Sunday, 30 December 2012

Deal or No Deal - 24th-29th December (Big Christmas Dinner)

Well, first of all, I hope you all had a great Christmas. Mine wasn’t terribly notable. I’m starting to reach the age where Christmas is taken seriously, and quietly, rather than excitedly.

DoND, meanwhile, celebrated the week with a week of Christmas dinner themed shows, with all the players dressed as festive foodstuffs. The themed week twist was an obstacle course where the player had to balance a large green ball, or ‘pea’, on a flat plate while performing various challenges, namely drinking a glass of sherry, putting one some tinsel, and pulling a cracker. They had a choice of time limit, either 45 or 90 seconds. If they chose 90, there would be no penalty for failure, and a holiday would be won if they succeeded. If they chose 45, success would win them a holiday, and they could play the final round one-box-at-a-time, but failure means the Banker gets to look in their box.

Monday 24th: Billy
Winnings: £28,000
Dealt at: 5-box
Highest offer: £28,000 (5-box)
Box value: £75,000

Perhaps the best game of the week. A very tense and precarious board, where Billy bravely battled to 5-box, where he didn’t manage the twist, but wasn’t penalised due to choosing 90 seconds. He may have made a loss on his box, but he did take the highest offer of the game, and, when you do that, underselling your box doesn’t feel as bad. A good game to start the week.

Tuesday 25th: Lisa
Winnings: £50
Opened the box
Highest offer: £13,000 (11-box and 8-box)
Box value: £50

Oh dear, not a very good game for Christmas Day. That’s the problem with random game shows; they don’t respect the player, or the day. At least, by completing the twist (albeit with a couple of fouls), Lisa got a holiday consolation out of the game.

Wednesday 26th: Mark
Winnings: £7,000
Dealt at: 5-box
Highest offer: £14,000 (14-box)
Box value: £100

A good enough result from a pretty average game. Mark didn’t succeed at the twist, but the Banker offered him a mystery envelope as part of his 5-box offer. Mark dealt, and the proveout went his way, before opening the envelope to reveal the Banker had given him a holiday to Florida for his sons!

Thursday 27th: Ria
Winnings: £13,000
Dealt at: 11-box
Highest offer: £41,000 (5-box)
Box value: £100,000

Oh dear. By no means, the worst decision to deal at 11-box ever made, but Ria was unfortunate to have such a bad proveout. In fact, if she’d chosen the other box as her final box, she’d have had the Dream Ending of the Jackpot and £100,000! Good thing she didn’t do that; that would’ve been much worse.

Friday 28th: Kris
Winnings: £20,000
Dealt at: 8-box
Highest offer: £40,000 (5-box)
Box value: 1p

A second consecutive pre-twist deal, but a much more justifiable one. The proveout didn’t quite go Kris’ way at first, but the final round did, leaving him with a final two of 1p and £50,000. The Banker offered Kris the chance to give back his money, and go for the £50,000, but Kris refused. Good thing he did too!

Saturday 29th: Kristy
Winnings: £15,000
Dealt at: 5-box
Highest offer: £15,000 (5-box)
Box value: £10

Good to end the week with a Banker spanking. Kristy did come over a bit nervous, and the Banker tried to get her at 8-box with a mystery envelope, just as he did with Mark. But Kristy ploughed on to 5-box, where, after failing the twist, the Banker offered her another mystery envelope with her offer. This time, she dealt. The game fell apart, and the envelope contained a holiday to Tenerife for her and her family.

So, overall, a pretty average week in terms of results. Only thing left to say is I hope you all have a great new year, and I’ll be back here on Saturday with a summary of next week’s Christmas UC.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Deal or No Deal - 17th-23rd December

Well, the final week before Christmas. And what a great week for the show it was!

Monday 17th: Jean 
Winnings: £5,500
Dealt at: 8-box
Highest offer: £5,500 (11-box and 8-box)
Box value: £500

Not much to say here, except a good result from a sensible decision. And that's all we really want.

Tuesday 18th: Tony
Winnings: 50p
Opened the box
Highest offer: £12,500 (8-box)
Box value: £100 (swapped for 50p)

Tony began by saying he was after the £250,000, but the Banker didn't believe him! However, it became clear that Tony wasn't bluffing, and, although the £250,000 became very exposed, the Banker took him seriously. £12,500 was a good offer considering only the £250,000 was higher. Whether Tony meant to gamble, or just felt like he had to go for it after what he'd said earlier, we'll never know. Still, he took his crash to 50p very well in his stride, and that's good to see. You shouldn't gamble if you can't cope with it going wrong.

Wednesday 19th: Laura
Winnings: £22,000
Dealt at: 8-box
Highest offer: £22,000 (8-box)
Box value: £3,000

Another Banker spanking from a sensible call. Not much else to say, except it carried on the tradition of players called Laura doing well on Deal, with all of them winning at least £10,000!

Thursday 20th: Rich
Winnings: £22,000
Dealt at: 2-box
Highest offer: £22,000 (8-box and 2-box)
Box value: £100,000

For a while, it looked like Rich should've dealt at 8-box, when the £250,000 and £50,000 went after he turned the offer down. But he managed to keep the £100,000 to the end, with the 1p, which led to a return to £22,000. Shame that his perfectly reasonable call didn't pay off, but it was certainly a tense and exciting game. Not quite as tense and exciting, though, as...

Friday 21st: Sarah
Winnings: £35,000
Opened the box
Highest offer: £42,000 (2-box)
Box value: £35,000

...the first Power 5 win for four months! Sarah did advocate gambling quite a bit on the wings, and I was half dreading that she may make some questionable calls. Good to see, therefore, that her big win came after a brave, but reasonable 5-box gamble of £8,000. It's a shame Sarah didn't swap for £50,000, given that she said she thought she had £35,000 in her box, but, at those stakes, I guess it didn't really matter that much.

Sunday 23rd: Pat
Winnings: £50
Opened the box
Highest offer: £13,500 (11-box)
Box value: £50

Shame that such a good week for the show had to end like this. Also a shame that the game fell apart after, what was, quite a good 11-box offer was rejected, though it wasn't totally foolish is going on.

But, overall, a very good week for the show. The best for a while. And now we get a week of Christmas themed shows, starting tomorrow. Should be interesting!

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Christmas University Challenge: 17th-21st December

So, we're into the festive fortnight, as it were. Christmas DoND begins on Monday. But University Challenge began it's Christmas specials a week early. So, here's a quick summary of the week's events on Christmas University Challenge.

Firstly, the biggest thing: the new set. Back in July, 'Welshguy' from the Bangor team on this year's UC reported that the show would be moving to Salford for the next series, so a new set would be there. This seems to be the precursor to it, as it were. I'm not too sure about this new set. The colour scheme is good, but the set itself is rather small, and the teams look kinda close together. But this is only a minor quibble, and it's good to see the set finally get updated.

But, enough of that, onto the matches:

Monday 17th: Bristol vs Leeds
Result: Leeds win, 140-135
Participants I had already heard of: Alistair McGowan, the Leeds captain, and the names Ruth Lea (Bristol) and Jay Rayner (Leeds) I was also familiar with, even though I didn't know who they were.
This was a good close match to start off the series. The lead constantly changed hands throughout, with Bristol pulling out a lead with not much time left. But Leeds fought back, and took a small lead. Bristol got another starter to reduce the lead to 5 points, but the gong went, handing Leeds a narrow victory.

Tuesday 18th: Newcastle vs Loughborough
Result: Dead-heat, 110 all; Newcastle win on tie-break.
Participants I had already heard of: Peter Gibbs the weatherman, for Newcastle, and Tanni Grey-Thompson, the Loughborough captain.
Loughborough started off stronger, but Newcastle never allowed them to pull out a big lead, and kept them well in check. Lawrie Sanchez, playing for Loughborough, twice got a laugh when he buzzed, and then paused, prompting Paxo to shout 'Speak!' at him. (He wouldn't have let the students get away with that!) And then, later on, when he got a starter, and looked pretty fed up when he said it, prompting Paxo to quip 'Never has anyone looked so miserable after getting a starter right!'. Peter Gibbs also got a laugh when he said 'Kimono Dragon' instead of 'Komodo Dragon'! (He was not given the points!)
The match ended a dead heat, and, what appeared to be a complete guess from Newcastle on the tie-breaker gave them the victory.

Wednesday 19th: New College Oxford vs the LSE
Result: New College win, 240-160.
Participants I had already heard of: Rachel Johnson, sister of Boris, for New College, and Loyd Grossman ('David, it's over to you!'), who captained the LSE team.
This was perhaps the best match of the week. I missed the first half, so missed Loyd Grossman's very impressive first half performance, which saw him get six starters correctly, single-handedly keeping his team in the game. But New College had a good collegiate team, with several of their players contributing. This proved crucial when Mr Grossman fell silent in the second half, as, though his colleagues tried, they couldn't take the slack. But New College continued to put on the points, and emerged victorious, and will definitely be back for the semis in the new year. Shame that the LSE team have to go so early; against another team, they could have won quite comfortably.

Thursday 20th: Liverpool vs Cardiff
Result: Liverpool win, 165-140.
Participants I had already heard of: The two captains: Stephen Bayley the design guru, for Liverpool, and Bill Turnbull the newsreader, for Cardiff.
This was another good close match between two evenly matched teams. The two captains got laughs early on, when Mr Bayley buzzed, answered incorrectly, then corrected himself. He was not allowed the points, and Cardiff weren't allowed to answer, which annoyed Mr Turnbull, who claimed he knew the answer; Paxo told him he should've buzzed then! Paxo said he preferred the students, as they are 'much more docile'!
Mr Turnbull got another laugh later on when he said his team didn't know the answer to a bonus, then, when Paxo tried to move on, protested that they hadn't been given enough time to think! Following his early mistake, Mr Bayley seemed to do quite well for the rest of the evening, getting most of his side's starters. And that was enough to get his side victory, and with a high enough score to guarantee them a place in the semis.

Friday 21st: Newnham College Cambridge vs Nottingham
Result: Newnham win, 155-110.
Participants I had already heard of: Only Diane Abbott MP for Newnham.
Another close match to finish off the week. The lead stayed mainly with Newnham throughout, but it never really stretched out into a big lead. Nottingham provided some humour in a bonus round on Chinese cities ending in 'zhou' (there's a good idea for a round of Pointless!); unable to think of a third, they made one up, and ended up with 'Londonzhou', which got a huge laugh!
Then, in the final five minutes, Newnham began to pull their lead out into a strong position. Though Nottingham did recover to three figures late on, they were too far behind to catch up.

So, overall, a very good first week for the series. The standard of the celeb teams seems to be a bit higher than last year, where the only truly strong teams were those with former UC contestants. There also seem to be a lot of festive-themed questions, notably a set from Friday's show on physics relating to Santa going up and down the chimney! (Unsurprisingly, all were dropped!)

So, after the first week of matches, New College and Liverpool are definitely through to the semis in the new year, and Newnham could have done enough to be back too. We'll have to wait and see what the remaining four teams do when the series resumes on New Year's Eve.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Deal or No Deal - 10th-16th December

As has been the case with recent weeks, we haven’t had any terribly memorable games, but still plenty to talk about.

Monday 10th: Jason
Winnings: £12,250
Dealt at: 5-box
Highest offer: £16,000 (14-box)
Box value: £100
Nothing terribly memorable, but a decent enough result from a sensible deal. And, by the standards of recent games, that’s good enough to satisfy most.

Tuesday 11th: Ben
Winnings: £6,000
Dealt at: 2-box
Highest offer: £9,000 (14-box)
Box value: 50p

Ben had a bit of a struggle, with four blues and £15,000 at 5-box. After Ben turned down the obligatory low offer in the hundreds, the Banker made a guarantee for on offer of £6,000 if the £15,000 stayed to 2-box. It did, and Ben got his well-deserved bailout. A good result from a pretty unlucky game.

Wednesday 12th: Lucia
Winnings: £17,000
Dealt at: 5-box
Highest offer: £34,000 (2-box)
Box value: £100,000
Didn’t see much of this game, as I got home late. But when Lucia was faced with a 5-box of £100,000 and not much else, the Banker offered a very generous £17,000, which Lucia sensibly took. Chalk up another ‘game where a sensible deal is made to look bad by a big sum being on the table’.

Thursday 13th: Harrison
Winnings: £9,000
Dealt at: 8-box
Highest offer: £42,000 (2-box)
Box value: £35,000

Oh dear. Harrison was pleasant enough, and the money clearly meant a lot to him. No-one can begrudge him a slightly cautious deal given that. At first, it looked like he’d get away with it, when £75,000 went in the fifth round, but the worst possible final round saw £35,000 and £50,000 stay to the end. Pure bad luck, and nothing more.

Friday 14th: Russ
Winnings: £1
Opened the box
Highest offer: £6,500 (11-box)
Box value: £1

But, compared to this, Harrison’s bad luck was nothing. Russ had an intriguing system of picking boxes in alphabetical order of the player’s names. This system had previously been used by Del Mahmut in June 2010; he won £70,000. Poor Russ won nowhere near that, thanks to the worst possible fifth round, which wiped out all the remaining reds and left an all-blue 5-box.

Sunday 16th: Hannah
Winnings: £1,313
Dealt at: 5-box
Highest offer: £13,000 (14-box and 11-box)
Box value: £750

It’s a shame that, after the brave but not stupid gamble at 11-box that the game should fall apart so quickly and dramatically. But £1,313 was a very respectable offer given that only £3,000 and £5,000 were higher. After leaving £750 and £3,000, the Banker have her the chance to give back the money and gamble, which she didn’t do, even though, statistically, it was probably a risk worth taking.

So, again, a week of pretty average run-of-the-mill games. Hopefully, next week we will get some good shows to send us into the Christmas specials, which begin on Christmas Eve, on a high.

Monday, 10 December 2012

University Challenge: Round 2: Match 4: St George's vs Lancaster

So, the final regular match of the year, before the show takes its break for the festive season. What sort of match would we get?

St George’s College London won their first round match 175-145, defeating our friend James Gratrex and co from King’s College Cambridge, who were good enough to survive to the repechage and make the second round. So, therefore, the unchanged team must have had to be taken seriously:
Shashank Sivaji, from Southend-on-Sea, studying Medicine
Alexander Suebsaeng, from London, studying Medicine
Captain: Rebecca Smoker, from County Kildare, studying Medicine
Sam Mindel, from London, studying Medicine

Lancaster, like James and co, came through the repechage, losing to Pembroke College Cambridge (who are through to the semis), before pulling off a shock win over the much fancied Lincoln College Oxford team in their play-off by 165-120. They remained the same as their two previous games: 
Alan Webster, from Preston, studying Resource and Environmental Management
Anne Kretzschmar, from Chesterfield, studying Environmental Modelling
Captain: George Pinkerton, from Surrey, studying History, Philosophy and Politics
Ian Dickson, from Stirling, studying Ecology and the Environment

So, who were the favourites tonight? St George’s defeated a team that went on to do very impressively, while Lancaster defeated a previously impressive side, but they also lost a match. If you wanted a tip from me, I’d probably have gone for St George’s.
So, of course, Lancaster got the first starter, but no bonuses. St George’s pounced back, but no bonuses. Two incorrect interruptions then reduced St George’s score back to zero, but not for long, thanks to another starter.

But it was Lancaster who had the momentum, with Mr Pinkerton scoring some very quick and impressive buzzes. By the music round, on classical singers performing pop, they led by 90-50.

But then Lancaster incurred two successive penalties, which allowed St George’s to sneak through into the lead. A full set of bonuses on national sports took them into a strong lead, and seemed to trigger a shift in momentum, with Messrs Suebsaeng and Mindel generally swapping starters. By the second picture round, St George’s had pulled out a lead of 145-80.

So, could Lancaster emulate James and co’s impressive fightback from last week? They tried: George Pinkerton got another starter, and the bonuses bought them up to 100. But Messrs Suebsaeng and Mindel were now in their stride, and weren’t going to let Lancaster catch up. Lancaster did manage to equal their score from their first round match, but St George’s were now well ahead. At the gong, the Medics won by 230-140.

A good performance from St George’s, who have two good players in the form of Messrs Suebsaeng and Mindel, both of whom got six starters; as Dave Clark has noted over on LAM, having more than one standout player is a good strength, as, should one have an off-day, you have fallback. The Medics managed 20 bonuses out of 39 with two early penalties. George Pinkerton also finished the match with six starters, which helped his side to 14 out of 24 bonuses, also with two penalties. His side performed well in their three matches, and it’s a shame to see them go.

University Challenge now takes a break for the festive season. Next Monday, a new series of Christmas University Challenge begins, and continues all week. I will not be giving in depth reviews, but I will post a summary of the weeks’ games at the weekend (I hope).

Only Connect saw its third place play-off tonight. And also one of my favourite questions ever: Ms Coren listed four things, including UC legend Alex Guttenplan, in her intro as things she is not allowed within 100 yards of (allegedly!), and those four things formed the picture question for the sequences round! Very clever work.

And finally, my congratulations to our good friend Dave Clark of LAM, who announced the other day that he is going to become a grandfather for the first time. Many congrats to him!

Deal or No Deal - 3rd-9th December

Again, nothing terribly memorable this week, so just a quick summary.

Monday 3rd: Mike
Winnings: £24,000
Dealt at: 8-box
Highest offer: £42,000 (5-box)
Box value: £1

A good game, where Mike did go one round too soon, but would have crashed if he’d gone any further than that, so a good enough result.

Tuesday 4th: Sue
Winnings: £20,000
Dealt at: 5-box
Highest offer: £32,000 (2-box)
Box value: £75,000

Another one for the list of ‘games where a sensible deal is made to look bad by big money being in the box’.

Wednesday 5th: Adamu
Winnings: £13,000
Dealt at: 2-box
Highest offer: £13,000 (2-box)
Box value: £35,000

Very nearly a long overdue Power 5 win. It’s just a shame Adamu, a very passionate and lively player, didn’t go for the other box at 3-box, and leave £10,000 to the end instead of £1,000, as then he may have gone for it. Shame, but still a very tense exciting game.

Thursday 6th: Carla
Winnings: £4,000
Dealt at: 8-box
Highest offer: £12,000 (5-box)
Box value: £10,000

Carla was nice enough, but she was all over the place in her game. After very nearly taking the second offer of £7,000, she crashed slightly, but recovered to £4,000 at 8-box. She no dealt by mistake, then immediately corrected herself. When Noel asked her the question again, this time she dealt. Overall, a rather unfortunate affair, though not the fault of anyone involved.

Friday 7th: Hardik
Winnings: £20,000
Dealt at: 8-box
Highest offer: £26,000 (5-box)
Box value: £1,000

Now this was more like it. I very much doubt Hardik would be bothered about missing out on £6,000. The difference is small enough to not make much difference. Good game.

Sunday 9th: Marion
Winnings: £19,200
Dealt at: 5-box
Highest offer: £19,200 (5-box)
Box value: £250

Now that’s how you play the game. It was brave of Marion to turn down £9,000 on such a precarious board, but it paid off nicely, which saw a rise to a £19,200, which she quickly and sensibly took. And, for the first time this week, the proveout undeniably went her way. A good game to finish off the week.

Monday, 3 December 2012

University Challenge: Round 2: Match 3: Warwick vs King's

So far in the second round, we’ve had one outright trouncing, and a match that was closer than the final score would have you believe. What would we have tonight?

Warwick won comfortably over my local uni, Aberdeen, in their first match, with 175 points to 100. The team were unchanged:
Sean Quinn, from Derry in Ireland, studying Classical Civilisation
Sarah-Jane Bodell, from Western Kentucky, studying the History of Medicine
Captain: Andrew Shaw, from Ipswich, studying Maths
James Wheatley, from Sudbury in Suffolk, studying Chemistry

King’s College Cambridge, lest we forget, came through the repechage, narrowly losing to St George’s College London in the first round, before defeating a very good team from Homerton College Cambridge in their play-offs. They were also unchanged from their two previous outings:
Curtis Gallant, from North London, studying Classics
Amber Ace, from Crieff, studying Classics
Captain: Fran Middleton, from Chorleywood in Hertfordshire, studying Classics
James Gratrex, from Leeds, studying Physics

Naturally, given that Mr Gratrex has been posting on here on a regular basis, King’s had my support tonight. But I really had no idea who would win.

At first, King’s had the momentum, and were building up a strong lead and buzzing Warwick out of the game. They were mainly relying on buzzer strength, as not many bonuses seemed to be following suite. Soon, they were ahead by 70-0.

But Warwick soon got going, and began to claw away at the deficit, and were soon back in the hunt. By the music round, on film scores co-composed by women, had reduced the gap to 90-55. Warwick then began a run of momentum, which saw them take the lead and begin to pull away. By the second picture round, they now had the lead with 125-90.

Enter the final phase. James [Gratrex] tried to get King’s back into the game, but got ‘supersonic’ and ‘hypersonic’ mixed up, something his namesake Mr Wheatley didn’t do, and Warwick lead rose again. But James made up for his mistake with a buzz on an interesting maths question on the sum of all whole numbers from 1 to 1,000.

This seemed to wake King’s up, and they began to buzz their way back into the match, and had soon levelled the scores at 145 all.

So, with surely not much time left, it was time for a buzz-off. Andrew Shaw struck first for Warwick, and the side took one bonus. James struck back for King’s, and one bonus for them levelled the scores again. Amber Ace took King’s back into the lead, but, again, just one bonus followed. Our man James took the next starter, and that was it! King’s took the match by 185-160!

What a great match. Very hard lines to Warwick; you played brilliantly, and it’s a shame to see you go so early; James Wheatley got five starters, which helped the side to 14 bonuses out of 27. But very well done James and co for a well-deserved victory; our man James answered six starters correctly, and the side managed 15 bonuses out of 33, with two penalties. Very best of (hypothetical) luck for the quarter-finals!

Next week’s match: St George’s College London vs Lancaster

Tonight’s Only Connect, the second semi-final, started off close, but one of the teams ran away with it in the Missing Vowels round, and took a comfortable victory. Next week is the third place play-off (something University Challenge is sadly lacking), and then the final.

Deal or No Deal - 26th November - 2nd December

Sorry for the delay. Not feeling terribly well at the moment, so just a quick summary this week.

Monday 26th: Donna
Winnings: £14,000
Dealt at: 5-box
Highest offer: £16,000 (8-box)
Box value: 50p

Donna had received a lot of attention on the wings due to her doughnut addiction. So, when she found the 1p in the first round, the Banker gave everyone present a doughnut. Her no deal at 8-box did sort of backfire, but I don’t really think she’d be bothered about missing out on just £2,000.

Tuesday 27th: Chan
Winnings: £6,000
Dealt at: 3-box extra offer
Highest offer: £10,000 (2-box)
Box value: £3,000

For all his comedy value on the wings, Chan proved surprisingly focussed on the game when he played. His game was largely unlucky, but he recovered to a decent bailout of £6,000, which may not have been the top of the game, but was certainly a good result considering.

Wednesday 28th: Natalie
Winnings: £1
Opened the box
Highest offer: £12,000 (17-box and 14-box)
Box value: £1

Terribly unlucky really. Natalie was nice enough, but her game crashed with the worst possible fourth round, and never really recovered. Shame. May well have had some effect on the week’s subsequent players.

Thursday 29th: Jake
Winnings: £5,000
Dealt at: 8-box
Highest offer: £8,000 (5-box)
Box value: £20,000

Jake, the show’s youngest ever player at just 18, did admit after his game was over that Natalie’s game was on his mind. Whether he just said this to confirm Noel’s suspicions, or genuinely was influenced by the previous day’s events, we’ll never know.

Friday 30th: Franca
Winnings: £13,313
Dealt at: 8-box
Highest offer: £13,313 (8-box)
Box value: £250

Nice to see a Banker spanking to finish off November, which was a pretty torrid month in terms of luck. Some rather odd hilarity was provided when Franca, a yoga teacher, gave Noel a yoga lesson, which he, unsurprisingly, did not take seriously.

Sunday 2nd: Charlotte
Winnings: £15,000
Dealt at: 11-box
Highest offer: £15,000 (11-box)
Box value: £500

Well well well, from a supposedly ultra-cautious 11-box deal, we get a surprise spanking! It may have been a cautious decision to deal with a block of reds from £10,000 to £100,000, but an extraordinary proveout saw a run of seven consecutive reds! One of the most surprising spankings of the year, never mind the season!

A good week for the show then, with two Banker spankings, and one game that was close to being one, and Chan’s game wasn’t a complete disaster. Let’s hope this is the start of a good period for the show in the run-up to the Christmas specials.