Sunday, 31 August 2014

Afrikaans Lesson

Well, not just Afrikaans, but this was just the last in a line of several lessons in vernacular I've received this weekend. I've told you about my weakness for Superbuzzer before, and although the game usually restricts me to just a handful each day, I enjoy these usually. The game suffers from some defects, not the least being that even though players are encouraged to contribute questions, the same ones do tend to recur. This leads onto the main point of this post, which I will get to shortly. Another drawback is that the checking of these questions, if indeed there is any, leaves quite a lot to be desired. One of my favourites yesterday was the suggestion that the Greenwich Meridian somehow manages to pass through Norway and Russia.

Well, as I say, if you play regularly the questions tend to recur, and for a certain type of person, once a question has recurred a couple of times, well, not only will you remember it, you'll remember it from the first few words. In a game in which speed of reaction is so important, you'll understand that this can have a huge effect on the game's outcome.

Unfortunately, some players either don't understand or can't accept this. As a result, if you start to win on a regular basis, you are going to either be called a cheat, or to be told to go and do things to yourself which would require both a very supple body and a very broad mind. In several different languages. The last player I played today had a little South African flag next to his avatar, and when I defeated him in the final round he favoured me with a couple of words of Afrikaans. Being of a naturally inquisitive nature, I used google to translate it. With respect to all readers, especially those in South Africa, I shan't repirnt them here.

I'm not having a go specifically at South Africa or the good people there of, since I've been requested to do similar things by a range of people in a range of different places across the world, it just so happened that it was Afrikaans today. But I mean, come on! Get a grip. Not for the first time, I reflected on these sage words, once uttered by my friend Rob Merrill,
"You can beat a man 10 – nil in a football match, during the course of which you have also insulted him and his family and inflicted physical pain upon his person, and he’ll often shake hands with you afterwards, and share a beer with you in the bar. However, if you make a man feel stupid in his own local. . . you're in trouble!" For local, read 'Facebook game, I suppose.

Saturday, 30 August 2014

LAM Podcast 8

In this week's Podcast: -
Questions on Doctor Who
Talking points on the mentality of phone cheats - UC - Mastermind
The Hall of Shame
The Verdict on Eggheads
The Court of Public Opinion
Answers to Last Week's Questions

In the News

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

1.Carol Mills
3.Paul Collingwood
4.Sean Foley
5.Iain Watters and Diana Beard
6.William Pooley
7.Uxbridge and South Ruislip
8.Abdel Majid Abdel Bary
9.Steven Moffat
10.Angel di Maria
11.Helen and Maurice Kaye
13.Neil Young
14.Peter Theo Curtis
15.Charles Vacca
16.Kamla Devi
17.Sir Gerald Howarth
18.Joan Rivers
19.Douglas Carswell
20.KSC Lokeren
21Ashya King
22.Jim Murphy

23.Outlaw Pete

In Other News

1.How old was Lord Attenborough, who passed away last week?
2.Nick Clegg visited which country to promote trade?
3.Which clergyman began a week long fast and vigil for world peace?
4.Where did Kate Bush kick off her 22 night residency last week?
5.Due to a price crash, which drug can now be prescribed on the NHS to any men who need it?
6.An Earthquake struck the northern coast of which state?
7.How was Lewis Hamilton forced out of the Belgian GP?
8.In which rarely run event did Mo Farah beat Steve Ovett’s 36 year old British Record?
9.What was the score in the Rugby League Challenge Cup final?
10.A mint condition issue of Action Comics 1- featuring Superman’s debut – sold for a world record on ebay. How much?
11.Who, rather surprisingly, spoke out about his dislike of manufactured boy bands?
12.What was the score in the Man City v. Liverpool match?
13.Which team added to Louis Van Gaal’s woes by inflicting a humiliating defeat on Man Utd. in the Capital One Cup?
14.Francois Hollande announced the new French Government. How many Governments does this make 15.during his presidency so far?
16.What did the BSI introduce last week?
17.Which dish caused all the furore over The Great British Bake Off last week?
18.Which team knocked premier league Leicester out of the Capital One Cup?
 – and QPR?
19.Which 106 cap veteran announced his international retirement last week?
20.What was the score between Arsenal and Besiktas?
21.Who was named as ‘new’ manager of Crystal Palace?
22.Where did the second ODI between India and England take place?
23.Apple announced that they would release what on 9th September?
24.Which 3 members of the Friends cast reunited for a ‘Friends’ sketch – and on whose show?
25.Which Hollywood couple tied the knot?
26.Which team did Spurs beat in the Europa League?
27.To whom did the Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police apologise last week?

Friday, 29 August 2014

Mastermind - Round One - Heat Three

Well, this series continues to surprise, delight, and even shock. I wondered whether this third heat would, like its two predecessors have an even split between Mastermind virgins, and Mastermind recidivists. The short answer was yes, it would. Not only recidivists, but recidivists returning for a third series. Let’s have a look at the specialist rounds.

My friend Les Morrell, brave enough once more to take up arms against the curse of being supported from the Clark sofa, first appeared in the 2007 SOBM, where he reached the semi-final – not my semi before you ask. We first met in the heats, where Les’ heat was being recorded immediately after mine. Les reappeared in Jesse’s 2010 series, where he was beaten by a single point in the first round, but still earned a repechage slot in the semis. Les won his semi and went on to take his place in the 2010 Grand Final. This year Les was offering us Bobby Moore. An exceptionally good round it was too, with only the name of Bobby Moore’s character in the so-bad-it’s-bad Michael Caine and Sylvester Stallone movie “Escape to Victory” failing to add to his total. I notched up 11 correct answers – not all through my wiki work, I hasten to add, although a good few were, but I also had a few good guesses, such as Jimmy Greaves being his 1966 room mate. – Well done Les – I thought – should be halfway there now.

First of the virgins was Jeremy Renals. His subject was the short stories of Edgar Allan Poe. Jeremy didn’t have quite the perfect start to his round. However after the first couple of questions, woosh! He was away. Jeremy managed 14, one less than Les. However he hadn’t passed, and as we saw last week, in a tight contest the passes can be absolutely crucial. As for me – well, I found it a difficult subject to wiki, and if you checked out my post with the questions you’ll know that I posted fewer about these than other subjects. So I wasn’t unhappy when the couple of things I wikied, a decent knowledge of a couple of the stories I have taught in the past, and the odd good guess brought me 6 points. Running total for me – 17.

Chris Grandison, our third contender, was the second newbie of this heat. His subject was the TV series “Our Friends In The North”. This was a 1990s BBC drama series which received many plaudits when broadcast, and has been rated as one of the most important drama series ever on British Television. I had never seen it. Which gave me problems when approaching the round. Not Chris, though. As had Les, Chris produced an almost flawless round, helping himself to 15 points, for the expense of a single pass. As for me – well, not all of my 6 points were taken from questions I had picked out, but they all came from my reading of the Wikipedia entries about the series, and the specific episodes. Running total – 23. This left the target for the last round at 8, which would break last week’s aggregate record of 30.

Back for a third series was our last contender of this heat, Susan Sworn. Susan, like Les, reached the semi finals in the 2007 SOBM. Like Les, she went on to compete in Jesse’s series in 2010. Unlike Les she didn’t get past the first round. In both of her last two shows, Susan scored brilliantly in her specialist rounds, yet couldn’t hold onto a lead in GK. So I predicted that she would produce a hell of a specialist round on Richard the Lionheart. Let’s be fair – I wasn’t disappointed, either. Susan sat on the edge of her chair, and veritably shot the answers back at John, almost as quickly as he’d finished asking them. In the end she finished with 17, and it’s difficult to see how she could possibly have scored much more in this round. A hugely impressive performance. As for me – well, wiki-derived questions, wiki reading, and prior knowledge brought me 11 points, to set my new specialist aggregate record at 33. Unless there is the most incredibly fortunate and favourable set of subjects in any of the remaining shows, that aggregate is not going to be beaten by me for a long time.

It’s pretty hard lines if you score an excellent 14 points and no passes on specialist, and still find yourself in 4th at half time, but that was the situation that Jeremy Renals had to deal with. Deal with it well he did, too. It wasn’t the fastest GK round we’ve seen, but Jeremy kept his head well, and applied the tactic of answering what you know correctly, guessing what you don’t, and not letting anything you get wrong put you off. Not easy to do. 11 points meant that Jeremy had set the bar at 25, a total that might well be beatable, but was certainly enough to put the other contenders into the corridor of uncertainty.

Les needed 11 points himself to set a new total – well strictly speaking 10 and no more than one pass – and this was certainly within his capabilities. He was well on the way to getting it as well, but it was a round that lost its way in the second half. In the end he scored 9 – very bad luck. I know that how important Mastermind is to Les, but he is a man who can stand up to the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, and will already be planning a future appearance. Go Les!

Being a Mastermind virgin, Chris Grandison’s GK was something of an unknown quantity. It was going to take a round of some quality to put him iin with a shot at a win, though. In a way his round was similar to Jeremy’s. It wasn’t the fastest round that you’ve ever seen, but what Chris was doing was concentrating intently, treating each question according to its merits, answering what he knew, guessing what he didn’t. It sounds simple, but don’t you ever believe that it is until you’ve actually tried it in the chair for yourself. 11 points were needed for an outright lead, and 11 points were exactly what he got. A good performance.

The fact about Susan’s last two GK rounds is that they didn’t go as I’m sure that she had hoped that they would. Both of them saw her fall into what looked like soul destroying pass spirals, and I desperately hoped that history would not repeat itself again in this GK round. She needed 9 points to win outright. It certainly looked do-able, but I felt it would be a pretty close run thing, and that there was unlikely to be more than a point in it either way at the end. Susan certainly looked calm enough for the first part of the round. The danger of going at 100mph in the GK round is that you can end up passing to keep the momentum going, and when you pass at speed, one pass soon leads to another, and before you know it you’re in a pass spiral. Susan seemed to be taking a more measured approach in this round, surely a sensible thing to do. The target was in sight, but then so was the finishing line, and agonisingly, Susan fell just slightly short, scoring 8 to finish on 25.

The three runners up in tonight’s show could certainly be forgiven for casting a rueful glance back at last week’s heat, for all of their scores would have won that heat with some to spare. That’s the nature of knockout competitions, though, and just the way that it goes. Hard lines to you all, and congratulations to Chris. Good luck in the semi finals.

The Details

Les MorrellBobby Moore15 – 19 – 1 24 – 2
Jeremy RenalsThe Short Stories of Edgar Allan Poe14 - 011- 325 - 3
Chris GrandisonOur Friends in the North15 - 111 - 026 - 1
Susan SwornRichard the Lionheart17 - 08 - 325 – 3

Repechage Standings: -
Gareth Kingston  28
Alice Mennel   26
Jeremy Renals 25 – 3
Susan Sworn 25 – 3
Les Morrell  24 – 2
Howard Towner   23

Answers to News Questions

In the News

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

1.Alex Pelling and Lisa Grant
2.Vanguard Healthcare
4.Vicky Beeching
5.Mahiedine Mekhissi Benabbad
6.Nouri Al Maliki
7.Shrien Dewani
8.Ron Long
10.Dani Pedrosa
11.James Alexander Gordon
12.Jonathan Tiernan-Locke
13.Max Verstappen
14.James Foley
15.Sakari Momoi
16.“John the Beatle”
17.Albert Reynolds
18.Malky Mackay
Cyril Baldock

In Other News

1.Which NHS hospital is facing a slew of legal claims after a large number of patients lost their sight following eye operations?
2.IN which country was Sir Cliff Richard when police made a search of his house in Berkshire?
3.The wife of the late Robin Williams revealed that he was suffering from the early stages of which disease?
4.Which were the most popular boy’s and girl’s names for babies born in 2013?
5.Which athlete won gold in the Men’s 400m in the European championships?
6.Which organisation’s new uniforms, unveiled last week, have been derided as ‘ugly’ and ‘tacky’
7.David Cameron called for an alliance with which country to tackle the threat of ISIS
8.It was announced last week that The Generation Game is to be revived by the BBC. Who was named as new host?
9.How many gold medals did GB win on the last day of the European Athletics championships?
10.Which team did England defeat in the final of the Women’s Rugby Union World Cup?
11.Who had his suspension by the Lib Dems lifted last week?
12.Who asked fans not to use iphones and cameras in her forthcoming concerts in Hammersmith Apollo?
13.Which writer accused social services of sexism last week?
14.The rebuilding of the chimneys of which iconic building began last week?
15.What was the score in the Arsenal v. Besiktas champions league match?
16.In which event did the British men’s swimming team break the world record last week?
17.With whom did Celtic draw 0 – 0 in the Champions League?
18.Which was voted Britain’s worst airport for the second year running?
19.Last week it was reported that the rise of which politician is to be made into a TV movie?
20.Mario Balotelli signed for which English club for £16 million?
21.Which club did Spurs defeat 2 -1 in their Europa League tie?
22.An EU report has identified which Scottish city as a Mafia stronghold?
23.Which group are to appear in the Archers?


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

1.       A  couple who took a round the world trip and got married 66 times  while doing it.
2.       Private provider to whom NHS hospital in Somerset outsourced eye operations, resulting in claims from patients who have lost their sight.
3.       Prostate cancer drug ruled to be too expensive by NICE
4.       Christian rock star who came out and received abuse on Facebook
5.       French athlete disqualified from the European 3000m after ripping off his shirt immediately after his gold medal winning performance.
6.       PM of Iraq who resigned.
7.       British man ruled fit to stand trial for the murder of his wife in South Africa
8.       He won the All England Stone Skimming championship
9.       Missouri town in which police shot dead a black youth during protests.
10.   Became the first person to defeat Marc Marquez in a moto gp this season, ending the winning streak at 10
11.   Man who read the classified football results on the BBC for 40 years, passed away
12.   Former Team Sky cyclist who failed in his appeal against his doping ban
13.   16 year old son of former F1 driver Jos Verstappen who signed for F1 team Toro Rosso
14.   The US journalist killed on camera by Islamic jihadis
15.   World’s oldest living man
16.   British terrorist who carried out the murder of James Foley, subject of an international manhunt
17.   Former Irish Taoiseach, passed away aged 81
18.   Former manager of Cardiff City heavily criticized for alleged racist and extremely offensive emails

19.   70 year old who became the oldest person to swim the English Channel

In Other News

1.       Musgrove Park Hospital
2.       Portugal
3.       Parkinsons
4.       Oliver and Amelia
5.       Martin Rooney
6.       The Guides
7.       Iran
8.       Miranda Hart
9.       5
10.   Canada
11.   Lord Rennard
12.   Kate Bush
13.   Louis de Bernieres
14.   Battersea Power station
15.   0 – 0
16.   4x100m mixed medley
17.   Maribor
18.   Luton Airport
19.   Nick Clegg
20.   Liverpool
21.   Limassol
22.   Aberdeen
23.   Pet Shop Boys

Honest multiples

It’s probably the teacher in me that makes me do it, but whatever the case it’s something I find very difficult to stop myself doing. Not only telling teams that their answer is not the right one, but telling them WHY it is not the right one. Case in point – last night was my turn as QM in the rugby club. As I had promised to do, I stole the great question about London Underground stations that have names containing the names of US state capitals which was posted in the Facebook Quiz Discussion group a couple of weeks ago. Now, two of the teams put down Great Portland Street as an answer. If they didn’t look it up in a diary – and I’ve no reason to suggest that they did – then it’s a terrific answer apart from one point. Portland isn’t a state capital. So, when I gave out the answers, I explained – apologies to those teams who put down Great Portland Street , but sadly Portland is not a capital. – Why then did I have to go on with – You were probably thinking of Portland, Oregon. Portland is actually the largest city in Oregon, but Salem is the capital – Why do I have to do this? Nobody likes a show off. I just can’t seem to stop myself.

On the subject of that question, though, at least it is what I like to think of as a true multiple question. This is what I mean. This is a question whereby just because you know one answer, it doesn’t follow that you are necessarily any more likely to know the rest. You might not know the underground itself very well at all, but still be able to guess that a station called Richmond would be likely. This wouldn’t mean though that you’re more likely to pluck Boston Manor out of thin air. Well, compare this with the five pointer we were asked in Sunday night’s quiz. –
Name the five children – first names and surnames – who won golden tickets to visit the factory in Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
My contention is that for many people this is a – know one and there’s a pretty good chance that you know them all – question. With the surnames, you’re probably more likely to know none of them or all of them. I’d guess it might be pretty much the same thing with ‘name the four houses of Hogwarts school in the Harry Potter books and films.’

This is just my opinion, and as always . . . but I rather like questions where you have to work at it a bit, and apply what you do know to help you figure out what you don’t. 

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Contestant Call - Relatively Clever

Just been over to the Mensa website, and I saw this, which may be of interest : -

Chatty, outgoing and clever families are being sought for a new primetime quiz show on Sky1.
John Stanley Productions is looking for families of two children aged 12-16 - preferably siblings - and two adults (parents, grandparents, aunts or uncles) who have a good grasp of general knowledge.
They would need you to be available during October half term, October 25-30.
To apply, email or write to Relatively Clever, John Stanley Productions, 3rd Floor, 102 St Pancras Way, London, NW1 9ND. The closing date for returning application forms is October 6.

Sounds a little similar to my old favourite "Ask the Family", although that show had a strict adherence to the father, mother, older and younger child - and (according to Not the 9 O'Clock News) they all  had to be quantity surveyors.