Saturday, 1 November 2014

University Challenge - Repechage Round Match 1

Open University v. LSE

Yes, it’s the first of the 2 repechage matches, pitting the Open University, who lost to an impressive Leicester team, despite scoring 190 themselves, against the London School of Economics, whose 140 against The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine was just enough to let them live to fight another day, that day being last Monday. The OU were Danielle Gibney, Stuart Taylor, Kate Law, and their captain Lynne Jones. Last time out we did think that they were a little slow to get into their stride. If they could reverse this, then they were going to be formidable opposition for the LSE team of Peter Sims, Jeffrey Mo, Pedro Franco de Campo Pinto, and their skipper Jimmy Chen.

Pedro Franco de Campo Pinto took the first starter, buzzing to answer Bismarck as soon as the words ‘some damn silly thing in the Balkans’ passed JP’s lips. Now, as impressive as this quick buzz was, the LSE’s failure to answer any bonuses on Peter O’Toole’s films was far less impressive. They went with Thomas Becket rather than ‘Becket’, didn’t know Goodbye Mr. Chips, and rejected Venus, even though Rokeby was the clue in the question and they knew the Rokeby Venus. Ah well, such is life. Stuart Taylor opened the OU account, knowing that Van Gogh’s Starry Night and Dali’s The Persistence of Memory can both be found in the New York Museum of Modern Art. Good interruption, that. 2 bonuses on Pascal were enough to give the OU the lead. A very good buzz from Danielle Gibney saw her give the correct answer for the name Fourier which linked a mathematician and another man whose claim to fame escapes me now. Two more bonuses on 1914 extended the lead. I’m sure that the term ‘multiverse’ came into a question earlier on during this series, or I wouldn’t have known it for the next starter, but I did, and so did Peter Sim of LSE. A couple of bonuses on musical instruments made their score look considerably more healthy. For the picture starter I was delighted to see a map with what was obviously the town of Hay on Wye highlighted. For one reason or another I haven’t managed to make my usual half termly pilgrimage this week, but Hay, don’t panic, I haven’t forgotten you. This was taken by skipper Jimmy Chen, and it earned bonuses on locations of three international Hay Festivals. Dhaka and Nairobi they managed, but Segovia they didn’t. Not surprised. Now, when the words 1701 – and – satire – are paired in a question you can forgive Kate Law for an incorrect interruption of Jonathan Swift. Even when the works ‘Roxana’ and ‘A Diary of the Plague Year’ were added LSE really didn’t fancy it, and so the correct answer of Daniel Defoe went begging. All of which meant that at the 10 minute mark LSE led by 50 – 35.

Now I surprised myself by correctly guessing deuterium as the radioactive isotope of Hydrogen, as did Danielle Gibney. The explorer John Rae brought them the bonus that they needed to draw level with LSE. Stuart Taylor produced one of those reflex buzzes you need to win the buzzer race sometimes. Having heard the words ‘Sir Peter Blake’ and ‘cover’ he instantly buzzed to give the answer ‘Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ which earned 3 bonuses on the internet to give the OU their first full set of the competition. The impressive Danielle Gibney gave her team their third starter in a row when she correctly identified lavender as the essential oil being defined in the question. A UC special set on pairs of words that differ only in the substitution of a final x for a final y or vice versa – eg fax and fay – promised a lot, and that’s what it delivered, a second full house. In the space of four minutes OU had turned a 15 point deficit into a 50 point lead. It was Kate Law who buzzed in to identify the music starter, and unusually I had already managed that myself. Vivaldi’s Tempesta di Mare is one of my favourite pieces, and that’s what we heard. Three more pieces pertaining to inclement weather followed. I managed one, as did OU. A lovely special starter followed, asking for the combined total of internal angles of a triangle (180) a rectangle (360) and a pentagon (540). The answer 1080 caught both teams out, and so we moved on to Taos, the artistic community of Georgia O’Keefe. Jeffrey Mo knew that this was in New Mexico. On the surface, bonuses on the Subterraneo, the underground railway of Buenos Aires (I love Underground Railways!) promised but little. However they could have done better with Belgrano, and took both Callao and Pasteur. Jimmy Chen knew that William Lenthall was the Speaker of the House of Commons who defied Charles I when he came to arrest the five members. Bonuses on Klaproth, a chemistry chappie, gave them their first full house, and significantly reduced the deficit to 20 points. Kate Law knew that the famous Thomas Hobbes quote about the life of man included the words ‘nasty, brutish and short’ – which come to think of it was a description which could well have been applied to my old PE teacher at school, Mr. Jasper. No bonuses on the 1390s meant that at the 20 minute mark the OU led by 125 – 95. All to play for.

Stuart Taylor played with fire by buzzing to identify a photograph of Michael Phelps, then taking a moment to collect his thoughts, but he got away with it. A lovely set of much bemedalled Olympians followed. Larisa Latynina eluded them, but the other two, messrs Lewis and Spitz were taken. Kate Law took a good early buzz for the term referred pain. Nobel prizes in physiology and medicine brought two more bonuses, and edged OU closer to the event horizon. It took a while, but it was Jeffrey Mo who worked out that the Oscar for Best Picture went to the Hurt Locker immediately before the King’s Speech. Ornithology provided them with one bonus – too little too late you couldn’t help thinking. Maybe not, though, since Jimmy Chen knew that Bob Dole was defeated in the 1996 US presidential election. 2 bonuses on Scottish authors reduced the gap to 35, and just maybe we could be in for a grandstand finish. Not if Danielle Gibney had anything to do with it. She knew that silicates make up more than 90% of the earth’s crust, and thus earned bonuses on former capital cities. The one correct answer increased the gap back to 50 points, and once again OU were firm favourites. Nobody knew a quote from Aristotle, and so it fell to LSE to take the next starter on works all linked by the word ‘quiet’. Bonuses on astronomy didn’t help, although it was a nicee set – the largest moon of the largest planet, the second largest moon of the second largest planet, and the third largest moon of the third largest planet. That was that. The gong went halfway through the next starter, and the OU had won by 180 – 140. Hard lines to LSE, but the OU looked decent value for their place in the second round.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

We know how JP hates it when the teams get English Lit questions wrong. Well this week he extended his repertoire to Maths. When the OU offered 15 for the combined total of all the numbers in the top row of a Pascal’s Triangle (no, me neither) his reaction was “Good Lord! No, it’s 4”. Was that really worthy of a Good Lord?
After that there was nothing worthy of mention before Stuart Taylor hesitated before giving the answer of Michael Phelps which earned a minor telling off.
JP even maintained his record of ignoring the opportunity to rub salt into the wounds, telling the LSE that they can leave with their heads held high.

Interesting Fact That I Didn’t Already Know Of The Week


Along with France, Bulgaria is one of the world’s largest producers of lavender. 

Mastermind Round 1 - Heat 11

It’s only a fortnight since the last show, but somehow it seems longer. Mastermind returned last night, and the very first contender was Julia Hobbs. Julia you may recall from Ian’s 2011 series, where she won both heat and semi to take a well earned place in the Grand Final. Back then Julia answered specialist rounds on Tales of the City, Calvin and Hobbes, and Eddie Izzard. This time round she offered us the Films of John Hughes. The name might not mean a lot to you, but I guarantee that you’ll have heard of many of the films. Julia produced quite a n assured round, although just a couple of questions held her up, and there were two passes as well to be taken into consideration. 11 points was a decent return for the round, but still one which left a bit of elbow room for the other three contenders.

Jamie Potton was one of three Mastermind virgins in this heat. His specialist subject was the traditional type subject of King David I of Scotland. David was the son of the real life King Malcolm III – Malcolm in Shakespeare’s “Macbeth”. Everything about this round was quality, from the speed of answers to the breadth of knowledge displayed. In fact only one question – an answer of Northampton rather than the Northumberland required, conspired to prevent Jamie from achieving a perfect round, a fact that John gleefully informed him at the end of the round. Nevertheless 14 and no passes gave him a significant lead.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a Lutheran pastor and leading anti-Nazi dissident who was executed just weeks before the end of the war in Europe. Testing his knowledge of Dietrich Bonhoeffer was Stuart Jenkins. They say that lightning never strikes twice, but for the second round running what looked to be a perfect round all the way through was just interrupted by one question, in this case the last, where Stuart was just one out when asked for Bonhoeffer’s prison cell number. His slightly more measured delivery of the answers meant that he finished with 13 and no passes, one behind Jamie.

Challenged, then, to match that if he could was Darren Topping. Darren’s subject was the Life and Career of Iggy Pop. Mr. Pop is probably best known for his TV ads for car insurance, although I believe he has also made a couple of records as well. Darren answered very quickly, and for the most part very well. It wasn’t quite a perfect round – and for the first time in a couple of rounds John didn’t bother to inform us of this fact – but it was a very good one, and accrued him 14 points and no passes to leave him joint leader with Jamie at the turn around.

2 points down on 3rd place, and 3 down on the leader, Julia looked as if she had a lot to do. Well, that’s what Jess, who for once hadn’t been driven out of the living room by me having my weekly fix of MM, opined. I said that while three points is a significant gap, it is bridgeable in 2 and a half minutes if you have a good GK. In three previous attempts Julia had always managed double figures. I reckoned that anything in the teens would be enough to put three newbies into the corridor of uncertainty. Well, in two of her previous rounds Julia scored 14 on GK, and that’s exactly what she scored here in this show. The only fly in the ointment could possibly be the one pass.

Stuart Jenkins again answered in a clam and measured fashion in his round. This proved to be a good tactic for the first two minutes, as the correct answers greatly outnumbered the incorrect ones, and the score mounted steadily. With thirty seconds to go he looked home and dry, and yet it was at this point that the round really ground to a halt. From 23 and plenty of time left he just managed to take his score for the round to 12 and for the show to 25 by the end of the round. Crucially, though, he only added two passes to his account, which left him just ahead of Julia on pass countback.

Usually during a show at least one of the contenders will reveal enough in their expression for you to be able to at least hazard a guess at their thought processes. I thought that Jamie’s questions, while gettable for a seasoned quizzer in the most part, were, on the whole, slightly harder than the previous two rounds. Judging by his expression, Jamie thought so as well. Most of them were greeted by an expression which seemed to suggest – where on earth did you dig that one up from? -. It’s a common enough experience on Mastermind to sit in the chair, listening to the other contender’s GK rounds and thinking how much you’d have liked their questions, then finding how much you don’ t like your own. To cut a long story slightly shorter, from about half way it looked highly unlikely that Jamie was going to challenge, and he finished with 20.

Which only left Darren Topping. He launched into the round with the same gusto with which he’d attacked his specialist round, and after a wobble or two at the star it looked as if he was in with a chance. From about a minute and three quarters though he was perceptibly falling behind the clock. At the bell he had incurred 4 passes, and you could see in his face as John read them out that he thought it was a long shot, but on the other hand it was just possible that he had done it. Believe me it would take incredible mental discipline to be able to count your score while you’re doing your round – I couldn’t do it, that’s for sure. When John announced that he’d scored 23 a rueful smile passed across his face.

So well done Stuart, and good luck in the semis. As for Julia, hard lines. John said that she could well find herself in the semis with 25. Well, it is possible still, although I haven’t counted up how many passes all the other contenders on 25 have so far. 25 is currently the lowest score needed for a repechage slot – so you never know. Experience suggests that this probably won’t be enough, but you never know.

The Details


Julia Hobbs The Films of John Hughes11 - 214 - 125 - 3
Jamie PottonKing David I of Scotland14 – 0 6 - 1 20 - 1
Stuart JenkinsDietrich Bonhoeffer13 – 0 12 – 225 - 2
Darren ToppingThe Life and Career of Iggy Pop14 – 0 9 – 423 - 4

Answers to News Questions

In the news

Who or what are the following and why have they been in the news?

Piledriver Ale
William Pooley
Shane Byrne
Mikko Ilonen
Derek Fidyka
Hannah Kentish
Joko Widodo
Lee Clark
Peyton Manning
No Limits
The Optimists
Fiona Woolf
Gough Whitlam
Shamil Tarpischev
Medi Alambaba
Nelson Bunker Hunt
Younis Khan
Michael Cheika
Philip Davies MP
Norah Lawley
Vido Lancar
Sir Richard Broadbent
Michael Zehaf – Bibeau
Harry Roberts
Maryville-Pilchuck School
Revolution
Gilbert the Gull

In Other News

At which power station was there a major fire?
Who warned David Cameron that a UK jobs cap breaks EU rules?
Prince Charles ordered a cull of which creatures on his estates?
Who was honored with a BFI fellowship?
How much is the charge for carrier bags introduced in Scotland?
What was the score between Sunderland and Southampton?
Name the footballer whose appeal for a review of his conviction for rape has been fast tracked?
Which movie vehicle sold for £850,000?
Who was the third out of Strictly?
Which historic attraction suffered from fire again?
Which much loved British actress passed away last week?
Who created the much pilloried song UKIP Calypso?
Which British city rated highest on the Lonely Planet list?
What was the score between Man Utd and West Ham?
Which two teams contest baseball’s world series?
Who is the new St. Helens head coach?
Where was a bronze statue to pay tribute to the women’s Land Army unveiled?
Which designer died last week?
IN which part of the UK has a ban on paying for sex been introduced?
What sentence was passed on Oscar Pistorius?
What was the Champions League score between Man City and CSKA Moscow?
And Chelsea and Maribor?
Which musician angered China by voicing support for Hong Kong Demonstrators
Who was endorsed as new President of the European Commission?
Microsoft will be dropping what as a brand name?
What was the score between Liverpool and Real Madrid?
– and Arsenal and Anderlecht?
Two episodes of which vintage ITV comedy series were found last week?
Kosovo was provisionally recognized by which organization last week?
Which former cricketer was in a dispute with the RSPB?
MPs rejected calls for the Palace of Westminster to get what?
Which 72 year old musician passed away last week?
What was the score between Spurs and Asteras Tripoli?
Which team has Freddie Flintoff joined for the Big Bash?
What was the score between Everton and Lille?
Which businessman impressed by speaking Mandarin in China?
Administrators have been called into which F1 team?
How much extra money has the EU demanded from the UK?
The first Ebola case has been reported in which US city?
Who issued her first tweet under her own name?
A notebook from Captain Scott’s expedition was found where?
Who said he intends to retire this summer from football?
Who will miss the ATP finals this year through injury?

Answers

Who or what are the following and why have they been in the news?

Beer produced by status Quo which has sold 1 milli9on pints in 7 months
UK Ebola survivor gone back to help in Sierra Leone
Won his 4th British superbike championship
Won world matchplay golf beating Henrik Stenson
Man who walked again for the first time with a spinal implant
1st Scouting youth commissioner
Sworn in as president of Indonesia
Sacked as manager of Birmingham City
Set a world record for career touchdown passes in American Football
Autobiography of Ian Poulter
Britain’s first darts team for the blind
Came under pressure to stand down from heading up Child Abuse Enquiry
Controversial former Australian PM – passed away
Had to apologise for comments made about Venus and Serena Williams
Fraudster who passed himself off as Chelsea footballer Gael Kakuta
Former world’s richest man, fell from grace after trying to corner world’s silver market – passed away.
Equalled world record of 29 test centuries
New head coach of the wallabies
He called Jon Snow a playground bully and accused him of violence
At 86 became Britain’s oldest banned driver
Croatian boxer banned for life for attacking the referee who gave the decision against him at the European youth championships
Chairman of tesco who quit
Canadian gunman at Parliament building in Ottawa
Triple murderer paroled after 48 years
Seattle School attacked by lone gunman
New book by Russell Brand, who faced criticism for saying he had an open mind about 9/11
Torquay United mascot who swore at Torquay fans and challenged some to a fight

In Other News

Didcot B
Jose Manuel Barroso
Grey squirrels
Stephen Frears
5p
8 – 0 Southampton
Ched Evans
Peter Fonda’s bike from easy Rider
Tim Wonnacott
Cutty Sark
Lynda Bellingham
Mike Read
Salisbury
2 – 2
Kansas City Royals v. San Francisco Giants
Kieran Cunningham
National Arboretum in Staffordshire
Oscar de la Renta
Northern Ireland
Jailed for 5 years
2 – 2
6- 0 Chelsea
Kenny G.
Jean Claude Juncker
Nokia
3 – 0 Real Madrid
2 – 1 Arsenal
At Last The 1948 Show
The International Olympic Committee
Sir Ian Botham
A cat
Alvin Stardust
5 – 1 Spurs
Brisbane Heat
0 – 0
Mark Zuckerburg
Caterham
£1.7 billion
New York
HM the Queen
In melting snow by the expedition hut
Rio Ferdinand
Rafa Nadal


Saturday, 25 October 2014

In The News

In the news

Who or what are the following and why have they been in the news?

Piledriver Ale
William Pooley
Shane Byrne
Mikko Ilonen
Derek Fidyka
Hannah Kentish
Joko Widodo
Lee Clark
Peyton Manning
No Limits
The Optimists
Fiona Woolf
Gough Whitlam
Shamil Tarpischev
Medi Alambaba
Nelson Bunker Hunt
Younis Khan
Michael Cheika
Philip Davies MP
Norah Lawley
Vido Lancar
Sir Richard Broadbent
Michael Zehaf – Bibeau
Harry Roberts
Maryville-Pilchuck School
Revolution
Gilbert the Gull

In Other News

At which power station was there a major fire?
Who warned David Cameron that a UK jobs cap breaks EU rules?
Prince Charles ordered a cull of which creatures on his estates?
Who was honored with a BFI fellowship?
How much is the charge for carrier bags introduced in Scotland?
What was the score between Sunderland and Southampton?
Name the footballer whose appeal for a review of his conviction for rape has been fast tracked?
Which movie vehicle sold for £850,000?
Who was the third out of Strictly?
Which historic attraction suffered from fire again?
Which much loved British actress passed away last week?
Who created the much pilloried song UKIP Calypso?
Which British city rated highest on the Lonely Planet list?
What was the score between Man Utd and West Ham?
Which two teams contest baseball’s world series?
Who is the new St. Helens head coach?
Where was a bronze statue to pay tribute to the women’s Land Army unveiled?
Which designer died last week?
IN which part of the UK has a ban on paying for sex been introduced?
What sentence was passed on Oscar Pistorius?
What was the Champions League score between Man City and CSKA Moscow?
And Chelsea and Maribor?
Which musician angered China by voicing support for Hong Kong Demonstrators
Who was endorsed as new President of the European Commission?
Microsoft will be dropping what as a brand name?
What was the score between Liverpool and Real Madrid?
– and Arsenal and Anderlecht?
Two episodes of which vintage ITV comedy series were found last week?
Kosovo was provisionally recognized by which organization last week?
Which former cricketer was in a dispute with the RSPB?
MPs rejected calls for the Palace of Westminster to get what?
Which 72 year old musician passed away last week?
What was the score between Spurs and Asteras Tripoli?
Which team has Freddie Flintoff joined for the Big Bash?
What was the score between Everton and Lille?
Which businessman impressed by speaking Mandarin in China?
Administrators have been called into which F1 team?
How much extra money has the EU demanded from the UK?
The first Ebola case has been reported in which US city?
Who issued her first tweet under her own name?
A notebook from Captain Scott’s expedition was found where?
Who said he intends to retire this summer from football?

Who will miss the ATP finals this year through injury?

LAM Podcast 16

In this week's podcast:-
Questions on Science Fiction
Talking points on what should be included in a quiz, University Challenge and Only Connect
Court of Public Opinion
Do You Remember
Answers to Cryptic Questions

Only Connect - Match 8

Nørdiphiles v. Night Watchmen

The Nørdiphiles, Will Day, James Keeling and captain Joanna Murray are, I believe, brand new to Only Connect, and united by their love of all things Scandinavian. Skål! Their opposition, Jonathan Wilson, Robert Winder and skipper Daniel Norcross were the Nightwatchmen, brought together by a shared love of what Kipling called ‘flannelled fools at the wicket’. It was fascinating to hear captain Daniel say that he had taken part in the original pilots for the series, in which they even tried three teams of two.

Round One – What’s the Connection?

Put in first by the Nords, Daniel of the Nights blotted his copybook for me by failing to voice the second vowel of Horned when he opted for the viper. First off was Best Picture Oscar Nominees (2010). This didn’t help. UEFA Euro Championship teams (1996) didn’t either. Jonathan had a good idea at this point, suggesting that this was when the number of participants increased. When prompted for a little more, they offered this was when the number of participants doubled. Good shout. The Eye of Horus gave the Nords – Ruddigore – to start. Gilbert and Sullivan was far too obvious. It’s subtitled The Witches’ curse – so I guessed maybe we were going down this route. Straw Dogs seemed to put the kibosh on that idea. Jamaica Inn came third, and I still hadn’t come up with an answer, so plumped for the hopeful – all set in Cornwall. Doc Martin certainly fit the pattern. They tried – complaints about the sound quality, but the Nights took the bonus with set in Cornwall. You can’t afford to throw sets like that away – they probably should have had it from Jamaica Inn and Doc Martin. Two Reeds gave us Doctor Evil’s Number Two – Snake Plissken. That was enough to give me eyepatches – Snake Plissken being Kurt Russell’s character from Escape from New York and its sequel. Number Two is Robert Wagner’s character, and not mini me as I heard the Nights suggest. Rooster Cogburn came next, and this set Jonathan on eyepatch. That was enough for captain Daniel, and they didn’t need to see the fourth clue, Danger Mouse. Not Nelson, I’m glad to say. There’s no eye patch on the statue on Nelson’s Column, you know. The Nords picked Lion and the music. This allowed them to redeem themselves by seeing Streets after two clues. Good shout. Twisted Flax, then, gave the Nights Miedinger and Hoffman. I did actually know that these two were something to do with Helvetica font. When Hoefler and Frere-Jones came next one of them did actually mention fonts, but captain Daniel wasn’t convinced. John Baskerville looked to have sealed the deal as the third clue, which indeed it did. Fair play to the Nights, this is a show where discretion is more often the better part of valour. Left with water the Nords saw pictures of a mountain and Rosamund Pike. Taking the mountain as Scafell Pike, they buzzed in off 2 to take the points. So barring the Nord’s first, this had been a quality opening round, and the Nights led with 8 -6.

Round Two – What Comes Fourth?

The round that separates the men from the boys saw the Nights take water to start. Seine was the first clue. That gave too many possibilities. The second clue, setter – offered but little. Ottoman came third, but I’m afraid that I was out with the washing on this one. Both teams were sidelined by ottoman. Actually its to do with Italian numbers. Sei – sette – otto – so a word beginning with nove – eg novel – would follow. Hard set. Three cheers to the Nords for asking for Hornèd Viper for the next. We saw a picture showing the numeral 1 made out of 4 matchsticks. Next we saw 2 made out of 5 matchsticks. Surely 4 made out of 7 was too obvious? Yes, since the third was 6 made out of 6 matches. So the question was, which would you need to add another matchstick to make, and the answer looked like 8. I was right, so were the Nords, and that was a textbook example of why it is sometimes necessary to take all of the clues. Lion gave the Nights Johnson: The Vantage Point. Now, I read a biography of LBJ a few weeks ago, so I knew that Johnson was LBJ, and the book was about his years as president. So, from the comfort of my sofa I thought that there have been three democrat presidents since LBJ. Obama hasn’t written presidential memoirs yet, but he wrote Dreams from my father – and – The Audacity of Hope. So I went for Obama: Dreams From My Father. Given the other two clues, the Nights tried Obama : Dreams About My Father, which Victoria decided was close enough. Eye of Horus showed the Nords – 2004: Beckham and Vassell – and I had a strange flashback. The euro championships 1996, mentioned in the previous round, saw England lose a penalty shoot out. In 2004, England lost in a penalty shoot out, and both Beckham and Darius Vassell missed. Working backwards, I thought we might well end up with 1990, Stuart Pearce and Chris Waddle. We had Ince and Batty in the 1998 world cup, then Gareth Southgate in the 1996 semi shoot out against Germany in between if I was right. The Nords could see football, but not what. Ince and Batty gave them missed penalties, and after almost arguing themselves out of it they went the right way. Great – if painful to an England supporter – set. For their last choice the Nights opted for Two Reeds. Haffaz suggested Sacha Baron Cohen characters – that was the name of The Dictator from that movie. In which case Ali G. would be a good bet. Brüno certainly seemed to confirm the prediction It was enough for the Nights, who supplied Ali G at this point. Twisted Flax remained for the Nords with 3 elves, which made the Nords think the same as me – Tolkein’s rings of power. 3 for the elven kings – 7 for the dwarf lords in their halls of stone – nine for the mortal men -  oh flip, that’s it. 7 dwarves came next, as it should do. But the sequence ends with the nine rings. Unless – I thought – it’s in the rhyme that it ends with one ring to rule them all etc. So I went for 1 Sauron. The answer the Nords gave was One ring to rule them all. Which was ignoring the form of the set. How many and who for, that was what was needed. The answer, which the Nights didn’t see either, was 1 Dark Lord. Hoepfully I might have been given it for Sauron. A good round with some nice sets , and the score was now 13 – 11 to the Nights.

Round Three – The Connecting Walls

The Nords chose the Lion Wall. Italian musical instructions was the first set they saw, along with sporting implements. Actually though the first set they isolated – Presto – Bat – Bristo – Well – were all towns with a letter missing. Mallet – Cue – Club and Hurley, the sporting implements followed hard on their heels. They waited a while before completing the last two lines on their first go. Grave – adagio – vivace and lento were the musical terms. This left Largo – Big Pine – Sands and Plantation. Now, they knew Key Largo, having mentioned it more than once, but crucially did not offer Florida Keys as the answer. This limited them to 7 points.

The Nights were left with water. Figaro – Bild – Pais and Stampa fell early as European newspapers. Parts of a shoe looked to be there, but when they didn’t fall into place they went for a set of things you can hold – tongue – breath – horses – nerve. They knew that the connections were between the last two lines – synonyms for vamp, and parts of a shoe. The shoe parts were Heel – Welt – vamp and sole, which left as the flirtatious females – siren – circe – minx and coquette. 10 points earned, which gave them a 5 point lead of 23 – 18, and made them favourites to take the match.

Round Four – The Missing Vowels


The first set, famous last lines from films, went 2 – 1 to the Nords. Gap thus down to 4. Dragons wiped out that gap completely, 4 – 0 to the Nords. The next set, fictional boarding schools, went 2 – 1 to the Nights. So sad that nobody got Linbury Court Preparatory School – I LOVED Anthony Buckeridge’s Jennings books when I was a lad. Flight Instruments brought 3 crucial points to the Nords, and against the run of play in the first three rounds they had won a narrow victory by 28 – 26. The Nights will definitely bounce back after this performance though. I was impressed with both teams in this show. Well played both. 

University Challenge - Round One - Match 14

Magdalen Oxford v. Pembroke Cambridge

Along with Manchester University, Magdalen are 4 times winners of UC. Aiming to add a record breaking fifth title were Harry Gillow, Chris Savory, Cameron J. Quinn and their captain Hugh Binnie. Pembroke last competed a couple of years ago, when they reached the quarter finals. This year’s vintage were Tom McGhee, Theodore Hill, Mark Hammond and their skipper James Hutt. All present and correct, then, so let’s get started.

Both teams seemed to need to hear a lot of a relatively gentle opener, asklng for the first non royal to appear on a British coin in 1965, and in fact it was Cameron J. Quinn from Los Angeles who answered. Prime Ministers and reforms gave Magdalen their first set, and these weren’t easy. They took two of them. Now, a natural weather phenomenon mentioned in a play by Neil Simon suggested sunshine to me, as in the Sunshine Boys. Hugh Binnie heard more of the question and gave the correct answer. Bonuses on words derived from singing eg canto, canticle and cantor, brought them 2 more correct answers. A long winded definition of an orangutan allowed Chris Savory to contribute his first and his team’s third correct starter. As did Magdalen I only had one of a difficult set of bonuses on astronomy. Three sets in, and Magdalen had scored 50 unanswered points. I was a little surprised that neither team could dredge up the term palaeolithic for the next starter. After that “I saw that the bride within the bridal dress had withered” was obviously Miss Havisham from Great Expectations. But what did the question want, the name of the character, or the title of the book? Tom McGhee was the first to buzz after it became clear to take Pembroke’s first points. Phonetics and phonology looked a difficult ask, but Pembroke took a full house. The first picture starter showed a map with the university town of Aberystwyth marked on it. Theodore Hill was first in to identify it. For the bonuses we were given several places’ positions on a map, together with their definitions in “The Meaning of Liff” by Douglas Adams and John Lloyd. (I shan’t explain how this utterly joyous book works here – just get it if you haven’t)  2 bonuses taken. They missed out on Dunstable – definition – a retired police officer. This fightback brought them to just 5 points behind Magdalen at the ten minute mark – with the score at 50 – 45.

Theodore Hill took his second and his team’s third starter, knowing that in 1991 the Federated States of Micronesia became part of the UN. Bonuses on notable test matches at Old Trafford really didn’t require any in depth knowledge of cricket – I had a full house – and Pembroke took two of them. A long winded starter, with a quote from Evelyn Waugh, eventually meandered into asking for a 17th century style of European architecture. I guessed baroque, and Tom McGhee supplied the same answer, which was correct. Scientific terms with the prefix iso shied away from the obvious ones, and I had none of them, while Pembroke managed one. James Hutt, emboldened by his team’s purple patch, buzzed too early on the next question about a chemical element. When JP said it comes between yttrium and niobium I knew it was zirconium and when told it was the last one when listed alphabetically Hugh Binnie buzzed in with the right answer. Bonuses followed on British birds whose two latin names are the same – eg  Cygnus Cygnus, the whooper swan. I took all three and so did Magdalen. No well done from JP yet. Cameron Quinn needed to hear hardly any of the music starter before identifying the Smiths. Three bands or artists to whom John Peel also gave critical early exposure, like the Smiths, saw them add 10 more points to their total. Tom McGhee knew that Roberto Azevedo is from Brazil. When JP announced that the bonuses would be on bricklaying this was granted with laughter by the audience. They were actually all gettable and Pembroke managed two of them. Cameron Quinn took the next identifying a definition of cholesterol. The novels of Don Delillo promised me nothing, which was exactly how much they delivered. One of them fell to Magdalen. Tom McGhee knew Henry Van Dyke Carter did the original illustrations for Grey’s Anatomy. This pushed Pembroke through the three figure barrier. Caribbean islands brought them a further 10 points, and earned the JP well done. Hugh Binnie won the buzzer race to say that Apollo 11 took the first men to the moon. Bonuses on the Prime Meridian took Magdalen to 125 just after the 10 minute mark. This gave them a lead of 10 points. What a good contest this was turning out to be.

For the second picture starter nobody recognized a stylised picture of the artist Whistler. Now, a controversial moment here. In a recent Weaver’s Week, it was suggested that one of the teams was unfairly penalized for an early buzz. With the question – Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego appear in which book of the Old Testament – Thedore Hill buzzed in with Job and lost 5. Now, I think that was harsh, since JP had completed the question before Roger Tilling announced – Pembroke Hill. Whatever the case, Chris Savory provided the correct answer to earn three more Leslie Ward pictures from Vanity Fair. Two were taken. Nothing deterred by his harsh treatment in the previous bonus Theodore Hill had a great early buzz to identify the area of Karelia for the next starter. Bonuses on the letter Omega produced no points. Theodore Hill’s buzz for the next question, about the so called Father of Australia was again very marginally early, although this was perhaps just a tiny bit more clear cut than the previous infringement. Neither team had it. Hugh Binnie knew that in the Mohs scale orthoclase is followed by quartz. Good shout, that. Medical terms gave them one bonus, but they were in the lead, a lead that was growing, and that was the point. A complicated question led to Hugh Binnie giving the answer of the half life. This brought Magdalen questions on violin concertos, of which they took a full set. Harry Gillow knew that Clint Eastwood once made a film on Iwo Jima. Island bonuses saw the both of us only take one on the Galapagos islands. Pembroke, now out of it, lost another five points on the next starter, when Glen Binnie knew that kinematics is the third branch of mechanics. Novels whose title is a four letter girl’s name only gave them time for two correct answers before the gong.

Now, the final score – 220 to 110 showed that Magdalen had doubled Pembroke’s score. Yet this gives the impression of an easy win for Magdalen, which it wasn’t. Only in the last few minutes did they establish their superiority, and they did it well, too, and deserved to win. Hard lines to Pembroke though. I dare say that if they’d drawn quite a number of the other teams the least they’d have come up with was a repechage slot – but then, them’s the breaks. It was nice to see JP paying them their dues at the end.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

Now, what do we know that JP doesn’t like? Getting an English Lit question wrong, especially an easy one. Tom McGhee courted disaster by offering “MRS. Havisham”. “It’s MISS Havisham!” snorted our hero in exasperation, “That’s the whole point!” He let him have the points anyway, “but I’ll accept you got the right person.”
When Magdalen offered Lord Salisbury for the politician from Vanity Fair he interjected,
“It’s nothing like Salisbury! It’s Parnell” Oh, be fair, JP. Both of them had beards you could hide a badger in.

Interesting Fact That I Didn’t Already Know Of The Week


Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego originally have other names in the book of Daniel