Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Only Connect - First Round Review

As you might be aware, I’m a member of the Radio Addicts team who played in the second round of this year’s Only Connect, so I am very wary of making any comments which might give away results. So I’m afraid that I shan’t be making any of my usual predictions or prognostications, merely casting an eye over the results of the first round and letting you draw your own conclusions.

These were the scores of the 8 teams that won their way through to the quarter finals : -

Team Round One Round TwoRound Three Round Four Total
Epicureans 5 41022 41
Wrights 4 4 5 1023
Radio Addicts 4 5 7 7 23
Britpoppers 3 7 5 621
Bridge Players3 8 10 5 23
Bloggers2 310 1530
In-Laws 3 5 10 11 29
Alesmen 12 4 10 7 33

Phew ! So, who do you fancy ? No clues from me, I’m afraid.

One point I can safely make, though, is about the quality of the runners-up in the first round matches. As I hope I’ve said in the past, no mugs get onto this show, but you have to say that right from the excellent Courtiers in the first match, to the Pool Sharks in Monday’s match, the teams who didn’t make it through to the quarter final stage have put up some fine performances. Well played to all of you, and very hard lines on not making it through.

As for the quarter finals, they begin on Monday at 8:30 on BBC4, when the Epicureans take on the Bridge Players.


DaveBill said...

Many thanks for keeping score David. This might sound like a silly dig coming from someone who has been successful on this show, but stats don't lie.

Points scored in Rounds 1 + 2 *combined* = 76

Points scored on Round 4 (vowels) = 83

For the round where you don't actually have to make a connection to be the highest scoring (by some margin) seems illogical to me.. Anyone else?

Londinius said...

Hi Dave, thanks for leaving a comment. There's connections, and connections. The missing vowels round does require an ability to make the connection between a set of consonants, and the phrase or word they represent. Not necessarily the same as making connections in the first 2 rounds, I grant you , but still true to the spirit of the show. I think you have to admit, it does provide a grandstand finish to the show too.


Katie said...

Great review Londinius; interesting to see where differences lie between the rounds, I hope you'll continue to do this throughout the rest of the competition?

Round 4 has always been my favourite round of the programme. Even when the subject matter comes up one can instantly think through possible connecting answers that may come up in addition to it adding a different cognitive skill and temporal, nailbiting finale to each show.

I think it would be a great shame to see it superseded by another more straightforward connections round. Maybe I'm just biased, but maybe you are too DaveBill? ;-)

DaveBill said...

The bias is not simply my opinion - the statistics show what i'm saying to be true.

I love this show - but giving the final round so much weight in the scoring can seriously level or 'unlevel' the playing field.

Epicurians scoring 22 in their final round (still amazed by VBCheese) - their fellow quarter finalsts Britpoppers manage 21 in the whole game? How is this acceptable?

I'm not saying remove the vowels AT ALL - keep it in, please. What I suggest is a severe reduction in time for this round to reduce the weighting. (Flat 1 min?)

davidbod said...

The 83 points is purely a function of the teams finding their heat walls pretty easy going, so there's been lots of time left for Round 4.

Since the same amount of time is obviously on offer to both teams in Round 4, a more useful statistic is to look at how much swing there has been from one team to the other. For the first eight heats this series, the "points swing" has been:
1, 1, 3, 4, 4, 8, 14, 19

So there have been some stand-out performances, but in 5-out-of-8 cases a 5-point lead before the vowels was enough for you to go through to the next round. In series 2, not a single team managed to overhaul their defecit in the vowels round.

Also, leaving out Round 3 is a bit naughty since it is still the most valuable round to a team. Are you suggesting we should rebalance that too?

Comparing apples with apples, the average points scored per team in the heats of series 1 were:

R1 - 3.4
R2 - 5.3
R3 - 8.3
R4 - 4.9
Tot- 21.9

The average points scored in the heats of series 4 are:

R1 - 3.9
R2 - 4.1
R3 - 7.8
R4 - 7.3
Tot- 23.1

We did make the vowels a degree easier after series 1, but given that a few outstanding vowels performances in recent times are skewing the average, I think the overall shape of the show hasn't changed all that dramatically.

And without giving anything away, I think you'll find that the vowels in the next levels of the competition are, in places, a degree more ingenious than we've used in the past.

davidbod said...

@DaveBill, I find your analogy curious. Does that mean that teams who score 155 on University Challenge are not worthy of being in a quarter final with a team who scored 300+? Or that a team who scores 1-0 in their FA Cup Round One match shouldn't go up against another team who won 5-1?

The point of a knockout competition is that you do just enough to beat your opponent. Anything else is for show.

Londinius said...

Thanks Katie, I will certainly do so for the rest of the rounds, yes.

Thanks for the stats, davidbod. Personally, I'm always of the view that when you're talking about the essential structure of a show, if it ain't broke then don't fix it. There's a reason why Only Connect enjoys the reputation and loyal audence that it has developed.

DaveBill, of course you're entitled to your opinion, and you have every right to express it. The problem I have with the argument, though, is that it kind of presumes that the 4 rounds should be equally important. Yet I don't recall anone ever saying that this was the way the show had been designed. I don't recall Victoria or anyone involved in the show ever claiming that the rounds were meant to have equal weighting. A lot of the unpredictability of the show comes from the fact that everything can change through round three, and especially through round four. Its not a 'straight' general knowledge quiz, and I don't believe that it was ever intended to be just this, and lets be honest, its probably all the better for it .

Not that I'm saying that there wouldn't be room out there for a straight general knowledge quiz for good teams , but that would be another show.

DaveBill said...

I want to stress what I said earlier - I love this show..

To refer you back to my original post, my intention was to provoke discussion in the topic - I believe I have succeeded!!

@DavidBod - I omitted the wall scores as I expect the better teams to score 7-10 every time.

I am in no way criticising the questions or the show, but have an opinion that the final round is slightly overvalued scorewise.

Mark said...

The stats are very interested. I must admit I hadn't noticed that much of a discrepancy in favour of the last round.

Anyway back to predictions, and knowing quite a few contestants this year, I hope I don't upset anybody.

With, the greatest of respect to the Radio Addicts I think it will be an Alesmen vs Epicureans final.

I suspect the Radio Addicts will make the semis though.

Aaron said...

Thanks for the review Dave. I do get DaveBill's point, but then the stats he quotes are self-selecting in that they are only the winners' scores.

As David Bodycombe suggests, the issue here is perhaps points swing rather than points scored - it would be interesting to see the average score differentials by round if either he or yourself have these. There may be 10 points available on the wall but I'd be surprised if the average swing was much over 3.

And missing vowels does seem to be a very popular round with the audience (judging by twitter, admittedly a self-selecting group, but no more so than LAM readers!) Mind you, that's probably just because of the delay!

I think it would also be nice to see the bracket for the rest of the tournament in advance but perhaps the production team don't want to do this? In any case, the 2nd QF is Wrights v Bloggers as per

davidbod said...

I don't think there's any shame in revealing the match-ups for the next round:

QF1: Epicureans vs Bridge Players
QF2: Wrights vs Bloggers
QF3: Radio Addicts vs Brit Poppers
QF4: In-Laws vs Alesmen

My statistics are not quite complete, but as a rough guide the Round 3 points swing in Series 1 heats was:
and in series 4 heats was:

so there has been a small tightening of the performances between teams. Certainly, this series has seem teams "play the board" better - possibly down to the availability of the web game and similar facilities that were not around for earlier teams to practice on.

DaveBill said...

Talking to a friend about this - he is another quizzer who again, enjoys the show.

His football analogy is different however - it's like leading 1-0 at Half Time, 2-0 at Full Time, 3-0 after Extra Time and being eliminated because you lost the penalty shoot-out..

Londinius said...

Hi Everyone, and thanks for the continued comments .

Mark, I'm flattered that you think we'll get as far as the semis !You may be right, but then again . . .

Aaron, thaks for asking for the Qf linup, and David, thanks for posting it.

Dave, I liked the football analogy, but its not as apt as it could be. For example, between the first and second halves of a football match the rules don't change, and the way of scoring points doesn't.

( woosh - and with a puff of pedantry Dave C. left the stage )

Martin S Taylor said...

For what it's worth, I agree with DaveBill, particularly since a slip of the tongue can mean a swing of three points on the final round. (Instead of scoring a point you lose a point and the opponents may gain one.)

It isn't so much that big swings are possible in the final round, as that the game is so totally different from the previous three rounds.

Is there no other format which relies on spotting connections, rather than changing to a word game?

How about showing a linked group of four all at once, and teams have to buzz in when they've spotted the connection?

cwj said...

Martin - funnily enough I had been thinking just the same thing. Perhaps connections in the style of "which word / letters go before/after all of these", although there could be scope for some more subtle connections as well (but I'm sure the question editor wouldn't want to use up too many good round 1 and Wall ideas).

As captain of the Lapsed Psychologists, we feel we were on the wrong series...not just because we were trounced by the Crossworders in the final, but because the Missing Vowel round (which was a strength of ours) was (in our opinion) significantly harder in Series 1 than subsequently.

Having said that, even if they were easier in series 1, we would still have been trounced by the Crossworders...we just might have had a more impressive passage to the final!

davidbod said...

We did consider several other round 4 ideas during development, but we felt that a speeded-up round 1 wouldn't let us listen in on the team's thought process. It would also eat up material that we might prefer to use in round 1.

And, as jwc/cwj correctly surmises, the benefit of Round 4 is that it gives us a slot to use question types that would be otherwise unworkable in other rounds.

Rad said...

Thanks for the stats - really interesting to see it all laid out like that!