Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Only Connect Series 1: Match 3: County Councillors vs Ombudsmen

OK, so we're now onto the third show of the series. Playing here were the County Councillors, Gwilym Owen, Gareth Aubrey and John Dixon, and the Ombudsmen, Brian Haines, Keith Nevols and Andrew Hobley. I know little about any other quiz performances by any of these chaps, except Gareth Aubrey, who was part of the Manchester team who won UC in 2006.

The Ombudsmen went first, chosing Alpha first and seeing 'Frankenstein', then 'We Need to Talk about Kevin', 'Clarissa' and 'Les Liasons dangereuses'. They worked out that these are all epistolary novels for one point. The Councillors chose Epsilon for their first question: 'Quoth the Raven, Nevermore', 'Don't Cry For me Argentina', 'That's all folks!', and at this point elected for final lines of works. Not correct; the Ombudsmen knew, as did I, that these are all epitaphs of people associated with the lines. The Ombudsmen chose Zeta, and got the picture round, and saw Yoko Ono, then James Hannah, then Monica Seles and finally Trevor Eve; neither they nor their opponents spotted that their surnames were all palindromes. The Councillors chose Gamma, saw 'Orange', then 'October', and promptly went for revolutions; three well earned points. Beta gave the Ombudsmen 'Pope Joan', then 'Black Maria' and then 'Newmarket'; at this point, they opted for card games, and earned two good points. Left with Delta and the music round, the Councillors heard various operatic tracks, but didn't recognise any of them and thus had no answer; the Ombudsmen did recognise them, and suggested they were all operatic couples singing for a bonus. The Ombudsmen thus led 5-3 at the end of the round.

Round 2, What Comes Fourth? The Ombudsmen chose Alpha first again and saw 'Tu Te Reconnaitras', then 'Waterloo', latched on Eurovision winners and offered 'Save all your kisses for me' for three good points. The Councillors chose Gamma, and saw 'March 25th', then 'June 24th' and finally 'September 29th'; neither they or their opponents got the answer of 'December 25th', as the sequence is English and Welsh quarter days. Fair enough; it's different here in Scotland apparently. The Ombudsmen chose Delta, and got pictures: 'He' in pink writing, 'Ne' in red and then 'Ar' in blue; they didn't get it, but their opponents came close, offering 'Krypton' instead of 'Kr', which would've worked. For their own question, the Councillors chose Zeta: 'Washington', then 'Jefferson' and then 'Roosevelt', and at this point knew it was Mount Rushmore; they gave us 'Lincoln' for two points. For their final question, the Ombudsmen chose Beta, and saw 'County', 'High' and began to spot a connection; they opted for 'House of Lords', as these are English and Welsh civil courts. As VCM said, they'd have had to get that really. Left with Epsilon, the Councillors saw 'Old Bailey', 'Shoreditch' and 'Stepney' and then recognised these are the bells from Oranges and Lemons, and gave us 'Bow' for two points. At the end of the round, the Ombudsmen led 11-7.

Round 3, the Walls. The Councillors went first and chose the Alpha wall. After some out-working, they isolated 'Cork', 'Wexford', 'Longford' and 'Clare' as Irish counties (we had that in the last show!), and then 'Martin', 'Quinn', 'Kildare' and 'House' as fictional doctors in dramas. They very quickly isolated the final sets of 'Hazel', 'Quince', 'Rowan' and 'Myrtle', trees (another repeat from last time!), and 'Somerset', 'Opera', 'Wendy' and 'Heartbreak', all of which can be followed by 'house'. A full house (no pun intended) and a full ten points.

The Ombudsmen were left with the Beta wall; they quickly got 'Rebus', 'Hammer', 'Wimsey' and 'Spade' as fictional detectives, and then promptly got 'Monkey', 'Chinese', 'Jigsaw' and 'Crossword', which can all precede puzzle. They unsuccessfully tried twice to solve the wall, and succeeded on the final go: 'Terry', 'Drill', 'Wincey' and 'Jersey' are kinds of cloth, and 'Trowel', 'Pick', 'Riddle' and 'Wimble' are all tools. Another full house and another ten points. So, going into the Missing Vowels, they Ombudsmen led 21-17.

So, the final round would be crucial. Remember, no point deductions for incorrect answers. 'Soup and stews' went to the Councillors 3-0, this closing the gap to one. 'Terms in mechanical physics' was split 2-all, so still just one point in it. 'Quotations from US presidents' proved rather tricky, with the Councillors taking the only point from the four.

At the end of the show, the teams were tied, 23-all! So, the first ever tie-break: Messrs Aubrey and Nevols are given a final Missing Vowels question, first to buzz gets only chance to answer; if they're right, their team wins, but if they're wrong, the other team wins. So, that question: 'LBR TNS TN'. After a few seconds, Mr Aubrey buzzed in with 'ALBERT EINSTEIN', and was right!

So, the Councillors won the show 24-23. Very well done to them on a great recovery victory, and unlucky to the Ombudsmen, who were a great team in their own right. I have to say, even in the first series, the teams so far have been too good to be knocked out in one match, and the decision in later series to introduce the round robin system is totally justified.

I'll be back whenever with the next match.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Only Connect Series 1: Match 2: Crossworders vs Birkbeck Alumni

OK people, time for me to continue with my retro-recapping of the first series of Only Connect. First of all, my congratulations to VCM, who gave birth to her and hubby David's first child over the weekend; many congrats to them!

Anyway, on with the show: playing the second ever match were the Crossworders, Mark Grant, David Stainer and Ian Bayley, and the Birkbeck Alumni, Richard Wheatley, Catherine Arbuthnott and the late Ken Brown. The Crossworders need no introduction, except to say that they are all quizzers of high renown; so too the Birkbeck Alumni, all of them having represented the college on University Challenge in the late 90s.

On with the first round. The Alumni went first, picking Alpha, which gave them 'Haiku', then 'Flying Fortress', then 'Chlorine', and at this point Mr Brown spotted the link to be the number 17. Two points for that. The Crossworders chose Zeta for their first ever question, and saw 'Silmarillion' and 'Arabicus Pulp', noticing that these are all original names of bands for three well earned points. Delta gave the Alumni pictures: a 'B' note, a crown coin, the a knot, and finally some beer; they didn't have anything, nor did the Crossworders, not spotting they are all halves (as in a half knot and a half of beer). The Crossworders picked Epsilon next: 'Baltimore & Potomac station' gave them nothing, the 'the Temple of Music', and 'Ford's Theatre' led them to suggest they are all found in Washington DC. When shown the extra clue of 'Dealey Plaza', the alumni spotted that these are all places where US presidents were assassinated. (How ironic that I am watching this the day the infamous 'JR' episode of Pointless was repeated!) The final selection of the round, Gamma for the Alumni, unlocked the music round: after just two tracks, they buzzed in, spotting they were all excerpts from the works of Shakespeare. Well spotted, and three good points. Left with Beta, the Crossworders got 'St Jerome', then 'Erasmus', and they two took three points on Bible translators. Another good call. After a good first round, the scores were 6-all.

Round 2, What Comes Fourth? The Alumni chose Gamma for their first question: 'Fire', 'Phoenix', and they spotted a possible Harry Potter link, then went for 'Half-Blood Prince'. Unlucky. Shown 'Prince' for the third, the Crossworders took the point for 'Hallows', as they're the final word of the final four Potter books. The Crossworders picked Beta, and got 'Toddington', then 'Newport Pagnell', and immediately latched onto a connection with the M1; Northampton was third, and David S. shot in with 'Watford Gap' for two points. The Alumni picked Delta next: '23', '57', '1113', and tried desperately to think of something; they eventually guessed '1', as that is the usual answer to a complicated maths question! The Crossworders didn't know it; they are pairs of prime numbers, so '1719' would be next. Great question! Alpha gave the Crossworders 'Tin', then 'China', and they spotted this to be wedding anniversary decades, and gave 'Ruby' for three points. The Alumni chose Zeta, saw 'Rentenmark', and immediately went for 'Euro', suggesting these to be successive currencies of Germany. Great shout, and five very well earned points. Left with Epsilon and the pictures: they saw Burt Lancaster, Michael York, and spotted these to be successive royal houses; they proposed Jimmy Stuart, which was acceptable enough for three points. After a very good second round, the Crossworders led 15-11.

Round 3, the Connecting Walls. The Crossworders chose the Beta wall, and spent a bit of time searching for connections, apparently struggling. They eventually isolated 'Tonic', 'Heavy', 'Bath' and 'Barley' as types of water and 'Major', 'Clarke', 'Darling' and 'Brown as Chancellors of the Exchequer. After some more studying they got the final two groups: 'Marina', 'Minor', 'Oxford' and 'Isis' are all Morris cards, but the link between 'Computer', 'Constable', '%' and 'Postcard' eluded them; they can all be abbreviated to 'PC'. So, one missed link meant they scored seven points.

The Alumni were thus left with the Alpha wall. They immediately latched on to a few connections, and after some unsuccessful attempts, isolated 'May', 'Gower', 'Lamb' and 'Fry' as England cricket captains, then 'Cork', 'Ash', 'Lime' and 'Willow' as types of tree. They carefully worked out the final two sets: 'Carter', 'Dole', 'Gore' and 'Bush', all unsuccessful US presidential candidates, and 'Galway', 'Mayo', 'Clare' and 'Kerry', which are Irish counties. A full house, ten points, and the Crossworders' lead was down to 22-21.

So, it would all be decided on the Missing Vowels round. Remember, no points were lost for wrong answers here in the first round of Series 1. 'Wading birds' was evenly split 2-all, 'Booker Prize-winning novels' saw only one point given out, to the Crossworders, 'Proverbs about money' went to the Crossworders 3-0 and they took 'Famous Westerns' 2-1. At the end of the match, the Crossworders won 30-24.

Brilliant match, two very fine teams who definitely met each other far too early in the series. Unlucky to the Alumni, who were an excellent team and proved their worth here. A good first outing for the Crossworders, and one of the hardest matches they have faced over the many years. Superb quizzing by all, and this show was probably the first that demonstrated the potential of the show.

I'll hopefully carry on to the third match tomorrow.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Only Connect Series 1: Match 1: Lapsed Psychologists vs Knitters

OK people, time for me to begin my Only Connect retro-reviewing. Beginning back at the very beginning with the very first episode, back in 2008, when Gordon Brown was PM, Portsmouth were in the Premier League and UC was a straight knockout competition.

As we'll be encountering a lot of, what TV Tropes would call, 'Early Installment Weirdness', I'll get some of it out of the way first: the big difference in the first three series was the use of Greek letters instead of Egyptian hieroglyphs as question markers (Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, Epsilon and Zeta); these were eventually dropped. The first series also saw VCM allow the teams to introduce themselves, something that was quickly abandoned in the next series. The set was slightly different in the first series too, with the main colour being green rather than the blue we're all used too. Also, as dxdtdemon points out, the questions were slightly easier at first to try and get things settled.

Right, on to the first ever episode then: contesting the first ever episode were the Lapsed Psychologists, Richard McDougall, Matthew Stevens and captain Jack Waley-Cohen, and the Knitters, Craig Carruthers, Esther Knight and captain Tom Willis.

So, we began, as usual, with the Connections round. The Psychologists began with Epsilon, and received the first ever picture round; we saw gray scale photos of various men, including Sir Robin Day and Screaming Lord Sutch; the Psychologists identified them as having unsuccessfully stood for parliament. The Knitters chose Gamma, and a set of clues including six US flags and two golf balls; these were all things left on the moon. Delta for the Psychologists, who got pretzels, then double-entry bookkeeping, then kung fu, and now they got that these were invented by monks; they took the final clue, genetics, just to be sure. Beta for the Knitters, and the first ever music question: the set included Mozart (the Brain of Britain theme tune), and finished with 'Summer Nights'. No answer came from either team; they all have night in the title apparently. The Psychologists chose Zeta, and got 'Merrily We Roll Along', then 'Betrayal', 'Memento' and 'Time's Arrow'; neither they or the Knitters spotted they were all books told backwards. Left with Alpha, the Knitters got Olympia, then Babylon, then Alexandria and finally Rhodes; they correctly spotted them as the locations of Wonders of the World. At the end of the first round, the scores were 2-all.

Round 2, What Comes Fourth? The Psychologists began with Epsilon, which revealed Infant, then 'whining school-boy'; they thought this might be the Seven Ages of Man, and tried to work out what was next; 'lover' was third, and they identified 'soldier' as fourth for two points. Delta for the Knitters, which revealed pictures: some brown stuff, then Sir Ian Blair, then a Major epaulette; they didn't get it, but the Psychologists guessed 'Thatcher', this being PMs in reverse. Good call! Gamma gave the Psychologists a complicated numbers question: '7, 24, 25', then '6, 8, 10', then '5, 12, 13'; after some frantic thinking, they guesses '3, 4, 5', these being Pythagorean triplets. Nope, me neither. The Knitters chose Alpha next, and got 'blood', then 'frogs', and spotted these were plagues, possibly of Egypt. 'Lice' was third, and they incorrectly guessed 'locusts'; the Psychologists guessed wrongly too, the right answer being 'flies'. The Psychologists chose Beta, and got 'gold', then 'red' and seemed to know what was going on; 'blue' was next, and this was enough to confirm this was an archery target we were on about, so 'black' would complete the set. Left with Zeta, the Knitters got 'Scott', then 'Virgil', so it must be Thunderbirds captains; 'Alan' was third, and they tried desperately to drag up the fourth name, eventually remembering it was 'Gordon' who was in charge of 4. At the end of the round, the Psychologists led 9-4.

On to the Connecting Walls. The Knitters went first; they chose the 'Alpha' wall, and quickly identified 'Elastic band', 'puck', 'squash ball' and 'condom' as a group of things made of rubber, then tried a few more unsuccessfully. (I notice VCM talks a lot more during the Walls than she does now) Eventually, they isolated 'screw', 'grass', 'snout' and 'lag' as old prison sland. With seconds to go, they isolated the final groups: 'Santa', 'Satan', 'bottom' and 'Dr Riviera', who they didn't spot as being all called Nick, and 'up', 'down', 'charm' and 'strange', which are all quarks, which they didn't see. So, that's six points.

The Psychologists got the 'Beta' wall, and spent a bit of time studying the wall, and tried a few unsuccessful combos, eventually isolating 'love', 'zip', 'goose-egg' and 'duck' as terms for zero. After a bit more studying, they isolated 'sparrow', 'hook' 'haddock' and 'Ahab' as fictional captains. Timed out before they could work the rest out, they nonetheless identified 'fox', 'ace', 'fish' and 'buttress' as 'flying' things, but missed 'bullet', 'cowboy', 'deuce' and 'crab' as playing card nicknames. Five points there, which meant their lead now stood at 14-10.

The final round then is, as usual, Missing Vowels. The main difference to later episodes is that wrong answers don't lose a point here, just concede bonuses as usual. Only two sets: 'egg dishes' went 2-1 to the Psychologists, as did 'famous mathematicians', and that was it. The final score was a win for the Lapsed Psychologists 18-12. They progress to the QFs, and sadly the Knitters leave the contest.

Well, that was interesting to watch. Good work both teams; a fine start to, what has since proven, an excellent series. Yes, maybe the questions were a bit easier than later in the show's run, but not by a great deal, and we all have to start somewhere. This should be an interesting review series.

I'll continue on to Match 2 sometime over the weekend. See you then, I guess.

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Update - Only Connect reviews

Hi all. Just a quick post to let you know where I am at.

I have decided that I am going to look over Only Connect Series 1, but I will be carrying on to Series 2 once I've finished it. I may then carry on to 3 and maybe 4. I'd have to stop then, however, as Series 5 and 6 are the only series not readily available on YT. I will also skip over any specials (Champion of Champions, charity specials etc), as not all of those are readily available too.

When will I start? Either next week or week after. Hopefully, if I do that, I should finish Series 1 around the time UC resumes.

So, I'll see you again whenever.