Sunday, 17 December 2017

Only Connect Series 13: Round 2: Match 6: Detectives vs Arrowheads

OK, last second round match of this year's Only Connect. Winners would join the other second round winners in the group stage. Runners-up would join the other second round runners-up and the two highest scoring second round runners-up in the play-off round, which begins next week. Followed by the long awaited return to Monday nights on New Year's Day!

Anyway, playing the final second round match were the Detectives, Ian King, Tim Harrison and captain Tim Hall, who won a good first round match against the Theatricals, and the Arrowheads, Sarah Lister, Hannah Hogden and captain Nick Lister, husband of Sarah, who comfortably saw off the Wombles.

Round 1. The Detectives opened the show with Lion: 'C: Volt', then 'A: Arlington Million' (I had it at this), then 'B: Henry II', and finally '[cough cough] A: Googol'. They just about offered enough to get the point: they are million pound answers from Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? UK. The Arrowheads opened their account with Two Reeds: 'Man-Killer', then 'Penthesilea', then 'Sharron Davies'; they offered them to be Gladiators from the eponymous series, not right. Their opponents saw 'Jeff Bezos company', and offered 'Amazon' as the link for the bonus. For their own question, the Detectives chose Twisted Flax, and got the music question: we heard the Chameleons with 'Up the Down Escalator', then 'White Ladder' by David Gray, then Aerosmith with 'Love in an Elevator', and finally Led Zeppelin's classic 'Stairway to Heaven'. They offered 'stairs', not right. Their opponents simplified it to 'ways of moving between floors', and collected a bonus. For their own question, the Arrowheads chose Water, and got the picture set: we saw the stadium Candlestick Park, then a still from Hitchcock's 'Rope', then the cover to the Beatles' 'Revolver' album, and finally a symbol for a dagger. They were timed out without an answer, and their opponents didn't see it either: they are weapons in Cluedo. The Detectives chose Eye of Horus next: 'Immunisation against infectious diseases', then 'Crime fiction (Pengiun)', then 'Colonel Gaddafi's philosophy', and finally 'Michelin travel guide'. They offered 'green', which Victoria was maybe a bit lenient to let them have, the link being 'green books'. Left with Horned Viper, the Arrowheads saw 'Tuesday 3 Feb-9 Mar', then 'Monday 1 May-7 May', then 'Sunday 22 Mar-25 Apr', and finally 'Thursday 22 Nov-28 Nov'. They didn't quite get it, their opponents did: they are the earliest and latest dates where festivals can fall. At the end of the first round, the Detectives led 4-1.

Round 2, What Comes Fourth? The Detectives kicked the round off with Horned Viper: '08:43:38', then '09:49:05', and then '10:54:33'. They didn't get it, their opponents did: it's times when the three clocks hands are right in line with each other, so '12:00:00' would be fourth for a bonus. For their own question, the Arrowheads chose Lion: 'Goals', then 'Away goals', and then 'AET'; they offered 'Penalty shootout', correct for two points, the sequence being how two-legged Champions League matches are decided. The Detectives chose Twisted Flax next: 'African leopard < African lion', then 'African lion < Cape buffalo'; they tried 'Giraffe < Elephant', not right. Their opponents saw 'Cape buffalo < Black rhino', but could also not offer an acceptable answer. They are the Big Five of African animals, so 'Black rhino < African elephant' would come fourth. The Arrowheads chose Eye of Horus next: 'Diver', then 'Tawdry', and then 'Lenya'. They didn't get it, nor did their opponents. 'Brown' completes the set, the sequence being the victims in the most common version of the song 'Mack the Knife'. For their final choice, the Detectives chose Two Reeds: '00 Henry I', then '01 Edward VII', and then '02 Anne'. They, and I, saw it to be monarchs who took the thrown in years ending in those numbers, so '03: James I' (or, as we call him up here, James VI) would complete the set. Left with Water, and the picture set, the Arrowheads saw the band 'The Nice', then Guy Ritchie and Guy Pearce, and then a checkered flag being waved. Neither side got this excellent cryptic set: the clues are 'Nice', 'Guys' and 'Finish', so something for 'Last', like the composer James Last (of Red Dwarf fame) would complete the set. At the end of the second round, the Detectives led 6-4.

On to the Walls. The Arrowheads went first, and chose to tackle the Lion wall. They had their first set in line pretty quickly: 'Bangla', 'Lal Toofan', 'Cobra' and 'Kingfisher' are types of Indian beer. After a few wrong guesses trying to feel the clues out, they isolated 'Fetish', 'Albino', 'Vindaloo' and 'Palaver', which are loan words from Portuguese, but they offered 'Hindi' instead, so three dropped. After carefully looking over the remaining clues, they isolated the final sets: 'Eleanor', 'Willpower', 'Marmalade' and 'Madonna' all follow 'Lady' to give song titles, while 'Allen Carr', 'Gum', 'Hypnosis' and 'Patches' are methods of curing smoking habits. Seven for that then.

So the Detectives could increase their lead if they could sweep the Water wall clean. They also isolated a first set very quickly: 'Sward', 'Campo', 'Savannah' and 'Veldt' are areas of grassland. A second set quickly followed suite: 'Grass', 'Sheffield United', 'Helicopter' and 'Razor' are linked by 'blades'. The final sets slotted in nicely after that: 'Mini', 'Gang', 'Oy' and 'Young' can all precede 'ster' to give longer words, while 'Dirndl', 'Hobble', 'Pencil' and 'Prairie' are types of skirt. A full ten there, which increased their advantage to 16-11 going into the final round.

So, still all to play for in Missing Vowels. 'Rhyming slang and its meaning', which saw a penalty for an omitted 'and', went to the Arrowheads 2-0. 'Things that can be drawn', such as 'COMPARISON' and '(A) PAIR OF CURTAINS', was split 2-each. 'Pairs of planetary moons' went to the Arrowheads 3-1, and that was time. The Detectives had snuck home, 19-18!

Another very good match, very well quizzed by both sides. Unlucky Arrowheads, best of luck in the play-offs. Well done Detectives though, and very best of luck in the group stage!

Next week's match: the Meeples vs the Parishioners in the first play-off.

UC back tomorrow at 8:30, see you then with that.

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Only Connect Series 13: Round 2: Match 5: Dandies vs Beaks

OK, we're back! After a few weeks' break for football coverage, Only Connect is back and kicking! We're back for two more weeks after this before we break for Christmas, which means we'll wrap up the second round and get the first play-off round underway too before Christmas. Anyway, lets get on with this...

Playing on Friday night were the Dandies, UC legend Oscar Powell, Lewis Barn and captain, and blog reader, Jack Bennett, who comfortably defeated the Gaffers in their first match, and the Beaks, Rob Cromarty, Aidan Sproat-Clements and captain Dan Sproat-Clements, husband of Aidan, who came from behind to beat the Disparates first time around.

Round 1. The Beaks went first, and restarted the series with Two Reeds: 'Hidden Agenda - oac', then 'Heaven Can Wait - ubitsc', then 'Secrets & Lies - eig', and finally 'Mulholland Drive - ync'. They didn't see it, their opponents did: they are films directed by men whose surnames begin with L and end in h (Loach, Lubitsc, Leigh and Lynch) For their own first question, the Dandies chose Water, and got the picture set: we saw the band Toto, then racing driver Christian 'Toto' Wolff, then footballer Salvatore 'Toto' Schillaci, and finally the cast of the Wizard of Oz with an arrow at Toto the dog. That gave them the link, and the point. The Beaks chose 'Horn-ed' Viper next: ''Something's Got To Give'', then ''The Athenaeum Portrait'', then ''The Last Tycoon'', and finally 'Schubert's Symphony No. 8'. That gave it to them: they are all unfinished works. The Dandies chose Twisted Flax next: 'Harlem, New York', then 'Quarter, Naples', then 'City, Whitley Bay'; they saw that the latter are all known as 'the Spanish (former)', and collected two points. The Beaks chose Lion next: 'Faroe Islands (1907-92)', then 'Bournville, Birmingham (1895-2015)'; they offered that they have no pubs, and collected three good points from it. (The unseen clues were 'USA (1920-33)' and 'Saudi Arabia (1952-present)') Left with Eye of Horus, and the music set, the Dandies heard Tom Waits with 'Time', then 'Life' by Des'ree, then 'People' from the musical Funny Girl, and finally Madonna with 'Vogue'. They spotted the titles to be those of magazines, and collected the point. At the end of the first round, the Dandies led 5-4.

Round 2, What Comes Fourth? The Beaks opened the round with Two Reeds: '4th: Making Up', then '3rd: Save Me', and then '2nd: Boom Bang'. They didn't quite see it, their opponents did: they are the first and last words of the UK's four Eurovision winning entries, so '1st: Puppet String' would complete the set. For their own question, the Dandies chose 'Horn-ed' Viper, and got the picture set: we saw a red and yellow striped jacket, then the singers P!nk and Professor Green, and then two chocolates with purple and oranges wrappers. Neither side got it quite right: they are the colours of the rainbow as in the song 'I Can Sing A Rainbow', so something representing just 'blue', such as the eponymous band, would satisfy. The Beaks chose Twisted Flax next: 'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?', then 'Art', and then 'The Dumb Waiter'; they saw it to be plays with 4, 3, 2 and 1 characters, so offered 'Underneath the Lintel' for the two points. The Dandies chose Lion next: '2005 Jo Swinson', '2009 Chloe Smith' (I had it at this), and then '2010 Pamela Nash'. They saw it to be the youngest MP in parliament, or 'Baby of the House', so '2015 Mhairi Black' (or 'Mary' Black as Victoria called her) would complete the set. For their final choice, the Beaks chose Water: '5 on 19', then '3 on 17', and then '5 on 12'. They didn't get it, nor did their opponents: they are starting positions in backgammon, so '2 on 1' would complete the sequence. Left with Eye of Horus again, the Dandies saw 'La Suisse: quatre', then 'Le Belgique: trois'; they identified it as countries where French is an official languages, and how many official langauges that country has, so 'La France: une' would come fourth there. At the end of the second round, the Dandies led 11-6.

On to the Walls. The Dandies went first, and chose to tackle the Water wall. They spotted some connections, but had little luck getting group slotted in. With just seconds to go, they finally isolated 'Strange', 'No', 'Faustus' and 'Legg', which are fictional doctors. They couldn't get anyway, and had to collect bonuses: 'Pepper', 'Capri', 'Pop' and 'Uni' can all precede 'corn', which they didn't see, 'Aedile', 'Censor', 'Tribune' and 'Quaestor' are Roman officials, which they did get, while 'Prefect', 'Anglia', 'Zephyr' and 'Consul' are old Ford cars, which they also saw. Four points there.

The Beaks thus could put themselves well back in the hunt with a good result on the Lion wall. They, in contrast, had two groups sorted out pretty quickly: 'Claret', 'Measuring', 'Puzzle' and 'Milk' are types of jug, while 'Aled', 'Toby', 'January' and 'Inigo' are famous Joneses. They couldn't quite get the final sets sorted out though, failing to get it in their three tries. They too thus had to collect bonus points: 'Boston', 'Nantucket', 'Quincy' and 'Springfield' are places in Massachusetts, which they spotted, while 'Lakeland', 'Kerry Blue', 'Border' and 'Yorkshire' are terrier dogs, which they also got. Six points there, which meant they trailed 15-12 going into the final round.

So, still all to play for going into Missing Vowels. 'Shakespeare plays and the character who speaks the first line' went to the Beaks 3-1, so just one in it now. 'Symbols of early Christianity' was another 3-1 to the Beaks, giving them the lead. 'Pairs of words and expressions for lavatory' went to the Beaks, 2-(-1), and that was time. The Beaks had come from behind, again, to win 20-16.

Another good match, well played by both teams. Unlucky Dandies, but best of luck in the play-off round. Well done Beaks though, and best of luck in the group stage!

Next week's match: the Detectives vs the Arrowheads in the final second round match, followed by the Meeples vs the Parishioners in the first play-off the week after, then we break for Christmas.

No UC tomorrow night, so see you next Sunday, I guess.

Monday, 4 December 2017

University Challenge 2017-18: Round 2: Match 4: U.C.L. vs Edinburgh

Evening all. You'll be pleased to know I finally seem to have got my heating to acceptable settings, so, for the first time in a few weeks, I am doing this review in a comfortable heat. And with what sounds like a cracking EastEnders to catch up on later on, as things finally get somewhere after nearly a year of slowness, I need to get a move on with tonight's show, as two more teams, both of whom frankly deserve a place in the group stage, fight it out for one. Runners-up highly unfortunately go home.

U.C.L. were narrowly defeated by Trinity of Oxford in their first match 160-145, but survived to the play-offs, where they pulled off a highly impressive demolition of the fancied St Hugh's of Oxford side 315-45, the highest score for a couple of series. Hoping for more of the same were the unchanged foursome of:
Tom Allinson, from Whitchurch in Hampshire, studying History
Charlie Dowell, from Chelmsford, studying Neuroscience
Captain: Robert Gray, from Kingston-upon-Thames, studying Cell Biology
Omar Raii, from Kabul, studying Maths

Edinburgh last graced us with their presence back in the first match of the series, where they beat out our friends Ulster 165-160, who also survived to the play-offs and are now in the group stage, so no mean feat. Hoping to join them and avoid becoming the first team in six series to go less far in the contest than the team they beat in the first round were the also unchanged line-up of:
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

Off we set again then, and Mr Wang opened the scoring for the night by spotting 'red' to be the colour linking, among others, supporters of Garibaldi; the Scots side took one bonus, but were unlucky to miss another. (I got the other other) Mr Dowell opened U.C.L.'s account for the night, and they promptly took the lead with two bonuses on the song Waltzing Matilda, familiar to me only through the commentary of Jonathan Pearce! Mr Raii, and myself, identified the people listed in the next starter as Agatha Christie murder victims, but just the one bonus followed this time. Ms Stone was next in for Edinburgh, and bonuses on mammals gave them one bonus to put them five behind. The first picture round, on the locations of museums, went to U.C.L., who were unable to take any bonuses, which nonetheless put them ahead 45-30.

Mr Carson took, what looked like, an educated guess on the next starter, and his side were rewarded with a bonus set on years with at least three identical digits, such as 1999, of which they took two. A good quick buzz from Mr Dowell on a starter that was apparently also asked on the Xmas UC repeat that was on BBC4 just before tonight's match(!) gave U.C.L. back the lead, and they took a full set of bonuses on regions of India. Mr Heaton-Armstrong made sure all four Edinburgh players had a starter to their name, and two bonuses on physics gave them the lead again. A slip-up from their opponents the Scots side a bonus set on Eleanor Roosevelt, which they promptly took all three of.

The music round, on power ballads, went to U.C.L., who took two of the bonuses which reduced their arrears to 95-85. Good match so far, and it took another twist as Mr Allinson gave the next correct answer to a starter, thus making sure all eight players had a starter under their collective belts, and the Londoners retook the lead with a full bonus set on countries hidden within other words, such as the frankly brilliant 'pyROMANIAc'! Hope the OC question setters were taking notes! Mr Carson, who unusually has been on that show before UC (it's usually the other way around), took a good starter asking which is the only UK regnal name to also be that of an SI unit (Henry), and a full bonus set of their own gave them the lead again. The Edinburgh captain then took another starter, and his side now had a bit of breathing room as another full bonus set came with it.

The second picture round, on historical figures and the currencies they appear on, went to U.C.L., who took two bonuses, unluckily missing the third, which cut the gap to 140-130, setting up another grandstand finish. This remained firmly on as Mr Gray took the next starter, and bonuses on humanist philosopher saw his side pull off the old trick of giving the same answer, Erasmus, to all three bonuses and getting it right on the last one!

That put them level pegging again, and Mr Raii then gave them the lead with the next correctly answered starter; the bonuses would be crucial in such a close match, and they took two. The next starter was dropped just to add to the tension; Mr Heaton-Armstrong took the next starter, but the Scots side really needed the bonuses. They took just one, but it mattered not, as Ms Stone took the final starter just in time to sneak them in front at the gong. Edinburgh won a good close match 170-165!

Another thrilling match, well played in great spirits by both sides. Unlucky U.C.L., just pipped at the post, but nothing to be ashamed of at all, a fine series of performances, thanks very much for giving us them. Well done Edinburgh though, another good performance against, and close win over, good opponents, and very best of luck in the group stage!

The stats: Messrs Dowell, Raii and Carson ended the night joint best buzzers with three each. On the bonuses, U.C.L. converted 16 out of 27 (with one penalty), while Edinburgh managed 16 out of 24, so it really was fine margins that decided the match. Well played both sides though, frankly a travesty that this is a second round match and one of these teams is out for good.

No show next week as Nigella's Christmas special requires the timeslot, so we're, hopefully, back in two weeks, though whether with a regular show or the first of the Christmas specials, I don't know yet. So if this is indeed the last regular UC of the year, thank you and good night!

Only Connect back from it's sabbatical on Friday, and will definitely finish it's second round before Christmas; back on Sunday with Friday's match.

Monday, 27 November 2017

University Challenge 2017-18: Round 2: Match 3: Warwick vs Ulster

Evening all. It's freezing again in my flat tonight, so once again, the heating is going on early, and probably staying on after it usually turns itself off as well! That's the last time I turn it off when I go visit my parents for the weekend! Amidst all this coldness, we have the small matter of UC to deal with; the third second round match, winners stay on for group stage, runners-up go home.

Warwick had a fairly easy first round victory over York, leading from the off, and eventually coming home 240-80. They were the same four as that occasion:
Flora Jackson, from York, studying English with Creative Writing 
Daniel Arribas, from Madrid, studying Maths 
Captain: Ben Salter, from Wiveliscombe in Somerset, studying Maths 
Charlotte Symons, from the Welsh Borders Area, studying Writing

Ulster were beaten in their first match by Edinburgh, buy just five points 165-160, but survived to the play-offs where they defeated St Anne's of Oxford 175-90. They too were unchanged from before:
Cathal 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 Mr Jack, as is customary when his side play, took the first starter, identifying the literary work of Winston Churchill; two bonuses on regions of France were taken, though they incurred the wrath of Robot Wars fans everywhere by not getting Vercingetorix! Mr McDaid was in quickly with 'assassin' for the second starter, and a bonus set proved very much to his side's liking, as they took all three. Ms Jackson opened Warwick's scoring for the night, and the Coventry side took two bonus set on works of thought. Both Mr McDaid and myself had 'plimsoll' for the line on the side of a cargo ship on the next starter, but the bonuses yielded just the one correct answer this time. The first picture round, on coats of arms of German state capitals, went to Ulster, who took just the one bonus again, which took their lead to 75-20.

Ms Jackon was in quickly again for Warwick on the next starter; two bonuses followed, and the other provided a good comedy moment as Mr Salter decided he might as well give an answer, as 'pass' will certainly be wrong. The Warwick captain took the next starter himself, but bonuses on French physics provided them with just five further points. Those points were lost when Mr Salter slipped up on the next starter; Ms Ritchie took the points for Ulster, but no further points came from the bonuses. An unlucky slip-up from Mr Arribas, who provided the original German Ubermensch instead of the English translation Superman; Mr McDaid picked up, but no bonuses on astronomy followed again.

The music round, on classical pieces inspired by the work of ETA Hoffmann, went to Warwick, who took one correct bonus, reducing their arrears to 95-60. The gap increased again when another slip-up occurred, but Ulster could not take possession this time. Ms Jackson was in with Guyana for the next starter though, and bonuses on women born in 1917 provided them with two correct answers. The next starter was dropped, Mr Milliken took the one after, and rock star's autobiographies provided Ulster with two correct answers. Mr Jack took 'REM' for the next starter, before any mention of that band could come out(!), and a timely full bonus set put all the pressure on Warwick going into the final phase.

The second picture starter was dropped, the bonuses, on depictions of St George, went to Warwick, who just the one, which left them trailing 140-90 entering the final straight. Mr Arribas took the next starter, lifting the Midlands side into triple figures, and one bonus was taken with it. And when Ms Jackson took the next starter, and one bonus on Rabbie Burns went with it, they were now just one starter and full bonus away from the lead!

That starter came in the form of a spectacularly quick buzz from Mr Salter; two bonuses put them on level pegging, but they were denied the lead when, torn between two answers for the third, they chose the wrong one! Next starter might just win it; to add to the tension, the next starter was dropped! Ms Jackson was first in on the next, but was wrong; Mr McDaid came in with the right answer, and two bonuses on phobias put Ulster within sight of the group stage. And when Ms Ritchie took the next starter, that was game over. At the gong, Ulster 170-140.

A cracking match, very well played both sides, shame one of you must miss out on the group stage; bravo to both for clapping each other over the credits. Unlucky Warwick, who so very nearly pulled it off after trailing from the off, but nothing to be ashamed of there, thanks very much indeed for playing. Very well done Ulster though, and best of luck in the group stage!

The stats: Ms Jackson was the best buzzer of the night, ending the match with five, while Mr McDaid was Ulster's best with four, his colleagues all getting two each. On the bonuses, Warwick converted 13 out of 27 (with three penalties), while Ulster managed 14 out of 29; similar rates there, suggesting the match was won and lost, narrowly, on the buzzer.

Next week's match: don't know yet, but my guess is U.C.L. will be involved; will tweet anything I find.

Only Connect still on its football sabbatical, so, unless I decide to talk about something else about it and UC in the meantime, back next Monday, same time.

Monday, 20 November 2017

University Challenge 2017-18: Round 2: Match 2: St John's vs Corpus Christi

Evening all. Tonight's fixture demonstrates why the show's current filming method of doing a second round match on the same day as the first round matches of the teams involved needs to have something done about it. Tonight's teams offered up two of the best performances of the first round, and tonight one of them would leave the contest for good; the others would join their compatriots Emmanuel in the group stage.

St John's College Cambridge ran out winners over a decent St Andrews side in their first round match, leading throughout and winning 255-120 at the gong. Hoping for more of the same tonight were the unchanged foursome of:
John-Clark Levin, from Los Angeles, studying Politics and International Studies 
Rosie McKeown, from Kingston-upon-Thames, studying French and German 
Captain: James Devine-Stoneman, from Southall in London, studying Superconducting Spintronics 
Matt Hazell, from Ringwood in Hampshire, studying Veterinary Medicine

Corpus Christi College Cambridge won an Oxbridge derby against St Anne's of Oxford, also leading throughout the match, their winning margin at the gong was 225-135. Also hoping to match that tonight were the also unchanged quartet of:
Tristan Roberts, from Amersham in Buckinghamshire, studying Physics 
Kripa Panchagnula, from Hemel Hempstead, studying Natural Sceicnes 
Captain: Joseph Krol, from Bingley in West Yorkshire, studying Maths 
Benedict McDougall, from London, studying Classics

Off we set again then, and Mr Hazell was first off the traps with 'red', including a topical mention of Red Dwarf; they firmly set their intentions out by taking a full house of bonuses. Mr Roberts just as quickly took Corpus Christi off the mark, but they had less luck with their first bonuses, taking just the one. Ms McKeown was next up for St John's, and they took a second full bonus set, on thermodynamics. Another starter and full bonus set for St John's, and already things were looking foreboding for Corpus Christi. Mr Roberts did take a second starter for them, but, again, just the one bonus followed. The first picture round, on compilations of first lines of poetry, went to St John's, who took a fourth full house, giving them a lead of 100-30.

And it got worse for Corpus Christi, as Ms McKeown took a second starter in a row, and a fifth full bonus set, on geographical journeys, went with it. St John's finally showed some weakness on their next bonus set, as they 'only' managed two on plate tectonics. Mr Roberts came back in for Corpus Christi with his third of the night, but, once again, just the one bonus came with it. Ms McKeown was back on the buzzer with the next starter though, and they again took two bonuses on bacteria.

The music starter was missed by both sides, the first to be so of the night; the bonuses, on programmatic waltzes, went to St John's, who missed all three, but still led 175-45. A half-fortuitous buzz from Mr Hazell added to that gap, and two bonuses were taken, the third being unluckily missed after a misunderstanding. Ms McKeown added to her already good starter tally with the next starter, but just the one bonus, on capitalist writings, followed this time, but it did take them past 200. A starter from Mr Levin took them further in, and a nice bonus set on Google search suggestions for nationalities saw St John's acquire a further ten points.

The second picture starter was dropped; the bonuses, on paintings inspired by Byron, went to Corpus Christi, who took just the one again, reducing their arrears to 230-60. Match long over as a contest, but could they at least get a run together and reach a respectable score? Not if Ms McKeown had anything to do with it, as she took another starter, and bonuses on Shakespearean quotes about winter gave them a further two correct.

And they weren't finished yet, Mr Hazell taking the next starter, and one bonus on cricket was taken with it via, what looked like, a complete guess. Mr Roberts, who'd been keeping his side's score ticking throughout the match, took the next starter, but they couldn't get anything from the resultant bonuses. Both Mr Devine-Stoneman and myself correctly offered 'diesel' for the next starter, and bonuses on chess terms saw us both take the same two bonuses. Mr Krol, who'd been so impressive in Corpus Christi's first match, took the final starter of the match, but, again, nothing came from the bonuses. And that was the gong, St John's won 285-80.

A rather one sided match, but I still enjoyed it nonetheless. Unlucky Corpus Christi, didn't deserve to lose like that and unlucky to go out at this stage, but thanks very much indeed for playing. Very well done St John's though, another sterling effort against solid opposition, definitely a team to watch in the group stage, very best of luck in it!

The stats: Ms McKeown was the best buzzer of the night with seven starters, while Mr Roberts was Corpus Christi's best with five. On the bonuses, St John's converted a superb 29 out of 42, while Corpus Christi managed just 4 out of 18, and, for the first time this series, there were no penalties all night.

Next week's match: Warwick vs Ulster. Then presumably U.C.L. are back the week after.

No Only Connect for a couple of weeks, so back next week with UC I guess. Unless I decide otherwise.

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Only Connect Series 13: Round 2: Match 4: Wanderers vs Inquisitors

OK, no Robot Wars tonight, so I can get this week's Only Connect out of the way now. Both tonight's teams won their first match pretty easily, so it would be interesting to see how they fared against another proven team. Winners would go straight through to the group stage, runners up would go to the play-off round.

Playing were the Wanderers, John Payne, Richard Arthur and captain Sanjoy Sen, who beat the Pedagogues in their first match, and the Inquisitors, Luke Kelly, Rob Cumming and captain Julia Hobbs, whose first match saw them beat the Inquisitors.

Round 1. The Inquisitors chose to start the match with Lion, and got the music question straight away: we heard the Boomtown Rats with 'The Elephants Graveyard', then the famous 'Baby Elephant Walk', then 'The Elephant' from Carnival of the Animals, and finally Colonel Hathi's March from the Jungle Book. They had the link from the final clue, having recognised only it and the second, and collected the first point of the match. The Wanderers opened their account with Water: 'Apple Watch: San Francisco', then 'New Yorker: Irvin', then 'London Underground: Johnston'; they saw them to be the font that is used in those instances, and collected two points. The Inquisitors chose Eye of Horus next: 'Excess weight gained from emotional overeating', them 'State of well-being in a cosy environment'; they came in here and offered 'comfort', not close enough alas. Their opponents saw 'Longing to travel' and 'Malicious enjoyment of another's misfortunes', and correctly offered 'meanings of German words used in English' for the bonus. For their own question, the Wanderers chose Twisted Flax: 'Hitchcock film: Rope', then 'British TV ad: Bird's Eye Peas', then 'Queen's Christmas Speech: 1967'; they offered them to be the first instances to be shot in colour, and collected another two points. The Inquisitors chose Two Reeds, and got the picture set: we saw Gerald Ford, then Corrie characters Betty Williams and her husband, with an arrow pointing at the latter; they offered them as husbands of women called Betty, and collected three points. (The other clues would've been Barney Rubble and Frank Spencer) Left with Horned Viper, the Wanderers saw 'Claude Levi-Strauss (2009)', then 'Joao Havelange (2016)', then 'Lord Denning (1999)'; they saw them to be people who died aged 100 in those years, and collected two points. At the end of a strong first round, the Wanderers led 7-4.

Round 2, What Comes Fourth? The Inquisitors opened with Water, and the pictures again: we saw a sword, then a statue of Juno, and then some gold bars; they saw them to be the Normandy Landing beaches, and correctly offered 'Omaha' for two points. The Wanderers chose 'Horn-ed' Viper next: 'Throat', then 'Hump', and then 'Skin'; they saw them to be Kipling's Just So Stories in order, so offered 'Spots' for two points. The Inquisitors chose Twisted Flax next: '0.1', then '0.04', and then '0.001'. They didn't get it, nor did their opponents: its the decimals of pi, so '0.0005' would come fourth. A tough one that! The Wanderers chose Two Reeds next: '2004: Israel (Windsurfing)', then '2008: Panama (Long jump)', and then '2012: Grenada (400 metres)'. They didn't quite work it out, their opponents did: it's first Olympic golds won at successive golds, so '2016: Fiji (Rugby sevens)' for example, would satisfy. For their own final choice, the Inquisitors chose Eye of Horus: 'North America (23)', then 'Oceania (14)', and then 'South America (12)'. They ran out of time before being able to answer; their opponents came in with 'Antarctica (0)' for a bonus, the sequence being the continents with the fewest countries in descending order. Left with Water for their own question, the Wanderers saw 'Girls', then 'Babes in the Wood', and then 'The Liver Birds'; they saw it to be TV series with four, three and two female title characters, so 'Miranda' as one with one would be fourth. At the end of the second round, the Wanderers led 12-7.

On to the Walls. The Wanderers took their turn to go first, and chose the Lion wall. Their first two sets came almost instantly: 'Falkland', 'Dunfermline', 'Linlithgow' and 'Falkland' are Scottish palaces, while 'Good Omens', 'American Gods', 'Stardust' and 'Neverwhere' are novels by Neil Gaiman. After that, they quickly but carefully had the final sets solved: 'Holder', 'Ferry', 'Pop' and 'Bolan' are surnames of seventies glam rockers, while 'Bowie', 'Scone', 'Controversy' and 'Uranus' are words the pronunciation of which are much argued over. A well worked out full ten there.

So the Inquisitors set to work on the Water wall. They too had their first two sets done pretty efficiently: 'Procol Harum', 'Van der Graaf Generator', 'Yes' and 'Focus' are prog rock bands, while 'Rongeur', 'Lancet', 'Curette' and 'Retractor' are items of medical equipment. After that though, in a repeat of what happened in their first match (they even said so before starting), they got stuck getting the final sets together; they ran out of tries, and had to collect bonus points: 'Caliper', 'U', 'Hydraulic' and 'Disc' are type of brake, which they got, while 'Drum', 'Egg', 'Traffic' and 'System' are things you can beat, which they got in the nick of time. Six points there, which left them trailing 22-13 going into the final round.

So, Missing Vowels to finish with. 'Fruit and a noted variety' was split 1-each. 'Meanings of PA', such as 'PERSONAL ASSISTANT' and 'PENNSYLVANIA' was split 2-each. 'Bacharach and David songs' was a clean sweep to the Inquisitors 4-0. 'Squares and their cities' saw the Inquisitors take one, then get somewhat unfairly lose one as time ran out while they were answering the second. The Wanderers won 25-20.

Another fine match, well played both teams. Unlucky Inquisitors, best of luck in the play offs. Well done Wanderers, best of luck in the group stage!

No match next week due to a Women's World Cup qualifier, England vs Bosnia, or the week after due to an FA Cup match, Fylde vs Wigan, so we're back on the 8th of December, presumably with the Dandies vs the Beeks, followed by the Detectives vs the Arrowheads.

Back tomorrow with my usual UC write-up; see you then, I guess.

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Only Connect Series 13: Round 2: Match 3: Meeples vs Belgophiles

So, we're back! For last week and this at least. Then we're off for another two weeks, firstly for a women's World Cup qualifier on the 24th, and then for the FA Cup again, AFC Fylde vs Wigan. So lets enjoy Only Connect while we can; not long now til it's back on Mondays when it belongs after all, so let's get on with Friday's match.

Playing were the Meeples, Tom West, Hugh Trimble and captain Gail Trimble, who defeated the Tequila Slammers in their first match, and the Belgophiles, Helen Fasham, Phil Small and captain Ben Fasham, who beat the Lapsed Psychologists in their's.

Round 1. The Belgophiles kicked the contest off with Eye of Horus, and the picture set: we saw some Buddhist monks, then a bumblebee, then Richard Dawkins, and finally Chubby Checker performing the Twist. They didn't get it, nor did their opponents: they are characters from Oliver Twist. The Meeples chose to open their account with Twisted Flax: 'To love no longer (Bernanos)', then 'Home (Judas Priest)', then 'Oneself (TS Eliot)', and finally 'Other People (Sartre)'. The final clue gave it to them: they are what Hell is according to those people. The Belgophiles chose 'Horn-ed' Viper next, and got the music set: we heard Rubenstein's Melody in F, then Irving Berlin with 'Play a Simple Melody', then 'Broadway Melody', and finally 'Unchained Melody'. They didn't see it, their opponents did for a bonus. For their own question, the Meeples chose Two Reeds: 'George Sullivan', then 'dried paste', then 'tumble ready', and finally 'Eve the Ants'. Neither team got this, and I'm not surprised, as Dave Clark might say, this was verging on 'American Municipal Bankruptcies' difficulty: they are 're-assigned partners', ie, 'Gilbert and George, Gilbert and Sullivan', 'cut and dried, cut and paste', 'rough and tumble, rough and ready', and 'Adam and Eve, Adam and the Ants'. That has to be the hardest question I've seen since I started doing these. The Belgophiles chose Water: 'Au pairs', then 'Prisoners', then 'Members of the armed forces', and finally 'Self-employed people running their own business'. Again, they didn't get it, nor did their opponents: they are people who aren't entitled to the National Living Wage. Left with Lion, the Meeples saw 'Margarine' in yellow, then 'Petrol for commercial vehicles, 1948' in red, then 'Chicago river, Saturday in mid-March' in green; they saw them to be things that have been dyed the colour in question, and collected two points. ('Marge Simpson's hair' in blue would've been fourth). At the end of a tough first round, the Meeples led 4-0.

Round 2, What Comes Fourth? The Belgophiles kicked the round off with Eye of Horus: 'Jack Island', then 'Philip Castle', and then 'Dinah Valley'. Neither team got this: they are the books in Enid Blyton's 'Adventure Series' and the children in them getting younger, so 'Lucy-Ann Sea' would come fourth. Again, a bit too hard for this stage of the contest. The Meeples chose Horned Viper next: '20', then '171', and then '71'. They didn't get this, their opponents did: they are Central London dialling codes minus the zeros, so '1' would complete the sequence. For their own question, the Belgophiles chose Water: 'Attlee: 3', then 'Kinnock: 2'; they offered at this point 'Blair: 0', and picked up three points, the sequence being Labour leaders who lost a descending number of elections. The Meeples chose Two Reeds next: '4th: Louis (1964)', then '3rd: Christian (1960)', and then '2nd: Elizabeth (1950)'. They didn't get this, nor did their opponents: they are the Queen's children, and their names in correlation to the order they came in, so Prince Edward's fourth name is Louis, Prince Andrew's is Christian, Princess Anne's is Elizabeth and just '1st: Charles (1948)' would come fourth. For their final choice, the Belgophiles chose Twisted Flax, and got the picture set: we saw Anni-Frid and Agnetha from ABBA, then Benny and Bjorn from ABBA; they offered 'Desmond Decker', which was, just, acceptable, the sequence being double acts whose first names both begin with A, B, C and D, so 'Dick and Dom' would've been a more acceptable answer, but close enough. Left with Lion, the Meeples saw 'I = He', then 'You = He', and then 'You = Me'. They saw it to be the lyrics to 'I Am The Walrus', so 'We = All together' completes the set. At the end of an only marginally easier second round, the Belgophiles now led 7-6.

On to the Walls. The Meeples took their turn to go first, and chose the Water wall. They fairly quickly isolated 'Chin', 'Tong', 'Panam' and 'Malt', which all become countries when an A is added, and then 'Frontier', 'United', 'Delta' and 'Spirit', which are US airlines. Having done that, the final sets slotted in nicely: 'White wine', 'Kombucha', 'Balsamic' and 'Sherry' are types of vinegar, while 'Cox', 'Guetta', 'Prydz' and 'Oakenfold' are club DJs. A well resolved full ten there.

The Belgophiles thus set to work on the Lion wall needing a good score to stay in touch. They too hit the ground running, isolating 'Genoa', 'Madeleine', 'Fairy' and 'Dundee', which are cakes, followed in short order by 'Doctor', 'Florence', 'Sly' and 'Katrina', which all partner 'and the (something)' to give band names. The final slots were in line pretty easily after that: 'Rome', 'Pap', 'Julie' and 'Tang' all become NATO alphabet words when a latter is added (Romeo, Papa, Juliet and Tango), while 'Milan', 'Ancona', 'Bari' and 'Venice' are Italian regional capitals, their offer of 'Italian cities' being close enough. Another well resolved full ten, which left them ahead 17-16 going into the final round.

So, Missing Vowels would decide who went straight through to the group stage and who went into the play-off round. 'Tall buildings' went to the Belgophiles 3-1. 'Things Robin says to Batman', such as 'HOLY BIRTHDAY CAKE', was split 2-each. 'ROI', such as 'RETURN ON INVESTEMENT' and 'REPUBLIC OF IRELAND' (playing Denmark as I write this), went to the Meeples 2-0. 'Chefs and their restaurants' only managed one clue, which was timed out. The Belgophiles had snuck home, 22-21!

A pretty good match well played by both considering how hard some of the questions were. Unlucky Meeples, but best of luck in the play-offs. Well done Belgophiles, best of luck in the group stage!

Next week's match: the Wanderers vs the Inquisitors. Then we're off for another two weeks, hopefully back on the 8th of December.

Monday, 13 November 2017

University Challenge 2017-18: Round 2: Match 1: Strathclyde vs Emmanuel

Evening all. Another cold night, another early turn-on for the heating, and I'm writing this blog with one eye on the Italy-Sweden match, as the Azzuri try to avoid missing a World Cup for the first time since before both my parents were born! On an equally dramatic note, the second round of UC started tonight, the round where you can't afford to lose, as if you do, you're out for good; how fair that is remains up for debate, and is probably one of the reasons OC has introduced this bizarre new format for its current series.

Strathclyde won a low scoring but close first round match over Imperial of London, recovering from a slow first half to sneak ahead at the gong, 145-125. They were unchanged from that occasion:
Ian Brown, from Oban, studying to be an English teacher
James Flannigan, from Glasgow, studying Chemical Engineering
Captain: Alistair Logan, from Motherwell, studying Mechanical Engineering
Paul Dijkman, from Port Glasgow, studying Economics

Emmanuel College Cambridge also narrowly won on their first outing, winning a nip and tuck match over St Hugh's of Oxford 170-155, thus condemning their opponents to that defeat last week. They were also the same team as before:
Ed Derby, from Manchester, studying Physics 
Kitty Chevallier, from Hampshire, studying Arabic and Hindi 
Captain: Alex Mistlin, from Islington, studying Politics and International Relations 
James Fraser, from Bristol, studying Medicine

Off we set again then, and Ms Chevallier opened the night's scoring by identifying the word 'scale'; a full bonus set on 'ploughs' provided them with an early full set. A penalty from Strathclyde handed the Cambridge side a second starter and full bonus set in a row, giving them an early 55 point lead. A third starter went to Emmanuel with Mr Fraser this time doing the honours, but just the one bonus on astronomy followed this time. Normal service then resumed as their fourth starter saw a third full bonus set, though Paxo was maybe a bit lenient to let them have one after they slightly mispronounced and were allowed to reanswer. The first picture starter was dropped; the bonuses, on sequences of flags of sports winners nationalities, went to Emmanuel, who took another full set, already giving them a lead of 115-(-5).

Strathclyde already looked like they might be out of it, but Mr Logan, their top buzzer in the first round, moved them back into positive figures with the next starter; one bonus on the Wirral, making a second UC appearance in as many weeks, went with it. A second starter in a row went the Strathclyde captain's way, and another single bonus on particle physics was taken by them. Mr Logan buzzed for a third starter in a row, but no answer came; Mr Derby took the pick-up, and Emmanuel took yet another full bonus set on disease symptoms, putting them back in the driving seat.

The music round, on classical pieces criticised by Cornelius Cardew, went to Emmanuel, who failed to add to their score for the first time of the night, leaving their lead at 150-25. A penalty then lost them five, but Strathclyde were unable to pick-up; Mr Logan took the next though, and the Scots side took two bonuses on cities in California. The Strathclyde captain then took a second starter in a row, and another two bonuses on calculus went with it, suggesting they could yet catch up with a good run. Mr Derby took one back for Emmanuel though, but nothing came from the resultant bonuses again.

Neither side identified a virginal in a painting by Vermeer for the second picture starter; the bonuses, on other Renaissance era musical instruments, went to Strathclyde, who got nothing from the set, despite a couple of good humourous guesses, which left their deficit at 155-75. Two starters in a row were then dropped, one entirely, unusual for those to make it to air these days; Mr Logan finally broke the deadlock with the next starter, but, again, they got nothing from the bonuses, suggesting they had left it too late to mount a fightback.

They gave it a good go though, Mr Brown identifying Turkey as the World's largest apricot producer; bonuses on pre-union Scottish kings (something I wish we'd see more of on TV quizzes) provided them with two correct to deservedly take them into triple figures. Mr Derby took the next starter for Emmanuel though, thus confirming for good that they couldn't be caught; the Cambridge side took one bonus on explorations (I got one of the ones they didn't, Burke and Wills). The final starter was dropped, and that was the gong; Emmanuel won 170-105.

A steady match that never quite caught fire, but remained interesting and watchable throughout. Unlucky Strathclyde, but a valiant effort that you can be pleased with, thanks very much for playing. Very well done Emmanuel though, a strong victory over good opponents, and very best of luck in the group stage!

The stats: Mr Logan was, just, the best buzzer of the night, with five to his name, while Mr Derby was Emmanuel's best with four. On the bonuses, Strathclyde converted 8 out of 21, while Emmanuel managed a pretty good 17 out of 27, and both sides incurred one penalty; so it was on the bonuses and marginally on the buzzer that the match was won.

Next week's match: don't know for sure. Someone on Wikipedia has put St John's vs Corpus Christi; if I find something more official on Twitter in the next week, I'll retweet it.

I'll be back with my usual Only Connect review on Tuesday; hopefully not long now before the Monday quiz hour is back where it belongs.

Monday, 6 November 2017

University Challenge 2017-18: Repechage Play-Off 2: U.C.L. vs St Hugh's

Evening all. Another cold evening, and a windy one as well, so I've put the heating on advance again to warm up as I review tonight's match, the second play-off. Winners would take the final place in the second round. On paper, very little between these two sides, the absence of women from both of whom meant a lot of Twitter displeasure, but I had an idea of what might happen based on comments made across the UC blogosphere. It didn't come to pass!

U.C.L. lost a close first round match to Trinity College Oxford 160-145, though they came close to their opponents on a few occasions, they never quite made it in front IIRC. Hoping for better things tonight were the unchanged foursome of:
Tom Allinson, from Whitchurch in Hampshire, studying History
Charlie Dowell, from Chelmsford, studying Neuroscience
Captain: Robert Gray, from Kingston-upon-Thames, studying Cell Biology
Omar Raii, from Kabul, studying Maths

St Hugh's College Oxford lost their first match to Emmanuel College Cambridge by the same margin, 170-155, a very good nip and tuck match that was decided on the final starter of the game. Hoping to make up for that were the also unchanged quartet of:
Kazi Elias, from Cambridge, studying History
Euan Grainger, from Shrewsbury, studying Biological Sciences
Captain: Daniel de Wijze, from Manchester, studying Earth Sciences
Aidan Mehigan, from Washington DC, studying Art History

Off we set again then, and Mr Allinson took the night's first blood identifying lines from Jane Austen's final novel; bonuses on British birds gave them one correct to start with. Mr Gray was in for the second starter of the night, and a full bonus set on Biblical verses was on a taster of things to come. St Hugh's got in on the next starter with Mr Elias, but only managed to lose five; U.C.L. couldn't take the drop. Mr Dowell was in promptly to take the next starter though, just the one bonus following again. The first picture round, on English metropolitan boroughs, went to U.C.L., Mr Raii making sure all four players already had a starter to their names; just the one bonus followed again, which put their lead at 70-(-5).

Mr Gray added to that with the next starter, and all three bonuses on biographies by Claire Tomalin gave them a 100 point lead. Mr Mehigan finally took his side back into positive figures by taking their first starter of the night, but just the one bonus from a tricky set on memory came with it. Mr Gray broke back for U.C.L. identifying the work of Christmas UC alumnus Jim Al-Khalili, and another full bonus set reasserted their authority on procedings. In came Mr Dowell with the next correctly answered starter, and yet another full bonus set went with it.

Mr Raii was first to identify REM's classic 'It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)'; the music bonuses, on songs that, for some reason, were played a lot on November 9th last year(!) (yes, really!), saw U.C.L. take two bonuses, and unluckily miss the other. They now led 165-10, but back came St Hugh's, with Mr Mehigan identifying the game Magic: The Gathering. Just the one bonus on works of fiction followed. A second starter in a row went Mr Mehigan's way, but just the one bonus, on the exploits of Kate Moss (the model, not the Christmas UC alumnus!) came with it again. Mr Raii was back for U.C.L., and they too took just the one bonus, on plastics and their recycling codes. And when Mr Dowell took the next starter, and two bonuses put them at 200, you fancied it was most definitely game over.

Mr Raii identified the late John Hurt for the second picture starter; the bonuses, on some of his most noted roles, gave them a full set, and a lead of 225-45. I can't have been the only one who shouted "Campbell Soup!" as soon as 'chicken noodle' was mentioned on the next starter; Mr Gray waited a bit longer, and beat the swerve that asked for the artist associated with it instead. (Warhol, of course) Another full bonus set was promptly gobbled up, giving them a 200+ lead, and the U.C.L. captain then took a second starter in a row; bonuses on directions between French cities gave them two correct answers.

A slip-up from the Londoners allowed Mr Grainger to take the next starter, but the Oxonians got nothing from a bonus set on Scottish council areas. It did lift them out of the Sub-50 club however, only for a penalty to drop them back into it; U.C.L. failed to pick up, but Mr Raii was in for the next starter. Bonuses on England football managers gave them two correct answers, and they were closing in on the first 300+ score since Imperial's second round win two series ago! A starter from Mr Allinson put them within five, and one bonus was sufficient to put them onto 300. There was time for Mr Dowell to take one final starter, and one final bonus from the resultant set. At the gong, U.C.L. won 315-45.

A rather one sided, but still enjoyable, match that I certainly didn't see coming! Unlucky St Hugh's, a good team who didn't deserve to be on the end of that, but thanks very much indeed for taking part. Very well done U.C.L. though, on an absolutely fantastic performance against a team we know are decent, and very very best of luck in the second round!

The stats: Messrs Gray and Raii ended joint best buzzers of the night with five each, while Mr Mehigan was, again, best for St Hugh's with three. On the bonuses, U.C.L. converted a tremendous 32 out of 48 (with one penalty), while St Hugh's managed just 3 out of 12 (with two penalties).

Next week's match: the first of the second round! Don't know who, past three series format would make it Fitzwilliam vs Strathclyde, but we'll see. I'll retweet if I find out.

No Only Connect to deal with tomorrow, of course, so we're back next week with my usual UC write-up, so see you then, I guess.

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Only Connect Series 13: Round 2: Match 2: Eco-Warriors vs Snake Charmers

OK, Only Connect time. Remember, the winners go through to the group stage, while the runners-up would fall into the play-off round alongside the other second round runners-up and the two highest scoring first round runners-up.

Playing were the Eco-Warriors, Jonathan Kershaw, Peter Barlow and captain Brett Bostock, who won a good first round match against the Escapologists, one of the two first round survivors, and the Snake Charmers, Thomas Rychlik, Kate Pfeffer and captain John Howe, who easily triumphed over the Extras in their first outing.

Round 1. The Warriors went first, and kicked the match off with Lion: ''Pressed'', then ''Stained'', then ''Little Hood''; at this point, they offered 'translations of names of Italian painters'. Not right. Their opponents saw ''American'', but were none the wiser; they are translations of names of types of coffee. The Charmers kicked their night off with 'Horn-ed' Viper: 'Dutch 1/12', then 'English 1/12', then 'Portuguese 1/12', and finally 'Spanish 9/12'. They saw it at the last minute to be the languages spoken in independent South American countries. The Warriors chose Two Reeds, and got the music question: we heard 'Back to the Old House' by the Smiths, then the theme from the Back to the Future films, then Amy Winehouse with 'Back to Black'; they got the link the wrong way round, and offered 'black', not right. Their opponents heard 'Back to Life' by Soul2Soul, and offered the correct link for a bonus. For their own question, the Charmers chose Eye of Horus, and got the picture set: we saw some fighter jets, then a cowboy shaped sign, then the Old Vic theatre, and then the Queen Vic from EastEnders. They offered that they are all 'Vic' for the point. (The first clues being a 'Vic formation' and 'Vegas Vic' respectively) The Warriors chose Water next: 'Dr Jeff Wilson', then 'Nagg & Nell', then 'Top Cat', and finally 'Oscar the Grouch'. They spotted that they all live in bins, and collected their first point of the night. Left with Twisted Flax, the Charmers saw 'Corn on the cob', then 'Elizabeth I', then 'Analogue clock', and finally 'Snail mail'. They didn't see it, nor did their opponents; they are retronyms, ie they have not always been known as that and have been renamed retrospectively. At the end of the first round, the Charmers led 3-1.

Round 2, What Comes Fourth? The Warriors kicked the round off with Twisted Flax: '4: Meeting on the Via Dolorosa', then '5: Crucifixion'; they offered 'the Resurrection', which was not right. Their opponents saw '6: Deposition', but were none the wiser. They are the last four sorrows of the Virgin Mary, so '7: Burial of Jesus' would be fourth. The Charmers chose 'Horn-ed' Viper next, and got the picture set: we saw two Man U players, one of whom was on his back with his legs up, then a ramp, and then a stereo speaker. They are it to be 'CRAMP', 'RAMP' and 'AMP', so offered 'a photo of Jacob Rees-Mogg' for 'MP' for the two points. The Warriors chose Two Reeds next: '1st January 2002', then '1st February 2003', and then '2nd March 2005'. They didn't get it, their opponents did: it's the Fibonacci sequence expressed as dates, so '3rd May 2008' would be fourth. Good set! For their own question, the Charmers chose Lion: 'Man-of-War (2016)', then 'Practices (2012)'; they tried 'Tragedy (2004)', which was correct, the sequence being winners of the Euros going backwards and words associated with their nationalities (Portugal, Spain, Spain and Greece respectively). For their final choice, the Warriors chose Eye of Horus: 'Zip line', then 'See-saw', and then 'Travelator'. They didn't get it, nor did their opponents: its the final four objects on the Gladiators Eliminator assault course, so 'Swing through paper burst' would complete the set. Left with Water, the Charmers saw 'Johns', then '40', and then 'Fields'. They didn't see it, their opponents did, offering 'Yeats' for a bonus, the sequence being 'WE (Johns)', 'WD(40)' and 'WC (Fields)'. At the end of the second round, the Charmers led 9-2.

On to the Walls. The Charmers went first, and chose to tackle the Lion wall. After a few early wrong guesses, they had two sets in the bag in short order: 'Waldheim', 'Klimt', 'Lauda' and 'Popper' are famous Austrians, while 'Heavens', 'Gracious', 'Grief' and 'God' can all follow 'Good' to give exclamations (of the sort Paxo might, and indeed did yesterday, use!). After carefully looking over the remaining clues, they had it on their first try: 'Zip', 'Button', 'Buckle' and 'Toggle' are clothes fastenings, while 'Lord', 'Schwarzenegger', 'Shea' and 'Laver' are people who gave their names to sports stadiums, but they didn't get that, so dropped three points. Seven for that then.

The Warriors could put themselves back in the game with a clean sweep of the Water wall. They quickly ran into trouble, struggling to slot anything into place. Eventually, they isolated 'Caveat', 'Curriculum', 'Status' and 'Vox', which are words that begin Latin phrases. This was promptly followed by 'Editor', 'Marine', 'Sonic' and 'Urban', which can all follow 'Sub' to give longer words. After looking at what they had left, they had it in place on their second go: 'Durham', 'Helfgott', 'Melba' and 'Goodrem' are Australian musicians, while 'Cave', 'Performance', 'Pop' and 'Kinetic' are types of art. A full ten there, but they still trailed 16-12 going into the final round.

So, Missing Vowels would decide who went through, and who needed two more wins. 'Films with countries in the title' was split 1-each, with the Charmers getting two right but one wrong. 'Car companies and their emblems' was a clean sweep to the Warriors, 4-0. 'Things that contain almonds' saw the Charmers get one wrong, and none answered correctly. That was it; the Warriors had snuck it, 17-16!

Another good match with some excellent questions. Unlucky Charmers, unlucky to just get pipped at the post, best of luck in the play-off round. Well done Warriors though, and very best of luck in the group stage!

No match this week, as LIVE FA Cup football gets priority; wouldn't happen if it were on a Monday! Back on the 10th with the Meeples vs the Belgophiles.

Monday, 30 October 2017

University Challenge 2017-18: Repechage Play-Off 1: Ulster vs St Anne's

Evening all. So, the nights are drawing in, the weather's getting colder, as evidenced by the fact I've put my heating on advance twice today, which means we must be starting to see UC teams for second times. The first of the two play-offs tonight, between a team we first saw way back in the middle of summer, and one we first met only two weeks ago. Winners would take the penultimate place in the second round.

Ulster were defeated by Edinburgh in the first match of the series back in July by the narrowest margin possible, five points, having led much of the way through, by 165-160, which turned out to be the highest losing score of the first round. They were unchanged from that occasion:
Cathal 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

St Anne's College Oxford suffered a more comprehensive defeat at the hands of Corpus Christi College Cambridge in their first match, despite periods of promise, ultimately losing 225-135. Paxo's final words to them suggested to me they may not be back, but they've made it, and were also unchanged from before:
Ramani Chandramohan, from Canterbury, studying Classics and French 
Cameron Royle, from Fleet in Hampshire, studying Chemistry 
Captain: Kanta Dihal, from Eindhoven in the Netherlands, studying Literature 
Andrew Jamieson, from Northampton, studying Earth Sciences

Off we set again then, and Ms Ritchie opened the night's scoring for Ulster; the first bonuses of the night, on Japanese inventions, saw them, and me, take just the one, emojis. Mr Jack, the side's best buzzer in the opening match, took his first starter of the night, but bonuses on astronomy added nothing to their score. Ms Dihal got St Anne's off the mark, but they too got nothing from their first bonus set on Scottish artists. A penalty then halved their score, and handed Ulster the points; Polish composers gave the Northern Ireland team a full bonus set. The first picture round, on floorplans of London buildings, went to Ulster, who took just the one bonus, increasing their lead to 65-5.

A second penalty then reset the Oxford side's score to 0; Mr Jack took the points, and the resultant bonuses on feminist literature gave them one correct answer, and a good comedy moment as Ms Ritchie briefly protested at being nominated! Mr Milliken then made sure all four Ulster players had a starter to their name, and two bonuses followed from the resulting set took them into triple figures. Mr Jack quickly worked out a piece of planetary arithmetic for the next starter, but nothing came from the bonuses this time. A second quick buzz from Mr Jack in a row pressed home his side's advantage, though the bonuses provided just the one correct answer again.

The music round, on music famously used at the start of films, allowed St Anne's back into the match; one bonus reduced their arrears to 125-15. Back came Ulster, with Mr Jack identifying the Suez canal; again, though, the bonuses provided them with no correct answers, though they did offer a good amusing guess for one! Mr Royle took St Anne's back into the match, and one bonus followed. Ms Dihal took a second starter in a row for the Oxford side, and a bonus set on regions of the Netherlands fell nicely into her lap, needing no assistance to take a full set! Mr Jack reasserted Ulster's authority with the next starter, but just the one bonus followed again. The Northern Ireland side seemed to be dominating the buzzer race, but their modest bonus rate meant St Anne's could be in with a shout could they get a buzzer and bonus run together.

The second picture starter was dropped; the bonuses, on recipients of the Bodley medal, went to St Anne's, who took two bonuses, which meant they now trailed 150-75. Mr Jack identified the flea for the next starter; though just the one bonus followed again, with not much time left, you fancied they'd done enough, and it would be too late for St Anne's to catch up now.

They tried, Miss Chandramohan taking a punt on the next starter, but all it earned her was a "Good Heavens, no!" from Paxo! Mr Jamieson fared somewhat better, taking the next starter, but nothing came from their resultant bonuses on Hong Kong theatre. Mr Royle took a second starter in a row for the Oxonians, but, again, nothing came from the bonuses. A penalty then allowed Mr Milliken to take the final starter of the night for Ulster, just in time for the gong; Ulster won, 175-90.

A rather low scoring match, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. Unlucky St Anne's, who were comprehensively beaten on the buzzer, but came across well then they got in and have nothing to be ashamed of, thanks for playing. Well done Ulster though, a strong performance on the buzzer making up for a rather modest showing on the bonuses, best of luck in the second round!

The stats: Mr Jack was by far the best buzzer of the night, with seven starters, same as St Anne's managed between them, Mr Royle was their best buzzer with three. On the bonuses, Ulster converted just 11 out of 33, while St Anne's managed just 7 out of 21 (with three penalties); both rather low rates there, so it was on the buzzer that this match was won.

Next week's match: St Hugh's vs U.C.L. in the second play-off

Only Connect review coming up tomorrow, as the new format continues to confuse, though I think some are beginning to get the hang of it now.

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

University Challenge 2017-18: First Round Review

OK, we're at the end of the first round, so it's time for my usual look back at it, and the raw stats surrounding it. As ever, we have my list of the fourteen teams safely through to the second round, together with their scores and margins of victory:
  • Edinburgh (165, 5)
  • Bristol (230, 135)
  • Southampton (280, 240)
  • Magdalen College Oxford (185, 80)
  • Warwick (240, 80)
  • Oxford Brookes (175, 90)
  • Trinity College Oxford (160, 15)
  • Newcastle (170, 130)
  • Fitzwilliam College Cambridge (200, 95)
  • Strathclyde (145, 20)
  • Emmanuel College Cambridge (170, 15)
  • St John's College Cambridge (255, 135)
  • Corpus Christi College Cambridge (225, 90)
  • Merton College Oxford (285, 175)
So, those are the raw figures. Now we need to analyse them.

Well, this week's winners Merton have the highest score of the round; Southampton have the second highest and the biggest margin of victory. Those two, along with the three Cambridge teams who broke 200 against teams who broke triple figures, Fitzwilliam, St John's and Corpus Christi, would probably start as the favourites to progress.

Provided they avoid each other of course. Eagle eyed viewers will have noticed that, for the last three series, the second round matches have followed the pattern 9 vs 10 and 12 vs 13, followed by a random draw among the rest. It is no secret that this is because, since 2010-11, when the show began being filmed and in the bag before the last series ended, the first two second round matches are filmed on the same day as the teams involved's first matches.

If they carry on this format this year, Fitzwilliam would play Strathclyde, followed by St John's vs Corpus Christi. The latter of which would be a very unfortunate fixture to have at this stage.

Ignoring the prospect of pre-arranged fixtures, I would tip Merton and those three Cambridge sides to progress, provided they avoid each other. Southampton I'll need to see against a proven quantity before we earmark them as one to watch, same with other teams like Bristol and Warwick who won their first matches via better buzzing.

I would also keep an eye on Magdalen, whose teams are never worth writing off, and Edinburgh, who impressed in their narrow first round win over a strong Ulster team.

Speaking of which, here are the four play-off survivors:
  • Ulster (160, 5)
  • St Hugh's College Oxford (155, 15)
  • University College London (145, 15)
  • St Anne's College Oxford (135, 90)
So, with the exception of St Anne's, all four won closely fought matches, albeit somewhat lower scoring than other ties, but that can easily be attributed to two evenly matched teams sharing the spoils.

After some initial confusion (which led me to be half expected King's to make a late sprint for the play-offs on Monday), we now know the draw for the play-offs: Ulster will play St Anne's this coming Monday, then St Hugh's will play U.C.L. the week after.

Based on the first round performances, I'd probably tip Ulster and St Hugh's to go through, but, again, I really cannot call either match. As we know from experience, first round form is a rather poor guide to how well a team will fare second time out. As many contestants have said on Twitter, including Mr Salter of this year's Warwick team in speaking up for his first opponents, the first round of UC can be incredibly nervy for even the best of teams.

That's why the raw stats of the first round will only tell you so much about what to expect in the later rounds. We usually get at least one team who begin the second round as outsiders making the group stage, often at the expense of a team you'd have expected to beat them based on their first round form.

That's what makes us want to tune in and watch UC every week, the intrigue of what's going to happen every week. Anyone can beat anyone. Theoretically.

Well, whatever happens in the next round, I'll be watching and reporting as ever. Here's to it; I await it as eagerly as ever!

I'll be back on Monday with my usual UC write up.

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Only Connect Series 13: Round 2: Match 1: Vikings vs Parishioners

OK, Only Connect time at last. Back to Tuesdays for reviewing for now, in preparation for when the show returns to the correct day next year. Into the second round now, with the six first round winners playing for a place in the group stage, while the six runners-up will join the two highest scoring first round runners-up (the Escapologists and the Cricketers are my best bet) in a two stage play-off round, with the two ultimate winners going to the group stage. Complicated, I know, but as WW pointed out, it does mean no team exits after a win and a single loss, one of the main issues we both have with UC's current format.

Anyway, playing on Friday night, we had the Vikings, Mark Oxley, John Wilson and captain Mick Lee, who snuck past the Geocachers by a single point in the first round, and the Parishioners, Tracey Rawlins, her husband Andy and captain Ian Fellows, who comfortably saw off the Stewards first time out.

Round 1. The Parishioners kicked the show off with Eye of Horus, and the music set: we heard JS Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor, then the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy from Tchaikovsky's the Nutcracker, then Mussorgsky's A Night on the Bare Mountain; they offered that they have animals in their titles, not right. Their opponents heard 'The Sorcerer's Apprentice', but were none the wiser: they are pieces used in Disney's Fantasia. (One of the few Disney animated films I've never seen any of and thus know little about) The Vikings opened their account with Lion: 'William Pitt the Younger (120)', then 'Transport for London Lost Property Office (200)', then 'Dangermouuse (Pillar Box)'; they offered that they live in Downing Street at those addresses, not right. Their opponents saw 'Sherlock Holmes (221b)', and offered that they live in Baker Street at those addresses for the first point of the night. For their own question, the Parishioners chose Two Reeds, and got the picture set: we saw a roll of copper, then an Cos lettuce, then a selection of Capri pants, and finally a Maltese cross. They didn't see it, their opponents did, offering that they are named after Mediterranean islands for a bonus. For their own question, the Vikings chose Water: 'Comedian', then 'Identical Twin', then 'Private Life', and finally 'The History Boy'. That last clue gave it to them: their plural forms are the titles of plays. The Parishioners chose Twisted Flax next: they saw 'Foreign Legion (first year)', and took a five point punt on 'the durations during which you are not allowed to leave'; not correct alas. Their opponents saw ''The Economist' journalists', '11th tradition of drink reformers' and 'Offenders in youth courts (in England and Wales)', and offered that they all have the right of anonymity for a bonus point. Left with Horned Viper for their own question, the Vikings saw 'Y/k', then 'cheWster'; they identified them as dingbat representations of English city names ('York' and 'Winchester') for three points. At the end of the first round, the Vikings led 6-1.

Round 2, What Comes Fourth? The Parishioners opened with Eye of Horus: 'Set of dominoes', then 'Guinea', and then 'Stone'. They didn't get it, their opponents did: they represent 28, 21 and 14, so something there are seven of, such as 'Deadly Sins', would satisfy for the bonus point. For their own question, the Vikings chose Two Reeds, and got the picture set: we saw a potato alongside '001', then a potato alongside '010'; they saw it to be the potato counting rhyme with the numbers in binary, so offered a potato alongside '100'. Close enough, it's just 'four' in the last verse, but we get the idea. The Parishioners chose Lion next: 'James Garner and Tom Cruise', then 'Enemy of Bugs Bunny', and then 'Vertical rock formation in California'. They didn't get it, nor did their opponents. The sequence is Mac operating systems, 'Mavericks', 'Yosemite' and 'El Capitan', so something for 'Sierra', such as 'Mountain range', would be fourth. Too hard! The Vikings chose Twisted Flax next: '4: Hispaniola', then '3: Ireland', and then '2: Borneo'. They didn't get it, nor did their opponents: '1: New Guinea' completes the set, the sequence being the largest territorially divided islands. For their final choice, the Parishioners chose Water: 'Arsenal (1910s)', then 'Everton (1950s)', and then 'Liverpool (1960s)'. They didn't get it, their opponents did: they are the longest serving top flight teams, and the decades they were last promoted to the top flight. Left with Horned Viper for their own final question, the Vikings saw 'West Park', then 'Northworld', and then 'Eastern Exposure'. They didn't get it, nor did their opponents: they are TV shows with their titular compass points rotated clockwise, South Park, Westworld and Northern Exposure, so 'SouthEnders' would be an acceptable answer for the points. At the end of the second round, the Vikings led 11-1.

On to the Walls. The Vikings took their turn to go first, and chose to tackle the Lion wall. Their first set came almost instantly: 'Snap', 'Dial', 'Wolf' and 'Reviled' are words that form other words when read backwards. A second set followed suite: 'Hearts', 'Bridge', 'Solo' and 'Nap' are trick-taking card games. The final clues slotted in fairly soon afterwards: 'Pray', 'Shine', 'Sure' and 'Patience' are songs by Take That, while 'Flower', 'Rise', 'Glasses' and 'Day' can all follow 'Sun'. A full ten there.

The Parishioners were thus, realistically, out of it as they set to work on the Water wall. After some early wrong guesses, they isolated 'Vain', 'Blue Sky', 'Writer' and 'Brightside', which can all follow 'Mr' to give song titles. After some more incorrect tries, they had a second set in the bag: 'Mark', 'Mask', 'Rok' and 'Bask' are words where the 'k' can be replaced with 'que' to give different words. After carefully looking over the final clues, they had it all worked out: 'Bane', 'Zoom', 'Kingpin' and 'Sandman' are comic book villains, which they got close enough to for the point, while 'Road', 'Hay', 'Deck' and 'Bullseye' are things that can be 'hit'. Another full ten, which left them trailing 21-11 going into the final round.

So, Missing Vowels to finish with as usual. 'Programmes on the BBC News Channel' was split 2-each. 'Spam email subject lines', such as 'CHEAP GENERIC VIAGRA'(!) proved hard, the Parishioners taking the round's only point. 'Rivers and the bridges that span them' saw the Parishioners lose a point for a rogue 'THE', and there was no time for their opponents to pick up. The Vikings won 23-13.

A decent show even if a bit one sided. Unlucky Parishioners, best of luck in the play-off round. Well done Vikings, best of luck in the group stage!

This week's match: the Eco-Warriors vs the Snake Charmers

Back tomorrow with my usual UC first round summary; see you then then.

Monday, 23 October 2017

University Challenge 2017-18: Round 1: Match 14: Merton vs King's

Evening all. Hope you all made it at the earlier time for tonight's show. So, here we are at the final match of what's been a rather interesting first round that started a bit unbalanced with some rather one sided matches, but which has caught fire in recent weeks with some good high scoring matches. So, for tonight's teams, a score of 140 or more will guarantee a return win or lose.

Merton College Oxford is one of the university's oldest, founded by Walter de Merton in 1264. Alumni include the poet TS Eliot, library founder Sir Thomas Bodley and the athlete Roger Bannister. It won the series in 1980, beating Stephen Fry's Queens' College Cambridge team to the title; its last foray was a second round exit in 2011-12. This year's foursome were:
Edward Thomas, from Oxford, studying Ancient and Modern History
Alexander Peplow, from Amersham in Buckinghamshire, studying Medieval Studies
Captain: Leonie Woodland, from Cambridge, studying Physics
Akira Wiberg, from Sweden and Japan, studying Molecular and Cellular Medicine

King's College London was founded by George IV in 1828 as an alternative to UCL. Alumni include the poets Keats, the archbishop Desmond Tutu and the comedy performer Rory Bremner. For a reasonably high profile institution, it has only sent two teams to UC in the Paxo era, in 1997-98 and 2009-10, both of whom exited in the second round. This year's quartet were:
Marta Varela, from Lisbon, studying Academic Practice
Richard Senior, from Lincolnshire, studying 18th Century Studies
Captain: Caroline Spearing, from London, studying 17th Century Latin Poetry
Lochlan Pryer, from the Wirral, studying Geography

Off we set again then, and Merton got off the mark first with Mr Thomas recognising a bio of Fidel Castro. The side put their feet firmly down by taking a full set of bonuses on religion. Mr Wiberg took a second starter for the Oxonians, but bonuses on the World Cup proved less to their liking, taking just the one. (I got one of the ones they didn't, Senegal) A third bonus set on the names of diseases proved a bit more fruitful, with just the one bonus going Merton's way again. The first picture round, on Shakespearean sonnets with words missing, went to King's, who took two of their first bonus set, reducing their arrears to 60-20.

Mr Peplow reasserted Merton's authority on the match, and another two bonuses added to their score. Miss Woodland then made sure all four Mertonians had a starter to their name, and another two bonuses on historians took them into triple figures. It was then Mr Wiberg's turn, and this time Merton took a full set of bonuses on 19th century magazines. Another starter from Miss Woodland, one bonus on astronomy, and Merton had enough points to come back win or lose.

The music starter, Edwin Starr's classic 'War', was missed by both sides (offers of T-Rex and Tom Jones did NOT go down well on the Twittersphere!); the bonuses, on songs banned during the Iraq war, went to King's, who took all three, which cut the gap to 140-45. A second starter in a row went the Londoners way, as did a second full set of bonuses, suggesting they still had plenty more to offer. Back came Merton with Mr Wiberg doing the honours, and political terms provided them with two correct bonuses. Another starter and pair of bonuses restored the 100+ lead Merton had lost only briefly. Ms Spearing did exactly what you must do in this situation, and go for it; alas, all that came for it was a penalty. Mr Peplow did the honours, bonuses on cavalier poetry gave them just the one correct answer this time.

The second picture round, on figures noted for spying, went to Merton, who took just the one bonus, unluckily mistaking Philby for Blunt (I knew it wasn't him, didn't know who it was though), which took their lead to 210-65. A very prompt buzz from Miss Woodland provided them with two correct answers. (My Dad got the last one via the old trick of saying the same answer three times!) Bonuses on income tax provided the Oxford side with a full house and they remained on track for the highest score of the series thus far.

Mr Peplow edged them closer with the next starter, two bonuses putting them one starter away from it. Back came King's though, with Ms Varela doing the honours, but despite a full bonus set on film taglines, it was probably a bit late to pull off a late sprint for the play-offs. Ms Spearing did take a second starter in a row for the Londoners, and two bonuses deservedly took them into triple figures. (Again, my Dad got the last one by saying the same thing thrice!) That was as far as they could get though, Miss Woodburn taking the final starter. At the gong, Merton won 285-110.

Another high quality high scoring match to end the round. Unlucky King's, who just got outplayed on the buzzer, and most definitely would've beaten another team, but a very good effort, and thanks very much for playing. Very well done Merton though, a storming first performance against strong opponents, and one that suggests they may be able to outbuzz anyone; definitely a team to watch, very best of luck in the next round!

The stats: Miss Woodland ended the night's best buzzer, with five starters, while Ms Varela was best for King's with three. On the bonuses, Merton a decent converted 27 out of 43, while King's managed a very good 13 out of 15 (with the night's one penalty); good rates those, well played both sides!

Next week's match: the first play-off! Don't know for sure, but I am informed it is Ulster vs St Anne's in two weeks' time, so my guess in St Hugh's vs U.C.L..

I'll be back tomorrow with my review of Friday's Only Connect, my reviews of which will be returning to Tuesdays now that Robot Wars has returned.

Monday, 16 October 2017

University Challenge 2017-18: Round 1: Match 13: Corpus Christi vs St Anne's

Evening all. After last week's show, I rather sensibly decided to take a Strepsil before the show started, so that I didn't have to run off and get one early on in the show. Hopefully this won't become a forced habit, but we can only wait and see. Anyway, the penultimate second round match, with 150 or more enough to bring either team back win or lose.

Corpus Christi College Cambridge was founded in 1352, and is one of the university's smaller colleges. Alumni include the playwright Marlowe, the Tory bigwigs Francis Maude and Owen Paterson and the actor Hugh Bonneville. It hasn't enjoyed as much success as its Oxford sister college, its most recent performance being an unlucky first round exit three series ago. This year's foursome were:
Tristan Roberts, from Amersham in Buckinghamshire, studying Physics
Kripa Panchagnula, from Hemel Hempstead, studying Natural Sceicnes
Captain: Joseph Krol, from Bingley in West Yorkshire, studying Maths
Benedict McDougall, from London, studying Classics

St Anne's College Oxford was founded in 1879, and was a women only college until men were let in 100 years later. Alumni include writers Iris Murdoch and Helen Fielding, political has-been Danny Alexander and conductor Simon Rattle. It too hasn't had much luck in the BBC era, three times exiting in the first round, though an all-female team of alumni did well in the most recent Christmas series. This year's quartet were:
Ramani Chandramohan, from Canterbury, studying Classics and French
Cameron Royle, from Fleet in Hampshire, studying Chemistry
Captain: Kanta Dihal, from Eindhoven in the Netherlands, studying Science Communication
Andrew Jamieson, from Northampton, studying Earth Sciences

Off we set again then, and Mr Royle set the ball rolling for the night with 'mortar'; the Oxford side failed to take any of the first bonus set, on rebellions, including a topical one on the Gunpowder Plot. Mr McDougall promptly identified Aristotle to get the Cambridge side off the mark, and they, in contrast, took a full bonus set on Commonwealth island nations. A second starter in a row went to the Corpus Christi right-winger, and a second full bonus set in a row came with it. Mr Royle put a stop to that, and bonuses on 'popinjays' gave St Anne's their first correct bonus. The first picture round, on former colonies and the decades they became independent nations, went to Corpus Christi, whose bonus form continued, a third full set, and a lead of 75-25.

Mr Krol took a second starter in a row, the planet Neptune his answer, but the Cambridge side finally showed some armoury chinks, as they dropped all three bonuses on works differing by one word. Kings of Belgium proved more to Corpus Christi's liking, taking two of that set. Neither side guessed the right decade on the next starter, Miss Chandramohan took the next for St Anne's, and the Oxonians showed they weren't going to take this lying down, taking a full house of their own.

The music round, on Russian classical pieces inspired by the work of Pushkin, went to St Anne's, who took just the one bonus this time, which reduced their arrears to 115-65. A third starter in a row went the Oxford side's way courtesy of Mr Royle, and two bonuses on 19th century US history put them within sight of their opponents. Mr Krol increased that sight gap, but just one bonus on zoology followed. (I got one of the ones they didn't, on which order rabbits belong to) Leading ladies in Hitchcock films also proved a troublesome set for the Cambridge side, just the one bonus accompanying again. Then controversy as Miss Chandramohan buzzed, then failed to answer, and had cut in quickly enough for it to be considered an interruption; Mr Krol took the points, and two bonuses on time zones gave them the points needed to come back whatever the result.

The second picture starter was dropped; the bonuses, on triptychs, went to Corpus Christi, who took just the one bonus again, which left their lead at 170-80. Mr Royle proved his side weren't given up just yet, taking the next starter, and bonuses on polar bears (no mention of Knut, sadly) took them into triple figures. Mr Krol was first in with Wittgenstein though, and a full house just about put the game to bed.

Which left St Anne's seeking a play-off berth; Mr Jamieson added his worth to that cause by taking the next starter, but just one bonus on Indian land borders followed. Mr Royle's taking of the next starter, though, gave them sufficient points to push Imperial off the play-off board, and two accompanying bonuses within one starter and bonus of a definite return. Mr Krol was in first to identify the Joker card though, with two bonuses going with it. Final starter of the night went to Mr Krol, and there was no time for bonuses; at the gong, Corpus Christi won 225-135.

Another pretty good match tonight, well played both. Unlucky St Anne's, who gave a good account of themselves, and whose score will be the target for next week's teams; if they do miss out, hopefully it won't be by just five points. Best of luck in getting there! Very well done Corpus Christi though, a decent first performance against good opponents, and they could get a good run with a favourable second round draw (hopefully not the draw I fear they'll get); best of luck in the next round!

The stats: Mr Krol was, by far, the night's best buzzer with NINE(!) to his name at the gong, while Mr Royle was best for St Anne's with five. On the bonuses, Corpus Christi converted a decent 21 out of 33, while St Anne's managed 12 out of 24 (with that one penalty).

Next week's match: Merton College Oxford vs King's College London, at the earlier time of 7:30, so don't miss it.

Only Connect moves into its second round on Friday, be back on Sunday with my usual summary. May also choose to post tomorrow about a few other things, see how I feel.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Only Connect Series 13: Round 1: Match 12: Detectives vs Theatricals

So, two weeks earlier than expected, here we are at the final Only Connect first round match. The task for the two teams involved: win, or lose with a score of 22 or more; 21, and they'd have had to have done in having scored more than eight in the first two rounds to outpip the Cricketers to the final space. I feel another rant, sorry, post about tournament structure coming.

Anyway, playing on Friday were the Detectives, Ian King, Tim Harrison and captain Tim Hall, and the Theatricals, James Kinsley, Caz Slota and captain Vikki Nelson.

Round 1. The Detectives kicked the show off with Eye of Horus: 'Spectacular Spectacular', then 'Manhattan Melodies', then 'Oh Streetcar!', and finally 'Springtime for Hitler'. They identified them to be fictional musicals (within other works), and collected the first point of the night. The Theatricals opened their account with Twisted Flax: 'Newborn babies', then 'Winner of the Indy 500', then 'Alex and his droogs'; that gave it to them, they are noted for drinking milk. (The final clue would've been 'Someone who wants to play for a team better than Accrington Stanley'!) The Detectives chose 'Horn-ed' Viper next: 'Improbable', then 'Watchmaker', then 'Gene', and finally 'Delusion'. That gave it to them: they are the final words of titles of Richard Dawkins books. The Theatricals chose Two Reeds next, and got the music question: we heard Green Day's classic 'Boulevard of Broken Dreams', then Eddie Grant with 'Electric Avenue'; that was enough for them to offer 'streets', and collect a rare music question three-pointer. The Detectives chose Lion next, and got the picture set: we saw George from Rainbow, then Patrick from Spongebob Squarepants, then Michaelangelo's David, and finally Prince Andrew. They saw them to be the Patron Saints of the Home Nations, and collected another point. (Incidentally, was thinking the other day that perhaps we should have a sound, such as a camera flash, to signify the picture sets, in the same way the music questions have their 'da-ding' sound) Left with Water, the Theatricals saw 'President Knox', then 'Comedian Kehinde', then 'Author Kindred', and finally 'Economist Kenneth'. They didn't get it, and their opponents didn't quite get close enough: they are the middle names of people known by their middle initial K (James K Polk, Stephen K Amos, Philip K Dick and JK Galbraith respectively). At the end of the first round, the Theatricals led 5-3.

Round 2, What Comes Fourth? The Detectives opened with Two Reeds: 'PAT = 1 or 2', then 'S = 2', and then 'FG = 3'. They didn't get it, nor did their opponents: it is scoring in American football, so 'TD = 6' would come fourth. (Apparently, there has been some discussion about this question, which I sadly cannot contribute to as I do not follow the sport) The Theatricals chose Lion next: 'First Dog Watch ends', then 'BBC4 begins', then 'Monday night Premier League kick-off'; they saw it to be something to do with times, but their answer of 'EastEnders begins' wasn't acceptable . Their opponents saw it to be 6pm, 7pm and 8pm, so offered 'The Nine O'Clock News begins' for the bonus points. (On a point of pedantry, EastEnders does start at 9pm sometimes, but probably not often enough to make that an acceptable answer) For their own question, the Detectives chose Twisted Flax: 'Chair, Patron of the National Citizen Service', then 'UN Special Envoy for Global Education'; they saw it to be jobs done by PMs after leaving office (Cameron and Brown respectively), so 'Quartet's Special Middle East envoy' for Blair would be third, and 'Surrey CCC President' for Major would be acceptable for fourth and three points. The Theatricals chose Horned Viper next: 'Puerto Rico', then 'Jamaica', and then 'Hispaniola'; they saw it to be Caribbean islands getting larger, so 'Cuba' would be fourth. For their final choice, the Detectives chose Eye of Horus: 'L_____ Relating to jurisprudence', then 'D____ Sufficiently clothed', and then 'H____ Not disposed to cheat'. They offered 'T____ Disinclined to tell lies', and were correct for two points, the sequence being the 'LOHT' mantra of the Advertising Standards Authority. Left with Water, and the picture set, the Theatricals saw a calendar bearing 'December 25', then Hugh Laurie as Doctor House, and then a cup of tea being stirred. They saw it to be the poem 'Twas the Night Before Christmas', and offered a mouse, for two points. At the end of the second round, the teams were tied on 9-each. So 21 would bring either team back win or lose.

On to the Walls. The Theatricals chose to tackle the Water wall, and isolated their first two sets in short order: 'Cochlea', 'Anvil', 'Tragus' and 'Stirrup' are parts of the ear, while 'Fast one', 'Muscle', 'Rank' and 'Pint' are things that can be pulled. They then took their time to work out the final sets, but couldn't in their three gos. So they had to go for bonus connection points: 'Stone', 'Bonspiel', 'Hog line' and 'Hammer' are terms in curling, which they didn't get, while 'British Lion', 'Eon', 'Ealing' and 'Handmade' are British film companies, which they did get. Five points there then.

So the Detectives set to work on the Lion wall knowing they had a good chance to take the lead. After spotting a link of 'easy things', they eventually isolated 'Doddle', 'Snap', 'Cakewalk' and 'Breeze'. A second set, 'Chill', 'Easy', 'Sleep' and 'Country', which can all follow 'The Big' to give a film title, followed. They then had more luck than their opponents with the final sets, solving it on their final go: 'Bank', 'Computer code', 'Railway line' and 'Menorah' are things with branches, which they got, while 'Seat', 'Cinch', 'Tree' and 'Cantle' are parts of a saddle, which they didn't. Seven points there then, which gave them a narrow lead of 16-14 going into the final round.

So Missing Vowels would decide who went through and who'd have to hope they reached 21. 'Brands preferred by Brexit voters', such as 'HP SAUCE' and 'PG TIPS', went to the Detectives 3-1. 'Brands preferred by Remain voters' (!), such as 'BBC IPLAYER' and 'SPOTIFY', also went to the Detectives 3-1. 'Things found in corners' went to the Theatricals 3-1. 'Events of 1986' only had time for one clues, which the Theatricals took. The Detectives won, 23-20.

Another excellent match, one of the best of the second round. Unlucky Theatricals, who miss out on a return by a single point, a shame considering that performance, a very decent one indeed, thanks very much indeed for playing. Very well done Detectives though, and very best of luck in the second round!

So, the Escapologists and the Cricketers (we think) will join the six second round runners-up in the play-off round.

Next week's match: the Vikings vs the Parishioners in the first second round match

Monday, 9 October 2017

University Challenge 2017-18: Round 1: Match 12: St Andrews vs St John's

Evening all. Might be a bit disjointed this evening, receiving text updates from my Dad on events in Cardiff. We're at the business end of the tournament now, with Ulster now safely through to the play-offs. The job for tonight's two teams fairly simple: win, or lose with a score of 155 or more to make the play-offs. A rematch tonight from a play-off from 2010-11 (my first full series after starting watching properly).

St Andrews is the oldest university in Scotland, and the third oldest in the UK, founded in the 1410s in what is otherwise a rather small town. Alumni include mathematician John Napier, Prince Wills and Princess Kate, and some chap called Alex Salmond, whoever he was. It won the series in 1982; last year's team went out in the second round. This year's foursome were:
Euan Grant, from Edinburgh, studying Divinity
Christina Fell, from Coventry, studying Statistics
Captain: George Davies, from Houston, Texas, studying Ancient History and Archaeology
Matthew Leighton, from Hereford, studying History

St John's College Cambridge was founded in 1511 by the estate of Lady Margaret Beaufort, who also founded Christ's College Cambridge. Alumni include the poet Wordsworth, the physicist Paul Dirac and the actor Derek Jacobi. It last sent a team four years ago, who lost in the first round, it's best Paxo-era performance being the semi-finals in 2008-09, losing to Trimble's Corpus Christi. This year's quartet were:
John-Clark Levin, from Los Angeles, studying Politics and International Studies
Rosie McKeown, from Kingston-upon-Thames, studying French and German
Captain: James Devine-Stoneman, from Southall in London, studying Superconducting Spintronics
Matt Hazell, from Ringwood in Hampshire, studying Veterinary Medicine

Off we set again then, and Mr Devine-Stoneman very quickly opened the night's scoring by identifying George as the first name of the prime minister who died after just four months in office; his side took a full set of bonuses to start the show. A second starter went the way of St John's, and while I nipped to the bathroom for a Strepsil, they took two bonuses on Islamic art. Mr Davies now opened St Andrews' account, but they got nothing from their first bonuses. A second set, on women buried in Pere Lachaise proved more to their liking, taking two. The first picture round, on maps of empires, went to St Andrews, who took two bonuses, and, with them, the lead, 50-45.

Several players went for their buzzers when 'Amstrad' was mentioned for the next starter; Mr Hazell was first in with Sir Alan Sugar, and St John's had the lead back; they took a full bonus set to boot. A second starter in a row went the Cambridge side's way, but they finally showed a chink of armour as they missed all the bonuses. A slip-up then gave St Andrews a route back into the match, but they could only take one of the resulting bonuses. Miss McKeown recouped the lost points for St John's, and they two bonuses on electricity, unluckily missing the third after giving an answer which, I'm informed, is also a valid answer to the question in question.

The music starter saw Miss McKeown, and myself, identify Mendelssohn; the bonuses, on symphonies in A-major, gave St John's two right answers and, with them, a lead of 115-65. In came Mr Devine-Stoneman with the next starter, and bonuses on film adaptations of Shakespeare provided them with two correct answers. Mr Levin took the next starter, on his native US, and the result bonuses gave them enough points to came back win or lose. Paxo didn't quite believe how quickly Mr Hazell got the next starter; to be honest, I don't think he did either! St John's now had a 100 point lead, and bonuses on natives of Herefordshire gave them two more to add to their collection, as did full names of picture file abbreviations for their next set.

The second picture round, on multiple Pulitzer prize winners, went to St John's, who got nothing from the bonuses this time, which left their lead at 205-65. With the match pretty much over a contest, St Andrews were now playing for a play-off place; Miss Fell set them on their way by finally breaking them back into the match, and bonuses on biblical figures gave them two correct answers. A second starter in a row went to the Scots side, and one bonus was enough to put them into triple figures and within sight of the play-offs.

Back came St John's though, with Mr Devine-Stoneman doing the honours; an excellent set of bonuses on Billy Joel's 'We Didn't Start the Fire' gave them another full house. Mr Leighton gave St Andrews more hope by taking the next correct starter, and two bonuses on author's pseudonyms put them one starter away from a play-off place. Alas, that starter never came, as St John's took the remaining correct starters, plus one of the bonuses there time for. At the gong, St John's won 255-120.

A pretty decent match, finally the series picking up after the slow-ish start. Unlucky St Andrews, a decent team, who I suspect would've beaten another team and who have fallen just short of the play-offs, but a fair effort, so thanks for playing. Very well done st St John's though on an excellent first performance against decent opponents, could be a team to watch methinks; best of luck in the next round!

The stats: Mr Devine-Stoneman was the best buzzer of the night, with five to his name, while Mr Davies was best for St Andrews with three. On the bonuses, St Andrews converted 10 out of 21, while St John's managed a very decent 24 out of 39 (with the night's one penalty), and for the first time this series, all eight players got at least one starter right.

Safely through to the repechage: Ulster (160) and St Hugh's (155)

Next week's match: Corpus Christi College Cambridge vs St Anne's College Oxford

Back with the final Only Connect first round match on Monday; I'm off now to follow the dramatic events elsewhere in Cardiff.