Friday, 30 December 2016

Christmas University Challenge: Matches 6-10 (Sunday 25th - Thursday 29th)

OK, this will probably be my last blog post of the year, so lets get this over and done with: the second week's play on Christmas UC! Again, I haven't really watched much of these matches since they aired, so minimalistic summaries.

Sunday 25th: Magdalene Cambridge vs St Hilda's Oxford
Magdalene: Stefan Wolff, Clemency Burton-Hill, Chris Lintott, Mike Newell
St Hilda's: Fiona Caldicott, Daisy Dunn, Val McDermid, Adele Geras

So, Christmas Day action, and, in terms of entertainment, a cracking half hour of television, highlight being a picture round on DC Thompson cartoons, which was slightly spoiled somewhat when Paxo called Oor Wullie and the Broons 'naff cartoons'! Typical sassenach! Ms McDermid took these, ending the match with eight starters to her name, as St Hilda's won 225-65. Magdalene: not a bad team, but easily second best here. 

Monday 26th: Bristol vs Nottingham
Bristol: Miranda Krestovnikoff, Kate Quilton, Will Hutton, June Myerson
Nottingham: David Florence, Nick Miller, Chris Hawkins, Frances Spalding

Kudos to both teams for having a go, but it did feel like, with all due respect, they were struggling to understand the way the game works, and thus neither could really get into second gear. The final score: Nottingham won, 75-70. Yes, a 75 point winning score.

Tuesday 27th: Kent vs Leeds
The first second round match, and by a mile the best of the series. Like last time, Kent ran out to an early lead, with Paul Ross again dominating the buzzer race. But Leeds remained within touching distance, and a timely surge on the buzzer put them on level terms. Then both sides incurred a penalty, both took the resultant starters, and at the gong it was 130-each! The first tie-breaker was dropped, the second was taken by Steve Bell, and Leeds had done it!

Wednesday 28th: St Anne's vs St Hilda's
Quite possibly the first ever match between two all-female teams! Certainly under Paxo's watch. Sadly, not as good a match as the other semi-final. It started off close, with the teams swapping starters. Then St Hilda's took a steady lead, and though St Anne's pulled close a few times, they never quite managed to catch up again. St Hilda's pulled away in the final minutes, and won 165-75.

Thursday 29th: Leeds vs St Hilda's
The final of the series started off close enough, before two consecutive penalties (including a candidate for best wrong answer ever from Mr Bell!) damaged Leeds' chances beyond repair, and though they did recover to a respectable finish, they were never really on the ball for the rest of the match. St Hilda's didn't seem as on form as they had been before, but they still emerged triumphant 160-55 to win the series.

Well done to them, and thanks very much all fourteen teams for an enjoyable mini series!

So, back to normal service on Monday, with Corpus Christi vs Peterhouse, followed by Oriel vs Bristol the week after. And don't forget, Only Connect moves to Fridays as of next week, so don't get caught out by that change. See yous on Monday, hopefully. 

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Christmas University Challenge 2016: Matches 1-5 (Monday 19th - Friday 23rd)

All right everybody, time to recap the week's events on Christmas University Challenge. Fair to say its one of the things we all look out for every year, especially if you're not a fan of the rest of the stuff on across the period. Currently watching Michael McIntyre myself, though will try not to let it distract me too much! These summaries are based on memory only, as I've only just had a quick flick through the shows just now, but I'll try to be as accurate as I can.

Monday 19th: Manchester vs St Anne's Oxford
Manchester: Sir Philip Craven, Sarfraz Manzoor, Simon Armitage, Erica McAlister
St Anne's: Rebecca Morelle, Dr Janina Ramirez, Mary Archer, Jacky Rowland

To kick the series off, a match that started close, with St Anne's only maintaining a slight lead over Manchester at first. But then Mr Armitage slipped up when he buzzed then forgot his answer, and, though St Anne's didn't pick up, Manchester never really recovered. The Oxford side raced away on the buzzer, and, though Manchester did recover some face in the final minutes, St Anne's won 185-55, and will definitely be back next week.

Tuesday 20th: Kent vs Sussex
Kent: Jeremy Wade, Shiulie Ghosh, Paul Ross, Jamie Angus
Sussex: Tim O'Shea, Hattie Hayridge, Dermot Murnaghan, Alex Bailin

This match, however, was about as one sided as you could probably get. Kent took the lead quickly, thanks in no small part to Mr Ross, who excelled himself on the buzzer with six starters, and they seemed to take the bonuses when they got in as well. Poor Sussex were only restricted to two correct starters all night, though TBF they did make good work on the bonuses when they did get in. The final score was 245-35 to Kent, and we'll be seeing them again next week too. (Hopefully they and St Anne's will avoid each other)

Wednesday 21st: City vs Newcastle
City: Ramita Navai, Brendan Barber, Samira Ahmed, Tiff Needell
Newcastle: Charlie Webster, Wilko Johnson, Helen Scales, Neil Astley

Not quite as one sided as the previous matches; it was actually a good close affair, if low scoring, for the first half. Newcastle acquired 35 points by the time of the music round, but from that point on, City ran the show, with Ms Ahmed contributing an impressive seven starters, though a slight bonus profligacy kept their score down a bit. The final score was a City victory 145-35; probably not enough for a return, but you never can tell with these specials.

Thursday 22nd: SOAS vs Leeds
SOAS: David Warren, Gus Casely-Hayford, Dom Joly, Minna Salami
Leeds: Louise Doughty, Gus Unger-Hamilton, Kamal Ahmed, Steve Bell

Again, this was a close match initially, but when Leeds built up a head of steam on the buzzer in the latter stages of the match, they had the match sewn up, though SOAS put up a valiant fight. Leeds actually answered the same number of starters as City, but a considerably better bonus rate meant the match ended with them ahead 175-85. Borderline score for the semis, and it says a lot that 85 is still the highest losing score we've seen this week.

Friday 23rd: Edinburgh vs St Catharine's Cambridge
Edinburgh: Steve Jones, Hermione Cockburn, Rachael Stirling, Helen Pidd
St Catharine's: Peter Wothers, Joanne Harris, Matthew Price, Ivana Gavric

Another low key affair, with the teams only managing twelve correct starters between them, and the bonuses proving a challenge for them too. An entertaining affair though, as have all the matches this week, and kudos to Paxo for thanking all the teams for taking part at the end of each match, pointing out that they didn't have to do this. Edinburgh won this match 115-60, but won't be back again next week.

So, at the end of the first week's play, Kent and St Anne's are definitely though to the semi-finals, and Leeds have a very good chance. Two more first rounders to come: Magdalene of Cambridge play St Hilda's of Oxford tomorrow evening, then Bristol take on Nottingham on Monday.

I'll be back to look over them next week some time, either Friday or Hogmanay probably. I also hope to look back on the final two weeks (for now) of Deal, and drawing some reflection on its ending. Either tomorrow or Monday night.

Until then, however, have a safe and happy Christmas, and the compliments of the season to all of yous!

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Only Connect Series 12: Round 2: Match 7: Beekeepers vs Policy Wonks

OK, no sooner have I finished watching the second UC Christmas special (a full recap of all this week's shows will be up Friday/Saturday), then I have to move on to last night's Only Connect. The last Monday offering for now, as the show will be moving to Friday night after Mastermind come the New Year. Which means my reviews may possibly be moving to Sunday night.

As for last night, though, playing for the penultimate place in the group stage were the Beekeepers, Ian Wallace, Josh Spero and captain Mark Wallace, son of Ian, who defeated the Scunthorpe Scholars comfortably in their first match, and the Policy Wonks, Helen Thomas, Robert Colville and captain Robert McIlveen, who came from behind to beat the Maltsters in their first outing.

Round 1. The Wonks went first, and opened the night's proceedings with Lion: 'Only Connect = title', then 'Only connect = sentence', then 'onlyConnect = camel', and finally 'only_connect = snake'. They didn't have this, nor did their opponents. They got it when it was too late: they are case types and examples of them. The Beekeepers opened their account with Horned Viper, and got the music question: we heard the Masochism Tango, then November Rain by Guns N Roses, then Hotel Californa; they spotted that the songs all contains words from the NATO alphabet, and duly collected two points. The Wonks chose Eye of Horus next, and got the picture set: we saw Mr T, then George Orwell, then Romesh Ranganathan, and finally Sting. Again, they didn't see it, nor did their opponents: they are all former teachers. The Beekeepers chose Water next: 'Ring for', then 'Much Obliged,'; they spotted them to be novels in the Jeeves series, and thus collected three points. (Victoria was not impressed when four of the panelists confessed to having never read a Jeeves book! I intend to eventually.) The Wonks chose Twisted Flax next: 'Ship of Thesius', then 'Sugababes'; they claimed their first points when they offered that they have all had their original components all replaced. (More hilarity ensued when Victoria jokingly asked Mr McIlveen to name the original line-up and he did so! "Now I see why you haven't read any Jeeves books!") Left with Two Reeds, the Beekeepers saw 'ALBA', then 'SPRINGFED', then 'SARMENTO'; they saw them to be state capitals with their state's abbreviation removed from the name, and collected two more points. At the end of the first round, the Beekeepers led 7-3.

Round 2, What Comes Fourth? The Wonks began the round with Horned Viper, and got a music question: we heard Johnny Burnette's You're 16, then Janis Ian's At 17, and then Pete Wingfield's 18 with a Bullet. They didn't see it, nor did their opponents, though their wrong guesses that it had something to do with weapons provoked more laughter! Something with 19 in it, like Paul Hardcastle's 19, would suffice. (For once, there was no enforced sing-along!) The Beekeepers chose Twisted Flax: 'DC', then 'DS', and then 'DI'. I knew this thanks to EastEnders, and so did they: they are CID ranks in order of seniority, so 'DCI' would be fourth. The Wonks chose Eye of Horus next: '29/2/1700', then '29/2/1800'; they saw it to be years when the leap day is skipped, so offered '29/2/2100', which will be the next, for three points. The Beekeepers chose Two Reeds next, and got the picture set: we saw a sea anemone, then New Zealand politician Bob Hawke, and then the Forbidden City next to Tienanmen Square. Neither side got this: the clues are 'sponge', 'Bob' and 'Square', so a pair of pants would be fourth! Excellent! For their final choice, the Wonks chose Lion: '1910: Herbert Asquith', then '1936: Stanley Baldwin', and then '1936: Stanley Baldwin' again. The third gave it to them that they are PMs at the time of royal ascensions, but alas offered '1953: Winston Churchill' instead of '1953', thus giving their opponents a free pick up. Left with Water for their own final question, the Beekeepers saw 'Coleridge Close', then 'Tennyson Avenue', and then 'Wordsworth Drive'. Neither team got this, cue more shocked annoyance from Victoria! It's Reggie Perrin's walk to work in the original series, so 'Station Drive' would be fourth. At the end of the second round, the Beekeepers led 10-6.

On to the Walls. The Beekeepers went first, and chose to tackle the Lion wall. They spotted some links, but they didn't have much luck isolating any. They eventually managed 'Suzuki', 'Ryder', 'Galore' and 'Goodnight', which are surnames of Bond girls. A second set came shortly afterwards: 'Moresby', 'Harcourt', 'Elizabeth' and 'Talbot' all follow 'Port' to give place names. Running out of time, they used up two shots, and were timed out before they could have their third. They did collect both connections bonuses though: 'Indian', 'Triumph', 'Ducati' and 'Aprilla' are makes of motorcycle, while 'Melbourne', 'Fed', 'Stanley' and 'Calcutta' are sporting cups. Six points there.

The Wonks thus could pull level if they could wipe the Water wall clean. After trying a few permutations, they had their first set in the bag: 'Siege', 'Eyebrow', 'Hell' and 'Roof' are things that can be raised. A second set came eventually: 'Michael Corleone', 'Romulus', 'Cain' and 'Scar' all killed their brothers. (Their offer of 'they betrayed their brothers' was rightly accepted) They did manage to use all three shots at solving, but also couldn't manage it. They took both connection bonuses too though: 'Madonna', 'Prince Albert', 'Tragus' and 'Snake bites' are piercrings, while 'Libertine', 'Robot', 'Claudius' and 'Partridge' can all follow 'I,'. So another six points, which left them trailing 16-12 going into the final round.

So, who would be triumphant after Missing Vowels? 'Words derived from Swedish' was split 2-each. 'Referees and umpires' went to the Beekeepers 3-1. 'Advertising slogans and their companies' was another 2-each split. 'Fred Astaire films' only managed one clue, which the Beekeepers took. At the end of the match, the Beekeepers won 24-17.

Another good match with some good questions and answers. Unlucky Wonks, but nothing wrong with either of your performances, and thanks very much for giving us them. Well done Beekeepers though, and very best of luck in the group phase!

So, we resume on Friday 6th at the same time, presumably with the Genealogists vs the Oscar Men.

Be back Friday/Saturday with a round up of the week's Christmas UC action, and a look back at Deal's final two weeks (for now). See yous then.

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Only Connect: Does Missing Vowels carry too much weight?

Now, when it comes to online discussion of Only Connect by non-quizzers, there are various things people discuss on Digital Spy, Twitter and other sites. One is how good Victoria is looking that week. The others range from pedantic complaints about questions to actually interesting discussion about questions.

But there is one issue that is quite often tossed up that is definitely worth discussing: does the Missing Vowels round carry too much weight? This issue has been dragged up quite a bit over the past year, and, having re-reviewed the stats from the past series, I can understand why.

Just to make it clear what these people are saying: the basic complaint is that Missing Vowels quite often decides the show all by itself, either a close match can become very one sided in the final round, or a team that has led throughout will suddenly lose it at the end.

These people often say that Missing Vowels isn't really the same as the prior rounds, which require lateral thinking, while Missing Vowels is just about being quick on the buzzer.

Well, I thought I'd investigate how often this has happened.

Michael Wallace of the Board Gamers has already covered this in some depth on his and Jamie Karran's blog The Ones That Got Away. In a post made in the slipstream of their come-from-behind first round victory, he looked back over the first seven series, and determined that, in 99 episodes (presumably celeb and champions specials were ignored), only 14 times did the team trailing going into Missing Vowels go on to win; five were by trailing by just one, and the largest margin overturned was four.

I looked into the four full series we've had since and what we've had of Series 12 so far this morning/afternoon, and, by series, here are my findings:
  • Series 8 saw 3 overturnings, the afore mentioned Board Gamers turnaround from 3 behind, and two more in the preliminaries, both from just one behind.
  • The infamously difficult Series 9 saw just two overturnings, both from two behind, plus two instances of the teams going in level pegging, including the final.
  • Series 10, despite the amount of shows doubling, remained more or less the same, with three overturnings; we did see what was, at the time, the largest overturned deficit in the final round, five points, while the other two were two and three. Only once did the two teams begin the final on equal terms.
  • Then we get to Series 11, however, and now you start to see what people are on about. Seven turnarounds, only one of them from one behind, the rest from between three and five.
  • So far in Series 12, we seen six turnarounds, including the two from the Verbivores overturning seven and six respectively, thus breaking the previous record. The others from one and two. Plus several instances of a team miles behind running Missing Vowels and reducing the gap to just two or so; both Group B play-offs saw this.
So, that's a total of 21 in the past five and a bit series; in the past two and a bit, we've seen only one less than the first seven series put together. This would suggest that Missing Vowels has become more of a game changer since the move to BBC2 than it used to be on BBC4.

Of course, the complainers will look at these figures, in particular the two huge turnarounds by the Verbivores this series, and call for the rules to be changed so that, in their mind, Missing Vowels doesn't render the prior rounds completely irrelevant.

I can't really agree; bear in mind that these 21 shows have been out of 102, so its still very much the norm for the team ahead after the Walls to still be ahead after Missing Vowels, even if, in some cases, it is by a considerably smaller/larger margin.

The particularly annoying complainers will argue that Missing Vowels is completely different from the other three rounds, and that it is totally unfair for a team who have been better on the three lateral thinking rounds to be swamped over by a team quicker on the buzzer in the only round where it isn't really that important. They'll say that a team who only excel at Missing Vowels shouldn't be on a show where lateral thinking is the main advertised requirement. Some have even called for Missing Vowels to be changed so that a correct answer is only worth half a point, thus making it nigh on impossible for a team as far behind as the Verbivores were in those two matches to overturn the deficit.

Surely, however, the main object of Only Connect, like almost every other competitive quiz show, is to win no matter how. Coming from behind by bossing Missing Vowels is a perfectly legitimate tactic, even if it is a risky one that has only worked about 1/5 of the time over the years. Most of the time, how you win is glossed over by the fact that you have won. As William G Stewart used to say, it's better to win 1-0 than to lose 5-4.

This sort of thing, like most complaints people have about our favourite quizzes, is just going to keep going on until something is done. But I personally think it should stay as it is. Only Connect is a much loved show with a tried and tested format that, uniquely for some, hasn't changed at all. In fact, the only things that have changed since Series 1 are the studio colour scheme, Victoria wearing dresses instead of suits (much to the delight of some!), the hieroglyphs replacing the Greek letters, and the straight knockout tournament being tweaked twice.

The actual round layout hasn't changed at all, and there's a good reason for that: it works. Starting to fiddle with formats that work often results in the show's demise. Remember old UC? It's format was changed to the infamous Pass the Baton format for no reason other than low-ish ratings, and it was cancelled within two years. Or Deal or No Deal, which introduced Box 23 and the Offer Button to try and win back lost viewers, but all they did was alienate long term viewers (myself included) and scare them away.

Formats that needn't be fiddled with shouldn't be fiddled with unless there is clearly something hugely wrong with them. And there isn't anything majorly wrong with Only Connect's format bar the occasional quibble over an allowed/a disallowed answer and people moaning about Missing Vowels. To whom I can only say: be careful what you wish for.

That's that for now. I'll be back next Tuesday/Wednesday with my review of Monday's OC; see you then.

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Only Connect Series 12: Round 2: Match 6: Part-Time Poets vs Surrealists

OK, Tuesday night it is this week. Hopefully same next week. And hopefully on Thursday I'll get round to that extra thing I promised you last week.

Anyway, last night's two competing teams were the Part-Time Poets, Nina Grant, Katie McGettigan and captain Jenny Harris, who narrowly pipped the Oscar Men in their first match, and the Surrealists, Jeremy Partington, Chris James and captain Jonathan Carter, who won a high scoring match against the Genealogists.

Round 1. The Poets went first, and kicked the match off with Eye of Horus: 'Pink Pinky', then 'Orange Clyde', then 'Red Blinky'; that gave it to them, they are the names of the ghosts in Pac-Man! Good call for two points. The Surrealists opened their account with Lion: 'Marsilius of Padua tract: Peace', 'John Terry 2005, 2008 & 2009: Year', then 'Flash Gordon: Earth', and finally 'British monarch: Faith'. They had it at the last one: they have all been or are 'Defender of the...' thing after colon. One for that. The Poets chose Water next: 'Liam Gallagher (guitar): Roll With It', then 'A ventriloquist's dummy (vocals): Lonely This Christmas', then 'John Peel (mandolin): Maggie May'. They suspected it to be something to do with miming, but didn't quite provide a good enough answer. The Surrealists saw 'Nobody (nothing): first 1:20 of Martha's Harbour', and offered that they were all mimed on Top of the Pops for a bonus. For their own choice, the Surrealists chose Twisted Flax, and got the music question: we heard The Hives, then Sting's Fields of Gold, then A Taste of Honey, and finally B. Bumble and the Stingers. They only recognised the second clue, and thus offered 'metals'. Not right. Their opponents saw the 'bees' connection for a bonus. For their own question, the Poets chose Horned Viper: '1 (Gaelic Football)', then '1 and 3 (American Football)', then '1 and 2 (Rugby League)', and finally '2 and 3 (Rugby Union)'. They didn't get it, their opponents did: they are the points you get for kicking the ball between the posts. Left with Two Reeds and the picture set for their own final question, the Surrealists saw some chicken being cooked, then a mathematical equation, then a poster for the film 'The Jerk' with the title removed; that gave it to them, they are all 'jerk', ie jerked chicken and the equation means 'jerk' as well. At the end of the first round, the Surrealists led 5-3.

Round 2, What Comes Fourth? The Poets began the round with Twisted Flax: 'Europe: Dykh-Tau', then 'N. America: Logan', and then 'S. America: Ojos del Salado'. They didn't get this, nor did their opponents, and I can't say I'm surprised. They are the second highest peaks on each continent in order of size, so 'Asia: Godwin-Austen', or 'Asia: K2', would be fourth. The Surrealists chose Horned Viper next: '1st: 5p and 10p', then '2nd: 50p', and then '3rd: 1/2p, 1p and 2p'. They saw it to be issues of decimal coins, and so '4th: 20p' for two points. The Poets chose Lion next: 'Nicholas I', then 'Alexander II', and then 'Alexander III'. They saw the sequence to be the final tsars of Russia, so 'Nicholas II' would be fourth, for two points. The Surrealists chose Eye of Horus next: 'support for (e.g.) database management, web development', then 'Fortran, ALGOL, COBOL, etc', and then 'Assembly languages'. They tried 'Compiler languages'; not right. Their opponents didn't know it either. The sequence is 4th, 3rd, 2nd and 1st-generation programming languages, so 'Machine languages' would come fourth. For their final choice, the Poets chose Water, and got the picture set: we saw Edward Scissorhands, then Andrew Castle; they spotted it to be the Queen's children in reverse order of age, so offered 'Charles Dickens' for three points. Left with Two Reeds, the Surrealists saw '2nd: D', then '3rd: E flat'; they thought it might be simply notes going up, and offered '5th: F sharp'. Not right. The Poets saw '4th: B flat', but were none the wiser. The sequence is Beethoven symphonies, so '5th: C minor' would complete the set. At the end of the second round, the Poets led 8-7.

On to the Walls. The Surrealists went first, and chose to tackle the Lion wall. After looking over the clues, they quickly had their first set: 'Slip', 'Square', 'Yorker' and 'Ball' are cricketing terms. A second set came shortly afterwards: 'Baffle', 'Puzzle', 'Bewilder' and 'Stump' are words meaning 'confuse'. They looked over the final clues, and resolved matters with plenty time to spare: 'Darby', 'Eddy', 'Smith' and 'Fox' are surnames of founders of Christian movements, while 'Murdoch', 'Barker', 'Wesley' and 'Lively' are surnames of female novelists. A full ten there then.

The Poets thus set to work on the Water wall knowing what they had to do. They quickly had their first group in place: 'Scull', 'Stroke', 'Crab' and 'Blade' are rowing terms. They then spotted a link of famous Brians, and after a couple of misfires slotted in 'Blessed', 'Lara', 'May' and 'Cox'. The final clues didn't take long for them to work out either: 'National', 'Piano', 'Cru' and 'Canyon' can all follow 'Grand', while 'Clough', 'Chasm', 'Gorge' and 'Gulch' are names for a ravine. Another full ten, which gave them a slender lead of 18-17 going into the final round.

So, Missing Vowels, once again, would be the determinator. 'Things you can be between', such as 'THE DEVIL AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA', went to the Surrealists 3-1. 'A Tom Hanks co-star and the film they co-starred in' went to the Surrealists 3-0. 'Things involving 13' went to the Poets 2-0, and time ran out on the final clue. The Surrealists won 23-21.

Another good close match between two even teams. Unlucky Poets, but nothing to be ashamed of at all in your two performances, so thanks very much indeed for playing. Well done Surrealists though, and good luck in the group stage!

Next week's match: the Beekeepers vs the Policy Wonks

And hopefully, I'll look into that extra matter of Missing Words later in the week.

Monday, 12 December 2016

University Challenge 2016-17: Round 2: Match 6: Robinson vs Balliol

Evening all. So, as I thought, the final regular University Challenge before Christmas tonight. The now annual Christmas celeb specials take over from next week for the next two weeks, and we then resume, hopefully, on January 2nd, but I will let yous know for sure nearer the time. As for tonight, we welcomed back two winners of consecutive first round matches; winners would progress to the group stage, where my guess if they'll run into either Wolfson or Warwick in the preliminaries.

Robinson College Cambridge were on level terms for most of their first match against Wadham of Oxford, before a well timed late sprint saw them emerge victorious 150-95. They were the same four that fought on that occasion:
David Verghese, from Hertfordshire, studying English
Catherine Hodge, from Birmingham, studying Theology and Religious Studies
Captain: James Pinder, from Martyr Worthy in Hampshire, studying Natural Sciences
George Barton, from Beaconsfield, studying Physics

Balliol College Oxford also spent the first half of their match against Imperial of London on level terms, before they hit their stride in the second half and won comfortably 220-55. They were also unchanged for their first outing:
Freddie Potts, from Newcastle, studying History
Jacob Lloyd, from London, studying English
Captain: Joey Goldman, from London, studying Philosophy and Theology
Ben Pope, from Sydney, studying Astrophysics

Off we set again then, and Mr Goldman, to whom I apologise for getting his forename wrong last time around, took the first starter of the night, and the Oxonians firmly set their stall out as they took all three bonuses on political insults. Robinson followed them out the blocks with Mr Pinder breaking their duck, but they got nothing from their first bonus set. A second starter for Mr Goldman and a second full bonus set, and already things were looking ominous for the Cambridge lot. A third starter went to the Balliol captain, and their record slipped as they took just two bonuses this time. The first picture round, on hypothetical concert programs, went to Balliol, but they got nothing from the bonuses, which nevertheless left them leading 80-10.

Mr Potts took a second starter in a row, and Balliol resumed former service with a full set, which already put their lead at 95. Robinson reduced it somewhat when Mr Pinder, eventually, took the next starter, and they took five points from the resultant bonuses. They then lost those five to a slip-up; Balliol took the points, and gave us the comedy moment of the week when they suggested Laurence Olivier was around in 1887! Paxo wasn't impressed, but Mr Goldman retorted that they might as well say something; quite right, you're certain to be wrong if you pass. They took the second bonus, and I correctly guessed Carol Reed for the third.

The music starter saw the first and possibly only appearance of Daft Punk on the show! The bonuses, on musicals duos, went to Balliol, who took two, which upped their lead to 140-20. And when Mr Goldman took the next starter, and a bonus set on ducks gave them a further ten, I was already tempted to call game over. Miss Hodge stopped me doing so when she took the next starter for Robinson, who took two bonuses from a good set on the first Millennium AD. A rather harsh penalty then cost Balliol five, and Robinson only just missed out on the points; Mr Pinder atoned by taking the next starter, and the obligatory Shakespeare bonuses gave them a good full house.

The second picture round, on clients of Elsa Schiaparelli, went to Robinson, but they got nothing from the resultant bonuses, albeit unfortunate that they missed one, which left the deficit at 155-75. They had clawed back a substantial amount of ground though, and were still just in touching distance. But Mr Pope reawakened Balliol, and the side did well to take one bonus from a difficult bonus set.

And when Mr Goldman very promptly took the next starter, that was game over; they took just one bonus on a set which would be easy pickings for connoisseurs of the Shipping Forecast. Miss Hodge took another starter for Robinson, but just one bonus meant they fell just short of triple figures. Balliol broke 200 with the next starter and two bonuses, and there was just time for one more from Mr Goldman; nothing came from the bonuses, and the gong prevented another starter being asked. Balliol won 210-90.

Another good match to conclude the regular shows for the year. Unlucky Robinson, who were simply outbuzzed tonight, but no shame in that, and a perfectly reasonable effort, so thanks very much for playing. Very well done to Balliol though; another excellent performance on the buzzer and bonuses, and very best of luck in the group stage!

Mr Goldman ended the night best on the buzzer, with six to his name, while Miss Hodge and Mr Pinder took three each for Robinson. On the bonuses, Robinson converted 7 out of 18, while Balliol managed a not bad 19 out of 36, and both sides incurred one penalty each.

And that's it for this year; Christmas specials take over next week, and we resume in the New Year with, as far as we know, Corpus Christi vs Peterhouse and Oriel vs Bristol. Surely they've all waited long enough for their second matches!

Only Connect is on next week as usual, breaking for Christmas one week later. I'll look back on tonight's match either tomorrow or Thursday night.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Only Connect Series 12: Round 2: Match 5: Fire-Eaters vs Clareites

OK, Wednesday it is. Next week it could be Thursday that I end up reviewing Only Connect, we'll have to wait and see. As far as I can tell, OC is on an extra week before it pauses for Christmas, but I shall double check again at some point and let yous ken for sure nearer the time.

Anyway, playing on Monday night, we had the Fire-Eaters, Andy Davis, Tony Moore and captain Jonathan Elliott, who defeated the Eurovisionaries in their first match, and the Clareites, Ellie Warner, Olivier Grouille and captain Sarah Binney, who won out over the Wrestlers in their first match. Winners went through, runners-up went out, unfortunately.

Round 1. The Eaters went first, kicked off with Twisted Flax, and instantly triggered the music question: we heard ACDC's Whole Lotta Rosie, then Girls Aloud with Whole Lotta History, then Jerry Lee Lewis' Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On, and finally Whole Lotta Love by Led Zeppelin, as heard over the opening credits of Top of the Pops. Neither side spotted the link. The Clareites kicked off their campaign with 'Horn-ed' Viper: 'Sadness' in blue, then 'Fear' in purple; they had it from the first, but took the second to make sure: they are characters in the film 'Inside Out' and their colour. The Eaters chose Lion next: 'Ian R', then 'Cameron O'; they too took three here: you add the letter to the name to give that of a country. The Clareites chose Eye of Horus next: 'Musician Peter Baker', then 'Dancer Virginia McMath', then 'Trainer Donald McCain', and finally 'Singer Geraldine Halliwell'. They offered that they all shortened their names for professional reasons; not right. Their opponents offered that their nicknames are all 'Ginger something', which was correct for a bonus. (The second clue being Ginger Rogers) For their own question, the Eaters chose Two Reeds, and got the pictures: we saw a labyrinth, then a canal, then a hammer; they offered 'parts of the ear', which was correct for two points. Left with Water, the Clareites saw 'Quarterly literary periodical of the 1890s', then 'National Gardens Scheme Annual', then 'Wisden Cricketer's Almanack', and finally 'Telephone directory of businesses'. The last one gave it to them: they are all yellow books. (Reminds me of that Yellow Pages ad about the image consultants that was in almost every ad break a few years back!) At the end of the first round, the Eaters led 6-4.

Round 2, What Comes Fourth? The Eaters began the round with Water, and the picture set: we saw Daryl Hannah, then a minim, and then ABBA. They spotted it to be palindromes with decreasing numbers of letter, and offered a father, 'Dad', for two points. Acceptable. The Clareites chose Lion next: '2012: Wolves' (I very nearly said '2015: QPR' at this point; see if you can work out why and what would be second and third!), then '2013: Warriors', and then '2014: Rhinos'. They didn't get it, their opponents did: '2015: Rhinos' would be fourth, the sequence being winners of Rugby League's Challenge Cup. For their own question, the Eaters chose Two Reeds: 'Margaret Thatcher (1)', then 'Harold Wilson (2)'; they spotted it to be prime ministers and how many times they became PM, and so 'William Gladstone (4)' would be fourth. The Clareites chose Twisted Flax next: 'Guinea-Bissau', then 'Guinea'; they offered 'Liberia', which was correct for three points, the sequence being the West African coast going south. For their final choice, the Eaters chose Eye of Horus: 'Lord Redesdale', then 'Mr Bennet', and then 'Tsar Nicholas II'. They saw it to be fathers of six, five and four daughters, and, trying to think of someone who had three, Mr Davis offered his mate Ali, which Victoria reluctantly accepted, though she did demand proof! Left with Horned Viper, the Clareites saw '4: 7am to 7am', then '3: 1pm to 1pm', and then '2: 8am to 8am'. They didn't get this, their opponents came close, but didn't either: they are the timescales of the first four series of 24, so '1: 12am to 12am' would be fourth. At the end of the second round, the Eaters led 14-7.

On to the Walls. The Clareites needed a good result as they chose to tackle the Lion wall. Alas, like the Verbivores last week, the wall completely stumped them, and they ran out of time without grouping anything. They could still collect group points though: 'Schleifer', 'Glissando', 'Acciaccatura' and 'Turn' are musical ornamentation terms, which they got, 'Splice', 'Lashing', 'Standing end' and 'Bight' are types of knot, which they also got, 'Ria', 'Firth', 'Sound' and 'Fjord' are types of watery inlet, which they got as well, while 'Albert Ross', 'Petrol', 'Rennes' and 'Miner' are homophones of birds, which they didn't get. So, three points salvaged there.

The Eaters thus had a big chance to pull away if they could get the most from the Water wall. Unfortunately for them, they didn't fare too much better, isolating one group, 'Reeve', 'Cain', 'Routh' and 'Cavill', which actors who have played Superman, but nothing more, despite some very loud frantic thumping at the touch screen! They thus had to settle for group bonuses as well: 'Holmes', 'Child', 'Lewis' and 'Rand' are British female athletes, which they didn't see, 'False', 'Liveli', 'Neighbour' and 'Knight' can all precede 'Knight', which they also missed, while 'Manciple', 'Squire', 'Second Nun' and 'Miller' are narrators from the Canterbury Tales, which they also saw. Another three point salvage put them 17-10 ahead going into the final round.

As we've seen this series, not insurmountable, so still up in the air going into Missing Vowels. 'Dickens villains and the bokk they appear in' went to the Clareites 3-(-1). 'Famous Emmas' was a 2-each split. 'Words that contain one of each vowel' likewise 2-each. 'JM Barrie plays' only got one clue, which neither team got. At the end of the show, the Eaters won 20-17.

Another good effort by two good sides who did well considering the very tricky walls. Unlucky Clareites, but nothing at all to be ashamed of, so thanks very much indeed for taking part. Well done Fire-Eaters though, and good luck in the group stage!

Next week's match: the Part Time Poets vs the Surrealists

Also, does the Missing Vowels round carry too much weight? I investigate. Stay tuned for that either tomorrow or next week.

Monday, 5 December 2016

University Challenge 2016-17: Round 2: Match 5: Wolfson vs Jesus

Evening all. So, we've seen half the first round matches; we've had one tonight, we'll have one next Monday, and then we're off for Christmas, with the show resuming in the New Year. Only Connect is on one extra week before it breaks for Christmas IIRC; I'll check again later. On with tonight, and the big question for tonight's teams: would the winners score more than 195?!

Wolfson College Cambridge were virtually neck and neck with SOAS throughout their first round match, which ultimately ended in a 175-each tie-break, which they emerged on the right side of. Their return much awaited on Twitter, they were unchanged from before:
Justin Yang, from Vancouver, studying Public Health and Primary Care
Ben Chaudhri, from Cockermouth in Cumbria, studying Natural Sciences
Captain: Eric Monkman, from Oakville, Canada, studying Economics
Paul Cosgrove, from Cookstown in Northern Ireland, studying Nuclear Energy

Jesus College Cambridge narrowly lost their first match to Corpus Christi of Oxford, but survived to the play-offs, where they narrowly won a Cambridge derby against Queens' to get here. Hoping to be the first repechage survivors to reach the group stage since out old friends Southampton three series ago were the also unchanged foursome of:
Sam Fairbrother, from Greater Manchester, studying Education with Drama and English
Rosa Price, from East London, studying English
Captain: Theo Morris Clarke, from London, studying Economics
Daniel Petrides, from Petts Wood in Kent, studying Political Thought and Intellectual History

Off we set again then, and it was Mr Yang who got the night underway with the obligatory Shakespeare question; one bonus followed before Mr Monkman, the return of whom in particular has been much awaited by Tweeters, broke his duck for the night. A full bonus set on the old UC staple chemical elements came with that one, before Mr Monkman undid some of his work with two consecutive penalties (albeit one of them was caused by unnecessary extra spiel). Jesus didn't pick either up, but Mr Morris Clarke identified the River Tweed (tae mark whaur England's province stauns!) to get them going. A full bonus set on the Old Testament got them firmly going. The first bonus round, on English railway towns, went to Jesus, who took five out of fifteen, but had now snuck into a 40-30 lead.

Mr Chaudhri put the sides level again when he took the next starter, and they easily reclaimed the lead with a full bonus set on ancient alphabets. A starter was dropped, Jesus dropped five, Wolfson picked up, and took two bonuses to go with it. Mr Monkman then took a second starter in a row, and the side humourously swept up a bonus set on the Lord of the Rings! Mr Fairbrother finally broke Jesus back into the match, and one bonus on astronomy meant they now had half the points of their opponents.

The music round, on classical lullabies, went to Jesus, who impressively took a full set, and thus cut the deficit to 100-75. Mr Chaudhri increased it when he took the next starter, and obscure colours with their own Wikipedia page provided an amusing bonus set, of which Wolfson took ten points. A slip up lost them five of those points; Mr Petrides picked up possession, and his side took two bonuses on writers known by their surname and two initials. What looked like a complete guess handed possession back to Wolfson, and they took two bonuses on National Trust heritage sites. (Fortunately, they weren't asked to identify its symbol!) Another starter was dropped, the next went to Wolfson, and they took a full bonus set on biology.

The second picture round, on photographs of musicians by the Dutchman Anton Corbijn, went to Jesus, who took a much needed full set, which reduced their arrears to 160-120. Still gettable with a good run, but it was Wolfson who took the next starter. For the first time of the night, the side dropped a full bonus set, getting nothing from a set on cricket.

When they took the next starter though, that was most likely game over; two bonuses on apples seemed to suggest this. Mr Monkman took the next correct answer just to make sure; the resultant bonuses took them through 200, thus ending the 195 run. A slip up proved immaterial, though Jesus did pick up and went out with a bang with two bonuses on 19th century history. There was time for Wolfson to take one final starter and bonus before the gong; Wolfson won 225-140.

Another seriously good pair of performances by both sides tonight. Unlucky Jesus, who were simply outplayed by a better buzzing team, but nothing to be ashamed of at all, so thanks very much indeed for partaking in this series. Very well done to Wolfson though; another excellent performance against strong opponents, and good luck in the group stage!

Mr Monkman was by far the best buzzer of the night, with seven starters to his name, while Mr Fairbrother ended the night best for Jesus with four. On the bonuses, Wolfson converted a good 25 out of 35 (with a not so good four penalties), while Jesus managed an also good 15 out of 21 (with one penalties), and, once again, all eight players answered at least one starter correctly. Well played both; good show!

Next week's match: don't know who once again, but I understand this to be the final match before the Christmas break; hopefully we'll find out who in the coming days.

Only Connect continued the Cambridge theme in tonight's Quizzy Mondays with the return of the Clareites; more on how they and their opponents got on tomorrow/Wednesday night.