Saturday, 28 January 2012

In the News Questions

Same as always - answers next week - but email me if you need them before that

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

1. Laura Dekker
2. HMS Argyll
3. Michael Sata
4. Rosie the dog
5. Outside In
6. Theodora Dallas
7. Ekaterina Makerova
8. Sergei Polunin
9. Coryton
10. Andrew Miller
11. John Anslow
12. Michael Clair
13. Anthony Gardner
14. Andrew Farndon
15. Nicholas Shakespeare
16. Nigel Leat
17. Dr. John Magumba
18. Uggie
19. Stephen Hester
20. A Twinkling Star to A Passing Angel
21. Angelica Maria Cecora
22. Anthony Albanese
23. Steven Slevin
24. Jean Claude Mas
25. The Teodora
26. Liam Broady and Joshua Ward Hubbert
27. Rhys Thomas

In Other News

1. Who is the socialist candidate for the upcoming French presidential elections ?
2. What is the title of Jessie J’s number 1 single ?
3. Which writer made headlines by saying that he has no ‘twitter machine’ ?
4. Which newsreader revealed that her baby daughter has the name Clemency ?
5. Where is the UKs first marine energy park ?
6. In which state did Newt Gingrich defeat Mitt Romney in the Republican primary ?
7. Which US Congresswoman publically quit last week ?
8. Which former businessman’s long awaited trial began in the Old Bailey last week ?
9. Ofcom rejected complaints about Ricky Gervais’ use of which offensive word ?
10. Which venue is to show the film “Citizen Kane “ for the very first time ?
11. Which Man City player was heavily criticised for stamping on Scott Parker’s head in the game v. Tottenham ?
12. Who is the New Chancellor of Portsmouth University ?
13. Whose statue was unveiled in Barnsley ?
14. How many Oscar nominations doe the nomination for The Iron Lady make it for Meryl Streep now ?
15. Which museum unveiled plans to move into the building which was formerly home to the Commonwealth Institute
16. Which team won the Stanley Cup ?
17. Britain’s debt has broken which barrier for the first time ?
18. Which football club last week were served with a winding up tax bill ?
19. Who knocked world number 1 Caroline Wozniacki out of the Australian Open ?
20. Plans were revealed last week to sell which RAF airfield ?
21. Which former cabinet minister last week said that Ed Miliband was struggling ?
22. Who was attacked last week in an Aboriginal Rights protest ?
23. What did Newt Gingrich promise to build if he becomes President of the USA ?
24. Who said last week that he writes like a two year old ?
25. Who faced criticism for saying that the state has no right to legalise marriage between gay couples ?
26. What surfaced briefly on ebay following the afore mentioned scuffle in an aboriginal rights protest ?
27. Waterstones are set to open a bookstore catering for which language in their flagship shop in Piccadilly ?
28. Who pretends to be Richard Branson in the current adverts for Virgin ?
29. Who is the Hat Person of the Year ?
30. Which country has apologised for deporting jews during the Holocaust ?
31. Which footballer has received a death threat in the form of a bullet being sent to him ?

News Question Answers

Here's last week's news questions and their answers : -

Who or what are the following and why have they been in the news ?
1. Francesco Schettino
2. Jon Huntsman
3. Yousuf Gilani
4. Carole Kolar
5. John Burnside
6. Tom Harris
7. Mildred Pierce
8. Abu Qatada
9. Kerry-Jo Te Huia
10. Saeed Ajmal
11. Kim Jong Nam
12. Boris Island
13. Rande Gerber
14. Elly Nowell
15. Godshifteh Farahani
16. Rick Perry
17. Dominica Cemorton
18. Beck Laxton
19. Brian Shivers
20. Gary Streeter
21. Pseudomonas
22. PressTV

In Other News

1. The ferry Costa Concordia was wrecked just off which island ?
2. Which website underwent a voluntary blackout in protest against the anti piracy bill ?
3. On which day did Muhammad Ali turn 70 ?
4. Why has a new species of horsefly been named after Beyonce ?
5. Which car has been recalled due to fire hazard ?
6. Who won an apology from The Sun which wrongly claimed that he had groped a shop girl ?
7. How many of the 6 British singles players lost on the first day of the Australian Open ?
8. Which MP was wrongly accused of leaking Michael Gove’s letter concerning the possibility of a new royal yacht ?
9. Which of the Edinburgh pandas suffered from a bout of colic last week ?
10. Bruno Senna has joined which F1 team ?
11. A vaccine has been developed for the B strain of which disease ?
12. BBC have refused to apologise for Top Gear offending which country ?
13. Who was nominated as the BAFTA Best Actor for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy ?
14. Which two coins are to be made slightly thicker ?
15. In new rules what have been banned form the Royal Enclosure at Ascot ?
16. Which National Park announced that it will be introducing parking charges ?
17. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s next talent searching TV series will be on ITV, and it will seek a star for which musical ?
18. Doubts were raised last week over the effectiveness of which drug ?
19. Which country last week saw it’s urban population exceed its rural population for the first time ever ?
20. Which are the three brands most highly rated by British consumers ?
21. It was revealed that last year London police spend £35,000 on what ?
22. Which respected broadcaster was told that she was ‘too posh’ for the BBC ?
23. Who is the only British player in the UEFA Team of 2011 ?
24. Which large US company filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy ?
25. Which player has made a surprise return to the Welsh rugby squad for the 6 Nations ?
26. Which England player looks set to quit Northampton Saints RFC ?
27. How many hacking lawsuits were settled by News International last week ?
28. Who announced that he will be making an album about the Titanic ?
29. 2nd class stamps will be rising to which price ?
30. Who is Britain’s new unofficial trade envoy ?
31. Which TV series has been accused of damaging Ilkley Moor ?
32. Which singer died aged 73 ?

Who or what are the following ?
1. Captain of the Costa Concordia
2. Republican candidate who has dropped out in support of Mitt Romney
3. PM of Pakistan accused of contempt of court
4. Murdered in Handsworth Wood
5. Won the T.S.Eliot Prize
6. Labour MP who produced an online video comparing Alex Salmond to Hitler
7. Production for which Kate Winslet won the Golden Globe
8. Muslim cleric whose extradition has been blocked by the European Court of Human Rights
9. 1st woman to manage to shear 500 sheep in 8 hours
10. Pakistan bowler who took 7 wickets for 55 in the first innings of the first test v. England
11. Older half brother of Kim Jong Un who has been predicting an early end to his brother’s rule in North Korea
12. Nickname of the proposed new airport in the Thames Estuary
13. 10 year old daughter of Cindy Crawford tipped for her own modelling career
14. Student who sent a letter of rejection to Magdalen, Oxford, in the style of their own rejection letters
15. Iranian actress told never to come home after posing nude in a magazine.
16. Republican candidate who has dropped out, and is endorsing Gingrich
17. Singer who dined with captain of Costa Concordia on the day of the disaster
18. Mother who kept gender of her child Sacha a secret – now revealed he is a boy
19. Convicted of killing 2 British soldiers in Northern Ireland in 2009
20. Tory MP who called the town of Dudley ugly
21. Responsible for the deaths of three babies in Royal Jubilee Maternity Hospital neonatal unit in Belfast
22. Iranian News Network banned by Ofcom

Other news

1. Giglio
2. Wikipedia
3. Tuesday 17th January
4. Because it has an impressive ‘bootay’, apparently.
5. Mini cooper
6. Paul Gascoigne
7. 5
8. Chris Huhne
9. Yang Guang
10. Williams
11. Meningitis
12. India
13. Gary Oldman
14. 5p and 10 p
15. Fascinators
16. Dartmoor
17. Jesus Christ Superstar
18. Tamiflu
19. China
20. – 1 Google – 2 Amazon – 3 – M & S
21. The Speaking Clock
22. Joan Bakewell
23. Gareth Bale
24. Kodak Eastman
25. Gavin Henson
26. Chris Ashton
27. 37
28. Robin Gibb
29. 55p
30. Prince Harry
31. Emmerdale
32. Etta James

Mastermind - Round One- Heat 10

Well, there were plenty of talking points in last week’s show, and I would be lying if I didn’t say that I was paying particular attention to the specialist rounds in last night’s show, looking out for the gimmes. Geoffrey Snape was first into the chair, answering on the history of New York. On the surface this shouldn’t necessarily have been a subject to offer too much to me, I wouldn’t have thought. Still, if you’re going to ask things like the name of the last dutch governor – Peter Stuyvesant – then you are going to give me some chances. I took 7 of these, and could maybe on a good day have had eight – I didn’t get LaGuardia as the transport hub named after a former mayor, which was gettable. Geoffrey’s score was a perfectly respectable 11.

Sally Mabey came next. I believe that John said that she was from Cardiff, but our paths haven’t crossed as far as I know. Sally was answering on The Women’s Institute. Now – this is the sort of round which should see me draw a complete blank. And to be fair, I very nearly did. One of the questions supplied the answer I was ready to trot out , that the first in the UK was in Llanfair PG on Anglesey. However , there can’t be many people with anything like a decent general knowledge who don’t know that the W.I. sing Jerusalem, and it certainly brought me my only point. Sally broke into double figures, with a score of 10.

Now, third up was our very own Gareth Kingston – Gruff of this parish. Gareth was a semi finalist back in 2009 I believe. His subject was the life and works of Augustus Pugin. This was almost a perfect round. Gareth’s answer were clear, crisp, concise, and very quick. Now, it was almost a perfect round – I think one question went begging. Gareth scored 14, which meant that he was asked 15, or at most 16 questions. It was Gareth himself who raised the point of the inconsistencies of the potential maximum scores from show to show in his comment on last week’s post.. Last week we saw a perfect round of 18. I don’t think that even if any of last night’s contenders had answered all of their questions correctly as quickly as possible, that they would have got to 18. Now, if you win the show it doesn’t matter, but if you’re in line for a repechage slot, then those couple of points could be crucial. Food for thought, certainly. Gareth was putting himself in pole position for the win, though, with 14.

Last to go was Chris Wills. Now, I thought that I’d seen Chris before in a few places. He’s featured on LAM before, when he came 4th in a heat of BoB last year. However a quick google search reveals that he has won money on A Question of Genius, and the Weakest Link, as well as having been a champion of Countdown. So he was certainly not a contender to be easily dismissed. His subject was Wimbledon tennis singles since 1990 – alright, it’s 21 years, but let’s be honest, it isn’t a huge stretch to have to work on. I wouldn’t describe myself as an expert – my knowledge comes from watching, and from things I need to know for quizzes, but I picked off 9 of these without any preparation. I did actually have one that Chris didn’t – I knew that Amelie Mauresmo was one of the players whose match was the first to see the cover come over the Centre Court. Well, as we’ve said in the last couple of shows, you can’t blame the contender for the questions he is asked – all he can do is answer them , and he managed a good 13 and no passes.

As for the GK rounds, I thought that they were a little more difficult than the last few shows. I scored 16 on Sally’s, and 16 on Geoffrey’s, and it wasn’t just because neither of them were going all that quickly – although they weren’t. Sally showed more composure, and managed another 10 correct answers while limiting herself to another 5 passes, for a total of 20. Geoffrey couldn’t match this showing, and he fell into something of a pass spiral. It’s harder on a two and a half minute round to escape from a pass spiral, because the buzzer is that much further away from you. Geoffrey managed 8, which allowed Sally to leapfrog him into what looked likely to be third place.

Now to the two horse race at the top. Chris raced through his set, and there were well over 20 of these. This is all down to the individual, but I struggled more with his set than any of the others. I managed 16 again, but had a run of 4 incorrect answers in a row on my way there. So his 14, in the chair, under pressure in the studio I thought was a pretty good round. I still thought that Gareth would do it. Gareth, being the good guy that he is, did leave me a message this week, asking me to not worry about the fact that we’re friends, and be honest in my review. – Hello – I thought – does this mean something went wrong ? Well, I guessed from looking at Gareth’s face a couple of times during the round that he dropped questions he knew the answer to, and I’d certainly say that it looked like a nervous performance. However, even when things don’t go quite to plan, technique and sticking to the right game plan can bring you through. Gareth knows how to play this game – answer quickly – a wrong answer given quickly is miles better than a pass. I found his set only slightly easier than Chris’ – to the tune of one point, since I managed 17, but as I say, it’s all subjective. I thought from looking at Gareth’s face before John told him the score that he didn’t know that he’d done it. It was close. His 13 gave him 27, the same score as Chris. However Gareth hadn’t passed, and Chris had. He’d only done it once, in the GK round, but that was the small margin between entry to the semis by right, and an anxious wait on the repechage board. Still, it made for an exciting and enjoyable match, albeit I could forgive Gareth for thinking that it was a little close for comfort. Well played Gareth ! Good luck in the semis.

The Details

Geoffrey Snape The History of New York11 - 18 - 619 – 7
Sally MabeyThe Women’s Institute10 - 310 - 520 - 8
Gareth KingstonThe Life and Works of Augustus Pugin14 - 013 - 027 – 0
Chris WillsWimbledon Tennis Singles Finals since 199013 - 014 - 127 -1

University Challenge Quarter Final - Qualification match 1

One of Monday night’s teams was going to earn automatic qualification for the semis. In the blue corner the team consistently rated the most entertaining of the series so far – University College , London. Inexplicably I failed to review their first quarter final match where they beat Manchester. The team of Hywel Carver, Patrick Cook, Tom Andrews and captain Jamie Karran have somehow charmed JP so much in their performances so far that he tends to chuckle his way through their matches.

In the red corner stood ( er , sat ) Worcester, Oxford. They beat Newcastle in their first quarter final match. Since losing a nailbiter to Clare College in their first round match they have gone from strength to strength – and we’ve seen teams go all the way after losing their first round match before. The team consists of Dave Knapp, Jack Bramhill, Jonathan Metzer and captain Rebecca Gillie

The People’s Choice – aka the highly watchable UCL skipper Jamie Karran was incorrect with his answer to the first starter, but Dave Knapp of Worcester made no mistake with Greenpeace. Of the 3 bonuses on monarchs who shared the same name and regnal numbers, they managed one. Jack Bramhill was a little twitchy on the buzzer for the second, and offered myrrh when frankincense was required. Patrick Cook took that one. UCL couldn’t manage any of a set of bonuses on Timon of Athens. Not surprised. Hywel Carver recognised that the medieval film with the swamp castle and other features was Monty Python and the Holy Grail. JP forgave him for saying “Monty Python and the Quest for the Holy Grail. He really does have a soft spot for UCL. Alright – this will have been the producer’s decision via the earpiece – but JP still does have a soft spot for UCL. No bonuses followed on the latin names and calls of common garden birds. Neither team recognised a work by English revolutionary writer and philosopher Thomas Paine. Dave Knapp took his second starter for Worcester with a scientific formula, and again, JP allowed a little leeway when he didn’t originally couch his correct answer as a formula. 2 science bonuses were taken. So UCL were at the moment winning more starters, but Worcester were making up the difference with bonuses. A wonderful UC special followed as the picture starter. This showed a riddle written in French. JP helpfully informed the teams that they could answer in either English or French. Kaptain Karran immediately buzzed in with “Je ne comprends pas !”Well, it made me laugh. Neither team took it , but Patrick Cook earned the accompanying set of bonuses by knowing the original use of the Pantheon in Paris. The following riddles in different languages all had letters of the alphabet as the answers. They took a clean sweep of these. Which was enough to give UCL the lead at the 10 minute mark, with 45 to 30, which was probably fair at this stage of the game.

Patrick Cook knew about the Marquess of Salisbury, but UCL couldn’t do much with a set of bonuses on jumps in figure skating, getting a point only for the axel. Jonathan Metzer made a good and brave early buzz about Saturn to bring Worcester back into the competition. A nice full set followed on schools in the works of Charles Dickens. Neither team knew the term Thalweg. No, don’t be ridiculous, of course I didn’t. Hywel Carver knew that the term for flight used to describe works by Bach and Buxtehude amongst others is fugue. One bonus followed on artists. This music question was followed by a music starter, but neither team recognised Hamlet by Liszt. So the music bonuses rolled over to be earned by Jamie Karran, who came up with the term elan vital. One bonus was taken. Hywel Carver knew all about pilcrows , but the chemistry bonuses proved hard to get, and again they only managed to take one of the set. While they kept winning the buzzer race they looked OK, but they weren’t stretching the lead to any great distance at all. A lovely buzz from Jack Bramhill followed, when he knew that the abbreviation for the biggest city in California, the designer of St. Paul’s, and the largest church in the UK would give you the surname Lawrence. Worcester managed two bonuses on unusual transportations, which meant that for all of UCL’s efforts , by the 20 minute mark their lead was a mere 30 points – 105 to Worcester’s 75.

Neither knew that the Dey was the ruler of Algiers in deys gone by . Sorry about that. Nor did they know that the meson was predicted in the works of Yakawa. Dave Knapp did know that Roy Hattersley and other politicians and writers were all from Sheffield, though. Three bonuses followed on island capitals, and the teams were level. Neither team could take the picture starter – which revealed a picture of Prince Arthur, the older brother of King Henry VIII. However skipper Rebecca Gillie knew that Khalidasa was regarded as one of the foremost poets in Sanskrit. 2 bonuses on other eldest sons of monarchs who never made it to the throne were taken. Neither team knew about Derrida, but Jack Bramhill supplied the term molality for the next starter. For once Worcester failed to score on a set of bonuses on East Asian history – specifically Chinese imperial dynasties.The lead was looking ominous, and maybe this led to Patrick Cook buzzing in too early to offer Leipzig as the capital of East Prussia. 5 points were lost, and to add insult to injury Dave Knapp gave the correct answer of Konigsberg. Incidentally, that's Woody Allen’s original surname, I believe.Woody Kaliningrad ? I digress. 2 bonuses on chemistry edged Worcester closer to the semis. Hywel Carver took a UC special. If A is 1 and B is 2 – which poet had initials 23 – 2 – 25. I had it too, I’m pleased to say, and it was W.B.Yeats. Yet again, there were no gimmes for poor UCL in the set of bonuses they earned – a set of football questions from back in the days when Alf Common earned the world record transfer fee of half a crown, or something like that. They did well to get one. Jack Bramhill was happy to inform us all that Radium and some other elements were all discovered in the 1890s, and two bonuses followed on divisions of court. All that remained was for Patrick Cook to supply the last correct answer, regarding Jupiter, and that was it. Worcester won by 170 to 120. No question that Worcester deserved to win – they scored more points. But maybe the margin flattered them a little. UCL could reasonably claim to have been a little unlucky on the bonus sets that came up for them. But that’s the luck of the draw. Like many people I do find this UCL team very entertaining, and I still hope that they’ll qualify for the semis. No doubts about Worcester though – well played and good luck !

Jeremy Paxman Watch

When UCL are playing a smile is never very far from JP’s face. He got into the spirit of it fairly early in this show too. When incorrectly offered Ezra Pound as an English vorticist he toyed with them a little – “Ezra Pound ? Interesting choice . . . but wrong. “
Then after UCL had failed to answer either of the first two bonuses on birds’ latin names and their calls he sank a particularly delicious barb in – “ Finally for a possible 5 ( pause for effect ) although it’s unlikely, I’ll admit. “

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

A pilcrow is a symbol used in DTP to mark where a new paragraph should go.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Beaten in Bridgend

Well, since I went on about my winning streak from mid January to March last year, it’s only fair that I mention it when things don’t go so well. As I said, at the moment Rob and the guys have the Indian sign over us at the club. Then last night, after 18 months and 32 games in the league and cup competitions in the Bridgend Quiz League, the wheels well and truly came off. It had to happen sooner or later, especially bearing in mind our close shave against the Nomads last week. Last night’s opposition were the Old Castle in Bridgend, 3rd place in the league last year, and no mugs at all.

The stupid thing was that the evening started so well. On the written questions we scored 29 out of 32 to their 21. We had a mare on the individual round, and they were only 2 points behind us after that. Then we kept on having a mare on the A and B team questions. The boys from the Old Castle played really well, we didn’t know a lot of the answers, and to cut a long story short they beat us by 50 points to 43. Very well played guys – it pains me to say it, but we can’t even put it down to a couple of lucky questions or anything like that. On the night they were simply just too good for us.

I have two nights to lick my metaphorical wounds, and then there’s quizzes on consecutive nights. At the moment my cumulative total for the year stands at 3 wins from 7 quizzes. Hopefully this won’t become 3 wins from 9 quizzes by the end of Friday evening. The way my own form is at the moment, though, I’m taking nothing for granted.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Brain of Britain - Round One - Heat 11

I don’t wish to say anything particularly mean or nasty, but having listened to today’s heat the phrase ‘after the Lord Mayor’s Show’ come irresistibly to mind. Is that mean ? Sorry if it is. Let’s get on with it , then. First to go was Paul Duke. He missed out on the first Pharoah of Egypt which gave a handy bonus to Toby O’Connor Morse. Alan Hay was second to go. He mercifully took his first, but didn’t get the Van Allen radiation belts. The fact that none of the other brains got them either led me to speculate that we were in for one of ‘those’ shows. Toby took his own first question, but didn’t know that Linus and Anacletus were the second and third popes. Again, nobody took the bonus. Finally William Thirsk – Gaskill missed out on his own first , that the New Party was formed by Oswald Moseley. Alan was happy to take a bonus for that. Paul took his first of the second round, but then missed out on a tricky one about saphrophytes – plants without chlorophyll that feed on decaying matter. Nobody knew Alan’s second, that Attila replaced his brother Bleda. ( Wasn’t that what Old Steptoe used to call Harold when he was annoyed ? I digress. ) Toby did not know that the actor from the film Two Way Stretch who has also been in Dr. Who within the last couple of years was Bernard Cribbens – Paul had that one. Finally William missed the extremely gettable Home Thoughts From Abroad by Robert Browning. Toby took that one. William had yet to score, the others were all on three.

To be fair to Paul he got a bit of a bouncer with his first question in Round Three. Nobody knew the term ‘jacquerie ‘ . Alan took one of his own, but alas I seem to have omitted the question which tripped him up. Toby took his first, then Alan took a good bonus on Ph values – I was nowhere near that one myself. William got himself off the mark with his first, but nobody knew that it was Sir William Chambers who designed amongst other things the pagoda in Kew Gardens. At one time there were quite a few other remarkable buildings there as well – all long gone now, sadly. Nobody took the bonus. Paul probably should have known that the Andeman Islands belong to India. Well, put it this way, to have a chance in BoB you need to know that sort of thing. Toby did. Surprisingly nobody recognised the chestnutty full name of Man Ray for Alan’s second. Toby took his first, then missed out on a tricky one involving the Arab name for the mount of Olives. Finally William didn’t see that the capitals of a number of US States were all named after presidents. I bet Alan couldn’t believe he got a chance at a bonus on a gentle lob like that one. At the Beat the Brains interval Alan led Toby by 7 points to 6.

The first Beat the Brains question concerned the taxonomic system from domains down to species – and asked what comes above a family but below a class ? How do we remember ? Altogether now – Kent Play Cricket On Fridays - Girls Spectate. I guess this was a new one on the brains , as they plumped for something other than order, the correct answer. To be fair to them they did know that a cyanometer is used to measure the blueness of the sky, which was the second question.

On with round 5. Paul again missed his first, being unable to define the phlegmatic personality. Alan was close enough with laid back. Alan was stopped by his own first. He was asked about which station on the DLR has the same name as a Commonwealth country. I won’t lie – I immediately thought of Canada Water, but this wasn’t accepted. Apparently there is a station just called Cyprus. I didn’t know that, so I’m glad that I tuned in now. Toby managed to miss the old chestnut about the meaning of the Sikh name Singh. William thus took his first bonus of the contest. He then went and blotted his copybook by not knowing that korfball takes its name from the dutch for basket. In a tit for tat exchange, Toby took that one. Paul at last managed to get another starter right, but his second, about transhumance , caught everyone else out as well. Alan didn’t know that James Alexander Gordon reads out the football results on Radio 5 Live – Toby took that, which took the edge a little off missing out his own first question, about Morse Code telegraphy. Nobody knew that one. William was asked which is the largest dwarf planet in the solar system, and I didn’t know it was Eris any more than the rest of the contenders did. With two rounds left Alan and Toby were tied, but anyone could still win if they pulled off a full set. That didn’t look likely, somehow.

Paul didn’t know that the Order of Merit was instituted by Edward VII, which gave Alan a bonus. Alan took his own first, but didn’t know that Strawweight – or mini flyweight – is the lightest professional boxing weight. Bonus for Paul. Toby missed his own first on the Battle of the Spurs. William managed to add another point to his total, but nobody knew that the painter Richard Dadd ended his days in Broadmoor. This left Alan with a two point lead, and frankly in this show that looked like it would be quite enough. Paul missed his first which asked for the three countries which share a land border with Cambodia. William took that one. Alan didn’t know the meaning of the full name of the SS when translated into English. Toby did. Another point would put him level , but he didn’t get it from his own first question, about a term which is used for objects which point in all directions. William was asked a question about which country has a mythology about giant lemurs. Frankly you’d have thought that lemurs would have been enough to give him a decent shout at an answer, but he didn’t get it. Paul won the buzzer race to offer Madagascar, and that was enough to ensure a 1 point win for Alan. Alan probably deserved it, on the balance of the whole show he was maybe just a shade better than Toby. But you have to feel for the three of last week’s brains who didn’t win, any one of whom might have fancied their chances in this particular heat. That’s what you call the luck of the draw.

The Details

Paul Duke – 7
Alan Hay – 10
Toby O’Connor Morse – 9
William Thirsk – Gaskill - 5

Saturday, 21 January 2012

A close shave

Well, I’ve played in six quizzes this year so far, winning three and coming second in the other three, and I’m rapidly coming to the conclusion that Rob and the guys from Lemurs have got the Indian sign over me. I’ve lost twice to them in the rugby club, and once in the Dyffryn Arms. Alright, every time we’ve been beaten they’ve had a bigger team than ours, but the fact is that a loss is a loss. The only time I’ve beaten them this year was in the Rugby Club when Rob himself was asking the questions. At least it’s not a very big losing streak yet. We were well beaten on Thursday night for the rather obvious reason that we didn’t know anything like as many of the answers as they did. Galling. I believe that Rob, who is none other than Robert Merrill, is recording his Brain of Britain semi final this week. I sincerely wish him the very best of luck. Fingers crossed.

I have to say that we were pretty lucky on Monday night. It was the first match of the second half of this season’s Bridgend Quiz League. Our opponents were the Tyrisha Nomads, and if that name sounds familiar, well, they were one of the LAMMY Award nominees for 2011. They were runners up to us in the League last season, and comfortably beat us in the Muriel Williams Trophy, the season curtain raiser. I’ve probably already told you this before, but anyway, the format of the league quiz is that the first 32 questions are read out for both teams to answer in writing. These questions are worth just one point for a correct answer. We had a 2 point lead after this set. These are followed then by 8 individual questions – 4 for each team. One person on each team may answer two of these. Captains pick numbers from 1 to 8, and each will correspond to a particular question – it’s pot luck which . The Nomads answered all of theirs, but our third question was the only individual question that no member of either team could answer. That wiped out our lead, as each question in the individual section is worth 2 points, or 1 if passed over for a bonus.

The last section of the quiz comprises of A and B team questions. For the first 5 one team takes the As, and for the last 5 they take the Bs. Correct answers to your own questions are worth 2 points, and bonuses 1. So, as I say, it was all square going into the As and Bs. We just couldn’t get a lead, and it never felt like we were going to be able to either. Whatever we could answer, they could answer. In fact, the Nomads took the lead when they correctly identified Kavanagh QC, and then Ally McBeal for a bonus. Then we pulled ourselves back in by knowing that Tchaikovsky wrote Winter Daydreams, and getting a bonus for Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony. We both got the first three of the last 5. Neither of us got question 4. So we waited as the last category was announced – boxing. Ours was first – which boxer, who held world championships during his career, was defeated by Brit Kirkland Laing in 1982 ? Yes ! I knew that ! Roberto Duran ! We sat back, confident that the Nomads would get their answer correct as well, and so we had earned a draw. They were asked – which British and European Heavyweight champion lost his only world title fight in 1975 ? We immediately wrote down ‘Richard Dunn’. The Nomads gave their answer “Richard Dunn.” The QM replied – "Incorrect ."– and handed it across for a bonus. I was so dumbfounded that I blurted out Henry Cooper incorrectly, even knowing it was wrong. Of course, it was Joe Bugner. Talking with the Nomads afterwards, we both realized that we had made the same mistake – Bugner fought Ali twice, but the first time they fought, Ali wasn’t actually the champion. What can I say. The Nomads would have deserved the draw, and frankly, if the question had been the other way around they would maybe even have won. A great game – and very well played.

Mastermind - Heat 9

For once BBC2 Wales deigned to allow us to see Mastermind at the same time as everybody else, so I got to watch the show on the big telly downstairs last night. I was interested to see that last night’s first contender, Kate Foley , hails from Mid Glamorgan. That’s well within my local quiz range, but I can’t say that I recognised her from any quiz I’ve been to. Not that it signifies anything. Kate’s specialist subject was The Archers – 1980 to the present day – a frankly massive undertaking , I would have thought. No, I don’t listen to the Archers, and so I scored precisely zero. Kate did a bit better than this, with 7, but I have to say that I think she was found out by the sheer scale of the undertaking she had set herself.

Now, Paul Radford gave us the Apollo space programme. This is a subject which I liked the look of. I was an impressionable 5 years old when I was woken in the middle of the night to get up and watch the Apollo 11 moon landing on TV, and so it’s been something I’ve always had a little bit of an interest in. I got 6 of these questions, and I don’t think you could claim that the average person might have got them through general knowledge in this case. These were pretty testing , I thought, and Paul did well to get his 12.

Mark Wyatt was answering on the Life and Music of Nick Drake. I can only apologise to his fans that I am afraid that I knew nothing about him. So at least the fact that I couldn’t get any of these questions right shows that it probably wasn’t a round padded out with GK questions masquerading as specialists. Mark’s 18 from 18 was as fine a perfect display as we’ve seen all series. Unless final contender Chris Forse could manage a high score, then the show as a contest was already over.

The Cold War – 1946 – 64 – was our final subject. I haven’t studied this period specially, and it’s over 30 years since I read about a lot of these things in O level history. I still managed 11. I know that this is going to add fuel to the fire about the debate which has gone on in some recent posts and comments about the use of GK questions in specialist rounds, but I have to say that I thought that this round was a lot more accessible to the home viewer with a decent GK than any of the others. For which I don’t blame Chris Forse at all. His 15 was a fine performance – he can only answer the questions that he’s asked, after all. The fact that he did manage 15, as well, meant that at least the show would not be decided until Mark’s GK round.

Kate returned to the chair. I can only judge by facial expression and tone of voice, but it did seem like a number of Kate’s correct answers were not certain, only guesses. What she did well was in most cases, to go for the obvious, or the only thing you can think of – so who sulked in his tent in the Iliad – well you know Achilles was a greek hero, so go for him. It’s a perfectly valid tactic, and together with the answers she did know for certain, she put on a good score of 12 points. Her total of 19 meant that she did lead the contest, even though this was only going to be for a couple more minutes.

Paul Radford started his round confidently enough, but the passes and wrong answers started to set in after the first half a minute. I can’t say that I thought his questions were particularly harder than the other rounds – my lowest score was 15 out of 19 on Kate’s set. On Paul’s I managed 18 from 20. Paul answered 9 correctly, which gave him a total of 21, Which at least meant that he , too , would be in the lead for at least another two minutes.

Chris got through more questions in his round, but unfortunately this was because nerves seemed to get the better of him, and he fell into a nasty pass spiral. I made it that he was asked 22 questions, of which I answered 18. He managed double figures by the end of the round, but the 8 passes told their own story, I’m afraid. He finished with 26, and took the lead himself. With only 9 needed for an outright win, it seemed highly likely that Mark would overtake him.

Mark started impressively. The thing about Mastermind is that you get into a rhythm. If you answer quickly, then John askes quickly, and you can really build up ahead of steam. Granted Mark didn’t maintain this cracking pace throughout the whole of the round, but he’d already won by the time he began to slow down. For the record I had my best performance on Mark’s round with 21 from 23 questions. Mark himself managed 14, a good score by anyone’s reckoning.

So well done ! A performance which suggests that , should he get an equally good run at the specialist round in his semi, Mark can certainly get to the final.

The Details

Kate Foley The Archers 1980 – Present Day7 - 412 - 219 – 6
Paul RadfordThe Apollo Space Programme12 - 49 - 521 – 9
Mark WyattLife and Music of Nick Drake18 - 013 - 331 – 3
Chris ForseThe Cold War 1946 - 6415 - 011 - 826 – 8

University Challenge - Quarter Final Match 4

The last two teams to kick off their quarter final campaigns were Clare and Homerton, both of Cambridge University. Clare, who narrowly defeated Worcester, Oxford in the first round, were represented by Kris Cao, Daniel Janes, Jonathan Foxwell, and captain Jonathan Burley.They hit absolutely top form in the second round against Leeds, breaking the 300 barrier. Stern opposition for Homerton, then. Their team consisted of Jack Euesden, Frances Connor, Thomas Grinyer and skipper David Murray. Homerton had a difficult route to the second round, having actually narrowly lost their first match. Still, they made no mistake in their play-off against the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Flexing their muscles they disposed of high scoring Durham in the second round.

Straightaway Jack Euesden took a flier at the first starter, and lost 5 . Neither team knew that the series of clues given were all pointing towards the word blue. Thomas Grinyer took the first of what would prove to be a very impressive haul of starters, when he knew that Fianna Fail were the party who were relegated to third in an election in the Republic of Ireland. A full set of bonuses followed on World War II. Daniel Janes lost five for Clare on the next starter, and it was Thomas Grinyer who identified the king being referred to in the question as Henry VII. 2 bonuses followed on words meaning very big. Daniel Janes made up for his earlier mistake by winning the buzzer race to explain that Einstein won his Nobel Prize for his work on the Photoelectric Effect. Only one bonus followed on contemporary reviews of performances by the actor Edmund Keane. Frances Conner took the next starter, identifying Rousseau as the swiss born author quoted. Another full set followed on scientific diagrams. A great UC special followed for the next starter, where anagrams of the titles of a set of books by a particular author were shown. Thomas Grinyer knew that Mame gives you Emma, and that’s Jane Austen. Lovely question. More of the same followed, and they managed one of them. So at the ten minute mark you could only think that Homerton had made a very impressive start. They were clearly winning the buzzer race, and taking a pretty good proportion of the bonuses too. They looked good value for their 80 – 10 lead over Clare, and if things continued like this, then a comfortable win looked on the cards.

Well, things didn’t continue quite like this. Skipper David Murray lost 5 with an early buzz on Home Thoughts from Abroad – the impressively quick Daniel Janes knew it was Robert Browning. Only one of a nice set of bonuses on countries names which may be permissible in scrabble if the spelling is changed – cypress for example. Jonathan Foxwell knew Lamarck, and for the first time Clare had taken two starters in a row. 1 bonus on orchestral conductors was taken. Thomas Grinyer, the most impressive of the Homerton buzzers , hit right back with a set of clues to the number 38 – a fine shout that. One bonus followe don scientific apparatus. My Moment Of The Week came when I identified a little bit of Orpheus in the Underworld by Offenbach, which neither team could manage. Jonathan Foxwell earned that set of bonuses by supplying the name of Vitruvius, and the team managed 2 bonuses on other works based on the Orpheus legend. Thomas Grinyer was unlucky with his next buzz. He offered what sounded like ‘Blunty’ instead of Blighty – but could just have been a slight mispronunciation. Well, JP was having none of it, and 5 points were lost. Neither team got one of those If A is 1 and B is 2 – then what comes next in the sequence ? questions. All I can tell you is that it worked out to be a Fibonacci sequence. David Murray steadied the Homerton ship with the answer of satire for the next starter bringing a couple of bonuses on 17th century generals with it. However Thomas Grinyer again buzzed too early on provinces of Poland, allowing Chris Cao in. A tricky set on artists proved elusive, but nonetheless it had been a good ten minutes for Clare , who had narrowed Homerton’s lead, with the score now at 100 – 70.

Chris Cao made it two starters in a row when he knew that the roman numerals for 501 are an anagram for id. 2 bonuses on Victorian Clergymen were accessible to the team. The second picture starter showed paintings of two historical figures, and the teams had to identify their eldest son. Clare chanced their arm incorrectly, but Thomas Grinyer, back firing on all cylinders, supplied Louis XIV to earn more of the same. They took one of these bonuses. Daniel Janes recognised Recife and Belo Horizonte amongst others as cities in Brazil. With a full set of bonuses on chromosomes the teams were now level. What a good match this was. Daniel Janes took the next starter as well, on a set of people whose initials were G.G. – Gunter Grass being one of them . 2 bonuses followe don Lancaster. Neither team knew that the USA have hosted the Winter Olympics on the most occasions. Thomas Grinyer, again won the race to supply the answer of CAMRA to the next starter. They wanted a full set of bonuses, but could only take one on Booker prize winning novels and locations mentioned in their first sentences. I loved the way that Daniel Janes was so determined to win the buzzer race for the next starter that he almost thumped it through the table to answer the next. It worked, for he recognised a quote on Washington DC. 2 bonuses on chemistry looked a useful return at this stage of the game. Yet again Thomas Grinyer seemed incredibly quick with his buzz to answer that there are 91 days in the first three months of a leap year. 2 bonuses followed on welsh food – they missed bara brith, which is absolutely delicious by the way . There was still nothing in it. Poor Jack Euesden leapt in too quickly for the next starter and lost five, but Clare didn’t know that plasmodium is transferred by the bite of the female anopheles mosquito. I did. I won’t exactly say I did a lap of honour around the sofa at this point, but I don’t know if I’ve ever got a science starter that neither team knew before. How long was left ? It couldn’t be much, but Chris Cao snatched the next starter on Sikhism, and this was enough. At the gong, Clare had shaded a great contest by 170 to 145.

On reflection, I think that Clare probably deserved the win , if for no other reason that their main buzzer – Daniel Janes, had good support from Jonathan Foxwell and Cao, who made good buzzes at significant points of the match. Although all of the Homerton team buzzed in at one point or another, for them it really was all about Thomas Grinyer in this match.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

I didn’t expect a lot . JP is a Cambridge man himself, and I expected him to be rather more benign than usual with both. He was firm but fair with the Papua New Guinea/ Guinea answer. There was just one classic JP moment, though. When pressing one of the teams –
“Can we have an answer now please ? “ his request was met by silence.
“You never listen to me !” he responded, in the tone of a neglected spouse. Great.

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

The angle at which snow is most prone to avalanche is 38 degrees.

Brain of Britain - Round One - Heat 10

Where else should I begin this week’s round up, than with Brain of Britain ? Monday saw the appearance of our own Brian Pendreigh. Brian was also a member of The Tramlines, who defeated the Eggheads on Monday evening. Yes, you wait months for another Brian Pendreigh show to come along, and then two come along at once. On a much more serious note, I would like to extend my condolences to the family and friends of Max Thomson, of The Tramlines, who passed away this week. I never met Max myself, but everyone who did has commented on his skill and enthusiasm as a quizzer, and made a point of saying what a nice person he was.

Moving back to BoB then, Brian was alphabetically third on the list for the show. Roman Dubowski kicked off. He whacked in his first two, and then missed out on the margay – a type of wildcat. Tricky one that, and nobody took a bonus. Brendan O’Connor took his first, but didn’t know that peg and baulk line are terms in croquet. Brian took his own first, but then got a nasty one on trees. I didn’t know that the genus franginus are ash trees, but Roman did. Bringing the round to a close Stever Terry took his first , but didn’t know that Fig Sunday was Palm Sunday. I guess that there was a buzzer race for the bonus, and it was won by Roman – who led with 4 from Brian’s 2. So from the first round we lear5ned that Brian had some serious opposition, and all four of the contestants had answered at least one good question – which is something we haven’t been able to say in every heat this year. Roman again whacked in two answers, but failed on the Sabin vaccine. Again, nobody could take a bonus on the one he dropped. Brendan took his own first, then Brian got caught out with one which he later told me he knew he should have had. Which is the only substance which has a different name for each of it’s forms – solid – liquid – gas. The answer is water, and it gave a bonus to Roman – who looked sharpest on the buzzer at this stage. Steve took a good couple, but missed out on finnock. Brian nearly had a bonus, identifying it as a fish, but not being able to supply sea trout he was denied. Round three saw Roman, who had been eating up the bonuses up to this point, miss out on his own first. He gave Brian a bonus, when Brian knew that Nude Descending a Staircase was by Marcel Duchamp. Brendan took his own first, but gave a music bonus to Roman. Brian took his first, but missed out on martyr John Fisher, and this one was a bonus for Brendan. Finally Steve Terry couldn’t get the Klein Bottle – another bonus to Roman. It was the end of Round Three, and already Roman looked good for the semis having made 10 points before the Beat The Brains interval.

Well, if Roman looked good for the win before round four, he looked a cast iron certainty after it. Five in a row , and a huge lead. Brendan didn’t know that the welsh rider who took a bronze medal in the 1960 Rome Olympics was David Broome – Steve Terry had that one. Brian missed out on Gulliver being the famous passenger on the Antelope- and this one was taken by Roman. Steve Terry didn’t know that Mary Queen of Scots was born in Linlithgow Palace, and this went to Brian. So at this point Brian led the other 2 by 5 to 4 each, but Roman was gone, with 17.

The questions for the Beat the Brains Interval were supplied by former champion Leslie Duncalf . The first – Planet Earth is sometime described as an oblate spheroid – what is the corresponding term for a reverse planet was ungettable for the brains, and also for me at home. It is a prolate spheroid. Whatever you say. For the second - In George Orwell’s 1984 three slogans are written on the Ministry of Truth – 2 were given – what was the third ? Ignorance is strength was the answer, and no, I didn’t know it either.

As for the contest, Roman missed on his own first question, which allowed Brendan in. Brendan took a couple of his own, but inevitably it was Roman who took a bonus on the Bruce clan. Brain missed out on a question on goitre, which gave Steve a bonus. Steve hadn’t had the benefit of seeing last week’s Crossworder’s v. Masterminders Only Connect when the show was recorded, otherwise he’d probably have known that the people of Snotta gave their name to Nottingham. As it was Brendan nipped in for the bonus. Which put him clearly into second with 8, and maybe just gave him the hint of a chance of a run for a repechage place. Roman, possibly in cruise control at this stage, didn’t know the singer Noel Harrison. Steve snapped that one up, thank you very much. Brendan took his first, but Roman nipped in for a bonus. Brian took his first, but his second was the only question I answered which none of the Brains could answer in the show – knowing that another name for a halo in art is a nimbus. Steve Terry missed out on Gorky, and the indefatigable Roman nipped in for it.

Only two rounds remained. Roman took his first, but didn’t know that Willie John McBride was actually christened William James McBride. Steve Terry had that bonus. Brendan took a good three, but I was a bit surprised that he missed out on the chestnutty zygomatic bone – the cheek bone. Roman made no mistake. Brian got an absolutely horrible question about the highest mountain on the border between Macedonia and Albania – unsurprisingly nobody had it. Steve missed out on his own first , and going into the last round, Roman had 24, Brendan had a chance at a repechage place with 12, Steve had 7, and Brian 6. It wasn’t a very high scoring round. Roman , his job well and truly done, took one, but missed out on Richard Rieti. Brendan didn’t know that the cuckoo pint is also called Lords and Ladies. Brian didn’t get that the vacuum cleaner was invented by Mr. Booth – he again knew the answer, but it just didn’t come on the day. Steve took that to cement third place. He missed his own, not knowing that Procyon is the brightest star in Canis Minor. Inevitably it was Roman who took the bonus.

So very well done, Roman Dubowski. He impressed me a s a competitor who certainly has a good chance of contesting the final. If nothing else his buzzer speed will always give him a good chance – Brian himself told me that he felt on several occasions that he must have buzzed more quickly than anyone else, only to find that Roman had beaten him to it.

As for Brian – well, Brian has nothing to prove to anyone. He is an Eggheads winner, a Postcode Challenge winner, and a Mastermind semi finalist who set a massive score in the first round last series. Sometimes on a quiz show things just run against you. It happens to most of us at one time or another. Don’t let it get you down.

The Details

Roman Dubowski – 24
Brendan O’Connor – 12
Brian Pendreigh – 6
Steve Terry - 8

In the News Questions

Here we are – it’s back – the weekly trawl of the news. Answers in a week or so – email me if you can’t wait.

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

1. Francesco Schettino
2. Jon Huntsman
3. Yousuf Gilani
4. Carole Kolar
5. John Burnside
6. Tom Harris
7. Mildred Pierce
8. Abu Qatada
9. Kerry-Jo Te Huia
10. Saeed Ajmal
11. Kim Jong Nam
12. Boris Island
13. Rande Gerber
14. Elly Nowell
15. Godshifteh Farahani
16. Rick Perry
17. Dominica Cemorton
18. Beck Laxton
19. Brian Shivers
20. Gary Streeter
21. Pseudomonas
22. PressTV

In Other News

1. The ferry Costa Concordia was wrecked just off which island ?
2. Which website underwent a voluntary blackout in protest against the anti piracy bill ?
3. On which day did Muhammad Ali turn 70 ?
4. Why has a new species of horsefly been named after Beyonce ?
5. Which car has been recalled due to fire hazard ?
6. Who won an apology from The Sun which wrongly claimed that he had groped a shop girl ?
7. How many of the 6 British singles players lost on the first day of the Australian Open ?
8. Which MP was wrongly accused of leaking Michael Gove’s letter concerning the possibility of a new royal yacht ?
9. Which of the Edinburgh pandas suffered from a bout of colic last week ?
10. Bruno Senna has joined which F1 team ?
11. A vaccine has been developed for the B strain of which disease ?
12. BBC have refused to apologise for Top Gear offending which country ?
13. Who was nominated as the BAFTA Best Actor for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy ?
14. Which two coins are to be made slightly thicker ?
15. In new rules what have been banned form the Royal Enclosure at Ascot ?
16. Which National Park announced that it will be introducing parking charges ?
17. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s next talent searching TV series will be on ITV, and it will seek a star for which musical ?
18. Doubts were raised last week over the effectiveness of which drug ?
19. Which country last week saw it’s urban population exceed its rural population for the first time ever ?
20. Which are the three brands most highly rated by British consumers ?
21. It was revealed that last year London police spend £35,000 on what ?
22. Which respected broadcaster was told that she was ‘too posh’ for the BBC ?
23. Who is the only British player in the UEFA Team of 2011 ?
24. Which large US company filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy ?
25. Which player has made a surprise return to the Welsh rugby squad for the 6 Nations ?
26. Which England player looks set to quit Northampton Saints RFC ?
27. How many hacking lawsuits were settled by News International last week ?
28. Who announced that he will be making an album about the Titanic ?
29. 2nd class stamps will be rising to which price ?
30. Who is Britain’s new unofficial trade envoy ?
31. Which TV series has been accused of damaging Ilkley Moor ?
32. Which singer died aged 73 ?

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Only Connect Special - Crossworders v. Masterminders

The Crossworders v. The Masterminders

I’ve been waiting for this one for some time. I was the stand-in for the Masterminders team, mainly because I live relatively close to the Cardiff studios, so had there been a phonecall due to unforeseen circumstances I could have made it to the studio in time. Being as I wasn’t there, though, I honestly didn’t know what happened in the show.

Fans of the show of course know all about the Crossworders. Ian Bayley, Mark Grant and captain David Stainer, they are the Champion of Champions of Champions. Nuff said. The Masterminders are all Mastermind champs – hence the name, and I’m delighted to say that all of them played in the brilliant Champ of Champs tournament last year. Gavin Fuller, youngest ever champ from 1993, contested that fantastic final, won by the great Pat Gibson. Stephen Allen was the 1991 champ, and Nancy Dickmann, my successor from 2009 was skipper. When talking to Victoria at the start of the show, Nancy did mention that she has beaten Ian before – he was runner up in Nancy’s Grand Final – “Oh no !” I said, from my vantage point on the Clark sofa “ Don’t get them angry , Nancy !” Not that Ian has anything to prove – since 2009 he’s added Brain of Britain 2010, Mastermind 2011, and Brain of Brains 2011 to his trophy cabinet. Enough of such digressions. Let’s get on with the show.

Round One – What’s the Connection ?

Crossworders won the toss, but sent the Ms in. Nancy went for twisted flax, earning the music or sound question. I suspected Venice off the first two, and Gavin thought exactly the same thing. 3 points was duly taken – a great start for my guys. The CWs picked Lion. They played cautiously, taking all four, even though it did seem they had worked out the connection a little earlier. It’s a Boy – Bradman Will Be Batting Tomorrow – Over all of Spain the sky is clear – Climb Mount Niitaka – were all military code signals. So far I was feeling happy, having got both connections. Actually I had a great first round – but I stress that this was not to last. Viper gave the Ms Adder – Possum – Squire – Nottingham. Nancy was on the right lines while they were weighing up the options saying it was something about the words. The only thing I could come up with, which was a guess based on the 2nd and 3rd words, was actually the right answer, as supplied for a bonus by the CWs. They were all originally words which were longer – nadder – opossum – esquire – snottingham. Good bonus that. Water bought up Byrne v. Fischer 1956 – Lindbergh baby kidnap 1932 – Warne bols Gatting Old Trafford 1993 – and this was the one that gave it to me. It gave it to David as well – they all earned the epithet – of the Century. Great set. The Ms took eye of Horus and found Quentin Crisp, Mahmoud Ahmedinajad,Parents of Stephen Lawrence and Marge Simpson. I had no idea. The CWs couldn’t take a bonus either – all presented the alternative Christmas message on Channel 4 at one time or another. Finally Two Reeds gave the CWs a set of pictures, which I , like the CWs , got from the last two – Liberia and Nichelle Nicholls playing Lt. Uhura – both of which mean or derive from words for Freedom. The other two were Saoirse Roman and Slobodan Milosevic. That great shout on the music set was looking crucial for the Ms, as the scores at the end of the round were 3 to the Ms and 5 to the CWs.

Round Two – What’s the Connection ?

Well, after a great first round I’m afraid that my brain went bye byes, and I was just as stumped by ?! - !? - ! as the Ms were. The CWS these are used to denote increasingly brilliant moves in Chess, so the next would be !!. An answer which deserves at least ! . CWs picked Eye of Horus – Kairouan – Al Quds ( Jerusalem ) – and feeling the force was with them went on two with Mecca. They knew that these were the fourth and third holiest cities of Islam, with Medina and Mecca to follow. Great shout. They are not champions for nothing, these guys. Two Reeds brought up some numbers – 355/133 – 333/106 – 22/7 – and straight away Nancy was on to it, as approximations of pi. Nancy offered pi itself – 3.14159 – but the CWs knew that a less accurate approximation was needed – which would be 3/1 – or 3 – same thing. Hard lines on my guys – and no – my brain was in meltdown and I was nowhere with it. Water gave the CWs something I thought I could get – Peru 1982 suggested Javier Perez de Cuellar becoming Sec Gen of the United Nations. So I quickly ran through – Boutros Boutros Ghalli – yes – Kofi Annan – yes – So Ban Ki Moon – which would mean South Korea. But which year ? I plumped for 2007, and earned myself something from the round. Yes, of course the CWs had it off 2 ! Given The Hirsel I hadn’t a clue, but the Ms went off one. They offered Grantham. Ah – I thought – were we talking about titles successive PMs had taken ? But if we were, then they were wrong – as I knew that Maggie T. took Kesteven and not Grantham as hers. The CWs offered Grantham and Kesteven, but Victoria refused, as Grantham isn’t part of it. Twisted Flax remained for the CWs – and pictures. A Michaelmas Daisy – Hilary Swank – An Easter Egg – ( which ruled out my guess ) gave them Trinity – which are terms in the legal year. Good enough to give them a lead of 15 – 3.

Round Four – The Connecting Walls

The CWs kicked off with Lion. They untangled the whole thing – finding Wirral – Trafford – Barnsley Kirklees – a set of Metropolitan boroughs , then – Bolland – Dudley – King – Scardino , who are all chief execs of large companies. The third line was Star – Pennant – Diamond – Rosette – which are all used by the AA to grade restaurants. Finally we had types of flag – burgee – swallowtail – square and oriflamme. A superb performance by a team clearly on the top of their game.

The M’s had the water wall, and they kicked off with Masters of the King’s / Queen’s Musick – Bax – Williamson – Bliss – Maxwell Davies. Mizz – Sugar – Jackie and 19 were all teenage girl’s magazines. Time ran out before they untangled – Felix – Jaz – Ping and Elgar – who are all characters in the Radio 4 sitcom Ed Reardon’s week. Fair enough. Finally Kill – Whoami – Cat and Echo were all Unix commands – again – fair enough.
Going into the last round the Ms had 7 , and the CWs – 25.

Round Four – The Missing Vowels

Well, we saw how the CWs nearly came a cropper on the vowels last week, but they were too far ahead for any chance of this to happen now. The first set was types of glass. Fair play, I had to laugh when they started playing the original version of the late Neil Richardson’s “Approaching Menace “ Mastermind theme in the background. This set fell 2 – 0 to the CWs. The next set was occasions when the National Anthem is played. 3 -1 to the Ms this time , and a dropped point for the CWs. Famous signoffs saw two for the CWs and one for the Ms, with a dropped point for them as well, and then the Mastermind buzzer ended the round. So the M’s finished on 10, and the CWs on 29. As Victoria said, absolutely no shame in losing to the Crossworders. They may be defeated one day, but it’ll take a hell of a team to do it !

University Challenge - Quarter Final Match 3

Worcester , Oxford v. Newcastle

Worcester have already played three matches in the series so far. They lost their first match to Clare, a real nailbiter, but defeated a good St. Andrews outfit in the repechage. Then they survived another nailbiter against Queen’s Oxford in the second round. The team consists of Dave Knapp, Jack Bramhill, Jonathan Metzer and captain Rebecca Gillie. Opponents Newcastle, who comfortably beat Queen’s University, Belfast in Round One had also beaten Birmingham comfortably in round two. Newcastle’s team consisted of Ben Dunbar, Ross Dent, Nicholas Pang and skipper Eleanor Turner. The form guide suggested Newcastle could be the stronger team, but Worcester were certainly battle hardened by this time, and had a habit of keeping their nerve in tight games.

The first starter was taken by Eleanor Turner who recognised various definitions of the word field. Newcastle went on to fail on a set of bonuses on 19th century politics. Ben Dunbar took the next on Elizabeth Taylor. A lovely set followed on deaths caused by a fit of laughter – they managed 2. Brueghel followed, and he was recognised by Eleanor Turner, for Newcastle’s third starter in a row. Three circumlocutions followed, but Newcastle only managed one of them. The next starter was a chemistry question, and this was taken by Jack Bramhill to get Worcester off the mark. Bonuses on Physics proved tricky, but they managed one of them. The picture starter showed a stave showing the playing range of a musical instrument. Jonathan Metzer knew it was the piano. Three more staves followed, but only one was recognised. Chicago by Kander and Ebb gave Jonathan Metzer a double, and this brought up bonuses on Russian novelists. This set brought them 2 bonuses, and a five point lead at the ten minute mark – 50 to 45.

Nicholas Pang took his first starter with the term user – friendly. It wouldn’t be his last. The bonuses which followed were on Trafalgar Square, and all seemed gettable, but they only managed the one. The S.I.Unit of dose equivalent radiation is the Sievert. No, I didn’t know it, but Ben Dunbar did. Three bonuses on artists followed, and they answered one of them correctly. Jack Bramhill knew that the barrel is a type of cactus. The bonuses they were given on punning titles of works of literature brought them another correct answer. This brought us to the music starter – a name the composer question. I couldn’t – neither could Newcastle, nor Worcester. It was Debussy. The next starter asked about the little Ice Age, and Jonathan Metzer won the buzzer race to earn the music bonuses on pieces of music associated with the sea. Worcester’s banker was that Vaughan Williams would be in there somewhere, but he wasn’t. Amazingly I knew two of them. I knew the piece from Scheherezade, and I like Vivaldi very much so I also recognised Tempesta di Mare. Bragging again – sorry. Dave Knapp – very effective on the buzzer in previous matches, but quiet so far, weighed in with his first starter, knowing that the modern name of the Indian sea port whose name is still used for a type of curry is Chennai – from Madras. A set of bonuses on glue followed – a very tricky set I thought. The first one, a science thing, provoked a great comment from one of the team - ‘well this has never come up in Classics !’ Almost worth five points on its own, that comment. One bonus was taken. Eleanor Turner took the next starter on brocade. Three bonuses on Dante followed, and Newcastle managed to answer one of them. This put the teams absolutely level on points. What a good match so far. Nicholas Pang won the buzzer race to answer about a quote from Hemingway on Paris. 1 bonus was taken on straits. Nicholas Pang took a timely double, identifying the University of Berkeley for the next. They managed 2 bonuses on the Chinese classics, which gave them a lead of 125 to 90 at the 20 minute mark.

The last section of the contest kicked off with a picture bonus, but nobody recognised that the figure missing from a painting was St. Peter. Jonathan Metzer recognised a set of words all beginning with neo – to earn the picture bonuses. They identified missing figures from 2 of the paintings and the gap was back down to 15. Nobody knew that the Hunterian Museum is in Glasgow. Jack Bramhill knew that a set of definitions were all linked by words with a double letter i. The set of bonuses that followed were on reworkings of works by Anton Chekov. None were taken – not surprised either. Jack Bramhill took the lead for his team knowing that the meteor shower being asked for were the Leonids. Only one bonus was taken. Dave Knapp leapt in to identify the series of paintings by Hogarth called the Rake’s Progress. This earned bonuses on acids – 2 were taken. You might have forgiven Newcastle, who’d never been put under this kind of pressure in either of their previous matches, for crumbling. Not a bit of it. Captain Eleanor Turner nipped straight in when given a series of dishes all containing aubergine. A1 roads brought them one bonus, but narrowed the gap to a single starter. Jack Bramhill knew that canopic is a word which comes before jar. Shakespeare quotes brought Worcester 2 bonuses. Jack Bramhill took a double, winning the buzzer race to explain the meaning of the acronym STOL. A nice set of bonuses on places that have given their names to bakery products followed. Not much time left, and Worcester had what looked like a winning lead of 50 points by now. The chestnutty – what is sternutation ? - passed both teams by. Nicholas Pang gave his team hope by getting the Tropic of Capricorn. But there was only time for one incorrect bonus before the gong. So, a win for Worcester by 190 to 150. A great match which I thoroughly enjoyed. Alright, both teams were a little profligate with the bonuses, but what the hell. Well played Worcester, but also well played Newcastle. They’re not out of it by a long way yet.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

JP described the labyrinthine rules of the quarter final paly offs as having been devised by “Wittgenstein’s granddaughter”. He was in splendidly curmudgeonly form in the opening, describing Newcastle’s previous two opponents as having handed them victory on a plate, saying that Queen’s Belfast were ‘somnambulists’, and Birmingham were ‘equally dozy’. Having vented his spleen early doors, as it were, he gave both teams a relatively smooth ride, only rather pointedly correcting Eleanor Turner’s pronunciation of Pieter Brueghel.

Interesting Fact I Didn’t Already Know Of The Week

The splendidly named Wilfred the Hairy was once Count of Barcelona.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Brain of Britain - Round One - Heat 9

First to go on Monday was Geoffrey Birmingham. I don’t know if it was just nerves, but the fact that he didn’t know that Marco Polo and Vivaldi et al were citizens of Venice for his first question didn’t fill me with great hopes for his chances. Beverley Davies took that one, but fared no better on her own first question. The heaf test did for her, and it was Peter King who knew it. This brought up his own first question, He took one, but didn’t know that the great Sir Stephen Fry ( alright, he's not actually Sir yet, but surely it’s only a matter of time ) attended Uppingham School. Hated it as I recall. Richard Peterson took that one. He got off the mark, but didn’t know that Jimmy Wales was the founder of Wikipedia. I thought it would be nice if Geoffrey took this one to ensure that everyone was off the mark, and so he did. So with all contenders missing gettable questions it looked as if we might be in for a close contest.

There was no break for the Beat the Brains until after round four. Geoffrey didn’t score through rounds 2 and 3. In fact nobody got one of their own questions right in the whole of round two. Beverly knew that Diaghilev was the director of the itinerant Ballet Russe, and Peter knew that Dickens was describing Kent as a place of cherries and hops – and beautiful young women. In round three we saw Peter begin to make an early bid for the win. He took his own point, and a couple of bonuses, and was probabaly unlucky to get a bit of a snorter about the poet known as the Swan of Usk. Henry Vaughan, since you ask, and no, me neither. Richard too took one of his own, but Peter had daylight, and led with 6 to Richard’s 4. At the start of round four Geoffrey managed to drag himself up by his bootstraps, and took his first two. Beverly took another point from her own first question, but nobody knew her second, that the ball in a game of bar skittles is actually called the cheese. Nobody knew Peter’s first question, that the real life highwayman who was said to be the inspiration for Macheath in the Beggar’s Opera was Jack Shepherd. Who went on to play Wycliffe unless I’m much mistaken. This round saw Peter extend his score to 7, but Richard had closed up to 6. It looked unlikely at this stage that Geoffrey or Beverley would be able to bridge the widening gap.

Credit where it’s due, the brains unscrambled the listener’s questions expertly. The first was - which British politician brought good cheer to a remote part of Scotland in 1941 ? They knew almost at once that we were dealing with S.S.Politician – the wrecked ship that was the real life inspiration for the story and the great Ealing comedy Whiskey Galore. The second question was - which two well known writers supposedly died on the same die in 1616 – why did they not ? Cervantes and Shakespeare died on the same date – but the difference was that between the Julian calendar in England and Gregorian calendar in Spain. Good questions, good answers.

Round 5, and Geoffrey now began to make his move. Two answers on the bounce followed, but again he showed his vulnerability by not knowing that The Moon and Sixpence was the Somerset Maugham book about the artist based on Gauguin. Actually this round was the high water mark for Geoffrey really. He took another two bonuses, which put him level with Richard, and actually ahead of Peter, joint leader of the competition now. On balance you just felt deep down that either Richard or Peter would have too much gas in the tank for him – still, a lucky set of five, and anything could happen.

The first thing that happened was that Peter hit back with two of his own, and a bonus to go ahead of Richard, who only managed one himself. Geoffrey had stalled again. Nobody knew that the Great Wen – used to describe London in days gone by – means a great wart. Again, I was a little surprised that nobody knew the Sunda Strait either. I place a mental bet with myself that we were in for 9 rounds rather than 8 , and I wasn’t to be disappointed. Round Seven was to bring the decisive moments of the contest. Peter picked up bonuses on Geoffrey’s first question , about Elvira Madigan, and Beverley’s first about Manitoba, and looked to be going great guns. Guns which were spiked by his own first, as he didn’t know that the 999 call was first used in the UK in the 30s. Then Richard weighed in with the only full set of the whole competition. They weren’t gimmes, but they were all gettable. Still, a number of gettable ones had been going begging throughout the show, so full marks for holding nerve, and seeing the set out. Suddenly a gap which had never been wider than 2 points was now up to 5, with Richard holding a winning 16 to Peter’s 11. With two rounds still to go, though, Peter could force himself onto the repechage board.

Without wishing to draw things out, Peter couldn’t manage to add to his score. Richard went on collecting the odd point here and there, to finish with a very healthy 19. Geoffrey managed a couple more during round 8, but even though he finished with the psychologically important double figures, it wasn’t quite enough for second. Well, I’ll be honest, I know we’ve still a couple of heats to go, but I certainly wouldn’t like to predict who is going to win this series.

The Details

Geoffrey Birmingham – 10
Beverley Davies – 5
Peter King – 11
Richard Peterson - 19

Monday, 9 January 2012

Sleb Mastermind - Final table

OK - let's remember that all of the slebs taking part were not quizzers, and were doing it for the sake of their charities, and for the fun of doing it - and all deserve applause for that. So this is not intended to poke fun at anyone, but I thought it might be interesting just to see how the slebs in each show did relative to those in other shows.

Neil Dudgeon 29 1
Justin Moorhouse 28 0
Chris Packham 28 3
Miles Jupp 27 1
Jacqui Smith 26 3
Martin Lewis 26 3
Simon Calder 26 6
Dan Walker 25 0
Alex Winters 25 2
Rachel Riley 24 1
JayRayner 24 2
Gary O'Donoghue 24 2
Nathaniel Parker 24 4
Andi Osho 24 4
Jules Hudson 23 1
Simon Day 23 1
Andrew Collins 23 1
Richard Arnold 23 4
Steve Harley 22 3
Sophie Grigson 22 4
Neil Hannon 22 6
Wayne Hemingway 22 7
O.J. Borg 21 3
John Sopel 21 4
Simon Armitage 21 7
Nihal Arthanayake 190
Graeme Hawley 18 6
Michael Vaughan 18 8
Stuart Francis 17 4
Sarah Storey 16 3
Jenny Meadows 16 5
Sandie Shaw 16 6
Anthony Costa 16 6
Jason Manford 15 5
Erin Boag 15 9
Jessica Hynes 13 1
Matthew Hoggard 13 4
Ray Fearon 13 6
Michel Roux Jnr. 12 10
Stacey Solomon 10 2

Sleb Mastermind - Show 10

The last sleb Mastermind of this series has been and gone. So let’s round up what happened, then cast a quick glance over the series as a whole.

First up was Martin Lew-s – the one who knows about money, not the one who used to present “Today’s The Day”. He was answering on the Superman Films. Obviously he meant the Ilya and Alexander Salkind films of the 70s and 80s – there weren’t any questions about the 1940s film serial starring Kirk Alyn, I noticed. It was a round split between questions you needed to have seen the films for, and questions which were just about the whole Superman mythos. I found that 7 of them were easy enough to answer, which was not as good as Martyn, who managed 12 from 13 questions. His charity was the Citizen’s Advice Bureau.

DJ Nihal Arthanayake came next to the chair. I wasn’t all that amused by his ‘comic’ reluctance to take the chair, but I warmed to him when he announced that his specialist subject was Glen Hoddle. For those of us for whom the 1981 FA Cup winning team was ‘our’ team, this was guaranteed to get the blood pumpin . I was pleased with my 9 points, which was actually two points better than Nihal himself managed, although he did at least manage to avoid any passes. His two charities were SOS Children’s Villages International and Action for Children.

Champion Cyclist Sarah Storey was next to go. I have to say that I didn’t fancy my chances with her subject “Sex and The City – The Early Years”. So I was rather surprised that I did manage to get two of the questions right. Sarah outscored Nihal, although her 8 points left her some way behind Martin going into the GK round. She too represented a brace of charities – Boot out Breast Cancer, and The Childrens’ Adventure Farm Trust.

Lastly the man who wrote to Des Lynam telling him that he was after his job, and asking for advice how to get it. True to his nature, Des duly gave him good advice, and years later, he got it. Dan Walker offered us The Gunpowder Plot. History being one of my better subject areas I fancied I might get a few, and get a few I did – 5 to be precise. Dan improved upon Sarah’s score, making 9 with one pass. Decent effort, but at three points behind he’d left himself with some work to do on GK. His chosen good cause was Taste.

Nihal returned to the chair first of all, and he gave a good account of himself, earning 12 points for a total of 19 after a pretty shakey start. I had a good start too – a perfect round. Sarah returned after this. Once again, I had a perfect round with no incorrect answer or passes. Sarah never quite got the measure of the round, and her 8 left her anchored to the bottom. Dan followed, and served us up the best round of the night, and one of the best sleb GK rounds that we’ve seen. He ratrtled off 16 correct answers, which was only 1 point off being a perfect round. More importantly ( to me ) I had my third perfect in a row . Was it possible that I could achieve the personal milestone of getting all of the GK right in a sleb show ?


I had two wrong in Martin’s round. Martin himself had quite a few more wrong. Was it me, or did John seem to have switched into top gear for this round, as he seemed to be rushing through the questions right from the word go. I made it that he got through about 20 questions altogether. Well, whatever the case, it was enough to allow Martin to score the 16 he needed to get his nose over the finishing line. So well done, and well done to all concerned, an enjoyable series as always.

The Details
Martin Lewis Superman FIlms12 - 014 - 326 – 3
Nihal ArthanayakeGlen Hoddle7 - 012 - 019 – 0
Sarah StoreySex and the City – The Early Years 8 - 08 - 316 – 3
Dan WalkerThe Gunpowder Plot9 - 116 - 025 – 1

Sunday, 8 January 2012

The Bank Job Final

Well, I know that a number of us have been keeping an eye on this big budget Channel 4 quiz game. Last night the final was played out live. No, I didn’t watch it at the time, but the younger of my twins, Jess, who’s been turned on to this by her sister informed me this morning that I HAD to watch the final on On Demand. I know when to do as I’m told.

Basically the first three rounds of the final were played out according to the same rules as on the previous five shows – answer a question, pick a box, see how much money you’ve got, if you think you’ve got enough then leave the vault, if not then stay, but make sure that you leave the vault before the end of the round. If you’re the only one left in the vault at the end, then you’re out of the game. If there’s more than one of you in there, then it’s sudden death, and if all of you are out of the vault, then the one with the smallest amount of cash is out.

The difference came when we got down to the last two contestants. There were not more quiz questions, for this endgame was a slight variation on the Share or Shaft/Steal game – pioneered by Robert Kilroy Silk’s ill fated “Shafted” and exhumed to good effect in Jasper Carrott’s “Golden Balls”. The total of money won during the series was announced – something like half a million pounds in this case. Then the two contestants faced a choice. They both had two suitcases. One with cash, the other with trash. The choice was simple – they had to give one suitcase to the other player. If both gave cash, then the prize money was split in half, and both players would get one of these halves. If one of them gave trash, and the other cash, then the one giving away trash would take all of the money. If they both gave trash, then neither would get the money. As I said, the share or steal game. And here’s the variation on the theme – if they both gave trash, then the money would be automatically split three ways between the contestants who’d been knocked out in the earlier rounds of the show.

If you haven’t seen the show yet, and you don’t want to know what happened, then look away now. Of course, you can figure it out for yourself. It’s been known for a long time that the only tactic to use in such a situation is to steal. Basically you cannot be worse off by choosing to steal. If your opponent shares, then you get all of the money, and if your opponent decides to steal, then you were never going to get any money whatever you did, so it makes no difference. I tried to explain this to Jess, who bought into the whole morality tale aspect of it. She was delighted that they both got nothing because they were so greedy. Basically, I told her, the decisions really didn’t necessarily come down to greed at all. In reality each of the two men in the final were given a choice – and it had nothing to do with whether they wanted to get half of the money, or all of the money. Basically, both of the guys in the final were given the choice – do I want the other guy to get it all, or would I be more comfortable with it being shared between the other three people? You have to reckon that your opponent is going to steal. If he doesn’t – happy days, but you have to expect that he will. Mind you both of them looked a bit shocked at the end, but I’d like to think that they had worked out the odds, and decided to steal for the reasons I’ve outlined above, rather than any deluded idea that their opponent would probably share.

Well, as I say, my 17 year old twins loved it. I didn’t mind it either. I do think each show could easily have 15 minutes lopped off it without losing any of the game play – but that’s not going to happen though, is it. If it comes back again I won’t go out of my way to avoid it, but I certainly won’t be making any appointments to watch it either.

Friday, 6 January 2012

Sleb Mastermind - Show 9

There’s just enough time to write up this penultimate sleb show before bedtime, so I’d best get on with it. Politicians don’t have the best track record on sleb MM, so you’d have got decent odds if you’d bet on Jacqui Smith before that start of the show. Jacqui was answering on the Archers radio series since 1980. I have to say she made rather a mockery of my odds as well, since she put in a perfect round – and we’ve seen a few of these this series, to be fair – but scored a massive 14 in the process. That’s good going off a 2 minute round, not a 90 second one. Jacqui’s chosen good cause was Eaves.

Nathaniel Parker, the actor who plays Inspector Linley in the eponymous TV series, was answering on Marx Brothers films. Ah, how nice to hear the name of Margaret Dumont once again. He was answering at a tremendous clip as well, and put on a very good 13 himself, getting the last one after the buzzer with what looked like a lucky guess. Don’t worry Nathaniel, they all count. His charity was Young Epilepsy.

People’s choice, comedian Jason Manford was next into chair. he made no bones about the fact that he felt daunted after the two specialist rounds he had just seen, and even passed on his own name for comic effect. His subject was the TV series Quantum Leap. Remember that one from the 90’s ? It was pretty popular in its time. I watched the first couple of series, but I couldn’t get more than three of these questions. Jason though managed 9, a score which would actually have given him at least a chance in a couple of other shows in this series. Not tonight, though. Jason’s charity was the Children’s Adventure Farm Trust.

Lastly Strictly Come Dancing’s Erin Boag. Erin had the only non-entertainment and rather highbrow subject tonight, the History of New Zealand from 1642 until 1872. Hell of a wide subject there – I thought to myself – full marks for taking something as ambitious as that in a sleb show. She gave it a good old go too, but I’m afraid that bravery only brought so much of a reward, as she managed 6 . Erine was representing Childline.

So a quick return to the chair was in order, and Erin managed to put on 9 by the buzzer, a fair performance. Jason, I’m afraid, looked pretty much out of his depth in his own round. Fair play he at least had a go at answering as many of the questions as he could, passing only on 2, but it really wasn’t his night, and he too ended on 15 points. Nathaniel never looked entirely comfortable, but he passed the psychologically important barrier into double figure, scoring 11 to finish on 24. I say psychologically important. There’s obviously only one point difference between 9 and 10, but ten always looks a hell of a lot more of an ask than 9. Still, 10 and less than 4 passes would do for Jacqui. Like Nathaniel, her round never quite flowed freely, but she was adding the points and that is what it is all about. She passed the finishing line before the buzzer sounded, and added enough to give her 12 points, 26 overall, and a win by 2.

The Details

Jacqui Smith The Archers 1980 – present day14 - 012 - 326 – 3
Nathaniel ParkerMarx Brothers Films13 - 011 - 424 – 4
Jason Manford Quantum Leap9 - 36 - 215 – 5
Erin BoagHistory of New Zealand 1642 - 18726 - 49 - 515 – 9

Mastermind Marathon - Heats 7 and 8

Heat 7

You wait the best part of a month for another Mastermind heat to come along, then two come at the same time. Just half an hour after the end of the 9th show of this series of sleb Mastermind shows as well. Rather too much than not enough, and on that note, let’s get on with the first of our two heats tonight.

In heat 7 the first thing that drew my attention was that John had his old hairstyle, which suggests that the sleb shows were done after these. Fair enough. Retired archdeacon Hughie Jones kicked off the show, and his specialist subject was the Cambridge Apostles. If like me all you knew about the Cambridge Apostles was the connection with the Philby, Burgess Maclean business, then you’ll also have been glad that this came up in one of the questions. Other than that I was struggling. Hughie scored 10, and my first reaction was – very good score . Then I remembered that we were back in real MM, not the Sleb shows. It’s still a decent score, but vulnerable for a SS round.

Sarah Waller, who followed Hughie into the chair, was answering on the subject of the life and work of Antonia Forest. Who, I have to admit, was a new one on me. Antonia Forest was a children’s author, a contemporary of Enid Blyton I guess. I’m sorry to say that I answered precisely none of these. Sarah however managed a good 14 – fantastic off 90 seconds, but still very good off 2 minutes. She was going to be in contention.

Guy Tozer answered on the French Revolution. I’m glad to say that here at last there were at least a few questions which would prove guessable for the generalist – i.e. me. This was another good round – anything in the teens is worth scoring in a 2 minute round. 13 put him one behind Sarah at the halfway stage, and so it really was everything to play for, providing that Jeremy Platt didn’t blow them all out of the water.

Jeremy , who finished off the SS rounds, was the only one of tonight’s first set of contenders whom I know to have previous form, although not in Mastermind. Jeremy was in Ray Eaton’s heat of last season’s Brain of Britain, so he’s not a stranger to the pressure of a top level broadcast quiz. His subject was the Life and Works of Gustav Mahler. he made a pretty decent fist of it too – 11 is certainly not to be sniffed at , even if it did leave him a bit of work to do in the GK rounds.

It’s relatively rare to see a contender suffer from quite the pass hell that poor old Hughie fell into in his round. he just couldn’t get started – and believe me, 2 and a half minutes is an awfully long time when that happens. I counted that he got through 19 questions, of which I managed 16. At the end of the round he had 15 altogether. Jeremy did a bit better. I liked his set a little more, and only missed on one of them. By the end of the round he had added another 8 to take his score to 19. In all honestly you had to fancy both Guy and Sarah to improve upon this total.

Guy went first. He never looked totally at ease, but of the two of them I felt he had a slightly nicer set of questions. He seemed to be answering a lot more quickly than anyone else tonight, as I made it that he got through 21 questions. He managed 11 of them, to set the score at 24. In all honesty I felt that he was probably 3 short of what he needed to go through. Sarah wasn’t answering as quickly , but then she needed just 11 to win outright, and so accuracy was probably more important than speed in her round. In the end she passed the target with a question or two to spare, and managed 12 for a total of 26, and a little daylight between herself and Guy.

The Details

Hughie Jones The Cambridge Apostles10 -25 - 1115 – 13
Sarah WallerThe Life and Work of Antonia Forest14 - 212 - 526 – 7
Guy TozerThe French Revolution13 - 211 - 524 – 7
Jeremy PlattThe Life and Works of Gustav Mahler11 - 38 - 519 – 8


Heat 8

No time to draw breath, for the second heat of the night was already upon us. Eric Banks began with a rather wide subject , the major battles of World War II. Without reigniting our whole debate over the accessibility or otherwise of the specialist rounds, this was a round which I found really accessible – you didn’t have to be an expert to do rather well with these. I’m no expert on world war II, but I managed 11. So under these circumstances I’m glad that Eric managed to get into the teens with 13 points.

I quite fancied my chances with the second specialist subject as well. Nick Reed was answering on English League Football Grounds. It’s a good few years since I read Simon Inglis’ excellent book , but enough had stuck . Again, anyone with an interest in football who is over 30 had a decent chance with quite a few of these, and for the second time in the evening I managed double figures – this time scoring 10. Nick managed a fine 15 himself.

Now, our third contender tonight was , by any standards, a Mastermind veteran. Before tonight, Mel Kinsey had contested the first round of Mastermind three times before, in 1995, 2004 and 2009. He had twice contested semi-finals, in 1995 and 2009, and he had once contested the final , in 1995 – where he was runner up to none other than Mr. Kevin Ashman. I’ve said before that experience does count for a bit in mastermind, and so you wouldn’t have been blamed for putting your money on Mel before the start of the show. Offering us Watergate and the Fall of Richard Nixon , Mel managed 12. This gave him a 3 point deficit to make up, but with 2 and a half minutes for GK he was certainly not out of it.

The satirical works of Juvenal were our final specialist subject tonight, and they were what we were offered by Derek Walker. Being unfamiliar with the works – we studied Caesar and Ovid for my latin O Level, and that was enough – I was happy enough to have my one guess come off , and to take the point and run. Derek managed 10 points – nothing to be ashamed of, but not enough to really give him a shot at winning.

Derek returned to the chair to kick off the GK rounds. His eleven was a battling performance. By way of comparison I found these rounds about 2 points harder than the rounds in the previous show, but yes, I do know that it’s all in the eye of the beholder. They’re all easy if you know them , etc. etc. Mel followed, and what was needed was a real statement of intent. Unfortunately Mel struggled a bit with this - and I scored one point less on this than I did on the previous round – 15. Mel added 10 points to set the target at 22, but even being optimistic you had a strong feeling that this was not going to be enough.

There was hope given in Eric’s round. though. His progress towards the target, steady at first, became more tortuous as the round went on. He had his 9 for 22 with a question to go, but a pass on the last meant that he stayed on 22, with more passes than Mel had. Could he really win a place in his third semi? Well, no. Nick took a little time to pick up speed, but when he did he made no mistake. He powered through the target, and went on adding points until the end of the round, where he finished with 14, which gave him a combined total of 29. Well played !

The Details

Eric BanksMajor Battles of World War II13 - 19 - 722 – 8
Nick ReedEnglish League Football Grounds15 - 014 – 329 - 3
Mel KinseyWatergate and the Fall of Richard Nixon12 - 210 - 422 – 6
Derek WalkerSatirical Works of Juvenal10 - 111 - 321 – 4

Highest Scoring Runners Up

John Marshall – 31- 5
Simon Spiro – 27 - 5
Susan Holmes – 25 – 1
Jeff Grimshaw – 25 – 4
Peter Royle – 25 -5
Hannah Coates – Isabel Morgan – 24 – 5