Monday, 16 July 2018

University Challenge 2018-19: Round 1: Match 1: Warwick vs Exeter

Evening all. Here we go again, on another 37 week long series of University Challenge! And we really needed it today too, what with the World Cup and Wimbledon both ending yesterday. It'll take something to top the high drama and unpredictability of the best World Cup century thus far (Jonathan Pearce's OTT commentary when Germany went out will forever live in my memory!), but I'm sure UC, and OC when it comes back later in the year, will give it a go. Anyway, lets do this...

First up this series, we had Warwick University; confusingly based in Coventry rather than Warwick, it came into being in 1965, and among its former students are Frank Skinner, Ruth Jones, Stephen Merchant and David Davis MP, whose resignation last week was met with much disappointment in the Dead Ringers writing room! It has regularly sent teams to UC, winning in 2006-07, and unluckily losing to our old friends Ulster in the second round last series. This year's foursome were:
Emily Wolfenden, from Dereham in Norfolk, studying Maths
Jacopo Sartori, from Italy, studying Maths
Captain: Ben Beardsley, from Settle in North Yorkshire, studying Maths
Robert Gowers, from Market Harborough, studying Neuroscience

Playing them were Exeter University, which came into being in 1955 with the merging of three existing institutions in the vicinity of the city; its alumni include wildlife expert Steve Backshall, musicians Will Young and Tom Yorke and the writer JK Rowling. It too has been a regular sender of teams to the UC studios, with varying degrees of success; its last foray came back in 2014-15, when they lost their first match and were ultra incredibly unfortunate to miss out on the play-offs. This year's quartet were:
Simon Waitland, from Hitchin in Hertfordshire, studying Natural Sciences
Will Klintworth, from Woking, studying Politics and International Relations
Captain: Danny Lay, from Oxford, studying Physics
Jessica Brown, from Chichester, studying Acoustic Metamaterials

Off we set again then, and the new series kicked off with... a pedantic 'interruption'. Terrific(!) Exeter took the correct points, and began the series with two bonuses on words whose etymologies are unknown, with the third unluckily missed. A second starter in a row went Exeter's way, and they stamped their authority on the game with the first full house of the series. Another penalty didn't help Warwick's cause, but Miss Wolfenden opened their account by identifying MB as the only consonants in the words described; two bonuses moved them back into positive figures. The first picture round of the series, on that old quiz staple the periodic table, requiring missing elements to be identified, went to Exeter; two correct answers gave them an early lead of 65-10.

Mr Beardsley now opened his scoring account, and doubled his side's score, but they couldn't add to the score with any bonuses. Mr Klintworth added to Exeter's score with 'Gore Vidal', and his side took a second full house of the night. Still plenty of time for Warwick to catch up, and Mr Beardsley added to their cause with 'Angels in America'; one bonus on the work of Bob Dylan followed. A second starter in a row went the Warwick captain's way, and life sciences proved more fruitful to his side, two correct there.

The first music round of the series, on classical pieces named after cities, went to Exeter, who collected two bonuses to increase their lead to 105-55. (I was listening to Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition last week, but didn't get to the end; if I had, I'd have got that first bonus!) Mr Gowers pulled another back for Warwick, and his side took two bonuses, pulling them back within sight. But Mr Lay very quickly identified the video game company 'Valve', increasing their lead; highlight of the night were the bonuses, where Exeter confused Sir Ian McKellen with Matt LeBlanc and Dame Vera Lynn with Sir Mick Jagger! ("He'll be mortified!" quoth Paxo!) Mr Beardsley fought back for Warwick, and one bonus went with it. Warwick then slipped up again, but Exeter couldn't pick up; vice versa, and this time Warwick did pick up, and one bonus was enough to put them within ten points.

What looked like an educated guess gave Warwick the second picture round, on apocalyptic paintings; just one bonus followed again, but they now had the lead, 115-110. And it increased when Miss Wolfenden came up with 'Romeo and Juliet'; bonuses on 'princes of Wales' who never became King, gave them two correct answers and some room to breath. But back came Exeter, with Mr Waitland identifying 'Oyster Catcher', and bonuses on the work of composer Wendy Carlos gave them a full set, and pulled them level again, setting up a sprint finish.

A penalty for Warwick handed Exeter the upper hand, and they took it and the lead; nothing came from the bonuses though. The next starter went missed by both sides, Miss Wolfenden then pulled Warwick back within five with 'Richmond', and the side didn't wait for Paxo to finish the two bonuses they took to give them the lead back. And when Mr Klintworth then zigged with 'Euclid' and dropped five, and Mr Gowers zagged with 'Peano', that was likely game, set and match. Exeter did take the final starter, but were gonged out before they could answer the first bonus. Warwick won 165-150.

An excellent close start to the series, two very good well matched teams, bravo to them for clapping each other at the end. Unlucky Exeter, but a very good account nonetheless, and you definitely deserve a play-off place, which 150 should be enough to get. Well done Warwick though, a fine recovery after a rather iffy start, and good luck in the next round!

The stats: Mr Beardsley was, just, the best buzzer of the night, with six starters to Mr Lay's five. On the bonuses, Warwick converted 15 out of 33 (with four penalties), while Exeter managed 14 out of 25 (with two penalties), so it was a match won on the buzzer in more ways than one.

Next week's match: Emmanuel College Cambridge vs Glasgow

Friday, 13 July 2018

University Challenge returns on Monday!

Alright all? Hope everyone's had a good break from quizzing. I certainly have, plus I've had the World Cup to get me through it.

Anyway, in case you are unaware, University Challenge returns for its new series this coming Monday (16th) at 8:30. First fixture of the series is Warwick vs Exeter, while Emmanuel College Cambridge plays Glasgow the week after.

As far as my coverage is concerned, I will be carrying on with my usual Monday night write-up, complete with all the stock phrases I have fallen into the habit of using over the past few years. And when OC returns later in the year, I will be carrying on with that the same too.

So, see you on Monday evening, I guess.

Monday, 7 May 2018

Some final thoughts on University Challenge and Only Connect

So, it's been two weeks since UC finished up for the Spring, and one week since OC's finale. So, time for those final thoughts I promised you. This won't take too long I hope, as they're mostly the same points I've made before, but still...

Well, overall, both were excellent series. UC started a bit slowly in the first round, but hit its stride in the second, and remained enthralling for the rest of the series, not evenly the slightly disappointing final souring the series at all.

OC also had a somewhat difficult start, with its new format not at all clear, and it took us a while to work out what exactly was going on. And I think we all like the format idea that means no team goes out after a win and a single defeat, something a lot of us feel quite strongly about in terms of UC's format. The fact that the eventual winners came as far as they did after losing their first match, and one of the semi-finalist teams also lost en route and came through the extended round, just shows that the format is justified.

There was one issue with the format though: the quarter-final process did drag a bit after all the earlier play-offs and so on. It would've worked a bit better, IMO, if they'd just done straight knockout in the quarter-finals.

I mean, look, I have nothing wrong with the extended quarter-final phase, it worked very well for OC in the five series it was used entirely in, as it meant all teams got at least two matches. And that was, I thought, the reason it was introduced in the first place, to stop really good teams only getting one game due to a very unlucky first round draw.

I was, therefore, somewhat surprised when, last series, the show decided to no longer do it like that. I know the extension to 37 shows was designed so it could run alongside UC all series, but, to be quite honest, whereas 37 shows just about makes it with UC, it is a bit long for OC IMO. Half the time, especially in the later stages, I had to swot back on previous reviews to write my recap of a team's prior progress.

As for UC, well, it's been nearly a decade since the extended quarter-final stage was introduced. I'm still not an enormous fan of it being used following a sudden death second round; as Aethelstan points out, a lot of the teams that fell in the second round, this year in particular, can consider themselves unlucky not to reach the group stage.

I suspect both these formats will be around for both shows' next series, and I'm fine with that. The only real issue with OC's format is the number of teams that only get one game; the issue about the group stage dragging after it is only a minor complaint, though I still think sudden death QFs would fit better with the format.

Now, the future of this blog.

As you may be aware, these reviews have become increasingly harder for me to write these last couple of years, due to a lack of imagination, I keep saying the same things most weeks. And while some of them are habits I have been unable to break out of, some I just cannot think of a different way of phrasing.

Now I mention it, I do think the extended formats might have something to do with this fatigue. Keeping a blog series running for 37 weeks does wear one out somewhat. Usually, at the start of the series, I am a lot keener to do the reviews than I am by the time the series ends.

On the other hand, I have been running this blog in the same format for six years now, and maybe now is the time for change. Next series, I will either carry on the way things are at the moment, or I may decide to change things up a bit.

So, yes, I am going to do another series of write-ups on here, but maybe, just maybe, in a new style. Nothing set in stone yet; if I do decide to change formats, I will probably only decide to do so nearer the time.

For now, though, this blog is being put on its now usual hibernation until Quizzy Mondays return in July. Thanks once again to all who have commented on the blog or on Twitter over the past ten months, been great correspondence as always!

So, until we next meet, whenever that is, and in whatever form, good night, and stay safe!

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Only Connect Series 13: Grand Final: Escapologists vs Belgophiles

OK, here we are, the thirteenth Only Connect grand final. And after the string section guesting in the final two series ago, this series was enlivened by an a capella group, performing the opening and closing music plus the riffs between the rounds. So, would it be a second win in a row for a team that had lost twice en route, or a first victory for a team with two players with the same surname?

The Esacpologists, Frank Paul, Tom Rowell and captain Lydia Mizon, lost their first match to the Eco-Warriors, but survived as one of two highest scoring runners-up, then beat the other, the Cricketers, and the Dandies in the play-off round; they then beat the Detectives, won a rematch against the Eco-Warriors, and last week defeated the Inquisitors to make the final, where they come face to face with a team who had beaten them by a single point in the QF qualifiers. The Belgophiles, Helen Fasham, Phil Small and captain Ben Fasham, husband of Helen, by contrast, came straight through undefeated, with victories over the Lapsed Physicists, the Meeples, the Beaks and the Vikings, as well as that victory over their fellow finalists.

Round 1. The Belgophiles kicked the final off with Eye of Horus: 'In low melting point alloys', then 'As a poison', then 'Be present in Emerald'; they saw that the first words are chemical symbols of elements that match the subsequent descriptions, and collected two points to start with. The Escapologists opened their showing with Lion: 'The temperature in Chopok, Slovakia', then 'Esquivalience'; they noticed at this point that they are fictitious reference book entries used as copyright traps, or 'mountweazels', and that was three points for them. The Belgophiles chose Horned Viper next, and got the picture set: we saw a coach party with 'Tower' next to them, then a £1 coin with 'Corner' next to it, then a cartoon of a chap who has hit his finger with a hammer alongside 'Bread', and finally a dent in a car alongside 'Tooth'. They identified the image as referring to a French translation of the word, and collected a point. The Escapologists chose Water next, and got the music set: we heard Gwen Stefani with 'Cool', then 'Tonight' by New Kids on the Block, then 'Maria' from The Sound of Music, and finally Simon and Garfunkel's 'America'. They didn't get the link, nor did their opponents til it was too late: they are songs that share their names with songs from West Side Story. The Belgophiles chose Two Reeds next: 'Augustus of Primaporta: out', then 'Laocoon: one short', then 'The Rocky Statue: six', and finally 'Christ the Redeemer: wide'. They offered them to be statues that depict a figure in a cricket umpiring position, and a point was collected. Left with Twisted Flax, the Escapologists saw 'Dora Maar', then 'Thai beef dish 'Seua rong hai'', then 'Salix babylonica', and finally 'Quantum-locked evil statues in Doctor Who'; they identified them as linked by 'weeping', and also picked up a point. At the end of the first round, the teams were tied on 4-each.

Round 2, What Comes Fourth? The Belgophiles started the round with Eye of Horus again: 'Caloris Montes', then 'Skadi Mons', and then 'Mount Everest'; they identified them as the highest mountains on Mercury, Venus and Earth, so offered 'Olympus Mons' as the highest on Mars for the two points. The Escapologists chose Twisted Flax next, and got the picture set: we saw a still from the film '50 First Dates', then one from the film 'The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel'; they saw the sequence, and offered 'The Fourth Estate' for the three points. The Belgophiles chose Lion next: 'Ted-Violet', then 'Reginald-Joanie', and then 'Derek-Raquel'; they saw them to the four generations of the Trotter family in Only Fools and Horses, so offered 'Damien' for the two points. The Escapologists chose Water next, and got a music question: we heard the Monkees with 'I'm a Believer', then 'You're the One that I Want' from Grease; they saw a link of 'first person singular' and 'second person singular', so suggested a song beginning with a first person plural, such as Queen's 'We Are The Champions' for the points. (Cue the a capella group providing a snippet) For their final choice, the Belgophiles chose Two Reeds: 'Battle of Agincourt', then 'Pocahontus dies'; they came in here and offered 'The 2015 General Election', which was not acceptable. Their opponents saw 'Peterloo Massacre', but were none the wiser: they are events of 1415, 1617 and 1819, so something that could happen in 2021, such as 'the Next UK Census', or, as my Celtic supporter Dad suggested, 'Celtic winning 10 in a row'(!), would suffice for the points. Left with Horned Viper, the Escapologists saw 'DQVZHU', then 'CPUYGT'; they offered 'ANSWER', which was correct, the sequence being the letters are all going backwards one at a time to eventually, literally, spell the answer. Good shout that! At the end of the second round, the Escapologists led 13-8.

On to the Walls. The Escapologists went first, and chose to tackle the Water wall. After spotting some possible links, they eventually isolated 'Sprucy', 'Tango', 'Lima' and 'Rabies', which are anagrams of countries. They saw some other potential links, but no further sets could be isolated. So they had to go for bonuses: 'Golf', 'Cricket', 'Rugby' and 'Polo' are ball games, which they got, 'Romeo', 'Martin', 'Davidson' and 'Royce' are second names of motor manufacturers, which they also got, while 'Sampson', 'Potpan', 'Juliet' and 'Escalus' are characters in Romeo and Juliet, which they didn't get. Four points there.

The Belgophiles chose thus make up ground with a better performance on the Lion wall. They had even less success finding groups however, spotting numerous possible links, but none that fitted. So they too had to scavenge for connection bonuses: 'Golf', 'Romeo', 'Tango' and 'Lima' are words in the NATO alphabet, which they knew, 'up!', 'Amarok', 'Polo' and 'Jetta' are Volkswagen vehicles, which they also got, 'Badminton', 'Dollar', 'Rugby' and 'Stowe' are famous public schools, which they also correctly spotted, while 'Ostrich', 'Cricket', 'Crikey' and 'Dickens' all have abbreviations of the name Richard hidden in them ('ostRICH', 'cRICKet', 'cRIKey' and 'DICKens'), which they didn't spot. Three points there, which left them trailing 17-11 going into the final final round.

So, just about still to play for in Missing Vowels, but the Belgophiles would need to run the show. 'Things associated with connections of sequences', such as 'FIBONACCI' and 'SOCIAL NETWORKING', went to the Escapologists 2-1. 'Walls', such as 'ANTONINE WALL' (which I got, but neither team did), went to the Belgophiles 1-0. 'They're all missing vowels', such as 'THIS CLUE'(!) and 'HEBREW IN THE TORAH', went to the Escapologists 2-1, and that was time. The Escapologists won the game, and the series, 21-14.

A good final, a good end to the series. Unlucky Belgophiles, but a final series of performances, no shame in coming second, thanks very much indeed for playing. Very very well done Escapologists though, worthy and deserving champions!

And that's it for this series as well! Thanks to all the teams who took part in this series, another good one to recap, and if it is the last I do in this much detail, a good one to go out on.

A more thorough set of thoughts on the future prospects of OC, and UC, will follow either later this week or next week.

Friday, 27 April 2018

University Challenge 2017-18: Series Highlights

OK, time for my annual University Challenge end of series retrospective. After a rather inconstant first round, the series jumped into life in the knockout round, and that momentum carried on throughout the series. So, let's do this thing...

Starting with my usual selection of the best match of each phase:
  • First Round + Play-Offs: Emmanuel vs St Hugh's just gets my pick here, followed very closely by Edinburgh vs Ulster.
  • Second Round: Warwick vs Ulster, followed by U.C.L. vs Edinburgh. As I said at the time, those would be a good pair of matches to chose if you're going to get someone started on UC.
  • Quarter-Finals: Has to be Newcastle vs St John's, with Fitzwilliam vs Emmanuel not far off.
  • The Final Three: All were pretty good, but I enjoyed St John's vs Edinburgh most.
 Not a great deal to chose from in terms of close matches, but the series remained enjoyable almost throughout. As Dave C. said on LAM, even a weaker episode of UC is more watchable then average episodes of other quizzes.

In terms of the diversity of the institutions that appeared, we had a good range of non-Oxbridge teams this year, with four London teams, three from Scotland and one each from Scotland and Wales. No Manchester this series, the first absence of the former powerhouse for a few series, and Oxford Brookes and Sheffield Hallam flying the flag for the post 92 intake. For the third year in a row, Cambridge slightly outranked Oxford with six to five.

U.C.L. take the prize for the highest score of the series, with 315 in their play-off demolition of St Hugh's; they and Ulster narrowly avoid the ignominy of being the lowest scorers of the season, with Cardiff and Sheffield Hallam taking that unfortunate accolade with 40 each. U.C.L.'s winning margin in that play-off, 270, is also the largest of the series, while the largest aggregate score is 430, from Merton's second round win over Oxford Brookes.

Now for the annual highlights reel:
  • "Yul Brynner." "No-one's saying anything!" Also, the Red Dwarf theme tune in the music round.
  • "Katy Perry" and "One Direction" in a music round!
  • "My brother is an aficionado of oolong tea."
  • Mr Raii's attempts to hurry Paxo through his pre-bonus spiel!
  • "Brexit?" "Yes!"
  • Ms Dihal's single handedly answering a bonus set on her homeland! Also, "Troilus and Cressida?" "Good heavens no!
  • The music round on songs that received attention the day after the 2016 US election!
  • "Fear of bellybuttons!"
  • Paxo spookily pre-empting Jose Mourinho's 'Bristol were lucky' comments!
  • "Justin Bieber!"
  • "Cole Porter" being right this time!
  • Newcastle achieveing two 'ONE YEAR OUT!'s in a row!
  • Ulster suggesting Roland Garros has had a sex change!
  • "Irn Bru!" "Doubtless made you what you are!"
  • "Oasis?" "Good heavens no! That's Led Zeppelin's IMMORTAL Stairway to Heaven!"
  • Mr Carson's brilliant shout of "Tristan and Isolde". Also, "Denis Compton".
  • "1 6 15 20 15 6 1?"
Wow, came up with more than I thought I might there. If anyone has anymore, do let me know.

So, that's it for this series of University Challenge on this blog. It's been another great series to cover, and if it is the last one I decide to do in this format, then it's a great one to go out on. Thanks once again to Paxo, Roger Tilling and all the teams involved for the last few months' viewing, been great as always!

I will post up some more serious thoughts next Friday, once Only Connect has finished up too, as they are connected to it as well. Hopefully I will get my blog of the OC final done promptly in the week.

Thursday, 26 April 2018

University Challenge 2017-18: Best Buzzer Per Team

OK, right so, time to get on with my annual look back at the University Challenge series just finished. Starting with a small taster of the buzzer stats for the eight quarter-finalist teams. Firstly, a recap of each of their best buzzers:

Rosie McKeown (St John's) - 32 over six games
Alex Peplow (Merton) - 27 over six matches
Jonathan Noble (Newcastle) -  22 over six matches
Ollie Bowes (Bristol) - 19 over five matches
Innis Carson (Edinburgh) - 19 over six matches
Jack Maloney (Fitzwilliam) - 18 over five matches
Ian Jack (Ulster) - 17 over five matches
James Fraser (Emmanuel) - 14 over four matches

And honourable mentions for the other players go to:

Akira Wiberg (Merton) - 24 over six matches
Molly Nielsen (Newcastle) - 18 over six matches
John-Clark Levin (St John's) and Leonie Woodland (Merton) - 17 each over six matches
Sam Hosegood (Bristol) - 16 over five matches
James Devine-Stoneman (St John's) - 16 over six matches
Theo Tindall (Fitzwilliam) - 13 over five matches
Jack Reynard (Newcastle) - 13 over six matches
John Heaton-Armstrong (Edinburgh) - 12 over six matches

So that's a (quite large) selection of some of the higher totals. As usual, I am happy to send the complete stats on request; get in touch either below or via PM on Twitter.

Back tomorrow evening with a more thorough look back at the series, plus my usual highlights reel; my now annual 'serious thoughts' will be saved for next week, once Only Connect is done too.

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Only Connect Series 13: Semi-Final 2: Inquisitors vs Escapologists

OK, the second semi-final of, what could well be, the final series of Only Connect I cover in this much depth on this blog, but, as with my proposed UC streamlining, I haven't made any firm decisions yet. Not this week anyway.

Anyway, playing last night were two teams who have demonstrated the validity of the show's bizarre new rules on second chances; the Inquisitors, Luke Kelly, Rob Cumming and captain Julia Hobbs, lost in the second round to the Wanderers, but have otherwise comfortably beaten the Cricketers, the Snake Charmers, the Meeples, the Eco-Warriors and the Vikings, while the Escaplogists, Frank Paul, Tom Rowell and captain Lydia Mizon, lost their first match to the Eco-Warriors, but came through as highest scoring first round runners-up, then beat the Cricketers, the Dandies, the Detectives and then won a rematch against the Eco-Warriors, while also narrowly losing to the Belgophiles along the way.

Round 1. The Escapologists kicked the show off with Lion: 'Afghanistan i/e', then 'Mozambique z/c'; they came in here and suggested that they are swapped letters in the countries' native language, and collected three points in a good start to the show. The Inquisitors began their night with Eye of Horus, and the music set: we heard Scroobius Pip with 'Thou Shalt Always Kill', then 'Where Do You Go To My Lovely' by Peter Sarstedt, then Billy Joel's classic 'We Didn't Start the Fire', and finally Madonna's 'Vogue'. They identified them as songs noted for numerous celebrity namechecks, and collected a point. The Escapologists chose Two Reeds next, and got the picture set: we saw American football player Chad Johnson, then Mr Chad the graffiti man (Kilroy was here), then a map of Africa with Chad highlighted; they saw the link, and collected two points. The Inquisitors chose Twisted Flax next: 'Gi estas lau mi Volapukajo', then 'Per me e arabo', then 'Dat is Latin voor mij'. They came in here, but could not offer an acceptable answer. Their opponents saw 'C'est du chinois pur moi', and offered them to be the phrase 'It's all Greek to me', in various languages, with the appropriate languages that country uses instead, and collected a bonus. For their own question, the Escapologists chose Water: 'Tim Pigott-Smith: Audiobook', then 'Morgan Freeman: Film', then 'Richard Burton: Album', and finally 'Orson Welles: Radio'. They saw them to be narrators of various versions of War of the Worlds, and collected another point. Left with Horned Viper, the Inquisitors saw 'Film director and producer Alexander Korda', then 'Jockey Gordon Richards', then 'Actor Henry Irving'; they saw them to be the first men in their field to be knighted, and collected two points. (Unsurprisingly, 'Footballer Stanley Matthews' would have been the final clue) At the end of the first round, the Escapologists led 7-3.

Round 2, What Comes Fourth? The Escapologists kicked off with Horned Viper: '0 -> script', then '1 -> triceps', and then '2 -> receipts'. They offered '3 -> treespice', which was acceptable, the trick here being that an 'E' is added each time and an appropriate anagram is generated. The Inquisitors chose Lion next: 'When I consider everything that grows', then 'But wherefore do not you a mightier way', and then 'Who will believe my verse in time to come'. They saw it to be something to do with Shakespeare's sonnets, and guessed 'Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?'; correct for the two points, the sequence being the first lines of sonnets 15, 16, 17 and 18. The Escapologists chose Eye of Horus next: 'Many a Slip', then 'Ghostwatch', and then 'Nationwide'. They didn't get it, nor did their opponents: they are shows hosted by successive Desert Islands Discs presenters, Roy Plomley, Michael Parkinson and Sue Lawley, so something Kirsty Young has presented, such as 'Crimewatch', or 'Have I Got News for You', would complete the sequence. The Inquisitors chose Water next: '!', then '" "'; they suggested '$ $ $ $', which was correct, the sequence being the extra symbols one can generate on a QWERTY keyboard with the number keys, and the appropriate number of them. For their final choice, the Escapologists chose Twisted Flax, and got the picture set: we saw an exactly square Tetris piece alongside an O, then another Tetris piece with the top row shifted along one alongside an S, and then a Tetris piece with three at the top and one at the bottom alongside a T. They didn't get it, their opponents did: they are letters that can be Tetris shapes resemble in alphabetical order, so a reverse of the second one alongside a Z would be fourth. Left with Two Reeds for their own final question, the Inquisitors saw 'The Aviator: Jamie Foxx', then 'Blood Diamond: Forest Whitaker', and then 'The Wolf of Wall Street: Matthew McConaughey'. Neither team got this: they are films for which Leonardo DiCaprio was nominated for Best Actor and the actors that won in the year in question, so 'The Revenant: Leonardo DiCaprio' himself complete the set. At the end of the second round, the teams were tied on 9-each.

On to the Walls. The Inquisitors went first this time, and chose the Lion wall. They fairly quickly isolated 'C-4', 'Semtex', 'Cordite' and 'ANFO', which are explosives, followed in short order by 'DX', 'Hermes', 'TNT' and 'Yodel', which are delivery companies. After carefully studying the rest, they had it on their second go: 'Hestia', 'Hera', 'Leto' and 'Demeter' are Greek goddesses, while 'Poseidon', 'Torrin', 'Orca' and 'Venture' are fictional sea vessels, which they didn't quite get right enough. Seven points there then.

The Escapologists thus set to work on the Water wall. They too isolated a first set reasonable quickly: 'Lettice and Lovage', 'Equus', 'Black Comedy' and 'Amadeus' are plays by Peter Shaffer. After a few wrong tries, they had a second set, 'Pinkeye', 'Mono', 'Heartburn' and 'Croup' are colloquial names for diseases. With just seconds to go, the final sets slotted in on their final try: 'Lupus', 'Cerva', 'Bos' and 'Avis' are Latin names for animals, while 'Egan', 'Ollie', 'Argo' and 'Aria' become girls names when an M is added in front. A full ten there, which gave them a lead of 19-16 going into the final round.

So, Missing Vowels would decide the second place in the final. 'TV programs merged with US states', such as 'ONLY CONNECTICUT', went to the Escapologists 3-1. 'People whose surnames are types of cake', such as 'CROCODILE DUNDEE' and 'KEITH LEMON' was a clean sweep to the Escapologists. 'Words whose letters are in alphabetical order', such as 'ABHORS' and 'ALMOST' was another Escapologists full set. 'Performers and their acts' gave the Inquisitors the one clue there was time for. The Escapologists won 30-18.

Another fine show, some excellent quizzing by both sides, and nowhere near that one sided until right at the end. Unlucky Inquisitors, but a fine series of performances, thanks very much indeed for taking part. Very well done Escapologists though, and very very best of luck in the final next week!

Next week: that grand final, a rematch between the Belgophiles and the Escapologists

Stay tuned for my usual UC stats and recaps throughout the week.