Champions’ Challenge – The Crossworders v. The Rugby Boys
“Like King Kong and Godzilla they must take each other on", quipped Victoria Coren at the start of this long awaited contest. I’m sure I once saw a film called “King Kong v. Godzilla” where the ape won by a TKO, not that this had any bearing on this contest.
Gary Dermody of the Rugby Boys suggested that they were playing against themselves, as much as the opposition. Believe me, I know Richie Parnell, Mark Labbett and Gary quite well, and they were playing against the opposition alright. Who were the formidable Crossworders. In case you’ve forgotten them since last year, they are captain David Stainer, Mastermind finalist – and he’s through to the semi’s in this year’s MM, Mark Grant – and LAMMY award winning Ian Bayley. A match up to savour.
The Crossworders kicked off, identifying that the 4 seemingly unconnected names were all males who escaped somewhere by dressing up as women. The Rugby Boys took an early lead by only needing 2 clues to identify a set of words commonly used in English that originated in Hindi. They thought that this might have been too obvious. Well, its all the luck of the draw, and the Rugby Boys were going to get plenty of the hardest questions later on to make up for it. The Crossworders answered their next correctly on 3, and then took a bonus as the Rugby Boys failed to put a diagonal line through their letter O for the next connection.I didn’t know that the theme of “Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em utilised Morse Code, but the Crossworders did. My boys had a very tough set of pictures, which the Crossworders didn’t understand either. All of them were celebrities, and if you dropped the last letter of their names, you’d get a different celebrity – eg – Alastair Cooke broadcaster becomes Alastair Cook, cricketer. Tough. At the end of round one, the Crossworders led by 5 points to 3.
In round 2 The Crossworders continued where they left off. They correctly identified the characters played by the Best Actress Oscar winners, and I take some pride that I saw this one for myself before they gave their answer. The bad luck of the Rugby Boys saw them given a sequence of sets of 4 letters – which apparently represented the Westminster Chimes of Big Ben. Even if you knew it, working out the right sequence was harder than the Oscars set. That's the luck of the draw. I also knew the Crossworders next set, of moons of Jupiter. So did they. The Rugby Boys had another blessed picture set, and worked out that a slang term for money was needed, but neither team gave ‘dustbin lid’ which was required, or something of that ilk. The Crossworders’ last of the round was admittedly their hardest, a mathematical question which entailed them working out that they had been given a million seconds, a thousand seconds, so the last answer , dividing by 100, would be 1 second. The Rugby Boys gained a point for seeing a list of amendments to the US constitution, and working out that prohibition would be the end of the list. Good answer, but by now the Crossworders led by 11 points to 6.
The Connections Walls showed that when things aren’t running for you , there’s nothing you can do. The Rugby Boys deciphered a difficult set of sets, but failed to identify that commander, chat, crayon and essence were all words in English, which had a different meaning in French. Now, I don’t know if the other team are in the studio and see you having a go at the connections wall. If they do, then maybe this was what helped the Crossworders identify purse, biscuit, suspenders and jelly. as words in American English that mean something different in Britain. Whatever the case they showed brilliance by finally solving the last 2 sets just as VC was about to announce that time was up. So at the end of round three, their lead had stretched a little further, and the score was 21 to 13.
The final round, as always, was the Missing Vowels round. This often makes a huge difference, but not tonight, I’m afraid. The Crossworders were clearly better, and extended their score to 33, incidentally , the same score that Crossworder Ian Bayley achieved in the first round of this year’s Brain of Britain.At the end of the the wall round VC observed that “our old champions have still got it. “ Haven’t they just! They were clearly the better team on the night. Commiserations to the Rugby Boys , though. The last round aside, they had the bad luck to face many of the hardest questions in the whole contest. That’s just the way it works out sometimes.
The new series begins on BBC4 on January 4th. I’m really looking forward to it.