Monday, 31 July 2017

University Challenge 2017-18: Round 1: Match 3: Southampton vs Cardiff

Evening all. If you haven't already, do try and check out the new Quizzy Mondays podcast, where Chris Ducklin of last year's East London UC team talks about the week's quiz shows. I joined him for the first episode last week, and he intends to see if other bloggers will be willing to join in too. You can find it on Twitter, @QuizzyMondays. Now, on with tonight.

Southampton University was founded in 1952, and its alumni include radio comedy mainstay Jeremy Hardy and BBC news mainstay Jon Sopel. It has regularly sent teams to UC, reaching the QFs in 2013-14; it last appeared two series ago, going out in the second round. This year's foursome were:
Juan Paolo Ledesma, from Hampshire, studying Medicine
Andrew Knighton, from Fareham in Hampshire, studying Medicine
Captain: Lorna Frankel, from Wiltshire, studying Natural Sciences
Niall Jones, from Chalfont St Peter in Buckinghamshire, studying English

Cardiff University was formerly part of the University of Wales, becoming independent in 2005, and its alumni include another BBC news regular, Huw Edwards, and failed HIGNFY presenter Neil Kinnock. It last sent a team to UC, who went out in the QFs. This year's quartet, hoping to do better than the last Welsh side to face a Southampton team did, were:
Freddie Colleran, from Halifax, studying Engineering
Daniel Conway, from Chiswick, studying Medicine
Captain: Ian Strachan, from Nuneaton, studying Chemistry
Rosie Cowell, from Newport Pagnell, studying Philosophy

Off we set again then, and Mr Jones opened the scoring for Southampton, and the first bonus set, on Sinbad the sailor, which I missed a bit of as I left the room to close the doors so I could hear properly, gave the side a full set. Miss Frankel was up next, and the resultant bonuses were also cleanly swept up. Just one bonus came with Southampton's third set, before Mr Strachan finally found his buzzer for Cardiff; alas, all he did was lose his side five, handing Southampton possession and another full bonus set. The first picture round, on maps with missing borders, went to Southampton, who cleaned up again, and already led 115-(-5).

Already, it was looking like game over as a contest, and Mr Jones only added to that thought by correctly offering Kyrgyzstan for the next starter. All three bonuses were converted once again. A second starter in a row went to the Soton right winger Mr Jones; just one bonus this time, but even at this very early stage, it didn't really matter. Mr Knighton ensured all Southampton players had at least one starter to their name, though no bonuses came with it this time. Cardiff managed to get a buzz in on the next starter, but not the right answer, Southampton couldn't either. Mr Jones only added to the Welsh side's misery by getting the next starter, but the side missed all the bonuses again, albeit amusingly as an obscure incorrect answer to the first turned out to be right for the third!

The music round saw Mr Ledesma win the race to be (AFAIK) the first UC contestant ever to correctly offer 'Katy Perry'! The bonuses, on tracks using the 'Millennial whoop', gave Southampton another full house, and a lead of 200-(-5). Finally, Mr Conway broke Cardiff's duck, and took them into positive figures. Alas, a bonus set on the work of Doris Day got them nothing more. A second starter went Cardiff's way thanks to Miss Cowell, and bonuses on landscapes proved a bit more to their liking, as they managed the one. Mr Jones restored normal service for Southampton, and a bonus set on the human skeleton was very quickly dispatched.

The second picture round, on tourist attactions built for World's fairs, went to Cardiff, who took two of the bonuses, leaving the score at 225-40. Mr Jones then fell foul of a swerve that saw his answer emerge as part of the question, but Cardiff failed to take advantage. Another two starters was dropped, before Mr Jones ended the rot by taking Southampton's latest starter. Just the one bonus followed, but at this point, it was just a question of how many more points both sides could manage.

Another starter was dropped, the next saw Mr Ledesma (and myself) identify the main breeds of swan. The bonuses got them nothing more again, before Mr Ledesma took a second starter in a row; one bonus on sparkling wine followed, as we both identified 'cava'. There was time for Mr Knighton to take the final starter, and two of the final bonuses to follow; at the gong, Southampton won 280-40.

A pretty one sided match in truth, not much more can be said. Unlucky Cardiff, who just simply never got going, but came across well when they did nonetheless, and deserve credit for making it on the show in the first place, so good on yous. Very very well played by Southampton though, and we shall most definitely look forward to seeing you again in the next round! Could be a team to watch!

The stats: Messrs Ledesma and Jones were joint best buzzers of the night, with six each, while Messrs Conway and Strachan and Miss Cowell all got one each for Cardiff. On the bonuses, Southampton converted 27 out of 44, while Cardiff managed 3 out of 9, and both sides incurred one penalty.

No show next week, as LIVE athletics gets priority, so we're back in two weeks' time. I hope.

Only Connect is on next week, and this week too for that matter. Be back with that on Sunday. Also, stay tuned for a new non-quiz series I may or may not decide to start at some point in the next few weeks.

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Only Connect Series 13: Round 1: Match 1: Stewards vs Parishioners

OK, here we go with the thirteenth series of Only Connect, something Victoria CM (who is now well known enough not to need a subtitle at the start!) was quick to point out during her intro. I understand we have yet another new format for this series, which hopefully will become clearer as the series goes on.

Anyhoo, playing the first match of Series Numero 13 were the Stewards, James Baillie, Sam Brennan and captain Samuel Cook (UC alumnus), and the Parishioners, Tracey Rawlins, Andy Rawlins (relationship unclear) and captain Ian Fellows.

Round 1. The Parishioners kicked off the new series with Eye of Horus, and the ever popular music question: we heard The Saw Doctors, then Chaka Demus and Pliers, then Jimmy Nail; this gave it to them for two points, they share their names with tools/carpentry equipment. (MC Hammer would've been the last clue) The Stewards opened their account with Lion: 'Collateral: stairwell; subway station', then 'The Firm: office building; street', then 'Jerry Maguire: stadium; airport', and finally 'Vanilla Sky: an empty Times Square'. They identified them as Tom Cruise films, but neither they nor their opponents could get the precise link: they are places where he is seen running in those films, as per a popular meme. The Parishioners chose Two Reeds next: 'pat: bone', then 'rub: disease'; they quickly spotted that adding 'ella' to the former gives the latter, and collected a good three points. The Stewards chose 'Horn-ed' Viper next: 'Fruit: LEMON', then 'BBC Sci-Fi: DOCTOR WHO', then 'Add up to 13: TWELVE PLUS ONE'; they spotted the latter in each case to be an anagram of another of the former, and collected two for that. The Parishioners chose Water next, and got the picture set: we saw a potato, then a Bible, then a dresser with an arrow at the leg; they identified them as a King Edward potato, the King James Bible and a Queen Anne leg, and collected two points. Left with Twisted Flax, the Stewards saw 'Hooters', then 'The Night Tube', then 'tripadvisor', and finally 'Sheffield Wednesday'. I was surprised they didn't get this, and unsurprised their opponents did: they all have owls as their logos. At the end of the first round, the Parishioners led 8-2.

Round 2, What Comes Fourth? The Parishioners went first again, and chose Eye of Horus first again: 'Legal personality', then 'Amendment of Treaties', and then 'Application to join the EU'. They didn't get it, but their opponents, and I, did: 'Exiting the EU' completes the sequence, which is Articles 47-50 of the Lisbon Treaty. For their own question, the Stewards chose Lion: 'Close window', then 'Cut'; they saw them to be computer control shortcuts, but their answer of 'Paste' was incorrect. Their opponents saw 'Redo', and spotted the sequence to be what happens when you press Control alongside W, X, Y and Z, so 'Undo' would complete the set. For their own question, the Parishioners chose Twisted Flax, and got the picture set: we saw John Lennon and Paul McCartney, then the two Beatles again; they saw it to be names of Popes, so offered Francis Bacon, and collected three points. The Stewards chose Water next: 'KGX', then 'MYB'; they saw it to be the codes of the stations in Monopoly, but their offer of 'FCH', was incorrect. Their opponents saw 'FST', and offered 'PDN', as in Paddington, which, unfortunately, is not the missing station. That would be Liverpool Street, so LST would complete the set. For their final choice, the Parishioners chose Two Reeds: 'either', then 'neither', and then 'potato'; they spotted it to be the words that are argued over in 'Lets Call the Whole Thing Off', so 'tomato' would be correct for two points. Left with Horned Viper, the Stewards saw 'Heaven', then 'Sense', and then 'Column'; they saw it to be words that can follow 'seventh', 'sixth' and 'fifth', so something following 'fourth', such as 'quartile' or 'wall', would be fourth, literally, for two points. At the end of the second round, the Parishioners led 14-5.

On to the Walls. The Stewards went first, and chose to tackle the Lion wall. They fairly quickly isolated 'Constantine', 'John Wick', 'Hardball' and 'Speed', which are films starring Keanu Reeves. A second set followed: 'Llewellyn', 'Herod', 'Cyrus' and 'Catherine' are rulers known as 'the Great'. They ran out of tries trying to resolve the wall, and thus had to pick up bonuses: 'Taper', 'Peter', 'Wane' and 'Fade' can all mean 'to lessen', which they got, while 'Hart', 'Rice', 'Ebb' and 'Lerner' are lyricists of musicals, which they didn't. Five for that then.

The Parishioners thus set to work on the Water wall. They quickly got stuck, however, though they did isolate one set: 'Ricochet', 'Deja Vu', 'Malcolm X' and 'Inside Man' are films starring Denzil Washington. They had no luck getting anything else though, and so too were left to rummage for bonuses: 'Standby', 'Swing', 'Cover' and 'Alternate' are understudies, which they didn't get, 'Charge', 'Heart', 'Flight' and 'Note' can all follow 'Take', which they also didn't get, while 'Exit poll', 'Cleavage', 'Ballot' and 'Hustings' are terms in electioneering. (One wonders if this series was in the bag before this year's snap poll was called, I suspect UC certainly was) So three points there, which cut their lead to 17-10 going into the final round.

So still just about in the balance going into the final round, but the Stewards would need to run the show. 'People with descriptive surnames', such as 'TAYLOR SWIFT' and 'WILL YOUNG', was split 2-each. 'Questions you might hear in a job interview' went to the Stewards 3-1. 'Winners of the Tony Award for Best Musical' was a clean sweep to the Parishioners 4-0, and that was game over. 'Ways to say goodbye', such as 'SEE YOU LATER ALLIGATOR', went to the Parishioners 2-0, and that was time. The Parishioners won 16-15.

A good start to the new series. Well done Parishioners, and good luck in the next round. Unlucky Stewards, but good job a perfectly fair performance, and you may get another chance if you are one of the two highest scoring runners-up.

Yep, another tweak to the format means now only the two highest scoring first round runners-up will get another go. Quite how this will work considering the number of shows (37) doesn't appear to have changed, I don't know, but if anyone does, do let us know.

Next week's match: Geocachers (wonder if that'll be the same team from Series 4) vs Vikings

Monday, 24 July 2017

University Challenge 2017-18: Round 1: Match 2: Trinity vs Bristol

Evening all. On we roll with the second week of Twitter's favourite prime time quiz show. At least, at the moment; plans were announced this week to bring The Weakest Link back for a one off Children in Need special, which, if well received, could lead to a run of celeb specials next year. Anne Robinson would return as host. Anyway, we'll deal with that later. For now, on with tonight's show...

Trinity College Cambridge has something of a reputation on UC, having won it three times, once under Bambi, and twice under Paxo. Founded in 1546 by Henry VIII, alumni include science pioneer Sir Isaac Newton, Joey Essex lookalike Eddie Redmayne (thanks Pointless!) and BBC loyalist Mel Giedroyc. It last sent a team to UC three series back, who went out in the group stage. This year's foursome were:
Matthew Kingston, from Greenisland in County Antrim, studying Physics
Owen Petrie, from Glan Clwyd in North Wales, studying Applied Maths
Captain: Maya Bear, from North London, studying English
Rahul Dev, from Chiswick in London, studying History

Bristol University dates back to 1909, founded by the Fry family of chocolate entrepreneurs and the Wills tobacconists. Alumni include 'comedians' Simon Pegg and David Walliams and writer David Nicholls of the excellent 'Starter for Ten'. It has regularly sent decent teams to UC; last year's team reached the group stage, going out after a great contest. This year's quartet hoping to better that were:
Oliver Bowes, from Market Harborough, studying Music
Kirsty Biggs, from Southampton, studying Maths
Captain: Sam Hosegood, from Bedford, studying Chemical Physics
Dom Hewett, from Stroud, studying English

Off we set again then, and Bristol struck first with Mr Hewett doing the honours. Nothing came of the resultant bonuses, though, and five were then lost to the first Pedantic Penalty (of what I hope will be not many) of the series; Trinity took the points, and bonuses on fictional dogs provided two correct answers. Miss Biggs then recouped Bristol's lost points, and their first correct bonus put the sides level. Mr Hosegood then gave his side the lead, with just the one bonus, on cricket, coming this time. The first picture round, on toilet signs in various languages (yes, really) went to Trinity, who took one bonus, which tied the scores at 35-each.

Mr Bowes then made sure all four Bristolians already had at least one starter under their belts, but an amusing bonus set on potatoes in art provided nothing more. Another starter to the Avonsiders resulted in no accompanying bonuses again. Trinity, by contrast, took the next starter, and got all three bonuses on the coalition government (remember when we had those?) of Lloyd George, giving them the lead. They didn't seem to be getting as many starters as Bristol, but they were getting more bonuses right when they did.

The music starter saw Mr Bowes identify Mozart's horn concerto in E flat, Kochel rating 495 (thanks Flanders and Swann!); the bonuses, on pieces predominately featuring horns, gave Bristol a much needed full bonus set, and a lead of 80-60. Another penalty, a proper one this time, then lost them five, but Trinity couldn't pick up this time. Mr Hosegood recouped his side's losses, and another full bonus set took them into three figures, and suggested they'd turned a corner on the bonus front. Or maybe not, as they got nothing from their next set. Mr Hosegood was on a roll now though, taking a third starter in a row, and bonuses on King Zog of Albania gave them one right answer, same as their next set got them.

The second picture round, on political cartoons by James Gillray, went to Bristol, who took two bonuses, giving them a lead of 160-60, and within sight of victory. Mr Hewett all but put them over the line by taking the next starter; though just the one bonus came again, and when Mr Hosegood took the next starter, that was game over. A full bonus set confirmed this.

An odd starter asked which country's name appears in that of words meaning 'underwater diving' and 'to keep eggs warm'; Mr Bowes knew it to be 'Cuba', 'SCUBA' and 'Incubate' being the words. Two bonuses came. Mr Petrie broke Trinity's silence finally, and they took two bonuses on five letter words ending in 'I'. Both sides missed the next starter, Trinity took the next, but one bonus meant they fell short of three figures. Bristol took the final starter, and that was the gong; they won 230-95.

A slow match that picked up somewhat in the second half as Bristol pulled away. Unlucky Trinity, who did perfectly OK and I suspect would've fared better against another team, but well done on a fair effort. Well done Bristol though on an excellent first performance, and very best of luck in the second round.

The stats: Mr Hosegood was by far the best buzzer of the night, with seven to his name, while Messrs Petrie and Dev took two each for Trinity. On the bonuses, Trinity converted a respectable 9 out of 15, while Bristol managed 18 out of 42 (with two penalties), suggesting they won the match on, what dxdtdemon termed last series, 'starter defence'; still, increase that bonus rate a bit, and you've got a decent outfit there.

Next week's match: Southampton vs Cardiff

Only Connect returns on Friday at 8:30, and will stay there until the end of the year at least. If I decide to review this series, I will do the first episode either Sunday or next Tuesday.

Monday, 17 July 2017

University Challenge 2017-18: Round 1: Match 1: Edinburgh vs Ulster

Evening all. We're back! After what seems like an interminable break, although TBH, so much has happened in the three months since we were last here, it, for once, does really feel like an eternity. But still, we're back! And, for the first time, I am completely unprepared for the new series! Usually, I've already got my stat tables and stuff sorted by now, but not this time! TBH, I've kinda enjoyed my rest from this blog too much, to the extent that I didn't get around to reviewing the Series 8 final of Fifteen-to-One 2.0; congrats to Max Espensen who won that, BTW. Anyway, off we set with Chapter 1 of Volume 47 of University Challenge!

Edinburgh University were with us last series, making an under-the-radar run to the semis before losing to eventual champs Balliol. Scotland's fourth university, founded in 1583, its alumni include footballer and part time writer Arthur Conan Doyle, politicians Gordon Brown and Ruth Davidson, my father and numerous old school friends. This year's team were:
John Heaton-Armstrong, from Edinburgh, studying Russian and History
Stanley Wang, from Edinburgh, studying Speech and Language Processing
Captain: Innis Carson, from Glasgow, studying Chemistry
Philippa Stone, from Oxford, studying Biology

Ulster University, making its Paxo-era UC debut tonight, was founded in 1984, and is the largest university on the island of Ireland. Alumni include comedian Omid Djalili and children's TV legend Gerry Anderson. It's first UC team of the Paxo era, and also the oldest of this year's tournament, were:
Kyle McDaid, from Buncrana in County Donegal, studying English Literature
Kate Ritchie, from Waringstown in County Armagh, studying Fine Art
Captain: Ian Jack, from Peterhead, studying Pharmacy
Matthew Milliken, from Comber in County Down, studying Education

Off we set again then, and local man (for me) Mr Jack had the honour of taking the first starter of the series, and his side taking two bonuses on travel guides. A second starter went to the Ulster captain, and one bonus followed this time. Mr Wang then took Edinburgh's first starter of the night, and his side broke their duck with two bonuses on Britain and Australia. Edinburgh's second bonus set, however, got them nothing further. The first picture round, on routes of expeditions, went to Ulster, who took two picture bonuses, which gave them a lead of 55-30.

Mr Wang then incurred the first penalty of the series; Ulster took the points and one of the resultant bonuses. Edinburgh recovered the points soon after, and a bonus set on Mexico gave them a full house. (I got chihuahua as the country's largest state) Another starter and a set of bonuses on football and poetry gave them the chance to take the lead, but they could only pull within five.

The music round, on TV theme tunes composed by Howard Goodall, saw Ulster take a full house on the bonuses, and me guess that Red Dwarf would be the last one before it was played! They now led 95-65, only for a slip-up to cost them five, and allow Edinburgh to pull within five again. A speculative buzz on 'lemonade' gave the Scots side the lead for the first time, and a full bonus set gave them some breathing space to boot. Mr Jack put a stop to that though, and a full bonus set of their own gave them the lead again. Mr Heaton-Armstrong came right back for Edinburgh, but they could only take one bonus this time.

The second picture round, on actors who played the same role on stage and screen, went to Ulster, who could also only take one, but nonetheless, it gave them the lead again, 130-125. Edinburgh took it back with Mr Heaton-Armstrong again doing the honours, but just the one bonus followed again. What looked like an educated guess put Ulster level again, and a crucial full bonus set set up a grandstand finish to start the series.

Neither side identified the correct monarch for the next starter; the next saw Mr Carson, a noted alumnus of Countdown and Only Connect, take his first starter of the night. Edinburgh too took a full set of bonuses, which might just have been enough to see them home. Indeed, Mr Milliken took the final starter, but there was no time for any bonuses. Edinburgh won the match, 165-160!

A great start to the series between two excellent teams both of whom deserve to return. Unlucky Ulster, who led much of the way through and just fell short at the end, but 160 will surely be enough to bring you back in the play-offs; best of luck there then! Well done Edinburgh though, and very best of luck in the second round!

The stats: Mr Jack was, just, the best buzzer of the night, with six starters to the five of Mr Heaton-Armstrong. On the bonuses, Edinburgh converted 16 out of 27, while Ulster managed 15 out of 24, with both sides incurring one penalty. So, that extra bonus, plus there being no time for the final set, won the match for Edinburgh. But well played both sides!

Next week's match: Trinity College Cambridge vs Bristol

Only Connect is, I understand, due to return at the end of the month, still on Friday nights. However, I am also informed that there are plans to reunite it with UC in the New Year.