Monday, 28 August 2017

University Challenge 2017-18: Round 1: Match 6: Oxford Brookes vs Courtauld

Evening all. Tonight, we welcome back two institutions that last sent teams three series ago, and who both, ironically, bowed out after losing to the same team. Excellent intro from Paxo too, remarking that the teams will soon be wishing they'd applied for Pointless instead! In light of the episode of that that's (should be) being repeated tomorrow teatime, they probably won't be!

Oxford Brookes University began life as an art school, and later became Oxford Polytechnic, and then a university in 1992. Alumni include ex MP Lynne Featherstone, current MP Jonathan Djanogly, and Olympic rowing great Steve Williams. The team from three years ago reached the QFs, losing to Bristol. This year's foursome were:
Inigo Purcell, from Chiswick, studying English Literature
Pat O'Shea, from Oxford, studying Film
Captain: Thomas De Bock, from Liege, studying Motorsport Engineering
Emma-Ben Lewis, from Woodford Green, studying Psychology

The Courtauld Institute of Art is part of the University of London, based in Somerset House alongside the eponymous gallery. Alumni include acting great Vincent Price and the art critics Andrew Graham Dixon and the late great Brian Sewell. Its team from three series ago were beaten by the same Bristol team in the first round. This year's quartet were:
Ty Vanover, from Clintwood, Virginia, studying 19th Century Art
Margaret Anne Logan, from Patchogue, New York, studying 18th Century French Art
Captain: Harvey Shepherd, from Chesterfield, studying History of Art
Jack Snape, from Bolton, studying the Conservation of Wall Paintings

Off we set again then, and Mr De Bock took the first starter of the night; his side proceeded to take a full bonus set on British indie bands. Both sides then lost five for incorrect interruptions, but in neither case did their opponents pick up the points. A second penalty from Courtauld was picked up by Oxford Brookes though, and they took two bonuses on astronomy. A nice bonus set on theme parks saw Oxford Brookes take two points, and Paxo ask why Skegness was so funny after the audience laughed at a mention of it! The first picture round, on flags of countries that border another, went to Oxford Brookes, who swept clean, and thus led 80-(-10).

Mr De Bock once again handed the Oxford side possession, and another full bonus set. Mr Vanover finally broke Courtauld's duck, and they took full advantage, taking a full set of bonuses on American artists. Neither side identified an obscure cricket term for the next starter, Miss Purcell took the next, and a nice (and topical) bonus set on the Shipping Forecast saw a brief mention for our old friend Cromaty(IV)! (OK, it was the other way around, but still!) Miss Logan identified Arnold as the American general who defected to the British (as most Simpsons and Red Dwarf fans will know), but the Londoners got nothing from the resultant bonuses.

The music round, on recordings of Summertime, went to Oxford Brookes, who took the same one I did, which left their lead at 130-25. I then guessed asteroids for the next answer, as did Mr De Bock, and we were both right. Just the one bonus followed again. Mr Shepherd then made up for his earlier errors by taking the next starter, but, again nothing came of the bonuses, and they then failed to capitalise on an Oxford Brookes penalty. Mr Shepherd took a second starter, though, and women buried in Highgate cemetery proved more to their liking, as they took two correct answers.

The second picture starter was dropped by both sides, much to Paxo's dismay at Courtauld! The bonuses, on paintings in the Birmingham Art Gallery, did go to the Londoners, who, did, mercifully, manage one, though this wasn't enough to get an unimpressed Paxo off their backs! They had, however, reduced the deficit to 140-70. Mr De Bock then fought Oxford Brookes back into the match, however, and a full set of bonuses on African capitals (including a second Pointless nod of the night, with that of the Central African Republic!) meant that was game over.

Mr De Bock then identified the German state of Saarland, unlocking a bonus set on German baroque architecture, of which they only managed the one bonus. Five were then lost to a penalty, which Courtauld picked up the points from, and they took one of the two bonuses there was time for. At the gong, Oxford Brookes won 185-75.

An enjoyable match despite the low scores. Unlucky Courtauld, but you came across very well despite lapses on your home subject, so thanks very much indeed for playing. Well done Oxford Brookes though, and best of luck to yous in the second round!

The stats: Mr De Bock was by far the best buzzer of the night, with seven to his name, while Mr Shepherd was best for Courtauld with three. On the bonuses, Oxford Brookes converted an OK 18 out of 30 (with three penalties), while Courtauld managed 7 out of 17 (with two penalties).

Next week's match: Trinity College Oxford vs University College London

Back with Friday's Only Connect on Sunday; remember to look out for UC legend Gail Trimble on one of the teams!

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Only Connect Series 13: Round 1: Match 5: Lapsed Physicists vs Belgophiles

OK, Only Connect time. One of the advantages of the much hated Friday night slot for me is being able to do my reviews on Sundays; will be hard for me to make the switch back to Tuesdays if/when the show returns to its correct Monday slot. Anyway, on with Friday night's episode, which demonstrated why UC's tournament structure doesn't really work with OC...

Playing were the Lapsed Physicists, Lizzy Crawford, Andrew Taylor and captain Adam Tumber (UC and Mastermind alumnus), and the Belgophiles, Helen Fasham, Phil Small and captain Ben Fasham (relationship not stated).

Round 1. The Belgophiles kicked off the show with Eye of Horus, and the music set: we heard 'Roundabout' by Yes, then Oasis' 'Slide Away', then 'Swing Low, Sweet Chariot', and finally 'See-Saw Margery Daw'. They identified the link of 'playground equipment', and collected a point. The Physicists opened their account with Twisted Flax: '1779 hymn to the tune of 'New Britain'', then 'Character inspired by Amy Elliott Dunne', then 'Andrew Garfield's Spider-Man', and finally 'Joseph's Technicolor Dreamcoat'. They didn't see it, neither did their opponents; I did though: they all involve the word 'Amazing'. (The first two being 'Amazing Grace' and 'the Amazing Amy') The Belgophiles chose Two Reeds next: 'Music (Denmark)', then 'Lobbying (K)', then 'Banking (Wall)'; they spotted the brackets to be streets and their associated professions, for two points. The Physicists chose Water next: 'Oscar the Grouch', then 'Central Line', then 'Top stripe on Netherlands' flag'; they tried that they all changed from red to their current colours. Not right. Their opponents saw 'French portion of EE Telecom', but were none the wiser; they are changed to their current colours from orange, not red. The Belgophiles chose Lion next: 'Britain: Twenty to eight', then 'Trafalgar: Five past six'; they spotted them to be battles and their years expressed as 24 hour times, and collected three points. Left with Horned Viper, and the picture set, the Physicists saw two US army servicement, then some Bombay duck, then the Calcutta Cup, and finally a jockey wearing jodhpurs. They spotted them to be things named after Indian cities (the first clue representing the Bangalore torpedo), and collected their first point of the match. At the end of the first round, the Belgophiles led 6-1.

Round 2, What Comes Fourth? The Belgophiles opened with Eye of Horus again: 'Individually', then 'Crocodile', and then 'Sudoku subgrid'; they saw them to be 'one by one', 'two by two' and 'three by three', so offered a 4x4 car, which was sufficient for the two points. The Physicists chose Water next: they saw the first clue 'Dodecahedron (12,5)', saw the sequence to be platonic solids in descending order of sides on each face, and thus offered 'Tetrehedron (4,3)', which was correct for the first FIVE POINTS of the series! Good work! The Belgophiles chose 'Horn-ed' Viper next: 'Young', then 'Pooh', and then 'Six'. Again, neither team saw it, but I did: its the final words in the titles of the original AA Milne books, and so 'Corner' completes the series. (The books being 'When We Were Very Young', 'Winnie the Pooh', 'Now We Are Six', and 'The House at Pooh Corner' respectively) The Phycisists chose Twisted Flax next, and got the picture set: we saw Harold Wilson, then Gordon Brown, and then Anthony Eden. They didn't see it, their opponents did: it's prime ministers with descending numbers of letters in their surnames, so Theresa May would complete the set satisfactorily. For their own final choice, the Belgophiles chose Two Reeds: 'Thornton', then 'O'Leary', and then 'Flack and Murs'; they saw it to be presenters of some show called The X Factor, but didn't know who came fourth. Their opponents did, offering 'O'Leary' again for the bonus. Left with Lion for their own final question, the Physicists saw '1st= England, 1st= Australia', then '3rd South Africa, 4th West Indies', and then '5th New Zealand, 6th India'. They saw it to be something to do with cricket, but couldn't provide the right answer. Their opponents could, offering '7th Pakistan, 8th Sri Lanka' for a bonus, the sequence being debuts in test cricket. At the end of the second round, the Belgophiles led 10-7.

On to the Walls. The Physicists took their turn to go first, and chose the Lion wall. They quickly had two sets sorted: 'Gaggle', 'Parliament', 'Murder' and 'Flock' are collective nouns for birds, while 'Tandy', 'Lange', 'Biel' and 'Chastain' are surnames of actresses called Jessica. After that, the final sets slotted in pretty comfortably: 'Bejam', 'Rumbelows', 'Presto' and 'Comet' are defunct retailers, though they went too specific with defunct electrical retailers, thus dropping three points, while 'Parliament', 'News', 'Alba' and 'Two' are BBC TV channels. Just the one (unfortunate) mistake, so seven points.

The Belgophiles thus set to work on the Water wall. They spotted some links straight away, and quickly isolated 'Manatee', 'Dugong', 'Sea lion' and 'Narwhal', which are marine mammals, and then 'Book', 'Pillow', 'Brief' and 'Stair', which can all precede 'case'. The final sets were then pretty easy pickings: 'Walrus', 'Fu Manchu', 'Handlebar' and 'Pencil' are types of moustache, while 'Saddle', 'Pedal', 'Seat post' and 'Fork' are parts of a bicycle. A full ten there, meaning they upped their lead to 20-14 going into the final round.

So, still just about all to play for going into Missing Vowels. 'US Presidential campaign slogans' was split 2-each. 'Puddings' went to the Physicists 2-1. 'Game show catchphrases' went to the Physicists 3-1. 'Basic maths' saw the Belgophiles take the first, and the second get timed out. The Belgophiles won a good match 25-21.

A good match, well played by both sides. Well done Belgophiles, and good luck in the second round! Unlucky Physicists, but hopefully your score will deservedly bring you back, so best of luck on that. Does mean we won't see the Geocachers again though; hopefully, for fairness sake, the two scores in the second half of the draw are both above 19. Why does the draw need to be split in two anyway?

Next week's match: Meeples vs Tequila Slammers (with UC legend Gail Trimble on one of the teams!)

Monday, 21 August 2017

University Challenge 2017-18: Round 1: Match 5: York vs Warwick

Evening all. Apologies if my blog is a bit scant this week, but A, my left hand is a bit sore today for some reason, and B, I'm listening to Monkman and Seagull's Polymathic Adventure on Radio 4 while I write this!

York University was an idea first suggested by James I, but wasn't founded until 1963; alumni include writer Graham Swift, Labour politician Harriet Harman and BBC DG Greg Dyke. It has regularly sent decent teams to UC, sitting last series out after reaching the semis two series ago. This year's foursome were:
Connor Bindler, from London, studying History
Ben Longworth, from Halifax, studying History
Captain: Benjamin Maier, from Oxford, studying English
Matthew de Sousa, from Macclesfield, studying Medicine

Warwick University was founded just two years later in 1965, and, based in Coventry, is named after the county of Warwickshire rather than the city. Alumni include Brexit bulldog David Davis, actor and writer Stephen Merchant and radio DJ Simon Mayo. It's team won UC in 2006-07, and has sent many a strong team over the years, last year's four reaching the QFs. This year's quartet were:
Flora Jackson, from York, studying English and Creative Writing
Daniel Arribas, from Madrid, studying Maths
Captain: Ben Salter, from Wiveliscombe in Somerset, studying Maths
Charlotte Symons, from Mid Wales, studying Writing

Off we set again then, and Ms Symons opened the night's scoring, and Warwick took a double of bonuses on poetry. York then lost five with their first buzz, allowing Warwick a second starter in a row, and a second pair of bonuses. This seemed to set the tone for the first part of the match, as a third starter was accompanied by two bonuses on the Rosetta Stone (tying in nicely with Monkman and Seagull's program tonight!). A second York penalty went unpicked-up on this time, but Mr Salter took the next, and, once again, two bonuses were taken. The first picture round, on events on 1817, went to Warwick, who took, you guessed it, two bonuses, which gave them a lead of 100-(-10).

Mr de Sousa had had quite enough of that, taking York's first starter of the night, and they put five points on the board by taking one bonus. Those five points were then surrendered to another penalty; Warwick picked up, and took a full bonus set on post-war US elections. Mr Maier then took York's second starter, celebrating nicely with raised arms! Two bonuses followed.

The music round, on acts who began their careers at CBGB, went to York, who took another two bonuses, which reduced their arrears to 120-40. Back came Warwick with Mr Salter taking a quick buzz though, just the one bonus on diseases accompanying this time. Mr Salter was very quick on the next starter though, handing his side a bonus set on Robert Baden-Powell, or Robert 'Baden-Pole', as Paxo called him throughout the round! All three were taken this time. York then lost another five, but Warwick couldn't pick up this time; Ms Symons took the next starter though, and just the one bonus followed again.

The second picture round, on sculptures of lions, went to Warwick (mainly thanks to the starter being from Mr Arribas' native Spain!), who took two bonuses, which left the scores at 195-35. Mr de Sousa did the right thing and tried his luck on the next starter, but was wrong, so were Warwick. Mr Longworth took the next starter though, remembering Cameroon as the winner's of the last African Cup of Nations. Bonuses on UK journeys handed them two correct answers.

With the match long over as a contest, it was now simply a question of how high both teams could get. Warwick broke 200 when they took the next starter, but got nothing from a bonus set on royal burial sites. Ms Symons then identified B and Z as the two consonants linking, among other things, Charles Dickens' pen name; the resultant bonus set on tit birds saw them take just the one correct answer, which they shouted out before Paxo could finish! Mr de Sousa took another starter for York, and a well taken full bonus set gave them a respectable score and within sight of 100. They couldn't quite get there though, Warwick took the final starter and two of the set of bonuses there was time for. At the gong, Warwick won 240-80.

A rather one sided match, but a watchable one nonetheless. Unlucky York, who were certainly not a bad team from what we saw of them, and I suspect would've beaten another team, but thanks very much for playing. Very well done Warwick though; an excellent performance against decent opposition, and certainly capable of going far in the contest with a favourable draw; very best of luck in the second round!

The stats: Mr Salter and Ms Symons were joint best on the buzzers with four each, while Messrs Maier and de Sousa were York's joint best with two each. On the bonuses, York converted a decent 10 out of 15 (with four penalties), while Warwick managed a solid 23 out of 39 (with one penalty). Like I said, could be a team to watch.

Next week's match: Oxford Brookes vs the Courtauld Institute

Only Connect on Friday as usual, with review on Sunday, and don't forget, if you missed it just now, to look up Monkman and Seagull's Polymathic Adventure online; well worth listening to!

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Only Connect Series 13: Round 1: Match 4: Eco-Warriors vs Escapologists

OK, here we go with Only Connect once again. One thing I've noticed this series is the lack of serial quizzers, ie people I've seen on other shows, which is one of the things that attracted me to Only Connect in the first place. I do check LAM every week to make sure I haven't missed anyone, but haven't been getting anything out of that.

Anyway, playing on Friday night were the Eco-Warriors, Jonathan Kershaw, Peter Barlow (not that one!) and captain Brett Bostock, and the Escapologsists, Frank Paul, Tom Rowell (a Fifteen-to-One winner last year) and captain Lydia Mizon.

Round 1. The Warriors went first, and kicked off the match with Lion: 'Giovanni Bellini, Andrea Mantegna', then 'JFK, Peter Lawford'; they identified them as pairs of brothers-in-law, and collected three good points to start the match. The Escapologists opened their account with Eye of Horus, and got the music question: we heard Dame Janet Baker, then Cole Porter, then 'Abracadabra' by the Steve Miller Band, and finally Alice Cooper's classic 'School's Out'. They suggested they share their names with Labour MPs; nice guess, but not right! Their opponents suggest that they share their names with occupations, and collected a bonus. For their own question, the Warriors chose Horned Viper, and got the picture set: we saw an Austin Allegro (prompting laughter from Mr Kershaw, who learned to drive in one!), then the singer Joe Dolce; they identified them as sharing their names with directions in music, and collected another three points. The Escapologists chose Twisted Flax next: 'Polonius', then 'Waymar Royce', then 'Reg Cox'; that gave it to them, and me, they are the first characters to die in the works they appear in (in Hamlet, Game of Thrones and EastEnders respectively; the last clue would've been 'Abel', as in The Bible). The Warriors chose Two Reeds next: 'People carrier (V)', then 'Audio format (3)'; they spotted that adding 'MP' to the brackets gives the former, and collected ANOTHER three points! Left with Water, the Escapologists saw 'Vertical and Horizontal', then 'Horizontal', then 'Two Diagonals'; they saw them to be the compositions of the basic arithmetic operators (plus, minus and times, and the last clue would've been 'Horizontal between Two Dots' for divided by), and collected two points. At the end of a high quality first round, the Warriors led 10-4.

Round 2, What Comes Fourth? The Warriors kicked the round off with Eye of Horus: 'Do 10,000 steps a day', then 'Give up smoking', and then 'Grow a moustache'; they saw it to be charity doings in various months, but were timed out before they could come up with an answer. Their opponents identified the correct link of them being charity campaigns in September, October and November, so a charity event for December, such as 'Grow a beard' for 'Decembeard', would satisfy. For their own question, the Escapologists chose Lion: 'Tiffany', then 'Eric', and then 'Ivanka'; they saw them to be the eldest children of Donald J Trump, and so offered 'Donald Jr' for two points. The Warriors chose Horned Viper next, and got the picture set: we saw some Brazil nuts, then a still from the film 'The Russia House', and then a bottle of India Pale Ale. They didn't see it, their opponents did: they are the 'BRIC' nations, so a China doll would satisfy for the bonus point. For their own question, the Escapologists chose Two Reeds: 'Minyan', then 'Field Hockey team', and then 'English jury'; they identified them as being compositions of ten, eleven and twelve people, so 'a Rugby League team' would satisfy for the points. For their final choice, the Warriors chose Twisted Flax: 'Live and Let Die', then 'The Living Daylights'; they identified them as the first films of successive James Bond actors, so offered 'Casino Royale' as Daniel Craig's first for three points. Left with Water again, the Escapologists saw 'cumber', then 'dvark'; they spotted this excellent sequence to be omitted homophones of Q, R, S and T, so offered 'sside' for three points. At the end of a good second round, the teams were tied at 13-each.

On to the Walls. The Escapologists went first, and chose to tackle the Lion wall. They isolated two sets pretty quickly: 'Aherne', 'Cash', 'Tomlinson' and 'Johnston' are actors in The Royle Family, while 'Kari', 'Willow', 'Cookie' and 'Socks' are the names of Blue Peter pets. They came stuck with the remainders for a bit though, but did solve the wall on their second go with just seconds to go! 'Bruton', 'Cowen', 'Kenny' and 'Haughey' are Irish prime ministers or Taoisigh, but they offered 'Irish presidents', so dropped three, while 'Oke', 'Roe', 'Little' and 'Nort' can precede 'hampton' to give place names. Seven points there then.

So the Warriors needed a similar performance on the Water wall to keep the pace. After some early problems, they isolated 'Chania', 'Volos', 'Larissa' and 'Patras', which are cities on Greece, and then 'Chelsea', 'Cowboy', 'Go-go' and 'Ski', which are types of boot. After that, they had everything worked out: 'Onken', 'Muller', 'Oykos' and 'Total' are makers of yoghurts, while 'Sally Lunn', 'Colston', 'Belgian' and 'Hot cross' are types of bun. A full ten there, which gave them a crucial lead of 23-20 going into the final round.

So, all to play for, and Missing Vowels would decide the winners. 'Things found on a business card' went to the Escapologists 3-1. 'Postcode areas and their postcodes' proved rather tricky, the Warriors winning 2-(-1). 'Things that happened in 1917' was split 1-each, and that was time. The Warriors won 27-23.

A good close, high quality match, well played both teams. Unlucky Escapologists, but I would imagine that will be a good enough score to come back in the play-offs, so hopefully we'll see yous again, and best of luck then. Well done Warriors though, and very best of luck in the next round!

Next week's match: Lapsed Physicists vs Belgophiles

Monday, 14 August 2017

University Challenge 2017-18: Round 1: Match 4: St Edmund's vs Magdalen

Evening all. We're back! After last week's brief pause for the LIVE athletics, which also resulted in Mastermind getting a week off as well, and both Match of the Days running late, though most are OK with that given Team GB's superb gold in the relay, even if poor Bolt was the main talking point. On with tonight, and the ever much anticipated first Oxbridge derby of the season!

St Edmund's College Cambridge was founded in 1896, and mainly caters for mature students; alumni include Thatcher ministry stalwart Norman St John-Stevas and Georges Lemaitre, originator of the Big Bang theory. (Not that one!) It hasn't appeared on UC very much in modern times, its last appearance being in 2003-04, where they reached the QFs. This year's foursome were:
Zou Tang-Sheng, from Singapore, studying Chemical Engineering
Alex Knight-Williams, from Putney, studying Mathematics
Captain: Sahaid Motala, from London, studying Economics
Ryan Blank, from San Jose, studying History

Magdalen College Oxford is the joint holder of the record for most UC series wins, all achieved under Paxo in 1996-97, 1997-98, 2003-04 and 2010-11. Founded in 1458, it's alumni include poets Wilde and Betjeman, magazine salesman Ian Hislop and political commentator turned dancer John Sergeant. The last Magdalen team to enter UC finished runners-up three series ago. This year's quartet were:
Winston Wright, from Seattle, studying Computer Science
Christopher Stern, from Dulwich, studying Chemistry
Captain: Johnny Gibson, from Glasgow, studying History
Sarah Parkin, from Hinckley, studying English and French

Off we set again then, and Mr Zou opened the night's scoring, and St Edmund's took two bonuses of the first set of the match. Mr Gibson got Magdalen running in short order, and they went one better, taking a full bonus set on sleep in the works of Shakespeare. A second starter went the Magdalen skipper's way, and two bonuses followed this time. Mr Knight-Williams then took St Edmund's back into possession, as they took two bonuses again, before pouncing on a Magdalen slip-up and taking another two bonuses. The first picture round, on French philosophical quotations, went to Magdalen, who took two bonuses once again, which left the sides level on 60-each.

It was then St Edmund's who lost five and Magdalen who picked up the drop; they, again, took two of the resultant bonuses on Mayfair. Mr Blank was then maybe a bit lucky to be let off with a slight pause before answering; the resultant bonuses saw a rare moment as Paxo had to double check and make sure that Mr Motala hadn't misheard Mr Zou's conferred answer. Mr Stern then pushed Magdalen further ahead, but bonuses on Spanish patron saints only provided one correct bonus, the first set to have less than two taken of the night.

The music starter was missed by both sides; the bonuses, on film scores whose composers won an Oscar despite having previously received a Golden Raspberry nomination, went to Magdalen, who, again took just the one, leaving their lead at 110-75. A classic UC moment followed as Mr Gibson buzzed in early on a starter requesting a spelling and gave a correct spelling, only for a swerve to reveal that he'd spelt the wrong word! St Edmund's didn't fare much better, but Mr Zou took the next correctly answered starter, only for his side to draw a blank on the resultant bonuses. Mr Gibson made up for his mistake somewhat by taking the Lady of Shallot for the next starter; one bonus followed.

The second picture round, on Chinese cultural artifacts, went to St Edmund's, who went back to taking two bonuses, which reduced their arrears to 120-105. Mr Zou then identified the word 'fluke' for the next starter, but could only provide one correct answer on his home subject of chemistry, which nonetheless leveled the scores going into the final minutes.

A slip-up from St Edmund's then gave Magdalen the lead back again, but they couldn't pick up. Another starter was dropped, before Mr Gibson identified Maine as the most sparsely populated US state east of the Mississippi; they proceeded to not let Paxo finish answering any of the resultant bonuses, taking all three very quickly! Another slip-up from St Edmund's, a pick-up from Magdalen, two bonuses, and that was game over. Mr Gibson added to the score by taking another starter and two more bonuses accompanying. Another St Edmund's penalty ended the match; at the gong, Magdalen won 185-105.

A nice match played well and in good spirit by both sides, that wasn't that one sided until the final minutes. Unlucky St Edmund's, who just fell away near the end and likely won't be back in the play-offs, but good effort and thanks for playing. Well played Magdalen though; not a bad first performance given their decent opposition, and best of luck to them in the second round!

The stats: Mr Gibson was the best buzzer of the night, with six under his belt, while Mr Zou was St Edmund's best with three. On the bonuses, St Edmund's converted 11 out of 21 (with four penalties), while Magdalen managed 19 out of 30 (with two penalties); not bad rate that, could maybe be dark horses for the next round.

Next week's match: York vs Warwick

Only Connect back as usual on Friday, with my review following Sunday. Plus, remember that non-quiz blog series I mentioned a while back? Might start it tomorrow. But we'll see how I feel.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Only Connect Series 13: Round 1: Match 3: Snake Charmers vs Extras

Alright everybody, I'm back from (just under) a week's holiday, and back to work with my look back at Friday's Only Connect, which contained one the all time great Victoria opening ramblings, 'what do ghosts eat?'! One of her answers, 'spookghetti', had me and my Dad both in hysterics!

Anyway, playing were the Snake Charmers, Thomas Rychlik, Kate Pfeffer (who I think I may have seen somewhere before, Fifteen-to-One maybe?) and captain John Howe, and the Extras, Vikram Vasu, Shrikant Narasimhan and captain Vinod Ganesh.

Round 1. The Extras opened the show with Twisted Flax: 'Bubble', then 'Indemnity' (I had it here), then 'Dutch'; they saw them to be words that can follow 'Double', and picked up the first two points of the game. The Charmers began their show with Two Reeds: 'Ties from Nottinghamshire', then 'The second Mrs Lineker from Buckinghamshire', then 'Deer from Hertfordshire'; they too collected two points, spotting them to be homophones of the abbreviations for the counties in question. The Extras chose Eye of Horus next: 'Large White Apple', then 'Bronze Bread', then 'Suffolk Mint', and finally 'Hereford Horseradish'. Neither team got this very fiendish question: they are breeds of animal and sauces they may be eaten with when cooked! The Charmers chose Lion next, and got the music question: we heard 'Razzle Dazzle', then 'Hocus Pocus', then Little Richard with 'Tutti Frutti'; they identified them as having rhyming names, and picked up two points. The Extras chose Water next: 'Noriega', then 'Toynbee'; they identified them as sharing names with characters in Fawlty Towers, and collected a good three points. Left with Horned Viper, the Charmers got the picture set, and saw Angela Merkel, then Hugh Dennis (as seen on celebrity OC), then Theresa May, and finally a portrait of the Bronte sisters. They didn't get it, neither did their opponents: they are the children of clergymen. At the end of the first round, the Extras led 5-4.

Round 2, What Comes Fourth? The Extras chose to start with Twisted Flax again: '2004 Chris Hoy', then '2008 Nicole Cooke', and then '2012 Helen Glover and Heather Stanning'. They ran out of time without answering, and their opponents were none the wiser: they are the first people to win Gold for Team GB at those games, so '2016 Adam Peaty' completes the sequence. The Charmers chose Eye of Horus next, and got a picture question: we saw Madagascar highlighted on a map alongside a '4', then New Zealand highlighted on a map alongside a '3'; they spotted it to be islands with decreasing numbers of syllables in their names, so offered an island nation highlighted alongside a '1'. This was close enough to be accepted for three points: all they actually needed was a country with one syllable alongside a '1', like France or Spain, would satisfy. (Surely, Victoria, Wales wouldn't count under Pointless' definition of a 'country'?) The Extras chose Water next: 'Largest Red', then 'Second largest Mauve-purple', and then 'Second smallest Orange-brown'. They didn't see it, nor did the opposition: they are the colours of banknotes, so 'Smallest Turqoise-blue' would be fourth. The Charmers chose Two Reeds next: '8: tune', then '7: anus'; they saw it to be the last four letters of the planets coming towards the Sun, so offered '5: iter' for another three points. For their final choice, the Extras chose Lion: 'Garbage: 25%', then 'ABBA: 50%'; they offered 'A: 100%', thinking the sequence to be the percentages of letters in band names. Not correct. Their opponents saw 'The Corrs: 75%', but didn't quite get it either; it's the percentage of women in each band, so 'Little Mix: 100%' would satisfy. Left with Horned Viper again, the Charmers saw 'Science', then 'Technology'; they identified them to be the 'STEM' subjects, and so offered 'Mathematics' for yet another three points. At the end of the second round, the Charmers led 13-5.

On to the Walls. The Charmers went first this time, and chose to tackle the Lion wall. They quickly spotted a link of characters from Buffy, and isolated 'Xander', 'Giles', 'Angel' and 'Spike'. They then spotted a set of words that can precede 'tit', and the set of 'Crested', 'Blue', 'Willow' and 'Bearded' came in. After a bit of confusion with the remaining clues, they solved the wall on their final go: 'Soft block', 'Dig', 'Libero' and 'Setter' are terms in volleyball, which they didn't get, so dropping three points there, while 'Brookes', 'Scarfe', 'Tidy' and 'Searle' are cartoonists, which they did get. Seven points there.

The Extras thus still had to solve the Water wall fully to realistically stay in the contest. They got off to a good start, quickly isolating 'Lozenge', 'Antwerp Rose', 'Brilliant' and 'Princess', which are cuts of diamond. That was all they could work out though, as they spotted numerous links but couldn't get the precise sets isolated. They ran out of time, and thus had to pick up bonus points: 'Pocket', 'Miss Havisham', 'Pip' and 'Magwitch' are characters in Great Expectations, which they got, 'Cushion', 'Baulk', 'D' and 'Baize' are parts of a snooker table, which they also got, while 'Rust', 'Black spot', 'Crown gall' and 'Canker' are plant diseases, which they also also got. Five points there, which left the scores at 20-10 to the Charmers going into the final round.

So, Missing Vowels to finish off, with the Extras needing a shutout to realistically win. 'Things worh 2 points', such as ''D' TILE IN SCRABBLE', went to the Charmers 1-0. 'Actors who played the same characters, such as 'RICHARD HARRIS AND MICHAEL GAMBON', was split 2-each. 'Long-running BBC Radio shows', including the hilarious clue of 'PM'(!)', went to the Charmers 3-0, and that was time. The Charmers won 26-12.

A rather one sided match overall, the second round proving crucial. Unlucky Extras, who alas won't be returning in the play-offs, but thanks very much for playing. Well done Charmers though, and best of luck in the second round.

Next week's match: Eco-Warriors vs Escapologists

University Challenge back to normal service tomorrow; see you then.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Only Connect Series 13: Round 1: Match 2: Geocachers vs Vikings

Right, Only Connect time. Thanks to whoever put this series' new rules on Wikipedia: basically, it's UC's format of fourteen first round matches and two play-offs to give sixteen second round teams, but, like last year, with the draw split into two groups of seven, from which the two highest scoring runners-up from each will play off. It's better than last year's format IMO, but still doesn't quite sit right with me.

Anyway, playing on Friday night were the Geocachers, Ward Broughton, Lowri Williams and captain Rhod Thomas (not the same Geocachers team that appeared in Series 4), and the Vikings, Mark Oxley, John Wilson and captain Mick Lee.

Round 1. The Geocachers opened the night's procedings with Lion, and the music set: we heard Craig McLachlan, then Holly Valance, then Natalie Inbruglia; two clues later than most people of Twitter (allegedly!), they spotted them to be actors from Neighbours, and picked up two points. The Vikings opened their account with Water: 'Beautiful Joe', then 'Traveller', then 'Black Beauty', and finally 'Me Cheeta'. They didn't get it, nor did their opponents: they are autobiographies of fictional animals! The Geocachers chose Two Reeds next: 'McMahon', then 'Bjorn', then 'Bern', and finally 'Ursula'. They didn't get it, their opponents did: they are names derived from the word 'bear'. For their own question, the Vikings chose Eye of Horus: 'Exhibit', then 'Salt and Pepper'; they saw them to be the names of rappers spelt properly, and picked up a good three points. The Geocachers chose Twisted Flax next: 'Electronic scoreboard', then 'English all-seater stadium commission', then 'Colour matchday programme', and finally 'Three points for a win'. Again, they didn't get it, but their opponents, and, thanks to Football Daily, I, did: they were all proposed by the late great Jimmy Hill. Left with Horned Viper for their own questions, the Vikings got the picture set, and saw the Karnak ruins, then Stanley Kubrick, then the band Kraftwerk; they saw that their names all starts and end with K. (Reminds me of an old UC question from many years ago!) At the end of the first round, the Vikings led 7-2.

Round 2, What Comes Fourth? The Geocachers kicked the round off with Lion again: 'Music', then 'More', and then 'E'; they didn't get it again, their opponents, and I, did: they are spin-off channels of Channel 4 in reverse order of launch, so 'Film' completes the set. For their own question, the Vikings chose Two Reeds: 'The Rio Olympic diving pool', then 'Oxidised paper', and then '17th century carrots'; this time, they didn't get it, their opponents did this time: they are things that turn or have turned ascending colours of the rainbow, so something that would turn red, such as 'An embarrassed person' would be fourth. (I remember someone on Twitter last year likened the Olympic diving pool to the Get Your Own Back gunge tank!) For their own question, the Geocachers chose Water: 'Sint Maarten', then 'Aruba', and then 'Curacao'. Neither team got this: they are the components of the Netherlands in order of size, so the mainland 'Netherlands' would complete the set. The Vikings chose Eye of Horus next: '3128', then '3130'; they saw the sequence to be the numbers of days in months merged together in order, so '3130' again would be third, and '3131' completes the set, for three points. For their final choice, the Geocachers chose Twisted Flax: 'In France', then 'On the seas and oceans'; they saw it to be Churchill's 'We shall fight them' speech, so 'On the beaches' would be fourth. Left with Horned Viper again, the Vikings, again, got the picture set, and saw Aung San Suu Kyi, then Lee Harvey Oswald, and then Abraham Lincoln. They didn't see it, their opponents did: it's a simple decrease in the number of words in their names, so someone known by one name, such as Moses, would complete the set. At the end of the second round, the Vikings led 11-7.

On to the Walls. The Vikings took their turn to go first, and chose the Lion wall. They quickly spotted a link of famous Glorias, and isolated 'Estefan', 'Vanderbilt', 'Hunniford' and 'Steinem'. A second set followed: 'Defile', 'Tarnish', 'Soil' and 'Dirty' are synonyms of each other (ie, stain). Their three gos at solved the Wall failed to do so, so they had to collect bonus points: 'Professor X', 'Lebowski', 'Sully', 'Swanson' are fictional wheelchair users, which they got, while 'Lightbulb', 'Essex Girl', 'Irish' and 'Practical' can all precede 'joke', which they also spotted. Six points there.

The Geocachers thus could make up lost ground if they could solve the Water wall. They too isolated a set reasonably quickly: 'Farage', 'Slater', 'Short' and 'Planer' are famous Nigels. After that, though, they had little luck, spotting some links but not isolating any further groups. They ran out of time, and also had to salvage bonus points: 'Carswell', 'Banks', 'Nuttall' and 'Sked' are past or present UKIP politicians, which they got, 'Castle', 'Storm', 'Wedge' and 'Table' can all follow 'Table', which they didn't see, while 'Settee', 'Chesterfield', 'Canape' and 'Davenport' are types of sofa, which they did get. So four points there, which left them trailing 17-11 going into the final round.

So just about all still to play for going into Missing Vowels. 'Farming idioms', such as 'UNTIL THE COWS COMES HOME', was a clean sweep to the Geocachers 4-0, so already just two points in it. 'Places names after people' was split 2-each. 'People (possibly) named after places' also split 2-each, and also saw my Dad and numerous Twitterers offer 'PETER SHILTON' instead of 'PARIS HILTON'! 'Famous Five books' only had time for one clue, which the Geocachers took. At the end of the show, the Vikings had snuck home, 21-20!

An excellent close match with some good quizzing on both sides. Unlucky Geocachers, but hopefully 20 will be high enough for this half of the draw and bring you back, so hopefully we'll see yous again. Well done Vikings though, and best of luck in the next round!

Next week's match: Snake Charmers vs Extras