Sunday, 1 March 2015

Apologies : -

Sorry that I haven't posted BoB reviews or this week's podcast yet. Our school Estyn inspection starts tomorrow, and I just haven't had time this weekend. I know it's stupid running yourself ragged doing last minute stuff that probably won't make the slightest bit of difference anyway, but if it keeps down the incipient panic, then it's a cheap price to pay I suppose.

I will do my best to catch up during the week, I promise.

In the News

In The News

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

Love me like you do
Kadiza Sultana – Shamina Begum – Amira Abase
Dan Topolski
Simon Middleton
Martin Castrogiovanni
Natalie Bennett
Ken Shuttleworth
Lesley Gore
Royal Blood
Christian Hammer
Colin Graves
72, Western Avenue, Speke
The Road to Little Dribbling
Mohamed Emrazi
Carmen Jorda
Corporal Joshua Leakey
Leonard Nimoy
B. Akerlund
Alana MacInnes, of Uist, and Caitlin McNeill

In Other News

A pair of boxing gloves sold for $1 million. What was their significance?
Who won the Oscar for Best Actor?
– and Best Actress?
– and Best Film?
What was the score between Liverpool and Southampton?
– and Swansea and Man Utd.?
Which two former ministers were accused of charging cash for access?
Mo Farah set which world record?
Which organization was accused of hypocrisy over the living wage?
The Mayor of which city called Jeremy Clarkson a buffoon over some of his comments about his city?
Who crashed at 100mph in F1 testing?
When will the 2022 World Cup be held now?
Which tennis player announced he will not be playing in the Davis Cup this year?
Who said that he will transform himself like Gandalf?
England got their first win in the Cricket world cup against whom?
Which became the third US state to legalise recreational use of cannabis?
Sir Malcolm Rifkind quit as head of which committee?
Which theory about the Black Death was promulgated last week?
What was the champions league score between Man City and Barcelona?
– and Arsenal and Monaco?
Which winger was dropped from the England rugby team for the match against Ireland?
 – and which full back was ruled out through injury?
What was Chris Gayle’s score for the West Indies when he became the first player ever to score a double century in the cricket world cup?
Ireland took their second world cup win against which country?
Who became the first 22 year old ever to win 50 RU test caps?
What changes did the Commons Culture Media and Sport committee call to be made to the BBC?
Who won the Brit Award for best solo Male Artist?
– and best solo Female Artist?
 – and Album of the Year?
The House of Lords called for the UK to appoint an ambassador to where?
A failed Police corruption case concerning the murder of whom is to be reviewed?
Ed Milliband has promised to cut tuition fees by which figure?
Eddie Redmayne is to provide a voice for which children’s TV series?
What was the Europa League score between Liverpool and Besiktas?
– and Spurs and Fiorentina?
– and Everton and Young Boys?
– and Inter Milan and Celtic?
Who is reportedly quitting the armed forces to concentrate on Charity Work?
This winter is set to be the hottest since which year?

What sentence did Gary Glitter receive for sexually abusing three schoolgirls?

Saturday, 28 February 2015

University Challenge - Elimination Match

Oxford Brookes v. Bristol

The Oxford Brookes team of Simon Joyce, Paula Ayres, Stephen Mayes, and skipper David Ballard were unfortunate to meet Gabriel Trueblood and the St. Peter’s team at the top of their form last time out, and so they found themselves on Monday night drinking in the last chance saloon with the Bristol team of Lewis Rendell, Benjamin Moon, Miles Coleman and their captain, Anastasia Reynolds, who lost to Liverpool last time out. The Maths this time was pretty simple – win and you live to fight another day, lose and you’re out.

As often happens with the first starter, it was quite long and involved, then suddenly became obvious. Lewis Rendell buzzed in as soon as he was given the words – Fifth Republic – and gave the answer of Charles de Gaulle. 1 bonus on Chancellors of the Exchequer followed. David Ballard knew Twitter’s Vine service for the next starter. Now, as soon as JP announced that the bonuses were on constructed languages I said  - if you don’t know, choose Klingon, coz that will be one of them! – As it happened it was the last one. I can heartily recommend Bill Bryson’s book ‘One Summer’ – or for that matter anything written by him – but neither of the teams knew it was about the year 1927. A lovely UC special starter followed, asking which TV drama’s title can be expressed using the symbol for the 6th element, and the standard of measures adopted by etc etc. CSI – said Lewis Rendell, and he was right to do so. A rather long and involved set of bonuses on organic chemistry followed. When my mind came back in the room Bristol had managed one of the bonuses. The picture starter showed us a bit of a family tree and invited us to say who was missing. It looked pretty clear that it was John Fitzgerald Kennedy missing, and Paula Ayres was the one who won the buzzer race to say so. Three more family trees of US political figures followed, and OB managed 2 of them, missing out on the Harrisons – including presidents William Henry and Benjamin. Oblique equilateral quadrilateral  - began JP. It’s our old friend the rhombus – I exclaimed to no one in particular. Lewis Rendell gave the same answer at practically the same time. He was having a very good start to the match. A set of musical disaster bonuses weren’t exactly a disaster for Bristol and they added a further five points to their score. Thus, a little after the ten minute mark we had a good match, with Bristol ahead by 45 to 40.

Now, Stephen Mayes was guilty of a slip of the tongue trying to say the daughter of Germanicus who married her uncle Claudius. He actually said her grandpa, Agrippa, before adding – Agrippina. It was very bad luck, but – and this is just my opinion and feel free to disagree – a correct application of the first answer rule. It couldn’t go across as a bonus, so we went on to the novelist who wrote 9 novels in Russian before starting to write in English. A good shout from Anastasia Reynolds saw her answer Nabokov. Now, I know little or nothing about Romanesque sculpture, and so none of us had any of the bonuses thereon. Neither did any of us know the Palae-Arctic for the next starter on eco zones. Kenneth Arrow didn’t mean a great deal to any of us either. Thus seemingly becalmed, thankfully Oliver Sacks ‘The Man Who Mistook his Wife for a Hat’ gave Paula Ayres a chance to stop the rot. A UC special set of bonuses on words either beginning or ending with three consecutive letters of the alphabet offered much, but in the end they only managed just the first. In a close game you’ve got to fill your boots on a set like that. When you’re asked for the name of an American composer, and it’s a classical piece, unless you know differently you go for your buzzer and say Aaron Copland. That’s what Benjamin Moon did, and it worked. Three more pieces with mountains as their themes saw Bristol add ten more points to their score. Lewis Rendell knew that most questions that contains the words ‘American State’ and ‘Book of Mormon’ are going to want Utah as the answer, and duly won that buzzer race. Maths bonuses did nowt for me, but at least brought another 5 points to Bristol. David Ballard had a very good early buzz to identify screenwriter Nora Ephron for the next starter. Now, a full house on revolutions saw them reduce the deficit to 15. On the cusp of the 20 minute mark Bristol led 90 – 75.

As they say in tight sporting contests, this was maybe going to come down to who wanted it more. The second picture starter allowed Anastasia Reynolds to identify Nicholas Hytner of the NT. They couldn’t manage any more of the same for the bonuses. None of us had drag or frictional force for the next starter, and so we moved on to allow Lewis Rendell to identify Swedish as the last of the 24 languages of the EU when listed alphabetically. None of us had a clue about the bonuses on lipids and stuff like that. Nor did anyone know about KOH. A hard quote from Henry VI was not taken by either team. Lewis Rendell knew that the term manqué is from the French verb meaning to lack. Just out of interest, the first time I ever watched Home Alone it was in St. Malo, and its French title is Maman, J’ai Manqué L’Avion! – or – Mum, I Missed the Plane. This brought up bonuses on the World Cup – Phew. Something I could answer. We were given cities, and had to name the tournament and year. They took one bonus, but were unlucky with Mexico 1970 for the last. Those cities were Mexuco, but from the second time they hosted the tournament in 1986. Well, it’s not meant to be easy – this is University Challenge after all, not Pets Win Prizes. Nobody knew Soave, so we moved to another starter, and Stephen Mayes buzzed in early to identify various US Secretaries of State. Biographical novels gave nothing away as bonuses, but the gap remained at a bridgeable 40 points. Tow full houses would do it, but time was starting to run out. Nobody knew that 10 to the power of 24 is denoted by the prefix yotta. Miles Coleman knew that the short stories “My Life” and “A Visit to Friends” were written by Chekhov, and it was Bristol who managed the full house, on Jamaica. Maybe someone among the teams knew that it was Henry II married to Eleanor of Aquitaine, but neither team had it. That was that. At the gong, OB had 85, and Bristol 150. Bad luck to OB – Bristol get another chance at the semis. Well played.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

It was a long suffering JP who listened to OB’s answer on the composer of ‘Pines of Rome’ and said ‘Who did you say!’ – then rather helpfully added that the three consecutive letters they were looking for could be any three consecutive letters.

When he asked which wine takes its name from the Italian for sweet, and David Ballard offered ‘Prosecco’ – JP replied “Good lord no!”

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

SQuja is Scrooge in the Klingon translation of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”

Only Connect - Quarter Final

Q.I. Elves v. Nørdophiles

Anne Miller, Andrew Hunter-Murray and James Harkin, the Q.I. Elves, lost out in their first match against the Bibliophiles, but saw off the Nightwatchmen in their second, and the Coders last time out. So they were certainly a team with the wind behind them. The Nords, Will Day, James Keeling and captain Joanna Murray, secured a victory by 2 points over the Night Watchmen in the first round, and then beat the Bibliophiles to secure their place in this quarter final. On paper it was anybody’s game, but then games aren’t played on paper, so what does that matter?

Round One - What’s the Connection?

The Q.I Elves kicked off. Captain James picked Two Reeds, and possibly wished he hadn’t since this brought up the music set. We heard several pieces,  and I realized they were all about flowers when we heard a song from Carmen, and the British Airways music from years gone by. The Elves had it from Flower of Scotland. The Nords went for Twisted Flax, and received what looked at first like a funny old set – Usain Bolt – William Wordsworth – Mark De Man – at which point I had it – and Lord Judge. They are all, as the Nords explained, examples of nominative determinism. That is, they all do what is dictated by their names – Mark De Man is a footballer. Personally I don’t like Wordsworth as an example – all of the other surnames could be verbs. There we are, call me a pedant if you like. Lion gave the Elves – Nothing at all. Hokay – no chance of a five pointer there. Psychedelic Welsh Rock band followed – then superseded by ESA. I knew that ESA replaced Incapacity Benefit – just not how it fitted together with the other two clues. Captain James explained it. Nothing at all can be sweet Fanny Adams (supply your own alternatives) – SFA – and Super Furry Animals are also SFA. Apparently the third clue was the Securities and Futures thingy so I was barking up the wrong tree . Good shout. Now, with eye of Horus the Nords kicked off with ‘Three Musketeers Sequel’ – that’s the lesser known Twenty Years After. Odysseus returns home – well, that was twenty years after he set out. Three points to me. Rip van Winkle Awakens  - and – China Wedding anniversary completed the set. Serious quizzers would have probably had it from either of the last two, and it has to rank as an opportunity missed for the Nords when they went for 10 years. The Elves weren’t going to turn their collective nose up at that windfall. Thus emboldened James disdained the curse of the Viper, settling for the pronunciation Horned. Grundon (Waste Management) did nowt for me. The Goring (Hopitality Services) also left me scratching my head. Berry Brothers and Rudd Ltd. (wines and spirits) didn’t help, but Andrew gave the correct, and frankly, rather prosaic answer that they all supply services by Royal Appointment. Water left the pictures for the Nords, who were shown photos of various things – all very well known photos. I knew it was going to be the name of the photographer, but I just couldn’t remember. It was a fair question too, since the Kiss, the last, is very well known, but none of us could dredge up Robert Doisneau. Which meant that the Elves led by 6 – 1, and I wasn’t expecting that,

Round Two – What Comes Fourth?

The Elves sought to press home their advantage by taking Two Reeds first again. This brought up O6 – the six should be a lot smaller. Next was B5. It looked like chemistry – but what the sequence was I didn’t yet know. When FE4 came up it was obvious. Oxygen has 6 letters etc. So SN3 could be the only answer – tin being 3 letters long. The Elves had it. Lovely, lovely set. Lion gave the Nords – Washington’s Birthday. That’s celebrated on a Monday. Next was Mardi Gras – well that’s a Tuesday – the clue is in the name. We both went for Thanksgiving – which is on a Thursday , and we were both right.  Twisted flax showed the elves a -  → Gulf of Mexico – Then we had →East China Sea. Third was →Atlantic Ocean. None of us knew that the answer was →Mediterranean Sea. Actually the Nords has worked out that it might be outflows of the world’s longest rivers, which was the sequence. Never saw it myself. The Nords needed points, and so captain Joanna asked for Hornèd Viper. My fingers were crossed for them. PHP – then – MySQL. Now, I knew that this is an IT/Internet sort of thingy, but no more than that. Apparently these are all LAMP platforms, and the correct answer, as given at this point, was LINUX. Nope, not a Scooby. Water gave the Elves Yesugei. Actually, I knew him. He was father of Genghis Khan. Working on that principle my shout for a five pointer was Kublai Khan. The Elves didn’t see it. The second was, as I hoped, Genghis Khan. Now, Ogodai would have really mucked up my plans here, because although he was Genghis Khan’s first son and successor, he wasn’t Kublai’s Dad. Thankfully Tolui came next. After what the late Bill Maclaren might have called a wee bit of argy bargy captain James stuck to his guns with Kublai Khan for the point. This left the last set for the Nords. We saw a picture of a boar, then a hind, then a 9 headed hydra. That was the second of Heracles’ labours, which meant that all we needed was a lion, the first. Not for the first time this show a lack of detailed general knowledge denied the Nords the points. They knew he cleaned out the Augean stables, but that wasn’t the first task – neither was fetching Cerberus from the Underworld, which was the Elves’ answer. SO at least the Nords had narrowed the gap, but they still trailed by 7 – 10.

Round Three – Missing Vowels

Immediately after choosing the Lion wall the Nords could see a group of novels by Irvine Welsh – Filth – Glue – Crime and Porno. Which were not alternative names for four of the 7 Dwarves, apparently. Film genres – horror – romance – noir and musical fell almost immediately after, rather to the Nords’ surprise. A couple of seconds thought saw them identify Robbie Williams songs – Candy – Millennium – Rudebox and Strong, which left waves in the shape of Mexican – Radio – Heat and Shock. – Well, I have to say it, that was a flawless wall performance worth every one of the 10 points it earned them.

The Elves also started quickly, with Oswald – Goneril – Regan and the Duke of Cornwall from King Lear. Airports followed quickly with Robin Hood – John Lennon – Stansted and Prestwick. Now, what they didn’t see at first was a list of words whose first part is also the name of a Prime Minister. I could see HEATHrow – PITTsburgh – MAJORity – BROWNing – which left Victorian poets Tennyson – Arnold – Lear and Hopkins. So they isolated three of them, saw the connection, and then solved the last two lines. Not as quick as the Nords, but in its own way just as impressive. 10 points apiece, and they led 20 – 17.

Round Four – Missing Vowels

We kicked off with words containing four N’s. The round fell 2 – 1 to the Elves – however an incorrect buzz lost them one of those points. I found those really difficult myself and didn’t get any of them. Collectors and what they collect was a good old quizzer’s set, but neither side could take the upper hand, both getting two. A good old OC special set followed with sports people merged with music acts. There was just time for the Nords to take the first and that was that. A 23 – 21 win for the Elves saw them through, after a good game between two well matched teams.

Friday, 27 February 2015

Mastermind - Semi Final 3

As has become customary, let’s cast a glance down the form guide to last night’s show.
Diane Hallagan – 28 – 3 (12)
Ewan Paton – 26 – 0 (13)
Stuart Jenkins - 25 – 2 (12)
Andrew Teale – 24 – 4 (10)
Bill Carey – 27 – 3 (12)
This line up has the added irony that of last night’s contenders, the highest scorer in the first round was actually Diane, who was the only one of these contenders not to win her heat. You may recall she was just slightly behind that fabulous score set by Ian Clark in the first round. Well, that doesn’t signify anything, since Diane has won quite a few Masterminds in her time – and going into last night’s show she was the only one of these contenders to have previously won a Mastermind semi final. Great things were expected, then. Before we start as well it was nice to see Egghead Barry Simmons in the audience as well.

Diane was first to start them This time out she was answering on the Miss Marple novels of Agatha Christie. Just taking the novels, there are, I think , about 12 of them, so that’s a hefty old chunk of material to have to learn in the kind of depth that will give you a fighting chance. I’m sure that it was a slip of the tongue that saw Diane substitute Murder in the Library for Murder in the Vicarage for the first question, but after that she hardly looked back. I’ve always said that experience in the chair is a valuable thing, and Diane gave a masterclass in how to really snap out answers to your questions. The faster you go, I’m sure, the faster that John goes, and Diane couldn’t have gone much faster. 12 correct answers off a 90 second round is a fabulous performance. Without wishing to be horrible to the other contenders, the words ‘game over’ were already going through my mind as she walked back from the chair.

Of course, it wasn’t game over. It never is during the first round, however things may appear. Second up was Ewan Paton. When I watched Ewan answering on the US Masters, and then general knowledge in the first round heat, I had the distinct impression that he was a proper, regular quizzer, and nothing about his round on the Scottish National Football team last night did anything to change that impression. It was another double figures round, with no passes, and that’s a real mark of quality in a 90 second round.

Stuart Jenkins had taken a notable scalp when he defeated Julia Hobbs in his first round heat. Julia did well enough to make it to the first semi final a couple of weeks ago, so that puts Stuart’s first round performance into some perspective. Last night he was answering on John Clare. John Clare was the so-called ‘pastoral poet’ of the 19th century, whose last decades were plagued by mental illness. Stuart scored 8, and that’s a good score off 90 seconds, as I’ve said before. However, it looked unlikely to be good enough in this show, where the standard of specialist rounds was so high.

I liked Andrew Teale’s choice of specialist subject in Henry VII. I always think that kings and queens are relatively interesting subjects, and quite doable in a few weeks. Andrew appeared in last year’s series, where he missed out on a repechage slot by a couple of passes. This year he made no mistake by winning his first round heat.  Last night he whacked in an almost perfect round, just missing out on one of his last couple of questions. That gave Andrew 10 points, yet again another high quality specialist round .

Finally Bill Carey. Bill put in an exceptionally good specialist round on Brian Epstein during his first round heat. A similar round on Aubrey Beardsley in this show would do very nicely, thank you. Well, Bill did very well with his round, but not with quite as spectacular results as in the first round. He whacked in a fairly hefty 9, which would have given him a fighting chance in many a semi final. Not this one, though, one sensed.

Experience over the last couple of years tells us that you need to get into the 20s to have a fighting chance of going through to the final. Stuart was first back to the chair for his GK round, and to be fair to it he didn’t do at all badly either. 11 points were enough to put him up to 19, nothing whatsoever to be ashamed of. However, and this was crucial, the leader was on 12, and 8 in a GK round was not a requirement which would put her into the corridor of doubt. Bill followed, and he too finished with 19. Again, 10 in a semi final GK round is a good round, and again, it wasn’t enough to put Diane into the corridor of doubt.

Ewan Paton, with his GK round, again confirmed my feelings that he is a regular quizzer. Fe did what you must do, racking up as many points that are on offer to you as you can, and not accruing any passes while you go. In the context of this series, 13 is a very fine score off a two minute general knowledge round, and 23 is a score which has won several semi finals over the last few years. All he could do now was wait.  Andrew followed, and I’m afraid that he didn’t have his best GK round. Although he started brightly a couple of questions caught him on the hop, and he was dragged down into a pass spiral from which only the buzzer could extricate him. Hard lines Andrew – it’s a horrible thing to happen and it could happen to any of us.

All of which meant that Diane needed 11 and no passes to draw, and 12 to win. That’s the kind of score which I’m sure that everyone who knows Diane knew was well within her capabilities. However, this didn’t make it easy. One careless slip, especially if your mind wants to keep coming back to it, can wreak havoc when you’re chasing a total like this. So just to put our minds at rest, Diane grabbed this round by the scruff of the neck, and shook the life out of it. To put it into perspective, I think that Diane reached 24 with almost 30 second still to spare. She maintained her momentum, and posted what must be regarded as a remarkable score of 15, for 27 overall. That may be beaten during the remaining semis – but I’ll be surprised if it is. Superb performance, Diane – many congratulations, and best of luck in the Grand Final.

Diane joins a very select band of people who have made it to two Grand Finals – illustrious names such as Geoff Thomas and Mark Grant being prominent in the list.


Diane HallaganThe Miss Marple Novels of Agatha Christie 12 – 0 15 - 026 - 0
Ewan PatonThe Scottish National Football team – 1945 - Present10 – 0 13 - 023 - 0
Stuart JenkinsJohn Clare8 – 111 - 219 - 3
Andrew TealeKing Henry VII10 – 0 7 - 617 - 6
Bill CareyAubrey Beardsley9 - 110 - 219 – 3

Answers to News Questions

In the News

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

Michello Ferrero
Binky Felstead
Salutation Inn, Ham
Pascal Papé
Andy Goode
Seamus Daly
George Ferguson
Andy Vernon
Lysblink Seaways
Finn Russell
Oliver Sacks
The Magic Whip
Richelieu – Drouot
What Pet Should I get?

In Other News

Which much criticized statement did Ed Balls make last week?
What is Boris Johnson set to renounce?
Ex King Juan Carlos of Spain appealed against a paternity suit launched in which country?
Which European country elected its first woman president last week?
Which team did Bradford City knock out of the FA Cup?
What was the score in the 6 Nations match between Scotland and Wales?
– and England and Italy?
– and Ireland and France?
Who became the oldest player ever to score in the 6 Nations?
Which country did Ireland defeat in the cricket world cup?
The Vatican are offering to provide what for homeless people?
Who is the new manager of Aston Villa?
How many Brits made it onto the shortlist of 100 for the Mars mission?
University of Portsmouth researchers discovered that which natural substance is even stronger than spider silk?
Name the Tesco supplier of spices which they have recalled due to finding they have been adulterated with nuts
Which actor supposedly fluffed a line which revealed Lucy Beale’s killer during the live broadcast
Champions League – what was the score between Chelsea and PSG?
Who is the European 2016 Ryder Cup Skipper?
– and the US skipper?
Which birds are tweeting all night because of city light pollution?
2015 is the Chinese Year of the what?
Which band won best band at the NME awards?
Louis Van Gaal was formally warned by the FA over his comments after Man Utd’s draw with which team?
Swiss prosecutors raided the Geneva HQ of which bank?
What links Colossus – world wide web fibre optics – cats eyes – stainless steel – carbon fibre – DNA sequencing – the I limb?
Who appealed for the return of her 2016 Commonwealth Games gold medal which was stolen?
Who knocked holder Ronnie O’Sullivan out of the welsh open?
Which confectionary product will become the first to use solely Fairtrade cocoa?
What type of Russian bombers were monitored just outside UK airspace?
Who killed Lucy Beale?
What was the Europa League score between Everton and Young Boys?
– and Liverpool and Besiktas?
– and Spurs and Fiorentina?
– and Celtic and Internazionale?


The World’s richest confectioner, who passed away
Made in Chelsea star, who took £3k to promote Barnardos on social media, but has paid it back
Won Pub of the Year
French rugby player cited and banned for 10 matches
Wasps stalwart, leaving to join London Irish
To stand trial for Omagh bombing
Mayor who campaigned for 20mph speed limits in Bristol, caught speeding
Team mate and fellow European championship medalist with whom Mo Farah had a Twitter spat last week
Cargo ship that ran aground on Ardnamuchan Point
Scotland fly half cited and banned for two matches
Neurologist who announced he has terminal cancer
New Blur album due to be released in the summer
Station at which Chelsea fans prevented a black man from entering their carriage on a Metro train, singing racist chants.
Newly discovered Dr. Seuss book to be published

In Other News

People should keep receipts for cash in hand jobs
His US citizenship
26 – 23 Wales
47 – 17 England
18 – 11 Ireland
Nick Easter
West Indies
A free shave and shower
Tim Sherwood
Limpet Teeth
Santa Maria
Jake Wood
1 – 1
Darren Clarke
Davis Love III
Sheep – (sometimes called Ram or Goat)
All feature on a new set of Postage Stamps
Kelly Sotherton
Matt Stevens
Mars bar
Bobby Beale
4 – 1 Everton
1 – 0 Liverpool
1 – 1

3 - 3

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Brain of Britain 2015 - Heat 8

Sorry about the late arrival of this review. Still, let’s have a look at the runners and riders of this, the 8th heat of 2015 BoB.
Mary Dixon
Kathryn Everett
Andrew Hoyle
Nigel Jones

Mary kicked off with the question on the BoB website about the film “Bonnie and Clyde”. That gave Nigel a bonus. Kathryn maybe could have connected the name Roentgen with X – Rays. Nigel did for a second bonus. He also knew Andrew’s first, that the surface of Venus is hotter than any other planet in the solar system. For his own questions he quickly gobbled up 4 – and then he did the same with his 5th. That made a maximum possible 9 points for the round. Game over? Well, indications in the second round were that, yes, that might very well be the case. Mary didn’t know the Bow Street Runners, which bonus got Kathryn off the mark. I’m sorry, but I have to say that this really is the kind of question that you do need to know the answer to if you’re going to have a realistic go at BoB. Kathryn then added another point, but didn’t know that the Mercers are followed by the Company of Grocers in the order of precedence of the Guilds of the City of London. Nobody had that. Andrew didn’t know that Henry Cooper was the first person to be Sports Personality of the Year twice. Kathryn had that. Nobody knew the original name of the Minotaur, which meant that Nigel didn’t get to add to his score in this second round. He didn’t need to. Kathryn now had 3.

In round 3 Mary heard some folk music from Hungary to get her off the mark. She didn’t know the term parsec, which got Nigel into double figures. Kathryn took two goes at John Paul Jones, then missed out on Dr. Sir Magda Yacoub, which got Andrew moving as well. He didn’t know that Kipling wrote “Captains Courageous” – neither did anyone else, rather surprisingly. Nigel took another one but didn’t know about Ronald Searle, and so Kathryn took that point to take her to 5 against Nigel’s 11. Mary took her first but didn’t know that North and South Utsire are off the coast of Norway. Nigel took that windfall. Kathryn had some talking for her sound question, about the ship The Empire Windrush. She knew it, but failed on the capital city with which the Golem was associated. Nigel had it with Prague. Andrew knew Dr. Crippen was on the Montrose, but should probably have known that She in “She” was more formally called She Who Must Be Obeyed from. Nigel was never going to turn his nose up at that rather gentle lob. In his own set he balked at lych – meaning body or corpse – and nobody had it. So at the halfway stage Mary and Andrew had 2, Kathryn 6, and Nigel 14.

For the Beat the Brains interval the first question asked which Pennyslvania township and river gave its name to the covered wagon popularly said to have won the West? Nobody knew the Conistoga, and neither did I, although it is very possible that I have heard it in the past. The same city gave its name in abbreviated form to which product. I went for a stogie cigar, and so did the Brains, which proved to be the right answer.

Back to the contest. Mary didn’t know that Alexander Pope’s Great Dane was called Bounce. Nobody knew it, neither did I. Kathryn didn’t know that Joe Root shared a record last wicket stand with Anderson. Again, nobody knew it. Andrew had a bout of Puccini (a bit of ointment will clear that up, sir – I’m ‘ere all week, ladies and gents), but didn’t recognize Turandot. Nobody did. Nigel kicked off knowing that Actinium comes first alphabetically amongst the periodic table elements. He didn’t know a book about birdwatching, and neither did anyone else. Didn’t matter – he was surely over the event horizon. Mary took her first, a quote from Newton, but didn’t know that hastate leaves are spear shaped. I didn’t either – it’s not one of the ones which usually gets asked – cordate etc. Kathryn didn’t know something about a product of the sassafrass tree, or summat like that. Andrew probably should have known that Peter O’Toole was Henry II in “The Lion in Winter”. It’s, well, it’s a chestnut, and you have toyou’re your chestnuts in BoB, or you’re not going to build up a great score. Inevitably Nigel snapped up that unconsidered trifle. For his sound starter Nigel didn’t recognize the dulcet tones of the Clash.

Into the last two rounds of the competition, then. Mary didn’t know that the highest point of the Rockies is Mount Elbert. Fair question – didn’t know it. Kathryn didn’t know a women’s garment from Scotland – the arisade or summat like that. Andrew didn’t know that Sir John Jervas became the Earl of St. Vincent. Nobody had that. On to Nigel now, who didn’t know that Jeffrey Archer wrote books called Hell, Purgatory and Heaven. So to the final round. Mary again missed out on a chestnut that a regular quizzer would have known, that the USS Arizona memorial is in Hawaii. Andrew took the bonus. Kathryn didn’t know a trilogy written by Henry Miller. Nigel took that. Andrew didn’t know an instrument that was developed from the dulcimer. Nott surprised, and nobody had it. Which is why you have to get the chestnuts, because lurking round the corner you always have the chance of being given a what the ‘ell like that. Nigel finished the contest by answering his first, but not knowing that the ancient remnant of an impact crater is called an astrobleme.

In all honesty I think Russell was indulging in a bit of hyperbole calling this ‘another very tense heat’. It is difficult to build that much tension when the game is over  as a contest to all intents and purposes after the first round, indeed none of the other contenders managed to equal the score that Nigel achieved in the first round alone. It became clear that Nigel has a good general knowledge and wouldn’t let any chestnuts passed him, and the others just couldn’t match him. For the record, the final scores were: -
Mary Dixon - 3
Kathryn Everett - 6
Andrew Hoyle - 3
Nigel Jones – 18

Well played Nigel – and best of luck in the semis.