Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Only Connect Series 11: Elimination Round: Match 4: Road Trippers vs Builders

OK, so, final match for a few weeks when a team will be eliminated. Playing for the right to stay on were the Road Trippers, Chris Pendleton, his son Ned and Nick Patterson, who narrowly lost to the Athenians first time out, and the Builders, Robin Whelan, Ian Orriss and Max Espensen, who were comfortably beaten by the Scientists.

Round 1. The Builders went first, and kicked off the match with Two Reeds: 'Approximately 10m x Pi', then '( (365 x 3) + 366 ) x 21.600', then 365.25 x 86,400'; at this point they ventured with the time Halley's Comet takes to complete a circulation', which was not right. The Trippers saw the final clue, '365.25 x 24 x 60 x 60', and simply offered 'a year'. Not right. It's the number of seconds in a year, expressed mathematically in four different ways. The Trippers opened their account with Lion: 'Seven consonants', then 'two vowels', then 'three syllables', and finally 'seven letters'. They didn't get it, nor did their opponents. They are all self-descriptive, 'consonants' contained seven consonants, and so on. Excellent, but maybe a bit too tricky. The Builders opted for Twisted Flax, and got the music question: didn't recognise the first or fourth, the second sounded familiar but didn't know it, and I did recognise the third but didn't know what it was. They spotted a connection with 'Hair', which was correct. The Trippers chose Water, and got the picture set: we saw Gordon Banks the goalie, then some chap I didn't recognise, then Britney Spears, and finally Jeremy Irons. Of the three they knew, they spotted that their surnames all have an S on the end. VCM let them have it: their surnames are all verbs: 'Gordon banks', 'Britney spears', 'Jeremy irons', and Tom Waits ('Tom waits') was the one we didn't know. The Builders chose Horned Viper next: 'Club sandwich', then 'iPod', then 'Billy bookcase' and finally 'Big Mac'. They didn't get it, nor did their opponents. They are financial indexes, or things that are used to compare currencies. Left with Eye of Horus, the Trippers saw 'Rut', then 'Loam', then 'Barset', and finally 'Borset'. The final clue gave it to them: you add 'shire' to them to get fictional counties. After a tricky first round, the Trippers led 2-1.

Round 2, What Comes Fourth? The Builders began with Two Reeds again: 'Endangered' on a yellow background, then 'Critically endangered' on a red background, and then 'Extinct in the wild' in white on a blue background. They offered 'Extinict' (in white) on a black background, which was correct for two points, the link being the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The Trippers chose Twisted Flax: 'Act of Settlement', then 'first GB census', then 'death of Queen Victoria'; they offered 'Goran Ivanisovic wins Wimbledon', the link being events of 1701, 1801, 1901 and 2001 respectively. Correct, for two points. The Builders chose Eye of Horus next, and got the picture set: now, I can't quite accurately describe what we saw here, but the link was ballet positions, 4th, 3rd, 2nd and 1st position. 1st position of feet facing away from each other with heels together comes fourth, but neither side saw it. The Trippers chose Water next: 'Death Valley', then 'Laguna del Carbon', and then 'Lake Assal'. They didn't get it, their opponents did: 'Dead Sea'. They are the lowest continental points. For their final choice, the Builders chose Lion: 'Conforms to EU safety standards', then 'compare'; at this point, they offered 'Switzerland'. Correct, for three points. The first clue relates to 'CE', the second 'cf', so 'CH' would complete the set. Left with Horned Viper, the Trippers saw '2002: Cafu', then '2006: Cannavaro'; they spotted the link to be World Cup winning captains, and took a chance on '2014: Neuer'. Not right. The Builders saw '2010: Casillas', and offered '2014: Lahm', which was correct for a bonus. At the end of a less tricky second round, the Builders led 8-4.

On to the Walls. The Trippers went first, and chose the Lion wall to tackle. After spotting some links, and trying to work out a few more, they isolated 'Skunk', 'Zebra', 'Giant Panda' and 'Orca', which are black and white animals. After some more wrong guesses, a second group fell in: 'Badger', 'Monster', 'Bun' and 'Trap' can all follow 'Honey'. After studying what was left, taking their time, they worked out the remaining two groups: 'Brother', 'Remington', 'Olympia' and 'Adler' are makers of typewriters, while 'Bee', 'Mandvi' 'Colbert' and 'Oliver' are correspondents for 'the Daily Show'. A well worked out full house, so ten points.

Left to try the Water wall, the Builders saw some groups immediately, and tried to untangle them; eventually, they slotted in 'Stiletto', 'Agent 57', 'Penfold' and 'Baron Greenback', which are characters in the recently revived Danger Mouse. (Odd that this episode aired on the same day the revived series began) They soon had a second group solved: 'Solti', 'Rattle', 'Toscanini' and 'Beecham' are all conductors (and one, of course, is an old friend of this blog!). They soon worked out what was left, and had fully solved the wall: 'Kitten', 'Cuban', 'Wedge' and 'Cone' are types of heel, while 'Hybrid', 'Iron', 'Putter' and 'Wood' are golf clubs. Another full house meant they led 18-14 going into the final round.

Once again, the match would be decided by Missing Vowels. 'Charity singles' was split 2-each. 'Classical musicians and their instruments' went to the Builders 4-0, while 'Payslip components' went to them 3-1. 'Buildings on the 'Heritage at Risk' register' only managed two questions, which were split 1-each. At the end of the match, the Builders won 28-18.

Another good match. Unlucky Road Trippers, but well done on two reasonable performances. Very well done to the Builders though; a much better showing than before, and best of luck in your next match!

Next week's match: the Cluesmiths vs the Yorkers

(Insert comment about Series 1 here)

Monday, 28 September 2015

University Challenge 2015-16: Round 1: Match 12: Clare vs Warwick

Evening all. Another first round match tonight, as two more teams aimed to make an early impact on this year's series. For tonight's runners-up, a losing score of 140 or more would give them a definite place in the play-offs.

Clare College Cambridge is the second oldest college of the university, founded in 1326, and known by its current name since 1856. Alumni include broadcasting legend Sir David Attenborough and wartime poet Siegfried Sassoon. It last sent a team to UC two years ago, who had a good run to the QFs before unluckily losing to Queen's of Belfast. This year's foursome were:
David Tremain, from Chelmsford, studying English Literature
Sarah Binney, from London, studying Physics
Captain: Olivier Grouille, from Stoke Mandeville in Buckinghamshire, studying Strategy and Counterterrorism
Ellie Warner, from Pulborough in West Sussex, studying Chinese Studies

Warwick University is a plate glass uni founded in 1965, and based just outside Coventry, its name coming from the county rather than the town. Alumni include comedy performers Stephen Merchant, Ruth Jones and Frank Skinner. It last sent a team three years ago, who defeated Aberdeen in the first round before losing a tense second round match to our old friends King's College Cambridge. This year's quartet were:
Hugh Osborn, from Norwich, studying Astronomy
Emily Stevenson, from Oxford, studying English Literature
Captain: Ashley Page, from Rickmansworth in Hertfordshire, studying Chemistry
James Leahy, from Shrewsbury, studying French and History

Off we set again then, and Clare got off the mark first, with Miss Warner taking the first starter, and two bonuses followed. A second starter and two bonuses went to the Cambridge side, before Warwick opened their account, and they too took two bonuses. But they then lost five to a slip-up, allowing Clare to pull further ahead. The first picture round, on flags of English counties, went to Warwick, who took just the one bonus, and thus trailed 50-30.

Westward Ho! in Devon was the giveaway that exclamation marks was what the next question sought after, and Mr Leahy obliged; his side missed all the bonuses, though they were unlucky to miss one. A slight allowance from Paxo gave Warwick a third starter in a row; they only managed one bonus, unluckily missing another again, but it had given them a small lead. A slip-up drew the sides level, but Warwick recovered by taking the next starter. Again, just one bonus followed; they weren't doing particularly well on the bonuses, but their buzzer work was proving sufficient thus far.

The music starter was missed by both sides; the bonuses, on operatic excerpts sung by characters in disguise, went to Warwick. They missed all the bonuses too, but still led 75-50. Another starter fell Warwick's way, and a much friendlier set of bonuses on moons of the Solar System gave them two correct answers. Clare finally broke back into the match courtesy of Mr Tremain; no bonuses went with it, but they were still very much in the game.

The second picture round, on stills from animated films produced by the Japanese Studio Ghibli, fell right into the hands of Miss Binney of Clare, who took the starter and all three bonuses, cutting her side's deficit to 95-85. But Miss Stevenson halted their momentum by taking the next starter for Warwick, and all three bonuses on chemical elements followed. Another starter fell to Warwick, and two bonuses followed this time, suggesting they had finally got into the swing. A third starter, and two more bonuses to Warwick, and they might just have put the game out of reach.

Miss Binney just about kept Clare in the game by taking the next starter, but just one bonus followed, though it did deservingly take them to triple figures. Neither side took the next starter, both unlucky to miss it, but when Warwick took the next starter, that was game over. They took two bonuses and another starter just to make sure of it. At the gong, Warwick won 195-100.

A somewhat slow match early on that woke up somewhat in the second half. Unlucky Clare, who managed a respectable effort, and I suspect could've beaten another team, but thank you for playing anyway. Well done to Warwick though; a decent first effort, but I feel they'll need to play better next time to progress; we'll see you again when that next time comes!

Mr Page was the best buzzer of the night, with six starters under his belt, while Mr Tremain and Miss Binney were joint best for Clare with two each. On the bonuses, Clare converted 8 out of 18, while Warwick managed 17 out of 36 (with two penalties); they'll need to improve on that next time, I think.

Next week's match: Queen Mary London vs Nuffield College Oxford

Another good half hour of Only Connect to compliment nicely as well tonight; I'll go into that either tomorrow or Wednesday.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Only Connect Series 11: Elimination Round: Match 3: Headliners vs Bookworms

OK, as EastEnders is on later in Scotland today due to a football match, let's see whether Top Gear and Don't Tell the Bride are more or less distracting while rewatching last night's OC. Once again, we welcomed back two promising sides who lost their first match. The Headliners, Duncan Enright, Paddy Baker and Dave Robinson, lost to the String Section last time, while the Bookworms, Katy Bateman, Dave Knapp and Tristram Cole, lost to the Wayfarers. Such a shame these two sides have to meet at this point IMO.

Round 1. The Headliners went first, chose Two Reeds, and got the music set straight away! Didn't recognise any of the three pieces we heard, but the Headliners did, and informed us, for two points, that they are all by artists who share their names with chess pieces (Stephen Bishop, Beverly Knight, Nat King Cole, and Queen would've been fourth). Good call. The Bookworms kicked off with Lion: 'Starting position in Shogi', then 'The Times crossword grid', then 'flag of Georgia'; they offered 'lines of symmetry', which was not precise enough. Their opponents saw the final clue, 'S', and offered 'rotational symmetry', which was correct for a bonus. For their own question, they chose Eye of Horus: '1965: Opened by Harold Wilson', then '2011: Defunct antennae removed', then '1971: Toppled by a kitten'; at this point, they offered 'things that happned to the BT tower', which was correct for two points. (The last one happening in a famous episode of the Goodies!) The Bookworms chose Horned Viper next: 'The Berlin Wall', then 'celebrity imperfections in Heat', then 'the right-hand side of the Daily Mail website', and finally 'losers leaving 'The Weakest Link''. The final clue gave it to them: they are all the (something) of shame, which was correct for a point. The Headliners chose Twisted Flax next: 'Apostle Matthew', then 'Ben Whishaw as a Peruvian', then 'Kensington blue whale'; they offered 'substitutions', which was correct for another two points. ('Ben Whishaw as a Peruvian' being a reference to his replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear) Left with Water, the Bookworms got the picture set, and saw Steve Jobs, then Marco Polo (who they didn't recognise), then a Volkswagen polo; that gave it to them! The Steve Jobs picture did not represent him, but a polo neck sweater, which he was wearing! Now that's... something. I don't know what! At the end of the first round, the Headliners led 7-3.

Round 2, What Comes Fourth? The Headliners kicked off with Water: 'Tigris', then 'Ra II'; they spotted it to be Thor Heyerdahl's boats straight away, and offered 'Kon Tiki' for three points. "You're too good!" exclaimed an impressed VCM. The Bookworms chose Eye of Horus, and, again, got the picture set. Now, bear with me here: we began with small block of brown and a larger block of light blue, then two equal blocks of pink and orange, and then two equal blocks of red and yellow. They offered 'left half green, right half blue', which was not quite right. Their opponents offered 'three quarter green, one quarter blue'; also not there. The answer is '60% green, 40% blue'. It is Monopoly properties, and the precise colour groups down the sides of the board. Excellent question! The Headliners chose Horned Viper next: 'Returns', then 'Forever', and then '& Robin'; they spotted a Batman connection, and tried to work out what would be fourth. They didn't get it; their opponents offered 'Begins', for a bonus. For their own question, the Bookworms chose Two Reeds: '1/2pt lager = 3', then '25ml gin = 2', and then '100ml apple juice = 1'. They offered 'half a glass of water = 0'; any amount of water was fine, as the connection is Weight Watchers ProPoints, so two points there. For their own question, the Headliners chose Lion: '7 = 900', then '6 = 720'; they spotted sums of internal angles of polygons, and thus offered '4 = 360' for another three points. Left with Twisted Flax, the Bookworms saw 'Manchester United (Preston North End)', and immediately spotted the link to be David Beckham, and where he played. They chanced a five-pointer, and offered 'Paris St. Germain (LA Galaxy)'. Not right. The Headliners saw 'Real Madrid (none)' and 'LA Galazy (Milan)', but didn't get it either. It's 'Paris St. Germain (none)'; they are the clubs Mr Beckham played for, with clubs he was loaned to while there in brackets. Very unlucky, and I believe the first incorrect answer after just one clue. At the end of the second round, the Headliners led 13-6.

On to the Walls. The Bookworms went first, and chose to try the Lion wall. As usual, they spotted some links straight off, and tried a few, before eventually isolating 'Winter Gardens', 'Illuminations', 'Tower' and 'Golden Mile', which are all associated Blackpool. They quickly bagged a second: 'South Sandwich', 'Solomon', 'Virgin' and 'Windward', which are island groups. They soon had the final groups pegged down. 'Grand square', 'Do-si-do', 'Allemande left' and 'Promenade' are square dancing moves, but they could only come up with 'country dancing moves', so a dropped point there. They had no such problem with the final group: 'Zavvi', 'Our Price', 'Rough Trade' and 'HMV' are music retailers. So, seven points there.

The Headliners then tackled the Water wall. They spent a bit more time looking out early groups, but couldn't isolate any. Eventually, they locked in 'Crazy in Love', 'Halo', 'If I Were A Boy' and 'Deja Vu', which are songs by Beyonce. A second group followed: 'Time Crisis', 'Quake', 'Deus Ex' and 'Doom' are first person shooting games. (Rainbow Six will always be the best one of those) They spent the rest of the time trying to work out what was left, but eventually ran out of lives. They thus had to pick up group points: 'Sea', 'Grave', 'Fringe' and 'Call of duty' can all follow 'Beyond the', which they didn't get, while 'Hacek', 'Macron', 'Circumflex' and 'Cedilla' are accents put on letters, or 'diacretics'. Five for that, gave them a lead of 18-13 going into the final round.

Still a closeable gap going into Missing Vowels. 'Issues around Scottish Independence' was a clean sweep to the Bookworms 4-0. 'Things you can take' went to the Bookworms 2-1, with the Headliners getting two right, but one wrong. 'Tournament formats' went to the Bookworms 3-1. 'Painters of $100m paintings' was split 1-each, with the Headliners being timed out before they could answer the third. At the end of the match, the Bookworms had come from behind to win 23-21.

Another very good tense match. Very unlucky Headliners, who, like the Bibliophiles last season, led right through til the final round, but well done anyway on a very respectable showing. Very well done though Bookworms; a superb late recovery despite several setbacks, and we'll see you again in the play-off round!

Next week's match: the Road Trippers vs the Builders

And, yes, Series 1, will be sorted out eventually.

Monday, 21 September 2015

University Challenge 2015-16: Round 1: Match 11: St Catharine's vs Southampton

Evening all. Onwards we soldier in, what Mr Weaver rightly described as, a very modest series. For today's runners-up, a losing score of 160 or more would give them a definite place in the play-offs. But, realistically, a score of around 140 would probably do.

St Catharine's College Cambridge was founded 1473 for students of theology and philosophy. Alumni include Sir Ian McKellan, Richard Ayoade, comedy sidekick Ben Miller and a Mr J. Paxman esquire. It last sent a team to UC way back in 1999-2000, who went out in the first round. Tonight's foursome were:
Calum Watson, from Stirlingshire, studying Maths
Ellie Chan, from Brighton, studying History of Art
Captain: Calum Bungey, from London, studying Chemistry
Alex Cranston, from London, studying Natural Sciences

The University of Southampton was originally a university college, which became a full uni in 1952. Alumni include music guru Brian Eno and TV man Chris Packham, while Internet pioneer Sir Tim Berners-Lee currently works there. It last appeared two years ago, where our friend Cromarty(IV) and co reached the QFs before losing to Manchester. This year's quartet, one of whom is following me on Twitter, were:
Will Cable, from Swindon, studying History
Sarah Stock, from Cardiff, studying Chemistry
Captain: Tricia Goggin, from New Ross in Ireland, studying Biomedical Engineering 
Roland Sadler, from London, studying Biology

Off we set then, and a question misunderstanding led to St Catharine's losing five straight away; Southampton took the points, and all three bonuses were a sign of early intent. Another penalty reduced St Catharine's to (-10), but no pickup this time. Another starter was dropped, then it was Southampton's turn to lose five. St Catharine's finally got going, and, after all that, they too managed all three bonuses. The first picture round, on covers of Horrible Histories books (rubbish reissue ones rather than originals, sadly), went to Southampton, who took another full house to lead 45-15.

A very quick buzz from Mr Bungey brought St Catharine's a second starter, and yet another full house of bonuses followed. An unlucky miss by Ms Goggin lost Southampton five, and pretty much handed Mr Bungey the correct answer. Amazingly, another full bonus set followed; that's five in a row! Considering the troubles the teams were having with the starters, that's pretty astonishing. The bubble finally burst in the next set, when St Catharine's only managed one of a tricky maths set.

The music round, on musicals with no spoken dialogue, went to St Catharine's, and provided much hilarity with a very weird extract from RENT, and a superb facial reaction from Paxo! No bonuses followed, leaving their lead at 90-40. A quick buzz brought Southampton back into the game, and two bonuses from a set on 'too much' followed. Another starter was dropped, before another very quick intervention from Southampton, and yet another full bonus set pulled them within five. Mr Bungey gave St Catharine's more space to breath, and two bonuses followed.

No one recognised Poussin for the second picture starter; the bonuses, on paintings representing the seasons, went to Southampton. They took two of them, cutting the gap to 110-105, and then what looked like a guess gave them the lead. One bonuses followed. Yet another starter was dropped, before Mr Bungey took his latest starter to draw the sides level, and two bonuses gave them the lead again. It was anyone's game.

Another starter from Mr Bungey gave St Catharine's more room to manoeuvre, but no bonuses followed this time. But when Mr Bungey took the next starter, and all three bonuses on the Chinese Emperor Yongle (including a reference to the Forbidden City, which I've been playing on a Rainbow Six game!) followed, that was probably sufficient to see them home. Southampton pulled a starter back, and just one bonus took them up to second in the play off standings. The match petered out with yet another dropped starter, and the gong finally went. St Catharine's won 165-135.

A pretty tense and enjoyable match, despite all the dropped starters. Unlucky Southampton, but 135 is certainly in contention for the repechage, so we'll hopefully see you again there. Well done to St Catharine's though; a fair effort, though I suspect they'll need to play better next time. We'll look forward to seeing them then!

Mr Bungey was, by far and away, the best buzzer of the night, with all nine of his side's starters to his name, while Ms Goggin was Southampton's best with three. On the bonuses, St Catharine's managed a pretty good 17 out of 27 (with two penalties), and Southampton a very good 15 out of 21 (with two penalties also). Two very good rates there. Allied with better buzzer work, you've got two good teams here.

Next week's match: Clare College Cambridge vs Warwick

Only Connect was pretty good tonight too. I'll go into it more either tomorrow or Wednesday.

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Fifteen-to-One 2.0: Series 3 Final and thoughts on the series

Fifteen-to-One 2.0 is a bit like MK Dons: it gets heavily slated by purists for not being what it used to be, but if you give it a chance, you'll find it's actually half decent. The final of the third series was today, so here's a quick summary.

Playing in the Final were: Ian Harrison, Peter Finan, Quentin Holt, Gareth Watkins (top of the finals board with 241), Mike Grundmann, Alison Spring, Kyle Hobman, Matt Guilfoyle, Fraser Lamont, Gordon Taylor, Greg Spiller, Mike Clark, Gill Munro, Harry Bell and Alan Heath.

All good players who had done well to win their respective heats. The first round was a testament to that: no-one got both questions wrong and went out as a result.

The players began to fall in the second round, with Mr Munro and Mr Hobman first to go before the pointless mid second round break. After that break, things picked up, and the players began to fall half rapidly. Eventually, Mr Holt was last to go, finishing fourth.

So, the final three were: Ian Harrison, Peter Finan and Gordon Taylor.

So, the final round: 40 questions on the buzzer, last man standing or highest score after the questions have been used up wins. And all three gave it a very good go. Mr Taylor was playing catch up from early on, after his first buzz was incorrect. Soon, he was well behind, and needed to catch up frantically. He gave it a go, but, with just six questions left, he ran out of lives and bowed out third.

At this point, Mr Finan was just ahead, with 132 to Mr Harrison's 131, and both had two lives left. He then took the next three questions, which put his score out of reach. Then, Mr Harrison pulled one back, and Mr Finan got the penultimate one wrong, cutting him to just one life. If he got the next question wrong, he'd lost. So, he played safe, and didn't buzz. Nor did his opponent!

And so, by just 11 points, Peter Finan won the series, and the £40,000. Very well done to him! And well done to Mr Harrison too for a superb contest.

So, that's the third series over with. The show is still in its slot tomorrow, but whether it's a new series or a repeat of one of the first two remains unclear.

So, did I enjoy the series? Yes, I did. Sure, it's nowhere near as quickly paced and impressive as the original. But, it just about works out in an hour long slot. The questions flow slowly and carefully, and, with the exception of the old natter, and the pointless break in the middle of Round 2, there is barely any padding.

Plus, the rules on returnees are much fairer than the original. In the original, you only got one go, and, if you didn't win the show, you had to wait several years before being allowed another shot. Which was pretty elitist, when you notice that a lot of the series were won by the same people over and over. Giving all players three gos to reach the final is a lot more fair, as it allows most players to reach their full potential, and not get unceremoniously turfed out in the first round after getting two unlucky questions. At least, if you have three gos, you stand more of a chance of getting something you know, and a chance of a run.

It's fair to say, as well, that, compared to the first two series, there weren't as many regular quizzers on the show. Out of the finalists, Messrs Holt and Heath are both OC alumni, but that's about it. I spotted a couple of others: OC champ Paul Steeples appeared, but went out in the final of his first show, while Sree Kanthamneni, who is on the current series of UC for the Railwaymen, won his show, but didn't make the final.

The undoubted highlight of the series for me was when a chap was asked which animal you needed a license to keep as a pet until 1987. He responded 'a monkey?!', and reduced the other players to hysterics!

Overall, it's been a decent series. Yeah, the standard hasn't been that high (the lowest score on the finals board was 103), but it's been perfectly acceptable viewing. And we'll be getting at least two more runs of it, though when they start is not yet clear. I'll keep you posted.

I'll be back on Monday with my usual UC write-up.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Only Connect Series 11: Elimination Round: Match 2: Collectors vs Mixologists

OK, time for two more OC teams to fight for the right to carry on in the tournament. The Collectors, Daniel Nazarian, Elliot Costi and Anna Kirby-Hall, were comfortably beaten by the Railwaymen in the first round, while the Mixologists, Chris Beer, Sam Swift and Ewan MacAulay, only lost to the Spaghetti Westerners by one point.

Round 1. The Mixologists went first, and kicked off the show with 'Horn-ed' Viper: 'The Commitments' Dean Fay', then 'Spider Murphy', then 'Zoot', and finally 'Lisa Simpson'. The final clue gave it to them: they all play the saxophone. (A friend of mine's sister was inspired to take the saxophone up based on Lisa S., incidentally) The Collectors began with Eye of Horus: 'Palau', then 'Laos', then 'Bangladesh'; they spotted it at this point to be countries whose flags comprise of one coloured circle. Good call for two points. The Mixologists went for Twisted Flax next: 'Darkness visible', then 'the Dementors', then 'a bell jar'; at this point, they offered things that are empty. Not correct. The Collectors saw the final clue, 'a black dog', and offered metaphors for depression, which was correct for a bonus. For their own question, they chose Two Reeds, and got pictures: we saw various paintings of various figures, the third of which of Frieda Carlo. They offered 'self-portraits', which was a very good call for two points. The Mixologists chose Lion, and got the music: didn't recognise the first three tracks, the final one was 'Yo ho ho, and a bottle of rum!'. They spotted a link in pirates, and that was correct for a point. Left with Water, the Collectors saw 'Department of Camembert cheese', then ''The Biggest Little City in the World'', then 'Roman Emperor 54-58 AD', and finally 'Mr Rubik'. They didn't get it, nor did their opponents. This was tough. The first clue is 'Orne', the second 'Reno', the third 'Nero' and the final one 'Erno'. They are anagrams of each other. Hard. At the end of the first round, the Collectors led 5-2.

Round 2, What Comes Fourth? The Mixologists kicked off with Two Reeds: 'Mo 20.00', then 'Tu 19.30'; they spotted it to be when EastEnders is usually on (unless there's a football match on!), so 'Fr 20.00' completes the set. Good call, for three points. The Collectors chose 'Horn-ed' Viper: 'Preston End', then 'Stirlingshire'; they offered 'Bromwich Albion', which was accepted. They are football teams with clockwise compass points removed. Another good three pointer call. (I'd have prefered 'Ham United', but there you go) The Mixologists chose Water, and got the picture set: the first was a couple I didn't recognise, the second a spark plug, and the third two boxers sparring. That gave it to them: the couple represented 'Sparks', then a 'spark' plug, then 'spar'ring, so 'Spa' of some sort is next. Two points for that. The Collectors chose Twisted Flax: '18 degrees: astronomical dawn', then '12 degrees: nautical dawn', and then '6 degrees: civil dawn'. They offered '0 degrees: sunrise'; correct. It is the transition from night to day. Two points there too. For their final choice, the Mixologists chose Lion: 'RN', then 'BQ', and then 'KB'. They didn't get it (but did have a hilarious guess!); their opponents offered 'NR'. Correct! They are the white pieces on a chess board: 'ROOK KNIGHT', 'BISHOP QUEEN', 'KING BISHOP', so 'KNIGHT ROOK' finishes it off. Good call for a bonus. Left with Eye of Horus, the Collectors saw: 'Start of 1929 Wall Street Crash', then 'Sterling withdraws from ERM', and then 'Irish budget deficit reaches 32% of GDP'. They didn't know it, their opponents did, offering 'Black Friday', or a variant thereof. It is 'Black Tuesday' through to 'Black Friday'. The Collectors unluckily worked it out, but the wrong way round. At the end of the second round, the Collectors led 11-8.

On to the Walls. The Collectors chose the Water wall. They spotted surnames of famous Jeremys straight away, and, after some unsuccessful gos, isolated 'Guscott', 'Kyle', 'Paxman' and 'Vine'. After some more wrong gos, they spotted a link in prefixes for 'yard', and isolated 'Grave', 'Court', 'Scrap' and 'Dock'. They knew the remaining groups, and quickly tried to work it out, but ran out of lives. They were left to collect bonus group points: 'Wolves', 'Cubs', 'Lies' and 'Cards' all come in packs, which they didn't spot, while 'Black Cats', 'Saints', 'Irons' and 'Bluebirds' are, of course, nicknames for football clubs. Five points there.

The Mixologists thus had a chance to recover lost ground, as they tackled the Lion wall. Two groups slotted in immediately: 'Muscat', 'Jeddah', 'Aden' and 'Dubai' are Arabian port cities, while 'Merlot', 'Syrah', 'Pinot noir' and 'Semillon' are wine grapes. After looking over what was left, they worked it out: 'Hound', 'Pooch', 'Mutt' and 'Cur' are slang names for dogs, while, and this is very clever, 'Kuwait', 'Eaten', 'Before' and 'Canine' are homophones of letter and number combinations, Q8, E10, B4 and K9! Excellent set! And a full ten points gave them a lead of 18-16 going into the final round.

So, Missing Vowels would decide the match. 'Things that have spots' went to the Collectors 4-(-1), then 'film titles with the first letter changed' went to the Mixologists 4-(-1). 'Six-syllable words' went to the Collectors 3-1. 'Things in a manicure kit' went to the Mixologists 2-0, and that was it. After a very close final round, the Mixologists won 24-22.

What a great close match! Unlucky Collectors, but very well played nonetheless. Well done Mixologists though; we'll see you again in the next stage.

Next week's match: the Headliners vs the Bookworms

I'll be back tomorrow with a look back on the final of Fifteen-to-One 2.0, which airs tomorrow. And, yes, Series 1 will be sorted at some time in the future.

Monday, 14 September 2015

University Challenge 2015-16: Round 1: Match 10: Reading vs Imperial

Evening all. We soldier on, all starting to wonder if St Peter's will actually reach the repechage with 130. As someone on the DoND forum said last week, who'd have thought Glasgow's 155 would still be top of the finals board this late in the first round. Speaking of the forum...

Reading University was founded in 1926, having originally been two schools of art and science, and then part of Christ Church Oxford. Alumni include eccentric poet Michael Rosen, music man Jamie Cullum and weathermen Jay Wynne and Tomasz Schafernaker. It last sent a team to UC two years ago, who lost to SOAS in the second round. This year's quartet, including DoND forum member Lewis246, were:
Macdonald Ukah, from Nigeria, studying Business Economics in Emerging and Developing Markets
Jan Kamieniecki, from London, studying Atmospheric Physics
Captain: Sammie Buzzard, from Cheshunt in Hertfordshire, studying the Modeling of Antarctic Ice Shelves
Lewis Blackshaw, from Exeter, studying Statistics

Imperial College London also began life as several seperate colleges, which merged to form a college of the University of London in 1907, becoming independent 100 years later. Alumni include antibiotics pioneer Alexander Fleming, cricketer Dr WG Grace and rock sensation Brian May. It won UC in 1996 and again in 2001; it last sent a team three years ago, who went out in the QFs. This year's foursome were:
Ben Fernando, from Birmingham, studying Physics
Ashwin Braude, from North London, studying Physics
Captain: James Bezer, from Manchester, studying Physics
Onur Teymur, from London, studying Mathematical Statistics

Off we set again then, and our man Lewis took the first starter of the night, and his side took two bonuses on Scottish counties. Mr Fernando took Imperial's first starter of the night, but just one bonus from their first set followed. Mr Bezer took a second starter for Imperial, and they this time managed all three bonuses. The first picture round, on diagrams of mathematical fractals, went to Imperial, who took two bonuses, and upped their lead to 60-20.

Reading took a second starter courtesy of Mr Kamieniecki, but just the one bonus followed this time. Mr Bezer took Imperial further ahead with the next starter, with two bonuses following. Neither side took the next starter, Imperial took the next, which Paxo appeared to think was pretty easy. ("Indeed, yes!") Two bonuses on volcanic eruptions followed.

The music round, on piano pieces considered difficult to play (yes, really), went to Imperial, who took one bonus, and increased their lead to 115-35. Reading subsequently fought back, with Mr Kamieniecki identifying the Scottish town of Paisley. (Been through it on the train many times) Two bonuses on Anglo Saxon rulers followed. Imperial resumed their buzzer work with Mr Bezer taking the next starter, and all three bonuses went with it. Another starter to Imperial was met with two bonuses, and took their lead to triple figures. Mr Ukah was first in to spell 'diphthong' for Reading, and one bonus followed, with another unluckily missed.

The second picture round, on artists depicted on film, went to Imperial, who were pretty lucky to have 'Roger Pattinson' accepted for Robert Pattinson. They now led 175-70, and then took another starter, and just the one bonus this time. Another starter to the Londoners, and that was almost definitely game over, and Reading were now playing for a place in the repechage. Mr Ukah took a second starter, and two bonuses on the Book of Genesis helped them to a half decent score, and the repechage was still within reach.

Imperial began a late surge now, though, with the hitherto quiet Mr Braude taking two starters in a row, and two of the bonuses that went with them. Mr Fernando then took two starters in a row, and a good haul of bonuses saw them surpass York's highest score of the series so far. Reading deservingly reached triple figures courtesy of Mr Kamieniecki, and two bonuses on mnemonics of the periodic table followed. One final starter went to Imperial, and that was the gong. Imperial won 285-110.

A pretty one sided match, truth be told. Unlucky Lewis and co; you were a decent enough team, and were unlucky to draw such strong opposition, but well done anyway on a respectable effort. Very well done to Imperial though; a fine performance, and we shall have our eyes on you in the second round!

Mr Fernando was the best buzzer of the night, with six starters, while Mr Kamieniecki was Reading's best with three. On the bonuses, Reading managed a perfectly respectable 10 out of 18, and Imperial a dcent 25 out of 45. There were no penalties.

Next week's match: St Catharine's College Cambridge (Paxo's old college!) vs Southampton

Only Connect was pretty good tonight as well. I'll go into more detail on Wednesday. I hope.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Only Connect Series 11: Elimination Round: Match 1: Polyglots vs Operational Researchers

OK, so now we've met all the teams in this year's teams, we've sorted them out in the preliminary matches, now we need to lose four and put four into the QFs. Playing tonight were two teams who lost their first match: the Polyglots, Dan Shane, Vicki Sunter and Lyndsay Coo, were unlucky to lose to the Yorkers in their first match, while the Operational Researchers, Paul Allen, Clare Lynch and Alex Hill, were more comfortably beaten by the Cluesmiths in their's.

Round 1. The Polyglots went first, and began with Eye of Horus: 'SP: 23.12', then 'D: 74.08', then 'H: 86.74' and finally 'J: 98.48'. No answer came, and their opponents were none the wiser. They are the current men's athletic field records. (Shot put, discus, hammer, javelin) The Researchers began with 'Horn-ed' Viper, and got the picture round: we saw a still from a play I don't recognise, then some horse racing, then some tacos and finally a sign for Costa Coffee. They didn't get it, nor did their opponents. They are all anagrams of each other (the play being the opera Tosca, and the horses representing Ascot). The Polyglots chose Twisted Flax next: 'Omelete', then 'Fritata', and they immediately offered 'they should have two Ts'. It was allowed: the other clues were 'diarhoea' and 'mising', so it was just missing double letters, but they were close enough. The Researchers chose Water next: 'Morocco Mole', then 'Akbar and Jeff', then 'Last-but-one Doctor' and finally 'the Shopkeeper in Mr Benn'. They didn't get it, nor did their opponents, though they both came close. They all wore fezes. The Polyglots moved on to Two Reeds, and got the music round: didn't recognise the first tune, did the second but didn't know what it was, the third was 'Don't You Love Me' by the Human League, and the last was Fairytale of New York. They didn't know it, their opponents did: they are all songs about couples arguing. (The tracks I didn't know were 'Shut Up' by the Black Eyed Peas, and 'Jackson' by Johnny Cash. The Researchers were left with Lion: 'The Pirate Planet', then 'Starship Titanic', then 'Last Chance to See' and finally 'h2g2'. They didn't get it, but their opponents offered 'Douglas Adams', which was the correct link, them all being creations of his. At the end of the round, the Polyglots led 4-1.

Round 2, What Comes Fourth? The Polyglots kicked off with two reeds, and got the picture set: we saw Freddie Mercury, with a zero in the corner, then the Venus de Milo, also with a zero in the corner; they buzzed, and offered 'Bruno Mars'. Agonisingly, this was not enough. The Researchers saw the third clue, a pile of earth, with a one in the corner, offered 'Bruno Mars, with a two in the corner'. That's it! They are representations of the planets, and the numbers represent the number of moons they have. Good question and horribly unlucky miss. For their own question, the Researchers chose Eye of Horus: 'ADT', then 'NutraSweet', and then 'Flora'. They offered 'Virgin'; correct, they are the sponsors of the London Marathon in order. The Polyglots chose Twisted Flax: 'Milton', then 'Hope', and then 'New Haven'. They didn't get it, nor did their opponents, though they had a reasonable idea. They are the birth places of US presidents Bush Sr, Clinton and Bush Jr, so Obama's birthplace of 'Honolulu' would complete the set. The Researchers chose Lion next: 'Narnia chronicler', then 'Body scan'; they spotted these to be 'CS' and 'CT', and thus offered 'CV' for three points. Good call. For their final choice, the Polyglots chose Water: 'Imprisonment/death of family member (4/43)', then 'Marital separation (3/43), and then 'Divorce (2/43)'. Neither side knew it. I guessed 'Death of husband/wife (1/43)', which was correct, albeit not for the reason I though. They are the most stressful life events, according to a survey from the 1960s. Left with Horned Viper, the Researchers got a rare music sequence question. The first was one of my favourite songs, New Order's 'World in Motion', the second was 'We've Got the Whole World at our Feet', so it was clearly England World Cup songs going backwards. They offered 'Back Home', which was correct. At the end of the second round, the Researchers had turned the game on its head, and led 10-4.

On to the walls. The Researchers went first, and chose the Lion wall. They spotted some links immediately, and quickly isolated 'Queen Mary', 'Goldsmiths', 'Birkbeck' and 'SOAS', which, as UC regulars will know, are colleges of the University of London. The second set followed: 'Telford', 'Oswestry', 'Wem' and 'Ludlow', which are places in Shropshire. They immediately untangled the remaining sets: 'Smeaton', 'Rennie', 'Brunel' and 'Bazalgette' are engineers, while 'Gaviscon', 'Setlers', 'Zantac' and 'Tums' are antacid medicines. A well solved full ten points.

The Polyglots had some work to do, as they tackled the Water wall. They two spent some time looking for sets, and eventually worked two out: 'Bandana', 'Chutney', 'Pyjamas' and 'Pashmina' are words originating from Hindi, while 'Ascot', 'Fichu', 'Cravat' and 'Kerchief' are types of necktie. They had a look over the remaining groups, spotted one set, but couldn't work the groups out, and ran out of lives. They thus had to collect bonus group points: 'Titus Andronicus', 'Mrs Lovett', 'Mrs Miggins' and 'Pukka' are pie makers, which they eventually spotted when pushed, while 'The Red Queen', 'Bellatrix Lestrange', 'Mrs Bucket' and 'Ophelia' have all been portrayed by Helena Bonham-Carter, which they knew already. So, six points meant the Researchers led 20-10 going into Missing Vowels.

The Polyglots would have to totally run the show from now on to stand any chance of catching up. 'Novels by Thomas Pynchon' saw both sides totally stumped, with the Researchers taking the only point of the round with the only buzz. (The round did include the very unfair answer of 'V'!) 'Things a satnav might say' was split 2-all. 'BBC series that have been running for 25 years or more' went to the Researchers 2-1, and that was that. The Researchers won 25-13.

A great half hour of quizzing. Unlucky Polyglots, but well done on two respectable efforts. Well done to the Researchers though, who did very well to recover so well after that slow start, and we'll see you again in the play-offs!

Next week's match: the Collectors vs the Mixologists

(Insert obligatory comment about Series 1 here) I also plan to cover the final of Fifteen-to-One 2.0 next week some time. Don't let the lack of a break in the schedules fool you; Series 4 begins the day after the Series 3 final. But that's another article.

Monday, 7 September 2015

University Challenge 2015-16: Round 1: Match 9: King's vs Sidney Sussex

Evening all. A first for the show tonight, I believe, as two Cambridge colleges faced off. I don't believe we've seen an Oxford or Cambridge derby in the first round before, but do correct me if I'm wrong.

King's College Cambridge was founded in 1441 by Henry VI, and is well known for its choir and their famous Christmas service. Alumni include author Zadie Smith and comedian David Baddiel. It last sent appeared on the show three years ago, where the team, which included blog reader Jim Gratrex, reached the QFs before losing to fellow blog readers Bangor. This year's foursome were:
Kevin Lin, from the US, studying Maths
Alessandro Mariani, from Italy, studying Maths
Captain: Jack Smith, from Nova Scotia, studying Human, Social and Political Sciences
Kamel Shah, from Kingston-upon-Thames, studying History

Sidney Sussex College Cambridge was founded in 1596 by Lady Frances Sidney of Sussex. Alumni include Oliver Cromwell, Lord David Own and Carol Vorderman. It won UC twice in the seventies, and one of those teams won the Reunited series in 2002, but its two appearances in the revived series, the second of which was also three years ago, have resulted in first round defeat. Hoping to put a stop to that were tonight's quartet of:
Nicholas Bennett, from London, studying Maths
Ellie Thompson, from Nottingham, studying Physics
Thomas Hitchcock, from Ashford in Kent, studying Natural Sciences
Dan Wilson, from Buckinghamshire, studying German and Russian

Off we set again then, and Mr Bennett was quickest off the mark with the first starter of the night, and two bonuses followed. King's had an unlucky miss on the next starter, answering 'Heart' instead of 'Heart of', and losing five in the process. Another started was dropped before Sidney Sussex took a second starter and a full bonus set on mythological creatures. King's took their first starter of the match, and one bonus followed, along with an amusing attempted nomination which was quickly abandoned! The first picture round, on UK rivers with shared names, went to Sidney Sussex, who took one bonus and thus led 60-10.

A rather complicated starter about interlocking gears followed, but Mr Bennett knew what it was on about, and a full bonus set very swiftly followed. Just one correct bonus accompanied Sidney Sussex's next starter, but it was enough to see them into triple figures. King's took a second starter, but no bonuses followed this time. They promptly lost five again on the next starter, but made up for it by taking the next starter, and just the bonus followed again.

The music starter was dropped, and King's lost another five on the replacement starter; Sidney Sussex took the points, and the music bonuses, on excerpts from operas set in Egypt. Two bonuses gave them a lead of 120-25, and the way things were going, it may already be enough. A very prompt intervention on the next starter and a full bonus set seemed to back this up. Mr Shah took another starter for King's with a good buzz of his own, but no bonuses followed again. This lack of bonuses, coupled with bad luck on the buzzer, was holding them back.

The second picture round, on stills from films set in the future, went to King's, but, again, no bonuses followed, leaving them trailing 145-45. And when Sidney Sussex took the next starter, and a full set of bonuses on events of the 21st century so far (which I got all of as well), that was pretty much game over. Another quick buzz from Sidney Sussex gave them a bonus set on royal familial relationships, which provided light hilarity with some very unfortunate wrong answers!

King's took another starter, and managed one bonus from a set on elasticity; Mr Smith delivered that right answer with a slight air of frustrated resignation in his voice, which was pretty sad to see. Paxo told him off for being so dismissive! One final starter went to Sidney Sussex, and the gong went before they could give the right answer to the final bonus. Sidney Sussex won 195-60.

A rather slow match to be honest. Unlucky King's, who were simply outplayed on the buzzer and couldn't capitalise when they did get it, but thank you for playing anyway. Well done Sidney Sussex though; a good performance, though we'll have to see them play again against a stronger team to gauge their full potential. Well done anyway!

Mr Bennett was best buzzer of the night, with four starters to his name, while Mr Shah was best for King's with three. On the bonuses, King's could only muster 3 out of 18 (with three penalties), while Sidney Sussex managed a decent 19 out of 30. That, coupled with better buzzer work, was where the match was won and lost.

Next week's match: Reading vs Imperial (good luck to Lewis246 of the DoND forum!)

Tonight's Only Connect was a pretty decent match, even if it was pretty hard. I'll go into more detail on Wednesday. I hope.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Only Connect Series 11: Round 1: Match 8: Scientists vs Builders

OK, we are now officially caught up with Only Connect. Playing this week were the Scientists, Innis Carson (a former Countdown semi-finalist), Ian Volante and Lorraine Murtagh, and the Builders, Robin Whelan, Ian Orriss and Max Espensen.

Round 1. The Builders went first, and kicked off with Two Reeds, and the pictures: we saw Alan Turing, then Stephen Hawking, then Julian Assange; they offered 'people who've had films made about them recently'. Not correct. The Scientists saw the final clue, the Smaug dragon, but didn't get it. They have all been portrayed by Mr B. Cumberbatch on film. The Scientists chose Water first, and got the music: didn't recognise the first two, the third was 'I've Got The Power!'. After these three, they offered 'acts with exclamation marks in their name', which was correct for two points, Snap! being the third group. The Builders chose Eye of Horus next: 'Insensitivity of cosmic microwave background radiation', then 'Norwegian banknotes', then 'Footballers' gestures' and finally 'Dick Cheney's residence on Google Earth'. They didn't quite get it, nor did their opponents: they have all been pixelated out. The Scientists opted for Lion next: 'Milan', then 'Your party', and they instantly spotted the lyrics of 'I'm Too Sexy' by Right Said Fred! Great question, and a good three points. The Builders chose Horned Viper: 'Abaft the mainmast', then '4 of 5 bells in the Elizabeth Tower', then 'Every 25th Hunger Games' and finally '113.4g hamburger'. The last clue gave it to them: they are all associated with quarters. The Scientists were left with Twisted Flax, and saw 'The Raven', then 'Little Weed', then 'Seagulls in 'Finding Nemo''; at this point, they offered 'characters who only ever say one thing', which was correct for two points. At the end of the first round, the Scientists led 7-1.

Round 2, What Comes Fourth? The Builders kicked off with Twisted Flax: '35th anniversary LP reissue, 2012: Universal', then 'After one week with A&M: Virgin', and then 'Following Grundy interview: A&M'. They knew it was to do with the forming of the Sex Pistols, but didn't know what came fourth. 'First single: EMI' completes the set, them being the consecutive record labels the group were signed under. The Scientists chose Eye of Horus: 'Ras al-Khaimah', then 'Sharjah', and then 'Dubai'; they offered 'Abu Dhabi', which was correct. The sequence is the component regions of the UAE in order of size. The Builders chose Two Reeds next: 'The only thing we have to fear is fear itself', then 'If you can't stand the heat...', and then '...the 'falling domino' principal'. They knew it to be phrases associated with US presidents, but didn't offer an acceptable answer. Their opponents offered 'Ich bin ein Berliner', which was correct, as the quotes in question are from consecutive presidents (FDR, Truman, Eisenhower, so JFK would be next). For their own question, the Scientists chose Horned Viper: 'RM', then 'RM' in italics and in an old fashioned font, then 'DM' in the original font. They didn't know it, their opponents did: the Euro symbol. They are German currency symbols in order. Good call. For their final choice, the Builders chose Water: 'Now Get out of That', then 'The Wizard'; they spotted it to be Top of the Pops intro themes, and offered 'Whole Lotta Love', by Led Zeppelin, which was correct for three much needed points. Left with Lion, the Scientists got the picture set; I can't really explain it, as it was a sequence of musical notes written. But the connection was 'Frere Jacques', and the pictures were the notes of the tune. They spotted it after two, and thus took three points. At the end of the second round, the Scientists led 13-5.

On to the Walls. The Scientists chose the Water wall, and immediately isolated 'Chapel', 'Temple', 'Kirk' and 'Church', which are places of worship. After some unsuccessful attempts, they isolated a second group: 'Britten', 'Disraeli', 'Zephaniah' and 'Spock', which are famous Benjamins. The final groups followed: 'Bones', 'Lewis', 'Castle' and 'Luther' are surnames of title characters of TV crime series (VCM was maybe a bit lenient to accept a slightly misworded answer here), while 'Scott', 'Deign', 'Fin' and 'Poll' are homophones of nationalities. A full house of ten there.

Lots of catching up for the Builders to do then, and the Lion wall they would be dealing with. They spotted some links early on, but had trouble unraveling the sets. Eventually, they isolated 'Colour', 'Cut', 'Clarity' and 'Carat', which are qualities of gemstones. They spent the rest of the times trying to untangle the rest, to no avail, and were timed out. They were left to collect connection points for the other groups. 'Shade', 'Hue', 'Tint' and 'Tincture' all mean 'colour', which they got. 'Category', 'Pigment', 'Bates' and 'Molesley' all start with names of mammals, which they didn't get. 'Carson', 'Hughes', 'Barrow' and 'Patmore' are surnames of staff in Downton Abbey, which they didn't know either. Just three points meant the Scientists led 23-8 going into the final round.

No real chance the Builders could close the gap, but could they at least have a respectable Missing Vowels round? 'Afflictions of the ear, nose and throat' went to the Scientists 3-0. 'They can be abbreviated to three letters' went to the Scientists 3-1. 'Suicides in Shakespeare plays' went to the Builders 3-1, and the time out sounded before VCM could fully announce the final category. The Scientists won the match 30-12.

A pretty one sided match. Unlucky Builders, who had some unlucky misses throughout, but we'll see you again in your next round. Well done Scientists, and we'll look forward to seeing you again too.

Next week's match: the Polyglots vs the Operational Researchers

Yes, I will get Series 1 sorted eventually. Just don't ask me when; I won't be able to tell you.

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Only Connect Series 11: Round 1: Match 7: Road Trippers vs Athenians

Time for some catching up then. Playing in last Monday's Only Connect were the Road Trippers, Chris Pendleton, his son Ned and Nick Patterson, and the Athenians, Jon Stitcher, Amber Marshall and Ben Holmes. Weaver's Week inform us that Mr Stitcher and Ned P. are both Countdown alumni.

Round 1. The Road Trippers went first, and chose Water: 'Andy Dufresne', then 'Ross Geller', then 'Obelix the Gaul' and finally 'Makka Pakka'. They offered 'paleontologists', which, slightly reworded, was accepted; they are all rock collectors. The Athenians chose Twisted Flax, and got the picture round: we saw Ellen Degenerus, then some chap I didn't recognise, then Lee Mack and Tim Vine was the giveaway clue: they all play characters with the same name as themselves in sitcoms. They took the final clue, which was Terry and June, which gave it to them. The chap I didn't recognise was Tracy Morgan from 30 Rock, a show I am only familiar with through its Frasier parody. The Trippers chose Two Reeds, and got the music question: I only recognised one of the pieces, 'Unforgettable', but didn't know the artist. Neither side got it: they were all semi-posthumous duets, sung by singers alongside another singer who had passed away prior to recording. The Athenians chose Lion next: 'Elizabeth and James', then 'Menace II Society', then 'Harvard Connection' and finally 'I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)'. They didn't know it, nor did their opponents. They were all created by twins, the final clue being a big giveaway none of us spotted. The Trippers chose Eye of Horus next: 'Fliffus', then 'Oliver!', then 'The Sixth Sense' and to finish 'Mobius Strip'. This was very clever, but neither side spotted it: they are all associated with twists. Excellent. The Athenians were left with the Horned Viper, and saw '35 Out of money', then '33 Illogical interchange', then '16 Outside zone' and finally '09 Ticket damaged'. They spotted that they are error messages from gates on the London Underground, and promptly earned themselves a point. At the end of a tough first round, the Athenians led 2-1.

On to Round 2. The Trippers kicked off with Lion: 'Marty', then 'The Apartment' and then 'Schindler's List'; they offered 'The Artist', which was correct for two points, the sequence being black-and-white winners of the Best Picture Oscar. The Athenians chose Water, and got the picture set: we saw a cat and an arrow pointing at a dog, then a bird an arrow pointing at a cat; they spotted quite quickly it to be the rhyme 'There was an old lady who swallowed a fly', so a fly and an arrow pointing at a spider would finish the set. Good question, and a nice rendition from Ned P! For their own question, the Trippers chose 'Horn-ed' Viper: 'France...', then '...armee...', and then '...tete d'armee...'. I can only echo Dave C's comments on LAM about this being too obscure: '...Josephine!' completes the set, as they are the concerns of Napoleon on his deathbed. The Athenians chose Two Reeds next: 'Kelly', then 'Kelly' again, and then 'Kennedy'. They didn't get it, nor did their opponents. They are the surnames of panelists of the old TV favourite Game for a Laugh, so 'Beadle', as in the late great Jeremy Beadle, completes the set. For their final choice, the Trippers chose Eye of Horus: '20: Brodick', then '10: Glamis' and then '5: Culzean'. They didn't get it, their opponents offered '1: Edinburgh', and picked up a bonus. They are Scottish castles that appear on RBS banknotes. I actually have a £1 note at my parents' house somewhere, gathering dust. Left with Twisted Flax, the Athenians saw 'Ageing', then 'Aluminium', then 'Foetus'. This was a good one: they are words which, in the States, have consecutive vowels omitted, so a word which have a U in British English, but not in American English would complete the set. The Trippers picked up a bonus. At the end of the second round, the Athenians led 6-4.

On to the Walls. The Athenians chose the Lion wall to tackle. They spotted some links, and tried to link them together. Eventually, they isolated 'Dutch', 'Cabbage Patch', 'Voodoo' and 'Matryoshka', which are dolls, and 'Pash', 'Drongo', 'Barbie' and 'Shonky', which are Australian slang words. The final groups slotted in quite nicely afterwards: 'Hi-hat', 'Crash', 'Splash' and 'Sizzle' are types of cymbal, while 'Backdraft', 'Cocoon', Apollo 13' and 'Rush' are films directed by Ron Howard. Well worked out, for ten points.

The Trippers were left with the Water wall. Again, some connections stood out, and they spent some time trying to sort relevant groups out. Eventually, 'Pitt', 'Mac', 'Clooney' and 'Cheadle' slotted in, which are actors in the 'Ocean's' films. A second group, 'Regent's', 'Richmond', 'Green' and 'Bushy', which are parks in London, followed. They quickly worked out the rest: 'Hyde', 'Salford', 'Eccles' and 'Sale' are areas of Greater Manchester, while 'Madeira', 'Angel', 'Marble' and 'Dundee' are all cakes. Another full ten meant, going into the final round, the Athenians led 16-14.

So, once again, Missing Vowels would decide the match. 'Phrases said by Del Boy' was split 2-each. 'Books titles with the colour changed', such as 'ANNE OF PINK GABLES', went to the Athenians 4-0. 'Fictional TV chat show hosts' was another 2-all split. 'British wrestlers' only managed one clue, which went to the Athenians. At the end of the show, the Athenians won 25-18.

Another good match between two well matched teams. Unlucky Trippers, well done Athenians, I look forward to seeing you both in your next rounds.

Monday's match: Scientists vs Builders

I'll get on to that either tomorrow or Thursday.