Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Only Connect - 3rd Place Play Off

Third Place Play Off – The Listeners v. The Trade Unionists

By the time we get to the third place play off we’ve come to know the two teams quite well. So it’s a pleasure to welcome back the Listeners and the Trade Unionists. The Listeners are Jane Teather, Andrew Lyman and captain Dave Tilley. You may remember that they lost a thriller in the semi to the Antiquarians. More about that later. Their opponents were the Trade Unionists, Colin Whorlow, Nick Atty, and captain James Hastie. They were narrowly beaten last week by the Analysts.

Round One – What’s the Connection ?

The Listeners kicked off with twisted flax. Now you may remember them in their semi guessing their first set off 2, and getting it wrong. This might have cost them the whole match. They did something similar in this , They took three music clues, and working from Silver Lady and Moody Blues Nights In White Satin they guessed wedding anniversaries. Incorrect. Given a wee bit of Iggy Pop , the TUs worked out we had Soul ( David ) Blues and Pop. The first was Big Country. Types of music, and a bonus point thank you very much. Their own set behind water were blood transfusion – web rotary printing press – RMS Titanic – Eddystone Lighthouse. Neither team could see the answer – which was appropriately tricky. They all killed , in a way, the man responsible for their creation. The Lists found the pictures behind two reeds. Elizabeth Barratt Browning – Barack Obama’s Dog, a Portuguese Man of War – and I think they had it here – then Cristiano Ronaldo gave them Portuguese. Nobody knew the TUs’ next – Birds Path – Straw Road – Silver River – The Road to Santiago. They are all alternative names for the Milky Way. The Listeners’ took a good set with hecatomb – Argus – ten duotrigintillion ( I hope that’s right ) and US senate, with 100 being the connection. ( That number is a googol, which has 100 noughts. ) Finally The TU’s took Lion, for Yubari Melons – Kopi Luwak Coffee – Wagyu Beef – Saffron – which are all the most expensive of their type. Honours for the round even – 2 points apiece.

Round Two – What Comes Fourth ?

The Lists jumped wrongly with Wellington – Melbourne – Salisbury. They saw cities, which was wrong. The TUs at least saw prime ministers, but not the right one. These were all PMs at the accession of monarchs – the next, for George V, was Asquith. The Pictures behind Flax were my Moment Of The Week. The first showed Peter Crouch. The Rugby World Cup still lingering in the memory I chanted out Crouch – Touch – Hold ( Pause in the show, but I said hold ) – Engage. So it proved. I even predicted the ring, as did the TUs on the full set. I didn’t do badly on the next set either. The Lists unearthed Shu – Geb – and I had Horus by this time as the answer. The next was Osiris. The Lists correctly gave Horus, and honest Dave Tilley admitted this was a take a guess at an Egyptian God answer. Good enough. Each one was the son of the previous one. Great answer from the TU’s on the next – Doubles – Minor – Triples. They knew we were dealing with bell ringing, and gave Major correctly as the 4th. Neither team knew that sphere – sphereoid – ellipsoid would be followed by quadric. They are all less specific than the previous. Another great answer from the TUs followed. They could see that Sphinx has one vowel in 6 letters, borscht 1 in 7, and schmaltz 1 in 8. They gave strengths, the only 9 letter word with 1 vowel. For me they thoroughly deserved their lead of 8 to 4.

Round 3 – The Connecting Walls

Both teams unraveled their walls successfully. The TUs opted for water, behind which they found sets : -
Rosyth – Scapa Flow – Woolwich and Chatham – naval dockyards
Barrytown – Millennium – Border – Deptford – literary trilogies
Murrayfield – Eden Park – Flaminio – Newlands – national rugby stadia
Bull – Skye – Norfolk – cairn – terriers.
So whatever happened the lead would not be less than 4. In fact, 4 was exactly what the lead remained, since the water wall yielded up all of its secrets to the Listeners. They found sets of
trash – jerry – spray and watering – types of can
Ivar – Billy – Malm – Effektiv – all sold in Ikea
Flora – Pax – Minerva – Vesta – Roman Goddesses
Lack – Oddie – Bond – Audubon – ornithologists.
So honours shared, and the lead remained at 4, with 18 to the TUs , and 14 to the Listeners.

Round 4 – Missing Vowels

All to play for, and away we went. We began with Famous roads in the US. The Lists made a slight inroad into the lead, scoring 2 – 1. Words with 5 identical vowels fell 2 apiece , and time was running out. A great set of movie spoilers followed, and this was shared 1 -1 . That was it, and the final scores were 19 to the Listeners, and 22 to the Trade Unionists. An appropriately close result, but the Trade Unionists fair winners of the bronze, I feel , for their performance on round two. Well played both.

University Challenge -Round Two - Match 6

University College, London v. University of Warwick

The teams lining up to try to live up to the excellent contests we’ve seen in the last couple of weeks were UCL and Warwick. UCL were actually the lowest scoring winners of round one, although their win margin against York was a healthy 80 points. Warwick were comfortably in the middle of my unofficial table. They beat Edinburgh in the very first heat of this series, back in July. The UCL team were Hywel Carver, Patrick Cook, Tom Andrews and captain Jamie Karran. Warwick were re[resented by Martin Rixham, Celia Nicholls, Sumukh Kaul and captain Thomas Hayes.

Celia Nicholls took the first starter when she worked out that a set of colloquialisms were all earlier equivalents of Catch 22. The team didn’t manage to take any of a set of bonuses on John Donne ( whose verses, according to James I, were like the peace of God, in as much as they passeth all understanding. ) Jamie Karran knew that John Arbuthnot’s famous satire was “John Bull”. 2 bonuses were taken on covenants. Sumukh Kaul took his first starter on the actor Pete Postlethwaite. It wouldn’t be his last. He was by far the most effective of the Warwick team on the buzzer in this match. 2 bonuses were taken on the word ‘if’. It was a starter double for Sumukh Kaul, as he took the next starter on the term – conjugate. Unfortunately Warwick couldn’t manage any of the bonuses on the ear. They had a one in three chance on the ossicles, but went for stirrup when they should have gone for malleus, or hammer. Patrick Cook recognized a photograph of the publisher Mr. Pulitzer, of Prize fame. For which he earned a set of bonuses of photographs of Pulitzer prize winning female writers. They found these rather tricky. Henri of Navarre – or Henri IV of France was the next starter – sorry, I didn’t note who got that one – the iplayer was iplaying up at the time. It was UCL anyway, and they took two bonuses on novels of George Eliot. Sumukh Kaul completed a very good first ten minutes for himself by knowing a set of cryptic clues all pointed to various Chancellors of the Exchequer. One bonus on mineralogy was enough to give Warwick back the lead at the 10 minute stage, as the scores stood at 55 to 50.

Neither team knew the American photographer Robert Mapplethorpe for the next starter. UCL knew the next starter referred to the scene from Tom Sawyer which, incidentally, has been part of the Google logo today. Small world. One bonus followed on words made up from the letters in Das Kapital. Neither team recognized Einstein’s definition of Science. Hywel Carver took the next , a UC special , where the internet abbreviations from several countries – Botswana etc. – were combined to make the latin phrase Bona Fide. A good 3 bonuses on languages followed. Celia Nicholls knew that the plot of Il Postino concerned a postman trying to deliver letters to the poet Neruda. 1 bonus was taken on Astronomers Royal. The music starter followed, and Thomas Hayes was in like lightning to identify the theme of Star Trek Deep Space Nine. Three more of the same followed , and they missed out on farscape. Not surprised. I know people who will never forgive them for not getting Blake’s Seven. Nobody knew the city which shares the same name as some of the main protagonists in War and Peace is Rostov. Jamie Karran supplied the Norns for the next starter. This brought up 2 bonuses on marine invertebrates. Three of the world’s highest capital cities are in South America. Neither team could supply any two of La Paz – Bogota and Quito for the next starter. Sumukh Kaul muscled his way back into the match by knowing that songs including Johnny Todd were connected with Liverpool. A full set of bonuses linked by the word rare was taken. Hywel Carver could see that a set of words including brake and jockey were all connected by the word disc. A set of bonuses on shipping firsts brought up another 2 bonuses. The second picture starter was identified as a seascape by Turner by Patrick Cook. One bonus on other artist’s seascapes followed. Thomas Hayes took a starter on pharmacology, and his team answered a bonus on Queen Victoria and her prime ministers. This brought us to the 20 minute mark, and UCL now had a small lead, with 145 to Warwick’s 125.

Neither team took the next starter which required the word aluminium. Jamie Karran was very quickly in with Louisiana, as the only state other than south Carolina whose name contains 6 vowels. Good shout that. A bonus was taken on astronomy. Patrick Cook knew that a nougat-y sweet was named after Mozart. This brought up a brace of bonuses on the River Nile. Hywel Carver knew an anagram of Heart of Darkness, and the gap was suddenly becoming a chasm. 2 bonuses followed on ancient monuments and the modern day countries where they were situated. Sumukh Kaul took another starter, knowing that the Bank of England was founded partly to fund the foreign wars of king William III. We had female Pulitzer winners earlier, and now we had female Nobel laureates. They took one. Jamie Karran supplied sulphur for the next starter, but they took no bonuses on measuring instruments. Tom Andrews now got in on the act for UCL, knowing that hagfish and lampreys lack jaws. No bonuses were taken on Middle Eastern cities. Finally there was just enough time for Sumukh Kaul to cap a very good personal performance by answering the last starter on Norwegian Nobel prize for literature winners. That was it. In the end a comfortable win for UCL with 220 to 150. Well played.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

Most of the time you can’t really tell JP’s opinion of the teams. Sometimes, though, it seems clear that he likes one of them, and in this case it was UCL, whom he found to be particularly amusing. Indeed he even said so at the end. There were several nice vignettes in this show. When the picture of Harper Lee came up we had “ I think we’ll have an answer please . . . Perhaps we won’t have an answer ! “ He was just warming up , though. When offered the identification of a photo of Sylvia Plath as Carol Ann Duffy he replied “POSTHUMOUSLY !!! She’s hale and hearty ! “ With a smile on his face.
When the answer “Felix Holt the Radical” was required, captain Jamie Karran was told in no uncertain terms by Patrick Cook NOT to offer Tess of the D’Urbervilles. So he passed. “NO answer.” replied JP. “Very good. Actually, it’s not very good. It’s terrible ! “ You tell ‘em !
There was a very good old fashioned look when Sumukh Kaul offered Makarova for Rostov. Finally, when offered Caravaggio for Courbet, he gave up , and spluttered “CARAVAGGIO !!?! “ and gave in to laughter.

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

A nougat based sweet was named after Mozart

Brain of Britain - Round One - Match Three

This week’s contestants were Christopher Anton, Alan Boden, Richard Tindall and Ray Ward. Ray I had the pleasure of meeting in 2010 when I guested for North London in a summer league match. Needless to say, he is an excellent quizzer, and so was burdened with the dubious benefit of support from the Clark sofa during this heat.

Christopher Anton kicked off with 2 answers in round one, but he couldn’t remember that the Spanish Armada set out from Lisbon. Ray did for a bonus. Alan missed out on his first question, and in fact nobody could identify the Greek mythological chimaera from a description. Richard Tindall took a good three answers, but monotremes tripped him up. They’re those mammals distinguished by their egg laying abilities, as Christopher knew for a bonus. Finally Ray took two of his own, but couldn’t name Turin as the original capital of the Italy. Nobody quite managed that one. So Christopher, Richard and Ray all went into the next round with 3 points. Christopher laid down a marker by taking a full set of 5 and a bonus at the start of round two. Alan took his first, but missed out on the Kreutzer sonata. I was particularly pleased with guessing that one correctly myself. Richard took his first, but missed the fact that Tolstoy had 13 children with his wife Sonia. Ray knew that one. Ray took one, but missed out on Wales’ unfortunate rugby captain Sam Warburton. Alan had that to double his score to 2 points. Richard had 4, and Ray 5, but Christopher was ahead of the pack with 9. It didn’t look as if Christopher would wait a long time before scoring another point, but that’s exactly what happened. He didn’t know that Asser wrote the life of King Alfred the Great. That was another bonus for Alan. He took one of his own. Richard failed on his own first question, and I was a little surprised that none of the Brains knew that the solan goose is the nickname for the gannet. Ray took his first, but then got a nasty little question concerning a quote, which actually turned out to have been made by Mother Theresa. This brought us to the break for the Beat the Brains interval, and meant that Alan and Richard had 4, Ray had closed up to 7, but Christopher still led with 9.

A couple of rather difficult questions awaited the brains, and I can’t say I’m surprised that they couldn’t answer either of them. Neither could I. They didn’t know a) that in Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the Kings of Britain, King Arthur is said to possess a sword called Caliburn rather than Excalibur – b) In the same source he is said to possess a spear called Ron.

Christopher was given one of those questions which required a bit of creative thinking, but was work-out-able. Asked for the name of the son of Hermes and Aphrodite, nobody quite managed to see that this would be Hermaphroditus. Alan managed a couple of answers, but didn’t know Culzean castle, which Ray did for a bonus. Richard was asked one which nobody could answer, about a composer who was actually born in the Netherlands. Ray missed out on his own first question, not knowing that c quotation about a Prime Minister actually referred to Neville Chamberlain. Richard and Christopher’s scores were unchanged, while Alan had improved to 6, and Ray to 8. Again, Christopher missed out on his first question. This was a bit of an old chestnut, asking which creature an ailuraphobe fears. Alan knew it was cats. He took one of his own. Richard again came a cropper on his first question, but Ray knew full well that Gruoch was married to Macbeth. He went on to take his own first question, but then couldn’t identify that Vanilla Ice’s number 1 hit Ice Ice Baby used the baseline from Queen’s hit Under Pressure. Still the bonus had brought him level, and the answer to his first question put him into the lead, with 11, Christopher remained on 9, Richard on 4, and Alan had moved up to 8. Round 6, and again Christopher failed to answer his first. I thought that Ray had a great shout here, knowing that the Labour Party first started to call themselves the Labour Party in 1906.Alan put himself ahead of Christopher with 2 answers, but when asked for a specific halogen couldn’t dredge up fluorine. Ray did. Richard couldn’t manage to explain the derivation of ZIP as in zip code. Ray was close, but nobody quite managed zone improvement plan. Ray had the chestnut about which UK city had the first postcodes. He was geographically quite close with Ipswich, but it was Norwich. Christopher and Richard hadn’t managed to add to their scores in this round, Alan had improved to 10, but Ray had a 3 point lead with 13. With one more round to go, you had to fancy it looked like a win for Ray.

It had been a long time since Christopher had managed to put any points on the board, so it was nice to see him answer his first question. He missed a rather simple one asking for Dava Sobel’s Longitude for his second, and Richard made no mistake to take the bonus for it. Alan needed a good run, but his first question required the name for the three legged symbol of the Isle of Man. Christopher knew that this was a triskelion. Richard did not know where strychnine comes from, but Ray did. With the win already secured, Ray could afford to miss out on his first question. Laertes is the character from Hamlet who shares his name with Odysseus’ father. So the contest finished with Ray winning with 14, Christopher and Alan tied on 11, and Richard on 7. Well played, Ray ! Good luck for the semis.


Christopher Anton – 11
Alan Boden – 11
Richard Tindall – 7
Ray Ward – 14

Saturday, 26 November 2011

A Few Odds and Ends

I thought that I had better give fair warning before next weekend. You’ve probably noticed that I’ve been doing most of my posting on a Saturday for the last few weeks. It’s just fitted in better, being a particularly busy time at work. It’s a pain, but it’s the job that puts the food on the table, as it were. Still, next weekend I’m going on the traditional pre Christmas visit to the family in England, and so I’m not going to be able to post much on Saturday. What I will try to do is post in mid-week – Wednesday or Thursday.


This Thursday just gone was one of those occasions where you lose, yet you are so happy with your own performance that it’s almost as good as winning . I say almost , because I’m being honest. Admitting it doesn’t make it much better, but at least I do admit that I take winning pub quizzes far too seriously. Still, on Thursday night there were two of us in my team, George and myself, and the best team in opposition, ( and to be honest they are the best team that I play against in any regular pub quiz ) Lemurs, had a full team. Rob M. is a serious enough opponent on his own, but add in Terry and the rest and you’ve got a team that really mean business. George and I went behind by a couple of points about halfway through, and I honestly had the feeling that we’d go on to lose a point to them each round, but we played a bit of a blinder and pulled back to be a point behind going into the last round. – With luck – I thought, we might even pull back another point to draw on the questions. Consider my surprise when we found that the guys had their worst round of the night, and we actually won the questions by 2 points. What made it even better was that George only gave me one answer all night. I’d always wondered how I might get on if I played on my own in the club.Alright , I can’t swear to it that I would have reproduced this kind of form if I really had been on my own, but you can’t blame me for thinking that, on that night at least, I might have done. I’ve played on my own in a number of places, and its an interesting experience. Even discounting the answer that George gave me, I would still have won the questions by a point.

Mind you, we were pretty soon brought back down to earth when the handout scores were announced. Lemurs asserted their authority by winning and taking a full 6 points. We came last and got 1 – and that point was probably a sympathy one as well ! So we were beaten fairly comfortably in the end, but what the hell . You have to take pleasure from having one of those nights when you’re hitting the back of the net from all angles – even if it’s not enough to bring you the win.


I don’t know if you follow Brain of Britain at all. If you don’t, you should give it a try. It’s very good. You can listen to it at any time. If you follow the link in my links section it will take you to the show’s homepage, and you can listen direct . This week the winner was Ian Clark, who was kind enough to leave a comment after the review, which you can read . One of the things Ian said was that he actually played in BoB as long ago as 1977.Unless I’m mistaken he was also a finalist in Mastermind in 1974. I said that I’d be really interested to hear his views on whether the experience of appearing on a show like BoB has changed that much. You have to say as well, a gap of 34 years between appearences has to be some kind of record. Unless of course, you know differently . . .

Cryptic Question

Right – last week’s was

A Joplin rag: an inventive Russian soldier: an American Albatross: the Sun of May: The crux of astronomy. Where are they all, and which 3 appear more than once ?

Not so difficult at all this one. Scott Joplin wrote The MAPLE LEAF Rag. In America, a score of three under par – the Kalashnikov Rifle was invented by the eponymous Russian soldier - an albatross in the UK is a DOUBLE EAGLE – The SOL de MAIO is the Sun of May, and The SOUTHERN CROSS constellation has the latin name Crux. All appear on national flags. There are double headed eagles on the flags of Montenegro and Albania. The Sol de Maio is on the flags of both Uruguay and Argentina. The Southern Cross can be found on the flags of Australia and New Zealand. The Maple Leaf is on the flag of Canada, and the Kalashnikov on the flag of Mozambique
Here’s the next –

A roman double cross: Kelly’s ocular equipment: the age of suffrage. What comes next ? Which of these could bring you to a port in Asia ?

Mastermind - Round One - Heat Three

As John introduced the 4 contenders I recognized one of them straightaway last night. To the best of my knowledge I have never met John Beynon, but I’m very aware of his work. Well, on Mastermind and Brain of Britain, anyway. John has a very good MM track record already, having made the semi finals in Nancy’s series in 2009, where he lost by a single point to Richard Heller. Then in last year’s Brain of Britain John took a repechage slot in the semis, and got to the final, where he came runner up , pushing champion Iwan Thomas all the way to the line. Robin McGhee, John Marshall and Sue Collins , the other three contenders in this heat certainly seemed to have their work cut out for them.

I confidently predict that student Robin McGhee will turn out to be one of the youngest contenders in this year’s series. That doesn’t have to count against you. Robin was answering on the band Led Zeppelin. I’ll be honest, this was my favourite of all last night’s specialist rounds. Robin started at 100 miles an hour, but he seemed to have decided to adopt the tactic of passing immediately if the answer didn’t come at once. That’s a valid tactic too, but it’s a dangerous one. Passes are like rabbits – they breed quickly. It’s too easy to get locked into a pass spiral, and this threatened to happen to Robin at times during his round. In the end he leveled out at 9 – three more than were gained by the team on the Clark sofa. John Marshall followed Robin to the chair. His subject was British Speedway 1945 – 1970. It’s a fair subject to take. I’m sure most of us under a certain age can’t imagine just how popular speedway was in Britain during this period, but it really was. John M. certainly knew his stuff, as 16 on any round is an excellent return. Good quizzing. Sue Collins followed with the life of Emperor Maximilian Ist, an interesting character certainly. Sue was rather more measured and studied than the previous two contenders, and did pause a couple of times , losing rhythm. Still, 11 was no bad return for a tricky round. Now, you’ll have gathered from my opening comments that John B. is an old hand at this game now. Well, if you didn’t know it before , you’ll have worked it out for yourself after his perfect 17 out of 17 on the Cathars. Fantastic performance.

To put John’s performance into perspective, Robin had a lot of work to do when he returned for his second round in order to reach John’s score. His round in many ways was very similar to his first, a lot of very quick passes. Still, I can see why he applied for MM so relatively young. He definitely has a general knowledge beyond that of the average person, and had some good answers. In the end he earned his reward, and gained 9, enough to take him into a lead for the moment. Sue also had 9 correct answers. I scored considerably less on her round than on the other three. I had a 19 and 2 20s on the others, but only 16 on Sue’s , probably because she paused a lot, and didn’t get through as many questions as the others. Still, she too had her time in the lead, as she reached 20 . John Marshall then had the opportunity to use his 16 as a springboard to set a total that would a) set a challenging target for John B, and b) put him onto the repechage board for the foreseeable future. He did all of that, with a good round of 15 correct answers. I didn’t quite think it would be enough to win last night, , but it was still a good performance. So John B. returned, and posted a very good 17, and no passes. Not passing is a sign of someone who knows what he is doing. His total of 34 is one which marks him out to be a serious contender – which to be honest is something we already knew. Well done to John Marshall as well, 31 is a fine score, and I wouldn’t be that surprised if it keeps him on the repechage board for the rest of the first round.

The Details

Robin McGhee Led Zeppelin 9 – 7 9 – 10 18 – 17
John Marshall British Speedway 1945 – 1970 16 – 0 15 – 5 31 – 5
Sue Collins Maximilian I 11 – 1 9 – 6 20 – 7
John Beynon The Cathars 17 – 0 17 – 0 34 – 0

Only Connect - Semi Final 2

Analysts v. Trade Unionists

You pays yer money, ladies and gents, and you makes yer choice. On a straightforward general knowledge quiz I don’t think you’d find many punters willing to bet against the Analysts. But the Trade Unionists – Colin Whorlow – Nick Atty and skipper James Hastie had shown themselves particularly adept at coping with the special demands of OC. They beat the much fancied Edwards Family in the quarters, while the Analysts – Paul Steeples, William de’Ath and captain David Lea had seen off the Editors and the Technologists. Who would take their place in the Grand Final, then ?

Round One – What’s the Connection ?

We saw last time out how a rush of blood to the head in the first round proved dangerous . So it was pleasing to see the Analysts take the full time to come up with the correct answer to a difficult set. Stark Raving Reasonable – Ruly Mob – Tea Parties are for Little Girls and Congress should do Stuff were all slogans from the Rally to restore sanity and/or fear. Good shout. Eye of Horus not only defeated the TUS, it also defeated the Lists. La Strada – Kelly – Ubu Roi – Oscar Wilde the Musical were all shows that closed on their first night. That has to rank as a gettable one gone begging. Neither managed the picture set behind Lion – Underpants – Mini Skirt – Big Mac and House sale. All of these are used at different times as economic indicators. Remember – this is a semi and it’s not meant to be easy. The TUs flexed their metaphorical muscle by taking the music set behind two reeds off three clues. Flanders and Swann’s song about the gasman , The Cure’s Friday I’m In Love ( an all time fave chez Clark ) , The theme of Happy Days – all of them go through the days of the week in the lyric. Lovely set that. – Anything you can do - was the nature of the Lists’ riposte, since they took the next off 2 clues. Gentlemen Only Ladies Forbidden and To Insure Promptness were NOT the derivation of Golf and Tip, and they explained this succinctly. Good shout. Moment of the week for me came in the next set. Neither team got the link between Jezebel – Frederic Chopin’s Piano – Jan Masyryk – The Burghers of Prague. Now, I didn’t know about the middle two, but Prague and Jezebel suggested the D word to me – defenestration. So it proved. Going into the next round, the Lists led by 4 to 2.

Round Two – What Comes Fourth ?

The Lists chose water, but it fell as a bonus to the TUs to explain that Attack – Decay – Sustain would be followed by Release. These all relate to the ASDR envelope of sound. The Lists knew the connection, but not the full sequence. The TUs had a nice set of pictures – Ai Sugiyama – Jay Leno – Kaye Adams. They offered L. Ron Hubbard which was accepted, although the example was Elle Macpherson. I was shouting El Greco at the telly , which I hope would have been accepted too ! I – J – K – L you see. Second moment of the week . Nobody could complete Time and Chance – The Path to Power – The Autobiography. They knew it was politicians, but I knew it was successive prime ministers . The Path to Power was Margaret Thatcher’s second I think – certainly it covered the years leading up to the period she covered in The Downing Street Years. So working on the sequence I knew the next would be A Journey. A fantastic bonus followed from William of the Lists. I thought that Neoprotero – Paleo – Meso being followed by the TUs – lithic was a wrong but sensible shout. I didn’t think of zoic, though, which William did. Top class answer. They compounded this with working out that Jan 1st, Jan 8th , Jan 27th would be followed by March 5th- all being cube numbered days. Don’t be ridiculous, of course I didn’t ! The TUs , maybe feeling a little shell shocked now, missed a gettable one next. 4th France : 1960 – 3rd UK 1952 – 2nd USSR 1949 . Now, the last one gave it to me, since I knew that the USSR carried out its first successful atom bomb test in 1949. I’m sure the TUs knew it as well, but they offered 1st : USA 1947, while as the Lists knew it was actually 1945. That just extended the lead , so that the Lists led by 8 to 5.

Round Three – The Connecting Walls

A top class exhibition of wall play followed, as both teams took full sets. The Tus’ Lion wall revealed Poisson – Laplace – Normal – Binomial which were all about Probability Distribution. Well, probably . Fish – Chi Rho – Peacock – and Crucifix they knew as christian symbols. Glover – Russo – Gibson and Pesci had all starred in Lethal Weapon movies. Finally Medicine – Advice – Pez and Justice are all things which can be dispensed. Great work.

The Water wall held few problems for the Lists. They saw watusi – Charleston – Madison and Bunny hop, a set of dances. They found Plushenko – Dean – Cousins and Witt and knew a set of Olympic figure skating gold medallists. Pumpkin Pie – Turkey Trot – Macy’s Parade and We Gather Together – well, was this the reason why this show was held back to make way for children in Need ? This meant that in the week of Thanksgiving, we had a set of things associated with Thanksgiving. Finally Jerk – Curry – Baharat and Masala – a set of hot and spicy sauces.
With 10 points each the lead remained the same. Analysts had 18, and Trade Unionists 15.

Round Four – Missing Vowels

With only a three point gap anything could happen. We began with people after whom airports were named. 2 – 1 to the Lists. French names for the Mr. Men, and an incorrect answer for the TUs made their task a lot more difficult. Deux points pour les Analysts, et un autre pour les TUs. However, the next four points on the bounce fell to the TUs – 2 on Game Show catchphrases, and two on air pollutants. Too little, too late, although the gap narrowed, to give the Lists a win by 22 to 20. Well played both teams , and to the Analysts , best of luck for the Grand Final.

University Challenge - Round 2 Match 5

Christ Church Oxford v. University of Manchester

Well, we’ve had some good matches in the last couple of weeks, and every indication was that last Monday would make this a treble. Christ Church Oxford had comfortably beaten Bath in round one, and were represented by Thomas Hine, Will Peveler , Nimish Telang and skipper George Scratcherd. Manchester had scored lower by only the equivalent of a starter and one bonus in their own first round match, where they beat Selwyn. So they were obviously not daunted by the prospect of facing Oxbridge opposition. The Manchester team consisted of Luke Kelly, Michael McKenna, Paul Joyce, and captain Tristan Burke.

Well, it seems that the word definitions are very much out of vogue in UC now, as the first question required the answer Garibaldi, an answer Paul Joyce was happy to supply. A full set of bonuses on theatre followed. Will Peveler took the next on the letters UFF. One bonus followed on football clubs. Neither team could take a starter on the astronomical unit for how far light travels in a day. Will Peveler knew a description of Pride and Prejudice, and pushed his team into the lead. 2 good bonuses were taken on auto da fe. Nimish Telang took a good starter on Ca – which links California ( state abbreviation) and Canada ( internet suffix) . 1 bonus followed on blood. Still, just as it was looking like Christ Church had the edge in the buzzer race, Paul Joyce took his second recognizing the name of Kazakhstan in its own Cyrillic script. 2 more bonuses were taken on more of the same. Nimish Telang, effective on the buzzer, knew that it was H.R.Giger who created the alien in Alien. 1 bonus was taken on things linked by the word victorious. Paul Joyce knew the term Vendetta, and the team took a full bonus set on sisters in literature. At the ten minute mark it was all square with 70 points, and Manchester owed a debt of gratitude to Paul Joyce’s buzzer work, and their own fine work on bonuses.

Neither team could dredge up the term dysphonia. Tristan Burke took his first starter on Albert Camus. A UC special bonus set on pairs of words followed, of which they took 2. I didn’t note who took the next starter, apologies, but it was on diamonds. Nimish Telang took another starter on Orwell’s Newspeak, and this time Christ Church managed 2 bonuses, on divided islands. Nobody could take the next starter, a music one, on the coronation anthem of King George Vi. Michael McKenna earned the music bonuses by taking the next starter on myxamatosis. 2 of the bonuses on composers were taken. Nimish Telang knew the solidus – what a debt of gratitude his team owed him at this stage , as he was the only one of his team winning the buzzer race. A full set of bonuses on place name elements all helped as well. Neither team could take a starter on Julius Caesar. However it was that man Telang who knew that a tesseract is a 4d representation of a cube – well , its something like that, anyway – and this brought up one bonus on prime ministers’ personal details. So from looking as if they were going to go into the last ten minutes or so behind, Christ Church actually led by 130 to 120.

Whose nerve would hold ? Who would draw on the mental reserves to prevail ? Both captains chanced their arm on the next starter. George Scratcherd buzzed too early, which allowed Tristan Burke in to identify a group of queens who were all married to kings called Henry. Only 1 bonus followed on capitals in the Indian Ocean. Neither team recognized the grave of Johann Strauss II for the next picture starter. However Tristan Burke recognized a quote from The Wind in the Willows to earn the bonuses.1 was taken on a set of photographs of other composers’ graves. George Scratcherd supplied Sweden for the next starter, but crucially the team couldn’t take any bonuses on words denoting great size. The Christ Church skipper was a little unlucky with his next buzz. He correctly knew that Cremona was famed for the production of violins, but when prompted by JP he did not supply the crucial word ‘Stradivarius’ . A little harsh that, especially since Paul Joyce then did just that. 2 bonuses followed on illusions. Michael McKenna, who played his part in closing out the win in the last few minutes, knew that white has 20 available opening moves in chess. 2 bonuses followed on deficiencies. Thomas Hine knew that Suetonius wrote “The Twelve Caesars” , and this brought a useful couple of bonuses on pilgrimages. But really the damage had been done, and when the next two starters went begging it was nearly all over. Paul Joyce took a starter on trigonometry, and Michael McKenna just had time to take the last starter on the Black Sea. At the end, Manchester had won by 215 to Christ Church who had 155. Well played Manchester. Hard lines Christ Church. For me the biggest difference between the teams was that Manchester had three members who were able to buzz in for starters, while Christ Church in this match were very reliant on the excellent Nimish Telang.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

When asked about astronomical units in a day , Tristan Burke offered 25. JP’s eyebrows shot towards the ceiling, and in his best Monty Python Life of Brian impression he replied “You’re making it up !”
There was a nice little aside as well, when Carmina Burana was correctly identified. “ Yes, ( grumpily ) Carl Orff. It’s the only piece of Carmina Burana anyone knows “

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

The Torino Scale measures the risk of Near Earth Objects

Brain Of Britain - Round One - heat 2

Right, it’s been a busy week again. So let’s get straight down to business with Brain of Britain. Once again, I have to apologise if I have misheard or misspelled any of the contestants' names – as I think I said last week the website doesn’t seem to publish the names any more. Oh well. Anyway, as I heard it , we had Drew Baxter – Ian Clark ( apologies if you are a Clarke, Ian ), Harriet Kay and Austin McQuade.

Drew didn’t know what a sadhu was for his first question, and so Austin took first blood by supplying the answer of a holy man for a bonus. Ian took his first two questions well – he knew J.B. Priestley’s “English Journey” which I thought was a great answer. He didn’t know the English pop artist Richard Hamilton, but nobody else did either. Harriet missed a little bit of a sitter with the Rump Parliament – oh alright , you’ve got to forgive me the odd pun now and again – please yourselves. Ian took a bonus, and followed this up with a bonus on Austin’s first question, knowing that the sequel to R.L. Stevenson’s “Kidnapped” is “ Katriona” . A very pleasing start for Ian, who led with 4 to Austin’s 1. This lead increased in the second round. Drew took his first point, but lost out on Kilimanjaro, which fell to Ian. He followed up with three of his own, and these were by no means gimmes either, but couldn’t quite bring to mind the pericardium. Austin could. Harriet again missed on a rather gentle question about the man whom the currency of Venezuela and other countries was named after. Austin made no mistake, with Simon Bolivar. He took one of his own, but failed on tyrranulet. Ian took the bonus, knowing it to be a South American bird. After 2 Ian already had a good score with 9, and Austin had 4.

On with round three. Drew missed out on his first, asking in which century Beowulf was written. This gave Harriet her first point, on a bonus, knowing that we were talking about the 8th century. Ian showed a chink in his armour for the first time in the contest, with a difficult question about the christian festival of Corpus Christi. Harriet missed her own first question about the formerly german name of Ljubljana – Ian inevitably took the bonus here. Austin provided us with the best performance in this round, with a good set of two, but it was Ian who knew that Ben E King sang Stand By Me for the bonus. It was fairly obvious now that Ian and Austin were dominating the contest, and I’m afraid that it was not too early to discount Harriet and Drew’s challenge. I mean no disrespect, but the two had missed questions which suggested that they were unlikely to be able to stage the kind of late surge it would need to get onto terms with the others. Taking us towards the Beat the Brains Interval Drew got an unhelpful question to start. Nobody knew that Tasmania is one of the world’s greatest sources of tin. Ian took his first , but nobody could remember that one of the titles given to Prince William on the occasion of his marriage was the Earldom of Strathearn. Harriet couldn’t bring to mind Julian Huxley – neither could anyone else. Finally Austin took three , but a great bonus fell to Ian who remembered the term epiphyte. The scores at the break were 1 each to Drew and Harriet – 9 to Austin and 13 to Ian.

A lovely little pair came up in the Beat the Brains interval. The first – what is a baldrick was predictably dispatched to the boundary, but the brains were yorked middle stump with the second – Captain William Blackadder was implicated in whose infamous murder ? The answer being Darnley’s. Back to the contest. In round five nobody managed to answer their first question. Both Ian and Austin took two bonuses though. Ian’s 15 was already looking good enough to get him a repechage slot for the semis – and we still had 3 rounds to go. I did feel a little sorry for Drew. Of the 4, I felt that he had the hardest luck with the first questions. After all, nobody could answer two definitions he was given in a row at the start of rounds 6 and 7. Round six he was given an Ambrose Bierce definition of a lawsuit, and round 7 a description of the BBC. Ian finally achieved escape velocity , though, with a good three correct answers on the bounce, tripping up on aluminium being added to soil to turn hydrangeas blue amongst other reasons. ( Well, it was something like that. ) Harriet didn’t know the old chestnut about Barbara Castle’s “In Place of Strife “ , but Austin did. If he was going to win, then a five pointer would help a lot, but he only managed the one, none of the contestants recognizing the tones of Juliet Greco.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t answer many that Ian couldn’t , but I did know the album cover of Roxy Music’s For Your Pleasure, which tripped him up after 2 questions in Round 7. Harriet took another point, but didn’t know that Joshua Reynolds was the first president of the Royal Academy. I suspect that it was a race to the buzzer for a bonus here. I can’t see either Ian or Austin having missed out on a sitter like that. Ian won the race, anyway. Nobody knew the answer to Austin’s question, that the type of memory on memory sticks and the like is Flash memory. Going into round 8 Ian was practically home and dry with 21 – pretty much guaranteed a semi final slot even if Austin, on 13, had a nine point round. As it was, only Harriet and Austin managed to answer their first questions in the last round, and for the only time Ian failed to add to his score. Well, to be fair his work was already done.

The final scores saw Ian a comfortable winner with 21. Well done sir ! Well done as well on answering some frankly very hard questions. I hope that I’m not cursing your chances when I suggest that you are definitely one to watch for the semis. Well played too Austin. 14 gives him a definite shot at the semis- he’s heading the repechage board at the moment.

The Details

Drew Baxter – 2
Ian Clark – 21
Harriet Kay – 3
Austin McQuade - 14

This Week's News Questions

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

1) Father Gabriele Amorth
2) Arcadia
3) Jamie Dale
4) Sheffield Odeon
5) HMP Kirkham
6) Angie Sowton
7) Carl Anthony Mason
8) Andrew Paterson
9) Andre Lake
10) Lord Chadlington
11) Busilex and Velcade
12) Benton
13) Squeezed Middle
14) Liz Douglas
15) Det Constable Stephen Hopkins
16) Leon Reid
17) Shipbourne
18) Keith Greaves
19) Barry Bannon
20) Leanne Harris
21) Denzel Cassius Hervy
22) Shelagh Delaney
23) Stuart Lancaster
24) Mr. Justice Bean
25) Paul Mealor
26) Andrew Kelly
27) Mariano Rajoy
28) Jose Pimental
29) HMS Westminster

In Other News

1) Which band will record the soundtrack to the BBC 2012 Olympic coverage ?
2) Which country’s branch of the Fair Trade movement have been criticized for relaxing rules governing what counts as fair trade ?
3) It has been announced that the 2013 Tour de France will start where for the first time ?
4) The European Commission have presented the UK with a £20 million fine for importing what?
5) Who said last week that rows on the X Factor are scripted ?
6) The BBC apologized for a controversial report on Dale Farm screened on which programme?
7) Who was named Britain’s greatest living treasure in a survey ?
8) Curry’s last week wrongly advertised a Samsung laptop at which price ?
9) Who opened a store in the Champs Elysee last week ?
10) Name the leader of Yemen who has finally agreed to step down ?
11) Which title has finally been conferred officially on the Duke of Edinburgh ?
12) Which children’s TV show is to receive a special BAFTA ?
13) What has the town of Staines now added to its name ?
14) What was unusual about the appearance of King Juan Carlos of Spain last week ?
15) Which tour firm saw its share price collapse when it anbnounced a plan to restructure its debts ?
16) Which claim about water does the EU actually allow bottlers to put on water now ?
17) IN the new remake of the Sweeney – which car will the main protagonists drive ?
18) St. Andrews University Conservative Association have been widely criticized for burning whose effigy ?
19) IN the remake of the Sweeney , which two actors play the main parts ?
20) Man City were defeated by which team in the Champions’ League this week ?
21) This week saw a state visit to the UK by the leader of which country ?
22) A Tennessee plan to tax which product was defeated last week ?
23) Who said that he has lost his wife to Alzheimers, and he has to build a new life for himself ?
24) What was the result of the Reggae Reggae Sauce hearing ?
25) Staff have been given plastic whistles to use in emergencies in which hospital ?
26) A BBC documentary will claim that Hitler spent Christmas 1912 where ?
27) What upset shoppers in the Curry’s store in New Malden ?
28) Name the England rugby player who has threatened to sue over allegations from a New Zealand Hotel worker ?
29) Which company opened their first store in Britain since the last one closed in 1915 ?
30) Grafitti by whom was discovered in a flat in London last week ?
31) Which store is selling red Brussels sprouts ?
32) Who defended his own comment last week that some types of rape were not serious ?
33) Who said that the Antiques Roadshow makes him cry ?
34) Parents have been warned not to give too much what to children ?
35) Which singer, musician and songwriter was diagnosed with liver cancer ?
36) What is the venue for the ATP tour finals ?
37) What was unusual about the London Evening Standard Theatre Awards Best Actor Award last week ?
38) Which tradition has been ended by the Supreme Court ?
39) Who defeated both Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic last week ?
40) Which singer has been reported as suffering from a serious case of pneumonia ?
41) Who won the 2011 Emmy for Best International Actress ?
42) Who has released his first new song since 2004 ?

Answers to News Questions

Who or what are the following and why have they been in the news ?
1) Gary Dobson and David Norris
2) Lord Gould
3) Jerry Sandusky
4) Daniel Majstorovic
5) Frankel
6) Odd Man Out
7) James Howson
8) Nick Hewer
9) Rik Makarem
10) Jim Keefe
11) Aaron Allard Morgan
12) Robert Peston
13) Jason Gardiner
14) Potongkang
15) Lewis McGowan
16) Amelia Lily
17) Marc Jacobs
18) Kerwhizz
19) Reverend Caroline Wheeler
20) Skyjet
21) Oscar Ramiro Ortega Hernandez
22) David Roark
23) Dr. Barry Morgan
24) Adrian Prout
25) Lucy Jackson

In Other News

1) Who is the Specsavers Glamourous Glasses wearer for 2011 ?
2) A signed speech by Ed Milliband raised how much money in a charity auction ?
3) Which bank has announced it will be giving 250,000 customers refunds
4) How are villagers in Henham nr. Bishop’s Stortford keeping their post office open ?
5) Which health watchdog has been slammed by Patients’ Groups ?
6) Who has finally been given his identity back by Facebook, after being told many times that they did not believe that it was really him when he tried to re register ?
7) Which US protestors camp has finally been demolished ?
8) David Cameron was criticized for trying to imitate whom last week ?
9) Name the four play off winners for the Euros
10) Which country’s return to Formula 1 is being delayed until 2013 ?
11) A blue plaque to whom has upset residents of Wentworth Court in Surbiton ?
12) A lockdown was caused by a false alarm in which nuclear power station last week ?
13) A salty underground lake which may contain life has been discovered on which moon ?
14) Who will present a special one off Jim’ll Fix It show at Christmas ?
15) The last episode of which series will nto be shown abroad ?
16) Who began work as a reporter for NBC last week ?
17) Where did the world’s biggest dating fair take place ?
18) The world’s first Cornish pasty museum has opened in which country ?
19) What caused the X Factor to be delayed last week ?
20) Protestors set up a camp at a second cathedral last week. which one ?
21) Whose sauce has been recalled in a botulism alert ?
22) Dario Gradi stepped down from management with Crewe Alexandra after how many years ?
23) Who bought Northern Rock for £747 million ?
24) A special recording of whose voice will be made for use in the Giggleswick School panto ?
25) Which Danish crime show has seen translators mistranslate mild Danish swearwords into the F word for the English subtitles ?
26) Which company has been criticized for a series of adverts showing world leaders kissing ?
27) Police have reopened an inquiry into whose death, 30 years after it was closed ?
28) There were reports last week of Kindles being ruined by what ?
29) Who had to apologise for suggesting that racism could be solved with a handshake ?
30) Which England cricketing knight died last week ?
31) The EU have banned water bottled from making which claim ?
32) The Vatican newspaper has claimed that which Englishman was a crypto catholic ?
33) Which magazine is celebrating its 75th birthday ?
34) What is the name of the square in Cairo where thousands of protestors have gathered ?
35) Which city has voted to legalise cannabis next year ?

Who or what are the following and why have they been in the news ?
1) They are standing trial for the murder of Stephen Lawrence
2) Senior Labour political figure buried last week
3) US Football coach of Penn State accused of sexual abuse
4) Scorer of England’s 200th goal ( own goal , came first off the boot of Frank Lampard )
5) Horse of the Year
6) New autobiography by Ronnie Biggs
7) Actor starring in new version of Wuthering Heights as heathcliffe
8) Next presenter of Countdown
9) Claims that being banned from driving and having to use public transport will damage his public persona
10) Head of public school attacked by bleach over merger
11) Winner of Big Brother 2011
12) BBC presenter accused of homophobia over his use of the phrase ‘queer street’
13) Dancing on Ice judge accused of racism after posting internet message about robbery by ‘black youths’
14) Luxury department store selling western goods opening in Pyonyang, North Korea
15) Young star of the John Lewis Christmas TV Advert
16) Voted back into the X Factor to replace Frankie Cocozza
17) Fashion designer whose whole collection was stolen
18) BBC childrens show being sued by Mike Mitchell who claims it uses characters he created and sent to the BBC , which were later lost.
19) Criticised for using the S word twice during a remembrance Day service
20) Travel firm which collapsed, leaving passengers liable to unpaid fees of £24,000 in Vienna airport
21) Accused of trying to assassinate Barack Obama
22) Mayor of Horncastle Lincolnshire criticised for going go karting rather than attending nay Remembrance Day Service
23) Archbishop of Wales who has offered protestors to set up camps by Llandaff Cathedral
24) Finally confessed to killing his wife after years in jail after fiancée persuaded him to take a lie detector test
25) 12 year old taken away from Sheppey Academy in handcuffs after refusing to leave when told to go home over her blue dyed hair.

In Other News

1) Nancy Dell’Olio
2) £6
3) Halifax
4) 40 villagers have each agreed to pay a pound a month to keep it open
5) Quality Care Commission
6) Sir Salman Rushdie
7) Wall Street in New York
8) Julia Gillard , in what has been hailed as the worst Australian Accent ever
9) Croatia – Czech Republic – Republic of Ireland – Portugal
10) United States
11) Phyllis Dixey – wartime stripper
12) Heysham
13) Europa
14) Shane Ritchie
15) Frozen Planet ( too graphic about Global Warming )
16) Chelsea Clinton
17) Shanghai
18) Mexico !
19) Despite conspiracy theories, all concerned say that it really was a power surge at the BT Tower
20) Exeter
21) Loyd Grossman Korma Sauce
22) 28 years ( 1404 games )
23) Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Money
24) Dame Judi Dench
25) The Killing
26) Benetton
27) Natalie Wood
28) Airport X Ray Scanners
29) Sepp Blatter
30) Sir Basil D’Oliveira
31) It prevents dehydration
32) William Shakespeare
33) Life Magazine
34) Tahrir Square
35) Copenhagen

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Cryptic Question

OK – last week’s cryptic was : -

A tombstone dentist: a man made oriental valley: Ichabod’s home. How many are missing, and which of the missing would not upset a pogonophobe ?

DOC Holliday was the dentist who was in the Gunfight at the OK Corral, in Tombstone Arizona : HAPPY Valley is a famous racecourse in HongKong : Ichabod Crane was the teacher who fell afoul of the Headless Horseman in the Legend of SLEEPY Hollow. These are 3 of the SEVEN DWARVES. 4 are missing. A pogonophobe is afraid of beards, and so the only one he wouldn’t find upsetting would be the beardless DOPEY.

Here’s this week’s : -
A Joplin rag: an inventive Russian soldier: an American Albatross: the Sun of May: The crux of astronomy. Where are they all, and which 3 appear more than once ?

Answer next week

In The News Questions

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

1) Gary Dobson and David Norris
2) Lord Gould
3) Jerry Sandusky
4) Daniel Majstorovic
5) Frankel
6) Odd Man Out
7) James Howson
8) Nick Hewer
9) Rik Makarem
10) Jim Keefe
11) Aaron Allard Morgan
12) Robert Peston
13) Jason Gardiner
14) Potongkang
15) Lewis McGowan
16) Amelia Lily
17) Marc Jacobs
18) Kerwhizz
19) Reverend Caroline Wheeler
20) Skyjet
21) Oscar Ramiro Ortega Hernandez
22) David Roark
23) Dr. Barry Morgan
24) Adrian Prout
25) Lucy Jackson

In Other News

1) Who is the Specsavers Glamourous Glasses wearer for 2011 ?
2) A signed speech by Ed Milliband raised how much money in a charity auction ?
3) Which bank has announced it will be giving 250,000 customers refunds
4) How are villagers in Henham nr. Bishop’s Stortford keeping their post office open ?
5) Which health watchdog has been slammed by Patients’ Groups ?
6) Who has finally been given his identity back by Facebook, after being told many times that they did not believe that it was really him when he tried to re register ?
7) Which US protestors camp has finally been demolished ?
8) David Cameron was criticized for trying to imitate whom last week ?
9) Name the four play off winners for the Euros
10) Which country’s return to Formula 1 is being delayed until 2013 ?
11) A blue plaque to whom has upset residents of Wentworth Court in Surbiton ?
12) A lockdown was caused by a false alarm in which nuclear power station last week ?
13) A salty underground lake which may contain life has been discovered on which moon ?
14) Who will present a special one off Jim’ll Fix It show at Christmas ?
15) The last episode of which series will nto be shown abroad ?
16) Who began work as a reporter for NBC last week ?
17) Where did the world’s biggest dating fair take place ?
18) The world’s first Cornish pasty museum has opened in which country ?
19) What caused the X Factor to be delayed last week ?
20) Protestors set up a camp at a second cathedral last week. which one ?
21) Whose sauce has been recalled in a botulism alert ?
22) Dario Gradi stepped down from management with Crewe Alexandra after how many years ?
23) Who bought Northern Rock for £747 million ?
24) A special recording of whose voice will be made for use in the Giggleswick School panto ?
25) Which Danish crime show has seen translators mistranslate mild Danish swearwords into the F word for the English subtitles ?
26) Which company has been criticized for a series of adverts showing world leaders kissing ?
27) Police have reopened an inquiry into whose death, 30 years after it was closed ?
28) There were reports last week of Kindles being ruined by what ?
29) Who had to apologise for suggesting that racism could be solved with a handshake ?
30) Which England cricketing knight died last week ?
31) The EU have banned water bottled from making which claim ?
32) The Vatican newspaper has claimed that which Englishman was a crypto catholic ?
33) Which magazine is celebrating its 75th birthday ?
34) What is the name of the square in Cairo where thousands of protestors have gathered ?
35) Which city has voted to legalise cannabis next year ?

Answers to the News Questions

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

1) Brodie Clark
2) Sharon Bialek
3) Sarah Burton
4) Faye Braye
5) Dotun Adebayo
6) Christopher Adler
7) He whom the cows love so much that they call for him when they are in times of distress
8) Operation Opal
9) Mowgli
10) Hinchingbrooke Hospital
11) Sports Direct Arena
12) Gwendolyne Ruais
13) Clemency Florence Rose
14) Wayne Kelly
15) Julius Malema
16) Neil McCallum
17) Dr. Diletta Bianchini
18) Lucas Papademos
19) Mario Monti
20) Muslims Against Crusades
21) Kris Marshall
22) RAF Mount Pleasant
23) Amanda Coulson
24) Tinglan Hong
25) Sean Quinn
26) Riain Richards
27) Gloria Dwomoh
28) Peter Duffy
29) La Voile Rouge
30) Jack Widdowson
31) West Beach Newhaven
32) Tony Bailey
33) Ariel Actilift
34) Askham Richard

In Other News

1) Dr. Conrad Murray has been sentenced to how long in prison ?
2) A lifetime ban on which group of people giving blood has now been lifted ?
3) Who won the Mailer prize for his 2010 autobiography ‘Life’ ?
4) Which group of professionals voted to strike for the first time in their history last week ?
5) Where did a new tent city in London spring up, then get broken up ?
6) What caused a delay to the first performance of Michael Sheen’s Hamlet last week ?
7) Which popular TV quiz is set for another return to our screens ?
8) Whose autobiography released last week is called “Mad Dog : An Englishman” ?
9) Carlos the Jackal has finally gone on trial – where ?
10) Which species of large mammal was declared extinct last week ?
11) Republican presidential hopeful Rick Perry took 53 seconds trying to remember the third department he would axe in a TV debate. The first two were Education and Commerce. Which was the third one which gave him such trouble ?
12) Which unusual dish is being offered by French’s Fish and Chip shop in Wells Next the Sea , Norfolk ?
13) In Brampton, Cambridgeshire, police have held an identity parade of what ?
14) In a survey of 1000 8 to 13 year olds what did the majority think a) The Battle of Britain - and b) The Tudors – were ?
15) It has been reported that Broadmoor prison is considering hiring the services of whom ?
16) Who was hailed in the Vatican Official Newspaper last week as “A Catholic Hero “ ?
17) What was the score in the first leg qualification match between the Republic of Ireland and Estonia ?
18) What world attraction was closed on 11/11/11 in case it attracted cult groups to do ceremonies there ?
19) London beat which city to win the right to host the 2017 World Athletics Championship ?
20) Who admitted that she is a closet royalist when she met the Queen last week ?
21) Which Oxford College vetoed plans to give an honorary fellowship to Michael Gove over funding cuts ?
22) Who lost a legal attempt to prove that their energy drink is a functional food – which would not incur VAT – rather than a beverage, which does ?
23) The giant pandas Tian Tian and Yang Guang will be coming to which British zoo ?
24) Saadi Gaddafi has been given asylum by which African country ?
25) Which canal was partly drained when a careless boater forgot to close a lock gate properly ?
26) Which contestant was kicked off the X-Factor for breaking competition rules ?
27) In which country in Europe do people have the longest life expectancy ?
28) Name the professional dancer on Strictly Come Dancer who has been injured and cannot continue in the competition ?
29) Which country became the first to pass a ‘carbon tax’ ?
30) Which world leader called Benjamin Netanyahu a liar last week ?


1) The head of the UK Border Agency who has resigned
2) Former colleague of Herman Cain who has accused him of sexual assault
3) Designer of Kate Middleton’s wedding dress, named Harper’s Bazaar Designer of the Year
4) Lost her case with an industrial tribunal claiming that her employers sacked her for wearing a skimpy outfit in a televised X Factor audition
5) Radio 5 presenter who prematurely told the audience that Joe Frazier had died
6) Man who was buried 11 years after his original funeral – the wrong body was taken out of the morgue
7) Name given to Prince Charles in Tanzania
8) Codename for Zara Phillips’ wedding – revealed last week to have cost the taxpayer £400,000
9) Name of the cat swung round by the tail in infamous video
10) First hospital to be run by private firm – Circle
11) New name for St. James’ park Newcastle
12) Venezuelan crowned Miss World
13) New baby daughter of Kate Silverton and Mike Heron
14) New british Scrabble champion
15) ANC Youth leader suspended last week
16) Tourism chief of S. East London sacked for criticizing Woolwich on twitter
17) She planted a GPS device on her husband’s car to find out if he was having an affair. He thought that it was a bomb.
18) New PM of Greece
19) Man tipped to succeed Silvio Berlusconi
20) Extreme ‘poppy burning’ group banned
21) Banned from driving for 6 months – drunk in charge of a motor vehicle
22) Base on the Falklands where the Duke of Cambridge is to serve a tour of duty
23) Her Vauxhall Tigra was set alight by accident by council workers in Coulsdon
24) Mother of Hugh grant’s baby, granted harassment order against newspaper photographers
25) Ireland’s former richest man – declared bankrupt
26) Voluntarily went to speak to the police about the cat swinging incident
27) Jailed for killing her daughter by force feeding her
28) He asked the judge to extend his sentence so that he could complete his drug rehabilitation course
29) Famous beach on St. Tropez closed last week after complaints
30) Teenage ballet dancer viciously attacked in Cardiff
31) The council want to reclassify it as the official village green so that will give it open access to the public. The owners are contesting this.
32) He is suing Levi Roots, claiming that he gave him the original recipe for reggae reggae Sauce
33) Their advert has been banned for making misleading claims about its ability to tackle grass stains
34) Village in North Yorkshire that has been put up for sale.

In Other News

1) 4 years
2) Homosexual men
3) Keith Richards
4) National Association of Head teachers
5) Trafalgar Square
6) Lighting Problems
7) Blockbusters
8) Lewis Moody
9) Paris
10) Western Black Rhinoceros
11) Energy
12) Pheasant and Chips
13) Stolen vegetables
14) a) A TV Talent Show – b) A Packet of Crisps
15) A pagan witch - after a survey of inmates’ spiritual needs
16) Tintin
17) Snowy
18) The Giza Pyramids
19) Doha
20) Tracey Emin
21) Lady Margaret Hall
22) Glaxo Smithkline – makers of Lucozade
23) Edinburgh
24) Niger
25) Kennett and Avon Canal
26) Frankie Cocozza
27) Switzerland
28) Artem
29) Australia

Mastermind - Round One - Heat 2

After the pleasant enough diversion of the Children in Need special last week we returned to the delights of the original and best last night, and for the first time this year, a contestant I have actually met before in the course of my quizzing career. Not Philip Price, as far as I know, who was answering on The Wines of the Loire Valley. Nor Frances Chant, whose subject was the Sandman Graphic Novels of Neil Gaiman. Step forward Maya Davies. Maya played in 2009/10 Brain of Britain, and her heat was recorded immediately before mine was. Unfortunately for her the heat also combined a certain Dr. Ian Bayley, who went on to win the series. As I recall she commented ruefully on the great man’s blinding buzzer speed after the show, something I would experience personally before the series was over. Still, this was Mastermind, not Brain of Britain, and Maya’s subject last night was The Life and Work of Gerard Hoffnung. Finally Adrian Scott offered us The Scottish Enlightenment.

Philip’s subject , the wines of the Loire Valley, promised to be a very tricky one. I say this because in 2007, in my first round heat the second to go was a very nice guy called Tim Vick. Tim had opted to take German wines. I didn’t say so to Tim, but when I heard that was what he was taking I thought that it was a terribly wide subject to be taking, when you consider all the different aspects of the subject that they might ask you. So did last night’s prove to be. In fact I thought Philip did extremely well to get as many points on it as he did, especially considering how difficult the subject was.

Now, while we’re on the subject of subjects, Frances Chant had opted for the Sandman Graphic novels of Neil Gaiman, which last appeared on Mastermind during Geoff’s 2006 series. In fact it was in Geoff’s semi final, when it was taken by Nick Duffy, who scored 17 with it. How do I know this ? Well, I was sitting in the audience watching it. I was semi final stand in that year. If you want further proof of how small a world it is, Barry Simmons also played in the same semi, and Pat Gibson was sitting next to me in the audience, the first time that I actually met him. Not that this had any bearing on the round last night. Frances scored 11, which is nothing to be sniffed at, but left room for either of the contenders still to come a bit of room to establish a healthy lead.

Maya was answering on Gerard Hoffnung. On the specialist rounds she was certainly the pick of the contenders last night. 14 points on specialist in a 2 minute round is pretty good quizzing. I speak from experience. You can have anything up to 12 weeks to prepare for your subject, and you can work and work and work at it, but you can still almost guarantee that the setters will find something to ask that you haven’t considered. A three point lead with one more contender to go looked very handy.

Adrian Scott’s subject, the Scottish Enlightenment was an interesting one, but also one of those very difficult portmanteau subjects whose parameters are theoretically so wide that it becomes extremely difficult to make a good score. He started rather well, I thought, but there were just too many he didn’t know to prevent him from getting any real rhythm going, and building up a head of steam. In the end he scored 9.

This meant a return trip to the chair once the halftime scores had been announced. he gave a decent, battling account of himself now, struggling a little at times, but doggedly pushing the score onwards to 12. Nothing to be ashamed of in a two and a half minute round. Of the 4, his was the round I did best on last night with 20, but it was only a point more than any of the others, so the level of GK questions seemed pretty even to me. Poor Philip Price gave us our first descent into pass hell this series. He became locked in a spiral from which he never quite managed to escape during the whole round, and in the end he added another 7 points to his score.

So, barring disaster, we were very likely to have our first lady through to the semis tonight. Frances came first. I liked the way that Frances went about her business in her round. Yes, there were things she didn’t know, but she didn’t allow them to put her off answering the things she did know- and that , believe it or not, is more important for reaching your potential in Mastermind than you might think. She added 12 to her score. It looked highly likely that Maya, needing 10 to win outright, should get there with some time to spare, but nonetheless it wasn’t going to be a walkover. Maya had produced the best of the specialist rounds, and last night she produced the best of the GK rounds as well. She looked calm and composed, and although she couldn’t quite bring out a couple of the answers that she knew that she knew, it didn’t matter. 13 took her total to 27, and a clear win. Well done Maya ! As for Frances, well, if I’m honest I doubt that 23 will be enough to see her through to a repechage spot, but well played anyway.

The Details

Philip Price The Wines of the Loire Valley 10-3 7 – 6 17 – 9
Frances Chant The Sandman Graphic Novels of Neil Gaiman 11 – 2 12 – 4 23 - 6
Maya Davies The Life and Work of Gerard Hoffnung 14 – 1 13 – 5 27 - 6
Adrian Scott The Scottish Enlightenment 9 – 3 12 – 3 21 – 6

Only Connect - Children In Need Special

The Great Believers v. The Free Speakers

Last Monday night I was playing a quiz league match in Maesteg. A very nice bunch of lads the opposition were as well, and I was in conversation with one of them. The subject turned onto TV quizzes, and he mentioned Only Connect, saying words to the effect of – I love the show, but I wish it was a little easier because I don’t get many of the answers at home. Well, I dare say that if he watched this show on the iplayer, then he’ll have enjoyed it very much, for, being in the land of the celebrity team and the children in need special, the level was just taken down that notch or so. Lets have a look at the teams. The Great Believers were John Lloyd – producer of some of the finest TV shows ever seen on BBC2 – Q.I. and Not The Nine O’Clock News to name but 2. The original holder of the title “The Thinking Man’s Crumpet”, Joan Bakewell . Then the captain , Nick Hornby. I knew Nick Hornby was a quizzer, because Markus Berkmann mentions it in his brilliant “Brain Men”, and so he was a fitting skipper. ON the other side we had the Free Speakers – Simon Singh – writer of the brilliant “Fermat’s Last Theorem”, celebrity Masterminder John Sessions , and Ian Hislop- the most sued man in british legal history, apparently. On with the show.

Round One - What’s the Connection ?

I think that long term fans of the show will have had quite a few five pointers at home while watching this one. The Believers took Twisted Flax to start, finding – Paintings signed by Leonardo. Got it ? Well, anyway, they also took – Locks on the Suez Canal – Bones in a Shark. Confident of the answer, they offered that there are none of any of the list. Quite right too. Your shark is made of cartilage, innit. Not to be outdone, the Speakers also took their first set off three clues. Eye of Horus gave them – Sell Socks in packs of 3 – Make the Channel Tunnel a no-fly zone – Ban terrorists from having beards. What else could it be but policies of the Monster Raving Looney Party ? Quite right. Horned Viper gave the Believers a burst of music, and they heard Leader of the Pack – God Save The Queen – Je T’Aime – Relax. They knew that all of them were banned by the BBC. Lion gave the Speakers a picture set, and I will admit that I think they did well to get this off three. A bread basket – a muffin – and a six pack gave them colloquial expressions for a stomach. They consolidated this when all that the Believers caouls come up with for – St. Saddam’s Hospital – Uncle Albert Hall – Kelsey Grammar School – Sandi Toksvig House – was a british comedy show. Yes, but which one. I thought that the Speakers were given quite a bit of leeway before they came up with Little Britain, but there we are, its all for charity. This gave the Speakers a chance to go further ahead, which they did on a full set , seeing that Erté, Hergé, Jeep and Esso are all names made up from the phonetic sound of initials – Esso = Standard Oil – you see. So at the end of the round the Speakers led by 6 to 3.

Round Two – What Comes Fourth ?

A lovely , clever little set caught out the Believers with water. They were given the names George – in blue– Paul – in grey – Ringo – in black. They offered John in Red. No no. This was the order of the Beatles crossing the road on the Abbey Road album cover, and the colour of clothes they were wearing. So it would be John in White. Love it. The Speakers were given 604,800 – 86,400 – 36,00 and knew that the answer would be 60. Number of seconds in a minute – hour – day etc. Well worked out. Joan Bakewell was close with the next , knowing that ITA – IBA – ITC were successive TV regulatory bodies, but it was Ian of the Speakers who supplied OFCOM for a bonus. The Speakers found their second set of pictures with sailing ships, a red wax seal, and some cabbages. They knew that we were dealing with shoes and ships and sealing wax , and cabbages – so the next would be Kings. The time has come, the Walrus said, you see. The Believers hadn’t stopped living up to their name, though, and given Blessed Plot – Earth – they knew that we had John of Gaunt’s speech from Richard II. Which sequence ends with England. Well done ! Finally the Speakers showed just a chink in their armour, missing Wilberforce – Humphrey – Sybil. Both teams knew we were talking about cats in 10 Downing Street, but neither know that Larry is the present incumbent. So both teams doubles their scores during the round, giving the Speakers 12 and the Believers 6

Round Three – The Connecting Walls

The Speakers wen first, and they found this rather more difficult than the previous rounds. They unraveled Corgan – Joel – Ocean and Idol as a set of singers with the christian name Billy. That was it. When the wall was resolved they could see that Winter – Crystal – Topkapi and Potala are all palaces. They knew that M – The Big Heat – Fury and Metropolis are all films by Fritz Lang. Mastermind – Hex -= Go and Kensington they identified as strategy board games. So a total of 5 points, and just a little chance for the Believers to narrow the gap.

The Water wall was tackled with gusto by the Believers, and they resolved it with a little time to spare. St. Clements – Virgin Mary – Prairie Oyster – Shirley Temple they knew to be non alcoholic cocktails. Bell – Learning – Bathtub and Demand they said were all curves – correctly . Lemon – Coren – Muggeridge and Bird they knew have all edited Punch. I don’t blame Victoria one little bit for saying her Dad Alan was the best. As a humourist, Alan Coren was a bit special. Lemon was Mark Lemon who was the founding editor. Orange – Turtle – The Week and Trial they missed – perhaps a little surprisingly, the link being Mock. So , going into the all- important missing vowels round, the Speakers still led, by 17 to 13.

Round Four – Missing Vowels

Famous film quotes kicked us off. Both teams had one , but the Speakers also dropped a point for an incorrect answer. A wonderful category followed- things that have been reported as carcinogenic by the Daily Mail. ( Could be anything ! – I grunted at home, and indeed, this proved to be correct ) Honours even on these, two points apiece. Just time to start Number 1 singles which start with parentheses – which was taken by the Speakers, and the 4 point gap with which we began the round was still in place. So a win for the Free Speakers by 20 to 16. Well played both teams. I’ve put a few quid into Children in Need on the strength of the show – why not do the same ?

University Challenge - Round Two - Match 4

Queen’s Oxford v. Worcester, Oxford

Queen’s team consisted of Peter Sloman, James Kane, Leila Hill and the captain, Matthew White. In a nice little irony , Queen’s trumped King’s – of Cambridge- in the first round.
Worcester had a slightly longer route through to the second round. They lost their first match to Clare, a real nailbiter, but defeated a good St. Andrews outfit in the repechage. They were Dave Knapp, Jack Bramhill, Jonathan Metzer and captain Rebecca Gillie.

For the second week running the setters resisted the temptation to start us with words by their definitions, and instead we were asked about Colin Firth. Rebecca Gillie knew it. Worcester posted their intent early on by taking a full set of bonuses on the Limpopo river. Peter Sloman struck right back for Queen’s, on the word Monte. They in their turn took a full set on mottos. Early days yet, but this was shaping up as a good contest. Dave Knapp took a starter requiring two similar words – psychic and phsyics. One bonus followed on exploring duos – Burke and Wills etc. James Kane recognized a description of Sanskrit for the next , and this brought a full set on chemistry. The picture starter followed, and it was a medical chart devised by Florence Nightingale. Jack Bramhill correctly identified it, and the team identified three more of the same for a full set of bonuses. Dave Knapp knew that the lapwing is a species of plover, and this led to a couple of bonuses on railway station. Neither team knew Magnox for the next starter. James Kane knew all about the Legion d’Honneur, and a full set of bonuses on coop words meant that at the halfway stage there was hardly anything in it. Worcester led by 85 to Queen’s 65 – a high quality match.

Dave Knapp knew both Delaware and Florida for the next starter. For the first time in the match the team drew a blank on a set of bonuses on Nobel Prize winners. Mr. Knapp, who would take a fine 7 starters in the match by my reckoning, also knew Deuterium. The team did slightly better with these bonuses, taking one on galaxies.The music starter played us part of an opera – a snatch of music possibly best known for being used a few years ago on an advert for British Airways. It took a while, but Leila Hill supplied the correct answer of Lakme. No0ne of a set of bonuses on other operas set in Asian countries were taken. Skipper Matthew White knew all about Geoffrey Chaucer for the next starter. One bonus was taken on architecture, though it would have been two if he had not misheard his team mate offer Le Corbusier. Never mind. Neither team knew the philosopher Thales . Nope, I didn’t either before you ask. A brilliant speculative early buzz from Matthew White gave the Football War for the next starter, but no bonuses, alas, on female Nobel prize winners. Jack Bramhill took the next starter with silver, after an early buzz from Queen’s lost 5 points. Would this prove to be costly in the final reckoning ? 1 bonus on New York was taken. Dave Knapp, who had just had a quiet five minutes, leapt back into action with the second picture starter, identifying the sculptor of a piece we were shown as Anish Kapoor ( probably my favourite modern sculptor, but I digress ) . 2 bonuses on more of the same were taken. It looked very much like Advantage : Worcester, as they now led by 145 to 95.

Dave Knapp paired attitude and latitude for the next starter. 2 bonuses followed on – tok – words. James Kane took Noam Chomsky for the next, and one bonus on cruciferous plants followed. You pays yer money . James Kane made it a double with a good answer with Diligence, which was also a type of horse drawn carriage. 1 bonus followed on the films of David Lean. Only singe bonuses were being taken, but the gap was beginning to close. Dave Knapp knew that Graham McDowall won the US Open , and a couple of bonuses on greek prefixes kept the pot boiling. Matthew White knew that it was Heracles who took the cattle of Geryon. 1 bonus followed on the Pacific Theatre in WWII. Leila Hill knew Tropism for the next starter, and a valuable full set of bonuses were taken on Exiles. The lead was now down to 25 – one starter and bonuses. Peter Sloman knew Electrons , and the three bonuses required were taken ! All square. Perhaps time for one more starter – perhaps two. Rebecca Gillie played the captain’s innings by taking the next knowing that Thackeray’s Rebecca and Rowena was based on Scott’s Ivanhoe. Only 1 bonus was taken on seaside settings in fiction was taken . . . but it was enough ! The gong sounded, ending another fantastic contest. Very hard lines Queen’s. You played very well indeed. But well played Worcester. Good luck in the quarters.

Jeremy Paxman Watch.

One small slice of vintage Paxman served up early in this show. When offered the wrong name in answer to a question about a musician , he virtually hit the roof . “HERB ALPERT !!!!!!!!!! It’s Wynton Marsalis !!!!” Alright – he didn’t quite say – you donkey ! afterwards – but it was all there in his tone.
Then we had his dismissive reply to Leila Hill’s answer of Lakme for the music starter –
“It is Lakme . . . I’m surprised it took you so long !” Listen , Jez, most of us at home were still saying – oh – go on, it’s the one from the BA advert.

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

South Cambridgeshire District Council have the only known civic motto in Britain which is in Dutch.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Brain of Britain - First Round - Match One

When a show is off the air you forget sometimes just how much you enjoy it. What a pleasure to have Brain of Britain back again, after last week’s titanic contest between the last three champs for the title of Brain of Brains. A rather less high powered encounter this one, but not without its own tension and interest.

First up was Raphael Burrino – I do apologise if I misspell anyone’s name, but the Radio 4 website doesn’t seem to print them anymore. He was undone by his first question – which needed the answer Eggs Benedict. I did feel a little sorry for Raphael. He seemed to get a couple more nasties as the first question than others did. Yes, I know, it is all in the ear of the behearer. Kate Gardener followed. she took a couple for an early lead, but didn’t know that Wellington’s masterpiece of 1812 was Salamanca. Nor did any of the others. Andrew Newton failed on his first, a tricky little number requiring him to identify a scientific term as relating to tear gas. No bonuses for anyone there. Finally former Masterminder Tony Ruscombe Poole completed the round with a couple of answers. Then 3 of the 4 couldn't remember the name of the place where Osama Bin Laden was killed – Abbotabad, and it was left to Andrew to supply the answer. Ah, how soon we all forget.

There were slim pickings on the second round as well. I will admit that I didn’t know either well dressing, Raphael’s question, nor Yeats’ poetic muse. However I did think both the name Hafiz – given to a muslim who learns the whole of the Koran, and Giverny , where Monet painted his water lilies really weren’t that difficult, and the sort of thing you have to get right if you’re going to make a serious challenge. Rounds weren’t taking very long to complete at all. In fact I don’t believe that any of the contestants got beyond three correct answers in a row throughout the whole show. So there was plenty of time for two more rounds before the Beat the Brains interval. By the time we got there Kate who had been managing a couple in each round, either through her own or bonuses, had a slight lead with 8 points.

The Beat the Brains questions were a) The Fifth Column was a term coined in the Spanish Civil War – but what were the first four columns ? The Brains knew that these were the columns of the Nationalist Army. The second question was Edmund Burke coined the phrase – The Fourth Estate – but what were the first four. The Brains were close, but not close enough, not quite getting that it was the Commons, the Lords Spiritual and the Lords Temporal.

Kate picked up a single point in Round five to take herself to nine, enough to maintain a lead, while both Tony and Andrew had seven. Tony had taken a bonus by knowing that Peeping Tom’s profession was a tailor. However neither he nor any of the others knew that the storm cock is another name for the mistle thrush. In round Six we saw Andrew begin to make his run for home. A good haul of bonuses saw him raise his score to 10, while Kate remained on 9, and Tony on 7. Round Seven was a relative rarity for BoB – a round in which none of the contestants answered any of the questions correctly. No points, no bonuses, and no change in the scores. I thought that Raphael’s question about Newfoundland was the hardest, and didn’t get it. I had the rest though, having attended my cousin’s wedding in Hatfield House last Summer. So we were entering round Eight, and Russell still hadn’t announced that this would be the last round. Raphael actually top scored in this round, picking up 2 to take him to 8. Kate remained on 9, while both Tony and Andrew picked up a point.

So , entering another relatively rarity for BoB – a round Nine – the fact was that anybody could win.It wouldn’t even require a full set either , and to be perfectly honest it looked highly unlikely that this was going to happen in this show. No disrespect intended towards the contestants, who did their best, but none of them had shown the kind of all round knowledge, and , lets be honest, luck that you need for a full set on BoB. Raphael added another 2 to his score, and Andrew another 1 which was enough to give him a win by two points. Off the point entirely I was pleased with myself from remembering Iskra ( the spark ) from A Level history. So well done, Andrew Newton, first of this year’s semi finalists. A glance back over records from the last couple of years suggests that Raphael, runner up on 10 is unlikely to make the semis in a high scoring runner up slot. Welcome back BoB !

The Details

Raphael Burrino – 10
Kate Gardener – 9
Andrew Newton – 12
Tony Ruscombe Poole – 10

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Reverse Pedantry

Stick with me with this one. I will get to the point in the end. Right, you may well recall that I began to play for the Llangewydd Arms in the Bridgend and District Quiz League back in October 2010. A great season ensued, and I am still very happily turning out for the team this season. Still, the fact was that when I joined , I didn’t really know Andrew and Neil who had asked me to play with them, and I didn’t really know what the questions were going to be like. Oh, I knew that the league was a good one, with several strong teams, of course, but that was about the length of it. So not knowing how strong my teammates were, and how tough the questions were going to be, I made a decision. During the season I would try to take a mental note of what we got wrong. The idea then would be to work on that category of question so that I couldn’t be caught out on it again. Pretty straightforward stuff, and you can only take it so far, but I tried, anyway. When I started playing in the old Port Talbot League over 20 years ago I was with some great players, and I always took it for granted that if I didn’t know an answer at least one of them would, if not more. Usually they did, too. However there comes a time when you have to take a little more responsibility yourself, and so starting last year I went to the books . . . and Google.

It was, I have to say, quite a long time before anything I’d learned specifically for the league came up in another league quiz. Still, the bonus was that stuff I’d learned specifically started popping up in almost every other quiz I attended. Now, in one of the early quizzes in last year’s league we were asked which racecourse was located near a particular town. Its slipped my mind which, and I know that we had it wrong, but the main thing was I saw it as one of those – you got me once, you’re not going to get me on this again – questions. So I set about learning as well as I could the locations of every racecourse in Britain. There’s 60 odd racecourses, so it wasn’t such a chore really.

Fast forward to last Thursday night. Now let me state for the record hand on heart that Howard, our question master on the night, does a good quiz. He’s one of our semi regulars, and hasn’t done one for a while, but when he does it’s a good’un. The last question in round two was “In which county would you find Plumpton racecourse ? “ I gave it a second’s thought, and then the answers – “Plumpton – near Lewes – East Sussex “ popped into my head. So we put it down. The answer was given as “Sussex” and I began congratulating myself. Don’t get me wrong, I like getting any question right, but there’s a special satisfaction in answering something you’ve specifically learned, which you would not have otherwise known. Cue the scores being read out, and we were given one less point than I had thought. I queried it, and was told that he wasn’t allowing East Sussex. It wasn’t the answer he had down on his answer sheet. Sussex was. Being QM myself oft times I should have shut up and sat down there and chalked it up as Just Another Of Those Things. It was, after all, just a social quiz ( I can’t believe that I just wrote that. ) But I couldn’t. I didn’t point out to him that really and truly Sussex does not exist as one county any more. Sussex is actually two counties – West and East. I can’t really remember what his justification was, but I could feel myself getting frustrated, so I told him he was being ridiculous by refusing the point for us being too specific in giving a correct answer, and went off to the gents. What fristrated me was that , lets say it had been the other way round. Suppose the answer given was "East Sussex" and a team had written down "Sussex". Personally I would probably award them the point , because you always err on the side of generosity in a social quiz. But if they had been refused the point, then there would have been some sense of logic behind it. Harsh, yes, but correct. But it doesn't work in reverse.

As it happened he came back after the next round and told us that he was going to give us the point anyway. Whether someone else had confirmed what I said, or whether he was just humouring the naughty boy – me – in order to shut him up, I wouldn’t like to say.

I didn’t feel particularly good about myself for making a fuss in the first place, I will admit. Still, it did strike me as an example of the relatively rare phenomenon of reverse pedantry. I don’t know if this is the correct technical term, or indeed whether there actually is a correct technical term, but it’s the thing which makes a QM reject a correct answer because it’s too specific.

The most glaring example I can think of was a few years ago. I can’t remember the exact wording, but it was something along the lines of ‘name the sport which appeared in the London Olympic Games in 1908, and didn’t reappear until 1924 in Chamonix’. Now, as it happened I did know the answer anyway. but if you stop to think for a minute that Chamonix was actually the first Winter Olympic Games, then you’ll be well on the way to getting it. The answer I put down was figure skating. The answer which the QM – who hasn’t been to the quiz for several years now – gave was ‘ice skating’. We were not given the point. The fact is that ice skating encompasses speed skating as well, whereas figure skating is what was actually contested. His reply – “No. My answer is ice skating. You have put figure skating. YOU are pedantic when you do a quiz, so I am being pedantic now !” Leaving aside the abuse, which, while other people might well agree has some validity behind it was rather unpleasant and unnecessary at the time, is it actually pedantry when you don’t accept an answer because it’s too specific ?

Obviously I don’t think that I’m pedantic. Well, I would say that wouldn’t I ? But when I do a quiz, especially for the club, I do always try to be guided by the principal of – if they obviously KNOW the answer, then you give them the point even if they haven’t quite hit the bullseye. I do confess that I still have a bit of a tendency to try to explain why some answers are wrong, and this is actually a bad habit, and has probably led to the accusation as much as perceived meanness over scoring my quizzes.

Brain of Brains 2011

Can it really be 3 years since the late, great Mark Bytheway triumphed over Chris Hughes and Pat Gibson to win the last Brain of Brains title ? Well, yes it can. Once again it’s the tourney between the previous three champs, acting as curtain raiser to the latest series, which begins tomorrow. And what champions they are ! Geoff Thomas, my predecessor as Mastermind champ in 2006, winner of , well, pretty much everything that’s out there. Iwan Thomas, reigning champion, and setter of the highest score in last year’s mastermind. Then Ian Bayley. I had a ringside seat from which to witness Ian’s Brain of Britain prowess when he – lets not beat about the bush – thrashed the three of us in the 2010 final. So my thoughts for Geoff and Iwan were – try to get as many of your own questions right as possible, because Ian is one of the fastest people on the buzzer that I have ever seen.

There was a very nice touch from Russell Davies at the start of the show, when he dedicated the show to the memory of the late Robert Robinson, who made, as Russell so rightly said, such an enormous contribution to the success of BoB for so many years. Then on with the contest. As always we kicked off in alphabetical order. Ian took his first two questions, but didn’t know that a clegg was an old norse word for a horsefly. Neither did Geoff or Iwan, nor indeed most of us sitting at home either, I shouldn’t wonder. Geoff took his first three, but didn’t know that the late Irvin Kirshner directed the very successful sequel, The Empire Strikes Back. Ian did. Iwan couldn’t quite remember the name of the plague village in Derbyshire, Eyham. Geoff could, and this gave him a one point lead going into the second round. Well done Geoff – there’s not many people can say that they have led Ian Bayley in BoB. Ian again took the first two, but struggled to find the name of the main town that became part of Stoke on Trent. Burslem it was. Geoff only managed his first, but didn’t know that Satyagraha was an opera based on the life of Ghandi. Iwan got off the mark, taking his first two, but then none of the three champs could answer that it was Cecil Day Lewis who wrote The Otterbury Incident. I read it at school. When bonuses were added in, Geoff still led Ian by 7 to 6, with Iwan now on 2. The third round saw Ian flexing his muscles somewhat as he whacked in three answers on the bounce, only being beaten by one on a film composer’s music for a production of Much Ado About Nothing. Nobody got him. Geoff could only take his first question, but didn’t know that the cornea does not have any blood supply, taking its oxygen directly from the air. Ian knew this. Iwan was going great guns, and looked set for a full set. However the fifth question – which I’m afraid I did not note down, stopped him in his tracks. So once bonuses were added in , Ian now led with 10, Geoff had 9, and Iwan had pulled up to 6.

The Beat the Brains questions were appropriately difficult. Asked to name two famous Italian composers born in Luca, they correctly supplied Puccini, but tried Scarlatti instead of Boccherini. For the second question they guessed that the famous novel that mentions Luca in its first sentence was “A Room With A View”, but no – it was “War and Peace”. A well earned book token there.

Back to the contest, and as yet it was anyone’s game.Still, how long it would remain so was called immediately into question when Ian reeled off a full set of five and a bonus. Both Geoff and Iwan responded well with threes, but it was a seven point round for Ian, and with a lead of 17 to Geoff’s 12 it was beginning to look as if the title would be going to Oxford. However, BoB can be a fickle mistress, and after gaining a full set, Ian failed on his first question of the next set. None of the three champs knew that Rose Bay Willow Herb is also nicknamed fireweed. It was a funny old round, the 5th. Iwan was the only one of the champs to answer his first question. Geoff didn’t know a question about Bernoulli, and Iwan missed his second about Rosa Luxembourg. The bonuses went to Ian and Geoff, and so the gaps remained the same. Ian piled on the pressure by taking his first two questions in round 6. Geoff was caught out with his first, not knowing that the Cotswolds are Britain’s largest Area Of Outstanding Natural Beauty. None of the champs knew that one. Iwan took a spirited set of three, before falling on Humboldt’s Sea, which is on the moon. With two rounds left, Ian led with 20, from Geoff on 14, and Iwan on 15. In the next round, nobody knew that it was Rosie Burdock with whom Laurie Lee had his cider. Geoff took his first , but then had something of a stinker with a question on the founders of gestalt psychology. Iwan couldn’t answer that it was Angela Eagle who was told to “Calm down dear” by David Cameron. Ian knew that. With one round to go, Ian had 21, Geoff 15 and Iwan 13. Theoretically it was still mathematically possible for Geoff to win. If Ian had a scoreless round, and Geoff took a full set and two bonuses, he could do it. Ian took just the one point in the round. Geoff made a good fist of his set, but was stymied by the 4th question – about the cause of a mass withdrawal of entries to a horse race. Iwan got a stinker for his first question, on which organization used the Lamp of Ypres for its emblem. It was the Toc H. Fair enough.

So, at the end of what Russell correctly called a very sporting competition, Ian was worthy winner of the title Brain of Brains. He scored 22, Geoff 18, and Iwan 13. Well played gentlemen, and many congratulations Ian. Another fine performance.


Ian Bayley – 22
Geoff Thomas – 18
Iwan Thomas - 13