Monday, 31 August 2015

University Challenge 2015-16: Round 1: Match 8: Sussex vs Queen's

Evening all. Onwards and upwards into the second half of the first round. It's perhaps fair to say that, apart from Manchester getting (so heavily) beaten, we haven't seen anything that memorable so far this series. Maybe tonight's show would give us something memorable.

The University of Sussex is a plate glass founded in 1961 and based just outside Brighton.Alumni include novelist Ian McEwan, trusted newsman Michael Buerk and rock sensation Billy Idol. It won UC twice in the 1960s; last year, it sent a pleasant team who lost to St Peter's and Manchester in the first round and repechage respectively. This year's foursome were:
Oliver Raven, from Somerset, studying Contemporary European Studies
Anushka Dave, from Lewes, studying Science and Technology Policy
Captain: Seb Zarrelli, from Crowthorne in Berkshire, studying Astrophysics
Dan Elbro, from Cambridge, studying PPE

Queen's University Belfast began life as as one of three colleges established in 1845, and later became a university in 1908. Alumni include former Irish premier Mary McAleese and comedian Patrick Kielty. It too won UC in the ITV days, in 1981; it last sent a team two years ago, who had a decent run to the QFs before narrowly losing to SOAS. This year's quartet were:
Alistair Mallon, from Belfast, studying Irish Studies
Jethro Waldron, from Ripley in Derbyshire, studying Irish Literature
Captain: Jack Ruddy, from Dorset, studying History
Charlie Shimmins, from the Isle of Man, studying International Politics and Conflict Studies

Off we set again then, and Queen's kicked off first courtesy of their captain Mr Ruddy, and took one bonus on Canada. Sussex followed immediately, and they too took one bonus from their set on elements. Queen's took a second starter, and bettered their start by taking two bonuses. The first picture round, on Turner Prize winning artists, went to Queen's, but none of the bonuses followed (I got two of them), which meant they led 45-15 at the end of the first innings.

Queen's took the next starter to extend that lead, and took two bonuses from a good set on second lines of novels. Sussex were somewhat unlucky to miss the next starter, allowing Queen's to take it, and one of the bonuses proved handy for Mr Shimmins, for the Isle of Man was the answer! Mr Zarrelli took a second starter for Sussex, and a full set of bonuses on milk pudding ingredients showed they weren't taking being outbuzzed lying down. Another starter to Queen's, and one bonus took them into treple figures.

The music round, on artists who have performed at presidential inauguration celebrations, went to Queen's, who took just one bonus, and thus increased their lead to 115-40. Mr Mallon took a third starter in a row, and a full set of bonuses upped their lead to 100 points. Sussex broke back with the next starter, and they too took a full bonus set. A second starter in a row went Sussex's way, but no bonuses followed this time.

The second picture starter was missed by both teams; the bonuses, on portraits by John Singer Sargant, went to Sussex, who took two, and thus had sliced the gap down to 140-95. Another starter went Sussex's way, and, even though just one bonus went with it, you suspected they had now built up a head of steam. Indeed, they took a fifth correct starter in a row, and one bonus on test cricket reduced the gap to just fifteen.

But that was as close as Sussex would get, as Mr Waldron woke Queen's up again with the next starter, and a full set of bonuses US military interventions followed. A second starter in a row to Queen's produced no bonuses, but when Mr Waldron took a third, that was game over. Two bonuses followed, and the gong cut the next starter off. Queen's won 195-125.

A pretty good tense match that could have gone either way until Queen's pulled away at the end. Unlucky Sussex, who were a decent enough team, and I suspect they won't quite have done enough to reach the repechage, but well done to them anyway on a respectable effort. Well done to Queen's though; a decent first showing, and I look forward to seeing you play again!

For the first time this series, all eight players got at least one starter correct. Joint best buzzers of the night were Mr Zarrilli for Sussex and Mr Mallon for Queen's, with four each. On the bonuses, Sussex converted 11 out of 21, while Queen's managed 17 out of 33. There were no penalties all night, which is good.

Next week's match: a Cambridge derby between King's and Sidney Sussex

I'll review last week's Only Connect tomorrow night, and tonight's on Wednesday night.

Monday, 24 August 2015

University Challenge 2015-16: Round 1: Match 7: Christ's vs Kellogg

Evening all. Onwards and upwards, with the first Oxbridge match of the series. Most of the Oxbridge matches we had last series were memorable one way or another, so no doubt we were all hoping for another tonight.

Christ's College Cambridge was founded in 1427 as God's House, a school for grammer teachers, and was refounded under its current name in 1505. Alumni include Charles Darwin, historian Simon Schama and Sacha 'Borat' Baron Cohen. It last sent a team to UC back in 2010-11, where they had a good run to the QFs before losing heavily to eventual champs Magdalen. This year's quartet were:
Vivek Midha, from London, studying Economics
Joe Kitchen, from Much Hadham in Hertfordshire, studying History
Captain: Douglas Morton, from Bearsden near Glasgow, studying Law
Evan Lynch, from Castleford in West Yorkshire, studying Natural Sciences

Kellogg College Oxford, by comparison, was founded as recently as 1990, and takes its name in reference to financial aid provided by the eponymous cereal family. It is a graduates only college, and many of its students work by day, study by night. Tonight was the college's UC debut; hoping to make a good first impression were the foursome of:
Jake McBride, from Cheltenham, studying English Literature
Victoria Ball, from London, studying Sustainability
Captain: Jonathan Finlay, from Belfast, studying British and European History
Simon Dismore, from London, studying Cyber Security

Off we set again then, and a very quick buzz from Mr Midha got Christ's off to a good start. No bonuses followed, but Mr Morton took the second starter, and this time two bonuses followed. A third starter in a row proved a step too far, and Kellogg took the points to get off the mark. They took two bonuses. The first picture starter was dropped, and Kellogg lost five on a subsequent replacement starter; the picture bonuses, on diagrams of constellations, went to Christ's, who took one to increase their lead to 45-15.

Mr Morton took the next starter, and the films of Peter Morgan formed their subsequent bonus set, of which they took one. Ms Ball provided Kellogg with a second starter, and they took one bonus. Christ's took a full set of bonuses on their next set, on terms coined by alchemists. Christ's were acing the bonus rate at this point, and that was giving them a strong lead.

The music starter was dropped; the bonuses, on classical pieces in the style of the Cuban dance the Habanera, went to Christ's. The Cambridge side led 100-30 at this point, and Paxo felt the need to tell Kellogg there was plenty of time left, which, if he says, means you're in trouble. It seemed to work though, as Mr Finlay took the next starter, and one bonus on works by Banksy followed, with another unluckily missed. Comedy moment of the night came in a set of bonuses on French intellectuals, when Christ's suggested Jacques Chirac died in 2002; Paxo was more amused by them thinking him an intellectual!

The second picture round, on the names of countries written in their native language, went to Christ's, and they took their lead to 140-45. Kellogg were going to have to get a move on if they were to catch up, but another starter to Christ's meant they were going to have to get a move on. Another starter to Christ's, and a full bonus set, and that was most likely game over.

Kellogg did manage one final starter courtesy of Mr Finlay, and one bonus on bridges followed. Christ's took another starter, which only served to cement their win, and they took two bonuses on fish. The gong went just as Christ's buzzed in on the next starter; they won the match 205-60.

A fairly one sided match to be honest. Unlucky Kellogg, who were simply outplayed on the buzzer throughout, and I suspect would have fared better against another team, but thank you for playing anyway. Very well done Christ's though; a solid, if not that spectacular performance, and I look forward to seeing you play again!

Mr Morton was best buzzer of the night, with five starters under his belt, while Mr Finlay was Kellogg's best with two. On the bonuses, Christ's converted a respectable 19 out of 33, while Kellogg managed 5 out of 12 (with one penalty).

Next week's match: Sussex vs Queen's University Belfast

I'll be reviewing tonight's Only Connect next week, alongside next week's show, as I am not in a position to do it this week.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Only Connect Series 11: Round 1: Match 6: String Section vs Headliners

Right, time to look over Monday's OC again. Playing this week were the String Section, Tessa North (UC alumnus), Richard Aubrey and Pete Sorel-Cameron, and the Headliners, Duncan Enright, Paddy Baker and Dave Robinson. I wonder if Mr Aubrey is related to Gareth Aubrey, another serial quizzer whose credits include OC, UC and Fifteen-to-One 2.0.

Round 1. The String Section went first, and chose Two Reeds: 'Norfolk PE25 6EN', then 'Aberdeenshire AB35 5TB', then 'Berkshire SL4 1NJ'; at this point, they offered postcodes that are not in the county in question. Not right. The Headliners saw the final clue, 'London SW1A 1AA', and offered 'royal residences'; correct for a bonus. The Headliners chose Lion, and got the picture set: we saw a cockerel, then two ducks, then JS Bach and finally a pot of honey. They offered 'combs'; not right. Their opponents didn't know it either. They are terms of endearment. The String Section chose 'Horn-ed' Viper: 'Barley grains from the middle of the ear', then 'a London candle', then 'a day's work for a yoke of oxen', and finally 'a thumb'. They noticed that they are the bases for units of measurement, and promptly offered it for a point. The Headliners chose Eye of Horus: 'God Bless America', then 'the Cuckoo's Calling', then 'the entire output of Dorothy Parker' and finally 'Peter Pan'. They didn't get it, nor did their opponents. They got it after the time-out: the royalties from all of them go to charity. The String Section, hoping for the music question, chose Twisted Flax, and missed it! Instead, they saw 'Flag of Vietnam', then 'Google 'o's'; this was enough for them to offer the simple link of 'red and yellow', for three points. The Headliners were left with Water, and the music question: after hearing the four pieces, one of which was Sanie Shaw's 'Puppet on a String', they offered that they all share their names with playwrights; correct, the other artists being Glenn Miller, Kim Wilde and Shakespeare's Sister. At the end of the first round, the String Section led 4-2.

On to Round 2. The String Section kicked off the round with Two Reeds again, and got the picture set: we saw One Direction (and Zayn!), then Chris 'Coldplay' Martin, and then Kylie. They knew the link to be those who sang the first line of the various remixes of 'Do They Know It's Christmas?', but didn't know who did it on the original (and best). They remembered it to be Paul Young when it was too late, but their opponents missed it altogether. For their own question, the Headliners chose the 'Horn-ed' Viper: 'Oath', then 'Anointing', and then 'Investiture'; they recognized the sequence to be the stages of coronation, but offered 'Coronation' instead of 'Enthronement'. Their opponents missed the bonus chance, before choosing Lion for themselves: 'Saw III', then 'Cars IV', and then 'Alien V'; again, they knew the link to be film titles, and the numbers of letters in their name in Roman numerals. They offered 'George VI', which was sufficient for the points, 'George' being a 1972 film, according to the producers through VCM's earpiece! The Headliners chose Eye of Horus: 'Mikhail Youzhny', then 'Fernando Verdasco', then 'Jerry Janowicz'; they noticed they were all tennis players, but didn't know the sequence. They offered 'Djokovic', which was correct for two points. Their opponents informed them that they are the players Andy Murray defeated en route to winning Wimbledon 2013. For their own question, and final choice, the String Sections chose Water: '4th: Foot = Foot', then '3rd: Hand = Hand', and then '2nd: Tooth = Tooth'. The final clue gave both them and I the answer '1st: Eye = Eye', the sequence being the famous Bible verse about punishment (Exodus 21:24) going backwards. Left with Twisted Flax, the Headliners saw 'Jefferson City, MO', then 'Madison, WI', and then 'Jackson, MS'; again, they spotted that they were all state capitals named after presidents, but didn't know the answer or the sequence. The String Section offered 'Lincoln, NE', the sequence being state capitals named after presidents in chronological order. At the end of the second round, the String Section led 9-4.

On to the Connecting Walls. The Headliners went first, and chose the Lion wall. After studying the wall, they spotted some links, and tried various grouping unsuccessfully. Eventually, they isolated 'Hamlet', 'Capriccio Italien', 'Swan Lake' and 'Eugene Onegin', which they believed to be ballets, but are actually works by Tchaikovsky. They did know the link for the second group they isolated: 'Erie', 'Grand', 'Suez' and 'Herengracht' are canals. The final groups slotted into place immediately afterwards: 'King Six', 'Henri Wintermans', 'Castella' and 'Panama' are cigars, which they knew, while 'Spinet', 'Console', 'Player' and 'Upright' are keyboard instruments, which they also knew. Just one mistake, so seven points there.

The String Section were left to try and solve the Water wall. They spent some time studying the wall before trying any groupings. They eventually isolated 'Coffee', 'Slippers', 'Carpet' and 'Delight', which can all follow 'Turkish'. The second group they got, 'Risk', 'Bath', 'Race' and 'Errand', are things which can be run. The final groups they worked out promptly after that: 'Cabbage', 'Busby', 'Vandal' and 'Tankard' are words whose first half is a vehicle (Cab, Bus, Van, Tank), which they spotted, while 'Callaghan', 'Venison', 'Fowler' and 'Rush' are former Liverpool players, which they also knew. A full ten meant, going into the final round, the String Section led 19-11.

A lot of catching up for the Headliners to do going into the final round. 'Scottish authors' (which included both 'IAIN BANKS' and 'IAIN M BANKS'!) went to the String Section 4-0, thus ending the match as a contest. 'Items on an Indian takeaway menu' went to the Headliners 2-1, while 'Consecutive Shipping Forecast areas' (hope you were watching Cromarty(IV)!) went to them 3-1. 'French novels' saw the String Section get one right, another wrong, and then time ran out. The String Section won 25-16.

Another good half hour of lateral thinking. Well done String Section, unlucky Headliners. We shall await and see how you both fare in your next matches.

Next week's match: Road Trippers vs Athenians

You know what I'm going to say about Series 1, don't you?

Monday, 17 August 2015

University Challenge 2015-16: Round 1: Match 6: I.C.R. vs St George's

Evening all. It's fair to say none of the matches thus far have been particularly memorable so far, with the obvious exception of Manchester's getting trounced. Tonight, two London teams would no doubt be hoping to do something about that.

The Institute of Cancer Research, appearing on UC for the first time, was began life in 1909 as a lab in the Royal Marsden Hospital of Chelsea, and separated in 1948, becoming a college in 2003. Alumni include cancer research pioneers Sir Ernest Kennaway, Philip Lawley and Peter Brooks. Tonight's foursome, whose main ambition was apparently to make the college more well known, were:
Stuart Rankin, from North Berwick, studying Medicinal Chemistry
Ravindhi Nathavitharana, from Barnes in London, studying Molecular Pharmacology
Captain: Sabrina Talukdar, from North West England, studying Cancer Genetics
Josh Meyers, from Chiswick in London, studying Chemoinformatics

St George's is a medical college founded in 1733, originally in Hyde Park, but is now based in Tooting, alongside St George's Hospital. Alumni include smallpox vaccination inventor Edward Jenner, anatomy expert Henry Gray, IVF pioneer Patrick Steptoe and retired TV critic Harry Hill. It sent a very good team to UC three years ago, who lost to eventual champs Manchester in the QFs. This year's quartet were:
Alex Costley-White, from London, studying Medicine
Charles Nicholas, from Lewes, studying Medicine
Captain: Tom Burns, from Amersham in Buckinghamshire, studying Medicine
Lucy Studd, from London, studying Medicine

Off we set again then; St George's kicked things off first, and took two from a getable bonus set on Nobel Physics Prize winners. A second starter for the medics followed, but no bonuses followed this time. A third bonus set, on Mercury prize winners, proved more to their liking, though a humorous guess of Dizzee Rascal for an artist who shares his name with an author got them nowhere! St George's dominated proceedings until the first picture round, on train lines between cities (the starter being my local line between Aberdeen and Inverness!). I.C.R. got off the mark, but took just one picture bonus, leaving them trailing 70-15.

St George's dropped five on the next starter, but I.C.R. refused to try for a pick up, despite Paxo's encouragement! Miss Talukdar promptly took a second starter for I.C.R., and a set of bonuses on the 2014 Winter Games provided two correct answers. St George's started up again on the next starter, but got no bonuses from a set on Holst's Planets suite. A second starter in a row for the medics this time gave them two bonuses. It was their better showing on the buzzer that was keeping them well in front at this point.

The music round, on songs by artists who share their names with US president's surnames; they were unlucky to miss one of them, while another I recognised from the Simpsons, but didn't know who it was! They took the other bonus, which decreased the deficit to 95-50. Neither side got the next starter, on the final UK communist MPs. An unlucky slip up from I.C.R. allowed St George's to regain control, but no bonuses followed again. Another starter to St George's, accompanied by one bonus, gave them a strong lead going into the final round of play.

The second picture round, on stills from films on the Library of Congress' National Film Register, went to St George's, and they took all three bonuses, which took their lead to 145-45. I.C.R. would have to get a move on if they were going to catch up, or failing that, reach the repechage. Miss Talukdar was first on the buzzer to spell 'effervescent', and two bonuses on cities and their suffixes in search engines, gave them two correct answers. A second starter in a row for Miss Talukdar, and you began to think they could yet fight back. But when no bonuses followed, and Miss Talukdar then slipped up on the next starter, it looked like it may be game over.

Mr Costley-White confirmed this by identifying Kazakhstan as the ninth largest country ("What a weird thing to know!", Paxo quipped). Another started was dropped completely, but when St George's took the next starter, that was definitely game over. An appropriate set of bonuses on nursing gave them two correct answers, and a lot of laughter when they missed the other! At the gong, St George's won 190-70.

A pleasant enough match between two pleasant teams, even though it was rather one sided. Unlucky I.C.R., but you came across very well, and didn't totally disgrace yourselves, so well done. Well done St George's; a good performance, but I suspect you'll need to improve on the bonuses next time. We'll look forward to seeing you then!

Mr Nicholas was best buzzer of the night, with five to his name; Miss Talukdar was I.C.R.'s best with three. On the bonuses, I.C.R. converted just 6 out of 15 (with two penalties), while St George's managed 15 out of 33 (with one penalty).

Next week's match: Christ's College Cambridge vs Kellogg College Oxford

I hope to review tonight's Only Connect by Thursday at the latest.

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Only Connect Series 11: Round 1: Match 5: Wayfarers vs Bookworms

OK, time to have another look at this week's OC. Playing on Monday were the Wayfarers, Barbara Thompson, Gerard Mackay and Matt Beatson, and the Bookworms, Katy Bateman, Dave Knapp and Tristram Cole. Some of yous may remember Mr Cole (aka 'viking o'neil') and Mr Knapp from UC, where they reached the semi-finals of their respective series with Sheffield and Worcester College Oxford respectively. Mr Mackay also won the second series of Fifteen-to-One 2.0 last year, while Ms Thompson is a former champion of original Fifteen-to-One and Brain of Britain. So some serious quizzer pedigree in tonight's show suggested a potentially great match.

So, here we go again. The Bookworms went first, chose Two Reeds, and got the music immediately: didn't recognise any of the pieces myself, but they did, and noticed that they were all linked by reptiles, and promptly received a point. The Wayfarers started with Twisted Flax: 'Ring of integers', then 'Oskar Kokoschka's later paintings', then 'Change-accept button'; they buzzed at this point, and offered 'OK', which was correct for two points. The Bookworms chose Lion next: 'Gluteus Maximus', then 'Superfluous', then 'Marcus Ginatonicus'; they recognised at this point that they are Romans in Asterix, and thus earned two points of their own. (My own memories of Asterix are a guy dressed as a tree tumbling down a hill, but I digress). The Wayfarers chose 'Horn-ed' Viper: 'Song in 'High Society'', 'Whiskas slogan', 'Kenneth Wolstenholme commentary'; they spotted that these are the origins of the names of quiz shows (WWTBAM, 8 out of 10 Cats, They Think It's All Over respectively), and thus it was another two pointer given out. The Bookworms chose Water next, and got the pictures: we saw a snowflake, then a wind sock, and at this point they spotted that they are things that are seen, in different form, on roadsigns; they took a punt, and earned three good points for it. The Wayfarers were left with Eye of Horus, and saw '1877 Arthur Sullivan song', 'Man Booker Prize for 1970 novels'; they too took a three pointer punt, offering 'The Lost...', and were correct. A very good first round, at the end of which, the Wayfarers led 7-6.

Round 2. The Bookworms kicked off with Horned Viper, and the picture round: we saw a clock with question marks in lieu of numbers, then a man chained to a wheel, and then the rotating sign of Scotland Yard. They didn't know it, nor did their opponents. This was brilliant: the clock signifies 'When', Harry Houdini was the man on the wheel, Scotland Yard represents the Metropolitan Police. 'When', 'Harry', 'Met', and so someone called Sally would complete the set! Excellent! The Wayfarers chose Lion next: 'T: Tunis', then 'U: Kampala' and then 'Z: Lusaka'. They were timed out before they could offer anything, and their opponents didn't get it either. The answer is 'Z: Harare', as they are African capitals in alphabetical order of their counties (Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe respectively). The Bookworms chose Twisted Flax: we saw 'Green' in green writing, then 'Blue' in yellow writing and then 'Indigo' in orange writing. They, and I, offered 'Violet' in red writing, and we were both correct for two points. The Wayfarers chose Two Reeds next: '4th: Lucky', then '3rd: Pozzo', and then '2nd: Vladimir'. They spotted a link in characters in Waiting for Godot, and offered '1st: Estragon'; correct, they are the characters in order of their first lines. For their final choice, the Bookworms chose Water: 'T.! T.! b. b.', then 'In the f. of the n.'; they spotted the link was the poem 'Tyger! Tyger!', and tried their answer 'F. thy f. s.?'. Close, but not quite right. The Wayfarers saw the final clue 'What i. h. or e.', and adjusted the answer to 'C. f. thy f. s.?' Correct, for a bonus. Left with Eye of Horus, the Wayfarers saw for their own question 'General Post Office', then 'The Post Office'; they offered 'The Post Office', which was not correct. The Bookworms saw 'Consignia', and offered 'Post Office'. Not right either. 'Royal Mail Group' is correct; they are the names of the Royal Mail in chronological order, as both sides knew. At the end of Round 2, the Wayfarers led 10-8.

On to the Connecting Walls. The Wayfarers chose the Water wall to try, and immediately isolated 'Soul Music', 'Going Postal', 'Mort' and 'Wyrd Sisters', which are books in the Discworld series. The second set followed immediately: 'Habitat', 'Magnate', 'Harveys' and 'DFS', which are furniture stores. After some quick analysis, they had the final groups in place too: 'Dreams', 'Georgia Brown', 'Talkin' Guy' and 'Little Sixteen', which can all follow 'Sweet' to give song titles, and 'Sketch', 'The Fat Duck', 'Hibiscus' and 'Le Gavroche', which are all Michelin starred restaurants. They were maybe a bit lucky to have 'restaurants owned by celebrity chefs' accepted for the final set, but, nonetheless, earned a full ten points.

The Bookworms were left with the Lion wall. They took a bit more time examining potential sets, and trying a few, before eventually isolating 'Sandman', 'Brightside', 'Vain' and 'Bojangles', which can all follow 'Mr' to give song titles. Their second set followed: 'Blue sky', 'Lateral', 'Wishful' and 'Negative', which are types of thinking. They quickly checked what was left, and soon had the final sets untangled: 'Flat white', 'Espresso', 'Irish' and 'Lungo', which are types of coffee, and 'DSLR', 'Focus', 'Filter' and 'Exposure', which are photographical terms. Another full ten there meant, going into the final round, the Wayfarers led 20-18.

So, once again, Missing Vowels would decide the match. 'Italian cheeses' went to the Wayfarers 1-0, with both sides losing a point for a wrong answer. 'British and American equivalents' was split 2-each. 'Bridges' went to the Bookworms 2-1, with the final question ('Wayne Bridge'!) being timed out. At the end of a great show, the Wayfarers won 24-22.

So, that possibly lenient allowance in the Walls won the Wayfarers the match. Not that that matters much given the two game guarantee rules the series operates on. Well done both teams on a great half-hour of quizzing, and I look forward to seeing you both play again.

Next week's match: String Section vs Headliners

Once again, I'll reaffirm my commitment to finish Series 1 at some point.

Monday, 10 August 2015

University Challenge 2015-16: Round 1: Match 5: Nottingham vs Swansea

Evening all. I'm pleased to report you can now find me on Twitter: @jack_jmmcb. Don't expect too much from me; just general views on various things I feel the need to tweet about. Like tonight's show for example.

Nottingham University was originally part of the University of London, and became a university in its own right in 1948. Alumni include writer DH Lawrence and shoe repair magnate John Timpson. It last sent a team to UC back in 2011-12, where they beat L.S.H.T.M. (who including future OC champion Michael Wallace) in the first round and were unlucky to draw and lose to eventually runners-up Pembroke College Cambridge in the second. This year's foursome were:
Michael Alexander, from South London, studying Medicine
Ben Scrafield, from Sheffield, studying Chemistry
Captain: Alice Lilly, from Harrogate, studying American Studies
Mark Dennis, from Hucknall in Nottinghamshire, studying Maths

Swansea University was founded as a college of the University of Wales in 1920, and separated to become its own university in 2007. Alumni include two of the Manic Street Preachers, and Prof. Lyn Evans, head of the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. As Paxo noted, it last sent a team way back in 1996-97, where they were annihilated by eventual runners-up Open 395-85 in the first round. Hoping to do somewhat better than that were this year's quartet of:
Georgia Pigott, from Cannock in Staffordshire, studying Medicine
Dewi Goulden, from the Ogwen Valley in North Wales, studying Medicine
Captain: Adam Haines, from Hertford, studying Ancient History and Latin
Alan Owens, from Flintshire, studying Medicine

Off we set again then, and Nottingham were first off the blocks courtesy of Mr Alexander, and they took one bonus on communication devices. Swansea immediately followed them, and they bettered their opponents by taking two bonuses. A second starter in a row for the Welsh side followed, but no bonuses followed this time. The first picture round, on rivers and the flags of the nations they run through, went to Nottingham, who took one bonus to tie the scores, 30-each.

Mr Owens, who earlier bemused Paxo by introducing himself in both English and Welsh(!), took the next starter to give Swansea back the lead, and, again, just one bonus followed. A second starter in a row followed for Swansea, but a set of bonuses on US sitcoms brought, despite much hilarity (and a very welcome mention of Frasier), no points. Nottingham fought back with Mr Alexander, again, taking the points, and two bonuses followed, including a question about Slivovitz brandy which both they and I knew (thanks Millionaire).

The music round, on tracks from albums that topped the Pazz & Jop music critics poll, went to Nottingham, but no bonuses followed. Nottingham had a slender lead of 60-55, which got bigger after Mr Alexander made a very quick buzz, and a bonus set on terriers (with Huddersfield Town getting a mention) gave them two bonuses. Two more starters fell Nottingham's way, with just one bonus from each set accompanying them. They weren't doing terrifically well on the bonuses, but neither were their opponents, and it was their buzzer work that was giving them the momentum.

The second picture round, on depictions of Narcissus, went to Nottingham after both sides missed the starter; again, one bonus followed, which gave them a lead of 125-55. Both sides missed the next starter, Nottingham took the next, and, even though no bonuses followed, their eighty point lead may have been enough to see them home, the way things had been going so far.

Swansea promptly broke back into the game courtesy of Miss Pigott, provoking a 'welcome back' from Paxo! If they were to stand any chance of catching up, they'd need to pick up the bonuses as well as the starters. Just one came from their next set; a second starter in a row produced two, but even then it looked like too little too late. A third starter followed, taking them into triple figures (and confirming Manchester's exit), and they took the first two bonuses, but were timed out on the third by the gong. Nottingham won 135-110.

A low scoring match, with both sides doing OK on the buzzer, but not really following through on the bonuses. Unlucky Swansea, who were undone by that long static period in the middle, but a respectable effort, so well done. Well done to Nottingham though, and we look forward to seeing you again in the next round!

Mr Alexander was the night's best buzzer, with six starter, while Mr Goulden was Swansea's best with three. On the bonuses, Nottingham converted just 9 out of 27, while Swansea only managed 8 out of 21. That explains the low scores, though there were no penalties, which was good.

Next week's match: a London derby between the Institute of Cancer Research and St George's.

Only Connect was good tonight, with some serial quizzers debuting. A full review will, hopefully, be up by Thursday at the latest.

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Only Connect Series 11: Round 1: Match 4: Collectors vs Railwaymen

OK folks, sorry for the wait, but here is a review of Monday's OC. Playing were the Collectors, Daniel Nazarian, Elliot Costi and Anna Kirby-Hall, and the Railwaymen, David Smith, Bob Thompson and Sree Kanthamneni. Mr Nazarian was on UC for Churchill College Cambridge back in 2005-06; they reached the second round. And the Railwaymen are all train fanatics, no fans of Crewe Alexandra.

Round 1. The Railwaymen went first, chose the Two Reeds, and got the Picture Round: we saw Elvis, then Paul Sinha, and at this point they offered that they all wear white suits. Good call, for three points. The Collectors chose Eye of Horus first: 'com', then 'gem', then 'qual' and finally 'sted'. They got it from the final clue: you ad 'Of' to the start to give names of regulatory bodies. The Railwaymen chose Water next: 'Pointing to your eye', then 'Unfolding your palms', and, again they went for three points, offering 'things you do when playing charades'. Correct, for another three points. Needing to catch up, the Collectors chose Twisted Flax, and got the music set: after hearing three of the clues, none of which I knew, they offered that they are all originally done by someone else and then altered. Not right. The Railwaymen heard the theme to Friends by the Rembrandts; this gave away that they were all by artists who share their names with painters (wording not deliberate to avoid puns), but they didn't see it. For their own question, the Railwaymen chose Lion: 'Llanelli RFC', then 'A for Adultery', then 'Sir Percy Blakeney'; at this point, they buzzed in to offer 'scarlet', which was correct for two points. Left with the Horned Viper, the Collectors saw 'Obama (1965)', then 'Washington My Dear (1968)', then 'Roosevelt Rigby (1966)' and finally 'Hayes in the Sky with Diamonds (1967)'. They got it on the last clue: they are Beatles songs with the forenames of US first ladies in them, with the name changed to the surname. Excellent question! At the end of the first round, the Railwaymen led 8-2.

On to Round 2. The Railwaymen chose Two Reeds first: '31,102 verses', then '1,189 chapters' and then '66 books'; I suggested '2 testaments', as did they, and we were both right for two points. The Collectors chose Twisted Flax: 'Garth Morrison', then 'George Purdy'; they offered 'Samuel Colt', which was not correct. The Railwaymen saw 'Peter Duncan'; I offered 'Bear Grylls' when I saw this, as they are Chief Scouts in order to most recent. But they didn't see it. For their own question, they chose Eye of Horus, and got the picture round: we saw an African lady, then a New York baseball player, then an X-ray. They didn't know, their opponents did: a glass of whiskey. Its the Phonetic alphabet backwards: a Zulu, a New York Yankee, an X-ray, so 'whiskey' would be next. For their own question, the Collectors chose the Horned Viper: 'AZ Alkmaar', then 'Bayern Munich', then 'Netherlands'; this allowed them to offer 'Manchester United' for two points, as the most recent football club to be managed by Louis van Gaal. For their final question, the Railwaymen chose Lion: 'Riots', then 'Death of Lady Thatcher' and then 'Chemical weapons in Syria'; they knew it was causes of parliamentary recalls, but didn't know what came fourth. Nor did their opponents. 'Iraq airstrikes' completed the set. The Collectors were left with Water, and saw 'Ditto', then 'Rhenium', and then 'Michigan'. Again, they didn't know, but the opposition did. They offered 'Fa', the sequence being the major scale: 'do', 'Re', 'Mi' and so on. At the end of the second round, the Railwaymen led 11-5.

The Walls next. The Collectors went first, and chose the Water wall. They spotted a groups of words signifying the start of something and eventually isolated 'Genesis', 'Seed', 'Dawn' and 'Fount'. They spotted other links, and tried various combos, but couldn't isolate any more groups. They were timed out, and left to pick up bonuses from sets they missed. 'Question', 'Water', 'Birth' and 'Trade' are all types of mark, which they knew. 'Stretch', 'Plot', 'Parcel' and 'Belt' are areas of land, which they also knew. 'Barb', 'Fruit', 'Sect' and 'Tract' can all precede 'arian', which they didn't get. Four points there then.

The Railwaymen were left with the Lion wall. Again, they spotted some links, but had trouble isolating groups. Eventually, they managed to lock in 'O Briain', 'Solon', 'Djalili' and 'Whitehall', which are surnames of comedians, and 'Justinian', 'Hammurabi', 'Draco' and 'Moses', which are ancient lawmakers. They were timed out before they could work out the rest, and, again, were left to collect bonuses. 'Negus', 'Glogg', 'Gluhwein' and 'Bishop' are mulled drinks, which they got, while 'Rats', 'Blast', 'Damn' and 'Brother' are exclamations of annoyance, which they also got. Six points there meant they led 17-9 going into the final round.

A bit of a gap for the Collectors, but any gap is theoretically closable in the Missing Vowels round. 'Ways to descend a mountain' went to the Railwaymen 3-0. 'Famous people who lived together' proved very hard, with the sides sharing the points 1-each. Things that 'might contain insects' went to the Railwaymen 2-0, and was timed out after those two questions. At the end of the show, the Railwaymen won 23-10.

Another good match, though not as good as the prior matches. Unlucky Collectors, well done Railwaymen, we'll see you both again in your next matches.

Next week's match: Wayfarers vs Bookworms, and the return of some familiar faces

I'll be back with UC on Monday, and hopefully will get next week's OC done earlier. I'll also try to get Series 1 sorted at some point, but the new stuff gets priority.

Monday, 3 August 2015

University Challenge 2015-16: Round 1: Match 4: Manchester vs York

Evening all. My write-ups will be a bit later from now on, as I've decided to wait until after Only Connect is over before starting writing. I hope this will mean I can put more effort into them and not rush to try and finish before OC is over. The moving of Classic Millionaire on Challenge to a later slot helps too. On to tonight's show.

Manchester has developed a formidable reputation on UC in past seasons, reaching at least the semi-finals every series between 2004-05 and 2013-14 (except 2010-11, which they sat out). That bubble burst last season, when they were knocked out by eventual champs Caius in the second round. No doubt hoping to reestablish their reputation were this year's foursome of:
James Haughton, from Manchester, studying Maths and Physics
Osnat Katz, from North London, studying Physics with Study in Europe
Captain: Graham Abbott, from Bolton, studying Theology
Jacob Roberts, from Oldham, studying History

York University was founded in 1965 as a plate glass uni, and is nowadays well known for its many duck inhabitants! Human alumni include football chairman Greg Dyke and authors Graham Swift and Anthony Horowitz. Its most successful UC team was the one that came second in 2010-11; last year's team were unlucky to lose to Durham in the second round, and recently popped up on OC as the Yorkers. This year's quartet were:
Barto Joly de Lotbiniere, from London, studying History
Sam Smith, from Guernsey, studying Chemistry
Captain: David Landon Cole, from Yeovil, studying Politics
Joseph McLoughlin, from Oldham, studying Chemistry

Off we set again then, and York got off the mark first, with Mr Joly de Lotbiniere taking the first starter, and all three bonuses from the first set showed they meant business. Mr Cole very quickly took the second starter, but just one bonus followed this time. Manchester got going courtesy of Miss Katz (who may or may not have been Manchester's reserve last year), but no bonuses from a tough set on hedgerow fruits followed. The first picture round, on outlines of island nations, went to York, who swept up all three bonuses, and upped their lead to 65-10.

Manchester fought back with the next starter, and provided an amusing moment when Mr Roberts asked to be nominated, but then forgot what his answer was! They took one of the other two. A second starter in a row for Manchester followed, and a full bonus set on sporting trophies bought them back into contention. Mr Cole took the next starter for York, though, and a third full set of bonuses went with it. Three slip-ups in a row followed, one for Manchester, one for York, and then a second for York, which Manchester picked up. They took two bonuses.

The music round, on classical excerpts involving swans in some sort of peril (yes, really), went to York; comedy moment of the night was Paxo's slight chuckle at the notion of a swan being roasted on a spit! (Try typing that without corpsing!) York took one bonus, and thus lead 95-65. Manchester bit back with the next starter, but no bonuses from a set on sweeteners followed. Mr Joly de Lotbiniere took his second starter of the night, and two bonuses on German battleships followed. Another starter and two bonuses for York followed, giving them a 60-point lead, and Manchester had a hard mountain to climb.

The second picture round, on celebs who have appeared in the Archers, went to York, who took two bonuses again, and upped their lead to 155-75. Manchester showed that maybe they weren't beaten yet, as Mr Haughton made a very impressive buzz that even Paxo was caught out by! One bonus on world heritage sites followed. Mr Smith took the next starter for York, and they took all three bonuses on the work of Teddy Roosevelt, including the short lived Bull Moose party. A very quick buzz from Mr Smith followed, as did another full bonus set, and that was game over for Manchester.

So now it was just a question of whether Manchester could rally and rack up a good repechage score. Mr Cole didn't seem to want to let them though, as he took the next starter, and two bonuses followed. The next went to Mr Smith, who recognised Cambridge as the starting point of Stage 3 of last year's Tour de France. Once again, two bonuses followed. A final starter for York and another couple of bonuses, and the gong finally brought the match to a close. York won, 265-90.

Well, I don't think many people would have predicted that scoreline that way round. Unlucky Manchester, who were simply outplayed by a better side, and could well have done better against another team, but well done anyway. Very well done to York though; a very strong performance on the buzzer and the bonuses, and we shall look forward to seeing you in the next round!

Mr Smith was the best buzzer of the night, with six, while Mr Houghton was Manchester's best with three. Again, the bonus rates were telling: Manchester converted just 7 out of 18 (with one penalty), but York managed a superb 29 out of 39 (with two penalties). These chaps look like a team to watch, methinks.

Next week's match: Swansea vs Nottingham

I'll try to see if I can review OC either tonight or Wednesday night. It may be harder, given that I've already seen it tonight.