Monkman again doing the honours, but they dropped all the bonuses, which might just prove costly.

Mr Monkman then had a chance to cut the gap again, but he only managed to lose another five, and hand Mr Goldman the points and possession. Balliol took full advantage and put 50-point daylight between them and their opponents with another full bonus set. Back came Mr Monkman again, but Wolfson really needed the bonuses to fall for them to keep in touch; they duly obliged with a much needed full set, putting them one starter and full set behind. The next starter was dropped, but when Mr Goldman took the next one, that was most likely game over. Indeed, Balliol took another full set, on German cities, which confirmed them as the victors. And that was the gong; Balliol had done it, 190-140!

For the trophy presentation, for only the second time in the show's history, we left the studio, and went on location! To Gonville & Caius College Cambridge, where Paxo and the two teams were joined by Professor Stephen Hawking, who said a few words, before Paxo handed the trophy over to Balliol. As the credits rolled, the teams sipped down some celebratory drinks!

Overall, a great final, one the series deserved, and definitely one of the best of the decade as well! Unlucky Wolfson, but nothing to be ashamed of at all getting to the final, especially in what has been a very close competitive series, and thanks very much indeed for playing. Very very well done to Balliol though, who have been excellent from the off, and worthy additions to the champions list! Very well done indeed!

Mr Monkman was, once again, the best buzzer of the night, with seven, making him by far the best buzzer of the series, with 49 overall. Mr Goldman was Balliol's best of the night with five, giving him a final series total of 41. On the bonuses, Wolfson converted 14 out of 27 (with four damaging penalties), while Balliol managed 20 out of 27; that's where the match, and the title was won. But thanks again to both teams for giving us the great final this series deserved!

And that's it! We can all retire now for a well-earned rest! Well, yous all can; I still have the small matter of my usual post series review. It, along with the buzzer stats, will be popping up on here this week, so stay tuned!

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Only Connect Series 12: Grand Final: Verbivores vs Cosmopolitans

Well people, here we are: the final of the longest series of Only Connect to date. I still feel 37 shows is maybe a bit too many for the show; I'll maybe go into more detail about what I mean later next week. For the final, the set was decorated with a chandelier and a champagne glass pyramid, plus a few glasses which Victoria, dressed in a more formal outfit than usual, quietly drank throughout the show! (Much to the horror of some commentators, amid speculation she may be pregnant again!)

So, playing to become the twelfth Only Connect champions were the Verbivores, blog readers Phyl Styles and Tom Cappleman and captain Graeme Cole, and the Cosmopolitans, Annette Fenner, Emily Watnick and captain Amy Godel. The Verbivores have taken the longest route possible to get here, narrowly losing their first match to the Psmiths, then beating the Channel Islanders and the Taverners by a single point, then losing to the Surrealists, but easily beating the Fire-Eaters and then overcoming both teams who defeated them to reach the final! The Cosmopolitans, by contrast, are unbeaten thus far, beating the Taverners, the Tubers, the Beekeepers, the Psmiths and the Korfballers last week to make the final! So both sides have had some close scrapes, but ultimately, both have proven themselves worthy finalists, and whoever won would deserve to do so.

Round 1. The Verbivores went first, and kicked off the final with Two Reeds: 'Cordate', then 'Obcordate' (in red), then 'Trifoliate', and finally 'Rhomboid' (in red). They were timed out before they could offer anything, and their opponents didn't see it: they are the suits in a pack of playing cards. The Cosmopolitans opened their final account with 'Horn-ed' Viper: 'The Property of a Lady', then 'The Hildebrand Party', then 'Risico', and finally '007 in New York'. Neither team saw this one: they are James Bond stories that have not, yet, been adapted for the screen. The Verbivores chose Twisted Flax next, and got the music question: we heard Nicki Minaj singing 'Anaconda', then 'Booty' by J Lo, then Meghan Trainor with the annoyingly catchy 'All About That Bass', and finally 'Bootylicious' by Destiny's Child. They identified them are being songs where the singers describes their, er, bottom, and collected the first point of the night! (According to Victoria, the question was a test to see if any of the contestants were willing to say 'big behinds', or something like that!) The Cosmopolitans chose Lion next: 'Bravo 9:30', then 'Juliet 3:00', then 'Romeo 3:45', and finally 'Delta 6:00'. They didn't get it, their opponents did: they are the semaphore representations of those letters on a clockface. For their own question, the Verbivores chose Eye of Horus, and got the picture set: we saw actress Joan Chen, then the late Alan Clark (MP), then Mackenzie Crook, and finally a young John Craven. They didn't see it, their opponents did: taking the C off their surnames gives a bird. Left with Water for their own question, the Cosmopolitans saw ''Solo construir un puente' (La mansion)', then ''Il suffit d'unir' (Le legs de Mrs Wilcox)', then ''Apenas conecta (A Mansao)', and finally ''Solo connettere' (Casa Howard)'. They saw it to be 'Only Connect' in different languages, but couldn't work out what the bits in brackets were; their opponents guessed it to be 'Howard's End', the novel from which they phrase came, when translated for other countries, and collected a bonus. At the end of the first round, the Verbivores led 3-1.

Round 2, What Comes Fourth? The Verbivores opened the round with Eye of Horus: 'Methylnaphthidate (temporary)', then 'Gamma hydroxyburate (C)', and then 'Mephedrone (B)'. They saw it to be UK illegal drug classifications, but didn't give an acceptable answer; their opponents did, offering 'Heroine (A)' for a bonus. For their own question, the Cosmopolitans, again, chose 'Horn-ed' Viper, and got the picture set: we saw three effigies, comically depicting Angela Merkel, Kim Jong-Un and Alex Salmond; they didn't identify what would be fourth, their opponents did, offering one of David Cameron for a bonus, the sequence being Lewes Bonfire Night effigies. For their won question, the Verbivores chose Lion: 'Capital Q (E)', then 'Capital U (M)', and then 'Capital I (P)'. They offered 'Capital Z (C)', and were correct, the sequence being world capitals which are the only one to begin with that letter, and the order is the spelling out of 'QUIZ'. The Cosmopolitans chose Twisted Flax next: 'Dance II (Matisse)', then 'Nighthawks (Hopper)', and then 'The Scream (Munch)'; they saw it to be numbers of figures depicted in paintings, but went down instead of up, and thus didn't get it. Their opponents didn't see it at all. 'American Gothic (Wood)' would be acceptable for fourth. For their final choice, the Verbivores chose Water: '1.6180339887...', then 'Life-force in Chinese medicine'; they saw it to be representations of the Greek alphabet, and offered 'the symbol for an Ohm' for three points. Left with Two Reeds, the Cosmopolitans saw '2002: Brazil 4 Germany 3', then '2006: Italy 3 France 1'; they saw it to be World Cup finals, but thought it to be final scores, and thus their offer of '2014: Germany 1 Argentina 0' was not correct. Their opponents saw '2010: Spain 0 Netherlands 0', but were none the wiser. They are the numbers of World Cups the competing teams had previously won, so '2014: Germany 3 Argentina 2' completes the set. At the end of the second round, the Verbivores led 9-2.

On to the Walls. The Cosmopolitans went first, and chose to tackle the Water wall. They quickly isolated '1837', '1702', '1558' and '1952', which are years of female monarchs' accessions. A second set, '27', '1', '125' and '343', which are cubes, followed. The final clues were solved pretty quickly too: '1500', '400', '110' and '10,000' are distances in athletics, while '1999', '5,6,7,8', 'One' and '5.15' are song titles. A very well resolved ten points!

The Verbivores thus set to work on the Lion wall needing a good result to stay in front. They too solved two sets very quickly: '32', '0', '273.15' and '491.67' are freezing points of water, while '1066', '1689', '1087' and '1830' are accession years of King Williams. They too then quickly had the wall solved: '33 1/2', '16 2/3', '78' and '45' are record speeds, while '300', '2012', '10' and 'Infinity' are film titles. Another full ten, which gave them a 19-12 lead going into the final round.

So, Missing Vowels to finish off the final and the series. 'Months and their birthstones' went to the Cosmopolitans 3-1. 'Five words in alphabetical order', such as 'BAG, BEG, BIG, BOG, BUG', went to the Verbivores 4-(-1). 'Things found on a chip shop menu' was another 3-1 to the Cosmopolitans. 'Random words', such as 'INDISCRIMINATE', was split 1-each, and that was time. The Verbivores had won the show, and the series, 26-18!

An excellent end to the series, well played both teams, especially the walls! Unlucky Cosmopoltians, but well done on an excellent series of performances! Very very well done Verbivores though on winning the series, after an excellent run throughout the series!

And thanks to all the teams who took part, as well as VCM and TPTB for another excellent series! I will post a fuller set of my final thoughts some time in the coming week.

I'll be back tomorrow with my review of the UC final as usual; see yous then.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

University Challenge 2016-17: Grand Final Preview

Well guys, this is it: less than a week to go before the University Challenge final. It's been a great series, with some very close matches between very evenly matched teams, and after all that jazz, we have our two finalist teams. They are:
Wolfson College Cambridge: Justin Yang, Ben Chaudhri, Eric Monkman and Paul Cosgrove.
Balliol College Oxford: Freddie Potts, Jacob Lloyd, Joey Goldman and Ben Pope.

So, for the fourth year in a row, it's an Oxbridge final, and for the third year in a row, we have a rematch on our hands. So, how did these two get this far?

Wolfson won a very close first round match over SOAS, before a more comfortable victory over fellow Cambridge side Jesus College in the second round. They then narrowly beat Balliol (more on them later) in the preliminaries, before surprisingly losing to Edinburgh in their qualifier match. They redeemed themselves by beating Warwick in the play-offs, and then won a closely fought semi-final Cambridge derby over Emmanuel to reach the final.

Balliol breezed through the first two rounds, beating Imperial of London in the first round, and Robinson of Cambridge in the second, both by large margins. They then lost that close preliminary to Wolfson, before recovering with a very easy victory over Birmingham. They then beat Corpus Christi of Oxford in the play-offs and Edinburgh in the semi-finals, both by good margins, to reach the final.

So, both teams reach this stage having already lost in the process, and thus both have played six matches, so, for the first time in a while, we have even stats for both sides to calculate.

Both sides have played six matches; Wolfson have accumulated 1,100 points thus far, while Balliol have 1,285 points in the bank. Average those over the six matches, Wolfson have averaged 183.33 (rounded to two decimals), and Balliol 214.17 (ditto).

As for points conceded meanwhile, Wolfson have conceded 955, an average of 159.17 per match (again rounded), and Balliol 675, an average of 112.5 per match.

So, despite losing that first encounter between these two teams, the raw stats both points to a Balliol victory. But, of course, those are just raw stats, and for the last two years, they pointed to close matches, and we ended up with anything but in both cases!

So, what else can we look at to find clues as to who'll win? Well, lets look at the bonus rates thus far; Wolfson have converted 108 out of 191 so far, while Balliol have managed 132 out of 205 so far. So Balliol have fared better on the bonuses as well.

Now, though, we come to what the match will probably be decided on: the buzzer stats.

Wolfson's captain Mr Monkman is the highest scorer of the series so far, with 42 starters under his belt thus far, and his opposite number Mr Goldman the second highest with 36 starters.

More tellingly, however, Mr Monkman's colleagues have combined for 23 between them thus far, while Mr Goldman's have 34 between them thus far, thus suggesting they are better prepared to pick up the slack should he have an off day. Balliol have also answered five starters more than their opponents.

So, all the statistical evidence I've tallied up this far points to a Balliol victory.

However, Wolfson have possibly the most important stat in their favour: they won the previous encounter between these two sides, and that throws things back in their favour somewhat. And at the end of the day, as we've seen many times in previous years, stats mean nothing, performance on the night is what matters.

And so, once again, we have a grand final where the cases for both sides winning are both equally strong, and thus, I find myself unable to call the winner at all.

Whatever happens, lets just hope this series gets the finale it deserves. As I said before, it's been a great series, and whichever of these two wins will deserve to do so. Best of (retrospective) luck to both sides once again!

So, here's my schedule for the coming week and a bit: I'll, hopefully, be reviewing Friday's OC final on Sunday, otherwise it'll be over a week before I can do it as I'm away next week. I'll cover UC as usual on Monday, and my usual end of series lookbacks will be popping up periodically over the week.

As William G Stewart would say, 'do please stay with us'.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Only Connect Series 12: Semi-Final 2: Korfballers vs Cosmopolitans

Right, Only Connect tonight it is. I'll get on to previewing the UC grand final tomorrow evening. One wonders if OC's highly controversial move to Friday night was put in so that it and UC wouldn't end on the same day.

Anyway, playing the second semi-final on Friday night were the Korfballers, Taissa Csaky, Niall Sheekey and captain Michael Jelley, who have defeated the Channel Islanders, the Shutterbugs, the Fire-Eaters and the Beekeepers to get this far, with a defeat to the Surrealists the only blip thus far, and the Cosmopolitans, Annette Fenner, Emily Watnick and captain Amy Godel, who are undefeated thus far, having beaten the Taverners, the Tubers, the Beekeepers and the Psmiths en route.

Round 1. The Cosmopolitans kicked off the show with 'Horn-ed' Viper: 'Wrong hoodoos for UNESCO heritage site (Canada)', then 'Schubert music attributed to Schumann (E Germany)', then 'Statue of Liberty commemorated with Las Vegas replica (USA)', and finally 'The Needles situated on the Isle of White (UK)'. They didn't quite get it, nor did their opponents: they are mistakes made on stamps, ie, a stamp commemorating the Statue of Liberty depicted its Vegas lookalike instead! The Korfballers opened their account with Two Reeds, and the music question: we heard Haysi Fantayzee, then Big Audio Dynamite, then Simple Minds' classic 'Don't You Forget About Me', and finally Oasis with 'Wonderwall'. They didn't see it, their opponents did: a member of each group was married to Patsy Kensit at some point. For their own question, the Cosmopolitans chose Twisted Flax: 'Belgium = Z (2002)', then 'Slovenia = H (2007)', then 'Malta = F (2008)', and finally 'United Kingdom - J (reserved)'. Again, neither they nor their opponents saw it: they are the letters seen on Euro banknote serial codes. (Bit outdated that!) The Korfballers chose Lion next, and got the picture set: we saw some playing cards, then a set of coloured sticks; they came in at this point with 'Gilbert and Sullivan operettas', and collected three points, the clues representing 'Patience' and 'The Mikado'. The Cosmopolitans chose Water next: 'pudding and cheese', then 'Maria and Peter', then 'widow and murder', and finally 'ops and funk'. They had it for sure at the last: they can be proceeded by 'Black' and 'Blue' respectively. Left with Eye of Horus, the Korfballers saw 'Bianca', then 'Charlene', then 'Otto', and finally 'Wilson'. Neither team saw it: they are named inanimate objects in films, Wilson, for example, being the volleyball Tom Hanks befriends in Castaway. (Is it said I only knew that because of a Family Guy cutaway?) At the end of the first round, the Korfballers led 3-2.

Round 2, What Comes Fourth? The Cosmopolitans, again, kicked the round off with 'Horn-ed' Viper: 'Monday (2,4)', then 'Tuesday (3,4)', and then 'Wednesday (3,6)'. They offered 'Thursday (2,6)', and were correct, the sequence being the number of vowels and consonants in each. The Korfballers, again, chose Two Reeds next (and apologies in advance for how I go about reprinting this one): 'CaCO(small 3) (30)', then 'Al(small 2)O(small 3):Cr (40)', and then 'Au (50)'. They spotted it to be the chemical formulae of wedding anniversary denotations (Pearl, Ruby and Gold respectively), and so offered 'C (60)', as in diamond, for two points. The Cosmopolitans chose Twisted Flax next: 'I: Alpin', then 'II: Alpin', and then 'III: Dunkeld'. They didn't see it, nor did their opponents: the sequence is the King Malcolms of Scotland, so 'IV: Dunkeld' would be fourth. The Korfballers chose Lion next: 'Stuart Roosa (14)', then 'Jack Swigert (13)', and then 'Richard F Gordon (12)'. They didn't get it, though their guess that the sequence was world Korfball players of the year was a good one! Their opponents knew it though: they are astronauts who stayed in command modules during Apollo moon landings/walks, so 'Michael Collins (11)' would be next. For their own final choice, the Cosmopolitans chose Water: 'Roman', then 'Millennium', and then 'Classic'. Neither they nor their opponents got this: they are typefaces used by the Times newspaper, so 'Modern' would be next. Left with Eye of Horus again, the Korfballers got the picture question, and saw Christof from the Truman Show, then Christo the artist, and then the Christ the Redeemer statue on Corcovado. Again, neither side spotted it: any famous Chris, such as Mr Tarrant, would satisfy for fourth. At the end of the second round, the teams were level at 5-each.

On to the Walls. The Korfballers went first this time, and chose to tackle the Water wall. They identified a first set reasonably early: 'Lit and Phil', 'Wren', 'Beinecke' and 'George Peabody' are libraries. But that was as far as they could get. So bonus attempts: 'Portcullis', 'Tudor Rose', 'Lion' and 'Britannia' have all appeared on coin reverses, which they knew, 'Test', 'Thiele', 'NMR' and 'Thistle' are laboratory tubes, which they didn't get, while 'Buzz', 'Caledonian', 'Go' and 'BEA' are defunct airlines. Four points there.

The Cosmopolitans thus could pull away if they could make the most of the Lion wall. Unfortunately, it proved just as difficult as their opponents', and they were timed out with nothing solved. Thus, they too had to try to salvage bonus connection points: 'Atari', 'Liberty', 'Monkey Jump' and 'Dame' are terms from the game Go, which they didn't get, 'Great Paul', 'Tsar', 'Japanese Peace' and 'Lutine' are famous bells, which they did know, 'Odyssey', 'Dreamcast', 'Neo Geo' and 'N64' are old video game consoles, which they knew, while 'Maharani', 'Satrap', 'Doge' and 'Kaiser' are rulers, which they knew as well. Three points there, which left them trailing 9-8 going into the crucial final round.

So, Missing Vowels would decide the place in the final. 'Four-syllable phrases' went to the Cosmopolitans 2-1. 'Passages from Exodus chapter 20 in the King James Bible', ie the Ten Commandments, went to the Cosmopolitans 3-1. 'Things of which there are 50' was split 2-each. 'Things one figuratively doesn't have' only managed two clues, one of which the Korfballers took, with the second being timed out as they buzzed. The Cosmopolitans had snuck home, 15-14!

A very hard and closely fought match, with both teams doing well in the circumstances. Unlucky Korfballers, but nothing to be ashamed of reaching this stage, and a good effort to do so, so thanks very much for playing. Very well done Cosmopolitans though, and very best of luck in the final on Friday!

Friday's match: the final! The Verbivores vs the Cosmopolitans to win the twlefth OC trophy! Very very best of (retrospective) luck both sides!

Monday, 3 April 2017

University Challenge 2016-17: Semi-Final 2: Edinburgh vs Balliol

Evening all. Well, after last week's show between arguably the two most popular teams of this year's contest, there will be quite a few who already have their winner and won't bother tuning in for the final two matches. One Twittersmith compared tonight's match to turning up late at a party and finding there's no cake left! For the rest of us, however, it's business as usual, as two more final teams fought for the right to fight Wolfson in next week's final.

Edinburgh have very quietly made it thus far unbeaten, with a good close win over Durham and a tie-breaker win over Open taking them to the group stage, where they beat Birmingham in the preliminaries and, in perhaps the shock of the series thus far, Wolfson in the qualifiers. Hoping to secure a rematch in next week's final, and become the first Scots side to reach the final under Paxo's watch, were:
Luke Dale, from York, studying Late Antique, Islamic and Byzantine Studies 
Euan Smith, from Aberdeen, studying Classics 
Captain: Joe Boyle, from Brighton, studying Ecology and Environmental Science 
Emily Goddard, from Wilmslow in Cheshire, studying Chemistry

Balliol College Oxford blitzed the early stages, with easy wins over Imperial of London and Robinson of Cambridge, before losing a good close preliminary to Wolfson, redeeming themselves with strong victories over Birmingham in the eliminators and Corpus Christi of Oxford in the play-offs. Hoping to make it four Oxbridge finals in a row, and thus keep hopes of a Boat Race-UC double alive, were:
Freddie Potts, from Newcastle, studying History
Jacob Lloyd, from London, studying English
Captain: Joey Goldman, from London, studying Philosophy and Theology
Ben Pope, from Sydney, studying Physics

Off we set again then, and first blood of the match went to Mr Pope, who spotted a link of words linked by 'mirror'. Two bonuses on Moroccan cities followed, before Mr Goldman set down his marker for the night with his first starter, laying the way for two more bonuses to follow. A quick buzz from Mr Pope gave the Oxonians a bonus set on words differing by the addition of a P at the start, of which, again they took two. A slip-up then allowed Mr Smith to take Edinburgh's first starter of the night, and they too took two bonuses, on European history. Mr Goldman responded by spotting where the next starter was going well in advance, and his side celebrated with a full bonus set on Latin. The first picture round, on sections of the Theogene with names missing, went to Balliol, who took just one bonus this time, leaving the score at 95-20.

That lead strengthened when Mr Goldman identified the future William IV as having given away the bride at Lord Nelson's wedding. Another full bonus set, a home one for Mr Pope on physics, meant they already led by 100 points. Mr Lloyd picked the right 'Henry IV Part' for the next starter, but just the one bonus was converted this time. Nevermind, Balliol's buzzer dominance continued as Mr Pope took the next starter; though just one bonus followed again, they already had a potentially match winning lead.

Neither side took the music starter, before Mr Smith finally ended his side's shutout, identifying the Wilton Diptych; the music bonuses, on classical pieces that quote the Dies Irae, or Day of Wrath, gave them one correct bonus, which reduced their arrears to 150-35. Mr Dale took more off it by taking a second starter in a row for Edinburgh, and bonuses on Belgian history gave them ten more points. Mr Potts then made sure all four Balliol players had a starter to their names, and they asserted their dominance with a full bonus set. A slip-up then went unpicked up by Edinburgh, before Mr Pope reclaimed the points; bonuses on trees and shrubs saw them take two points, one of which looked like a complete guess!

The second picture round, on world leaders accused of mass embezzlement, went to Edinburgh, who took just the one bonus, which left them trailing 190-70. Again, Mr Goldman impressively foresaw where the question was going, leaving Paxo well impressed! Two bonuses followed, before Mr Pope unluckily dropped five, answering Lewis, only for the question to swerve and ask for both it Harris. Mr Dale did the honours, but his side missed all three bonuses on computing abbreviations.

Mr Smith took another starter for Edinburgh, and two bonuses on Canadian landmarks (how annoyed must Mr Monkman be that he didn't get those!) deservedly took them into triple figures. Indeed, Edinburgh ended the match with a final flourish, Miss Goddard taking the next starter and the side not waiting for Paxo to finish the bonuses, before taking two of them. A starter was dropped, before Mr Smith provided Edinburgh with another starter, and a full bonus set on astronomy. Five were then lost to yet another non-interruption, before Balliol took the points, and that was time. At the gong, Balliol 215-140.

Another good high quality match up between two very good teams, with Balliol's strong first half winning the match. Unlucky Edinburgh, but no disgrace in reaching the semi-finals, and some cracking matches along the way to boot, so thanks very much indeed for playing! Very well done Balliol though; another strong win over proven opponents, and very very best of luck in the final next week!

Mr Goldman was best buzzer of the night again, with five starters taking his series total to 36, while Mr Smith was once again best for Edinburgh with four, giving him a final series total of 30. On the bonuses, Edinburgh converted a respectable 13 out of 24 (with one harsh penalty), while Balliol managed a rather good for this late stage 22 out of 33 (with three penalties).

Next week's match: the final! A rematch between Wolfson and Balliol! Best of (retrospective) luck both!

As for Only Connect's second semi-final, I will get that written up tomorrow or Wednesday, depending on when I decide to do my UC grand final preview. Stay tuned for both!

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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