Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Only Connect: Series 7: Match 3: Francophiles vs Festival Fans

Not much on to watch yesterday evening, with most of the stuff I usually watch on Monday nights not on due to the Bank Holiday. Only Connect seemed to be the only usual thing that was still on.

Anyway, on to the show, and the two teams were the Francophiles, fans of all things French (except the language, leading to an awkward moment when VCM addressed them in it!), and the Festival Fans, who, as their name suggests, are frequent festival goers. The Francophiles were Ian Clark, Sam Goodyear and captain Mark Walton, while the Festival Fans comprised Ed Dovey, Stewart McCartney and captain Marianne Fairthorne. Some previous quiz pedigree here: Marianne Fairthorne represented the LSE on UC in 2008-09 (losing to Manchester in the QFs), and Dave Clark speculated over on LAM earlier that Ian Clark could be the same Ian Clark who reached the Brain of Britain final last year.

On with the first round, and the Francophiles went first, with a question on spotty things whose spots are different colours. The Festival Fans got the music round, on artists whose names begin with 'Mr'. The Francophiles had an unlucky miss on one of their questions, conceding a bonus to the opposition. But they made up for it with the picture round, on pictures relating to 'Liberty', getting the link after just two clues for three points. At the end of the round, the Festival Fans narrowly led 6-4.

On to the Sequences round, of which the first two questions were dropped. The two teams narrowly missed the first one, on phases of the moon, while the second, on successive line-ups of the Sugarbabes (ugh!) was totally missed by both sides. The Francophiles then had another unlucky miss on another question, misidentifying the sequence, and conceding another bonus. Again, though, they made up for it with three points on their third question. Unlike the past two weeks, there was just one picture question this round.

After that round, the Festival Fans narrowly led by 9-8. Going on to the Walls, the Festival Fans only managed two groups, but they did manage all four connections, which got them six points. The Francophiles managed to solve the Wall, and seemed rather shocked that they did! They got two of the connections, meaning they also got six points. This meant the Festival Fans retained the slender lead they'd had all game, by 15-14, going into the final round.

Once again, the Missing Vowels round was pretty even between the two teams, both of whom seemed to pick up points strongly; unless I'm mistaken, no penalties were incurred. In the end, the Francophiles managed to draw level, and then pull away into a slender lead in time for the end of the quiz. They'd done enough: the Francophiles won by 23-20.

Another good close match between two good teams who both deserve another match. As I said last week, the rule change has definitely been justified by the standard of this series' teams. The final initial face-off next week, unless I'm mistaken; will it be four out of four good matches? We'll have to wait and see.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Only Connect: Series 7: Match 2: Cartophiles vs Celts

OK, here we are at the second match of the series. And, after the close match to start the series, would we get a similar one this week? To my knowledge, none of the participants have been on other shows before, but do please correct me if I'm wrong.

Playing tonight were the Cartophiles, who were Colin Kidd, captain Josh Mandel and Mark Cooper, and the Celts, who were Beverley Downes, captain Huw Pritchard and David Pritchard. The Cartophiles were linked by an interest in maps, while the Celts are all graduates of the University of Wales who live in that nation. Victoria subsequently engaged in some Welsh dialogue with Huw!

Another deliberately complex explanation of the new rules preceded the start of the game. The Celts elected to go first. Among the question of the first round was an interesting one on women and how many years older they are than their husbands (eg Princess Anne +5). The dreaded music question went to the Celts, and they managed to identify that all the songs in question shared their names with films. Another amusing question began with what sounded like a line from the Modern Major General song, but the question was actually about malapropisms.

It was a good round for both teams, with the Cartophiles leading 7-6 going into the Sequences round. Another good round here, with the Celts identifying a sequence on winners of the Tour de France after just two clues. One of the two picture rounds (it seems that two picture questions in the sequences round is going to be a permanent thing now) showed a very odd sequence of coloured shapes; neither team managed to identify them as the aerials of the Teletubbies! Cue a huge laugh! If Only Connect has a studio audience, it would have been very loud indeed!

Going on to the Walls, the Celts now led 12-9. The Cartophiles went first, and managed to solve the wall, and only just slipping up on one of the connections, meaning they scored seven points. The Celts also managed to solve their wall, but they managed all four connections, which got them full marks of ten points! This also meant their lead now stood at 22-16 going into the final round.

Still a closeable gap, and all was to play for going into Missing Words. Both teams have a good showing here, with both picking up points consistently. In the end, the Celts just managed to maintain their lead, and won by 28-24. But a very impressive showing from both sides there, and both are worthy of another match.

So far then, I think we can say that the standard has been high enough to warrant this rule change. We'll see if that standard is maintained next week.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Only Connect: Series 7: Match 1: Corpuscles vs Cat Lovers

Normally, this is the time of the year when we quiz commentators get a rest, as none of the major quizzes are on. And I was recently uncertain what I would cover on here until UC resumes in July. But Only Connect seems to have returned a few months earlier than usual, so, why not?

Two changes for the new series: firstly, Victoria Coren now calls herself 'Victoria Coren Mitchell', following her marriage to the perennial Internet favourite David Mitchell; secondly, and more importantly, the rules have changed! It seems the show has adopted a system similar/identical to UC's quarter-final rules, in that each team will play repeatedly until some go through to the semis. I hope this isn't due to what I said over on LAM last year about what a shame it is that the show is a straight knockout.

Anyway, playing last night were the Corpuscles, and the Cat Lovers.

The cleverly named Corpuscles are all graduates of Corpus Christi College Oxford, and all have represented the college on UC: Paul Taylor and Seb Page played in 2007, where their team were trounced by Edinburgh in Round 2, while captain Sam Kay, lest we forget, competed alongside Gail Trimble in 2009, helping the team to victory, only for them to be disqualified after it emerged he'd left by the time of the later stages.

Their opponents, the Cat Lovers, were Roger Johnson, Jean Upton, and captain Jim Crozier, were linked by their love of cats, unsurprisingly. I am not aware of any of them being on any shows before, but Dave Clark may let us know over on LAM later.

Anyway, off we went, and Victoria tried to explain the new rules to us, but eventually had to resort to a complex diagram, which may or may not have been a joke.

One thing that hadn't changed was the format: we began with Connections between four clues. The Corpuscles went first, and had an unlucky miss, opting for '5,000', when the answer needed was '10,000'. The Cat Lovers took the points. The much dreaded music round went to the Cat Lovers; neither them or their opponents spotted the connection, that all the bands playing share their names with high street retailers.

The Cat Lovers also got the picture round, on pictures connected to 'safety', including a still from Harold Lloyd's 'Safety Last'. Overall, the Cat Lovers had the best of the first round, leading 6-1 at the end.

And so, on we moved to the Sequences round, where the teams are shown all but the final clue, which they have to guess what it is. In a change to previous series, we seemed to have two picture rounds. The first of these went to the Corpuscles, who had another unlucky miss; the question was on rosettes given to horse race winners, and their colours, and they opted for the wrong colour.

A rather complicated question that went to the Cat Lovers turned out to be on a dart board: consecutive numbers, and what appears either side, for example 17: 3 and 2. Neither side got the fourth: 20: 5 and 1. Another question, the second picture one, saw the Corpuscles get the right answer, but the wrong reason (they still got the points), and get a lot of stick from Victoria for their wrong reason, including some after the next question had been asked!

The final question of the round, I should have got, and would have if I'd paid more attention: it was the first names of the male generations of the Simpsons! Still annoyed I missed that! The Cat Lovers got it, but the Corpuscles had had a good round too, and had cut their deficit to 9-8.

On to the Connecting Walls, which are usually the hardest round of the show. The Cat Lovers struggled with theirs, only getting one group within the time limit, but getting a couple of bonuses for unsolved groups; they came away with 4 points. The Corpuscles did better, getting all four groups, and two of the connections. This got them six points, and was enough to give them a narrow lead of 14-13, going into the final round.

As usual, we finished with Missing Vowels. This was really closely fought by both sides, both of whom buzzed strongly, and answered well. However, another very unlucky miss for the Corpuscles, who answered 'Clockwork Orange' instead of 'A Clockwork Orange', cost them a point, and gave the opposition a pretty easy point. This proved crucial, as, at the end of the show, the Cat Lovers had the victory, by 18-17.

A very good performance their by both sides, both of whom deserve to play again. It's a good thing they've introduced this new format, as it would've been rather unfair on the Corpuscles, who were a good team and had a few unlucky misses, to go out so soon. We'll see how this new format unfolds in later weeks, before we draw any definite conclusions on it.

Friday, 3 May 2013

The Third Degree: Week 6: Leeds

So, here we go with the final Third Degree of the series. The show was coming from the University of Leeds, founded in 1904. Steve Punt remarked about the universities fondness in giving out honorary degrees.

On to the teams. Playing for the Students were:
Ralph Burden, studying Civil Engineering
Harry Bedford, studying Popular Music
Cameron Smith, studying Psychology

And on the Dons' side were:
Prof. Phil Parnell (Civil Engineering)
Dr. Simon Warner (Popular Music)
Dr. Catriona Morrison (Psychology)

And off we went. General knowledge swappy questions first. Both teams gave a good showing here, with only one question being passed over to the other team. An interesting question posed a really long web address, which turned out to be that of the first ever website on the WWW. After the strong first round for both sides, the Students led 8-6.

As usual, we then moved on to the first specialist round, on Civil Engineering. On one question, Prof Parnell complained that it was more about Architecture than Civil Engineering! He still got it right, though. Lists next. The Dons were giving 'People on the cover of the Sgt Pepper Beatle's Album', apart from the Beatles themselves; they managed five. The Students were given 'Shakespeare titles that are not character's names, or groups of names'; after an initial spurt of momentum, they then slowed down somewhat, and managed six.

This gave the Students a lead of 18-17 going into Specialist Round No. 2, on popular music. The inclusion of music excerpts meant this round went on slightly longer than most. On to Highbrow-Lowbrow, which is always good fun; of the six players, four chose to go for the question that would get them two points. Highlight of the round was a question about the possible ways that a Sim can die in the games!

The Students now led by 26-22. The final specialist round, on psychology, saw only one question answered correctly. This meant the Students has a two-point lead going into the final quickfire buzzer round. The questions were rather evenly split in this round, with both teams scoring well. But the Dons couldn't quite close the gap, and the Students won by 29-27.

Like most of the rest of the series, both sides gave a good account of themselves, and neither should be disappointed with their performance.

Well, that's it from the Third Degree for now. Next Monday sees the return of the music quiz Counterpoint. Though I haven't decided yet, I may decide to do weekly reviews of that, just so I have something to write about on here until UC comes back.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

University Challenge: Series Highlights

OK, here's a short selection of some of the more memorable moments from this series, along with a short summary of some of the better matches of the series.

We'll start with the Best Matches per Round:
  • First Round + Play-Offs: Without a doubt, Manchester's seemingly impossible comeback win over Lincoln College Oxford. King's matches over St George's and Homerton also stand out.
  • Second Round: Probably Warwick vs King's, followed by Bangor vs Durham.
  • Quarter-Finals: Probably Pembroke's near-comeback over King's. U.C.L.'s two matches also were also good ones.
  • The Final Three: Probably the Grand Final.
So, a lot of matches with King's in there. Pure coincidence, and not bias due to James Gratrex's posting on here throughout the series.

The first round was rather slow moving, with only a few matches of note, and some rather low scoring affairs too. However, this series also showed that a low winning score in the first round doesn't just mean a lucky draw for the winning team, as Adam Pearce and co from Bangor showed us, by reaching the semis despite a low scoring first round win.

Once the first round was clear, the rest of the series was pretty decent. Once we began seeing teams a second time, the show does become more interesting for the regular viewer, as they can began comparing performances. It's noticeable that my reviews appeared to get longer as the series progressed.

The highest score of the series was 260, which was achieved by U.C.L. in their first round match against Exeter. The biggest win of the series was Pembroke's victory over Bath in the second round, by 255-75.

The biggest name missing from the series line-up was, of course, Edinburgh, the first series the uni had missed since 1998-99! As someone pointed out over on the DoND forum, there were also no 'new' universities (ie former polytechnics) on this series. The closest we got were Trinity Laban.

So, those are a few notable curios. Here is a short list of some of the more memotable moments of the series:
  • James G. from King's getting a classics starter correct, despite being the only one on his team not studying that particular subject!
  • A set of bonuses on Dr Johnson's Dictionary of Modern Life (a good book, BTW), one of a series of amusing moments from Magdalen's first round match.
  • Manchester overtaking Lincoln College Oxford literally a quarter-of-a-second before the gong!
  • Liverpool, after getting confused, suggest Julius Caesar was born in 1834!
  • Paxo mishearing an answer of 'Rimbauld' as 'Rambo'! 'I thought you meant Sylvester Stallone!'
  • Pietro Aronica from Imperial makes an unfortunate guess that Inspector Clouseau was created by Charlotte Bronte, much to Paxo's amusement!
  • Paxo twice claiming the other team would know all the answers to the other team's bonuses!
  • Poor Henry Guille from Imperial twice misbuzzing at crucial moments, and not taking it well. Poor lad.
  • Manchester twice employing the common tactic of answering all three bonuses the same, and it being right third time around!
  • From the Final, a set of bonuses on two word phrases that could be UC buzz announcments!
 Anyone else like to nominate any?

Overall, it's been a good series to cover on here. Thank you to all who posted regularly on my reviews, including the contestants themselves, whose insight has been good to read.

My regular UC reviews will resume when the new series begins, which should be shortly after Wimbledon. Until then, this blog will be somewhat bereft of content. Any suggestions on what I could cover on here in the meantime will be appreciated. Maybe Counterpoint, which resumes on Radio 4 on Monday. We'll see.