Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Only Connect Series 12: Elimination Quarter-Final 2: Beekeepers vs Oscar Men

OK, time to start catching up with my Only Connect backlog. Tomorrow, from last Friday, the first qualification match, in which we find out the first semi-finalists, and tonight, from a couple of weeks back, the second eliminator match.

Playing it were the Beekeepers, Ian Wallace, Josh Spero and captain Mark Wallace, who overcame the Scunthorpe Scholars and the Policy Wonks but were overpowered by the Cosmopolitans, and the Oscar Men, Howard Freedman, Adrian Knott and captain Michael Slowey, who have won two, over the Maltsters and the Genealogists, and lost two, to the Part Time Poets in the first round and the Psmiths in the preliminaries.

Round 1. The Beekeepers went first, and kicked off the match with Lion: 'Miranda: Queen', then 'Eighth wonder: King', then 'Devised by Shigeru Miyamoto: Donkey'; that gave it to them, you add 'Kong' to the second to get the first. (Last one would've been 'Chinese Special Administrative Region: Hong'!) The Men opened their account with Horned Viper, and got the picture set: we saw the dinosaur symbol you get when your phone's WiFi goes on Google Chrome, then the broken robot you see when a Google page doesn't load, then the 'Fail Whale' from when something goes wrong on Twitter. They didn't see the link, instead suggesting the late great Douglas Adams was involved. Their opponents saw the sad television logo you see when you try to watch a removed YouTube video, and picked up the bonus. For their own question, the Beekeepers chose Two Reeds: 'Capitol Versicherung AG', then 'Les Papiers Jennings', then 'Dunder Mifflin', and finally 'Wernham Hogg'. They offered 'fictional publishers'; not right. Their opponents offered 'settings for various makings of 'The Office''; correct for a bonus. For their own question, the Men chose Twisted Flax, and got the music round: we heard some slow piano music, then 'Winchester Cathedral', then 'Chapel of Love', and finally 'Get Me to the Church on Time'. They didn't get it, their opponents did, offering 'places of worship' for a bonus. (The first piece was 'A l'eglise') For their own question, the Beekeepers chose Water: 'Q (Turkey, 1928)', then 'e, v, [symbol I can't reproduce here] (Russia, 1917)'; they offered 'letters removed from those alphabets in those years', and picked up three points. Left with Eye of Horus, the Men saw 'Newly discovered moons of Pluto', then 'Apple-flavoured Mountain Dew drink', then 'Humpback whale tracked by Greenpeace'; they offered 'named after Norse gods', which was not correct. Their opponents saw 'Natural Environment Research Council polar vessel', and offered 'online naming polls that were hijacked', for a bonus. (The last one being the now infamous 'Boaty McBoatface'!) At the end of the first round, the Beekeepers led 8-1.

Round 2, What Comes Fourth? The Beekeepers kicked off the round with Lion: 'A kinder, gentler nation (41)', then 'It's the economy, stupid (42)'; they saw it to be campaign slogans of successive US presidents, so offered 'Yes we can (44)' for three points. The Men chose Two Reeds next, and got the picture set: we saw Val Kilmer, then George Clooney, and they quickly saw it to be portrayers of Batman on film, so offered Ben Affleck for three much needed points. The Beekeepers chose Horned Viper next: '1946 onwards: Post-War', then '1931-1945: Post-Vintage', and then '1915-1930: Vintage'. They didn't get it, their opponents did, offering 'pre-1914: Veteran' for a bonus, the sequence being classifications of classic cars made during those years. For their own question, the Men chose Twisted Flax: '129' (in brown), then '134' (in blue), and then '140' (in pink). They didn't get this, their opponents did: '147' (in black) is correct, the seqeunce being the score you get when you pot those coloured balls in a perfect game of snooker. For their own final choice, the Beekeepers chose Water: 'North Swindon', then 'Washington & Sunderland West', and then 'Sunderland Central'; they saw it to be the first constituencies to declare on Election Night 2015 in reverse order, so offered 'Sunderland South', which was accepted for the points, 'Houghton & Sunderland South' being the correct constituency name. Left with Eye of Horus again, the Men saw 'The Beautiful Game', then 'We Will Rock You', and then 'Tonight's the Night'. They didn't see it, nor did their opponents. The sequence is musicals written by Ben Elton, as the Men suspected, and so 'Love Never Dies' would be fourth. At the end of the second round, the Beekeepers led 14-5.

On to the Walls. The Men went first, and chose the Water wall to tackle. They fairly quickly had two groups isolated: 'Marx', 'Chuckle', 'Coen' and 'Everly' are famous brothers, while 'Chortle', 'Guffaw', 'Cachinnate' and 'Titter' are words meaning 'to laugh'. The final groups slotted in pretty nicely after that: 'Chair', 'Spin', 'Barrow' and 'Wright' can all follow 'Wheel', while 'Keswick', 'Aspatria', 'Kendal' and 'Cockermouth' are places in Cumbria. A well solved and much needed full ten there.

The Beekeepers thus set to work on the Lion wall. Spotting some links fairly quickly, it took them until just after halfway to isolate a set, and they managed two at once: 'Autumn', 'Melancholy', 'Grecian Urn' and 'Psyche' are the subjects of odes by Keats, while 'The Machine', 'The Magic Roundabout', 'Nightingale' and 'Michelangelo's David' are all linked by 'Florence'. The final two sets then came on the second go: 'The Flumps', 'Waybuloo', 'Noggin the Nog' and 'Engie Benjy' are children's TV shows, while 'Woolloo-mooloo', 'Bondi Beach', 'Paddington' and 'The Rocks' are parts of Sydney. Another full ten, which gave them a 24-15 lead going into the final round.

So, Missing Vowels to finish off with as usual. 'Things that avoid the Sun', including the topical 'LIVERPUDLIANS', went to the Beekeepers 2-0. 'Shakespeare players with a word changed to its opposite', such as 'TWELFTH DAY', was split 2-each. 'Things that can be abbreviated to two letters' went to the Men 2-1, and that was time. The Beekeepers won 29-19.

Another good half hour of quizzing, even if a bit one sided. Unlucky Men, but a perfectly respectable series of performances, so thanks for playing. Well done Beekeepers though, and good luck in the play-offs!

Next match, to be reviewed tomorrow: the Surrealists vs the Korfballers

Monday, 27 February 2017

University Challenge 2016-17: Qualification Quarter-Final 2: Edinburgh vs Wolfson

Evening all. Apologies once again that I didn't get around to covering OC last week, but I'm happy to report that I will definitely be catching up with my backlog this week, tomorrow and Wednesday/Thursday nights. But on with more important matters: the second UC SF qualifier, tonight's winners join Emmanuel in the penultimate round, the runners-up get a second go at making it, presumably against Warwick in two weeks' time. (IIRC, Mr Hutchings has confirmed this on Twitter)

Edinburgh have very quietly racked up a very good series of performances to get here, winning a good close first round match against Durham, sneaking past Open on a tie-breaker in the second round, and then bulldozing Birmingham late on to win 220-125 in their preliminary. They were the same four as those times:
Luke Dale, from York, studying Late Antique, Islamic and Byzantine Studies
Euan Smith, from Aberdeen, studying Classics
Captain: Joe Boyle, from Brighton, studying Ecological and Environmental Science
Emily Goddard, from Wilmslow in Cheshire, studying Chemistry

Wolfson College Cambridge also have a tie-breaker win under their belts, against SOAS in the first round, before wins over Jesus of Cambridge and Balliol of Oxford, the latter 165-135, put them through to here tonight. They too were unchanged from those occasions:
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 Engineering

Off we set again then, and a slip-up from Wolfson handed Edinburgh possession straight away; the Scots side took two bonuses on Scottish philosophers, one of which they didn't even wait to be finished! (Clearly learning from Open's mistakes in their second match) Mr Monkman, Twitter's favourite, made up for his mistake by taking his side off the mark, but they took just one bonus on former French overseas territories. The Cambridge side then took the lead with another starter and single bonus, but Mr Boyle swiftly reclaimed it for Edinburgh, and a full bonus set restored their solid advantage. The first picture round, on states of India and their primary languages, went to Wolfson, who took two bonuses this time, putting the teams level, 45-each.

Mr Smith, Edinburgh's top buzzer in the earlier rounds, took his second starter of the night to give his side back the lead. No bonuses followed, but Miss Goddard moved them further ahead, and a full bonus set on the Santa Croce church accompanied. Miss Goddard then took a second starter in a row, an old-fashioned UC style question asking for five three letter words with the same two consonants. Two bonuses on astronomy followed, taking them into triple figures, as did a fourth Edinburgh starter in a row, from Mr Smith. A tricky bonus set on European countries and their land masses gave them an impressive full house.

The music round, on classical dances of death, went to Wolfson, who missed all the bonuses, leaving them trailing 125-55. The Cambridge side now had their feet back in the door though, as Mr Chaudhri, eventually, took the next starter (much to Paxo's relief, as he thought it easy!); the work of Susan Sontag gave them one correct bonus. Mr Monkman came in promptly on the next starter, and was correct this time; two bonuses on human anatomy meant they had now halved their music round deficit. Mr Boyle then increased it though by identifying the jaguar; films that includes names of food grains was a nice UC style bonus set, of which Edinburgh took two. Mr Smith then took what looked like an educated guess on the next starter, and was correct; the mention of Lake Titicaca in the bonuses produced some light giggling of which Paxo was not impressed by! Two were taken.

The second picture round, on scientists who give their names to elements, went to Wolfson, who guzzled down the bonuses, reducing the gap to 160-115. Mr Chaudhri didn't seem certain when he came in quickly on the next starter, but he was right. Needing to get a move on, Wolfson took one bonus, before Mr Monkman came in with another prompt correct buzz. They too took to interrupting the bonuses as they took two to reduce the gap to just 10 points.

Anyone's game going into the final minutes. Neither side knew the precise month Edward VIII abdicated on the next starter, before Mr Chaudhri put Wolfson on level pegging. Just one bonus was taken, but it was enough to give them a narrow lead. Mr Smith quickly snatched it back on the next starter though, and a much needed full bonus set on English counties put them within one starter of victory. Mr Monkman zigged with the clarinet, Mr Smith zagged with the flute, and that was game over. A dropped bonus set proved immaterial, as did Mr Monkman getting in a muddle on the final starter and dropping five. At the gong, Edinburgh won 195-160.

Another excellent high scoring match as this most unpredictable series takes another twist. Unlucky Wolfson, who did well to recover from that half-time deficit, and who are still certainly very much in the running for the semis, so good luck to them in their play-off. Very well done Edinburgh though; yet another confident effort against good opponents, and very best of luck in the semis!

Mr Smith was, just, the best buzzer of the night, with six starters to Mr Monkman's five, both men taking their respective series totals to 26. On the bonuses, Edinburgh converted a decent 19 out of 30, while Wolfson managed 14 out of 30 (with two penalties); that's where the match was won then. But well played both sides, another fine match.

Next week's match: Birmingham vs Balliol, followed, I'm guessing, by Warwick vs Wolfson the week after.

Tune back in tomorrow and Wednesday/Thursday night as I (try to) catch up with Only Connect; see yous then.

Monday, 20 February 2017

University Challenge 2016-17: Elimination Quarter-Final 1: Warwick vs Bristol

Evening all. Apologies if my review is a bit rushed tonight, but I want to get it done quickly so I can watch what's left of Sutton vs Arsenal. Tonight, we remet two teams who started the QF process as favourites, but who both found themselves outbuzzed in their preliminary. Winners would stay on for the play-offs, the runners-up return to the rock-and-roll of the campus.

Warwick trounced Liverpool and our old friends East London in the knockout rounds, but despite a strong start against our friends Emmanuel in their prelim, they were overpowered late on and lost 200-90. They were the same four we've come to know and love previously:
Sophie Hobbs, from Birmingham, studying French and History
Sophie Rudd, from Lincolnshire, studying Computer Science and its Applications
Captain: Giles Hutchings, from Farnham in Surrey, studying Maths
Thomas Van, from Geneva, studying History

Bristol won fairly comfortably against Sheffield and Oriel of Oxford in the earlier rounds, but their first prelim was one to forget for them, as Corpus Christi ran riot against them and won 250-70. They too were the same four we've met those times before:
Joe Rolleston, from Tamworth, studying History
Claire Jackson, from Carshalton in London, studying Paleontology and Evolution
Captain: Alice Clarke, from Oxford, studying Medicine
Michael Tomsett, from Hinckley, studying Organic Chemistry 

Off we set again then, and Bristol began the match with Mr Rolleston being first in with 'howler', the Harry Potter clue being the giveaway! A get-able bonus set on American landmarks in film saw them take two, and unluckily miss the other. Miss Rudd opened Warwick's account with 'Kant' (no!), and the Coventry team took one bonus on Dorothy L. Sayers. A second starter for Miss Rudd plus two bonuses from a nice set on pairs of folk whose surnames and forenames are the same, like painter John Martin and astronomer royal Martin Rees, put Warwick in front. The first picture round, on maps depicting locations of battles, went to Bristol, who took two again, putting them back in front, 40-35.

Miss Jackson took the next starter for Bristol (found copy of Starter for Ten in charity shop other week!), and another two bonuses went with it. Their bonus record fell in the next set, as they only took one, unluckily missing the other due to a mispronunciation. Bristol's next bonus set was on darts, and required them to give the three dart checkout for certain numbers of points; much humourous conferring later, they had ten points! A penalty then added to Warwick's problems, as Mr Rolleston did the honours; one bonus was taken.

The music starter required two artists of two different played pieces, but neither side got both right; the bonuses, on pairs of tracks where a member of the first track produced the second, went to Bristol, who eventually took two, giving them a lead of 130-30. Mr Hutchings finally ended his side's buzzer embargo with the next starter; two bonuses on duels accompanied. A slip-up them knocked five off Bristol's lead; Warwick couldn't convert, but Miss Rudd recognised 'Khartoum' for the next starter, and two bonuses reduced the deficit to 55.

The second picture round, on paintings of fictional women, went to Warwick, who took just the one bonus, but had now closed the gap to 125-85. It then increased when Miss Rudd lost five, but Bristol couldn't pick up the points. Another starter was dropped, before Bristol lost five and Warwick picked up, but a dropped bonus set on Scottish islands meant they still stood 30 points behind.

Just one more starter would surely win it for Bristol; Miss Jackson buzzed, but was wrong, and lost five as well, albeit right on the borderline. Warwick couldn't pick up this time, but Mr Van took the next starter, and one bonus was enough to put them just ten behind! Ooh, this was so close! Next starter would surely win it. No luck on the next, both sides guessing wrong. Mr Rolleston then had the chance, but misoffered Henry V instead of Henry VIII, and lost five. Third time of asking, Miss Rudd shouted 'Fritz Lang!', and this time was correct! One correct bonus later, and that was the gong; Warwick had won it, 120-110!

A great match, with the sheer drama of the later stages more than making up for the rather low scores. Unlucky Bristol, who led almost throughout until it slipped from them right at the end, but nothing to be ashamed of at all, and a very decent series of performances, so thanks for playing. Very well done Warwick though; an excellent recovery from a seemingly hopeless position, and best of luck in your play-offs!

Mr Rolleston was best buzzer of the night with six starters, taking his final series total to 10, though Mr Tomsett was their best of the series with 14, while Miss Rudd was, again, Warwick's best with five, taking her career total to 23. On the bonuses, Warwick converted 10 out of 22 (with two penalties), while Bristol managed 12 out of 21 (with four crucial penalties); so it was a match won on the buzzer, the penalties proving key.

Next week's match: we are expecting to see Wolfson vs Edinburgh

And I am expecting to do Only Connect tomorrow or Thursday, as it finishes it's eliminators, and moves on to the qualifiers this Friday coming.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Only Connect Series 12: Elimination Quarter-Final 1: Fire-Eaters vs Verbivores

OK, Only Connect time. After this series is over, I'm either taking a break, or binge-watching some of the earlier series I didn't pay as much attention to. I won't try and review them on here if I do though, cause that went so well last time I tried that, didn't it?

Anyway, Friday's match, the first elimination match; unlike UC, the show is keeping it easy to understand which stage of the QF process is which. Playing were the Fire-Eaters, Andy Davis, Tony Moore and captain Jonathan Elliott, who defeated the Eurovisionaries and Clareites but found the Korfballers to be too much, and the Verbivores, Phyl Styles, blog reader Tom Cappleman and captain Graeme Cole, who have lost twice, to the Psmiths in the first round and the Surrealists in their preliminary, and won twice, beating the Channel Islanders and Taverners by a point each.

Round 1. The Verbivores opened the night's procedings with Horned Viper, and the picture set: we saw a shire horse, then a terrier dog, then a Chippendale dancer; they recognised the horse to be a Clydesdale and the dog an Airedale, so offered 'dale' for two points. The Eaters opened their account with Lion: 'Wymendon' in green, then 'Brixiestan' in light blue, then 'Holeburne' in red; they offered 'former names of Tube stations in their line colour', correct for two points. The Verbivores chose Eye of Horus next, and got the music question: we heard Tony Bennett singing 'Just in Time', then 'The Time Warp' from the Rocky Horror Show, then 'Time in a Bottle' by Jim Croce; they saw the link, and picked up another two points. The Eaters chose Twisted Flax next: 'The cleaner you are the dirtier you get', then 'Money back if he walks', then 'Hydrates and fuels you better than water', and finally 'Are you beach body ready?'; they spotted in time to be 'banned advert slogans', and collected a point. The Verbivores chose Two Reeds next: 'Joe Biden's 2008 presidential bid', then 'Players running on to pitch at Ibrox', then 'David Brent delivering motivational speech', and finally 'Chris Eubank entering ring'. They offered 'all done via dance'; not right. Their opponents didn't know it either, my Dad did though: they all feature Bon Sco... sorry, Tina Turner's 'The Best'. Left with Water, the Eaters saw 'Norman Wisdom (2010, 2015)', then 'Peter Falk (2011, 2012)', then 'Tony Hart (2009, 2015)'; they offered that the first years are when those persons died, and the second is a year they were mistakenly thought to have just died due to them being in the news for something else! Two points for that. At the end of the first round, the Eaters led 5-4.

Round 2, What Comes Fourth? The Verbivores began with Twisted Flax: '4: Belgium', then '3: Luxembourg', and then '2: Andorra'; they tried '1: Monaco', which was correct, though not for the reasons they suggested, numbers of borders with France, the actual sequence being countries with 4, 3, 2 and 1 actual land borders (so the UK would be an acceptable answer). The Eaters chose Eye of Horus next: we saw an N in a circle with a small section shaded black, then H in the circle with a larger portion shaded light grey, and then C in the circle with a larger still portion shaded darker grey (does that make sense?); they suggested that the circle would next feature an O and the rest of the circle shaded another colour. Correct, the sequence being the composing elements of the human body, nitrogen, hydrogen, carbon and oxygen respectively. The Verbivores chose Two Reeds next: we saw an M on its side and a 13, didn't fall into the trap of thinking it was a sigma, and picked up FIVE points for offering 'sideways P 16'! Excellent shout! The Eaters chose Lion next, and got the picture set: we saw Durham Cathedral with a 4, then St Paul's Cathedral with a 3, and then York Cathedral with a 2. Neither side saw it: Canterbury Cathedral with a 1 would be fourth, the sequence being the seniority of their bishops in the Church of England. For their final choice, the Verbivores chose Horned Viper: 'Tours (1940)', then 'Bordeaux (1940)', and then 'Vichy (1940-44)'; they spotted it to be where the French government has been based, and offered 'Paris (1944-present)' for two points. Left with Water again, the Eaters saw 'Titled lady', then 'Ancient Greek township', and then 'Two nickels'; they identified them as 'Dame, 'Deme' and 'Dime', and offered something representing 'Dome', such as 'Eden Project biospheres', for two points. At the end of the second round, the Verbivores led 13-9.

On to the Walls. The Eaters went first this time, and chose the Lion wall. It took them little time to isolate the first two sets: 'Canopic', 'Bell', 'Cookie' and 'Leyden' are types of jar, while 'Root', 'Cook', 'Stokes' and 'Anderson' are England cricketers. They spent a good long while looking over the final clues, and solved the wall on their final try: 'Runner', 'Lima', 'Tonka' and 'Navy' are types of bean, while 'Broad', 'Over', 'Fore' and 'Type' can all precede 'cast', which they didn't spot, dropping a clean sweep. Seven points there then.

The Verbivores thus could pull further away if they could crack the Water wall. They too found their first set pretty quickly: 'Maigret', 'Bean', 'Blackadder' and 'Fowler' are characters who have been portrayed by Rowan Atkinson. A second set came quickly too: 'Riverjack', 'Eggeater', 'Treeboa' and 'Hornedviper' are snakes. (Hang on, does this mean we've been writing it wrong all this time?) They soon had it wrapped up: 'English', 'Deviation', 'Lamp' and 'Wing' can all follow 'Standard', while 'Solution', 'Attrition', 'Abrasion' and 'Hydraulic action' are elements of river erosion. A full ten, which put them 23-16 going into the final round.

So, Missing Vowels to finish the show, with the Eaters needing a good effort to pull it back. 'Battles of the English Civil War' went to the Eaters 3-1. 'Plays by Eugene O'Neill' finished 1-each. 'Life peers', such as 'CP SNOW', where just one vowel was missing(!), went to the Eaters 2-1, and that was time. The Verbivores won 26-22.

Another good match well played by both sides. Unlucky Eaters, but a perfectly respectable series of performances, and thanks very much indeed for taking part. Well done Verbivores though, and best of luck in your play-off!

Next match: the Beekeepers vs the Oscar Men in the second eliminator match

Monday, 13 February 2017

University Challenge 2016-17: Qualification Quarter-Final 1: Emmanuel vs Corpus Christi

Evening all. So, the first proper quarter-final match. Both tonight's teams began the group stage in the bottom half of the table, but both impressively trounced their top half opponents in their preliminaries, and tonight one of them would be the first team to reach the semi-finals. And one certainly wouldn't have betted against the runners-up making it through too.

Emmanuel College Cambridge have quietly but comfortably made it this far, coming from behind on all three occasions to beat Nottingham, SOAS, and in their first quarter-final, Warwick, who they ran away against late on to win 200-90. The same four as before lined up hopeful of going straight to the semis:
Tom Hill, from London, studying History
Leah Ward, from Oxfordshire, studying Maths
Captain: Bobby Seagull, from East Ham in London, studying Education specialising in Maths
Bruno Barton-Singer, from Wandsworth in London, studying Physics

Corpus Christi College Oxford have already beaten two Cambridge teams, Jesus and Peterhouse, both by narrow margins, before trouncing Bristol 250-70 in their first quarter-final outing. Also hopeful of bypassing the play-offs were the also unchanged four of:
Tom Fleet, from Pendoggett in Cornwall, studying English
Emma Johnson, from North London, studying Medicine
Captain: Nikhil Venkatesh, from Derby, studying PPE
Adam Wright, from Winnersh in Berkshire, studying Physics

Off we set again then, and Mr Venkatesh opened the scoring; two bonuses on Homer's Odyssey (I'll resist any cheap Simpsons jokes!) gave the Oxonians an early advantage. Mr Seagull quickly fired Emmanuel off the mark, and they equaled their opponents score with two bonuses on the films of Gurinder Chadha. Mr Barton-Singer then gave his side the lead; just the one bonus followed this time. The first picture round, on illustrations of roulette curves, went to Emmanuel, who took just the one bonus again, giving them a lead of 50-20.

The lead increased when Mr Hill identified a list of Alexander Is; no bonuses came from a tricky set on Queen Zenobia (who gives her name to a film starring Oliver Hardy which is well worth a look). Neither side took the next starter, before Mr Venkatesh broke his side back into the match; an amusing full bonus set on psychology put them right back in the match. Another starter was dropped, before Mr Wright just avoided being docked five for a borderline incorrect buzz; Emmanuel took the points, and two points on NATO accompanied.

The music starter was dropped; the bonuses, on pieces performed by contralto singer Kathleen Ferrier, went to Emmanuel, with Corpus Christi losing five in the process. The Cambridge side took one music bonus, giving them a lead of 95-40. Mr Venkatesh took his third starter of the night for Corpus Christi, but the Oxonians got nothing from the resultant literature bonuses. Emmanuel had no luck either with their next bonus set, on political history. (I got John Major as one of two PMs who were Foreign Secretary and Chancellor beforehand) A nice bonus set on the largest countries to begin with certain letters of the alphabet proved more to the Cambridge side's liking, as they took two and unluckily missed the third.

The second picture round, on self-portraits of the artist at work, went to Emmanuel, who swept the board on the bonuses, putting their lead at 150-50. Corpus Christi could still catch up if they put their feet down; Mr Venkatesh did, but only lost five points. He then made up for that by taking his fourth starter of the night, but, again, his side got nothing from the resultant bonuses.

Emmanuel confirmed their victory when Mr Seagull took the next starter, identifying a list of words beginning 'F-I-L-O'; astronomy provided them with two correct bonuses which they took their time with, the match having already been won. The final starter was missed by both sides; at the gong, Emmanuel won 170-55.

A rather slow match, but both teams did OK considering the expected difficulty of the questions at this stage of the contest. Unlucky Corpus Christi, who were simply outbuzzed, but who aren't out of the running yet, so good luck in your play-off. Very well done Emmanuel though, and very best of luck in the semi-finals!

Messrs Barton-Singer and Venkatesh were joint best buzzers of the night, with four each for their respective teams, taking their series totals to 18 and 13 respectively, meaning the latter is now his side's best buzzer. On the bonuses, Emmanuel converted 14 out of 30, while Corpus Christi managed 5 out of 12 (with two penalties); both just shy of 50%, proving how hard the questions were tonight.

Next week's match: don't know for sure yet, but Bristol vs Warwick is my best guess, followed by Wolfson vs Edinburgh and Balliol vs Birmingham. Hopefully we'll find out of sure before long.

And I'll get on to Only Connect tomorrow night as well, as it enters the elimination stage of its QF process.

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Only Connect Series 12: Preliminary Quarter-Final 4: Psmiths vs Oscar Men

OK, moving on to Only Connect now, and the final preliminary quarter-final of that tournament. Winners go on to the qualifying round, the runners-up return in two weeks to face the Beekeepers in the elimination round. If UC kept the two phases together like this, instead of alternating, I reckon a lot more people would be able to understand the format and not get muddled all the time.

Anyway, the final two teams to enter the group phase, on Friday night, were the Psmiths, Mark Smith, Nick Holland and captain Nick Reed, who got this far by beating fellow quarter-finalists the Verbivores and the Networkers, and the Oscar Men, Howard Freedman, Adrian Knott and captain Michael Slowey, who lost to the Part-Time Poets but bounced back by beating the Maltsters and the Genealogists.

Round 1. The Psmiths kicked off the match, chose to do with Two Reeds, saw 'NBA', and then Mr Reed leaned forward and buzzed by mistake! Forced to give an answer, their guess of 'North American sporting associations' was not correct. Their opponents saw 'DreamWorks', 'Dr. Oetker' and 'Kappa', but couldn't capitalise: they all contains silhouettes in their logos. The Men chose Eye of Horus for their first question, and got the picture set: we saw the SNP's Pete Wishart, then the Rev Richard Coles, then Prof. Brian Cox; that gave it to them, they are all former keyboard players in bands. The Psmiths chose Lion next: 'Svein Grondalen: encounter with a moose', 'Alex Stepney: shouting at defenders'; that was enough for them to offer 'unusual injuries to footballers', for three points. (The unneeded clues were 'David Batty: run over by a child's tricycle' and 'Steve Morrow: dropped by Tony Adams'!) The Men chose Horned Viper next: 'It's Not Unusual (1964)', then 'Mull of Kintyre (1929)', then 'Martha's Harbour (1951)'; their answer at this point of 'films that share names with No 1 songs' was not correct. Their opponents saw 'If You Leave Me Now (2003)', but couldn't improve: the performers share their names with the Best Picture winner of the same year. Nasty! The Psmiths chose Twisted Flax next: 'Sunderland v. Derby County, 1894', then 'Eton school year', then 'Recommended daily beer intake for men', and finally '1.5'. They got it in the nick of time: they are all three halves. (The first half of the football match was played twice, with the same outcome, as the ref missed it first time after missing his train!) Left with Water, the Men got the music question, and heard Heidenroslein by Schubert, then Honeysuckle Rose, then The White Rose of Athens, and finally Kiss From a Rose. They didn't see it, their opponents did for a bonus. At the end of the first round, the Psmiths led 5-2.

Round 2, What Comes Fourth? The Psmiths opened the round with Two Reeds, and got a music sequence: we heard Eurythmics and Aretha Franklin with Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves, then Franklin singing with the late George Michael, and then Michael singing with Elton John. They saw the link, and offered Elton John's duet of 'Don't Go Breaking My Heart' with Kiki Dee for two points. (Cue the enforced sing-along!) The Men chose Twisted Flax, and got the picture set: we saw a zero, then what looked like a squashed D, and then an odd looking Q; they saw it to be the inside of the letters O, P and Q, so the inside of an R would be the same as the P, as they offered for two points. (Hope that made sense) The Psmiths chose Water next: 'Cup', then 'Plate', and then 'Bowl'. They offered 'Trophy', not right; their opponents tried 'Masters', also not right. 'Shield' completes the set, the sequence being Rugby Sevens tournaments going down the table. The Men chose Lion next: 'Pnictogens', then 'Chalcogens', and then 'Halogens'; they offered 'Noble gases', which was correct for two points, the sequence being the Periodic Table sections 15, 16, 17 and 18. For their final choice, the Psmiths chose Eye of Horus: '4th of 5 significa 'or'', then '3rd of 5 significa 'the (masc pl)'', and then '2nd of 5 significa 'and''. They didn't get it, nor did their opponents; the sequence is what the vowels represent in Italian, so '1st of 5 significa 'to'' would be acceptable. Tricky stuff tonight! Left with Horned Viper, the Men saw 'Sophia Dorothea of Celle', then 'Caroline of Ansback', and then 'Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz'; they saw it to be wives of King Georges, but didn't know George IV's wife. Their opponents did, offering 'Caroline of Brunswick' for a bonus. At the end of the second round, the Psmiths led 8-6.

On to the Walls. The Men went first, and went with the Lion wall. After spending about half the time trying unsuccessfully, they isolated 'Ras', 'Prince', 'Mirza' and 'Infante', which are terms for junior royality. A second set, 'Wilson', 'Dunlop', 'Babolat' and 'Head', which are makers of tennis rackets, slotted in with not much time left. They tried to solve the final groups, but failed in their three gos. Thus they had top pick up bonus connection points: 'Bill', 'Ness', 'Point' and 'Cape' are promontories, which they didn't get close to enough for a point, while 'Flower', 'Number', 'Sin' and 'Beetle' can all follow 'Cardinal'. Four points for that then.

The Psmiths thus tackled the Water wall. They too had little success, ultimately failing to get anything from the walls in normal time. Luckily, they got all the groups for bonus points: 'Windermere', 'Hunstanton', 'Bracknell' and 'Chiltern' are aristocrats in Oscar Wilde, 'Malvern', 'Quantock', 'Galloway' and 'Preseli' are hill ranges, 'Cheviot', 'Rambouillet', 'Ile de France' and 'Corriedale' are breeds of sheep, while 'Martinique', 'Reunion', 'Mayotte' and 'Brittany' are regions of France. Another four there, which meant they led 12-10 going into the crucial final round.

So, Missing Vowels would be the decider. 'Phrases expressing happiness' went to the Men 2-1. 'Women and their fathers' went to the Men 1-0, with the Psmiths getting one right but one wrong. 'Scout activity badges' went to the Psmiths 1-(-1), and that was time. The Psmiths had snuck home 14-12.

A very hard set of questions, both teams did well considering. Unlucky Men, but nothing wrong with that performance considering, so good luck next time. Well done Psmiths though, on another good effort, and best of luck in your next match as well!

Next week's match: the first elimination match, between the Fire-Eaters and the Verbivores

Monday, 6 February 2017

University Challenge 2016-17: Preliminary Quarter-Final 4: Edinburgh vs Birmingham

Evening all. The final preliminary quarter-final tonight, between two teams who have slipped under the radar somewhat compared to some of the other quarter-finalists, but have both played very well to get this far and have deserved to do so. Winners would go on to the qualifiers, while the runners-up would go on to the elimination round, it's really quite simple if you can keep track of it.

Edinburgh have won through two of the best UC matches of the decade (IMO) to get this far, firstly winning a good close first round match against Durham 190-155, and then scraping past Open on a tie-breaker in the second. Hoping not to have to live so dangerously tonight were the unchanged foursome of:
Luke Dale, from York, studying Late Antique, Islamic and Byzantine Studies
Euan Smith, from Aberdeen, studying Classics
Captain: Joe Boyle, from Brighton, studying Ecological and Environmental Science
Emily Goddard, from Wilmslow in Cheshire, studying Chemistry

Birmingham have twice come from behind to win both their matches pretty comfortably, firstly overcoming Queen's of Belfast 165-105 in Round 1, and then St Andrews 195-115 in Round 2. Hoping for more of the same tonight were the also unchanged quartet of:
Elliot Jan-Smith, from Derby, studying Chemistry
Fraser Sutherland, from Edinburgh, studying History
Captain: George Greenlees, from Plymouth, studying Medicine
Chris Rouse, from Droitwich Spa in Worcestershire, studying History and Politics

Off we set again then, and Mr Greenlees, Birmingham's top man in the first two rounds, opened the scoring for the night; two bonuses on early 20th century British politics accompanied, before Mr Rouse gave Birmingham a second starter. A bonus set on the late great Johan Cruyff provided another ten points. A slip-up then allowed Edinburgh to open their account, and take two bonuses of their own. Another Birmingham penalty, albeit an unlucky one for a buzz just before the question finished, allowed Edinburgh to draw level, but they couldn't take the lead. The first picture round, on flags of autonomous Spanish regions, went to Birmingham, who took one and unluckily missed another, giving them a lead of 45-30.

Mr Smith, Edinburgh's main man in the earlier rounds, opened his duck when he took the next starter, but, again, they failed to take any of the accompanying bonuses. This allowed Mr Greenlees to triple Birmingham's lead by taking the next starter, and his side took one bonus on statistics. Mr Smith fought back by identifying a list of works by Frank Lloyd Wright (sadly, Marge Simpson's hair wasn't one of them!); a full bonus set gave Edinburgh the lead for the first time the night.

The music starter saw Mr Smith first in to identify Mr Bruce Springsteen (KIRBY: 'Ah, 'The Boss'!', FRASIER: 'No, Bruce Springsteen!'); the bonuses, on pop tracks inspired by their writer's home towns, saw Edinburgh mistake Tina Turner for the late Bon Scott! They took one other bonus, which put them ahead 80-60. That lead increased when Birmingham, again, buzzed wrongly on the final word of the question, and Edinburgh took the points. One bonus followed, as did a fourth starter in a row, and two bonuses on human muscles. Edinburgh now had exactly double Birmingham's score, but Mr Jan-Smith put a stop to that by taking the next starter; a full bonus set on English words from the Nahuatl/Aztec showed that they weren't out of it yet.

The second picture round, on depictions of Bacchus, went to Birmingham, who took a second full set in a row, which meant they now trailed by just 110-105. Mr Smith tripled that lead by taking the next starter, and Edinburgh promptly took a full bonus set of their own, none of which Paxo was able to finish reading out! Back came Birmingham thanks to Mr Greenlees, and bonuses on mountain ranges gave them two correct answers, and a reduced deficit of ten. Mr Smith doubled it, but Edinburgh got nothing from a bonus set on electronics.

Mr Smith then took a second starter in a row though, and two bonuses put them within sight of victory. Mr Dale pulled them closer, and an amusing bonus set on animals with repeating names, such as the dodo or dik-dik, gave them one correct answer and two amusing (but wrong) guesses on the other two! Edinburgh now had a 55 point lead, and when Mr Smith took the next starter, that was game over. A full bonus set on pastry deserts only served to increase their lead, as did one more starter and bonus. At the gong, Edinburgh won 220-125.

A good match, close most of the way through until the final minutes. Unlucky Birmingham, who aren't done justice by that score, as they were very much in it for the most part, but who certainly aren't finished yet, so good luck in the eliminators. Very well done Edinburgh though; another excellent performance against worthy opponents, and very best of luck in the qualifying round!

Mr Smith was, by far and away, the night's best buzzer, with nine(!) to his name, while Mr Greenlees was, again, Birmingham's best, with four; both men's series totals now stand at 20 each. On the bonuses, Edinburgh converted 18 out of 39, while Birmingham managed 14 out of 21 (with three penalties).

Next week's match: I am reliably informed it is Emmanuel vs Corpus Christi in the first qualifier. A break from the past few years then; no idea where that leaves the rest of the draw, but we shall see.

Only Connect, meanwhile, will be sorted out tomorrow. For sure. Hopefully.