Friday, 30 November 2012

Only Connect - Semi Final 1

Footballers v. The Draughtsmen

What, semi final time already ? Well, yes, last Monday saw two experienced and able teams battling it out for that coveted place in the final. In the first round the Footballers team of Barry Humphrey, Michael McPartland and captain Jamie Turner beat the Second Violinists 18 – 11. In the quarters they faced the much fancied Cinephiles, who featured our own Nancy Dickman, and managed a one point victory in a classic game. The Draughtsmen are no strangers to tight wins themselves either. Andy Tucker, Steve Dodding and captain Iwan Thomas, had tied with the excellent Joinees in their first round match, winning because of captain Iwan’s steely nerve and superior buzzing.The quarter final proved a little more relaxed, seeing them win by 28 – 14. Well, they were highly unlikely to manage a margin of that sort in this match.

Round One – What’s The Connection ?

Footballers kicked off with Twisted Flax, and the strains of Madness greeted our ears, singing Our House. Having nothing to lose from the safety of the sofa I had a punt , knowing that Our House is the title of the ‘Jukebox Musical ‘ based on Madness songs. This proved to be a good guess. The Foots took another 4 clues, including Never Forget by Take That, and We Will Rock You by Queen. Well, they still had it right. Captain Iwan of the Draughts took Eye of Horus, and this gave them the pictures. They took a gamble after three, on the name Patti, since the second picture was Patti Hearst. However when the last picture was offered to the Foots for a bonus, they knew that Patti Hearst, Richard Nixon and a turkey have all received a presidential pardon in the USA . The first picture which nobody recognized was Brigham Young. They had the chance to go further ahead with Water, which revealed The Poorhouse Fair – The British Museum is Falling Down – A Single Man – and Ulysses. I confess that, along with the Foots, I only had an inkling with the last one, which famously takes place over a single day. That was the connection, and the Foots were keeping their heads, and at the moment taking points every time they came to bat. The Draughts took Lion, and found Fluke of a Whale – Nose of a dog – Stripes of a zebra – and at this clue Steve had it, that they are all used to tell specimens apart. Good shout. The Foots took Two Reeds, and got Hercule Poirot 06/08/1975 – Tour de France 26 / 07/ 2007 – Captain Birdseye 07/06/1971 – English Cricket 02/09/1882. Now, I would have gone for a five pointer, knowing that Poirot’s last case – Curtain – was published in 1975, so I would have said that these were all when the thing in question died – or were reported as having ‘died’ in inverted commas. I didn’t really get the Captain Birdseye one, but the cricket one made it certain. The Foots again made sure of it, taking the full set of clues. Horned Viper remained for the D’s. Capital of American Samoa – US S. Pacific Supply base saw the D’s show their class by taking places with doubled word names off two. Which had an interesting effect on the scores. The Foots had played really well, making sure of their own points, and taking a bonus when it was offered. And yet they still trailed by 5 points to 4. First indications were that it would be the flash of brilliance rather than safety first which would bring victory in this semi final.

Round Two – What Comes Fourth ?

The Foots opted for Flax again. CHERYL MOVES BACK IN WITH ASH - UNITED – COLE LOT OF LOVE – were revealed. Obviously newspaper headlines to do with the tedious Cheryl and Ashley Cole saga, but what came next ? Well, actually they were about the Cole saga, but that was purely coincidental. They were , consecutively the 4th last, 3rd last and penultimate headlines of the unlamented News of the World. the last being Thanks You And Goodbye. Nobody had that one. The Ds took pictures behind Horned Viper. We saw two Stiles – Nobby came immediately to mind . Harold Wilson confirmed my thinking, and at about the same time as Iwan I said – Banks !- . I didn’t have the precise connection, in as much as these were England 1966 World Cup final players, working backwards from the number 4 shirt, but hey, I’ll still take it. Unlucky for the Foots that the first two sets fell out this way, but then them’s the breaks. Water revealed Wren – The Golden Hind –“Portcullis !” I shouted – then Britannia. Like me the Foots knew we were dealing with the tails side of pre decimal coins of rising value, and they had it for a point. Would thrift have been accepted, I wonder ? At some stage this rather than the portcullis was on the tails side of a threepenny bit. Whatever the case, the Ds took Two Reeds, with 2nd of May – 7th of September -4th of March . This was one of those nasty little puzzles, and neither team had it. The 2nd letter of May is a – the 7th letter of September is b – the 4th of march is c. So you need D – or the 1st of December. Fiendish, simple, and beautiful. Eye of Horus gave Germania Inferior to the Foots. This was followed by Belgica, then Lugdunensis. Obviously Roman provinces, but which one would be next ? The Foots didn’t have it, neither did the Ds. The answer wanted was Aquitania, and I wouldn’t have had it. Lion remained for the Ds. 0th : Protect Humanity – and like the Ds I guessed that we were on Asimov’s Laws of Robotics. They went off two for 3rd : Protect itself, and scooped the points for doing so. This had been an extremely tricky round, but the Ds had increased their lead, with the score now standing at 11 – 6.

Round Three

Offered the choice the D’s plumped for Lion. it wasn’t long before they unearthed Greylag – Canada – Egyptian and Snow, a set of geese. This was soon followed by Cough – Acid – Chocolate and Pear – all confectionary drops. They worked out we had truck/engine manufacturers, and Newsnight presenters, but they couldn’t quite untangle them . I approved of them using up their three lives, rather than just letting the time run out. The Newsnight presetners were Wark – Esler – Tusa and Maitlis, and the engine manufacturers were Iveco – Paxman – Isuzu and Cummins. Tricky, but as I said earlier, them’s the breaks.

The Water wall quickly yielded a set of – the Day Of – to the Foots, with Rest – Reckoning – The Dead and Action. They could see a set of panels, and also Ian McEwan novels, but they just wouldn’t resolve at all. The second line – Repulse – Calcutta – Arnitson and Amsterdam was a right old swine. Apparently they were all East Indiamen vessels. What a nasty line. Solar – Saturday – Black Dogs and Atonement were the Ian McEwans, which left the panels – Wall - Pools - Rocker and Instrument. Nasty, nasty semi final wall, that one. So the scores going into the last round was 17 – 10 to the Ds.

Round Four – Missing Vowels

Fairies kicked us off , and the Foots took them 3 – 0. Subtitles to movie sequels proved tricky , but Andy of the Ds took the last 2. Food and their North American names were very much to Barry and the Foots’ liking, and they took them 4 – 0, AND the D’s lost a point. Then The Foots lost a point on lines from the Lord’s prayer. That, and the two managed by the Ds were just enough to give them a win by one point , 19 – 18. What a fantastic match ! Congratulations to the Draughtsmen, worthy finalists . But commiserations to the Footballers, a fantastic performance to come back after the disappointment on the wall like that. Well played both.

University Challenge - Round 2 - Match 2

University of York v. New College, Oxford

The first of these two teams, the University of York, beat Trinity Laban first time out in the very first heat of this series. The team consisted of Alex Leonhardt, Robin Virgo, Edward Haynes, and skipper Rebecca Woods. As for New College , Oxford, they looked very strong beating a Homerton side who were good enough to progress to the repechage round themselves. The team were Remi Beecroft, India Lenon, Tom Cappleman, and skippering the side was Andy Hood.

India Lenon kicked off with the Orwell prizes. First blood to New College. Bonuses on Philosophy and Literature brought York just the one bonus. Me too, as it happened. A very long winded question about viruses followed – but since it was a ‘which type of ‘ question I went for retroviruses, and about ten minutes later when the question was finished Edward Haynes of York buzzed in with the same answer. The difference being that he knew the answer, whereas I was just saying the only type of virus I could think of, but I don’t care, they all count. I loved the bonuses on Foreign Secretaries , and the words of the FCO website which were quoted. I didn’t have many of them right, though, only the one on Herbert Morrison. The next starter asked about the Cabots, and it fell to Tom Cappleman. Diseases named after islands was the next rather esoteric bonus set. Only the one fell to New College from that set. A really good starter followed. In his ‘we shall fight on the beaches ‘ speech, Churchill named 4 other general locations – name 3 of them. Go on , try it. It’s not easy. It’s landing grounds, streets, fields and hills. Neither team could do it. Alex Leonhardt of York ( who is from Porthcawl, just a few miles down the road from LAM Towers ) knew the real name of musician MIA and this earned his team a set on pairs of names. This is an old UC favourite which crops up at least once a series . The surname of the first person gives you the given name of the second – a la Bobby Charlton Heston. In my favourite answer of the night, the York team clutched at the straw that Bing Crosby wrote as well as sang the song “White Christmas” , thus giving us ‘Chandler Bing – Bing Crosby’. Skipper Rebecca Woods said it with a smile on her face, and it made me laugh. I don’t know if JP had ever heard of Chandler Bing, for it passed sans comment. Again, only one bonus was taken. Edward Haynes was first to buzz in with a correct identification of the trade routes known as the silk road for the picture starter. More of the same followed - showing us salt, amber and incense routes. York took two of these, and for the first time opened a bit of daylight. This gaped wider when Edward Haynes buzzed in to say that it is the avocet that has the distinctive upturned bill. 2 bonuses on evolutionary biology kept the York pot boiling along nicely, and it meant that at the 10 minute mark York had a lead of 75 to 30.

New College really needed someone to step in and take the wind out of York’s sails a little, and Andy Hood stepped up to the plate with a very quick buzz to say that Mark Cavendish was the first Brit to win the world cycling road race title in a very long time. One bonus on women astronomers narrowed the gap a little further.Rebecca Woods then emulated her opposite number to be the first to buzz in to recognize a series of words which all contain – balti -. This brought up the first full house of the show, with three correct answers on philosophy. We weren’t halfway through yet, but York looked decent value for their 65 point lead. A question on instability followed – fair enough. India Lenon knew that Murano is the Venetian island famous for glass production. I enjoyed the set on world rulers – we’ll give you the rulers, you give us the century, you know how it works by now. They were gettable – well I got them – but tricky, and they eluded New College. Not to worry. Remi Beecroft buzzed in quickly to identify the Arctic Monkeys for the music starter. Now , some of the band were raised in Sheffield – and so the bonuses were other artists from Sheffield. – “Joe Cocker – Jarvis Cocker and Pulp – Human League ! “ I shouted before any of them were played. Well, two of them were right ! Richard Hawley was the odd one out for me. As it worked out New College knew the two that I did. Tom Cappleman knew that Winston Churchill called the Seven Years War the first World War. A full set of bonuses would wipe out York’s lead completely. A set of bonuses on the uroboros, or the serpent eating its own tail, provided just that. I had a Science starter for the next one. Put out the flags ! Asked which is the only element apart from iodine that has a personal pronoun for its symbol, Tom Cappleman and I both answered Helium – He , you see. Tom Cappleman capped this by supplying correct answers to all three of a set of Maths bonuses. This was becoming a real test of nerve for York now. Somehow or other they really needed to start buzzing their way back into the show. Neither team knew about Theodore Hook, and so it was on with the next starter. This was another numbers thing. Robin Virgo had a pop – absolutely the right thing to do, but was incorrect. Tom Cappleman made no mistake, thus earning his team a set on 5 letter homonyms. A nice set that, and New College looked like they were unhappy with themselves for only getting the two. I knew the flag of Gabon when it ws described for the next starter – thanks Sporcle – but neither team could get it. This brought up my second ( sort of ) Science starter of the night, since I knew that Boron is the 5th element of the periodic table.Andy Hood took that one. It was a long time since York had managed a correct buzz, and you really began to feel at this point that New College’s spurt was going to be a decisive one. English place names meant that they now led by 165 to 100 at the 20 minute mark, and had scored a lot of unanswered points in the previous 10 minutes.

The second picture starter saw neither team identify a portrait of Edgar Degas. Neither team knew that Arizona and New Mexico celebrated the centenary of their admission to the Union in 2012. Robin Virgo had a pop again at the next starter, about coloured balls in an urn, and combinations thereof, but it took Tom Cappleman to give the correct answer of 10. He was certainly earning his crust in this show. For his pains this earned the team the picture bonuses – more paintings of impressionist painters by other impressionist painters. Both painter and subject were required – a hell of a lot for not a lot of points IMHO. Now at last Rebecca Woods managed to add to York’s score, correctly identifying Baudelaire’s use of the term Flaneur. Wasn’t he on Tiswas ? Or am I thinking of the phantom phlan phlinger ? Anyway, York really needed a full set of bonuses but unfortunately Louis Pasteur could only provide the one. Andy Hood, seemingly annoyed that he had allowed York to beat him to the buzzer for the last question buzzed in extremely early for the Japanese massacre in Nanjing in 1937. 2 bonuses on British film directors pretty much sealed the deal, albeit that there were still a few minutes left. Right – now if there’s a question which has the words ‘American economist’ in it , what’s the percentage answer ? That’s right – Milton Friedman. Don’t knock it, it worked for me on the next starter. Maybe that’s how Andy Hood got it, and maybe he knew, but he had the right answer anyway. EU legislative assemblies proved too elusive, but what the hell, the starter alone had pushed New College through the 200 points barrier. Andy Hood improved his batting average further by correctly answering that it was Georges Pompidou who was President of France when the UK joined the Common Market in 1973. Counties of the republic of Ireland sounded like a gettable set, but they didn’t manage any of them. Robin Virgo took a deserved starter on the radius of the Earth to earn a set of bonuses on years of royal events, which were multiples of small numbers. Look, it was what it was, ok. York couldn’t do a great deal with these, but at least Robin Virgo took a second consecutive starter with Edmund Halley.Another maths set followed, so my brain went for the mental equivalent of putting the kettle on, but I did notice that York, who were having a barnstorming run on the buzzer in the last couple of minutes did take a good starter on the RGB colour system . Scottish dukes – would those be the tools of the trade of Jim Watt and Ken Buchanan by any chance ? – were the last bonus set, and proved elusive. The last starter, on the third oldest US university , went begging, and the gong sounded, bringing the match to a close. A comfortable win for New College, by 215 to 145. Crucially they had virtually shut York out of the contest for a good 15 minute period, and in the periods when they were getting starters, York were unable to convert enough of their bonuses. Good show.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

Blimey, but JP made us wait for a long time before we got anything worthy of mention in this show. Asked for two of the three counties of the Republic of Ireland beginning with the letter M, a despairing New College affered “Monaghan . . . and . . . Mull. “
”Mull !” spluttered JP . Alright – it wasn’t really much of a JP moment, but believe me, it was the best that we had on this show.

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

Theodore Hook, who launched the publication “John Bull “ (soft, strong and thoroughly absorbent ) also was the first person in the world to send a picture postcard.

Mastermind - Round One - Heat 15

Another week, another 4 Mastermind virgins, and another 4 very different subjects. Hang on, I’m starting to sound like a BBC continuity announcer here – well, apart from the virgins bit, anyway. Let’s get on with the show, then.

Alcuin Edwards was answering on the first of tonight’s two popular culture specialist subjects, namely Alice Cooper. Now, John didn’t ask him Alice Cooper’s real name, which I thought would have been my best shot at a point for this round. I shouldn’t have worried too much though. I was happy to pick up three –for example I didn’t know that Donovan sang backing vocals on one of his records, but if you’re asked a question “Which British folk singer of the 1960s . . . “ Donovan is always going to be a decent punt. Alcuin scored 11, which looked a decent score on this set. Still, he did seem to be taking his time a little with his answers, and you fancied that if he was trailing at half time he might need to pick up the pace of his answers a little.

My specialist pick of the night was taken by Charlotte Mason. If you read my previous post you’ll know that I’ve just been reading NASA flight director Eugene Krantz’ memoirs, and there were quite a few answers to this round that I was able to get just from this. In fact, my score of 8 matched Charlotte’s , albeit that I didn’t have all the same ones that she had. They weren’t gimmes by any stretch of the imagination, and a couple of long questions seemed to rob her of momentum at crucial moments. Being 3 behind at half time isn’t necessarily a terrible thing, but it does leave you with a lot of work to do in the GK.

Paul Sharp started very well on his round on West Ham since 1970. Inexplicably he seemed to fall into a mid round pass spiral. In particular a question about the time Bobby Moore replaced Bobby Ferguson in goal got an interesting reaction from Paul. I don’t know if it was a case of – damn, I thought they wouldn’t ask that - , but it certainly looked like it. In the end Paul too scored 8. As I say, when the lead score is 11 it’s certainly not a disaster, but Paul looked as if he knew more than that, but just couldn’t get the answers beyond the tip of his tongue.

If it wasn’t for our last specialist subject, then perhaps we wouldn’t have been watching Mastermind, or anything, in the first place. Alright, the churlish pedant could point out that the modern television owes rather more to the work of Philo T. Farnsworth than John Logie Baird, but let’s not dwell on that, and instead, let’s concentrate on David Gow’s round.David had the benefit of having seen all three of his fellow contenders go, and none of them had set a score which was absolutely out of sight. If he could put in a very good round, then he’d certainly be in the box seat going into the GK. Well, he couldn’t quite do that, but his 11 guaranteed him the last slot in the next round, so whatever happened he would know exactly what the target was.

Paul was the first to return to the chair. Well, if he had seemed a little hesitant and uncertain in the first round, his second was a revelation. I would dare to say that Paul is a quizzer, because 16 is a good showing on a 2 and a half minute round, and there were quite a few of what I would call quizzer’s questions in his round – the sort of thing that wouldn’t slow a serious quizzer down, but would be guaranteed to stop the average civilians in their tracks. I do like to bang on about the corridor of uncertainty, I know, but this certainly put the other three contenders into that particular area of the building.

Charlotte Mason started her GK round brightly enough, and was up with the clock for the first half dozen questions. After that , though, the sort of questions which I mentioned in the previous paragraph started impeding her progress. It became clear before the 90 second mark that she wasn’t going to get there, but nonetheless her 9, for a total of 17 is nothing to be ashamed of.

Knowing that 13 would probably be enough bearing in mind Paul’s relatively high number of passes, Alcuin returned for his GK round. Mind you, knowing the target and achieving it can be two different things. Again, Alcuin didn’t seem to answering particularly quickly, but, and this is a crucial but, he had a three point cushion. what he did particularly well was not get too flustered over wrong answers, and he kept on giving correct ones when he knew them. Alright, 14 is not the highest score on GK that we’ve seen, but it was exactly what was required. Provided that David couldn’t match him, of course, and that was by no means a given.

There really wasn’t a huge amount in it. I thought that David was anwering more quickly than Alcuin, but on the other hand Alcuin had answered more accurately than David was . As the seconds ticked away you couldn’t help feeling that it was going to be close, but David wouldn’t quite get there, and that, truth to say, is pretty much the way that it turned out. 24 is a perfectly good score, but it wasn’t enough to win this show, and it won’t be enough to earn a repechage slot either. Well played, though, and especially congratulations to Alcuin.

The Details

Alcuin Edwards Alice Cooper11 - 114 - 025 – 0
Charlotte MasonThe Gemini Space Programme8 - 29 - 717 – 9
Paul SharpWest Ham United – 1970 to the Present Day8 - 416 - 324 – 7
David GowThe Life and works of John Logie Baird11 - 213 - 124 – 3

Failure is definitely an option

I‘ve recently been re-reading Eugene Krantz’ book “Failure Is Not An Option “. If you’ve never heard of the name before, Gene Krantz was a flight controller in NASA during the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo era. He was the flight controller on duty when Apollo XI’s Lunar Module Eagle first landed on the moon – yes, and despite the conspiracy theorists I have no doubt that it actually did just that. Like many an impressionable nipper, I was raised from my bed in the wee small hours to watch the landing live on the telly – an act of kindness from my parents for which I will always be grateful – and I’ve always been fascinated by the American manned space programme up until the end of Apollo ever since.

It’s not an original point to make, but while reading the book I was once again struck by the fact that what looked like a perfect mission, in the case of Apollo XI flirted with catastrophe in more than one way. The original landing site turned out to be covered with boulders, and unsafe, so Neil Armstrong flew the craft manually , thus using up fuel. They landed with only about 20 seconds’ fuel left in the descent stage tank. During the descent and landing the switch arming the ascent stage’s rocket was snapped off, and Buzz Aldrin had to improvise one from a pen. If it had not worked, well, the two of them would still be there now. The landing itself came close to being aborted because of a computer alarm. Basically the amount of work that the computer had to do was too much, and it was overloading. The ironic thing about this is that now, 43 years later, the laptop on which I am typing this post is probably many times more powerful than the computer on the lunar module. It couldn’t happen again.

All of which has rather begged me to ask the question – in this day and age, why can’t the rugby club get a microphone that works ? Last night it was my turn to do the quiz. All was well for the first couple of rounds. Then the microphone began to cut out. In the past it used to start whining for no apparent reason, (my dad used to do the same, God rest his soul) but you could get around it by doing what Ronnie Barker’s Arkwright used to call “jer – jer – jiggling it a bit. “ Last night there was no whining, but it just started cutting out in the middle of a word . I don’t know if you’ve ever used a microphone in a venue, but it is the most disconcerting thing in the world when you can hear your voice all around, then suddenly there’s nothing, even though you’re still talking. Which means that you have to say the question all over again, during which the mike will probably cut out again.

I gave up after round three. The very nice steward did her best , and I went back and tried again for round four, but it was no good. So I went back to basics, and stood in the middle of the bar, and bellowed out the questions and answers. ‘ When you’re talking to a full hall, speak from the diaphragm ‘ I was once told when I was a student teacher, and so that’s what I tried to do. I don’t think I was very successful, since my throat is a little bit raw this morning.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Worst Case Scenarios and Lucky Shirts

A couple of times this week I played the game of ‘worst case scenario’. You maybe know it under another name. You play it just before a quiz starts, or before the format and the titles of the rounds are announced, if that’s what normally happens in the quiz in question. Basically it involves everyone in the team taking a turn to suggest what the worst possible subject for a round could be. Of course, you could suggest completely unrealistic round subjects such as, for the sake of argument, Etruscan Pottery , but then this would defeat the object of the game since rounds like that would never be asked in a pub quiz in the first place. Well, not in the kind of pubs I go into, anyway. No, the point of the game is that if you voice your deepest fears before the quiz starts, then they are less likely to come true when it does.

This will show you how paranoid you can get when you start taking quizzes too seriously. I did think twice about writing this post, in case anyone who sets quizzes I play in will read it, and use it to set a quiz to put us at a disadvantage. How pathetic is that ? Well, at the risk of giving away our kryptonite, I’ll tell you. As I said, I played the game twice this week and four rounds came up both times. These were : -

Food and Drink
Pop music since 2000
Any round of ‘local interest’ questions

If you read my post on the Mega Quiz you’ll know that food and drink did actually come up , and unusually we had a full house of ten out of ten on it. The quizzes where we played worst case scenario it didn’t. So maybe it worked .

Are we a particularly suspicious lot, quizzers, or not ? I can’t think of many superstitions I have with regards to my quizzing, although I do have a lucky shirt which I’ve worn for several broadcast quizzes. Actually that’s an interesting thing in itself. My lucky quizzing shirt is my pink shirt, the one I’m wearing in the little thumbnail photo on the About Me section of this page. I had no intention of actually wearing it, but you know that they ask you when you go on any show to have a selection of shirts of different colours you could wear. The day before my Mastermind final in Glasgow I bought this and a couple of other shirts from M and S in Swansea. I wanted to wear the light blue one, but Derek was wearing a light blue shirt, so they insisted I wear the pink in the final. So I did as I was told. Voila’ – a couple of hours later I had won, and the shirt, an ordinary one when I bought it, had been transformed into The Lucky Shirt. It has had a pretty good career since. I wore it in the first round of Are You An Egghead – won that show. I wore it in the first round of Brain of Britain – won that show. I wore it in the first round of Only Connect – won that show. I wore it in my heat of Champion of champions – no, alright, I didn’t win. But look what I did do. I set my highest ever specialist score – and I took Pat, who won the title, all the way to the wire – he beat me on passes. Alright, so Pat wasn’t on top form that day, but that just goes to show that even he could be affected by the power of my lucky shirt.

Funny things, superstitions, aren’t they ? You’ll have noticed that I made an excuse for the shirt when I didn’t win my champ of Champs show wearing it. I have only ever worn it on those 5 occasions ? Why , you might ask ? I’ll tell you why. Because if you wear your lucky shirt too much, then you are abusing its powers, and the magic may wear out . Of course, there is always the answer that if you wear it too many times you’ll end up losing your fair share of times when you’re wearing it , and be forced to recognize the unhappy fact that it is, after all, just a shirt.

To quote Edmund Blackadder, “Cluck cluck, gibber gibber, my old man’s a mushroom etc. “

News Questions

In the News

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

1. Miguel Angel Jimenez
2. Yusuf Mack
3. Donald Junior Green
4. The 777 Tour
5. Josh Goodall
6. Xolile Mngeni
7. Dominic Grieve
8. Kweku Adoboli
9. Bettina Jordan Barber
10. Paul Peters
11. Bruno Fernandes
12. Hector Camacho
13. Simon Brodkin
14. Danny Nightingale
15. Kevin Clash
16. Paula Dunn
17. Philip Pritchard
18. David Sprason
19. Kate Holderness
20. Sandy Island
21. Tony Hall
22. Bobby Roberts
23. Mohammad Morsi
24. Stella Creasy

In Other News

1. Which area of the world was visited by Barack Obama last week
2. Who was dropped from a series of adverts after receiving a driving ban last week ?
3. Which politician likened himself to Margaret Thatcher last week ?
4. Last week was the 25th anniversary of which disaster ?
5. The UK bird population has declined by how much in 40 years ?
6. Which south coast town has received a lottery grant to rebuild its pier ?
7. Which team beat Chelsea in the Premier League last weekend ?
8. Who own the US Grand Prix ?
9. What was the score in last week’s Swansea v. Newcastle match ?
10. IN the Autumn Rugby Union international what were the scores between : - Australia and England ?
11. – and Ireland and Fiji ?
12. – and France and Argentina ?
13. – and Italy and New Zealand ?
14. and Scotland and South Africa ?
15. What was Alastair Cook’s score in the second innings of the first test ?
16. Which country won the Davis Cup
17. Mark Cavendish was knocked off his bike while training in which country ?
18. By how many wickets did India beat England in the first test ?
19. Which anniversary did the Queen celebrate last week ?
20. Which entertainment event celebrated its 100th anniversary last week ?
21. Whose photos were pulled from his own website ?
22. Who directed “Skyfall” ?
23. The vote for Women Bishops in the General Synod was defeated by how many votes ?
24. Which was named as the most read print product in the UK ?
25. With which offence have Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson been charged last week ?
26. Rory McIlroy revealed he is switching from which clubs to Nike ?
27. What announcement was made by David Beckham last week ?
28. Who was asked to resign as manager of a premier club, refused, and then was sacked a couple of days later anyway ?
29. Which national team are allegedly courting the services of Harry redknapp
30. What was the score between Juventus and Chelsea ?
31. – and Benfica and Celtic ?
32. – and Galatasary and Man Utd ?
33. Lord MacAlpine’s payouts over tweets will be donated to which charity ?
34. The last British what was made by Brother in Wrexham last week ?
35. Who was dropped by Chelsea v. Juventus ?
36. Who was appointed last week as a director of Harrods ?
37. Who is The Spectator’s Politician of the Year ?
38. Who replaced Roberto di Matteo as manager of Chelsea ?
39. What was the score between Arsenal and Montpelier ?
40. – and Man City and Real Madrid ?
41. Who is to receive and honour at Poet’s Corner ?
42. Which manager received a one match touchline ban last week ?
43. A student at which Cambridge College claimed he had been given a punishment of digging ditches last week ?
44. Who was the first celebrity voted off I’m A Celebrity ?
45. Which case was thrown out by the FA last week ?
46. What was the score between Liverpool and Young Boys ?
47. –and Newcastle and Maritimo ?
48. – and Lazio and Spurs ?
49. Who has become the first man to score 4 double centuries in tests in a calendar years ?
50. How much was ITV’s payout to Lord MacAlpine ?
51. Which British cartoon character is set to return to our screens ?

Brian Pendreigh's Insider's View - Scottish Quiz Committee

I'm indebted to Brian Pendreigh of the Wordsmiths for sending me his thoughts on their quarter final with the Wintonians, which I take the liberty of reprinting here : -

That was close. I didn’t know whether we had won or not until Victoria announced the scores. I felt relief rather than anything else, especially after us simply not pressing the buzzer for our gallop answer.

The good thing about winning was it meant we got to stay over for another day and were guaranteed another two shows. We did four shows in two days at the BBC in Cardiff back in April. There was the first round and quarter-final one day, and then there were the semi-finals and the final plus the match for third place the next. The final was/will be Only Connect’s 100th show.

On the first night it was fun trying to spot potential contestants in the hotel. The Draughtsmen and Footballers had done their earlier rounds a week or so earlier, but came back to Cardiff the night before their semis. We knew them beforehand through the national quiz circuit... A lot of Only Connect contestants will be at the British Open in Rolleston in Staffs (Oswald Mosley’s hometown), along with various Eggheads, Chasers, Masterminds etc. Details here and everyone is always made very welcome. There are not many events where you can just roll up and compete against the best in the world…British Open

We had an enjoyable night in Cardiff with the Draughtsmen, carefully monitoring each other’s alcohol consumption. The Footballers opted to go off to a pub quiz. We didn’t know the Scribes, though they are a team from the Quiz League of London and I think someone said their captain Dom Tait had been fourth man in the squad of the all-conquering Crossworders (Stainer, Bailey, Grant).

The whole Only Connect experience was great fun and I would recommend any decent quizzers to give it a go. If you are not good enough, you won’t get through the audition, which is actually fun in itself. Getting on the programme is clearly an achievement in itself.

Personally I found it very enjoyable to be playing with and against such strong quizzers. If Mastermind is like the Premiership, Only Connect is Champions League.

Take a look at the line-ups for the first semi-final – Draughtsmen v Footballers.

The Draughtsmen consist of Iwan Thomas, Brain of Britain 2010; Andy Tucker, Mastermind series runner-up 2012; Steve Dodding, Cleverdicks winner 2012.

Footballers are Jamie Turner, a member of the Carling UK Great British Pub Quiz champions 2012 (along with Only Connect champion Dave Bill); Michael McPartland, who beat Eggheads single-handed after several tie-breaks 2012; Barry Humphrey, Breakaway Champion of Champions 2012.

Only Connect is BBC 4’s most popular programme and has been getting an audience of over a million. My publishers Blasted Heath told me visits to my pages on their site go up when I am on TV. I am keen to try to promote my new short stories Sometimes She’ll Dance, not that it is any great money-spinner - three short stories, 99p on Amazon, five stars. That is 33p a story, 20p a star. If one per cent of Only Connect’s audience bought them that would probably push them up to No 1 in the Amazon Kindle best-seller list. Sometimes She'll Dance

We'll forgive Brian that little plug at the end there - he's earned it. I had an email from him today, asking if I would mention this as well, which I am happy to do : -

There is a proposal to set up a Scottish a committee to oversee and organise quiz events such as the Max Thomson Cup, the team championship which took place for the first time earlier this year. There are now a number of events take place in Scotland or involve Scottish quizzers which are a step up from pub quizzes, including participation in the International Quizzing Assocation's monthly Hot 100 solo quiz. Could anyone who is interested in being involved in discussions about the new committee or simply wants details of such events, please get in touch.

You can get in touch through Brian's Facebook.

Only Connect - Quarter Final 4

The Wintonians v. TheWordsmiths

in the first round the Wintonians put up a very impressive performance to dismiss the challenge of the Quitters in heat 6. Andrew Steen, Paul Baker,and Captain David Norcott won by 18 – 34. Their opponents were seasoned campaigners The Wordsmiths, comprising of our own Brian Pendreigh, Sunderland’s Finest, Chris Brewis, and skipper Dave Taylor. The Smiths didn’t have it all their own way , winning a tricky game in heat 4, where they beat the Educators 19 – 16. The Smiths the underdogs on paper, then ? No, not necessarily, for they have huge quiz experience, and that will always make you a difficult team to beat.

Round One – What’s the Connection ?

Horned Viper gave the Wints - 69th Infantry Regiment ( New York ) – Munchner kindl – Serjeant at Arms – Greek Olympic teams. I will admit that I only had it at last. The Wints couldn’t get it and this was a bonus for the Smiths, who recognized that these always lead particular processions. The Smiths had Communist Manifesto drafted – Football Association Founded – Alfie Moon and Kat Slater wed – George Cornell killed by Ronnie Kray. again, it was only the last one that gave it to me – knowing that this one had happened in The Blind Beggar pub. Surprisingly neither team had that they all happened in London pubs. Going back to that , they do say that if all the people who have ever claimed that they were in the Blind Beggar that evening had actually been there the place would have had to have been the size of the Albert Hall. I knew a guy at Uni who said that he had been, until I pointed out he would have been 3 years old at the time. I digress. Twisted Flax gave the Wints music. The songs were Tootie Frutie –DJ Run - Nothing compares 2 U – Let’s Stay Together. Neither team had it. Neither did I. The connection was the singers, not the songs. They were all ordained ministers – Little Richard – Sinead O’Connor etc. Two Reeds revealed Prince – Oslo – Leyton Orient , and I was working along the lines that the Smiths were – that they all changed their names, and then changed it back again. Good shout off three clues. Lion gave the Wints- White bull – Swan – and they took a fantastic answer with the forms assumed by Zeus when seducing women. Great answer. Water remained for the Smiths, and we saw someone ice skating, an equation , some faces from a TV series and a spiral galaxy. Spirals was indeed the connection. Simple as that. So the Smiths led with 4 to the Wints’ 3. Anyone’s game.

Round Two – What Comes Fourth ?

The Wints kicked off with eye of Horus. The set was - The Premiership – Today with Des and Mel – Soccer Saturday on Sky Sports – Neither team had it. I am so pleased with myself for getting The Apprentice. I worked out that these were previous shows of Countdown Presenters – Nick Hewer being the latest incumbent. The Smiths had the connection, but not the next in the sequence. For their own first they had Eotvos – Farad – Gauss . I guessed Henry – they knew Henry – these being SI units represented by E - F- G. Mine was a lucky guess, as I was going with electricity. Twisted Flax gave the Wints – Hey, not too rough – Hurt Me Plenty ( and I really worried where we were going with this by this stage !) – Ultra Violence - . Neither team had the correct answer of nightmare. The Wints knew that these were different levels of difficulty in the game Doom, but not what came next. Hard lines, that. Two Reeds revealed for the Smiths - Stop 5: Yokohama – Stop 6: San Francisco – Stop 7: New York and they knew that it was Phileas Fogg’s itinerary. They gave the Reform Club, when only London was necessary. Good shout. I had the next set off one – not boasting , but I just know a lot about Kings and Queens. Edward III in 1377 “Golden Jubilee ! “ I shouted. ”Elizabeth II in 2002 !” This was confirmed by George III in 1810, and Victoria in 1887. The Wints were unlucky and went Diamonds , with 2012, giving a bonus to the Smiths. The Smiths finished the round with pictures. A Walkman – Leon Trotsky – and a cathedral. Brian looked close to an answer – but they ran out of time. The Wints had it worked out – WALKman – TROTsky – CANTERbury – so gallop to finish. Great set. The score ? Oh, that was 9 – 4 to the Smiths.

Round Three – The Connecting Walls

The Smiths chose the Water wall. They unraveled a set of belts quickly – obi – girdle – baldrick and Sam Browne. They could see Blackadder characters, but first took Allen – Persie – Diemen and Dyke – famous Vans. Did they possibly consider using David Bedford there for that one ? Sorry. There were prisons there, and I think that Parkhurst was the one which did for them. Parkhurst was Bob’s surname in Blackadder Goes Forth. Two lives were spent, and they debated over the last, but were eventually frozen out. The Blackadder goes forth characters were Melchett – Flasheart – Darling and Parkhurst. This left the prisons – Bellmarsh – Woodhill – Whitemoor – Frankland. 6 points overall, and just a glimmer of a chance for the Wints to pull points back.

The Lion wall was pretty much tamed by the Wints. The first line they revealed was singing sisters – Beverley – Scissor – Pointer and Andrews. Halifax- Portman – Alliance and Scarborough gave them former building societies.York – Southwell – Howden and Croydon are all minsters – and unfortunately they got the line, but didn’t have the connection. Finally - Gave – Richard – Vain - Battle they knew from the famous mnemonic. So they pulled back 1 point scoring 7, and with the scores at 15 – 11 it was nicely poised going into the last round. Still anyone’s game.

Round Four – The Missing Vowels

Parents of twins was the first category – and I was deeply hurt to see that I was not included. 3 – 1 to the Wints and we had a game on our hands. The next set, beauty and toiletry products also fell 3 – 1 to the Wints, and we had a tied game. I didn’t fancy my chances with terms used by business consultants, and the Wints lost a point on the first. The Smiths took 2 , and the lead . There was time for just one archipelago. It fell to the Wints, but the Smiths had done it, with 19 to 17. What a great show ! Hard lines to the Wintonians, but congratulations to the Wordsmiths. A special thank you to Brian Pendreigh, who sent me an email earlier in the week, where he put at the top not to read it if I hadn’t already seen the show. That’s the kind of consideration I have come to know and respect from LAM readers.

Birmingham Mega Quiz 2012

Alright, it hasn’t been quite ALL work this week. Take Thursday night, for instance. It was the annual Birmingham Mega Quiz for the Lord Mayor of Birmingham’s charity in the University of Birmingham last night. I have mixed memories of the event from last year. We came runners up, and I have no complaints about that , since we were beaten by worthy winners, and you can’t win ‘em all. No, my main beef with last year’s quiz was that it was presented by a local historian slash radio personality, who rambled on all evening, and also the last round, on Birmingham itself, was not good. It was ruined by too many date questions, especially considering that you could easily do a really interesting round of questions all about Birmingham.

Judging from some of the comments from a couple of the Birmingham teams we spoke to last night we weren’t the only ones who didn’t enjoy last year’s quiz so much, so it was good to see that this year’s didn’t suffer from the same flaws. The rounds were all of uniform length – an essential for a quiz where jokers can be played. For another thing, for the first time that I’ve attended the quiz we had a question master who appreciated the supposedly simple art of ‘getting the hell on with it’. Pete Morgan, a presenter from Radio WM is not a guy I’ve come across before, but he earned my great gratitude for just asking the questions clearly, quickly, and with no half hearted attempts at humour a la Nick Owen of years gone by.

As in any quiz, the secret of success in the Mega Quiz is scoring more points than the other teams. This isn’t quite as simple as answering more questions correctly than the other teams, since jokers are involved. The rounds were – if I remember correctly – Food and drink – Music – Geography – Names and Aliases – Science – Entertainment – Film and TV – History – Sport – General Knowledge. We ummed and ahhed for a bit, eventually plumping for what should have been a banker round, with History. For the first five rounds, all went to plan. We were scoring 9s and 10s , and all the indications were that we should be able to do this with our joker round. Then it came. In the end, we were probably lucky to get seven of the answers right in the History round. Tough round. We were maybe in the lead by one point after it, but with a couple of very good teams still to play their joker, and Sport to come, chances were that we were going to be overhauled.

I think, on reflection, that we were saved by the fact that multiple past winners and all round good eggs Utopia Ltd. also played their joker on the same round. We were sitting across from each other, and it really was nip and tuck all evening. We won by a point, but if it the result had gone the other way we really wouldn’t have had any grounds for complaint.

So thanks, Birmingham. An enjoyable evening, and it was nice to see the quiz get back to basics , as it were.

University Challenge - Round Two - match 1

Pembroke, Cambridge v. University of Bath

In heat 10 Pembroke, represented by Robert Scanes, Emily Maw, Jemima Hodkinson and their captain Tom Foxall, beat the University of Lancaster by 200 to 140, with their captain Tom Foxall showing great buzzer form. Well, we know that Lancaster certainly weren’t any mugs, and so I expected Pembroke to go well . Their opponents, the University of Bath, Joe Kendall, Adam Salvesen , Toby Smith and their captain, Matthew Wise, beat Liverpool by 125 to 110. Not a huge score, but in a two horse race either side could win, and I wasn’t writing off their chances before the start of the show.

Stephen Hawking saw skipper Tom Foxall get Pembroke off the mark. Bonuses on countries of the world gave them a further 10 points. Neither team knew that Edinburgh was UNESCO’s first world city of literature. I was pleased that, like Adam Salvesen , I knew that Becquerel shared a Nobel Prize with the Curies. Drinking in Shakespeare – which I can heartily recommend – provided the next set , of which Pembroke managed a brace. The Folies Bergére saw Matthew Wise open Bath’s account. Questions on evolution brought them two correct answers. A long question followed about a village, but when we got to Occam’s Razor that was enough for Tom Foxall. Terminology of Takeover Bids provided an interesting set . No, of course I didn’t know any of them, but I loved the fact that terms were taken from an arcade game, a character in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and a porcupine ! The picture starter was a real UC special. The tagline of a film was given in another language, and we had to identify the film. My knowledge of language gave me scream, which suggest ed Alien, but nobody in either team had it. I had the next starter as well, when the teams were asked to spell out the word carbon , using the chemical elements the letters represent. Emily Maw was first in with Calcium – Rubidium – Oxygen – Nitrogen, Nice question that. This brought up the picture bonuses, which gave tag lines from film posters in other languages. I had all three, Pembroke had one. This was enough to take them to a narrow lead of 50 – 40.

Toby Smith recognized a group of places all linked by the suffix – polis. Bonuses on Beatrix Potter were gettable, but they couldn’t manage to answer them. Tom Foxhall supplied the word ‘inner’ for the next starter, and the set of bonuses on illness and women again provided them with two correct answers. I don’t know about Monism, but Tom Foxall did, and this extended the lead. Bonuses on former Soviet Republics brought Pembroke another 5 points. The gap wasn’t huge, but it was widening, and Pembroke were winning the buzzer race. The music starter offered the teams a little snatch of Acquiesce by Oasis, but neither team knew it. A number thing followed. I didn’t get the question, but Robert Scanes had the answer of 9. JP apologized for the fact that they had to revisit the music bonuses. This was a nice set on records whose B sides had become more popular than their A sides. At once I shouted “Maggie May !” as this is quite a well-known instance AND Rod Stewart was only talking about it on Graham Norton’s show the other night. I guessed the Kraftwerk one, and the Smiths, come to that, although I didn’t know them. Pembroke had the last. Robert Scanes knew that Macao was the answer to the next starter, and although the bonuses on soil and chemistry proved elusive they had now passed the total that bath had managed in their first round heat. Adding insult to injury Tom Foxall took a rhyming set of starters on meme, steam and n=another one I didn’t catch. Kings and Queens bonuses probably should have been a happy hunting ground for a team who are intending to do well in the series, and so Pembroke can be a little unhappy that they only managed the one. It had had been, nonetheless a very productive ten minutes, since their lead had now extended, and they looked relatively safe on 130 to Bath’s 50.

Tom Foxall was in no mood to show mercy, and he knew that the house in Buckinghamshire in question for the next starter was Chequers. A set about bacteria followed. For the next picture starter the irrepressible Pembroke skipper buzzed in again to identify the cover of HG Wells’ The Invisible Man. Nice to see Dune as one of the bonuses, which were more book covers. The Tom Foxall show continued, when he knew that the answer to the next starter was louvre. Italian cheeses brought two more correct answers. Joe Kendall went for a quick buzz on the next – fair play for at least trying to stop the rot – but it wasn’t Jane Eyre that Charlotte Bronte based on her sister Emily. Neither team knew it was Shirley. Tom Foxall again took the next starter, recognizing different definitions of the word rostrum. Fountains brought a full set and took Pembroke through the 200 barrier. Joe Kendall received just reward for buzzing early to identify Ecuador as the country possessing the Galapagos Islands. Jacques Cousteau and scuba gave them two correct answers. Something about electrics followed, and Robert Scanes had it. 4 letter words with 3 vowels were a nice set, but they missed the middle one. The kraken reared it’s ugly ( and massive ) head, and Tom Foxall was the first to spot it. Modern American fiction brought them another full set. Geology escaped me, and amazingly Tom Foxall as well, but nobody else knew a playa either. Toby Smith took a maths starter for Bath, and that took Bath to 75. The gong wouldn’t allow any bonuses , though, and so they finished there, and Pembroke with 255. Nice words from JP to Bath – “You kept going and I admire you for that. “ Well said. Well played Pembroke. A serious score which indicates that they could go a long way , although they are very heavily reliant on the buzzer speed and knowledge of skipper Tom Foxall. Well played.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

Quality rather than quantity was the name of the game in this show. Firstly, when neither team knew that Edinburgh had been the first City of Literature , he observed
”Well, it clearly didn’t work as an advertising exercise, did it ?” Then we had his observation,
“Never has Beatrix Potter caused so much pain – visible pain too.” showing the Great Man’s philosophical side.Then we had the pick of the bunch, a lovely little comment on the introduction to entries on former Soviet republics from the CIA World Fact Book “Hence of course the split infinitives .”

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

The PacMan Defence is the official term for a firm which, when it is the subject of a takeover bid, defends itself by making a bid for the acquiring firm.

Answers to News Questions

In the News

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

1. Tim Davie
2. Take the Crown
3. Harry McShane
4. Valerie Eliot
5. Stuart Danczuk
6. Omnishambles
7. Daniel Cooper
8. Edward Deveney
9. General John Allen
10. Jill Kelley
11. 2Lo Calling
12. Sven Hassel
13. Golconda
14. Jean Colclough
15. Sir Rex Hunt
16. Xi Jiping
17. Channing Tatum
18. Martha Payne
19. Jim Hussey
20. Abersoch
21. Andy Sawford
22. Matthew Grove
23. Ahmed Zogu
24. The White Shadow
25. Bexsero

In Other News

1. Who How much was George Entwhistle’s pay off from the BBC ?
2. Which item from the film “The Wizard of Oz” sold last week for £300,000
3. An earthquake measuring 6.8 hit which Asian country ?
4. What was the score in the England v. France rugby league match ?
5. Who has won both the PGA and European money lists in golf ?
6. Who defeated Andy Murray in the ATP tour finals semi ?
7. What was the score in the New Zealand v. Scotland rugby union test ?
8. What was the score in the Argentina v. Wales test ?
9. What was the score in South Africa v. Ireland test ?
10. What was the score in the England v. Fiji test ?
11. Who was accused of rigging positions on the Parliamentary standards watchdog ?
12. What is being considered for reintroduction for rail travel in the UK ?
13. Who won the ATP tour final ?
14. Who won the Vardon Trophy asUS PGA player of the Year
15. Which horse was awarded Cartier Horse of the Year ?
16. Which jockey was it revealed had failed a drugs test in September ?
17. Whose deportation was halted last week ?
18. What caused embarrassment to David Cameron at the Lord Mayor’s Banquet ?
19. Which author collapsed from a heart condition in New York ?
20. Which actor admitted that smoking opium gave him a pleasurable experience ?
21. Which TV presenter said that he finds the Today programme pompous and aggressive ?
22. what was the score in the Sweden v. England football match ?
23. Who scored the so called ‘ wonder goal ‘ for Sweden in the same match ?
24. What was the score in the Scotland v. Luxembourg match ?
25. What was the score in the Northern Ireland v. Azerbaijan match ?
26. What has Frankel’s stud fee been set at ?
27. In terms of entertainment, this week saw the 60th anniversary of what ?
28. Which player was surprisingly dropped by Wales following the loss to Argentina ?
29. Who received his 100th cap for the England football team this week ?
30. Which politician’s wife made tweets about Lord McAlpine this week ?
31. Why did Amnesty International staff go on strike this week ?
32. Which DJ was taken in for questioning by the police this week ?
33. Scientists are currently reconstructing whose face ?
34. Who scored 117 against England in the first innings of the first test this week ?
35. BP have agreed a settlement over the gulf oil spill. How much have they agreed to pay ?
36. On what specifically did Romney blame his defeat by Obama ?
37. What milestone does the Mousetrap reach on Saturday 17th November ?
38. IKEA admitted to using which source of labour for many years this week ?

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

1. New Acting Director General of the BBC
2. Robbie Williams’ No. 1 album
3. father of Ian and former Man Utd. player, passed away 92
4. Widow and executrix of T.S.Eliot passed away
5. MP who accused the late Cyril Smith of being a bullying paedophile
6. Oxford English Dictionary Word of the Year
7. President of the University of London Student’s Union who refused to lay a wreath at the University’s Remembrance service
8. Submariner who admitted passing secrets to the Russian Secret Service
9. Implicated in Petraus Scandal
10. Woman at the centre of the Petraus Scandal
11. Damon Albarn composition played simultaneously on all BBC Radio channels to celebrate 90th anniversary
12. Novelist who passed away aged 95
13. Diamond sold for £14million
14. Britain’s longest serving nurse who has just retired
15. Former Governor of the Falklands before , during and after the period of the Argentinian invasion – passed away
16. New leader of People’s Republic of China
17. People Magazine’s Sexiest man Alive
18. School meals blog girl who has released a book about healthy eating for kids
19. Great Train Robber – passed away
20. Welsh town allegedly called ‘depressing’ by the area’s MP, Elfyn Lloyd
21. Labour candidate who won the Corby bye election for Louise Mensch’s seat
22. Defeated John Prescott in the vote for Humberside Police Commissioner
23. Former king of Albania whose body was returned to Albania this week
24. Earliest known Hitchcock film now available online
25. The new meningitis B vaccine

In Other News

1. £450,000
2. Dorothy’s dress, worn by Judy Garland
3. Burma
4. 48 - 4
5. Rory McIlroy
6. Roger Federer
7. 51 - 22
8. 26 - 12
9. 16 - 12
10. 54 - 12
11. John Bercow
12. 3rd class
13. Novak Djokovic
14. Rory McIlroy
15. Frankel
16. Frankie Dettori
17. Abu Qatada
18. He was photographed with his shirt unbuttoned
19. Terry Pratchett
20. Brian Cox ( the actor , not the scientist TV presenter )
21. Richard Madeley
22. 4 - 2
23. Ibrahimovitch
24. 2 - 1
25. 1 – 1
26. £125,000
27. The UK singles chart
28. The captain , Sam Warburton
29. Steven Gerrard
30. Sally Bercow
31. Job losses
32. Dave Lee Travis
33. King Richard III
34. Verinder Sehwag
35. $4.5 billion
36. Barack Obama’s ‘handouts’ to minorities
37. It’s 25,000th performance
38. East German political prisoners held by the Stasi

Friday, 23 November 2012

Mastermind Round One - Heat 14

Yes, I know, and I’m really sorry. It hasn’t been deliberate, my neglect of you over the last few days. Those of you who’ve ever worked in a school will know that there’s no such thing as a quiet time – other than the school holidays of course – but even for school these last couple of weeks have been hectic. Still, I’m here now, and I’m going to do my best to make up for lost time.

For the first time in a couple of weeks I didn’t know any of tonight’s contenders. So that meant that they could all share the burden of the curse of the sofa between them. The first of tonight’s subjects was Geoffrey Boycott, and that was offered to us by Charlie Tinsley. Right then, I personally managed 3 of these, and one of them by a curious twist of fate. When I started playing in the rugby club in 19 hundred and frozen to death I was invited to join a team called Boyc’s XI. Now, you may remember a couple of years after this Mr. Boycott was accused of violence towards a former partner – a charge which he always denied I might add. When this came out , for one week only we changed our team name to The Friends of Margaret Moore – and that’s how I remembered the name of the lady when this one came up. Charlie of course remembered quite a few more than just this one. Still, his 8 looked as if it was going to leave him a lot to do in the GK rounds.

This week’s popular culture subject , nominated by Mark Kirby, was Futurama. Although I don’t know that this series has ever had the almost universal appeal of its stablemate The Simpsons I must admit that I don’t mind it at all, and it gave me my top score of 6 on a specialist round tonight. Mark answered well and set a good score of 12. I dare say there may well be a bit of discussion amongst students of the show over the decision to allow a septuple head spin for a sextuple head spin, or vice versa. I must admit I tend to be of the mind that if the question is so complicated that you will allow a good near miss, then you probably shouldn’t be asking it in the first place. Well, leaving aside such concerns, it was a good round.

Aileen Lucas earned herself the full weight of the curse of the sofa by revealing that she is a teacher. Oh, alright, if you push me, I’ll admit that I’m quite proud of being the last schoolteacher to win – Ian is an educator, but he is a lecturer in Oxford Brookes University. Still, it would be nice to see another teacher do well – back in the early days we provided quite a few winners. I’m afraid that the curse, and seemingly nerves, seemed to take its toll on Aileen . She obviously knew the books, but a nasty case of ‘chair brain’ seemed to do for her chances, and she finished with 5. Considering that I’ve never read any of the books I was pleased that general knowledge enabled me to guess five of them for myself.

Last to go was Sean Howley. Sean had picked US Military Aircraft since 1945. Now, for the third week running I was struck by the feeling that here was a contender who wasn’t wasting time, and who wasn’t getting many wrong at all, yet wasn’t amassing a particularly big score. Long questions again ? It certainly seemed so to me. I managed 4 of these, which for the record to me to 18 for the show, which I’m certainly glad to accept with none of the subjects being even close to being an interest of mine.

Right, speak as you find, but I have to say that this was one of those shows when I found that the GK questions particularly suited me, and I posted high scores on all of the GK rounds, which if nothing else at least showed that they were written to a similar level. Aileen was the first to return to the chair, and her round gave me something which I have hardly ever had before , a perfect round on GK. Which of course was a lot easier for me than it was for Aileen since I was sitting on the sofa, and the only audience I had was Gus the cat. Nonetheless she can be very pleased with the 15 points she posted . It got her up into the 20s, and there’s no arguing once a score crosses that psychologically important threshold, and maybe it was enough to just put a couple of the others into the corridor of doubt.

Charlie certainly couldn’t quite match Aileen’s performance. I had one of his wrong by way of comparison. However he had at least started three points ahead of Aileen at the half way stage, and so he didn’t need to match her round to overhaul her score. He managed to do that, but only just, scoring 13 which gave him a total of 21.

Sean Howley marked himself out as a serious quizzer with his performance. Alright, I don’t say that this was the hardest general knowledge set that I’ve ever heard on Mastermind, but scoring 19 on any set of questions in 2 and a half minutes is never anything other than a very good performance. If you don’t believe me, then try it for yourself. A score which matched our own Rach Cherryade’s performance last week, and one of the finest I think that we’re going to see this series. I didn’t think that we were likely to see Mark post a score which would give him a decent run at a runner up slot, but to be fair to him he started pretty well, and confidently. Being realistic he needed a good 15 5o give himself a chance, and he didn’t quite manage that. In the end there were too many answers which got to the tip of his tongue but no further, and he leveled out at 12 for a total of 24. Well done to Sean, and well played all.

The Details

Charlie Tinsley Geoffrey Boycott8 - 113 - 221 – 3
Mark KirbyFuturama12 - 012 - 424 – 4
Aileen LucasGraham Greene5 - 415 - 220 – 6
Sean HowleyUS Military Aircraft since 194510 - 019 - 029 – 0

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Wiki challenge BBC style

Further to my recent discovery of the BBC's take on our own wiki challenge, I've just been over to the official site to have a look at next week's subjects, and the links that the official website gives.

Next week’s specialist subjects are as follows : -

Geoffrey Boycott
Graham Greene
US Military Aircraft since 1945.

Now, I’m a bit shamefaced to admit this, being an English teacher, but the one I’m least likely to score any unwikied points on is Graham Greene, despite the fact that I did once meet him while I was at university. He struck me as a bit of a grumpy old devil, if truth be known, but then I doubt he was all that impressed with me. I’ve never read any of his stuff, but then I’m sure that he never read any of mine either. Enough of such pointless chaff. These are the links that the Beeb gives for the subjects : -

Geoffrey Boycott

Futurama (1st link)
Futurama ( 2nd link)

Graham Greene (1)
Graham Greene (2)

US Military Aircraft Since 1945 (1)
US Military Aircraft Since 1945 (2)

Interesting to see that they do give Wikipedia as one of the Graham Greene links. I have had just a cursory look at these pages, and in some cases I do wonder just how much help they would be if you were going to do a wiki-style challenge on these rounds. I doubt that I’m going to have enough free time this week to take the challenge myself. Still, if anyone does take the challenge with any of these web pages I’d be really interested to hear how useful you actually found them.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Only Connect - Children in Need Special

The Goldfingers v. The Fowls

There’s a hell of a difference between a sleb opting for the relative cosiness of charity editions of , for the sake of argument, Pointless, and putting themselves through the mental tetrathlon( or should that be quadrathlon ? ) that is Only Connect. Full marks to all the slebs who put themselves forward for this charity special. The first team, the Goldfingers, were Daisy Goodman, whom you might remember from her successful displays in last year’s sleb University Challenge, Matthew Parris, and captain Charlie Higson, who co-created the fondly remembered Fast Show. Their opposition was provided in the shape of Clarke Carlisle, Richard ‘pointless friend’ Osman, and captain Rosie Boycott, who were collectively, the Fowls. My initial feelings were that Daisy Goodwin showed good knowledge on UC last year, but then Richard Osman has to cover a fair bit of ground for Pointless, even if he does have his laptop in front of him on that show.

Round One – What’s the Connection ?

The Goldfingers kicked off with water, and the picture set. I had it off two – the first showed a bust of what looked like a roman emperor, and the second, Ronnie Barker playing Arkwright from the much missed Open All Hours. He stuttered, and if the emperor was Claudius, then so did he. Actually the first picture was Demosthenes. The fingers took another picture of King George VI, who they misidentified as Monty ,and failed to get the connection. When the Fowls were shown Porky Pig as well they took a bonus. Behind Lion they found Mark Antony, and then the giveaway , Sir Sidney Ruff-Diamond. That was enough to give both them and me the answer – all Sid James roles in Carry On films. Twisted Flax concealed the music set for the fingers, and the Washington Post , and then the Yellow Rose of Texas were enough to give them the connection of American States. It ooked like the theme of tonight was giving sets which become pretty gettable on the second clue, rather than the third or even fourth. “Eye of Horus please Vicky.” , asked our Richard, and Ghastly – What do you gargle with . . . pebbles “ again proved gettable on the second for me. The Fowls took another to be sure, with ‘It looks like a tart’s bedroom’ and then we saw that OC rarity, time running out with no guess being offered. The fingers were given the last clue – “you ARE a woman, aren’t you ?’ and then answered correctly with words to the effect that these are all prime examples of the wit and wisdom of the Duke of Edinburgh. The fingers got what would have been a five pointer for many people at home I think, including me. Mogwai multiply – 2K becomes 2KOH and hydrogen gas – which frankly is a lot more confusing to me than the first clue, and finally Pernod turns milky white. All of them are the effect of adding water. Fowls finished with two reeds – the Glass Key – The Scarlet Stiletto – The Macavity and The Golden dagger. Victoria said that she wrote this one herself, and I will admit that I guessed at the second clue, but didn’t know for certain until the last. Neither team knew that these are literary prizes for crime fiction, even Daisy who admitted rather sheepishly that her brother has won the Golden dagger. Ah. At this stage of the contest fingers led fowls by 6 – 4.

Round Two – What Comes Third ?

The fingers chose to start with twisted flax, and these were the picture clues. This was a lovely set. Sir Chris Brasher was first, followed by a rasher of bacon. Working backwards I predicted that the fourth would be a picture of Anthony Sher, and I was right ! Not so the fingers, who needed the picture of Jane Asher as well, and still came up with Gnasher. The fowls made no mistake and took the bonus. Horned Viper gave the fowls Ontario- Huron – and that gave me Superior – since we had Great Lakes increasing in size. Given Michigan they opted wrongly for Erie, which gave the fingers an easy bonus. They chose Lion for their own question, and had Tybalt. I wouldn’t have gambled in the studio, but I went with the death sequence, and ended with Juliet. To be sure the fingers took the second , Paris, then gave the same answer, which was right. Eye of Horus had a great set for the Fowls. 4th: Go out at any time immediately made me think of Sir Tom Jones’ timeless classic, It’s Not Unusual . I worked out that the first, working backwards was 1st: Be loved by anyone. The fowls took the other three clues -The second clue was 3rd: See me cry, and the third , 2nd: Have fun with anyone , but they got it right which was what mattered. The fingers’ last set began with The watershed, and then General election polling stops. So we had 9 pm then 10pm, so all that was required was something symbolic of midnight. Gentle set, but then this was a sleb show. Water gave 127 in brown, 134 in blue, and 140 in pink. Lovely set, to be completed by black 147 , which as Richard explained are the last 4 pots in a 147 maximum snooker break. Good shout, but the fingers still led 13 – 9.

Round Three – The Connecting Walls

The fowls took the lion wall, and very quickly Richard worked out that Bramall – Gigg – Meadow and White Hart are all football ground Lanes. Bath – Chelsea – Cinnamon and Sticky buns finished almost immediately afterwards. Before the end of the round they had also untangled Castle of Castile – Tudor Rose – Fleur de lis and White boar badges of English Monarchs.Finally they knew that Thistle – Garter – Merit and British Empire are all orders of chivalry. So a full house of 10 – good play.

The fingers firstly took blue – medium – rare – well done which are ways of cooking beef. Then green – fledgling – raw and jejune were untangled as a set of terms relating to inexperience. However they used up the three lives for the last , and were frozen out. They knew that Browning – Rossetti – Swinburne – Hopkins were all Victorian poets. Arnold – Cass – Donaldson and Corfield they knew as Radio 4 newsreaders and announcers. Only 6 popints gathered though, which gave us a tie on 19.

Round Four – Missing Vowels

I wondered which team was going to have the buzzer demon and go on to win. If the first set, Inflammations , was anything to go by, it could be close, as Richard, Daisy and Clarke each took one, while Housemaid’s Knee went untreated. The next category of celebs who were cartoonists saw the Fowls take two to one, but lose a point for an incorrect buzz as well. Still anyone’s game. The next category was 50 ways to leave your lover. I’m guessing that Richard is a Paul Simon fan, because he had all 4 in a row. Quotations from Hamlet saw neither team score, and that was that. The Goldfingers finished with 21, but the Fowls won clearly with 26. Well done to all involved.

News Questions

In the News

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

1. Tim Davie
2. Take the Crown
3. Harry McShane
4. Valerie Eliot
5. Stuart Danczuk
6. Omnishambles
7. Daniel Cooper
8. Edward Deveney
9. General John Allen
10. Jill Kelley
11. 2Lo Calling
12. Sven Hassel
13. Golconda
14. Jean Colclough
15. Sir Rex Hunt
16. Xi Jiping
17. Channing Tatum
18. Martha Payne
19. Jim Hussey
20. Abersoch
21. Andy Sawford
22. Matthew Grove
23. Ahmed Zogu
24. The White Shadow
25. Bexsero

In Other News

1. Who How much was George Entwhistle’s pay off from the BBC ?
2. Which item from the film “The Wizard of Oz” sold last week for £300,000
3. An earthquake measuring 6.8 hit which Asian country ?
4. What was the score in the England v. France rugby league match ?
5. Who has won both the PGA and European money lists in golf ?
6. Who defeated Andy Murray in the ATP tour finals semi ?
7. What was the score in the New Zealand v. Scotland rugby union test ?
8. What was the score in the Argentina v. Wales test ?
9. What was the score in South Africa v. Ireland test ?
10. What was the score in the England v. Fiji test ?
11. Who was accused of rigging positions on the Parliamentary standards watchdog ?
12. What is being considered for reintroduction for rail travel in the UK ?
13. Who won the ATP tour final ?
14. Who won the Vardon Trophy asUS PGA player of the Year
15. Which horse was awarded Cartier Horse of the Year ?
16. Which jockey was it revealed had failed a drugs test in September ?
17. Whose deportation was halted last week ?
18. What caused embarrassment to David Cameron at the Lord Mayor’s Banquet ?
19. Which author collapsed from a heart condition in New York ?
20. Which actor admitted that smoking opium gave him a pleasurable experience ?
21. Which TV presenter said that he finds the Today programme pompous and aggressive ?
22. what was the score in the Sweden v. England football match ?
23. Who scored the so called ‘ wonder goal ‘ for Sweden in the same match ?
24. What was the score in the Scotland v. Luxembourg match ?
25. What was the score in the Northern Ireland v. Azerbaijan match ?
26. What has Frankel’s stud fee been set at ?
27. In terms of entertainment, this week saw the 60th anniversary of what ?
28. Which player was surprisingly dropped by Wales following the loss to Argentina ?
29. Who received his 100th cap for the England football team this week ?
30. Which politician’s wife made tweets about Lord McAlpine this week ?
31. Why did Amnesty International staff go on strike this week ?
32. Which DJ was taken in for questioning by the police this week ?
33. Scientists are currently reconstructing whose face ?
34. Who scored 117 against England in the first innings of the first test this week ?
35. BP have agreed a settlement over the gulf oil spill. How much have they agreed to pay ?
36. On what specifically did Romney blame his defeat by Obama ?
37. What milestone does the Mousetrap reach on Saturday 17th November ?
38. IKEA admitted to using which source of labour for many years this week ?

Answers to News Questions

In the News

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

1. Catherine Gowing
2. Paul Gallen
3. Candy
4. Brian Cobbey
5. Bishop Tawadros
6. Rugby
7. Vicious
8. Nadine Dorries
9. Tavis Knoyle
10. Green Moon
11. Dream Team Honda
12. Tammy Baldwin
13. Justin Welby
14. Peter Rasmussen
15. David Petraus
16. Cath Burrows
17. Jameela Jamil
18. Steve Messham
19. Stuart Laycock

In Other News

1. Who won three awards at the MOBO awards ?
2. Who heckled a London performance of Uncle Vanya
3. Who won the GP in Abu Dhabi ?
4. Who revealed that she has had a double mastectomy ?
5. What was the score in the Swnsea v. Chelsea match ?
6. What was the score in Man Utd. v. Arsenal ?
7. Which team defeated Pymouth Argyle in the FA Cup ?
8. Whose video has been criticized for showing him pushing an elderly person ?
9. Whom did Andy Murray beat in his first match in the ATP world finals ?
10. Who was sacked as manager of Scotland ?
11. Who was a surprise omission from the shortlist for IAAF Male Athlete of the Year ?
12. Who said “I feel a few sausages short of a Barbie” ?
13. Channel 4 was criticized for editing which word from an early evening edition of The Simpsons ?
14. Whose appeal against his rape conviction was rejected ?
15. Which notorious 90 year old gave an interview to a Russian newspaper last week ?
16. What was bought last week by the National Trust ?
17. Who lost his appeal against his conviction for assault ?
18. What was the score in the Man City v Ajax match ?
19. What was the score in the Schalke v. Arsenal match ?
20. Who is appearing on banknotes for his country for the first time ?
21. Which two US states voted for same sex marriage ?
22. What controversial vote passed in Washington and Colorado ?
23. Which architect was formally made a Dame last week ?
24. Which song features in this year’s John Lewis Christmas ad ?
25. Which 92 year old actor passed away last week ?
26. What was the score in the Celtic v. Barcelona match ?
27. What was the score in the Chelsea v Shaktar Dontesk match ?
28. What was the score in the Man Utd v. Braga match ?
29. Which former Coronation Street actor passed away aged 71 ?
30. Which actor was formally knighted last week ?
31. Who announced she is selling love letters she received from Mick Jagger ?
32. what is the name of the North Wales children’s home at the centre of the current accusations ?
33. Who apologized after receiving over 100 complaints that he harassed David Cameron on his TV show ?
34. Which drug company was it revealed are pay8ing no tax on their UK business ?
35. Who has become the first artist to have an album in the UK charts each year of 25 consecutive years ?
36. Aberdare job centres have been giving what to job seekers to improve their chances of getting appointed to jobs ?
37. Who has announced that he will be joining twitter ?


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

1. Missing vet whose remains were found last week
2. New British Scrabble champion
3. Robbie Williams’ first no. 1 single in the UK for many years
4. Former voice of the speaking clock who passed away aged 83
5. Newly elected pope of the Coptic church
6. Brand dropped by Ralph Lauren
7. New ITV sitcom which is to star Sir Derek Jacobi and Sir Ian McKellen
8. Tory MP for Mid Beds suspended for appearing in “I’m A Celebrity”
9. Scrum half for Wales, for whom Mike Philips has been dropped
10. Horse that won the Melbourne Cup
11. New women’s cycle team part funded by Bradley Wiggins
12. First openly gay senator – elected new senator for Wisconsin
13. Newly appointed Archbishop of Canterbury
14. Referee confronted by Mancini following Champions League match
15. Head of the CIA who resigned after admitting having an affair
16. Allegedly the driver who knocked Bradley Wiggins off his bike
17. Announced as successor to Reggie Yates on Radio 1 chart show
18. Apologised for mistakenly identifying Lord McAlpine as having abused him as a child
19. Wrote a book claiming that great Britain has invaded all but 22 countries of the world at one time of another

In Other News

In Other News

1. Emilie Sandé
2. Sir Peter Hall
3. Kimi Raikonnen
4. Sharon Osborne
5. 1 - 1
6. 2 - 1
7. Dorchester
8. Robbie Williams
9. Thomas Berdych
10. Craig Levein
11. Mo Farah
12. Prince Charles
13. Gay
14. Ched Evans
15. George Blake
16. A section of the white cliffs of Dover
17. Felix Baumgartner
18. 2 - 2
19. 2 - 2
20. Nelson Mandela
21. Maine and Maryland
22. To legalise marijuana for recreational news ( even though it is still prohibited by federal law )
23. Zaha Hadid
24. The Power of Love by Frankie Goes to Hollywood
25. Clive Dunn
26. 2 - 1
27. 3 - 2
28. 3 - 1
29. Bill Tarmey
30. Kenneth Branagh
31. Marcia Hunt
32. Bryn Estyn
33. Philip Schofield
34. Pfizer
35. Daniel O’Donnell
36. Spray Tans
37. Pope Benedict XVI

Friday, 16 November 2012

Mastermind Round One - Heat 13

There was a distinct flavor of University Challenge about tonight’s Mastermind, with two of the most popular players of the last few years, in the shape of our own Rachael “Cherryade” Neiman, a semi finalist with Manchester, and Thomas Grinyer of a very good Homerton team in the last series. Yes, alright, of course I was rooting for Rachael.

I had quite a wait for her turn, though, since she was drawn to go last. Drawn to go first was Peter Wharmby, who was taking as his subject RMS Titanic. I had the feeling that this would be one of those subjects where, if you waited patiently, a few questions would come up which you’d know. The Carpathia, J. Bruce Ismay, Guggenheim being examples of the sort of thing I mean. In the end there were enough of these to bring me 7 points, which was an encouraging beginning to the show. Peter Wharmb y certainly knew his stuff, enough to bring him 14 points and no passes. The signs were that the questions were flowing slightly more freely than they were last week – not a lot though as I still thought there were too many overly long questions tonight.

The first of tonight’s University Challengers was Thomas Grinyer. Thomas was taking the American Revolutionary War. This was another subject that offered a small but gemlike clutch of gimmes – Delaware – Valley Forge – Yorktown to name but three, and so this subject added another 6 to my aggregate. The round didn’t quite come off as I’m sure Thomas hoped. he obviously knows his stuff, but never quite managed to put together enough of a run of correct answers to build up a momentum. 8 is a perfectly reasonable score, but it’s not enough to give you a chance of winning when someone already has 14 on the board.

Colin Wilson, like Rachael, has ‘previous’ on Mastermind. He was a repechage slot semi finalist in Jesse’s series in 2010. Back then his performances were built on very good specialist rounds. I liked his subject tonight – East German Athletics 1976 – 1988. Colin answered like an old experienced hand, snapping out his answers almost as soon as John had finished asking the questions. As for the questions, well they mostly focused on athletic performances themselves, and in particular the performances in the Olympics, which suited me fine. Colin managed 13 and no passes, and I managed 8 of them . So I was already on an aggregate of 21 for the show, my best for weeks. Whether I would be able to add any of them during Rach’s round was a different question, though.

Well, at last the moment that I’d been waiting for had come. Rachael has been this way before. She won the third heat of Ian’s 2011 series, with a brilliant round on Belle and Sebastian and a solid performance on GK, before being pipped by Julia Hobbs for a place in the final. Her subject tonight was John Peel’s Festive Fifty. Right, confession time. I read an article about Rachael and her subject a good half hour before the show, and what she mentioned in the article brought me three of my 6 points. Loved the mention of the Frank Chickens, whom I saw in a free show in Battersea Park in 1985. Hmm – not my cup of tea, but I still got the question right. Rachael placed herself in joint first at half time with an impressive 14 and no passes. Incidentally my aggregate SS total was 27, which is one of my very best.

I was pleased to see that Thomas Grinyer didn’t seem too badly affected by being in fourth at the turn around, and he put on a very good 15 point round on GK. Mind you, this will have come as no surprise to those of us who witnessed some of his fine performances in UC last year. OK, so 23 didn’t look like a winning total in this show, but it certainly looked like it would be enough to at least put some of the competition into the corridor of doubt.

Colin Wilson , during both of his previous appearences on the show had produced solid rather than inspiring GK rounds. At the start of this one he was going great guns, however although he continued to snap out answers at speed – good technique that – the number of correct answers tailed away. By the end of the round he had at least managed double figures, and his 23 points was achieved with no passes, which at least put him into the lead for now.

Peter Wharmby , our only totally unknown quantity tonight, never seemed particularly hurried in his answers in either specialist or GK, and yet he kept finding enough correct ones to push his score to the target and then beyond. I always try to be fair to every contender, but I hope that I might be forgiven for saying that with every correct answer he gave I couldn’t help trying to calculate what this might mean for Rachael’s chances. Peter scored 13 and 3 passes, which would give him a shot at a semi final repechage slot . This gave Rachel a target of 27 and 2 passes to be sure.

Rachael herself would tell you that she wasn’t really a quizzer before University Challenge. In her last appearences in the show, Rachael’s GK rounds weren’t as impressive as her specialist rounds. Since then Rach has really got the quiz bug, and has played a couple of years in a quiz league. The stupendous GK round she put in tonight is a testament to just how much regular quizzing in a good league can help you improve your GK. From a very early stage in the round it became very clear that not only was Rachael going to win, but she was going to set a monster of a total. 19, count them, 19 correct answers taking her total to 33 and no passes. what a performance ! Rachael, many , many congratulations !

Well played too to our other contenders, especially to Peter Wharmby, whose 27 just may take him to the semis.Good show.

The Details
Peter Wharmby RMS Titanic14 - 013 - 327 – 3
Thomas GrinyerThe American Revolutionary War8 - 115 - 423 – 5
Colin WilsonEast German Athletics 1976 - 198313 - 010 - 023 – 0
Rachael NeimanJohn Peel’s Festive Fifty14 - 019 - 033 – 0

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Are the Beeb Jumping on Our Wiki Bandwagon ?

I’ve just been over to the BBC official Mastermind site to check out this week’s subjects for the wiki challenge. They are: -

The Titanic
The American Revolutionary War
East German Athletics 1976-1988
John Peel's Festive Fifties.

I’ll say more about the subjects in a moment or two. However, what intrigued me was this. Underneath the subjects on the programme details section of the programme information, it says this : -

Why not see how many questions you can answer from this week’s subjects?

Then it gives a list of web sources for information about the subjects, eg._Encyclopedia Titanica -
Titanic: The Unsinkable Ship -

and so on. Is it me, or are the BBC here offering their own version of the wiki challenge ? Which they obviously couldn’t call the wiki challenge, what with advertising Wikipedia and the like. In which case I tend to feel rather flattered to see them picking up on an idea which maybe was first formalized here on LAM, but had its origins in a comment from our own Lisa Hermann, namely , that she’d found in some Mastermind specialist subjects you can find up to 10 answers to questions on the subject’s Wikipedia page.

Well, whatever the case, whether they have been inspired by our own wiki challenge, or whether it’s pure coindicence, here’s my feelings on Friday’s subjects.

I’ll certainly be having a go unwikied on The Titanic. I really fancy a punt at the murky world of East German Athletics 1976 – 88. Which leaves John Peel’s Festive Fifties, about which I have no idea, and the American Revolutionary War, about which I don’t know as much as I’d like. Wiki time is short for me this week, but I could certainly read them over if nothing else. If you want to have a look at the sites the BBC give you for sources on any or all of the subjects, then follow this link : -

BBC Mastermind Programme 13

University Challenge - Repechage Round - Play Off 2

King’s College Cambridge v. Homerton, Cambridge

King’s College , represented by Curtis Gallant, Amber Ace, James Gratrex and captain Fran Middleton were beaten by St. George’s London in the first round, in a 175- 145 thriller . Homerton, represented by Jack Hooper, Michael Angland, Drew Miley, and their captain Luke Fitzgerald, were beaten 230 to 245 by New College, Oxford. I’m sure that it won’t have escaped your notice that there’s nothing to choose between these two first round performances. Bearing in mind how wrong I got last week’s first play off, I was making no predictions about this one. Game on .

There’s surely a psychological boost which comes from taking the first starter, and Monday’s fell to Amber Ace of King’s, who knew the several meanings of the word ‘bay’. The set of bonuses on trijunctions in Geography were difficult, and I don’t blame them for missing them all. Michael Angland knew that Maria Theresa was a prominent member of the Hapsburg family. Homerton’s first set of bonuses were on biographies by Peter Ackroyd. I’ve only read his biography of Dickens ( and of London come to think of it ) and it’s very good. I , like Homerton, only got the last. Drew Miley took the lead for Homerton, knowing a description of the warning sign for radioactivity. An early UC special followed with clues to the abbreviations of English counties – throws a rider = Bucks – Buckinghamshire. Good set, and they managed two of them. The next starter was one of those long , shaggy dog questions which eventually becomes rather obvious, but only at the end. JP took a long time to get to the word pendulum, but when he did I shouted out ‘Foucault’ just before James Gratrex did for King’s.Physics followed, which ruled me out, but not James Gratrex, who even earned JP’s admiration for taking the full set.Time for the picture starter. We saw a diagram of some of the UK’s tallest buildings, and Curtis Gallant took the points for King’s by knowing that the correct name of what many of us think of as The Canary Wharf Tower is One Canada Square. The bonuses used the same diagram, and asked for the correct names of three more.I was delighted to get the Beetham Tower in Manchester as the first – which King’s missed, but was impressed that Curtis Gallant knew that the Gherkin is 30, St. Mary Axe, even if they missed the current name of the former Nat West Tower. Jack Hooper knew enough about Lamarckism to buzz in early for the next starter, and even though they didn’t manage a bonus on American photographers this ensured that Homerton were only 5 points behind at the 10 minute mark, as King’s led by 50 to 45.

Neither team knew that the Porta Nigra is in Trier, but Fran Middleton was in very early for the next starter, knowing that the title of a famous Manet portrait is ‘Olympia’ ( who I believe was what my Nan would definitely have called a ‘lady of the evening’. )Bonuses on Chinese dynasties saw them supply no correct answers, unfortunately.Once again James Gratrex proved his value to King’s when JP started telling us all about the current exchange rate between bananas and apricots, and thankfully he supplied the correct answer . Place names followed, and I’m afraid that they probably should have known Limassol as the second largest city of Cyprus.They knew where the Londonderry Air was written, which wasn’t quite enough to make me raise my London derrière from the sofa, but they also knew about Magellan in the Philippines. You got the feeling that this contest was going to come down to bonuses, so King’s did well to make sure that they took two of this gettable set. Amber Ace took a punt with rococo as a term possibly derived from the French for shellwork, and was rewarded with 10 points, and a set of bonuses on crystallography.Can’t say that I had a clue what any of these were about, but James Gratrex had the second two. The music starter offered us the work of a german composer. I was delighted that my speculative punt of Bruch went smack between the posts, but neither team could get it. A lovely UC special starter followed. We were asked for a drug whose name is an anagram of an adjective referring to large expanses of sea. “Cocaine – oceanic” I said, and then Jack Hooper buzzed in with exactly the same.The music bonuses asked for composers whose works in question were inspired by the sea. They managed the one correct answer. Neither knew the place in Denbighshire which had its city status restored – alright, yes, I did have that one – St. Asaph.Michael Angland knew that April and November have the same name in German. The bonuses on kidneys actually saw me take a bonuse with Nephrons ! Yes ! That was the only one Homerton didn’t get. Drew Miley knew the FA Vase, and this gave them a shot at three names of politicians. They knew two, but missed out on the pub quiz chestnut about which US President was born Leslie Lynch King. You either know it or you don’t. Nonetheless a good couple of minutes had put them level with King’s. I was almost as impressed with Amber Ace recognising the work of Raphael for the picture starter as I was for getting it right myself. The bonuses focused on the same picture, the school of Athens, and asked them to identify some of the philosophers.Full house to King’s – I myself missed out on Diogynes the Cynic, although working in a school it’s no wonder he was a cynic. This little spurt meant that King’s led by 125 to 100 at the twenty minute mark.

On with the final mad gallop then. Jack Hooper knew ethene for the next starter. Nope, me neither. Terms beginning with the prefix syn - . Bang , bang, bang, a full house , and all square again. Good game. Michael Angland took the next starter on Rene Descartes, who I am unreliably informed was a pxxxxd old fxrt , ( I drink therefore I am). I loved the Sci Fi bonuses, which asked which writers created which planets. I knew the first, since I loved Frank Herbert’s “Dune” when I was in my teens. I didn’t know the second, but did know Asimov’s.Now, Homerton missed all of them, and you couldn’t help thinking that such profligacy at this stage of the contest might well prove very costly. Jack Hooper once again showed Homerton the way by buzzing in for dioptre on the next starter. Medical terminology again gave us questions gettable for the quizzer, but they didn’t manage any. I thought that when Amber Ace recognised a rather sneery verse from Byron about Wordsworth and Coleridge, that King’s were going to get some bonuses, but only managed one on Estonia. Amber Ace won the buzzer race to tell us that Saul was on the Road to Damascus. Bonuses on which PMs were served by which Chancellors again only provided one bonus. Enough to give King’s a precious ten point lead, but we were still very much in what Sir Alex Ferguson memorably described as ‘squeaky bum time’. Neither team knew the two Clarkes – Charles and Ken. Asked for the king of England forced into exile in 1013 , it was James Gratrex who managed the correct answer of Ethelred ( the second to be precise). Questions on Arbroath yielded but one bonus on a gettable set. Still, very little time was left, and a full set would now see Homerton still behind on points. Amber Ace took a very important starter by identifying Rufus Wainwright as the singer songwriter who had diversified into opera in 2009. Bonuses on protozoan diseases were more valuable for the time they used up than the ten points they produced.Unintentional comedy was provided by skipper Fran Middleton’s announcement of “nominate him . . . er. . . Gratrex !” Mind you she made up for it by taking the next starter on varieties of orange. King's were surely home and dry now, having 200 points to 140.I was glad for Homerton’s skipper that he knew the next starter about the border between New Brunswick and Maine, and that the team managed two bonuses on Dublin. This took their score to 160, as against King’s' 205. That was it, though. The gong went, and the game was over. Well played both, and congratulations to King’s.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

Despite himself JP was moved to say ‘Well done!” with obvious admiration when King’s took a full set of Physics bonuses. The last was one of those where I – and possibly even JP himself – tend to switch off almost immediately after the word ‘If – ‘

On the Chinese dynasties bonuses JP reacted with much disdain when offered the ‘Tan’ dynasty. “No , I can’t accept Tan, it’s TanG. “ he replied, sounding mortally offended.

Luke Fitzgerald , I think, stumbled over getting the right word he wanted out when instead of ‘rococo’ he offered ‘ orinoco’. JP said nothing while Amber Ace gave the correct answer. Then , after confirming she was correct he muttered under his breath, completely disbelievingly, “The Orinoco is a river !”

I must admit , I’ll bet that JP’s incredulous “In Denbighshire ?!” was echoed by many in Wales in response to Amber Ace’s punt of Chelmsford. They may even have also offered their own version of his verbal double take when Drew Miley, after being ordered “Homerton – one of you buzz !” – offered St. Albans. “No, I . . . in DENBIGHSHIRE again ??!!!!”

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

The former Nat West Tower is know known simply as Tower Forty Two. Well, I suppose that it is the answer to the ultimate question, after all.