Monday, 10 December 2018

University Challenge 2018-19: Round 2: Match 4: Clare vs St Edmund Hall

Evening all. So, the penultimate regular match of the series tonight; one more next week, and then we break for the usual two weeks of Christmas specials. Plus, I have since learned more about those special Only Connects I mentioned last week, and we shall be having a further two specials, for a total of four overall! How I'm going to review all those in order, I don't know; may have to hold some of them back for a bit I fear. Anyway, let's do this...

Clare College Cambridge won their first match against play-off survivors Hertford of Oxford, trailing for much of it, a well timed late sprint saw them snatch it on the last starter of the game for a 160-150 victory. Hoping for the same, only less close, tonight were the unchanged four of:
Anish Naik, from Enfield in London, studying Astrophysics 
Matt Nixon, from Belfast, studying Astrophysics 
Captain: Andrew Gurr, from Basingstoke, studying Law 
Elijah Granet, from San Diego, California, studying Politics

St Edmund Hall Oxford had it slightly easier in their first match against York, leading throughout and ultimately winning by a comfortable margin of 240-105. Hoping for exactly more of the same tonight were the also unchanged foursome of:
Agastya Pisharody, from India and Basel, studying Material Science
Marceline Bresson, from the Netherlands, studying Economics and Management
Captain: Freddie Leo, from Berlin, studying History
Lizzie Fry, from Worcestershire, studying Geography 

Off we set again then, and the ball set rolling for the night with 'charge' from Mr Nixon; a pair of bonuses went with it to get things going. Ms Bresson opened her side's account for the night, and her's for the series, when she took the next starter, but the Oxonians only took one bonus on the work of John Scott Russell. A penalty dropped Clare back level, but St Edmund Hall failed to pick up; Mr Granet recouped the lost points by taking the next starter, and his side also took just the one bonus. The Oxford side pulled level again thanks to a second starter to Ms Bresson and another solitary bonus. The first picture round, on straits, went to St Edmund Hall, who, again, took just the one bonus, but now had the lead 45-30.

A second starter in a row went to the Oxford skipper, by far their best player in the first round; a nice bonus set asking for the city that hosted the Olympics the year various listed events happened saw another solitary bonus go their way. Mr Pisharody opened the lead up further, and this time two bonuses were the accompaniment. The Oxford side moved into triple figures first as Mr Leo was first in with 'New Orleans', and another pair of bonuses, on early computing, went to them as well. The St Edmund Hall captain seemed to have the bit firmly in his teeth as he was quick in on the next starter; no bonuses followed, but his side had now opened up a healthy lead.

The music starter was dropped by both sides; the bonuses, on classical works commissioned for the Birmingham Triennial Music Festival, went to St Edmund Hall, who took two of them, giving them a lead of 130-30. And it was just getting bigger as a fourth correct starter in a row went to their captain; bonuses on Jane Fonda provided them with another two bonuses. Mr Leo just wasn't giving in as he promptly took another starter, giving his side on that old UC staple Chinese dynasties, of which, again, they took two. A sixth starter in a row went to the St Edmund Hall captain; just the one bonus followed this time, but his side had surely sewn the match up by now.

The picture round, on US presidents who won elections despite losing the popular vote (this week's OC crossover questions!), saw Clare finally break back into the game; two bonuses reduced their arrears to 185-50. A second starter in a row went to the Cambridge side, but just the one bonus followed this time. Mr Pisharody reawoke his side on the next starter, and the Oxonians broke past 200 with two bonuses from the obligatory set on chemical elements.

Going into the final minutes, it was just a question of how high both teams could get. Ms Fry made sure all four Oxonians had a bonus under their belts by taking the next starter, and, once again, a pair of bonuses went with it. Mr Naik then ensured all eight players had their name on the scoreboard; his side quickly banged out the first full bonus set of the night, on writers with three letter surnames. A second starter in a row deservedly took the Cambridge side into three figures, as did two bonuses on Hindu deities. Mr Granet buzzed next, but no answer came; Ms Bresson picked up the pieces, and bonuses on girls names invented by writers saw them take two (I got the one they didn't get). The last starter saw Clare go out on a high when, asked for a famous caricaturist, Mr Gurr offering an obvious joke guess of 'Deborah Meaden'! The gong came immediately after that, St Edmund Hall won 245-105.

Another high quality match, great showing from both sides, with that mid-game six starter run for Mr Leo winning the match. Unlucky Clare, undone by that run, but a respectable and entertaining effort to go out on, thanks very much indeed for playing! Very well done St Edmund Hall though, another strong victory over decent opposition, and very best of luck in the group stage!

The stats: Mr Leo was, again, by far and away best on the buzzer, ending with EIGHT starters to his name, while Messrs Gurr and Granet were joint best for Clare with two. On the bonuses, Clare converted a respectable 11 out of 18 (with two penalties), while St Edmund Hall managed 21 out of 42, and, as I said before, all eight players had a starter to show for the night.

Next week's game: I am informed it is Glasgow vs Goldsmiths

Only Connect had its last first round match tonight; review of that later in the week, Wednesday hopefully.

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Only Connect Series 14: Round 1: Match 7: Ancient Alumni vs Three Peaks

OK, so apparently we're getting some Only Connect Christmas specials this year! Regular matches the next three Mondays, including Christmas Eve, plus a special Sports episode and a Champion of Champions episode, to be shown on the 18th and 19th. Shame they stopped doing those C of Cs every two series, but then the show has grown quite considerably in the last few series. Still, good to have some specials back, been missing the past two years.

Anyway, playing on Monday were the Ancient Alumni, Lindsay McBryan, Ailsa Watson (winner of Fifteen-to-One 2.0), and captain Dave McBryan (ditto), husband of Lindsay, and the Three Peaks, Lauren Probert, Peter Dawson and captain Ross Drayton.

Round 1. The Peaks went first, and kicked the match off with Lion: 'Jacob m. Leah and Rachel', then 'Charles Darwin m. Emma Wedgwood', then 'Albert Einstein m. Elsa Lowenthal nee Einstein'; they saw them to be marriages between first cousins, and collected two points. (I do believe the real life Christopher Robin Milne, son of AA, married his cousin too) The Alumni opened their account with Two Reeds: 'Fleet: circumnavigated world, 1907-09', then 'North: Canada', then 'Hope: James Earl Jones film', and finally 'Shark: Greg Norman'. That gave it to them: they are known as the 'Great White [former]'. The Peaks chose Twisted Flax next, and got the music round: we heard Otis Redding with 'I've Been Loving You Too Long', then 'Try Again' by Aaliyah, then Glenn Miller, and finally Buddy Holly. They were timed out before they could offer anything; their opponents offered that they all died in plane crashes for the bonus. (There is another alternative theory, unlikely I admit, that Glenn Miller actually died in a brothel in Paris!) For their own question, the Alumni chose Water, and got the pictures: we saw Sean Bean, then Galileo; they spotted that their forenames and surnames differ by just one letter, and collected three points. Good spot that! The Peaks chose Eye of Horus next: 'RIGHTO', then 'WINDO', then 'WANSEA', and finally 'ORCESTE'. They didn't see it, their opponents did: they are UK cities with the first and last letter removed; precisely, the letters in question are those cities' post codes, but close enough for the first round. Left with Horned Viper for their own question, the Alumni saw 'Boxed with the Dalai Lama', then 'Punched a polar bear', then 'Delivered a baby in Richmond Park'; they saw them to be things Brian Blessed has done, or claimed to at least, and collected two points. At the end of the first round, the Alumni led 8-2.

Round 2, What Comes Fourth? The Peaks started it with Twisted Flax, and the picture set: we saw a chicken, then a deck chair. They saw it to be the Chicken song from Spitting Image, but went too far into the song, and offered 'someone speaking Arapaho'. Not right. Their opponents saw a jet plane, and offered 'some clothes being buried' for the bonus. For their own question, the Alumni chose Two Reeds: 'Sun 6', then 'Tue 7'; they saw them to be days of the week with the number of letters increasing, and offered 'Wed 9' for the three points. The Peaks chose Eye of Horus next: 'Governor-General Sir William Deane', then 'President Konstantinos Stephanopoulos', and then 'President Hu Jintao'. They didn't get it, their opponents did: they are the people who opened the Olympics in 2000, 2004 and 2008, so 'Queen Elizabeth II' for 2012 would come fourth. For their own question, the Alumni chose Lion: 'Kije', then 'Kirk', and then 'Barbara'. They didn't see it in time, and their opponents didn't either: they can follow ranks in the Army (Lieutenant Kije, Captain Kirk and Major Barbara), so something that can follow Colonel, such as 'Mustard' would suffice. For their final choice, the Peaks chose Water: 'Looks like', then 'Walks like', and then 'Quacks like'; they saw it to be the Duck Test (which I mainly know from an episode of Death in Paradise), and offered 'Is a', which was close enough for two much needed points. ('Is' or 'Probably is' would've been more precise) Left with Horned Viper again, the Alumni saw 'Chaos', then 'Elbow', and then 'Emphasis'. Neither side saw this excellent cryptic connection: Chaos said aloud would start with a K, Elbow with an L and Emphasis with an M, so something that sounds like it starts with an N, such as 'Engine' would be right. At the end of the second round, the Alumni led 13-4.

On to the Walls. The Alumni had the chance here to put the game beyond realistic reach, and thus chose the Water wall to try and do so with. They quickly had a first set, 'Boundary', 'Square', 'Pavilion' and 'Crease' are parts of a cricket field, followed quickly by a second: 'Shafted', '3-2-1', 'Tipping Point' and 'Tenable' are ITV game shows. (Shafted, of course, being the one with Robert Kilroy-Silk that HIGNFY shows repeatedly) They then made short work of what was left: 'Sightscreen', 'Catchphrase', 'Knightsbridge' and 'Festschrift' are words with six consecutive consonants, while 'Oeuvre', 'Anthology', 'Compendium' and 'Digest' are collections of writing. A quickly and well solved full ten there.

The Peaks thus set to work on the Lion wall. After a few wrong attempts, they had a set in the bag: 'Grime', 'Jungle', 'Crunk' and 'Dubstep' are genres of music. A second set, 'Ulva', 'Muck', 'Mull' and 'Rum' are islands of the Hebrides. That done, they also had it solved on their first attempt: 'Skye', 'Rubble', 'Marshall' and 'Chase' are characters form the cartoon series 'PAW Patrol', while 'Gunk', Dreck', 'Smut' and 'Crud' are words for dirt. Another well worked out full ten, so as you were, the Alumni led 23-14 going into the final round.

So, Missing Vowels to end the show, with the Peaks needing a shutout to stand a chance. 'Things located in Leicester', such as 'KING POWER STADIUM' and 'DE MONTFORT UNIVERSITY' went to the Alumni 4-0. 'Things the presenter of University Challenge might say'(!), such as 'ANOTHER STARTER QUESTION NOW' and 'YOU MAY NOT CONFER', went to the Alumni 2-0, with the Peaks getting one right but one wrong. 'Things that come in batches of eight' went to the Peaks 1-0, and that was time; the Alumni won 29-15.

Another good, if a bit one sided, game; excellent crossover in the final round too! Unlucky Peaks, well done Alumni, definitely a team to watch this series; best of luck both teams in your next matches!

Next week's match: Dragons vs Westenders

Monday, 3 December 2018

University Challenge 2018-19: Round 2: Match 3: Edinburgh vs U.C.L.

Evening all. So, a year ago tomorrow, these two institutions played each other in the second round of last year's contest, and it proved a cracking contest, ultimately won by five points on the last starter of the game. 364 days later, they played again in this year's second round. Same situation as before, winners go out, losers unfortunate to go home this early.

Edinburgh comfortably defeated Sidney Sussex of Cambridge in their first round match, despite a rather slow start, they picked up the momentum in the later stages and ultimately won 210-75. Hoping for more of the same tonight were the unchanged four of:
Matt Booth, from Bristol, studying Maths 
Marco Malusa, from Italy, studying Economics and Politics 
Captain: Max Fitz-James, from Burgundy, studying Cell Biology 
Robbie Campbell Hewson, from Edinburgh, studying Maths

U.C.L., appropriately given last night's football fixtures, played a derby against neighbours King's of London in their opener, surviving a late barrage by their opponents to win 180-145; so a lower score, but achieved against a team good enough to survive to the play-offs, a close match looked to come again tonight. They were also the same foursome as before:
George Mitkov, from Warwickshire, studying French and German
Sophia Walker, from Boulder, Colorado, studying Translation
Captain: Robert Johnstone, from Worcester Park in Surrey, studying Medical Imaging
Feiyu Fang, from Leicester, studying Physics

Off we set again then, and U.C.L., who lost this fixture last season, opened their account first with Mr Johnstone identifying 'work' as the thing various authors were describing (I knew it from the Jerome K Jerome quote); one bonus on business terms went with it. Mr Fang took a second in a row, and fruit in poetry proved more to the Londoners' liking, a full set. A third came from Ms Walker, their top player first time around, but a complicated astronomy bonus set didn't add to their score. Mr Fitz-James did the right thing and had an early punt on the next starter, but only managed to drop five; U.C.L. did the honours, and bonuses on the band X-Ray Spex gave them two right answers. The first picture round, on that old UC staple word clouds, of major philosophical works this time, took Edinburgh off the mark; a full set reduced their arrears to 70-20.

A prompt buzz from Mr Johnstone reasserted his side's control though; bonuses on two classic quiz staples, Shakespeare and chemical elements, gave the London side two correct again. The U.C.L. captain then proved he knows his famous Chase questions, knowing the lammergeier to be a vulture; another two bonuses took the side within sight of a three figure lead. Mr Malusa brought Edinburgh back into the game though, taking the next starter, but no bonuses went the Scots side's way.

Mr Fitz-James recognised 'Sittin' On The Dock Of The Bay' for the music starter, making that this week's tie-in question with OC! And the crossing over wasn't done there, as one of the bonuses, on whistling in pop music, was 'Walk Like an Egyptian', which was on I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue in Pick Up Song this evening! Edinburgh took a much needed full set of those, cutting the gap to 110-55. Another twenty was taken off it in short order as U.C.L. incurred two penalties in a row, and Mr Fitz-James picked up the second of them; another full set, and his side were suddenly just twenty behind. Mr Fang decided that was enough of that and recouped his side's lost points; one bonus was taken. Another slip-up dropped the lead back again, and a very impressive prompt buzz from the Edinburgh captain, plus yet another full set, cut the gap to just five points. Up it went again though, Mr Johnstone offering 'clarinet', and a full bonus set of their own went with it.

The second picture round, on paintings from the first impressionist exhibition, went to Edinburgh, who took yet another full house, setting the gap back to 135-130 and setting up a grandstand finish. Ms Walker blinked first, and offered 'motif' to move her side ahead again; bonuses on the Joshua Tree provided two correct answers, and no mention of U2 or Pointless either!

Back struck Edinburgh with Mr Malusa identifying regions of Norway; bonuses on biology provided the Scots side with yet another full set, putting the sides on level pegging. Mr Fitz-James' answer of 'proteins' gave his side the lead for the first time of the night, but they failed to hammer home this advantage, only taking a single bonus on ninth symphonies. Back fought U.C.L. with Mr Johnstone doing the honours, but his side were unable to reclaim the lead, missing all the bonuses, leaving them five behind. Next starter would win it surely. Ms Walker buzzed first... but was wrong! Mr Fitz-James swooped... and was right! And that was the gong, Edinburgh won 180-160!

A cracking contest, well played by both sides, most unfortunate that this is a sudden death match. Unlucky U.C.L., who, as Paxo said, just didn't quite make it over the line, but a respectable performance to go out on nonetheless, thanks for playing! Very well done Edinbugh though, an excellent recovery and another strong performance, and very best of luck in the group stage!

The stats: Mr Fitz-James was, just, the best buzzer of the night, with six starters to Mr Johnstone's five. On the bonuses, Edinburgh converted a very good 19 out of 24 (with one penalty), while U.C.L. managed an also respectable 16 out of 30 (with four penalties), so it was on the buzzer, but also largely on the bonuses, that the game was won.

Next week's match: according to a few contestants on Twitter, Clare vs St Edmund Hall

Only Connect continued its high quality of the series so far tonight, review of that on Wednesday I hope.

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Only Connect Series 14: Round 1: Match 6: Brews vs Forrests

OK, here's Only Connect. And is it me, or is Victoria's intros becoming more and more similar to those on I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue? Another this week that could feasibly have come straight out of Jack Dee's script?

Anyway, playing were the Brews, Andy Christley, James Buchanan and captain Daniel Foskett, and the Forrests, Jenny Forrest, Belinda Weir and captain Oliver Forrest, son of Belinda and brother of Jenny, who may or may not have appeared on UC back in the 2012/13 series.

Round 1. The Forrests kicked the match off with Twisted Flax, and the picture set: we saw musician 'T-Bone' Burnett, then Sir Ian Botham, aka Beefy, then Ram John Holder as Porkpie from Desmond's, and finally the singer Meat Loaf. They spotted the link, and collected a point. The Brews opened their account with Two Reeds: 'Cheap', then '9', then 'Gimme'; they saw them to be words that repeated three times give the name of TV shows, and picked up two there. ('Location' would, naturally, have been the last one) The Forrests chose Horned Viper next: '1958: Broke the record of Chu Chin Chow', then '1974: Moved to St Martin's', then '2002: 50th anniversary', and finally '2012: 25000th performance'. They didn't get it, their opponents did: they are notable milestones of the play 'The Mousetrap'. For their own question, the Brews chose Eye of Horus, and got the music set: we heard the theme from 'Inspector Wexford', then Status Quo with 'Down Down', then the theme to 'Dr Kildare', and finally Ed Sheeren singing 'Galway Girl'. Neither side spotted the link, they are Irish counties. The Forrests chose Water next: 'Isn't it in French', then 'Won Premier League with Leicester and Chelsea', then 'Seven Seconds singer', and finally 'Capital of Chad'. They only knew the second as 'N'Golo Kanta', and suggested that they all end 'olo'; not right. Their opponents swooped and offered that they all start with 'N'', correct for the bonus. Left with Lion for their own question, the Brews saw 'Obscured preservation process', then 'Cloaked tree'; that was enough for them to gamble, offering that the first words have, hidden within them, a word corresponding to the subsequent definition ('obsCURE', and 'clOAKed', while the remaining clues would've been 'Concealed alcoholic beverage' or 'conceALEd', and 'Hidden division of the psyche' or 'hIDden'), and they received three points for that. At the end of the first round, the Brews led 7-1.

Round 2, What Comes Fourth? The Forrests began with Twisted Flax, and the picture set again: we saw Mick Jagger, then a sewing gather, and then Dr No. Neither side spotted it: they are 'A Rolling Stone', 'Gathers', and 'No', so, for example, Kate Moss or Moss from The IT Crowd, would complete the set. The Brews chose Horned Viper next: '4th RFV', then '3rd EDC', and then '2nd WSX'. Again, neither side saw what was happening: they are the fourth, third and second letters on the three rows of a typewriter/keyboard, so '1st QAZ' would come fourth. The Forrests chose Lion next: 'Monkeys', then 'Lives', and then 'Degrees of Separation'. They offered 'Blind Mice', reasoning that they could be preceded by multiples of three going down. Close enough for the points, the actual sequence in mind was film titles, so 'Amigos' would've been a more suitable solution. The Brews chose Two Reeds next: 'Tent group', then 'Century', and then 'Cohort'. They saw it to be Roman regiments, and guessed that they were increasing in size, offering 'Legion'; correct for the points. For their final choice, the Forrests chose Water: '(e.g.) Nanny Ogg', then 'A flat disc', and then 'Four elephants'. They saw it to be the structure of the Universe in the Discworld series, so offered 'A turtle' for the two points. Left with Eye of Horus, the Brews saw 'Adriaan Paulen (middle-distance runner)', then 'Primo Nebiolo (long jumper)', and then 'Lamine Diack (long jumper)'. They didn't get it, nor did their opponents: they are presidents of the IAAF, so 'Sebastian Coe (middle-distance runner)' would be fourth. At the end of the second round, the Brews led 9-5.

On to the Walls. The Brews took their turn to go first, and chose the Water wall. A tough wall it proved. After numerous wrong guesses, they eventually had a set: 'Catalonia', 'New Mexico', 'Vietnam' and 'Soviet Union' are all bearers of red and yellow/gold flags. That was all they could find though, so bonuses to be had: 'Kon-Tiki', 'Cique du Soleil', 'Sunday' and 'Helium' are all named after the Sun, which they didn't get, 'Inside Job', 'Amy', 'When We Were Kings' and 'Man On Wire' are winners of the Best Documentary Oscar, which they did get, while 'China', 'Goodnight', 'Island' and 'Barbie' can all precede 'Girl' to give song titles. A tough wall, just three points there.

The Forrests thus had a chance to catch up/pull ahead as they set to work on the Lion wall. Their wall proved about as hard, but they did make progress with it. After much studying, they had a set: 'Bing', 'Frank', 'Bigwig' and 'Bugs' are fictional rabbits. A second set eventually came too: 'Wing', 'Whale', 'Guard' and 'Honourable' can all follow 'Right'. With not much time left, they quickly tried to solve, and had it on their final go: 'Goth', 'Vandal', 'Lombard' and 'Angle' are ancient or medieval tribes, while 'Rascal', 'Ferdinand', 'Dynamite' and 'Harvey' are the last words in the names of Mercury Prize winning acts. A very hard but well earned full ten there, which gave them a lead of 15-12 going into the last round.

So, Missing Vowels to finish as usual and decide who went which way in the series. 'Online security questions' went to the Forrests 3-1. 'Things that are sticky', such as 'TREACLE' and '(A) STICK', was another 3-1 to the Forrests. 'Things from the Great British Bake-Off' went to the Brews 3-1. 'Brothers Grimm fairy tales' went to the Forrests 2-(-1), and that was time. The Forrests won 24-16.

Another good game, decided on that very tricky wall round, but well played by both sides nonetheless. Unlucky Brews, well done Forrests, best of luck in your respective next games!

Next week's match: Ancient Alumni vs Three Peaks

Monday, 26 November 2018

University Challenge 2018-19: Round 2: Match 2: Hertford vs Manchester

Evening all. Thanks to Innis Carson on Twitter for revealing this week's fixture for us on Saturday. Another potentially good match in prospect too, against two teams who, like last week, are unfortunate to be playing each other in the sudden death round, thus ensuring one wouldn't reach the group stage. It really is time the second round draw was properly seeded I think.

Hertford College Oxford, like Emmanuel last week, appearing for the second time in three weeks, were narrowly beaten first time out by Clare of Cambridge, but made up for it with an impressive 215-165 over Exeter in their play-off. Hoping to carry on that momentum and ensure both play-off survivors reached the group stage for the first time since 2011-12 were the unchanged four of:
Stefi Woodgate, from South London, studying Biology  
Pat Taylor, from Warwick, studying Physics  
Captain: Richard Tudor, from Stourbridge, studying History  
Chris Page, from Orpington in London, studying English Literature

Manchester (The Team Everyone Wants to Beat) came straight through after winning a low scoring but enjoyable first round match against East London, where the lead went back and forth before a well time spurt saw the four time champs win 155-135. Hoping to reach the group stage for the first time in five series were the also unchanged foursome of:
Alex Antao, from Chingford in London, studying Mathematical Logic 
Georgia Lynott, from Burnley, studying Applied Maths 
Captain: James Ross, from Coventry, studying Classics and Ancient History 
Joe Hanson, from Gravesend, studying Data Intensive Science

Off we set again then, and Mr Tudor picked up where his side left off last time, offering 'bureau' in such a way that caused Paxo to tell him off for being 'so dismissive'! The Oxonians set their stall firmly out with a full bonus set on unbuilt cities. What looked like an educated guess from Mr Page added to that score, but, in sharp contrast, no bonuses from set no 2 followed. Mr Hanson opened the scoring for Manchester with 'Mexico City', and they too kicked off with a full bonus set, a classic UC set on chemical symbols and US postcodes. Back came Hertford with Mr Page doing the honours again, and two bonuses followed. The first picture round, on maps of the world with the countries sizes altered to denote how prolific a certain fuel source is, went to Manchester, who took a pair of bonuses, cutting their arrears to 55-45.

Mr Page was most unfortunate on the next starter, asking for the name that linked, among others, the actor who played John Book in the film Witness; he offered 'Ford' instead of 'Harrison', then instantly realised his error. Mr Ross took the pickup, and the Mancunians took the lead with a solitary bonus. Two starters in a row were then dropped, before Mr Page reignited proceedings by identifying 'Sandwich' as the Kent town that linked the various clues. One bonus was enough to give the Oxonians the lead back. Manchester promptly reclaimed it with Mr Antao supplying 'B and R' as the only consonants in the names of, amongst others, a soft French cheese (Brie) and a fictional elephant (Babar); a full bonus set was duly taken in what was proving a good back and forth contest.

The music starter was dropped; the bonuses, on pieces by students of Nadia Boulanger, went to Hertford; one correct was enough to tie the game at 80-each. To add to the resulting tension, three starters in a row were dropped; this standoff ended when Mr Antao came in with 'Zoroastrianism', and his side took two bonuses from the obligatory Shakespeare set of the week. Now into triple figures, Manchester had the momentum with them, as Mr Ross very promptly snapped up the next starter; again, two bonuses were followed, including a good piece of captaining from Mr Ross, who overruled a suggestion from a teammate that he thought was wrong, and was right to do so!

The second picture round, on self portraits of the artist at work, went to Manchester, who took a sole bonus this time, but had now opened up a lead of 135-80. Hertford promptly awoke from their slumber with Mr Page doing the honours; two bonuses took them into three figures, and set up a tense final straight.

A second starter in a row went to Mr Page, but Hertford only took a single bonus on British exploration in Africa. Mr Antao then moved Manchester a step closer to victory, but the side failed to add to their score with the bonuses. A second starter in a row went to their left winger though, and one bonus on Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, with another unluckily missed, pretty much secured the win. An excellent trick question followed, asking how many cardinal numbers between 2 and 10 were spelt the same in Spanish and Italian; the answer, which neither team got, being none! Manchester's win was confirmed for sure when Mr Antao took the next, and a full bonus set on African capitals just ran up the score and margin. At the gong, Manchester won 185-115.

Another good game, well played by both sides, unfortunate that one must go at this stage. Unlucky Hertford, but nothing to be ashamed of in that performance, thanks very much indeed for playing! Well done to Manchester though, on a good performance and well earned win, and best of luck in the group stage!

The stats: Mr Antao was the best buzzer of the night with six, while Mr Page was best for Hertford with five. On the bonuses, Hertford converted 10 out of 21, while Manchester managed 18 out of 30, and both sides incurred one penalty; so both sides more or less equal on the bonuses, it was a game won on the buzzer.

Next week's match: again, I don't know yet, but I shall enquire.

Only Connect continued tonight as well with a match notable for two very tough walls; review of that on Wednesday hopefully.

Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Only Connect Series 14: Round 1: Match 5: Birdwatchers vs Dicers

OK, so this is turning out to be a most enjoyable series of Only Connect! I mean, the last two series were too, but this still young series just seems so much more already. Maybe its because we've gone back to the old format where all teams get at least two games; 27 shows probably about the right length of series for OC, 37 a bit too much.

Anyway, playing on Monday night were the Birdwatchers, Chris Grandison (Fifteen-to-One and Mastermind alumnus), Keli Richards and captain Lauren Hamer (sister of Nathan Hamer, who appeared in Series 6 of OC with the Quitters), and the Dicers, George Corfield, Joey Goldman and captain Hugh Binnie; you may recall those three have all appeared on UC on Oxford teams in the recent past, Mr Corfield's Balliol team were unlucky to go out in the first round in 2013-14, Mr Binnie's Magdalen were runners up of the following series, while Mr Goldman's Balliol went one better and won the 2016-17 series, beating Eric Monkman's Wolfson in the final.

Round 1. The Dicers went first, and chose to start the show with Eye of Horus: 'Adlington's shoulder', then 'Bercow's ribs', then 'Tweddle's neck'; they spotted them to have been injured on 'The Jump', and collected two points there. (Reminds me of a similar question on The 3rd Degree a couple of years back) The Birdwatchers began with Twisted Flax: 'Early Nordic assembly', then 'Benjamin Grimm'; they saw them to all be 'things', and picked up three for that. (The remaining clues were 'Cat in the Hat's blue-haired associates' and 'Addams family's manual worker'!) The Dicers chose Lion next: 'Substitute', then 'Reticence', then 'Nature area'; they saw these to all be synonyms of 'Reserve', and picked up another two pointer. The Birdwatchers chose Horned Viper next: '24th kiss', then '19th hiss', then '15th hug', and finally '26th sleep'; that gave it to them, the corresponding letters of the alphabet can be used to denote those things (X for a kiss, zzz for sleeping, and so on). The Dicers chose Water next, and got the music question: we heard 'Ode for the Wings of a Dove' from Mendelsohn's 'Hear My Prayer', then 'A Taste of Honey', then Samantha Fox singing 'Touch Me (I Want Your Body)', and finally 'I Can See Clearly Now'. Neither side spotted the link, they all have senses in their titles. Left with Two Reeds, the Birdwatchers got the picture set, and saw an admiral catching a sailor in bed with a girl, then the same sailor getting his torso shaved, then him being hosed down, and finally him on a small rowing boat. They didn't quite see it, their opponents did: they are suggestions from the song 'What shall we do with a drunken sailor?'! At the end of the first round, the Dicers led 5-4.

Round 2, What Comes Fourth? The Dicers kicked the round off with Eye of Horus: '£3', then '£3.70', and then '£3.85'. They didn't get it, nor did their opponents: them are the sums of British coins going downwards (£2+£1, +50p+20p, +10p+5p), so you would add 2p and 1p for '£3.88' to complete the set. The Birdwatchers chose Lion next: '18th: William/none', then '19th: George/William'; they saw it to be something to do with monarchs at the start of each century, but their guess of 'Edward/Elizabeth' was incorrect. Their opponents saw '20th: Victoria/Robert', and offered '21st: Elizabeth/Tony' for the point, the link being who was monarch and prime minister at the start of each century. For their own question, the Dicers chose Two Reeds: 'at (hdmy)', then 'on (dmy)'; they offered 'in (y)', and collected three points, the link being the proposition for describing when something happened in certain time periods (at the hour, on the day, in the month, in the year). The Birdwatchers chose Horned Viper next: 'Complete the quotation: "To Be or Not To Be"', then 'They're both the same', and then 'Correct. What is Bernard Manning famous for?'. Now this was most unfortunate: they saw it to be the famous Two Ronnies Mastermind sketch, but answered the wrong question, as it were, and wrongly offered 'He is a fat man who tells blue jokes'. Their opponents made no mistake, and offered 'That Is The Question' for the bonus. For their own final choice, the Dicers chose Water: 'Jerkmeter', then 'Accelerometer'; they saw it to be devices for measuring the rate of change, so 'Speedometer' would be third and 'Ruler', or 'Odometer' as they offered, would be fourth. Left with Twisted Flax, and the pictures again, the Birdwatchers saw a statue of Robert E Lee, then JFK, then the late great William G Stewart; they saw the sequence, and offered 'William H Macy' for the two points. At the end of the second round, the Dicers led 13-6.

On to the Walls. The Birdwatchers, needing a good result, chose to tackle the Water wall. They immediately isolated 'DNA', 'Hair', 'Black Magic' and 'Salute', which are songs by Little Mix, and their second set, 'Peas', 'Whales', 'Senna' and 'Vanilla', which all have pods, followed in short order. It didn't take that much longer for them to solve what was left: 'Prost', 'Skal', 'Slainte' and 'Kanpai' are words used for toasting in various langauges, while 'Piquet', 'Hill', 'Scheckter' and 'Ascari' are F1 champions. A well solved full ten there.

The Dicers thus set to work on the Lion wall. They too had a set sorted very quickly: 'Cowardly', 'Yellow', 'Craven' and 'Chicken' are synonyms meaning 'faint-hearted'. This was followed quickly by 'Scar', 'Aslan', 'Lafcadio' and 'Wallace', which are names of fictional lines. They too had the rest solved quickly on their first try: 'Good luck', 'Green', 'Memory' and 'Debit' can all precede 'card', while 'Baker', 'Humble', 'Henson' and 'Rani' are surnames of presenters of Countryfile. Another well done full ten, so as you were, the Dicers led 23-16 going into the final round.

So, Missing Vowels to finish off, with the Birdwatchers pretty much needing a shutout to win. 'Rods', such as 'FISHING ROD' and 'ROD STEWART', went to the Birdwatchers 2-0. 'Janes', such as 'JANE FONDA' and 'JANE'S FIGHTING SHIPS' went to the Dicers 3-1. 'Freddies', such as 'FREDDIE MERCURY' and 'ANDREW FLINTOFF' was a 2-each split. 'Lists of three' was split 1-each, with the Birdwatchers being allowed an answer after the bell, having buzzed before it. The Dicers won 29-22.

Another very good high quality game, of the sort that makes you most thankful that they've gone back to the old format. Unlucky Birdwatchers, well done Dicers, best of luck when you next play!

Next week's match: Brews vs Forrests

Monday, 19 November 2018

University Challenge 2018-19: Round 2: Match 1: St Peter's vs Emmanuel

Evening all. So, we've arrived at the second round. The round everyone dreads, as it's the round where defeat means instant elimination. The prize for winning though is at least two further games, which also makes it the most hotly contested round. As I've said many times over the years, its not the fairest system, but I don't know of a way round it that wouldn't drag the series beyond our patience. Still thinking though. Anyway, on with the show.

St Peter's College Oxford easily defeated Pembroke College Cambridge in their first match; a close one at first, they drew away in the second half as the buzzers fell for them and largely against their opponents, eventually winning 225-50. Hoping for more of the same tonight were the unchanged foursome of:
James Hodgson, from Uxbridge in London, studying Statistics 
Seb Braddock, from Geneva, studying History 
Captain: Nick Williford, from Maynardville, Tennessee, studying History 
Laura Cooper, from Stockport, studying Biological Sciences

Emmanuel College Cambridge, appearing for the second time in three weeks, lost their first game to Glasgow, but bounced back nicely in their play-off against King's of London, a sprint in the second quarter mainly responsible for their 235-140 victory on that occasion. Also hoping to carry on this momentum were the also unchanged four of:
Connor MacDonald, from New Brunswick, Canada, studying Politics
Vedanth Nair, from Kings Lynn, studying Economics
Captain: Daniella Cugini, from Warwick, studying English
Ben Harris, from Bath, studying Geology

Off we set again then, and Emmanuel picked up where they left off two weeks ago, Mr MacDonald correctly offering 'The Giants Causeway' (my main knowledge of which comes from a Kipling style book about its formation I had as a kid); the Cambridge side firmly set their stall out with a full set of bonuses. St Peter's set off the wrong way with a penalty, but Emmanuel failed to pick up. Mr Hodgson moved his side back into positives with 'cell', and one bonus on authors was taken (same one I took, and I knew John Arbuthnot as soon as they said it). Alas, they then incurred another penalty, which, again, their opponents didn't pick up. A second starter was dropped, Mr Nair took the next, and his side took one bonus on WHO medicine lists. The first picture round, on pairs of sonnets spliced together, went to St Peter's, who, again, took a solitary bonus, leaving them trailing 40-20.

Ms Cugini increased that lead by identifying Fermi as the physicist after whom element 100 is named; bonuses on feminism in 1991, again, offered them one correct answer. St Peter's were promptly back in, and also took a sole bonus from an amusing set on mispronunciations. Mr Nair came back in for Emmanuel, and German grand duchies proved more to the Cambridge side's liking, taking a full set. Their better bonus rate seemed to be the difference between the teams thus far.

The music round, on scat singing jazz (a set I suspect our old friend Adam 'Bangor' Pearce might've liked), went to Emmanuel, who took just the one bonus, but had no increased their lead to 95-35. Ms Cooper promptly took her side back into possession with 'DNA', and, once again, the side took a single bonus. Mr Nair took his side into three figures by offering 'Richard III' just after I'd worked it out too; astrophysics once again provided just a single correct bonus. Back came St Peter's with Mr Williford doing the honours, but they got nothing from a bonus set on the work of poet Dorothy Coade Hewett. Mr MacDonald was first in next with 'The Aga Khan', and, once again, only a solitary bonus, on books by prime ministers (same one I got), followed. But when Mr Harris took the next starter, the bonuses finally went for Emmanuel again, a full set on chemistry. And given how the bonuses hadn't been falling for their opponents thus far, that might just put them beyond reach.

The second picture round, on record breaking athletes, went to St Peter's, who took two bonuses, reducing their arrears to 150-80. But when Mr MacDonald very quickly buzzed in with 'Nietzche' on the next starter, you suspected the match was beyond them, even though their opponents only added one bonus on best foreign film Oscar winners. Mr Nair all but confirmed his side's win by taking the next starter, and you thus fancied it didn't matter that no bonuses followed.

Neither side identified the River Clyde for the next starter; Ms Cooper took the next for St Peter's, and a single bonus on dog breeds just about summed up their night. (I got shih tzu) Ms Cugini cemented her side's win with 'mirror', and a full bonus set on dystopian fiction took them to 200. A penalty dropped them back from it though; Mr Williford picked up the drop, and his side went out with a bang, taking a full bonus set on national flags. And that was the gong, Emmanuel won 195-120.

Another good match, decided on the buzzer, but mainly on the bonuses I feel. Unlucky St Peter's, unlucky to be going out at this stage, but still a respectable performance to go out on, thanks very much for playing! Very well done to Emmanuel, though, on a third good showing against good opponents, and best of luck in the group stage!

The stats: Messrs MacDonald, Nair and Williford were the joint best buzzers of the night, with four each. On the bonuses, St Peter's converted 10 out of 24 (with two penalties), while Emmanuel managed 18 out of 33 (with one penalty), so it was indeed a slightly better buzzer and bonus rate that won them the game.

Next week's match: don't know yet, but I'm guessing that Hertford will be sitting on the bottom row.

Yet more UC alumni on Only Connect tonight, and another high quality contest in what is proving a most enjoyable series. Review on Wednesday, when I don't have any forgotten plans this week. Not yet anyway.