Saturday, 27 February 2010

Answers to February Quiz

Here are the answers to the quiz that I posted last month.

1) In the news – who is Vanessa Perroncel ?
That French underwear model with John Terry, etc etc.

2) Which Asian capital city was designed by sir Edwin Lutyens ?
NEW Delhi

3) Christopher Trace and Leila Williams were the first presenters of which Tv show ?
BLUE Peter

4) Which Stanley Kubrick film has a title that means a type of bullet used by US Infantrymen ?
FULL Metal Jacket

5) Which is the smallest species of mouse native to the UK ?

6) What is the connection between you last four answers ?

7) The American War of Independence effectively ended with the defeat of General Cornwallis in which battle ?

8) Which two Shakespeare plays between them contain the words All and Nothing ?
Alls Well That Ends Well
Much Ado About Nothing

9) Who did Andy Murray defeat in the semi final of the recent Australian Open
Marin Cilic

10) What did Apple launch in January which they claim will revolutionise the way that we use the web ?
I- Pad

11) How is life prisoner Iliich Ramirez Sanchez better known ?
Carlos the JACKAL

12) Which roman letter stands for 500 in roman numerals ?

13) Which British car was produced between 1972 and 2002 as a successor to the Regal, and has now been superceded by the Rialto ?
Reliant ROBIN

14) What is the connection between your last three answers ?

15) What was the name of the singer who provided the singing voice for many film actresses in musicals, for example, Deborah Kerr in The King and I ?
Marnie Nixon

16) Which well known singer died of anorexia nervosa in 1983 ?
Karen Carpenter

17) Which is the only country in the world that begins with the letter O ?

18) Who scored the first try in this year’s 6 nations ?
Jamie Heaslip

19) Last week thousands of Toyota cars were recalled due to a potentially deadly fault with which component ?
Accelerator pedal ( that was the FIRST recall, anyway )

20) How is the AK47 Assault rifle otherwise known ?

21) Which is the largest temple in the world ?

22) The element copper is actually named after which island ?

23) Which medal is the highest civil decoration in the UK ?

24) Which ragtime composition by Scott Joplin was the first ever instrumental piece to sell a million copies of sheet music ?

25) Which British newspaper was launched in 1964 to replace the Daily Herald ?

26) How is the constellation otherwise called Crux commonly known ?

27) What is the connection between your last 7 answers ?
All appear on National flags – Kalashnikov –Mozambique, Angkor Wat – Cambodia , Cyprus – work it out for yourself, George Cross – Malta, Maple Leaf – Canada,The Sun – tons of flags, take your pick, I like the sun on Argentina and Uruguay’s flags, Southern Cross – both Australia and New Zealand

28) Mrs. Thatcher’s private papers, released last week, revealed that she followed which diet, named after a medical establishment ?
The Mayo Clinic Diet

29) Which famous scientist once said “I do not believe that God plays dice with the world ?

30) Which of the 8 planets was discovered in the 18th century by William Herschel ?

31) In 1988, when Great Britain won the Olympic gold medal in Mens Hockey, which country did they defeat in the final ?

32) In Roman Mythology, who was the God of the Underworld ?

33) What is the connection between your last four answers

34) Which singer’s real name is Roger Nelson ?

35) In The Simpson’s, Homer works in the nuclear plant. What is he actually responsible for ?
Safety !

36) Who replaced John Terry as England Captain ?
RIO Ferdinand

37) Ian Brown was the lead singer of which 1990s Manchester band ?
The STONE Roses

38) What name was given to the court of law, in the palace of Westminster, which lasted until 1641 ? It took its name from the distinctive decoration on the roof of the room in which it sat ?

39) Which notorious Australian TV show was set in Wentworth Detention Centre ?

40) In computer terminology, which F blocks unauthorised access to a computer system or network ?

41) Which is the capital of the American state of Arizona ?

42) What is the name of the alter ego of Wonder Woman ?

43) The word Halloween is actually short for which 3 word phrase ?

44) What is the connection between you last seven answers ?
As I’m sure you well know they are the 7 Harry Potter novles, linked in the order of publication.

Just one more test

I promise

Just testing

To see if it works on my laptop again yet

What is wrong with the blog today ?

Can't see whether my UC review is on or not - sometimes its there under 27th feb, when it was posted on March 2nd ! So this is by way of a test. I'm havng problems today. So if you can read this, can you leave me a comment to let me know that things are still appearing, even if it doesn't seem to be updating the date for me ? Thanks,


TV Watch University Challenge

University Challenge – Qualification/Elimination match – Edinburgh University v. Manchester University

Lets begin by throwing the form book out of the window, shall we ? Before the start of the contest it seemed to me that all we could usefully draw as conclusions from what has gone before is that we had two battle-hardened teams, veterans of four matches each already, both of them victorious in three matches, and both of them having experienced the slings and arrows of a sudden death tie – break. I haven’t added up the cumulative totals yet, but I believe that Manchester have scored more points than Edinburgh in the competition so far. Would it matter ? Probably not. In a match such as this all bets are off.

Mr. Kimmit set out his stall early, but unfortunately his early interruption was incorrect. Manchester gratefully identified Alexander McCall Smith as the creator of Precious Ramotswe et al. Tom Whyman of Manchester buzzed in for the second starter. A set of bonuses on Shakespeare followed, though not all were taken.Nick Daunt identified a definition of Osmosis to take Manchester’s 3rd successive starter. Amazingly this was a science starter I had right ! A set on sisters with famous brothers followed, and Manchester took a full set of bonuses. Now it was regular LAM reader, Captain Jakob Whitfield who buzzed in early . He knew that the answer was Cervantes, but unfortunately it came out as Don Quixote, who was created by Cervantes. Sometimes the tongue lets you down. It didn’t let Captain Hugh Brechin of Edinburgh down as he nipped in to put Edinburgh’s first points on the board.

Hugh Brechin it was who correctly identified a quote we were given as coming from the Constitution of the United States. Again, Jakob had a near miss with the Declaration of Independence. Already it was looking a close match, and maybe a test of nerves as well. A full set of bonuses on amendments to the Constitution reduced Manchester’s lead to 20 points. Jakob Whitfield was certainly holding his nerve, and he buzzed in on the next starter to identify Covent Garden in London. The gap widened to 40. Jakob obviously found this agreed with him, so he buzzed in early for the next starter as well, to earn a set of bonuses on titles of roman officials. They took one of these.

Last week’s hero, regular LAM reader Andrew Matheson buzzed in for his first starter, identifying the word Death as missing from a set of poems by Dylan Thomas, John Donne etc. I liked it very much when the team was asked as a bonus – which word for a fugitive has the first five letters of the alphabet in the correct order. Andrew replied – oh , I know ! – hen half a second later – No I don’t ! – Your honesty is an example to us all . I didn’t get it either – its absconder. They took the other two bonuses though, and Hugh Brechin took the next starter too, identifying the Raven’s Paradox. So absorbed was I in the contest that I didn’t look at the clock until the three bonuses on synthetic plastics were correctly taken. So I know that at 13 and a half minutes Edinburgh had pulled back, so that Manchester only led by 95 to 80.

The music started hoved into view , er , into hearing range. Andrew Matheson buzzed in to guess Puccini. Incorrect, unfortunately. A puzzled looking Jakob Whitfield buzzed in with “Mozart ? “, and looked equally puzzled when JP said he was right. Rachael ( don’t worry Rach, I was going to mention you sooner or later ) and the guys obviously know their arias from their elbows as they managed a bonus on Mozart operas and characters. Tom Whyman added to the lead by buzzing in for the next starter. Interestingly up to this point I don’t think that any of the starters had gone unanswered by either of the teams, and if that’s not a tribute to the quality of the teams tonight, then I don’t now what is. The next one did, though. So it was down to Hugh Brechin to tell us that 2 to the power of ten is ten times greater than ten to the power of two ( or was it the other way round ? ) Andrew and Hugh took a full set of bonuses on the planet Mars. Their were groans from Edinburgh when Andrew came close with the next starter, identifying two 8 letter adjectives as paternal and neonatal. The second was right, but parental was needed for the first.

As we moved into the last third of the competition our own Rach Cherryade made her characteristic timely buzz to relieve pressure and take a vital starter, identifying the abbreviation for Middlesex as being equivalent for the roman numerals for 1001, 500, and 510 ( MIDDX) .A set of bonuses followed on chemical formulae. Andrew Matheson showed that LAM readers keep their nerve when he identified a quote about an ingenious collection of portable plumbing as referring to the human body. 2 bonuses were taken . so with 4 minutes to go every answer was crucial, as Manchester led by a mere 15 points. Tom Whyman buzzed in to correctly say that Mary Queen of Scots was executed at Fotheringhay. I was interested they were asked how many sides a threepenny piece had. I got that wrong in the rugby club a few months ago. What a man Jakob Whitfield was to keep his head, and get the next starter by answering that the speed of sound in a vacuum is nothing, because it can’t travel in a vacuum. Only a couple of minutes left, and Edinburgh needed to answer everything to pull back a 45 point deficit.They so nearly did. They pulled back to 165, Andrew Matheson buzzed in for an answer – and the gong went before he could say it.

Once again, Manchester and Edinburgh have taken me to the brink. Edinburgh, you played brilliantly, and I’m sorry I won’t be seeing you again. Rachel, Tom, Nick and Jakob, very well done. Beating the curse of the support from the Clark sofa is no mean feat ! Very good luck in the semis.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

He set out his stall early this week, with
“YOU MAY NOT CONFER !” to Manchester following Edinburgh’s unsuccessful early interruption. When Manchester failed to identify that the recipient of a forged letter in “Twelfth Night” was Malvolio, he replied “Oh Dear”, in the same tone that I guess he would use if his favourite aunt had just told him that he’d run over her cat.
When faced with a set of chemical formula bonuses he testily bullied Manchester – oh come on , we can’t wait here all night ! Hooray ! The Paxman is back in town. He followed up with a withering “Shall we come back to you after Newsnight ? “

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

Only 5 Commonwealth States lie entirely North of the Tropic of Cancer – and Pakistan is one of them. I guessed Canada, Malta , UK , Cyprus – but that one escaped me.

Is A Star Born ? Maybe.

This will come as no surprise to you, I’m sure, but I think that I ought to start by pointing out that I know that I’m not perfect. There, I’ve come clean. I play in between 2 and 4 pub quizzes each week, and I know that I do take it all far too seriously when I’m playing. I admit it. I sometimes get annoyed over specific questions, and specific quizzes, which really aren’t worth anyone getting worked up over. For the most part the people who actually set the quizzes I go to are decent corinthians, putting their time and effort into it for nothing much more than the love of the game, and maybe a few free pints. To criticise a question master may be pointless at best, and at worst rather evil, I admit it. But sometimes . . .

Why would anyone want to be question master for an evening in, say, my local Thursday night quiz, anyway ? Well, actually, there is a good answer to this. Its fun. Actually being a question master is often at least as much fun as playing in the quiz. Look at it this way. When you’re the question master -

-You get to actually put the quiz together. Yes, if you do it properly it requires time and effort, but it can be an intellectually satisfying exercise. Its creative as well, finding and putting all the right ingredients to make a satisfying whole, and its challenging too because you don’t always get it right.

-You get to actually ask the questions, which panders to the performer manqué which I secretly suspect is within most of us QMs.

- You’re in charge, and your word is law. At least while the quiz lasts.

- You get three free pints, or six if you mark and score as well.

In our Thursday night quiz, nobody is ever forced or put under pressure to produce a quiz. Nobody is even asked to do it. If nobody else asks to do it, Brian and I will always take it in turns until another volunteer comes forward. So its not as if any volunteer can say that they are doing it selflessly for the good of the regulars, because there wouldn’t be a quiz if they didn’t do it. They are doing it because they want to, for their own personal reasons, or for the reasons I’ve given above. Now, in my opinion, if you volunteer to produce a quiz for the club, you are taking on a responsibility to at least put a little time and effort into it to ensure that its providing people with a decent evening’s entertainment.

Maybe I’m being unfair to criticise the quiz I went to on Thursday night. You might well say that we should be grateful that we get anybody coming forward wanting to do a quiz at all, and there is some justice behind this argument. Still, in last week’s quiz I thought that the question master didn’t provide a good quiz, because there were 5 fundamental fatal flaws with it. See what you think : -

Fatal Flaw 1 – Getting the Answers Wrong

There are times in your career as a question master when, even though you check all of your answers, and try to verify them, you’re still going to give a wrong answer through no fault of your own. It happens. However you don’t have to go out of your way to make it happen, by not checking your answers at all. On Thursday night we were asked this one : -

In the England v. Wales 5 Nations rugby match in 1980, welsh player Paul Ringer was sent off by which referee ?

The answer given was Roger Quittendon . Now, Mr. Quittendon was certainly an international referee. But he was English ! How on earth could he possibly have referreed that match ? Of course he didn’t. It took me two minutes googling when I got home to find out that it was Dave Burnett of Ireland. While you’ll maybe be forgiven for one of these howlers, when you have three or four of the same level in one quiz, then it can ruin the whole thing.

Fatal Flaw 2 – Getting the Questions Wrong

Either through carelessness, or just a very poor way of phrasing the question, you can spoil your quiz by asking questions which are just plain wrong, and cannot really be answered. Its easier to give you an example of what I mean than to try to explain in more detail. Here’s one of these we were asked on Thursday night : -

Which welsh actor received an oscar for his performance in Spartacus ?

The problem is that no welsh actor received an oscar for his performance in Spartacus. English born Peter Ustinov won a Best Supporting Actor oscar for Spartacus. He had a fascinating mixture of ancestry, but he wasn’t welsh. Having said that he wasn’t the answer the question master wanted anyway. The answer he gave was the welsh actor Hugh Griffith, who won his for his role in “Ben Hur” . So, maybe he thought – Ben Hur – Spartacus – its all roman isn’t it ? Well, yes, but try explaining that to the teams who put down the wrong answer, Peter Ustinov, but would have put the right answer down if he’d said the film was Ben Hur.
Fatal Flaw 3 – Asking Questions which have several alternative answers which may all be correct.

One of my pet hates in quizzes is a question which implies there is only one correct answer, where in fact there may be other alternatives which also fit. From Thursday night : -

Which word means someone who helps an enemy power while it is occupying their own country ?

Immediately we thought of two correct answers – collaborator – and – quisling. Neither of which gained a point. The question master was looking for the specific answer of fifth column.

In another question he asked : -

Which American word is the equivalent to our own ‘country bumpkin’ ?

We thought of hillbilly. Other teams thought of ‘rube’ , and ‘redneck’ which certainly all have the right connotations. He refused all of these, only allowing ‘hayseed’ .

Personally I think that the three fatal flaws I’ve already outlined sprang from the same root cause. I think that the QM had rushed his quiz – yes, I know that this is the teacher in me talking – but I honestly think that he had just written out questions off the top of his head, without either getting them from, or checking them in a reliable source. For a serious, very experienced , regular quizzer this would be a dangerous thing to do. For an average pub quizzer its very likely it may ruin any quiz you make.

Fatal Flaw 4 – Asking a lot of questions just about your own specialist subjects.

Its very tempting to write down a large number of questions for any given quiz, which particularly appeal to you, because they are about things in which you have a real genuine interest. This is not a good thing to do. You see, the only person who would probably enjoy a quiz like this is you – and you won’t be answering these questions ! Case in point, in Thursday night’s quiz, in each round there was at least one question about each of the following categories : -

World War II
The Motor Car
Naval matters

So if, for example, you were a world war II veteran of the US navy turned car mechanic, who did a bit of boxing in his spare time, you were in for a treat last Thursday. Unfortunately these were very thin on the ground on the night. Each of these categories are of course valid categories, and would have been alright for one or two questions during the quiz. Yet 40 out of 80 questions in the evening were only about those 5 categories, which I thought was far too much.

Fatal Flaw 5 – Asking questions to which nobody in the audience has a realistic chance of even being able to guess the answer.

I honestly believe that there is no point asking a question which it is very unlikely that anyone in the audience will possibly be able to answer. Asking five in the same round is totally pointless – as were some of the teams for that particular round. Thursday night’s winning score was the lowest ever in a supposedly general quiz in the club – and the only time there has been a lower winning score was the last time the St. David’s Day quiz took place. In one round we top scored with 3 out of 10.


Now, any one of these fatal flaws can be enough on its own to sink a quiz, if repeated more than once or twice. However when you have five fatal flaws like this in the same quiz, then you run the risk of becoming something of a legend. Somehow the quiz, riddled with wrong’uns and strange questions as it was, became raised out of the mire through its sheer unpredictability. Most of the teams were at some point or other in the quiz actually observed to be enjoying themselves.

Does it matter ? Probably not, actually. The question master in question comes across as a very nice chap, and I speak from personal experience when I say that the teams in the rugby club are far too nice to give you stick if you produce an absolute stinker anyway. I call to mind one of our semi regular question masters. When he began with us a few years ago he was in the habit of using the same picture quiz each time he did it. The only difference was that with one of the pictures sometimes he would tell us it was Whitney Houston, and other times Naomi Campbell ! As far as I know nobody said anything to him about it, but over a period of time members of four different teams all made pointed comments to us about it. One was particularly annoyed, not so much because he use the same picture quiz, but because even though he had asked to do the quiz, he couldn’t be bothered to make up a new one. In his time he’s perpetrated some wrong’uns, and is a noted ( and I suspect deliberately exaggerated ) Malaprop.

This same question master is now given a standing ovation whenever it is announced that he is going to be making the quiz for the next Thursday. He is cherished not in spite of his faults, but because of them.

So you never know, but its just possible that for all the wrong reasons a new star may be born in our quiz. And yes, of course I will still be taking it far too seriously next time he does a quiz.

Mastermind - First Round - Heat 19/24

Every time Mastermind comes back after being removed from the schedule on the seemingly arbitrary whim of the controllers of BBC2 I feel less and less inclined to pass it off with a joke. I can only hope that the remaining 12 shows of this series are left unmolested to build up a decent momentum towards the final. Fat chance.

Alright, lets be thankful for small mercies. At least the show was only taken off for a week this time. Lets look at round one. John Iball began with a round which was firmly in the traditional subjects camp, on Charles Darwin. Well, if you’re going to pick an archetypal Great British Scientist, they don’t come a lot bigger than him. John made an interesting point in his filmed insert. I’d always thought that Darwin’s extreme reluctance to publish was due to his religious convictions. Apparently it had more to do with his fear of losing his social standing and his livelihood. This was a good round, where the contender had obviously done his homework, and 14 certainly put him into contention.

Elspeth Wilkes’ round saw the return of an old Mastermind favourite , the obscure Composer round. Alright, Poulenc isn’t necessarily that obscure to anyone who actually knows anything about music.Unfortunately I don’t. Poulenc is one of those names whereby on hearing it, I immediately think – Poulenc – yes – composer – check – and that’s it. Still, Elspeth Wilkes certainly knew her stuff, and she answered crisply and succinctly. Despite a mid-round wobble that saw her pick up a few passes she righted herself, and ended with 12.

In Gavin Doig’s filmed insert I was intrigued to hear him say that the focus of his round on “The History of Mountaineering on Mount Everest “ would be on the human stories, and I couldn’t help wondering whether this was just his focus, and whether the same focus would have been shared by the question setters. 11 was a good score – anything on double figures is a good score, but I can’t help wondering if he was given a good few questions outside the terms of reference he had set for himself. Out of interest, I do wonder f Mr. Doig is possibly related to the legendary Clive Doig.

The Prize for the most unusual /original subject of the night for me went to David Gordon who offered us “The Break Up of Yugoslavia”. This was a historical/political subject over a relatively short time frame, and so I thought that he could expect the setters to have done a lot of digging to prepare a set of questions, and to be fair for the most part Mr. Gordon was equal to the task of answering them. I was intrigued to find that Macedonia had altered its flag. The flag they have now is a magnificent orange and red creation, of what seems to be rays coming from a sun in the middle . For reasons I can’t explain it always reminds me of the headbands supposedly worn by Japanese kamikaze pilots in world war II.

All of which rambling brings me to the end of the SS rounds. Our contenders , all new to Mastermind, had acquitted themselves well, and only 3 points separated 1st and 4th. So whoever kept their nerve best, and performed best in GK looked like having a very good chance to at least get onto the runners up board.

Gavin Doig returned, and he struggled manfully with what I thought was a very decent round. In the end he answered 8 correctly to give him a total of 19, which looked unlikely to bring a win. Elspeth Wilkes followed. The smoothness and crispness of her answering in the first round returned, and it looked like she might possibly set a difficult target. However , and this is just my opinion – as always , feel free to disagree – I thought that her set of questions were somewhat tougher than those in the other three GK rounds. She too scored 8, to give her a slender lead, with 20.

Was this going to be one of those evenings where all four contenders posted relatively modest GK rounds ? I’d thought that David Gordon looked nervous in his SS round, leaning forward in the chair, but he’d certainly answered confidently enough. I’m afraid that he wasn’t able to produce the same level of performance in GK, and he scored 5, to give him 18. So with only John Iball to go, it looked just possible that Elspeth Wilkes could be our next lady semi finalist. I think we are due at least one or two more if statistics of recent series are anything to go by. John Iball never looked at all convincing in his round, taking his time in places, and picking up four more passes. However in the end the two points more than Elspeth which he’d scored in the SS round were enough, and he scored seven to just nudge across the line with 21 points.

This was a good show. The contenders were all evenly matched – they finished with only 3 points separating 1st and 4th, as it had been in the GK round. Congratulations to John Iball on reaching the semis.

The Details

John Iball Charles Darwin 14 – 2 7 – 4 21 - 6
Elspeth Wilkes The Life and work of Francis Poulenc 12 – 4 8 – 4 20 - 8
Gavin Doig The History of Mountaineering on Everest 11 – 1 8 – 3 19 - 4
David Gordon The Break Up of Yugoslavia 13 – 0 5 – 2 18 – 2

Current Highest Scoring Runners Up

John Cooper29 – 3
Ian Scott Massie26 – 2
Les Morrell26 - 3
Colin Wilson25 - 0
Peter Cowans25 - 2
William de'Ath25 - 4

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Only Connect - That Was Round One

Only Connect – Review of Round One -

Ok, here’s the results table I’ve drawn up for the first round. Only the heat winners have been included in the table.

TeamRound 1Round 2 Round 3Round 4Total % of answers
Archers Admirers 2610173559
Gamblers 7 5 10 11 33 70
Strategists 5 4 10 12 31 67
Exeter Alumni 4 7 7 5 23 53
Bowlers 4 6 10 3 23 51
Hitchhikers 5 3 2 11 21 64
Neuroscientists 3 5 2 7 17 71
Brasenose Postgrads 1 2 5 7 15 52

The scores for each round are fairly explanatory, as is the total. The last figure is the percentage of all the points scored in the match by the team. So, for example, in a very close match , like the last show where the Bowlers won by a point, this figure will be close to 50%.

Bearing in mind, as we always should, the caveat that there are lies , damn lies and statistics, and that figures can only tell you so much, we can see that there have been some very impressive teams in the first round. Top of the table are the Archers, who had the highest winning total with 35. That’s worth looking at, since their domination % is 59. Which means that their opponents also scored well, and weren’t giving way a large amount of points. So their score of 35 looks even more impressive when you view it in this light.

Also in the 30 plus club are the Gamblers and the Strategists. Both have good domination % figures too, and can be expected to go well in the quarters.

IMHO the important figures to look at are the figures for round 3, the connecting walls, and round 4, the missing vowels. It doesn’t come as a great surprise that my top three teams all had maximums on their walls, and double figures in the Missing Vowels.

So does this mean that teams such as the Neuroscientists and the Brasenose Postgrads have no real chance going into the quarters ? No, of course it doesn’t. The tournament runs on a knock out basis, and everything depends on the draw for the next round. If you have an off day yet still win in the first round, then hit form in the second, then you can end up beating teams who outperformed you in the first round . If this table does do anything, it just gives us an idea of the teams we can expect to go well in the quarters, especially bearing in mind Victoria’s warning that the level of challenge will definitely increase for the next round. Looking forward to it already.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

J20, and an interesting email.

I had an email last week from the good people at Britvic J20. It turns out that they are about to launch their own pub quiz. To quote from the original email : -

“Our current campaign sees the launch of the new J20 Pub Quiz – a new quiz format with innovative questions, involving lateral thinking and numeracy skills amongst others! It’s a bit different from the traditional, trivia based pub quiz.”

Basically a number of bloggers on quiz matters have been contacted, and invited to attend the launch event on 25th February. I’d absolutely love to do that, but I’m afraid that I just can’t, what with pressure of work. Ironically, had the event been a week earlier during half term I could have done it, but them’s the breaks.

Pippa who emailed me was good enough to send me a selection of two of the typical rounds from the J20 pub quiz, and to ask me for my opinions on them. Now, as you know if you’ve been with LAM for any length of time you don’t have to ask twice for my opinion about quizzes.

Still, I think that I ought to make a confession here, bearing in mind the recent fuss about MPs expenses and the like. The J20 people were also good enough to send me some J20s and a couple of other goodies through the post as well. Not on any understanding that I would say nice things about their quiz, or that I would give them a plug in the blog, just as a thank you for giving the questions a quick look. Delicious they were too. So if you think that it constitutes bribery and corruption, then so be it, that is the view you must take.

The two rounds I was sent were Mangled Mugs and Tangled Threads.

Mangled Mugs is a set of pictures, whereby two well known faces have been morphed into one, and the idea is to answer which two celebrities have been morphed together. My response to this was that this is not an especially new idea, but I have to admit that I haven’t seen it done so well as these are.

Tangled Threads is a set of audio questions. Each basically consists of a film trailer, where three films’ plotlines and characters have been completely entangled. There’s enough clues in each to enable you to untangle each. Personally I really really liked these, and I know that they would go down a bomb in any of the pub quizzes I regularly attend. They’re pretty funny, too. But then don’t take my word for it. I can't share the J20s they sent me, but I can share the two rounds - all with their permission.

Here's the Mangled Mug round I was sent, and you can see what you think of them yourselves.

OK , I'm not a connoisseur of picture quizzes, but these seem very well done to me. I'll post the answers in a few days.

Now the Tangled Threads. I've converted them into little videos, basically because that's the only way I know how to upload them . So - ready ? Here we go.


Like it ? I thought so . Here's the others then.


Be honest, wouldn't you enjoy something like that in your own local quiz ? As always, feel free to disagree, but I thought at the very least they were worth sharing with you.

TV Watch - Only Connect

Only Connect – Round One Match 8 – Booksellers v. Bowlers

After all the excitement of another University Challenge tie break match the pace hardly lets up at all with the latest OC match up. The Booksellers consisted of Neil Best, Greg Eden, and Captain David Kohn.All three of them work at the head office of a major bookstore. So they are certainly entitled to their team name. They courted disaster by saying that they’ve seen Victoria’s latest book in the slush pile at their work. The Bowlers consisted of Michelle O’Callaghan, David Bowers and captain Stuart Lightfoot. They are united by their love of London’s retro bowling alleys.

One – What’s The Connection ?

The Booksellers opted to go first. They couldn’t connect Sir William Blair with the creator of Beavis and Butthead. Still, Joseph Dredd gave them judges – since Mike Judge created the cartoon series. Very good connection. If that was a good connection, the next one was absolutely vintage. Charles Conrad and Fielder behind the slips gave me Third Man – Charles ‘Pete’ Conrad coming after Armstrong and Aldrin as 3rd onto the moon. Kim Philby followed and the Bowlers had it to level the scores. The dreaded music connection caused the Booksellers no trouble.Jimi Hendirx ‘ Voodoo Chile and John Lennon’s Woman were enough to give them posthumous number ones. So the Bowlers needed to solve the next one . They needed three to do it – but it was another terrific connection . Racehorse :18 – Internet Domain : 63 – Tweet : 140 gave them the maximum number of characters allowed. Great shout. The Booksellers were given pictures, the flag of Pakistan, Abba, and the TARDIS, and correctly guessed that they were all acronyms. I would have guessed it too, but I never knew the name Pakistan was made up in the way that it is. Thanks so much ! I promise you I won’t forget that in a hurry now. In a Class Reunion and In a Newspaper Advert gave me the connection at home that it was Hitchcock appearances in his own films, but although the next two clues gave the Bowlers Hitchcock films, they didn’t get the key thing, which was it was how he made his own cameos. The Booksellers got it, unsurprisingly. So they had ridden their luck a little, by getting the connections even when misjudging some of their constituent parts, but then luck does tend to even iself out through the whole course of a show. They led by 8 to 4.

Two – What comes fourth?

Victoria seemed to think they’d been riding their luck in the first round too.When they incorrectly guessed that 1 – Begbie and 2 – Diane would be completed by 4 – Renton she informed the Booksellers that their luck had just run out. Their reasoning that they were characters from the film /book Trainspotting was correct, but the Bowlers correctly answered that number 4 would be Spud. The poor Bowlers were unlucky to be able to see that valet – dame – roi are the French terms for the jack, queen king in a pack of cards, but not to know that the French for ace is – as. The Booksellers knew though, and took the bonus. For their own question luck deserted them again when faced with a series of times on a clock. They couldn’t see where it was leading. The Bowlers couldn’t either, but correctly guessed 06:00:00. They were all times when the hands on a clock face are in a straight line across the face. To be fair Victoria herself admitted that it was extremely hard. On a picture set the Bowlers wasted no time in identifying the Green man, and a piece of amber as relating to traffic signal sequences, and they correctly predicted that fourth would be red and amber together. The Booksellers worked out that RCN and GMB would be the 4th and 3rd biggest trade unions by size, but plumped for Unison as the biggest. That’s only second on the list, and the Bowlers picked up the bonus for Unite. Neither team had the right answer to a sequence of netball positions going back from center, which would end in Goalkeeper. Still, it had been a good round for the Bowlers, and they now led with 10 to 9.

Three – The Connecting Walls

The Bowlers continued their impressive form , pretty quickly picking out all four sets, of Public Schools, words connected with Westminster, parts of the Silverstone racing circuit, and livery companies of the City of London. So the Booksellers were going to have to go some not to lose any ground. The Booksellers dithered a bit, but then got into gear, and uncovered London Lanes, and terms in Bowls. They could see there was a set of Laws named after people, but Sturgeon’s Law defeated them. Still they earned points for knowing what the connection was, and for also identifying a set of writers of Hymns. Well played, but they had conceded more ground to the Bowlers, who now led by 20 to 15

Four – Missing Vowels

Five points is by no means an insurmountable lead to overcome in the final round. Still, the first category – Noel Cowerd plays, went to the Bowlers by 2 points to 1. Then followed women in political scandals. This was the Booksellers finest hour as they managed a shutout, scoring 4 unanswered points. The match was a close match again now. African countries followed, and 2 answers and a miscue from the Bowlers saw the Booksellers take the lead again. Which they gave up through a miscue, and the round ended with both teams on 22. We followed with Goon Show characters. The Bowlers looked the younger team, which was possibly a disadvantage.Neither team shone, and the only point scored did actually go to the Bowlers. The end couldn’t be far away as Victoria announced the next category , Festivals around the world. Bastille Day came up, but so did the end of the show before anyone could answer. Eccles of the Goon Show had been enough to give the Bowlers a one point win.

What a great show. Hard lines to the Booksellers, who were a very good team I thought. Congratulations to the Bowlers. Another very good team who could go further, I think.

That completes the first round. If I get time a little later in the week I’ll review the first round, and look at how the teams performed relative to each other.

TV Watch - University Challenge

University Challenge – Quarter Final Elimination Match – Edinburgh v. Jesus College Oxford

Another nailbiting elimination match this week. Two weeks ago St. Andrews went down and out, and tonight either Edinburgh, or regular LAM reader and contributor Jim Waterson’s Jesus College team would have to join them. Sartorially it was very nice to see Mr. King of Edinburgh wearing a DJ and bow tie tonight. I like a man who pays respect to the gravitas of the occasion.

First blood went to Edinburgh, identifying types of cross, as did the second starter, identifying cloves. Mr. Docherty of Jesus got their first points by correctly identifying the chemical element bromine. A full set of bonuses put them only 5 points behind Edinburgh. Not for long though, as Edinburgh let Jesus guess that the Treaty of Windsor was signed in the 15th century, before correctly answering that it was signed in the 14th.

The picture starter gave Mr. Speller an easy tap in, to identify Hitler’s invasion of Russia as Operation Barbarossa.The bonuses on other invasions of world war II were a little harder, although they did get Overlord. Tit for tat, Edinburgh struck back with the very next starter. This time they got two of the bonuses too, a good thing, considering that both teams had been rather profligate with bonuses up to this point. “Pack – peck – pick – pock and puck “ recited captain Hugh Brechin of Edinburgh in response to a set of clues to take the next starter. Bloomin’ good answer, sir !2 more bonuses meant that Edinburgh were just starting to pull away by the 10 minute mark.

They started the second third as they finished the first, with a confident early buzz from Mr. King, identifying the use of platinum in catalytic converters. Only one bonus was taken, but at the time it didn’t matter, as Captain Brechin buzzed in again for the next starter, identifying an acronym for Australian State Capitals. At this point Jesus had been buzzed out of the game for a few minutes, and its always a test of a team’s nerve how they respond to this. Captain Hadley buzzed in to put Jesus back on the rails with the next starter, identifying, among other things, the name of the first Brazilian captain to lift the football World Cup. However this only pulled them up to 50 points, and at the halfway stage Edinburgh had a distinctly useful looking 60 point lead.

For the music starter on 60s TV themes, Mr. King looked a bit like the Saint, but he didn’t get any points for saying that the theme to the aforementioned show actually belonged to the Prisoner. Neither team got it, nor a set of quotations from The Tempest. Still , Mr. Speller impressed with his buzz of an answer of “anarcho syndicalism “. Try saying that when you’ve had a couple of glasses of dutch courage in the green room . They did pretty well on the theme bonuses too.

As we moved into the second half of the show the axis of opportunity shifted, as Jesus started finding the range for the starters. They pulled back the deficit to 20 points, before Mr. Kimmit correctly identified Henry Bessemer et al as pioneers of the Iron and Steel industry ( I’m in the iron and steel business lady – the wife does the ironing and I do the – sorry – a slight attack of the Music Halls there. ) At 20 minutes, moving into the last third, Edinburgh led by a slender 35 points. They took the first starter on self portraits, identifying Frida Kahlo. Then Mr. King identified a group of words from the last line of Paradise Lost. At this stage you could have named your own odds if you wanted to back Jesus, as the gap extended to 75 points. Mr. Speller made a timely interruption to identify the third woman member of the US Supreme Court. This was followed by a set on deposed kings.Not all were taken, but the gap narrowed to 45 points with 5 minutes to go.Hugh Brechin took the next starter, and Edinburgh pulled away again. Cue Mr. Speller of Jesus to take the next starter, identifying a list of authors as all being linked by the initials JM. What they did extremely well was to answer the bonuses quickly. They took the next starter, a gentle dolly on elements of the periodic table, and quickly whipped through the bonuses to get another two. The force was with Jesus for the moment as Mr. Docherty correctly predicted the next country bordering Brazil in a list given would be Peru. Good shout, and with the gap down to 30, even though time was running short, anything looked possible. 3 correct bonuses on Italian Prime Ministers helped. Mr. Speller identified the time signal of a waltz as 3 – 4, and now the gap was down to 5 points, with bonuses to come.They needed two bonuses to take the lead, and amazingly took one just on the gong !

What a fight back. Yet it might all come to nothing, depending on the tie break. The deciding question was , if I heard it correctly,
What is the determinant of a two by two matrix whose entries, reading row by row, are two, three, four, and five ?
My Mathematically inclined friends assure me that this was easy. I take their word for it. Whatever the case Mr. Matheson of Edinburgh buzzed in with the correct answer – negative 2.There's been a bit of discussion about this, but I've listened a few times, and it seems fairly clear to me that negative 2 is what he said. So very well done Edinburgh, and good luck in your next match. As for Jesus, very hard lines, but you earn great credit for a splendid fightback.

Jeremy Paxman Watch
I got the impression JP was very much into this match tonight. That’s nice for him, but it didn’t provide us with too many Paxman moments. Oh well, at least there was this.
When asked about an order of reformed Cistercians, with particularly strict rules, when offered Franciscans by Edinburgh, JP offered , “No, they’re TRAPPISTS – don’t you read Divinity ? “Mr. Kimmit, who provided the answer, actually is reading Divinity.
On the TV themes, he suggested that Jesus might not actually want these bonuses.

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

The Treaty which formalized England’s oldest alliance, with Portugal, was called the Treaty of Windsor.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

A blog for you to check out

I just discovered today that LAM contributor Jennifer Turner writes a blog that it would be well worth your time and effort checking out. Here's the link -
The tagline for the blog is General Knowledge on British quiz and game shows, and its a fantastic source for all of the latest news on your favourite shows in the genre, as well as much more else besides. Check it out, please. I guarantee that you won't be disappointed.

Ambience, Atmosphere, and A Few Changes

I have more radios at home than is probably healthy. Now, I am perfectly aware that the best reception and best sound quality comes from my Bush DAB radio. Yet somehow I’d rather listen to Brain of Britain, for example, on Long Wave on my navy blue Roberts R200. On Monday evening at 10:30 on Radio 2 there was programme about Smokey Robinson at 70, which I wouldn’t have dreamed of listening to on anything other than my Bush VTR103 – styled the same as the classic Bush TR 82 radio – big round dial, carrying handle, but the first one they produced which could receive FM, or VHF as they called it. My Hacker Democrat is perfect for the cricket on longwave, and so on and so forth. I call it a question of ambience. My kids call it ‘sad’ , and Mrs. Londinius mutters dark phases about ‘houseroom’ and ‘chuck them out’

Ok – I’m getting to the point now. Ambience, or atmosphere matters to me. Even in quizzes it matters. Or does it really ?

When you get right down to it, a quiz is a person asking questions and other people trying to answer them. But within that catchall definition there’s a huge variety of different formats. In the same way that I feel the pleasure of a particular radio show can be enhanced by the radio on which you choose to listen to it, I also feel that certain types of quiz lend themselves more to particular venues.

I was moved to write about this because of what’s happened recently to a quiz I play in from time to time. The pub is in an area which I believe would be described as affluent. It’s a gorgeous pub, a genuinely old building with bags of character, lovingly maintained inside. In recent months a new landlord has ditched the old format of two rounds of 25 questions, all general knowledge, and a seperate seven questions for a cash jackpot. The new format is 7 rounds of 10 questions. The first and last are always General Knowledge, and the other five are themed rounds. There is a joker for each team which must be played on one of the themed rounds. There is a beer or wine prize for the winners, and no jackpot. To give you a flavour of the quiz, Tuesday’s themed rounds were – Stars of the Silver Screen ( self explanatory ) – Childrens’ TV Themes ( sound round ) – Games – Up and Under ( rugby union and rugby league ) – Monuments ( picture round ) . If you’ve been with me for any length of time you’ll know my feelings on themed quizzes, and also my feelings on quizzes which devote too much of their questions to entertainment topics. After the quiz, the landlord picks three names of teams out of the hat to play a version of Play Your Cards Right for cash.

When this began, I thought that the quiz absolutely would not have suited the regulars in the venue, and that some of them would stop coming. I could not have been more wrong. They love it. I don’t find it as satisfying a quiz as the previous format, but the place is heaving on a Tuesday night. So what do I know ? I didn’t think for one minute that the new format would work in the same venue as the old one. But it does, at least for the vast majority of the teams who come and play week in, week out. I can’t even say that they enjoy this one because they don’t know any better. The hardcore of teams did come for the previous format, but many of them, on the quiet, have said to me that they prefer this one.

I’m not prepared to concede, though that atmosphere makes no difference. If you’ve ever played in a weekly quiz league you’ll appreciate what I’m saying. There is a world of difference between playing in a huge, mostly empty bar, where people occasionally enter, or walk past you to go to the toilet, and you can practically hear the tumbleweeds rolling down Main Street, and playing in a side room, or upstairs room, where the two teams are sandwiched together so closely that you have to communicate by sign language, or even better , telepathy .

Likewise, I’m sure that Trevor Parry’s Monday night quiz in Newport, where you get three rounds of 20 GK questions in each, a picture handout worth usually 30 points, a lists handout worth usually around 50 points, and a 3 question rolling jackpot, wouldn’t go down that well in the Aberavon Rugby club on a Thursday night. Different venue, different punters. Horse for courses.


While we’re on the subject of formats, I think I should mention that I was a phone a friend for a friend on WWTBAM last weekend. This is the second time that I’ve been one, and its also the second time that I’ve not been used – that’s life. No, I’m not going to say anything about that actual show, or what happened to my friend, since I’ve no wish to spoil the show for anyone;

What I found interesting, though , is the tweaks that have been made to the game. Again, I have no wish to spoil the series for anyone, so at the risk of being called a tease I’m not going to give details yet. Suffice it to say, though, that at least one of the cherished hallmarks of the show has disappeared, and in some ways the gameplay is rather different. Is it a confident decision to breath new life into the show, or a mark of desperation ? Until the public get to see the changes of the show in action, I have no idea.

A Little More on OC

I received two lovely emails from Chris Miller this week. Chris you'll recall was a member of the Insurers team on Monday night. There were two points chris made which I'd like to share with you.

Firstly, I have to apologise to Stephen Gore of the Insurers for not recognising that he is in fact the same Stephen Gore who won Brain of Britain in 1986. Chris wasn't telling me off for this. In my reply to his first letter I had explained that for me the best moment of the show was when Stephen saw the Spencer connection. Chris was merely pointing out that Stephen does have previous, as it were.

The second point that Chris made was that he was talking to a member of the production team after the show, who explained that OC gets a huge audience in BBC Four terms. When Chris asked if he hoped that the show would eventually move to BBC2, he explained that in his view this might be a mixed blessing, since if the show moved then they might be asked to make changes in format , have a studio audience, etc. etc. In his view, if it means the show stays undiluted, then its better to stay on BBC Four. What a refreshing attitude.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

TV Watch - Only Connect

Only Connect Round One – Match 7 – Insurers v. Gamblers

For the first time this series I actually knew at least one member of both teams. The Insurers consisted of Stephen Gore, Chris Miller, and captain Peter Davies, who have all been insurers. Chris I met back in October, when he took part in the heat of Brain of Britain recorded immediately before mine. He lost to the mighty Doctor Ian , which experience I can sympathise with, having been well and truly Bayleyed in the final myself. Chris comes across as a very nice guy. As for the gamblers, well I know Jenny Ryan, Alan Gibbs, and Captain David Bill to a greater or lesser extent. All three have made appearances on TV before. Jenny has been in both series’ of Are You An Egghead ? “, and was , along with me, a stand in for the semi finals of Mastermind in 2006. Alan also appeared in the last series of “Are You An Egghead ? “. David had a great win in BBC2’s Pointless, and we played in the same side in the Cardiff Grand Prix last year.

OK, that’s enough name dropping for one entry. Now, on with the show.

Round One – What’s The Connection ?

I suspected that the Insurers’ General Knowledge would not be of quite the same standard as the Gamblers. That’s not necessarily a drawback, since puzzling ability can often be just as important in OC. Put into bat by the opposition, the Gamblers correctly saw a set of waterways, and the last years that they froze over. The Insurers had a good go at their set, but didn’t quite see that the set they had weer words for numbers, that had the same number of letters – eg – tre, meaning three, which has three letters. Jenny of The Gamblers had it for a bonus. The Gambler’s picture – a key in the door – gave them a chance of a full 5 marks, but they took the second picture – a pair of legs – just to be certain it was bingo calls. That’s good, safe play. For fun, they correctly predicted two more pictures of two little ducks and two fat ladies. There was a terrific set for the Insurers, of Caravaggio, Roger Casement, Anthony Blunt and Robert Mugabe – all who lost their knighthoods. Great connection. The insurers missed out, but the Gamblers had it. Gamblers were given the music set, and for the first time ever I had it on 2. The Gamblers took the whole set, but did recognise a set of songs or pieces of music about weddings – Marriage of Figaro etc. Finally, the Insurers put points on the board with a set of books which won an award for having daft titles – eg. Living With Crazy Buttocks. The Insurers knew it, and took it for 2 points. So at the end of the round the Gamblers were living up to their quiz pedigree, leading by 7 to 2.

Round Two – What Comes Fourth ?

The Gamblers didn’t recognise a set of Government Chief Medical Officers. The Insurers knew the connection, but couldn’t remember Liam Donaldson for a bonus. Good set. Talking of good sets, the Insurers’ first set showed pictures of a green boat, some honey – have you got it yet, and a lot of cash. The Insurers failed to suggest that a five pound note would complete a set from The Owl and The Pussycat, but the Gamblers made no mistake. Beautiful connection. Given 6 – green , 7 – Maroon , 8 – black, neither team could see that 9 = yellow stripe. I guessed they were all pool balls, but would have gone for red stripe, I’m afraid, so no points there for the team playing at home. The Insurers, faced with astrological symbols for the planets correctly predicted that the 4th in the sequence would be the male sign for the planet Mars. I thought that was well worth 3 points in anyone’s money. As for the Gamblers, 65mm was enough to have Alan suggesting film sizes, and another clue of 35mm was enough to confirm it for 3 points, as the 4th would be 8mm. The Insurers correctly identified that they had a set of Royal Parks. Thinking it was based on age, they plumped for Green. The Gamblers took the points for supplying Hyde, which was the next one down in terms of area. So at the end of a round where the Insurers had made a spirited fight of the contest, the Gamblers led by 12 points to 5.

Round Three – The Connecting Walls

The Insurers made a great start to their wall identifying a set of characters from Richmal Crompton’s Just William books – William, two of the Outlaws, and Jumble his dog. They could see that there was a set of fictional islands there, but just couldn’t pick out the right 4. Still when the wall was resolved or them they identified the set of islands, a set of Spencers – good shout there. I thought it might be, but hadn’t heard of Spencer Tunick, I’m afraid, and a set of independent TV production companies.
As for the Gamblers, they gave a textbook display. There was a set of TV cooks and chefs, but they ignored the dangling carrot of Nigella, instead correctly putting her with a set of spices. That’s good play. Sets of things preceded by Pink, and Fictional Streets – Elm and Bash for example, were found in short order, with more than half the time left. A full ten points. I knew that the Gamblers were good, but they were playing an absolute blinder. The lead had stretched to 22 points to 10.

Round Four – Missing Vowels

It wasn’t impossible that the Insurers could pull back the deficit, but it would need a virtual shut out. The first set was crime writers. Gamblers gained three points, and Insurers had one right and one wrong. The next set was venomous sea creatures, and the Gamblers won by 3 to 1. Films directed by Woody Allen came next , and some more obscure of his films saw the Gamblers take the set 2 – 0 . Sauces followed, and this was a 2 – 1 win for the Gamblers. Finally we had parts of speech, which was shared 2 apiece. So the final score was 33 points to the Gamblers, and 14 to the Insurers.

The Insurers were unfortunate to come up against a fine team, who were absolutely at the top of their game tonight. Shall I burden the Gamblers with the Clark tip ? No, that would be unfair. But you have to say, with form like this they’ll surely go a long way.

TV Watch - University Challenge

University Challenge – Quarter Final Qualification Match – Imperial v. Emmanuel

I think that I’m just starting to get the hang of the quarter finals now. Last week nobody was going to get through automatically, but one team was going to be eliminated. Tonight, like the match up two weeks ago, nobody was going to get eliminated, but one of the teams was definitely going to make it through to the semis. So that must mean that we had two teams who won their first quarter final matches, and indeed we do, Imperial and Emmanuel.

Going into the match, if you looked at the stats there was barely anything to choose between the two sides. Their scores in each round so far have been very similar, although Emmanuel did lose to Regents Park in the first round. So with little to choose between both teams in terms of raw ability, tonight’s contest was always going to be decided by the buzzer. First blood went to Mr. Healy of Imperial, who worked out that a series of historical events were all linked by the number 7. 2 out of 3 bonuses on sets of the 3 Rs were taken. Regular LAM reader Gilead Amit , captain of Imperial buzzed in for the next starter, recognising that Seward’s Folly referred to the US purchase of Alaska.All 3 bonuses were taken, and at this early stage Imperial were looking good value for their lead.

Jenny Harris of Emanuel buzzed in early on a starter which gave a definition of a term for a particular kind of rule, only to hear JP continue “which 4 words “ when she only had one word in mind. A wrong first buzz can often unsettle a team, and lead to them drying up on the buzzer, and I feared for Emmanuel at this stage. I needn’t have worried. Mr. Hastings of Emmanuel correctly identified the parietal lobe on the next starter, and battle was joined.All 3 bonuses on quotes from Machiavelli were taken. Mr. Scott of Emmanuel buzzed in early to identify a five letter word meaning an attempt, amongst other things, as essay. Captain Alex Guttenplan, quiet for this first period of the game, visibly perked up at a series of chemistry bonuses, and 3 bonuses were taken. 7 minutes in, and all was square at 45 apiece.

A timely buzz from Mr. Healy to identify Oliver Cromwell’s death mask put Imperial back in front. As for the bonuses, I thought Napoleon’s death mask looked nothing like his paintings. They took 2 bonuses. On 8 and a half minutes Emmanuel’s captain and talisman, Alex Guttenplan scored his first starter, identifying Pyramus as the partner of Thisbe. Only one starter was taken. Mr. Guttenplan was unlucky to miss the next starter, offering orbital mechanics for celestial mechanics, but it mattered not since with the next starter he buzzed in early on a number of terms referring to positions in yoga. So as the first third of the contest came to a close Emmanuel had weathered the early assault from Imperial, and had a slight lead. 2 bonuses were taken. Jenny Harris of Emmanuel took the next starter. One of the features of this Emmanuel performance tonight was that all four members took starters tonight, which is the mark of a good team. 3 bonuses were taken.

At a time when Emmanuel were in danger of pulling out a big lead, Gilead Amit played a captain’s innings by answering that Wordsworth, Elgar etc. were all good examples of alliteration – when their Christian names were taken into account. 2 out of three bonuses cut Emmanuel’s lead to 15 points. The next starter was a great , archetypal University Challenge question. If you take the vowels out of the word – model – in roman numerals which number is represented ? Alex Guttenplan was first to the buzzer with the correct answer of 1550. Two bonuses on smoked fish stretched the lead to 35 points. Neither team fancied the classical music starter, nor the fine art starter that followed. Mr. Scott of Emanuel made no mistake with the next , on organic chemistry, and his second starter of the night saw Emmanuel just beginning to leave Imperial in their wake. They were rather lumbered with the classical music bonuses, and did well to take one of them.

That man Guttenplan had the bit between his teeth now, and correctly identified the Radcliffe line as the demarcation point in 1947 between India and Pakistan. At this stage of the game, moving swiftly towards the final third, and with Emmanuel eking out a healthy lead, you would have forgiven Imperial for slipping out of the match, so its great credit to Gilead for buzzing in to take the next starter. Sadly Imperial didn’t get any change out of a set of bonuses on pigments. Still, Imperial were making a spirited fight, as Gilead continued a very good night’s work to take the next starter, identifying a work which tried to make one consistent narrative of the four gospels, to take Imperial through the 100 point barrier, and decrease the gap between the teams to less than 50. At the 20 minute mark Emmanuel led by 155 to 115. It sounds like a big gap, but it really isn’t, and going into the last third of the match it really was anybody’s game.

Mr. Good took Imperial’s third starter in a row, correctly identifying a mentally incapacitated monarch as Henry VI.Two bonuses halved the gap, to be followed by the second picture round. Nether team could answer, but Mr. Scott of Emmanuel took his third starter by identifying the OED’s definition of the word definition. They took one of the picture bonuses. Captain Guttenplan ‘s nerve was holding, though, as he took the next starter, knowing that if it’s a children’s writer, and it was born in Wonderful Wonderful Copenhagen , then it must be Danny Kaye, er, sorry, Hans Christian Andersen. The bonuses were swiftly followed by another Guttenplan starter, to which the answer was Planck’s Constant. This was followed by a nice set of three chestnuts on Security Forces.

So,in a matter of three minutes, the gap had widened to 80 points, and Imperial, who had made a good fight for so much of the match, looked unlikely to come back up to Emmanuel again. Mr. Hastings took the next starter for Emmanuel, who also added the three bonuses on rivers. Jenny Harris buzzed in for the next starter, identifying Bob Dylan’s 2009 album. JP by this time was in top gear, and he raced the team through a full set of bonuses. Mr. Healy of Imperial stopped the rot, identifying the Astana Tour de France team as being based in Kazakhstan. Three bonuses followed. Another starter needing instant calculation of what are Prime numbers and what aren’t fell to who else but Alex Guttenplan. The contest was over, but on 275 it was just possible that Emmanuel could break 300. They failed on a set of bonuses on the first names of a set of characters in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream “though. The next starter went begging, and the gong went halfway through the next . So at the end, Emmanuel won by 275 to 160.

Well done Emmanuel ! You are a fine team, and go from strength to strength. I look forward to seeing you in the semis. As for Imperial, please, don’t despair. 95 points out of the 115 Emmanuel won by came in the last few minutes. You played better than the scoreline shows, and you can still make it to the semis.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

JP seemed so absorbed in the contest tonight that he hardly had time for any of his trademark interjections. He seemed rather excited about Oliver Cromwell’s death mask, as he peered at the picture, then observed “I thought they’d removed the wart, but you can just see it. “
When Emmanuel identified a number of writers and composers having written about Faust he gave one of his finest dismissive “of course”s, as if rather insulted that he even had to ask such obviously populist stuff.

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

The flag of Northumberland County Council is based on the flag that used to fly over St. Cuthbert’s tomb, described in the Venerable Bede’s ecclesiastical history.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

February Quiz

It was my turn to set the quiz for the Aberavon Rugby Club last Thursday. Here's the first four rounds or so. Your target - well the team who won scored 38 on these, so the banker pays 39s and over.

1) In the news – who is Vanessa Perroncel ?

2) Which Asian capital city was designed by sir Edwin Lutyens ?

3) Christopher Trace and Leila Williams were the first presenters of which Tv show ?

4) Which Stanley Kubrick film has a title that means a type of bullet used by US Infantrymen ?

5) Which is the smallest species of mouse native to the UK ?

6) What is the connection between you last four answers ?

7) The American War of Independence effectively ended with the defeat of General Cornwallis in which battle ?

8) Which two Shakespeare plays between them contain the words All and Nothing ?

9) Who did Andy Murray defeat in the semi final of the recent Australian Open

10) What did Apple launch in January which they claim will revolutionise the way that we use the web ?

11) How is life prisoner Iliich Ramirez Sanchez better known ?

12) Which roman letter stands for 500 in roman numerals ?

13) Which British car was produced between 1972 and 2002 as a successor to the Regal, and has now been superceded by the Rialto ?

14) What is the connection between your last three answers ?

15) What was the name of the singer who provided the singing voice for many film actresses in musicals, for example, Deborah Kerr in The King and I ?

16) Which well known singer died of anorexia nervosa in 1983 ?

17) Which is the only country in the world that begins with the letter O ?

18) Who scored the first try in this year’s 6 nations ?

19) Last week thousands of Toyota cars were recalled due to a potentially deadly fault with which component ?

20) How is the AK47 Assault rifle otherwise known ?

21) Which is the largest temple in the world ?

22) The element copper is actually named after which island ?

23) Which medal is the highest civil decoration in the UK ?

24) Which ragtime composition by Scott Joplin was the first ever instrumental piece to sell a million copies of sheet music ?

25) Which British newspaper was launched in 1964 to replace the Daily Herald ?

26) How is the constellation otherwise called Crux commonly known ?

27) What is the connection between your last 7 answers ?

28) Mrs. Thatcher’s private papers, released last week, revealed that she followed which diet, named after a medical establishment ?

29) Which famous scientist once said “I do not believe that God plays dice with the world ?

30) Which of the 8 planets was discovered in the 18th century by William Herschel ?

31) In 1988, when Great Britain won the Olympic gold medal in Mens Hockey, which country did they defeat in the final ?

32) In Roman Mythology, who was the God of the Underworld ?

33) What is the connection between your last four answers

34) Which singer’s real name is Roger Nelson ?

35) In The Simpson’s, Homer works in the nuclear plant. What is he actually responsible for ?

36) Who replaced John Terry as England Captain ?

37) Ian Brown was the lead singer of which 1990s Manchester band ?

38) What name was given to the court of law, in the palace of Westminster, which lasted until 1641 ? It took its name from the distinctive decoration on the roof of the room in which it sat ?

39) Which notorious Australian TV show was set in Wentworth Detention Centre ?

40) In computer terminology, which F blocks unauthorised access to a computer system or network ?

41) Which is the capital of the American state of Arizona ?

42) What is the name of the alter ego of Wonder Woman ?

43) The word Halloween is actually short for which 3 word phrase ?

44) What is the connection between you last seven answers ?

Friday, 12 February 2010

Answers to January's Quiz

Here’s the answers to January’s Quiz . Watch this space for the February edition..

1) In Annan in Scotland last week, a statue of which hero has finally been installed 150 year after it was commissioned ?

2) Events of the 21st century – in which year did the Columbia space shuttle disaster occur ?

3) What nickname was given to the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve, due to the stripes on the uniform ?

4) 2 – 17 – 3 – 19 – what number comes next ?

5) In which country would you find Mount Cotopaxi ?

6) Business – what does MB as in MB, one of the world’s biggest toy manufacturers, actually stand for ?

7) If you had little swords in your garden, what would actually be growing there ?

8) In TVs Gavin and Stacey, what is the name of Nessa and Smithy’s son ?

9) Which song did the X Factor finalists take to number 1 in November 2009

10) Name the controversial third umpire in the final test against south Africa, who allegedly did not have the volume up on his TV set .

11) Last week, which comedian , actor and writer publically quit twitter after using it for just 6 weeks, branding it as a pointless opportunity for celebrities to show off.

12) In the 1991 gulf war, what were the names of a) The missiles fired by Iraq into Israel, and b) the American missiles used to counter the Iraqi one.

13) True or false – the cake on the front cover of the Rolling stones Let it Bleed LP was actually baked for them by Jane Asher ?

14) Weybridge in Surrey was home to the world’s first ever purpose built racing circuit. What was its name

15) Porto Novo is the capital of which west African country ?

16) Which is the birthstone for January – is it garnet – amethyst or bloodstone

17) Which Yann Martel novel won the Booker Prize in 2002 ?

18) The meerkat is actually a species of which mammal ?

19) Which film about the Beatles days in Hamburg starred Ewan Macgregor as fifth Beatle Stuart Sutcliffe ?

20) Michael Schumacher is set to return to formula 1 this year. Driving for which team ?

21) Which premiership manager was last week charged with two counts of tax evasion ?

22) Marion Barry the black American politician arrested and dismissed from office for drug offences, was the mayor of which major US city ?

23) In a novel by H. Rider Haggard, who was Ayesha ?

24) Tokay wine comes from which country ?

25) In which city was a plaster figure called the goddess of democracy controversially raised in May 1989 ?

26) True or false – the hula hula dance was developed from the activity of surfing ?

27) What type of creature is a galliwasp – a lizard – a bird – a mammal – an insect

28) Leo McKern, Patrick Cargill, Peter Wyngarde and george Baker were among the actors who played number 2 in which cult TV series ?

29) In the 2009 animated film Disney’s A Christmas Carol, who voiced the character Scrooge ?

30) In the 1970s, Brian Clough succeeded Don Revie as manager of Leeds United, and only lasted 44 days. Who took over from Clough, and took Leeds to the final of the European Cup ?

31) Last week who announced that they plan to quit China ?

32) Which ancient people, traditional enemies of the Israelites, have given their name to people who are thought to be uncultured or uncivilised ?

33) Between 1970 and 1975, which asian country was called the Khmer Republic ?

34) Which classical composer composed the St. Matthew Passion ?

35) Who or what is a zoetrope ?

36) Malachite is a main ore of which metal ?

37) In which decade of the 20th century was sliced bread introduced ?

38) Whose toy stories TV series in 2009 saw him create , amongst other things, a full size airfix spitfire, and a full size house made from lego ?

39) Which 90s song beings with the line “Confidence is a preference for the habitual voyeur “

40) Who was the first ever british boxer to win world titles at more than one weight, in the 20th century – (excluding Bob Fitzsimmons – 2 of his three titles Middleweight and heavyweight – were won during the 19th century, only his light heavyweight title was won in the 20th.)

Mastermind - First Round Heat 18/24

There was much for the connoisseur to enjoy in tonight’s show. For one thing it was far more of a generations line up tonight than I think its been all series. All of the contenders tonight were making their first ever appearance, but I’m probably not being unfair in saying that while Ian Copping, Valerie Roebuck and Brian Weight all had the aspect of more mature campaigners, student Rob Dunne must surely be the youngest contender in this series so far. Still, as the saying goes, if you’re good enough, you’re old enough. Time would tell.

Company director Ian Copping kicked off tonight’s show with a deceptively tricky subject. He was answering questions on TV Westerns of the 1950s and the 1960s. The reason he gave was that his family’s first television was bought for the Coronation in 1953, and in the 50s and on into the 60s westerns were very popular – so the genre grabbed him in his formative years. Maybe I’m wrong , but I thought this was a difficult round. Lets be honest, how many of those westerns mentioned have you ever heard of ? Under the circumstances, Ian’s 8 looked like a pretty decent performance in a very tough round.

Valerie Roebuck was answering tonight’s Popular Author round, on the life and work of JRR Tolkien. OK, compared with the previous round this was pretty well trodden ground, but a round on Tolkien is something I for one am always ready to listen to. Valerie told us how she had written to professor Tolkien, and much to her surprise received a reply, which she still has today. All I can say is that I do hope that its insured, Valerie, since its never going to go down in value. OK, that’s the end of this edition of Antiques Roadshow, and back to the review. A fine round of 14 and one pass put Valerie into a good position, and ensured that she would be in contention going into the GK round.

If Rob Dunne was at all fazed by the situation he certainly didn’t show it. Rob’s specialist subject was the Government of Gough Whitlam, 1972 – 75. In his filmed insert he explained that Whitlam was the Prime Minister of Australia, who was controversially dismissed from office by the Governor General of Australia in 1975, but was not without significant achievements during his time. Well, during his round, Rob Dunne showed that he has the makings of a fine quizzer, and is probably a fine student, and a score of 15 and 1 pass was a fine achievement I felt.

Brian Weight gave us tonight’s Legendary Sportsman round on Dixie Dean. Dean of course holds the record for goals in an English Football League season, with a mind boggling 60. Brian explained that he has no doubt that Dean would be a star if he was playing today, but a player like Christiano Ronaldo would never have been such a great star playing on the boggy pitches, and with the heavy balls of the 1930s. I’m sure he was right. He supplied a lot of right answers as well, scoring 14 and no passes to be well placed for a dash into the penalty box and a golden goal in the GK round.

So at the halfway mark only Ian Copping looked out of contention, and it was Ian who returned first to the chair to face the GK round. I felt that he had quite a tough set of questions. I think that judging by some of his answers Ian must do a bit of quizzing in his time, but this round certainly didn’t do him any favours. A score of 9 , for a total of 17 wasn’t a bad achievement on this set at all.

Valerie Roebuck was the first of the three contenders who had a realistic chance of winning to get the opportunity to lay down a marker. I think that Valerie has probably done a bit of quizzing in her time too, as she started her round very confidently. Still, there was one particularly long pause before a pass, and for a second it looked like she might fall into a spiral. However she recovered well enough to push her score on to 10 for a total of 24. That’s a good score, but it would only do if it was a winning one – falling a little short of the leading runners-up board as it did.

Brian Weight had the advantage of fewer passes than Valerie in the first round. So if he could score 10 and 4 passes, or better, he’d take the lead. However I know from experience that chasing a double figures score is not anything like as easy a proposition as you might think it is. Brian had some good answers, but not quite enough of them, and he finished the round with an overall score of 22.

So Rob Dunne had two minutes to try to beat the target. I hope that the other contenders on tonight’s show will forgive me if I say I was rooting for him at this stage. Actually, thinking about it, it may have been this that did for him in the end. At the moment his general knowledge is not sufficient to give him the 9 points he needed, and he finished with 21 points. However, Rob, if by any chance you read this, can I congratulate you on your first round performance, and urge you to continue with the quizzing. With a very few years’ experience of quizzing you could go a very long way in this , and other competitions.

As for Valerie, congratulations on a good victory. As it was she seemed most surprised at her victory, which was very endearing. You join a select band of lady winners so far this series, with Barbara Thompson and Chloe Stone. Experience suggests that there should be at least a couple more joining you before we get to the semis.

The Details

Ian CoppingTV Westerns of the 1950s and 1960s 8-1 9-3 17 – 4
Valerie Roebuck The Life and Work of JRR Tolkien 14 - 1 10 – 4 24 – 5
Rob Dunne The Government of Gough Whitlam 15 – 1 6 – 6 21 – 7
Brian Weight The Life and Career of Dixie Dean 14 – 0 8 – 3 22 - 3

Current Highest Scoring Runners Up

John Cooper29 – 3
Ian Scott Massie26 – 2
Les Morrell26 - 3
Colin Wilson25 - 0
Peter Cowans25 - 2
William de'Ath25 - 4

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

World's Biggest Pub Quiz - You Can Help !

Well, they always say that charity begins at home, but in this case, charity can begin at the pub quiz. I had an email earlier this week from Jacqulyn Bell, asking me if I could help publicise the World’s Biggest Pub Quiz. If you’re a regular on the IQAGB forum then you’ll already be well aware of this event. However, for those of you who aren’t , here goes.

To quote from the press release : -
“On 25 March 2010 the Family Holiday Association will be attempting to SMASH the record for the World’s Biggest Pub Quiz! Thousands of people around the UK will be taking part. Get your local pub or venue involved and help make this the LIVE event of the year! It’s a great opportunity to raise loads of cash to help the UK charity Family Holiday Association give severely disadvantaged children a much-needed family break”

The questions will be set by the IQAGB – the British arm of the International Quiz Association, and believe me, they know their onions !

Registration has been made simple. In fact, if you can see your way to clear to getting an event going for the evening, then you can even register online at
While we’re on the subject, you can pick up a handy organiser guide online too from

Organiser guide
The way I see it is that the humble pub quiz has a long and very honourable history of support for charities in this country, and so this seems to me to be a good thing to get involved in. If you want to learn a little more, then check out this website

The World's Biggest Pub Quiz

Go on ! You know it makes sense !

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

TV Watch - Only Connect

Only Connect – Round One Match 6 – Exeter Alumni v. Gourmands

When I saw the team name Exeter Alumni I did think that maybe we had another generations match again tonight. Still, consisting of Ian Pithouse, Ben Howarth, and captain Sam Charman at least they all looked old enough to shave this week. Alumni should have given it away really . These guys while still young, have all finished their studies. The gourmands too failed to live up to my prematch expectations, as there was not one crusty, old, wine-soaked dodderer among them. To be honest I doubt that there’s much to choose between the combined ages of both teams. The Gourmands consisted of Geoff White, John Anderson, and the splendidly named Tom Paternoster. Without wishing to be mean, the winners of the last couple of weeks have struggled at times. Tonight, though, we were in for rather more of a treat.

Round One – What’s the Connection ?

It was a confident start for Exeter, on the music no less. Madonna’s Angel didn’t do it, but Duffy’s Warwick Avenue gave them the answer, and Gerry Rafferty’s Baker Street confirmed it – underground stations. Nero, Kenneth Moore and Brian Clough gave the Gourmands the actor Michael Sheen. Good connections, and a good start by both teams. The picture clues were correctly identified as parts of the body – Paul Foot – the band Elbow etc. The Alumni maintained their positive form. The Gourmands dropped the first points on a gettable set of UNESCO world heritage sites, a bonus gladly accepted by the Alumni. Thus ahead, they returned the favour. A set of tautological acronyms followed – and why didn’t I get this ? It was obvious once you knew. Good connection again. The Gourmands managed to link absinthe etc. with wormwood, and the score at the end of the round was 4 – 4.

Round Two – What comes 4th ?

The Alumni nearly got the full monty on the first set, correctly identifying - being sucked into a pipe - as what happened to Augustus Gloop in Charlie and the Chocolate factory. They took the next to be safe, and then explained what happened to Mike Teavee. Good shout. Personally I found the Gourmand’s first set harder, but they still managed to identify degrees of cloud cover. That’s a good answer. The Alumni failed on the pictures to get a set of Crosby,( Bing) Stills ( whiskey) and Nash ( Kate) , which should have given them Young ( Jimmy). The Gourmands made no mistake. The Gourmands were unlucky to identify a set of heads of MI6 as heads of MI5 , and plump the wrong way for Stella Rimmington. The Alumni were honest enough to admit they’d have gone the same way.The Alumni correctly guessed that 1 – white would complete a set of police IC codes, after being allowed a quick correction by Victoria. The Gourmands correctly identified a set of distances as belonging to the markings on a rugby union field, but went the wrong way to the centre, when they should have gone for the try line. The Alumni gratefully accepted the bonus to give them a lead of 11 points to 7

Round Three – The Connections Wall ?

Tricky walls have given the teams a very tough time for the last couple of weeks. But both teams solved their walls tonight. The Gourmands found Booker Prize winning authors, flightless birds, words meaning to cheat , but although they had the set of cat – moon – sleep and cake they failed to link them to the word walk. As for the Alumni, they solved terms of endearment, british architects, words followed by metal, and failed to get that Jones, Darling, Slick and Kelly could all be Grace. Easy when you can see it , or have it explained to you, I’m afraid that I didn’t get it myself .Jefferson Airplane had become Jefferson Starship by my time. Alumni led by 18 to 14.

Round Four – The Missing Vowels

At the start of the round Victoria had squeezed the information from the Gourmands that they fancied their chances on the Missing Vowels. They needed to be on their best form, since 4 points is a deficit to overturn on a good team like the Alumni. We began with National Dishes. The Gourmands might have been expected to dominate these. To be fair they narrowed the gap to one point, as the Alumni led by 18 to 17. Next came famous mottoes. A tricky set, and at the end the Alumni still led by 19 to 16, as the Gourmands incorrectly answered one. We moved onto former names of major cities.This stretched the lead , as the score went to 22 – 17 as we moved onto writing systems. The Gourmands answered more correctly, but a wrong answer can undo a lot of good work, as they found. At the end of this set he score was 23 – 19. The last category was They drowned. Neither team drowned, but at the end Alumni ran out winners with 23 to 20.

What a good match. I liked these teams. It was bad luck for the Gourmands, themselves a good outfit, to meet one of the most impressive teams we’ve seen this series. Still, so much depends on the way that the questions pan out for you, that I have no intention of burdening them with the Clark tip at this stage. Cue sighs of collective relief from the Alumni, I imagine. Good show.