Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Only Connect Series 11: Round 1: Match 3: Spaghetti Westerners vs Mixologists

OK, time to see if I can watch and review Only Connect and watch EastEnders at the same time. The subtitles on the latter should make it easier. Playing in last night's Only Connect were the Spaghetti Westerners, Neil Macaskill, Andrew Frazer and Paul Philpot, and the Mixologists, Chris Beer, Sam Swift and Ewan MacAulay. I'm sure most of yous will remember Messrs Beer and MacAulay from UC two years ago, where the appeared for Somerville College Oxford and Christ Church Oxford respectively. Messrs Frazer and Philpot are also serial quizzers, having appeared on various shows including Mastermind and Fifteen to One 2.0.

Round 1. The Westerners went first, and chose the Eye of Horus: 'Coca-Cola: 2009', 'St. James' Park: 2012', and at this point they offered that they were renamed in those years; not precise enough. The Mixologists saw 'St. Petersburg: 1991' and 'Prince: 2000', and thus got the answer: they all reverted to their old names in those years. The Mixologists chose Horned Viper for their own question: 'High-', 'Low-', 'Science-', 'Wireless-'. They tried networks; not right. The Westerners didn't know it either. If all shortened, they can all be followed by 'fi' to give new terms. The Westerners chose Twisted Flax next, and got the Picture Round: we saw a portrait of JMW Turner, then one of Dr Johnson, then an orange and finally 'Hg' for Mercury. The final clue gave it to them: they all give their names to cultural prizes. The Mixologists chose Two Reeds, and got the music round: didn't recognise the first piece, the second I recognised from an old silent film, but didn't know the name, the third was the immortal Oliver Hardy singing 'On the Trail of the Lonesome Pine', and neither they nor me recognised the last. The Mixologists knew correctly that they all have trees in the title, the second piece being the Maple Leaf Rag, and the final one Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree. The Westerners chose Water: 'Jennifer Green', then 'David Geller', and they had it after just two: 'they are the first names of Friends actors and the surname of their character. Well worked out for three points. The Mixologists were left with Lion: 'Daddy Warbucks', 'Ellen Ripley', 'Sherlock Holmes' and finally 'Bobby Ewing'. Again, the final clue gave it to them: they all apparently died, and then came back from the dead. At the end of the first round, the Westerners led 4-3.

On to the second round. The Westerners began with Eye of Horus: 'Extra', then 'Roadchef', then 'Welcome Break'; they offered 'Moto', the link being operators of motorway service stations in order of most prolific. Correct, for two points. The Mixologists chose the Twisted Flax: 'Commune', 'Canton', 'Arrondissement'. They knew the sequence to be French administrative divisions, and offered 'Departement', which was correct. The Westeners chose Two Reeds: 'King George VI & Prince George of Cambridge', then 'Lord Randolph Churchill & Nicholas Soames'; they spotted them to be a great great grandfather and great great, then a great grandfather and great grandson, and so offered 'Prince Philip & Prince Charles', which was accepted as a father and son pair for three points. The Mixologists chose 'Lion': '4: Free for All', '3: A, B, & C.', '2: The Chimes of Big Ben'. They didn't know, nor did their opponents, though the Westerners did get that they are episodes of the Prisoner. They are the first four episodes of that show in reverse order, so '1: Arrival' would finish the set. For their final question, the Westerners chose the 'Horn-ed' Viper: 'Kentish resort', then 'Heraldic gold', and then 'Japanese theatre'. No answer came, but their opponents offered 'Kentish resort', which was accepted. This is clever: Deal is a resort in Kent, 'Or' represents heraldic gold, 'Noh' is a type of Japanese theatre. 'Deal, Or, No, Deal'! Brilliant! The Mixologists were left with Water, and the picture round: we saw a woman neither of us recognised, then a glass of beer, then a solitary bowling pin. They offered 'pi', the link being the loss of the final letter each time; correct, the woman being actress Frieda Pinto, so 'Pinto', 'Pint', 'Pin', 'Pi'. At the end of Round 2, the Westerners led 9-8.

Maybe the Walls would break the teams further apart. The Mixologists went first, and chose to have a go at the Water wall. They spotted some links, and tried some sets unsuccessfully. Eventually, they isolated 'Crumb', 'Autumn', 'Coup' and 'Debris', which all end with a silent letter. The next set to fall in was 'Lechon', 'Prosciutto', 'Bacon' and 'Speck', which are all pork products. After some more out working, they worked out the final groups: 'Smidgen', 'Trace', 'Iota' and 'Morsel' are all words for small amounts, which they knew, while 'Anchor', 'Bear off', 'Pip' and 'Gammon' are all terms from backgammon, which they didn't know. So, seven points there.

The Westerners were left with the Lion wall. After some studying, they immediately isolated 'Liverpool', 'Lime', 'Cannon' and 'Queen', which all precede 'street' to give names of stations. 'Pear', 'Kumquat', 'Tomato' and 'Greengage' followed next, which are all fruits. They studied what was left a bit, and worked out the remaining sets: 'Alley', 'Spot', 'Faith' and 'Date', which can all precede 'blind', and 'Quince', 'Mil', 'Dos' and 'Once' are numbers in Spanish; they knew both these connections. So, a full house of ten there meant the Westerners led 19-15 going into the final round.

Again, Missing Vowels would most likely decide the match. 'Blue movies', or films with blue in the title, went to the Mixologists 3-1. 'Famous Belgians' was a 2-all split. 'Things that make you sleepy' also finished 2-all. 'Brass instruments' went to the Mixologists 2-1, with time expiring before the Westerners could give an answer for the final clue. At the end of the match, the Westeners won 25-24.

Another great match between two very good teams. Unlucky Mixologists, well done Westerners, you both played brilliantly, and I look forward to seeing you both in your next matches.

Next week's match: Collectors vs Railwaymen

When will I finish Series 1? I don't know. Hopefully within the next couple of weeks, but I'm guaranteeing nothing.

Monday, 27 July 2015

University Challenge 2015-16: Round 1: Match 3: Kent vs Newcastle

Evening all. Back to normal service tonight after last week's golf delay. Tonight's show was OK, although it did, unfortunately, see the return of something I, and many other no doubt, were hoping we wouldn't see this series after the trouble it caused last series.

The University of Kent, appearing for the first time in the BBC series, was founded in 1965, and is based mainly in Canterbury, with campuses in Medway and Tunbridge. Alumni include writer EL James and, as mentioned on QI, performer Alan Davies. The first Kent UC team of the BBC series were:
Alexander Atmore, from North London, studying Comparative Literature
Emma Isworth, from Tenterden in Kent, studying Medical Humanities
Captain: Caitlin Gilroy, from Durham, studying Physics
Thomas Cheetham, from Bournemouth, studying Military History

Newcastle University was born out of two schools of medical science and physical science, and later became part of the University of Durham, before splitting and becoming it's own in 1937. Alumni include performer Rowan Atkinson, music man Bryan Ferry and war reporter Kate Adie. It last sent a team back in 2011-12, who made the QFs before losing to eventual champs Manchester. This year's quartet were:
Alexander Kirkman, from Surrey, studying Biomedical Sciences
Nicholas Smith, from Chorley in Lancashire, studying Medicine
Captain: Tony Richardson, from County Durham, studying International Politics
Kate Bennett, from Chichester, studying Film Theory and Practice

Off we set again then, and Kent were first out of the traps, with Mr Atmore spotting the items Paxo describing to all be linked by the number nine. One bonus followed, as did a second starter for Mr Atmore. Comedy moment of the week came when the side guessed Kent for a county cricket side! Newcastle promptly got going courtesy of Mr Richardson, and a full set of bonuses on clouds followed. The first picture round was a good one, on hypothetical signs detailing notable tourist locations of English counties; Newcastle took the starter and all three bonuses, and thus led 50-35.

That lead disappeared when Miss Bennett had an unlucky slip, and allowed Kent in through the back door, and to draw level with one bonus on puppetry. The Southerners took the lead when Mr Atmore took the next starter, but no bonuses followed. Mr Smith looked like he was guessing on the next starter, but he guessed right, and Newcastle retook the lead via one bonus on lines. The Tynesiders had one fewer starter under their belts, but their better bonus conversion had given them a narrow lead.

The music starter saw Mr Atmore identify Craig David, the second week running he has come up in Quizzy Mondays! The music bonuses, on artists who have been banished into Room 101 on the excellent BBC series of the same name, saw Kent take one and unluckily miss another by offering U2 instead of Bono. They now had a slender lead of 75-65, but Newcastle took the next starter to draw level, and another full bonus set gave them the lead back. Another of those 'three rhyming word' starters followed, and Kent were, again, unlucky to miss, giving Newcastle the points, and two bonuses. Mr Kirkman slipped up, losing five, but Kent couldn't pick up. Mr Richardson took the next starter, and two bonuses gave Newcastle a substantial fifty point lead.

The second picture round, on depictions of British buildings of Canaletto, went to Kent, but no bonuses followed, leaving the deficit at 125-85. The next starter was missed by both sides, the next went to Mr Richardson, and another full bonus set on Greek myth gave them a strong lead, and Kent would have to push hard to catch them. Ms Isworth took the next starter to just about keep them in it, but just one bonus went with it.

Then, I'm afraid, we saw the return of the controversy that clouded the show last series, as Mr Smith was fined for interrupting just a Paxo was finishing the final word of the question. Kent couldn't pick up, but Ms Isworth took the next starter to keep their chances alive, but just one bonus followed again. Mr Smith took the next starter for Newcastle, and that was game over, even though just one bonus followed. Both sides missed the next starter, and the gong went just as Kent buzzed on the next starter. Newcastle won the match 160-115.

A slow and steady match, but a pleasant one nonetheless, in spite of that penalty, which thankfully had no impact on the outcome. Unlucky Kent, who did OK on the buzzer, but didn't follow though on the bonuses well enough, but, as Paxo said, you managed a decent score, so good on yous. Well done Newcastle though; as Paxo said, you'll need to speed up next time, but do that and I suspect you could do well this series, so good luck for that next time!

Mr Atmore was best buzzer of the night, with four for Kent, while Messrs Smith and Richardson were joint best for Newcastle with three each. The bonuses were what decided the match, Kent managed just 7 out of 24, while Newcastle managed a very good 18 out of 24, with two penalties. That rate coupled with a stronger showing on the buzzer, and you've got a very promising team there.

Next week's match: Manchester (the Team Everyone Wants to Beat) vs York

Only Connect saw the return of some old faces you may remember tonight; I'll go into greater detail tomorrow or Wednesday night.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Only Connect Series 11: Round 1: Match 2: Polyglots vs Yorkers

So, the second match of the new series of Only Connect. Playing on Monday night were the Polyglots, Dan Shane, Vicki Sunter and Lyndsay Coo, and the Yorkers, Jack Johannes Alexander, Alasdair Middleton and Joe Crowther. Some of you may remember the Yorkers as three-quarters of last year's York University team on UC; they narrowly defeated Corpus Christi College Cambridge in the first round, and were unlucky to draw Durham and lose in the second round. How would they fare against the Polyglots tonight?

Well, the Yorkers kicked off the first round with Two Reeds, and got the music round straight away: the only piece of the four I recognised was Frank Sinatra's 'You make me feel so young'; the Yorkers didn't recognise any of them, and thus didn't get it. The Polyglots knew that the songs all began 'You make me feel...', and thus earned a bonus. They chose Eye of Horus for themselves: 'Lying next to Venus (Titian)', 'Watching bathers (Seurat)', 'Killing deer (Courbet)' and finally 'Playing poker (Coolidge)'. The final clue gave it to them: it's what dogs are doing in paintings by the artists in brackets. Good question. The Yorkers chose Twisted Flax: 'Monstroso', 'Any Human Heart', 'Birdsong', and at this point they tried 'books set in hospitals'; not correct, I'm afraid. The Polyglots saw the final clue, 'Chitty Chitty Bang Bang', but couldn't come up with anything. On being told Monstroso was by Charlie Higson, they saw it: they are books by people who have also written James Bond novels. (Ian Fleming writing Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is a classic old quiz chestnut) The Polyglots chose Lion: 'South Korea: Naver', 'Russia: Yandex', and at this point they risked 'financial indexes'; not correct, unfortunately. The Yorkers saw 'Japan: Yahoo!' and 'China: Baidu', and offered 'the most popular search engines in those countries'; correct for a bonus point. For their own questions, the Yorkers chose the Horned Viper: (apologies in advance for missing the accents on some of these) 'Regndraber drypper i mit har', 'Gocce di pioggia su di me', 'Regen fallt heute auf die Welt', and finally 'Toute la pluie tombe sur moi'. It was obviously the same phrase written in different languages; they tried 'Why does it always rain on me?', but were wrong. The Polyglots knew it was 'Raindrops keep fallin' on my head', and took a bonus. Left with Water, and the picture round, the Polyglots saw a rooster, then a dog, then some purple flowers and finally Rhod Gilbert. They offered that they all begin with 'Rho', and were close enough, the first three having been a Rhode Island Red, a Rhodesian ridgeback and some rhododendrons. At the end of the first round, the Polyglots led 4-1.

On to the second round, the Sequences round. The Yorkers went first again, and chose Water first: 'Azinger', then 'Montgomerie', and at this point, they offered 'McGinley' and were correct for three much needed points; they are successive captains of Ryder Cup winning teams. The Polyglots chose Twisted Flax: 'Monday: met', 'Tuesday: went for drink' and 'Wednesday: made love'; they knew it was a song by Craig David, and tried to work out what was next. They offered 'Thursday: made love', and were correct, the song being David's 'Seven Days'. The Yorkers chose Lion: 'Paul Volcker', 'Alan Greenspan' and they buzzed and offered 'Janet Yellen'; correct for another three points, the link being successive chairs of the US Federal Reserve. The Polyglots chose Eye of Horus next: 'French head', then 'Thierry Henry', then 'Dorothy's terrier'; they offered 'Desmond Tutu', and, after a slight rewording to 'Cape Town Archbishop', it was accepted. The sequence is 'Tete', 'Titi', 'Toto' and so on. For their final question, the Yorkers chose Two Reeds: 'Valerie Singleton', 'Konnie Huq' and 'Peter Purves', with the text getting bigger each time. They didn't get it, nor did their opponents. They both knew it was the longest serving Blue Peter presenters, but didn't identify 'John Noakes' as the longest server. The Polyglots were left with the Horned Viper, and the picture round: we saw a silhouette of a bowler, then a gentleman neither they nor me recognised, and then a silhouette of a batter. They didn't know it, but the Yorkers did: 'the Bowler's Holding, the Batman's Willey', the legendary cricket commentary quote, so the second gentleman was Michael Holding, and Peter Willey would come fourth. Great question well worked out for a bonus. At the end of the second round, the teams were tied, 8-all.

On to the Walls, and that podium. The Polyglots chose to tackle the Lion wall. They quickly spotted a group of pastries, and eventually isolated 'Baklava', 'Berliner', 'Profiterole' and 'Palmier'. They also quickly isolated 'Calman', 'Osho', 'Perkins' and 'Eclair', which are all surnames of female comedians. They quickly looked at the other groups, and isolated them: 'Tate', 'Hayward', 'Ikon' and 'Baltic', which are all art galleries, and 'Roller', 'Louvre', 'Venetian' and 'Roman', all types of blind. Well worked out, and a full ten points.

The Yorkers were left with the Water wall to untangle. They quickly spotted some connections, and quickly isolated two groups: 'Pounce', 'Massacre', 'Smile' and 'Pinch', which are words that end with imperial measurements (classic OC link that), and 'Jam', 'Pickle', 'Dilemma' and 'Fix', which are slang terms for awkward situations. In no time at all, the final two groups slotted in too: 'Treacle', 'Bakewell', 'Neenish' and 'Manchester' are all tarts, while 'Alfie', 'The Fear', 'LDN' and '22' are all songs by Lily Allen. Another full ten points. So, going into the final round, the teams were still tied, 18-all.

So, Missing Vowels would decide the game. 'Enid Blyton books' went to the Yorkers 2-1 after an unlucky miss by the Polyglots. 'Cliches a boss might use' was a 1-1 draw after another unlucky miss by the Polyglots. And that was time. At the end of a good close match, the Yorkers just emerged on top, 21-20.

Another fine half hour of quizzing. Unlucky Polyglots, who were unlucky in the final round, but we will see them again in their eliminator. Well done Yorkers, and we'll see them in their qualifier!

Next week's match: Spaghetti Westerners vs Mixologists (and some more familiar faces return)

Monday, 20 July 2015

University Challenge 2015-16: Round 1: Match 2: Liverpool vs St Peter's

Evening all. Hope you weren't caught out by the rain delay. Naturally, the Twittersphere wasn't very impressed. At least it meant I could watch EastEnders first. Lets just hope the weather behaves itself for the rest of the series. Anyway, as Paxo pointed out, we had a rematch on our hands tonight.

Liverpool University was founded in 1881 as a university college, becoming a university in 1903. Alumni include Stella Rimington, former head of MI5, and Chris Lowe out of the Pet Shop Boys. They sent a good team last year, who went out in the QFs to Durham, following an earlier loss to, er, St Peter's! Hoping for payback tonight were this year's foursome of:
Jenny McLoughlin, from Leeds, studying Biological and Medical Sciences
Jack Bennett, from Lancaster, studying Law
Captain: Robin Wainwright, from the Wirral, studying Biological Sciences
Ed Bretherton, from Bampton in Devon, studying Medicine

St Peter's College Oxford is one of the newer Oxford colleges, founded as a hall in 1929 and becoming a college in 1961. Alumni include director Ken Loach, foodie Hugh Fearnley-Whitingstall and the Reverend W. Awdry, creator of Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends. After beating Liverpool in the quarter-final last year, they lost to eventual runners-up Magdalen in the semis. Hoping to go one further than that were this year's quartet of:
Isaac Kang, from Sutton in Surrey, studying Medicine
Jeremy Thundow, from Herne Bay in Kent, studying Physics
Captain: Nathan Gower, from Lewes in East Sussex, studying Ancient History
Yaroslav Sky Walker, from Little Chalfont in Buckinghamshire, studying Theology

Off we set again then, and Liverpool got off to a better start, taking the first starter and two bonuses. St Peter's bit straight back, but only managed one bonus from their first bonus set, on wizards. Liverpool took two bonuses from their second set as well. The first picture round was on maps, with three countries highlighted, along with the distances from their capitals to another, unmarked capital. Yeah, me neither. Nor the teams. Even Paxo thought it was tricky. Liverpool eventually got the bonuses, but, unsurprisingly, none of them followed. Still, they led 50-15 at this point.

Liverpool carried on their apparent momentum by taking the next starter, but no bonuses from a tricky physics set followed. St Peter's, in contrast, took their second starter, and got all three bonuses on disputed Chinese territories. Liverpool responded immediately though, as they took the next starter, and a full bonus set followed. Liverpool's better buzzing skills were proving the difference so far.

The music round, on songs by artists found by YouGov to be popular among UC fans (yes, really), went to Liverpool, who took one bonus, and provoked Paxo somewhat by missing a couple of, what he considered, sitters! The Merseysiders led 100-40 at this point, but St Peter's began a fightback at this point, taking two starters in a row, missing all of the first bonus set, but taking two of the second. A third starter in a row for the Oxonians followed, but no bonuses went with it. Liverpool gave themselves more room to move, taking the next starter and one bonus.

The second picture round, on depictions of poets by Blake, went to St Peter's, who very quickly swept up all the bonuses to close the gap to 115-105. Liverpool quickly doubled their lead by taking the next starter, but just one bonus followed. Paxo was a bit unfair to have a go at St Peter's for a guess of 'limerick' when 'poetry' was what he sought; he wasn't that far off. Liverpool took the next starter, and a very topical bonus set on Lib Dem leaders (RIP Charles Kennedy) gave them a clean sweep and a potentially match winning lead.

St Peter's kept themselves in the game by taking the next starter, but just one bonus followed. And when Liverpool took the next starter and all three bonuses, that looked like game over. Liverpool knew, as did I, that Ben Hur was based on a work by Governor Lew Wallace (thank you QI). I claimed a second correct starter in a row, this time accompanied by St Peter's, but they missed all the bonuses. Liverpool took the final starter, struggled through two of the bonuses, and then came the gong. Liverpool won 205-130.

Not much to say about that match, except the better team probably won. Unlucky St Peter's, who were a decent enough team as well, with Paxo reckoning they were better than the scoreline suggests, and I suspect will just miss out on the repechage, but good work anyway. Well done Liverpool on a good first outing, and we shall see you again in the next round!

Jack Bennett was best buzzer of the night, with six, while Nathan Gower was best for St Peter's with four. On the bonuses, Liverpool converted 17 out of 35, while St Peter's managed 10 out of 24. Not great rates, though there were no penalties, which is good.

Next week's match: Kent vs Newcastle

I've decided to keep reviewing new Only Connect on here, even though our friend Dave Clark has returned now. And I will, of course, try to finish off my Series 1 retro-reviewing at some point.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Only Connect Series 11: Round 1: Match 1: Cluesmiths vs Operational Researchers

OK people, given that our friend Dave Clark hasn't posted for a couple of months, I may as well keep things going on the review front for the foreseeable future. In that spirit, here is a review of Monday's Only Connect, the first of the show's eleventh series.

Playing the first match of the series were the Cluesmiths, Mick Hodgkin, Richard Heald and John Tozer, and the Operational Researchers, Paul Allen, Clare Lynch and Alex Hill.

So, off we began with the first round. The Cluesmiths went first, and chose the Horned Viper: we saw 'Quintuple troth', 'Distress signal', '1963 Lincoln Memorial speech' and '1815 Belgian battle'. They guessed stations, which was wrong; the Researchers suggested ABBA songs, which was correct, the clues representing 'I Do I Do I Do I Do I Do', 'SOS', 'I Have a Dream' and 'Waterloo' respectively. Great question to start the series. The Researchers chose Lion for themselves: 'Derbyshire = Nottingham', then 'Northamptonshire = Wantage', 'Worcestershire = New' and finally 'Leicestershire = Grace'. They didn't know. The Cluesmiths spotted a cricket connections, but offered captains; it is actually county cricket grounds: Derbyshire's is at Nottingham Road, Northamptonshie at Wantage Road, and so on. The Cluesmiths chose Water next, and got the music question (the notes denoting the clues having been replaced by gramophone sets): after two clues they didn't recognise, they identified the third as Kelly Watch the Stars by Air; they offered 'stars', which was correct for two points, the other tracks being Stars from Les Mis and E luceven le stelle from Tosca. The Researchers chose the Eye of Horus next: '(e.g.) Dairy Milk (chocolate)', then 'Pringles (potato crisps)', then 'Ketchup' (vegetable) and finally 'Jaffa Cakes (cakes)'. The last clue was the giveaway: these are all foodstuffs that are the subject of disputes about whether they really are what was in the brackets. The Researchers knew it, for a point. The Cluesmiths chose the Two Reeds: 'Iago', then 'Francesco e Caterina', then 'Dewi', and at this point, they offered 'patron saints in the language of their country'. Correct, for two points. The Researchers were left with the Twisted Flax, and the picture round: we saw a full English breakfast, then a portrait of someone, then a bush of red flowers, and finally a golfing green. They didn't know, nor did their opponents. The man in the portrait was prime minister Earl Gray, so the answer was 'types of tea', English Breakfast, Earl Gray, Redbush and Green. No points there, so at the end of the round, the Cluesmiths led 4-2.

Round 2, What Comes Fourth? The Cluesmiths kicked off with Lion, and the picture set: we saw a white horse drawn into a landscape, then a paining, which they recognised as the White Hart; they spotted that these might be the commonest British pub names, and offered 'Red Lion'; correct, for three points. The Researchers chose the 'Horn-ed' Viper: 'Madonna', then 'Chris Cornell', then 'Jack White and Alicia Keys'. They offered Adele, which was correct; they are the singers who performed the title songs of the last four Bond films. The Cluesmiths chose Water: 'Teeth' (with a score through it), then 'Eyes' (likewise); at this point, they spotted the link to be 'All the World's a Stage', the famous speech from Shakespeare's As You Like It, and offered 'Everything' (crossed out). Correct, for another three points. The Researchers chose the Eye of Horus: 'excel', then 'el', then 'em'; they offered 'es', which was acceptable. The link is clothes sizes (XL, L, M, S). Excellent question, and well deduced for two points. For their final choice, the Cluesmiths chose Twisted Flax: 'Versus', then 'Kiss'; again, they tried for three, and offered 'Celcius', which was accepted. They are Roman numeral numbers in ascending order, so anything representing C would have done. Left with the Two Reeds, the Researchers saw '4: Abu Dhabi', then '3: Bilbao', then '2: Venice'. They offered '1: New York'; correct, they are the Guggenheim museums in descending order of establishment. At the end of a strong second round, the Cluesmiths led 13-8.

On to the Connecting Walls, where VCM appeared to be rather cleverly trying to hide her pregnancy with a podium, replacing her answer cards. (She is quite clearly pregnant if you pause on the reverse shot) The Researchers chose to tackle the Lion wall. They spotted several links straight away, and had a few unsuccessful gos at isolating a few. Eventually, they isolated 'Tito', 'Dover', 'Goosen' and 'Crown', all birds with an extra letter on the end. The second set followed swiftly: 'Pschent', 'Diadem', 'Tiara' and 'Coronet', which are all types of royal headgear. After some deliberation, they slotted in the final groups: 'Pie', 'Sniper', 'Hustle' and 'Beauty', which all follow 'American' to give the names of films, and 'Player', 'Frost', 'Sabbatini' and 'Locke', all South African golfers, a connections they didn't spot. Just one mistake, so seven points.

The Cluesmiths were left with the Water wall. After some wrong guesses, they isolated their first group: 'Sham', 'East', 'Haircut' and 'Shed', all of which precede numbers to give pop groups. Their second group followed a short while later: 'Thiamine', 'Riboflavin', 'Ascorbic acid' and 'Retinol', which are all vitamins. They took a while examining what was left. After two lives went, they ran out of time. They were left to collect group points: 'MDMA', 'Spain', 'Tocopherol' and 'Earth' are all represented by an E, which they got, while 'Shanzhai', 'Ersatz', 'Mock' and 'Faux' all mean fake, which they also got. Six points there. Going into the final round, the Cluesmiths led 19-15.

So, it was still a tight enough gap going into Missing Vowels. 'Excuses given by train companies' went to the Cluesmiths 3-1. 'Nicknames for newspapers' was split 2-all. 'Known by the initials AA' was another 2-all draw. 'Works of Handel' managed two clues, one of which was taken by the Cluesmiths, and the other was timed out. At the end of the show, the Cluesmiths won 27-20.

A good match to start the new series. Unlucky Researchers, well done Cluesmiths. We will, of course, see both teams again in their respect second round phases.

Next week's match: Polyglots vs Yorkers (and the return of some familiar faces)

Monday, 13 July 2015

University Challenge 2015-16: Round 1: Match 1: Glasgow vs Peterhouse

Evening all. We're back! The first match of a new series of University Challenge, hyped by BBC2 alongside Only Connect as 'Quizzy Monday'! Coupled with both of these was the welcome return of Fifteen-to-One 2.0 this afternoon, giving Deal a much needed break. Speaking of which, a member of the (Deal) forum has revealed that he is going to be on UC this series! I will make sure he get's a mention on here when his match comes. Anyway, let's go!

Glasgow University is one of the four ancient Scottish universities, founded in 1451. Alumni include Nicola Sturgeon and the late Donald Dewar. They fielded a team last year, who defeated Bath and were unlucky to lose to Liverpool. This year's foursome were:
Andrew Davidson, from Stranraer, studying Medicine
Vitali Brejevs, from Riga, studying Maths
Captain: Evelyn McMenamin, from North London, studying Geography
Ollie Allen, from Edinburgh, studying Maths

Peterhouse Cambridge is even older, founded in 1284. Alumni include Lord Kelvin, hovercraft inventor Christopher Cockerell and celebrity husband David Mitchell. They last appeared two series back, where they won a great first round match against Balliol College Oxford, and were unlucky to draw our old friends Trinity in the second. This year's quartet were:
Thomas Langley, from Newcastle, studying Chemistry
Oscar Powell, from York, studying Geological Sciences
Captain: Hannah Woods, from Manchester, studying History
Julian Sutcliffe, from Reading, studying History

Off we set once again then. The first starter of the series was taken by Mr Langley of Peterhouse, but no bonuses followed. Glasgow got their first starter immediately afterwards, and did better by taking one bonus. Not a promising start, though Peterhouse soon made up for it by taking a full set of bonuses from their next set. Glasgow did likewise. The first picture round was on maps depicting national trails; Miss Woods was rather lucky to have the 'Pennine Trail' accepted for the Pennine Way. The Cambridge side took one bonus, which gave them a narrow lead of 50-40.

Peterhouse began to pull away now though, as they took the next two starters, though just one bonus from each set accompanied them. Mr Brejevs tried to get his side a foothold back in, but instead incurred the first penalty of the series. Peterhouse took the next starter, and two bonuses from a set on the works of Graham Greene.

Neither side recognised Monteverdi for the music starter; the bonuses, on classical pieces inspired by the Orpheus legend, went to Glasgow after a replacement starter, but they didn't take any of them. They thus trailed 100-45. The Scots took a second starter in a row, and a set of bonuses on the 2014 Winter Games provided the comedy moment of the week, when Mr Brejevs tried to give an answer in Russian! Peterhouse took the next starter, and got one bonus from a troublesome set on Scottish monarchs. A second starter followed, and, again, just one bonus followed. The Cambridge side had had the better of the buzzer race, and that was what was proving the difference here.

The second picture round, on illustrations by Doré, went to Glasgow, and the gap was down to 130-85. The Scottish side still weren't out of contention yet, but when Peterhouse took the next starter, and all three bonuses followed, it looked like they'd have to work for it. An unlucky penalty for the Cambridge side helped, but another starter and two bonuses didn't.

With the four minute warning, though, came a fightback from Glasgow, as the Scottish side, Mr Brejevs in particular, found their buzzer fingers, and began to eke into the lead. They took three starters in a row, and a good haul of bonuses, including the old chestnut of Eleanor of Aquitaine's husband. The gap was now down to 25, but when Peterhouse took the next starter, that was game over, even though they struggled with the bonuses, on Italian football grounds. Glasgow did get the last word, taking the final starter, and then came the gong; Peterhouse won 185-155.

A good match well played by two good sides to start the new series. Unlucky Glasgow, but, as Paxo said, I suspect we'll be seeing you again in the repechage, which you would totally deserve on the evidence of tonight. Well done to Peterhouse, though; we'll definitely see you again, and best of luck when we do.

Mr Brejevs was the best buzzer of the night, with six starters, while Miss Woods was Peterhouse's best with four. On the bonuses, Glasgow converted 14 out of 25, while Peterhouse managed 16 out of 33, and both sides incurred one penalty each.

Next week's match: Liverpool vs St Peter's College Oxford, a rematch of a quarter-final from last series

Only Connect was back too, of course, tonight. I'll save comment on that for my full review, which I will hopefully do within the next two days. I will, of course, finish my Series 1 retro-reviews as well, when I get the time.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Only Connect Series 1: Match 13 (Semi-Final): Crossworders vs Science Writers

OK guys, I've decided that I will be covering the new series of Only Connect, which starts alongside UC next Monday, on here, given that our friend Dave Clark hasn't updated LAM for nearly two months. I will, of course, finish what I've started here, but the final Series 1 matches will be retro-capped sporadically, whenever I find a moment among the other work. I am going away next weekend, so I will do what I can when I can.

Anyway, playing the first ever OC semi-final were the Crossworders, Mark Grant, David Stainer and Ian Bayley, and the Science Writers, Arran Frood, Chrissie Giles and Peter Wrobel.

Round 1. The Writers went first, and chose Alpha: 'Charles I', 'Elizabeth I', 'Louis XIV' and 'William Penn', and I guessed that they all gave names to US states. The Writers spotted it too late, allowing the Crossworders to collect a bonus. They chose Beta for themselves: 'L.A. Story', 'Up Close & Personal', 'Groundhog Day' and 'To Die For'; neither team knew it, though the Crossworders did come close, that they are all films about weather forecasters. The Writers chose Delta next, and got the picture round: we saw Omar Sharif, then Paul Daniels, then Tony Hawk and finally Jeremy Beadle; again, both teams came close, but didn't hit the right answer, which is they all make/made a living with various sorts of 'tricks'. The Crossworders chose Zeta: 'First Folio', then '373g of sterling silver', then 'Barings Bank' and finally 'Lotto ticket'; they didn't know, but the Writers got that they were all bought for £1, which was correct for a bonus. For their final question, the Writers chose Epsilon: 'Shells', then 'Butterflies', then 'Priest Chokers' and finishing with 'Little worms'; I guessed meanings of Italian pasta names, which was correct, as the Crossworders knew for a bonus after the Writers missed it. They were themselves left with Gamma, and the music question: after three pieces, the Crossworders offered that they were all used in chocolate adverts, which was not correct. On hearing the classic 'Always Look on the Bright Side of Life', the Writers didn't see it; they were all songs with a whistling section! At the end of the round, the Crossworders led 2-1.

And it wasn't about to get any easier. Round 2. The Writers chose Gamma first: '4 = LDPE;', '3 = PVC', '2 = HDPE'; they knew it was recycling codes, but didn't know what came next. Nor did the Crossworders. It's '1 = PET'. The Crossworders chose Beta: 'Marlborough House', then 'White Lodge, Richmond'; Mr Grant spotted that these are birth places of monarchs, and offered 'Bruton Street', which was correct enough for three points. The Writers chose Epsilon: 'Eastern Europe', 'Aerial Recon.', 'Security Service'; they offered 'MI6', which VCM accepted, as they had the right idea, though 'Secret Intelligence Service' was what they really wanted. The Crossworders chose Alpha: 'Antigua & Barbuda', 'St Kitts & Nevis', 'Brunei'; they offered 'St Vincent & the Grandines', which was wrong. The Writers didn't know it. They are places that gained independence from the UK, so Hong Kong would be next. (That question could well have been outdated by now, had things gone differently last September, lest we forget) For their final question, the Writers chose Delta: 'Wheat', 'Turnips', 'Barley'; they offered 'Rye', which VCM let them have, as it is the Norfolk crop rotation, so 'Rye Grass' would be next, apparently. The Crossworders were left with Zeta, and the picture set: we saw various coins, which the Crossworders knew are all no longer in use; on seeing a sixpence third, they offered a ha'penny, which was correct for two points. At the end of the second round, the Crossworders led 7-5.

So, on to the Walls. The Crossworders went first, and chose to attempt the Beta wall. After some wrong guesses, 'Suet', 'Flour', 'Sixpence' and 'Peel' slotted in, which are all components of a Christmas pudding. 'Drummle', 'Biddy', 'Estella' and 'Pip' followed, which are all characters from Great Expectations. They studied what was left, and worked it out: 'Hannah', 'Naan', 'Level' and 'Peep' are all palindromes, while 'Honey', 'Mason', 'Bumble' and 'Mining' are types of bee. A clean sweep, and a well-earned ten points.

The Writers were left with the Alpha wall to solve. They fiddled about with the clues for ages, but had no luck resolving anything. They were eventually timed out, and left to pick up bonus points. 'Seal', 'Sting', 'Jewel' and 'Pink' are all one-word pop stars, which they missed. 'Goose', 'Dame', 'Baron' and 'Prince' are pantomine characters, which they did get. 'Bird', 'Count', 'Duke' and 'King' are nicknames of jazz musicians, which they missed. 'Soldier', 'Sauce', 'Biscuits' and 'Buttons' can all follow 'chocolate', which they did get. So, two bonus points picked up. Going into the final round, the Crossworders led 17-7.

So, Missing Vowels to finish off, as usual. 'Garden designers' went to the Crossworders 1-0. 'Religious texts' went to the Writers 2-0. 'Photographic terms' got two questions out, but neither was answered by either side. At the end of the quiz, the Crossworders won 18-9.

Unlucky Writers, but you came a good long way, and should be pleased with what you achieved. Well done, of course, to the Crossworders, and we'll see you when we get to the final.

So, I'll go on to the second semi-final whenever I can slot it in. Unless I can think of something else to post about beforehand, I'll be back on Monday with the new series of UC.

Thursday, 2 July 2015

University Challenge and Only Connect to return Monday 13th July

Yep, thanks to the Radio Times, it has now been confirmed that both University Challenge and Only Connect will be back for their new series on Monday 13th July.

I will, of course, be reviewing UC every week, as per usual. I will decide nearer the time whether to do the same for OC as well.

UPDATE 03/07: first UC match will be between Glasgow and Peterhouse Cambridge.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Only Connect Series 1: Match 12 (Quarter-Finals): Lapsed Psychologists vs Country Walkers

So, here we are at the final quarter-final, between the Lapsed Psychologists, Richard McDougall, Jack Waley-Cohen and Matthew Stevens, and the Country Walkers, Dave Roberts, Steve Lamb and Nigel Lewis. Whoever won would take the final place in the semi-finals.

The Psychologists kicked off the first round with Epsilon: 'The Duke', then 'The Parson', then 'The General' and 'Lady Agatha' to finish; they didn't know, nor did their opponents. They are characters played by Sir Alec Guinness in King Hearts and Coronets. The Walkers chose Gamma, and got the picture round: we saw a bust of some ancient figure, then a chemical formula, then a laughing Buddha, and finally the Laughing Cavalier by Franz Hals; they correctly answer 'laughing', the formula being for laughing gas, and the bust being of Democratus. The Psychologists chose Beta, and got the music question: neither side recognised any of the tracks, all of which had September in the title. The Walkers chose Delta: 'Thomas Cook', then 'Pickfords', then 'British Leyland', and finishing with 'National Express'; they tried 'transportation', which was not precise enough. The Psychologists didn't know it either. They are all companies that were nationalised. The Psychologists chose Zeta: 'Istanbul', then 'Kampala', then 'Sheffield', and 'Rome to finish; they suggested they are all cities built on seven hills, which was correct for a point. Left with Alpha, the Walkers saw 'table', then 'trap', then 'exam' and finally 'alarm clock'. Neither side noticed the link: they are all things that can be set. Good question, but no-one spotted it. At the end of a tough first round, the teams were tied 1-1.

Round 2, What Comes Fourth? The Psychologists chose Epsilon first again: 'First Term', then 'Second Form', then 'Third Year'; they thought the link was Billy Bunter, and thus guessed wrong, as did their opponents. It is actually the 'Malory Towers' series, so 'Upper Fourth' is next, apparently. The Walkers chose Alpha: 'Cape St Vincent', then 'Nile', then 'Copenhagen'; they tried 'Trafalgar', as they are battles won by Nelson, which was correct for two points. The Psychologists went for Zeta next: 'Sixteenmo', then 'Octavo', and at this point, they tried 'Duet'; not correct. The Walkers saw 'Quarto', and guessed 'Duo'; wrong too. The link is paper sizes, so 'Folio' would finish the set. The Walkers chose Delta for themselves: 'ZXC', then 'ASD', then 'QWE', and I guessed '123' would be next, as they are the first three keys on keyboard rows going up. The Walkers unluckily got it wrong, but the Psychologists knew it for a bonus. For their final choice, the Psychologists chose Gamma: 'Hypercube', then 'Cube', then 'Square', and they tried 'Line', as they are 4D, 3D, 2D, 1D going down. Correct, for two points. The Walkers were left with Beta, and the pictures: we saw a shoe buckle, then a door being knocked at, and then someone holding a pile of sticks; it was obviously 'One, Two, Buckle my Shoe', and the Walkers offered 'open the gate'. Not what TPTB had in mind ('Lay them straight' was the final clue we saw), but VCM let them have it, as they had the right idea. At the end of the second round, the Walkers led 5-4.

So, on to the Walls. The Walkers went first, and chose the Alpha wall. After some wrong guesses, they isolated 'Golf', 'Sierra', 'Victor' and 'Shogun', which are all makes of car. They spent the rest of the time trying to work the rest of the wall out, but ran out of time, and having the wall resolved for them. 'Echo', 'Explorer', 'Voyager' and 'Sputnik' are all spacecraft, which they got. 'Foxtrot', 'Tango', 'Tap' and 'Morris' are all dances, which they saw. 'Zulu', 'Water', 'Mona Lisa' and 'Ashanti', which they also knew. So, five points there.

The Psychologists were left to have a go at the Beta wall. They identified some links early on, and tried to unravel the links, but had little luck. Eventually, they isolated 'Wedge', 'Pump', 'Mule' and 'Brogue', which are all types of shoe. They were timed out before they could work any of the other links out. 'Wellington', 'Sandwich', 'Plimsoll' and 'Pavlova' are all named after famous people, which they did get. 'Custard', 'Vienna', 'Snowball' and 'Cookie' are all TV cats, which they spotted once resolved. 'Clover', 'Napoleon', 'Major' and 'Boxer' are characters from the excellent 'Animal Farm', which they also got. So, five points for them too. Going into the final round, the Walkers led 10-9.

So, once again, Missing Vowels would decide the outcome. 'PG Wodehouse characters' went to the Psychologists 2-(-1). 'Pilgrimage sites' went to the Psychologists 2-1. 'Cole Porter songs' was a 1-1 draw. 'Terms in calculus' only managed one question, which neither side got. At the end of the show, the Psychologists won 14-11.

Another good effort from both sides. Unlucky Walkers, but well done on a good showing. Well done Psychologists, and we'll see you in the semi-finals!

I'll be back next week with the semi-finals. I also expect we may hear news on the next series of UC soon; I'll report back if I spot anything.