Sunday, 18 December 2011

Only Connect Special

Wall Night

An interesting little pre-christmas treat this. 8 former teams, who represented each of the 5 series, were invited back to contest a winner takes all, knockout wall tournament. The format was easy to follow. The teams were paired up in the first round. each would get one wall to unravel – usual scoring rules applied. If the two teams achieved the same score, then the team who solved their first set more quickly would go through.

I won’t give details of each of the walls – I’m sure you can find them and play them on the official site. The teams involved were : -
The Courtiers – a team unlucky enough to meet the Epicureans on top form in round 1 of series 4.
The Knitters – from series 1. I believe they were knocked out by finalists The Lapsed Psychologists (although my records for series one are sketchy – apologies for that. )
The Choirboys – they contested round 1 in series 3.
The Editors – they met future semi-finalists the Trade Unionists in round one of season 5.
The Archers Admirers – semi-finalists in the 3rd series, and featuring none other than our own Andrew B.!
The Technologists – who lost that extremely tight quarter final to series 5 winners the Analysts
The Hitchhikers – semi-finalists in series 3
The Travel Writers – now, I’m guessing that they must have been in series 1, because I have no record of them. I can only apologise.
Here’s the results : -
Round One
Courtiers – 4
Knitters – 7
Choirboys- 4
Editors - 5
Archers Admirers – 4
Technologists - 5
Hitchhikers – 4
Travel Writers 2

Semi Finals
Editors – 5
Knitters – 5 (won on faster first set )
Technologists – 7
Hitchhikers – 3

Knitters – 5
Technologists – 6

So our first Wall Night champions are Bruce and the boys from the Technologists. Well done gentlemen ! Fine performance.


Andrew B. said...

According to Wikipedia (, the Travel Writers were indeed in Series 1.

I'm curious as to what people thought of using the same wall twice in the final. I've heard at least one person suggest they should have done that for all the rounds.

Londinius said...

Hi Andrew

Well, for what it's worth, I think it was justifiable for the final using the same wall. However it would have been rather boring TV if every match had used just the one wall for both teams, in my opinion.

davidbod said...

The reductio ad absurdum reply to that is that you should do that on the main series as well, and indeed for every round of the show. While that may be 100% fair, it would be terribly boring for our viewer in Cheltenham.

So we compromised a little by offering the same wall for the final to ensure the fairest play-off possible. We try our best to balance the walls as best we can, but with only four 'questions' per wall there's a lot of possible variance in the scores depending on what you know.

On paper, personally I'd have liked to have seen 8 teams take a grid each with the top 4 going through to the head-to-head, but there's drawbacks with that too - (a) matching 8 grids in difficulty would be virtually impossible given that pairing up similar grids is hard enough as it is, and (b) delivering the scores as you go splits up the action and removes the need for a set that would fit 25 people on it at once.

DanielFullard said...

I really enjoyed the shows, only just got into Only Connect and cannot wait for the next series

Andrew B. said...

I think their idea was to show the (identical) walls in a split-screen format... which I think would either be awesome or unwatchable...

David - do you know when the second "Wall Special" is being broadcast?

davidbod said...

I hadn't heard anything about split screening - I think it would be very difficult given our technical set up - but I did see some people (not contestants or production) mention it on a forum somewhere.

The second Wall Night was intended for the same time in 2012 but such is the success of the programme they're bringing it forward. The last I heard was late January but that could all change so check listings magazines for details. But just to clarify - this is not a repeat of the recent shows, it is 8 more teams taking part in an identical 2-episode competition.

davidbod said...

P.S. Another reason why split-screen is not likely to happen is that the first episode contains 8 grids and the second contains 6. If you ran the final grid concurrently that would mean only 5 grids in 30 minutes and so you'd need even more VT to fill the gap, as it were.

P.P.S. I did find it strange that none of these experienced teams scored a 10 even though they often knew all four links. I think the 2 minute time limit in the first round might have contributed to that, but still...

redarsedbaboon said...

A Pedant writes:

Dave, the Editors lost to the Analysts in round one, not to the Trade Unionists. Nice to see them and the Technologists 'franking our form' :)

cwj said...

You are correct to state that The Knitters lost to the Lapsed Psychologists in the first round (indeed the first match) of Series 1. They wrote about it here:

Londinius said...

Hi Everyone

D'Oh ! Sawree !

BruceLin42 said...

We were discussing the format during the taping, and we liked the idea of "8 teams do walls, pick the top 4" as well. The randomness of 8 walls might as well be the same as the randomness of 4 pairs of walls (I'd actually be curious how precisely you can rank the difficulties. It might be interesting to predict the difficulties of various walls, then compare with the results from the online walls?)

The teams could be told their ranking immediately after their wall. Later teams would know their position accurately, but then again, the viewing audience knows that too.

@R.A.B. - learned a new phrase today!

BruceLin42 said...

Would have liked to score the full 10 points - it would have been much more reassuring while waiting for the scores!

Maybe it's the format; I certainly felt more stressed, knowing that there wouldn't be a chance to recover points on a later round ...

davidbod said...

Re: Bruce:
"The randomness of 8 walls might as well be the same as the randomness of 4 pairs of walls".

Well, I'm not sure that is quite true. Let's say you have 8 heat walls and you rank them in your head as 3, 4, 4, 4, 5, 5, 5, 6 out of ten. It would be unfair if we gave these to the 8 heat teams then took the best 4 teams because one team would have got a substantially harder wall (6/10) than another (3/10). Whereas by pairing it 3-4, 4-4, 5-5, 5-6, at least each team will get a very similar grid each.

Bruce continues: "I'd actually be curious how precisely you can rank the difficulties."

Well, it's more of an art than a science. With experience, it becomes quite easy to spot grids that have the same 'shape' - e.g. they might both have an easy starter category, two medium ones, and a lateral/word trick one at the end. Also, if one grid has a particularly nasty trap in it (such as 7 possibilities for one group of 4, or a 'bear trap' red herring category that isn't even one of the answers) then we try to pair it with a grid that has the same feature so that we're being equally mean to both teams. We can't promise to do that over 8 teams but it's usually possible for 2.

We were very happy with the way the walls worked in the specials. No-one ended up with a blank, and there was enough play in it for most teams to make progress in the time available without making it look trivially easy.