The Scribes v. The Ciphers
Having just watched one of the less impressive UC matches that there's been in the last few years I immediately switched across for my weekly dose of Only Connect. The first team, the Scribes, were all unknown to me – which means nothing, of course. They were Holly Pattenden , Gareth Price and Dom Tait. Their link was the fact that all of them are professional publishers or editors. Their opponents were the Ciphers, also unfamiliar to me. Anthony Edwards and Neil Zussman flanked captain James Hall. Now, these guys were all linked by a passion for puzzles – and that’s not a bad qualification for the show. But would it be reflected in their performance ? We’d soon find out.
Round One – What’s the Connection ?
The Ciphers kicked off with Lion, which earned them the picture clues for their pains. A ballot paper, a chessboard and a shark’s fin were followed by a tie. I kicked myself for not seeing fin ( Finn ) and tie (Thai ) together of course with poll and check– read it out loud. Good set, and I felt only slightly better about the fact that neither team saw it either. Horned Viper for the Scribes revealed Appointment of the Poet Laureate – Photocard Driving License renewal – which gave me the answer about the same time as the Scribes had it – the relatively gentle connection that these now happen every ten years. The Ciphers took water . Holly Golightly’s flatmate I didn’t know. The avian resident of the hundred acre wood I decided was an owl , Columbo’s basset hound I didn’t know either – for all I knew he might have shared a flat with Holly Golightly too, but I doubted it . I think that James’ guess after three was certainly a speculative punt at best, based on thinking that the owl in Winnie the Poo is called wol. Actually I think it’s just written wol on a nameplate in the EH Shepherd pictures. Dom knew that the flatmate is a cat called Cat – owl is called Owl – you see how it works. Eye of Horus for the Scribes showed us Olympic Boxing plus 1 minute , gymnastic vault plus 10cm, and Shot put plus 3.26 kg. This gave the Scribes the extra amount making the difference between men’s and women’s events in certain sports. What a good question . The Ciphers, yet to score, tried their luck with Twisted Flax. The curtains in The Raven , pretentious prose and then the giveaway, heliotrope should have been enough, but Iraqi voters' index fingers didn’t do it for them. The Scribes knew it. Purple prose after all and heliotrope being a shade of purple. Only Two Reeds and the music set was left. Gorillaz and Clint Eastwood started – could have gone with either group or song there – I didn’t know the second , but had it on Barbra Streisand at the same time that Dom buzzed in with the answer that all these songs were named after actors. So my impression after the first round was that the Scribes were looking a decidedly handy outfit, while the Ciphers, with their love of puzzles, were actually trying to do too much , and making some of the connections more complicated than they really were. The Scribes led 9 – 0.
Round Two – What comes Fourth ?
The Ciphers kicked off with the horned viper . Now they showed sensible restraint . With Devil’s Night followed by Halloween, they knew that All Souls and All Saints days followed, but were not sure of the order. So they took the next – All Saints Day, and finished off with two points for All Souls day – thank you very much, as easy as that. Scribes tried Twisted Flax,giving them Skiddaw – Helvellyn – Sca Fell . Dom I am sure had the connection, that these were the 4th, 3rd and 2nd highest peaks in England, but he crucially didn’t give the highest – Scafell Pike. Maybe he thought Sca Fell was Scafell Pike. It confused the Ciphers too, who didn’t take a bonus. They did take the Eye of Horus, though, which gave them Beehive – Game of Chess – Monarchs of the UK – and here I had the lightbulb moment – and shouted – a pack of playing cards – 4 queens being needed. James had it as well, asking for something with 4 queens. Lovely set again – (one of Watergrass Jon’s ?). The Ciphers’ score was looking a lot more healthy. Scribes tried water, and found Maastricht – Amsterdam – Nice- and knew that these were all EC / EU treaties. They zagged back with Rome, and the Ciphers didn’t know it, but they should have zigged forward with Lisbon. The Ciphers tried Lion, and Horst Kohler – Rodrigo Rato – Dominique Strauss Khan were enough to give them the link – heads of the IMF - . BUT –in this round it’s no good knowing the connection if you don’t know what comes next, and they didn’t. Dom Tait knew with Christine Lagarde. This left them with two reeds, and the pictures. Indira Ghandi was followed by Golda Meir , then Elizabeth Domitien. Now – do you go backwards to Mrs. Bandaraneike, or forwards to Margaret Thatcher ? They went forwards and they were right – successive female prime ministers of the world. All of which meant that the Scribes had conceded merely one point of their lead, as the scores were now 12 to 4.
Round Three – The Connecting Walls
The Scribes took the first wall, and they went with lion. Narrative – Free – Nonsense and Blank were sorted into a line of types of verse. Rot, Cobblers, Bunk and Bilge sound like a firm of 1940s solicitors, but were in fact the next line, terms for nonsense ( which is also a type of verse, I seem to recall ). They didn’t waste any time in resolving the last two lines. They knew that brawn, chitterlings, tripe and lights really WERE a set of 1940s solicitors – alright, they were all offal – and Liver – Welsh – Black and Ponty can all be combined with Pool to make place names. Impressive display for a full ten points.
The Ciphers then were left with the water wall. There was quite a lot of jabbing at first, but they did sort out a line of showjumpers – Skelton – Funnell – Maher and Whittaker . They knew that there were a set of steaks there, and a set of sticks. Eventually they found the sticks – slap – broom – chop and drum. Their problem was that Barebones meant nothing to them, while historians and quizzers were no doubt all thinking Parliaments at home. Well, maybe it was luck, maybe it wasn’t, but they did resolve the steaks – Chuck – clod – thin flank and sirloin , and the parliaments – Barebones – long – convention and rump, with their very last guess. Alas they went for Blue Peter presenters with the show jumpers. They knew the sticks, but not the Parliaments, but did get the cuts of beef, for a total of 6 points. The Scribes led 22 – 10
Round Four – Missing Vowels
I did wonder whether the Ciphers, with their puzzle pedigree were going to be one of those teams who are unimpressive with their general knowledge in the first three rounds, but put on a barnstorming display in the last . They didn’t with the first set on bread products. They got one but lost one, and the Scribes got three and lost one. The Scribes took the next category – family relationships - 3 – 1, but the Ciphers lost their point for an incorrect buzz. The next category was baseball legends. The Scribes took two, but lost a point, and the Ciphers took one. By this time it seemed to have become Dom v. Neil – who was playing a little blinder for his team . Famous flower paintings saw honours even. The last category, Angry Young men , lasted just long enough to give Dom a point, and that was that. The Scribes were very comfortable winners with 31 – 13 – a pleasingly palindromic final score. The Scribes are another of those teams to watch, there didn’t seem to be much weakness there at all. As for the Ciphers, well they had a go, but I’m afraid they were beaten by the more knowledgeable team, and there’s no shame in that. Good show.