Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Only Connect: Series 7: Match 7 (Qualification Match): Celts vs Cat Lovers

Well, we've arrived at Wimbledon, which means it won't be long before University Challenge is back on our screens. Naturally, I will post here about any developments on that front as they break.

But, for now, we've got Only Connect to worry about, and last night's match was the first between two teams who'd won their first match, and needed just one more win to be safe for the time being. Playing were the Celts (Beverley Downes, captain Huw Pritchard and David Pritchard), who defeated the Cartophiles in their initial face-off, and the Cat Lovers (Roger Johnson, captain Jim Crozier and Jean Upton), who won a good close match against the highly unlucky Corpuscles first time around. Those two losing teams subsequently played off, with the Cartophiles narrowly winning. But that's another story.

The first question, a picture question, went to the Celts, who identified a series of pictures related to the word 'strip'; cue an inevitable joke from VCM, who seems to have an obsession with drinking jokes. The music round also went to the Celts, who correctly identified a series of songs by groups with dog breeds in their names. The Cat Lovers weren't so lucky with their questions, which included a complex wordplay question about removing capitalised letters to form opposites. The Celts has a strong lead at the end of the round, 8-3.

The sequences round saw a welcome return by the old OC staple, the Greek alphabet. Neither team managed that question. The Cat Lovers had an unlucky miss on a question about the Mitford sisters, not realising there was a fifth that came in the middle. The Celts failed to pick up on the error. The Celts then managed to upset Trekkies everywhere, and annoy VCM as well, by failing to identify the sequence on a Star Trek question, though they did identify the fourth, which was enough for the point.

Going into the Walls, the Celts had a big lead of 12-4. Still plenty of time for the Cat Lovers to pull it back; they managed two groups on their Wall, and three connections, for a total of five. But the Celts got all four groups, and narrowly missed out on a clean sweep by missing one of the connections. This still got them seven points, and gave them a lead of 19-9 going into Missing Vowels.

The Cat Lovers needed to dominate this round if they stood any chance, but they couldn't manage it; all in all, it was an evenly split round. Highlight of the round was 'band names overlapped with authors', which included 'REM Forster'; the Cat Lovers lost a point on that one after getting the E and the R the wrong way around.

In the end, the Celts won comfortably, by 23-13, and got generous applause from their opponents. A deserved victory, and they're now safe for now, but the Cat Lovers could yet join them, provided they win their next match.

After a run of good close games, we were due a comfy win; but was this just a blip, or has the tide turned? We will find out next week, as the Francophiles play the Fell Walkers.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Only Connect: Series 7: Match 6 (Elimination Match): GPs vs Festival Fans

It surely says something about the standard of the teams this year that the biggest win so far this series has been by 6 points. Yesterday's match was yet another good close match between two good teams, and, again, that either had to go out without a win was a shame.

Returning last night were the GPs (Jo Durrant, Chris David and captain Mike Crowe), and the Festival Fans (Ed Dovey, Stewart McCartney and captain and UC alumnus Marianne Fairthorne). Both had lost by narrow margins in the first round.

The GPs kicked off with a picture round on items that share their names with pig meat products; good one. The Festival Fans later got the music round, on pop music acts with birds in their names, but couldn't work it out, giving the opposition a bonus. But the highlight of the round was when the Festival Fans took a full five, identifying a link between postcodes and chemical symbols after just one clue! The sort of thing that usually comes up on UC as a bonus set. This meant, at the end of the first round, they led by 7-5.

The sequences round saw a great picture round, on the drinks from Tubthumping! These question setters come up with some great stuff sometimes. In fact, all the questions in this round were answered correctly by one team or the other. But a question dropped by the GPs, which was picked up by the opposition, proved the difference, as the Festival Fans now led by 15-9 at the end of the round.

And then, continuing the good series showing, both teams swept the board on the Connecting Walls, both getting the maximum, and the GPs finishing theirs in less than a minute! VCM remarked that it was too easy! And, so, going into the final round, the gap remained the same, at 19-25. The GPs could still close the gap, and so nearly did, with a good final showing. But not quite enough, and, in the end, the Festival Fans won by 30-28. Like the Corpuscles last week, the GPs did not deserve to lose both their matches so narrowly. But the Festival Fans played well too, and, to be honest, probably deserved the win for that five-pointer in the first round alone!

So, that's the elimination matches out of the way. Next week, we begin the qualification matches, with the Celts vs the Cat Lovers.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Only Connect: Series 7: Match 5 (Elimination Match): Corpuscles vs Cartophiles

Well, we've reached the elimination stage of the series. One of the two teams playing tonight would be leaving the contest, while the others would get a stay of execution.

Both of the teams had lost their first match by a narrow margin: the Corpuscles, Sam Kay, Paul Taylor and Seb Page, lost to the Cat Lovers by just one point in their first match, while the Cartophiles, Josh Mandel, Colin Kid and Mark Cooper, lost to the Celts by four.

It was a very high scoring contest, with both sides scoring strongly and convincingly. Highlight of the first two rounds was when the Cartophiles scored a full FIVE points, on a sequences question on the duration of a game of various sports. Another nice question was on the current idents of the four BBC channels, which, as a fan of British TV idents, was good to see. After the first two rounds, the Corpuscles led by 14-13.

Then, the Cartophiles got the upper hand again with a full ten on their wall, while the Corpuscles only managed five, thus resulting in them falling behind going into the final round. Once again, the two teams were really strongly matched. After a really strong final round, the teams were tied, 26-all!

A tie-breaker question, for captains only: 'SLNGNDTHNKSFRLLTHFSH'. Josh Mandel identified it as 'SO LONG AND THANKS FOR ALL THE FISH', and the Cartophiles had the win! A well deserved victory. But the Corpuscles totally did not deserve to go out in such a way; they lost by 1 point in their first match, and on a tie-break in their second. Very unlucky indeed.

So, next week the GPs play the Festival Fans, with the losers going home. Then, presumably, we meet the four initial winning teams again. We shall have to wait and see.

(Incidentally, my OC reviews are likely to stay this concise from now on)

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Only Connect: Series 7: Match 4: General Practitioners vs Fell Walkers

Well, I think it's definitely safe to say now that the new format is justified, as all eight teams who have appeared this series, including the two from last night, have been fairly impressive. A good call by the production team there.

Playing last night were the General Practitioners, Jo Durrant, captain Mike Crowe and Chris David, and the Fell Walkers, Jim Taylor, captain Mike Amberry and Craig Almond. I am unaware of any previous quiz show appearances by any of the six, but I'm sure any will come up over on LAM should there be any.

OK, then, off we went again, with the GPs going first. The music round, on bands whose names derive from Latin, went to the Fell Walkers, which was apt as they had expressed interest in getting it earlier on. The Fell Walkers' second question had been previewed by the Radio Times earlier in the week as a good one: first clue was 'SURFEITED 4-8-9', which was followed by three similar phrases. The GPs managed to pick up a bonus by working out that there was a shorter word that meant the same thing hidden in the longer words that was spelt out by the hinted letters. Victoria described this as '[the] question setter at his evil best'; too right. The sort of fiendish thing you come to expect on OC.

At the end of the first round, it was 4-all. Going into the Sequences round, an unfortunate error by the GPs, who buzzed by mistake when they wanted another clue, cost them some points, but did not allow the opposition a chance to steal. Another question, on Met Office weather warning codes, was also dropped by both sides. The first points of the round came on the fourth question, when the GPs picked up a bonus from a question dropped by the opposition; the Fell Walkers subsequently did likewise.

It was a low scoring round, though both sides had some unlucky misses initially. The Fell Walkers now led by 7-5 going into the Walls round. And a great showing here, as both sides completed the Wall, and got all four connections, resulting in a full ten points each.

So, going into the final quickfire round, the Fell Walkers led by 17-15. Again, the two sides were evenly matched throughout the final round, but the Fell Walkers were slightly quicker on the buzzers, and thus, they managed to hold on to their lead. In the end, the Fell Walkers won by 28-22. But, again, a great showing by two fine teams, who both deserve another match one way or another.

So, next week, we begin to see teams again, as the Corpuscles take on the Cartophiles. I imagine the losing team will be heading home, while the winners get a third match, a la UC. Strange that they've decided to do the elimination matches first, if that's the case. But, no complaints about that; shouldn't be too different.