The Wordsmiths v. The Educators
Only Connect from time to time throws up matches where teams of well known and experienced quizzers are pitted against teams who maybe have less of a serious quiz pedigree. The fact that these rarely result in total thrashings says a lot for the success of OC as a format. On paper, last night’s show had the look of just such a match up. The first of the teams, the Wordsmiths are far from unknown. Our own LAM regular Brian Pendreigh, a Mastermind semi finalist and seasoned campaigner, along with CIU quiz supremo Chris Brewis both flanked skipper Dave Taylor. I’m sure that I’ve met Dave at previous CIU finals before. A formidable team certainly. I can’t say that I had any prior knowledge of the Educators. Matt Finch , Michelle La Roche, and Jay La Roche are all secondary school teachers – which fact raised a small cheer from the Clark sofa. However I did fear for them, bearing in mind the firepower that I knew their opposition were packing.
Round One – What’s The Connection ?
The Educators kicked off with The Eye of Horus. This turned out to be the picture set, and revealed a sailing ship, an East European country , a dessert, and a tennis player. I had a pretty good night on this show, and I kicked off with the Terra Nova and Moldova to get this on 2. The Eds couldn’t see it, and the Smiths were glad to take a bonus on it – Pavlova and Kournikova completing a good set. I needed 3 to get the Smiths’ first set behind horned viper. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Life of Riley and Abigail’s Party gave me plays where the title character does not appear, and I even correctly predicted Waiting for Godot would come next. The Smiths took all 4 just to be on the safe side. The Eds took their first point with twisted flax. Making gunpowder – Roman mouthwash ( and to many of us Roman mouthwash means just one thing – which turned out to be the correct answer ) – Thickening Wool and Marking territory. That last one gave the Eds the answer – all involved using urine. The Smiths showed just a tiny bit of vulnerability , when they quickly figured out that – With pipe – With straw Hat – Without beard were all referring to paintings by Van Gogh. At first they plumped for Dr. Gachet, then just generally Van Gogh paintings. When With Bandaged Ear was offered to the Eds they gratefully took the bonus, that these were all self portraits. The Eds followed this up by solving another 4 part connection. The Music clues behind Lion were Machine Gun – Mack the Knife – Eton Rifles and Grenade. They knew that they all mentioned weapons in the title. So it fell to the Smiths to finish the round with Water. No messing around this time. Good Dogs Always Eat – and – All Cows Eat Grass – were enough to give skipper Dave the answer that all are musical mnemonics. A good shout, and enough to give the Smiths a 2 point lead, of 5 to the Ed’s 3.
Round Two – What Comes Fourth ?
I had the Eds’ first clue which lay behind two reeds on 2. Mastercard preceded Rubik’s Magic – and I knew we were dealing with increasing numbers of interlocking rings. The Eds had it too as soon as they were4 given the third clue of Audi, and they opted for the Olympic flag – which would have 5. Lovely set that. The Smiths went for the eye of Horus, and got an OC special . 7000>>13 – 13>>8 – 8>>5. They didn’t get it, and neither did I. The Eds took a good bonus with 5>>4. The second number is the number of letters in the first number if you write it out. Good set. Mind you, they blotted their copybook a little on the next set behind Flex, which was a straightforward quizzers’ set. I’d lay odds that had it fallen for the Smiths they might even have been tempted to go for the full points off one clue. 4- Titov – 1 – Gagarin ! I shouted. But 3: Grissom – 2:Shepherd didn’t help the Eds, which gave the bonus to the Smiths – the list of the first four men in space thus being completed. Viper revealed a picture set for the Smiths, and faced with the cover of Victoria’s book For Richer for Poorer, and a still from In Sickness and in Health , they knew that the answer would be a still from the original series Till Death Us Do Part. Again, a nice set, if a little gentle. Neither team managed the next set – of Grain – Malt – Wort . A couple of decades ago I dabbled with home brew, so I knew it was beer. The Smiths were on the right lines with mash, but no bonus point . They took a good one with the last set, though. Lion revealed Belgrade – Budapest , and Bratislava, and they had the key to it straight away – capital cities on the Danube. They knew that Vienna would be next – well worth a point that one. The lead, then , had extended, as the Wordsmiths now had 11 to the Educators’ 6.
Round Three – The Connecting Walls
The Lion wall yielded up its secrets to the Smiths some time before the end of the three minutes. They could see a set of European currencies which had been replaced by the Euro, and it took a little while to untangle them, but they soon found Mark – Guilder – Punt and Tolar. Almost immediately they also found – Smear – PR – Fund Raising and Military – all types of campaign. They took a bit of stock there for a while, but comfortably found the next two lines before the time was up. When asked by Victoria they knew that Benn – Shavin – Holmes and Dennis are all regulars on Radio 4’s excellent The Now Show. ( Friday evenings – in the News Quiz slot – highly recommended. ) I bet Brian is kicking himself for seeing that Wasserman – Ishihara – Schilling and Mantoux are all medical tests just a little too late. Still, 7 points meant that they would still be ahead going into the last round, however well the Eds did.
I don’t want to be horrible, but the Eds really didn’t do very well on the wall at all. I don’t think it was necessarily any harder than other walls we’ve seen in this series, but they were unable to untangle any of the lines before time ran out. They had seen that there was a set of Squares there, but didn’t get the right set – which was revealed to be Red – Tiananmen – Tahrir and St. Peter’s. They were by no means certain about Oak Apple – Armistice – Lady and Trafalgar, and looked surprised when Victoria confirmed that their guess of traditional holidays was right. Now, a slightly controversial moment. Given Remus – Wenceslas – King Hamlet and Abel – the closest that they could come was that they all had famous brothers. This wasn’t really the point – this being that they were all murdered by a brother. Victoria eventually allowed this one. At the end of the day leeway is often given to contestants who are close to the answer, and maybe I am being far too harsh here, but I didn’t think that I would necessarily have given it without the idea of murder as well. Whatever the case, Victoria seemed very surprised when they didn’t see that Pinko – Lefty – Attack Poodle and Wet – are all terms of political abuse. So even with a lenient adjudication the Eds were left with a mountain to climb, now trailing to the Wordsmiths by 18 to 9
Round Four – Missing Vowels
If you were underwhelmed by the Eds performance on the wall, at least your opinion would veer the other way during this final round. The first category was bedclothes. The admirable skipper of the Eds, Jay La Roche took the first two. The Smiths took one, but buzzed too early and lost a point. So the lead was down by two. Once again, the Smiths buzzed too early and lost a point on careers that Barbie has tried – fantastic category ! – and the Eds took 3 correct answers. Another 4 points off the lead. Architectural features proved to be the Eds Achilles heel, and a couple of points to the Smiths gave them a modicum of comfort. Still the Eds came back to take two Eurovision Song Contest Winners, before the end of the contest. The Wordsmiths won by 19 to 16, but their skipper Dave looked anything but pleased with the performance in the final round. The fact is , though, that the Wordsmiths were clearly the better team in three out of the four rounds, and deserved their win. Well done to the Educators, though. Coming back from a bit of a disaster on the wall to produce such a great final round was a performance of real character, and something to be proud of. Good show.