Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Only Connect - Semi Final One - Oenophiles v. Board Gamers

Right, then. The vaunted form guide suggested that the undefeated Oenophiles should defeat the battling Board Gamers with a little bit left in the tank, and go through to the expected final against the Lasletts. The Philes, Didier Bruyere, Scott Dawson and Jamie Dodding had defeated the Science Editors, and then the Bakers. The Board Gamers, Hywel Carver, our own Michael Wallace and skipper Jamie Karran, on the other hand had seen off the Globetrotters before losing to the Lasletts, then seeing off the Science Editors - beaten in their own first round by the Oenophiles. Small world. Let’s see what actually happened.

Round One – What’s the connection?

The Gamers won the toss, and decided to put the Oenophiles in first, which may actually have been a masterstroke as it turned out. Lion netted the Philes music, and I picked out the second – Pachelbel’s Canon, and the last , Zadok the Priest. Hence ranks of the clergy. The Philes came in early on the third clue, and without Zadok they opted for football managers, udue to a misidentification of the Smith’s song Vicar in a Tutu as Frankly Mr. Shankly. This allowed in the Gamers who took the bonus. Jamie opted for Eye of Horus, and received The Laytons in India 1942 – Hollywood in Depression – Plot to Assassinate De Gaulle. Here I would think many people had the answer – the last so obviously being Day of the Jackal. I guessed that the first would be The Day of The Scorpion from Paul Scott’s Raj Quartet, although didn’t know the Hollywood one – the Day of the Locust. The Gamers had it from the last clue – Carniverous Walking Plants. Triffids. Now, I really enjoyed the shirt set last week. Here we had another shirt set. The first showed a blue shirt with Ireland – the second a green with Romania on it. I didn’t get it until the next – a black one with Italy on it. Fascist movements and their shirt colours, and the countries they operated in occurred to me about the same time as it did to the Philes. First points on the board, and the match was under way. Twisted flax offered the Gamers H1N1 – swine flu, I shouted, but it didn’t help me, since Leeloo, the Fifth Element came next. I saw that , in my opinion, rather tedious film a while ago, but it didn’t help. With time running out Jamie offered an ingenious, although wrong, answer, but this just gave the final two clues – LSD and Frankenstein’s Monster. They didn’t get it. They are all things that have escaped from laboratories, apparently. Fair enough. Water gave the Philes - de Bono’s thinking manager – England Test Cricketer – and here I was still nowhere near. The Philes might well have benefitted from taking just one more clue as they came in with different coloured caps, which just wasn’t quite there. The Gamers were given the last two clues – UN peacekeeper and Noddy. This made it obvious that we were indeed looking at headgear, but all of them were blue. Bonus duly taken. The Horned viper revealed for the Gamers the Japanese tradition of hanami – Lester Burnham dreams – and I knew that this was the name of Kevin Spacey’s character in “American Beauty”, which conjured up pictures of the girl covered in rose petals. Beauty and the Beast comfirmed the falling petals motif, as did the British Legion Festival of Remembrance. The rather woolly – flowers – is Lester Burnham in American Beauty – was taken as an answer. Well, the Philes were given a second stab at blue hats, I suppose. It was significant too, since every point could be crucial later on. The Gamers, then, had for the second game in a row won the opening round, and led by 4 – 2. The Philes could reflect that on two of their answers they had just been a little bit headstrong. All to play for.

Round Two – What comes fourth?

Now, I think we all knew what the next sequence behind Twisted Flax was, for the Philes. Passed on – No more – made it look very like the Parrot sketch, which indeed it was. Playing a little more carefully than before the Philes took the next – ceased to be. However neither they, nor the Gamers, nor I correctly picked that the next description of the parrot is Expired ( and gone to meet its maker) I went for Bereft of Life it rests in peace. Easy connection, but there are so many possibilities as to what the next item could have been as to make it very tricky. Especially since Expired and gone to meet its maker is not, for me, one of the most memorable images. It might have been about this time that the Philes started to get the idea that this just wasn’t going to be their night. Jamie courted disaster by forgetting to voice the second syllable of Horned in horned viper, but this gave them 5 cards: city. Now, I thought that this sounded like the game Settlers of Catan – which I’ve never played but have read about in Dave Gorman Vs. The Rest of the World. Trouble is, though, it didn’t give me a clue what 2: would be. 4 cards: Settlement followed, and Hywel answered that the last would be 2 cards: Road. That was right, and if the Gamers were lucky that a game fell to them, well, that’s the way that things work out sometimes. Just as things weren’t running for the Philes, they were running for the Gamers. 2 Reads brought a set of pictures for the unlucky Philes – a commodore 64 keyboard – a woman in a dress saying The Devil Wears Prada – an 8 track cassette. The Philes really weren’t close, and the Gamers were thinking numbers, but the wrong ones. So we had 64 – 27, from the film 27 dresses ( me neither) 8, which are, or couse, cubed numbers. So 1 was the answer. Lion gave the games pictures – with numbers as they would appear on a calculator screen – which gave us 90210 →25 – 25 →10 – 10 →8. It was Michael who worked out that this was to do with the number of segments in each of these numbers, so the last would be 8 →7. Great shout right on the buzzer. Water gave the Philes Triwizard Tournament Selector / Obviously the Goblet of Fire, but were we going up or down? No chance for a five pointer there. The second though – Anti Voldemort Organization made it clear that all the Philes needed to do was to define the Deathly Hallows. Trouble was, they couldn’t. They knew it was the Hallows, but not what they actually were. The Gamers knew the cloak, the stone and the wand, and took the bonus. Victoria was quite a while explaining why the Philes couldn’t have the point there, and she had a point, but even so the Philes were only having two kinds of luck in this show – bad luck, and no luck. Eye of Horus gave the Gamers B; Farming Profits – C: Public Annuities – D: Profits from Trade or Profession. Again, with almost no time left, the Gamers buzzed in with E:Salaries – well, they did say salaries after being given another go. Which was enough to give them a highly commanding lead of 12 – 2, and even Victoria felt the need to comment on how unlucky the Philes had been.

Round Three – The Connecting Walls

The Lion Wall really did no favours for the Gamers at all. They could see a set of anti prizes, but they wouldn’t resolve for ages. They also saw that there were a set of Els – Cid etc., but again, couldn’t seem to get the right ones. They never really saw a set of locations on the Falklands Islands , or a set of people with the surname Gibbons. Finally the prizes emerged with Turnip – IgNobel – Pigasus- Golden Raspberry. That was it, though. When it was resolved Salvador – Goose Green – Darwin and Douglas they did not get as locations on the Falklands, nor did they get the Gibbons – Stanley – Grinling – Orlando and Stella, although not Funky, sadly. The Els they did get, and these were Libertador – Cordobés – Cid and Greco. The Gamers had done well to make their lead, and they would certainly have a lead going into the last round. However 3 points meant that the Philes could eat into it significantly.

I fancy they might have done if they’d had the Lion Wall. The water wall didn’t suit them as well, though. Eventually they sorted out a set of reports – Franks – Wolfenden – Hutton and Taylor – then they saw a set of servants, of words for a cup of tea, and right at the death, characters from Gone With the Wind. But crucially they didn’t untangle any of them. When resolved Butler – Wilkes – O’Hara and Hamilton were from Gone with the Wind, and Valet – Footman – Char and Nanny were the domestic servants. This left rosie – stroupach (!) – brew and cuppa. This gave the 5, but even so the score was still 15 – 7 to the Gamers, and with the best will in the world it was going to take an unbelievable vowels round to bridge that gap.

Round Four – Missing Vowels

The first category was Scandinavian TV series. Any remote chance that the Philes had went up in smoke as the Gamers took it by 3 – 0. Merged singer songrwriters – eg James Taylor Swift – was a lovely OC special set, and this one went 3 – 1 to the Gamers. Concepts in Mathematics went 3 – 1 to the Gamers. The works of Édouard Manet gave just time for another point to the Philes, and that was the end of the show. A 24 – 10 win for the Gamers, was, without wishing to do anyone a disservice, something of an upset. The Oenophiles had suffered some very bad luck in the first couple of rounds, but even so on the night the Gamers were good value for their win. Well played gentlemen!

Well, it just goes to show that anything can happen, and any team is capable of beating any other on their night. It does however set up the intriguing possibility that the Board Gamers might well end up playing the Lasletts once again in the final. If we look at next week’s show, The Lasletts are up against the Bakers. Now, the Bakers are a team of good battlers, but they have not shown the kind of all-round knowledge that the Lasletts have in their two matches. They were comfortably beaten by the Oenophiles, and only just managed to beat the Globetrotters on a tie break. The Lasletts on the other hand beat the Pilots in a close match in their first, and then comfortably beat the Board Gamers in their second. So the most likely final on paper is actually a re-run of that match. Which is not to say that the Bakers can’t win, but I’m sticking my neck out and going for the Lasletts.


Watergrass Jon said...

Some very silly comments about conspiracies on Twitter and various forums concerning the Board Gamers - I just think they got every break in this episode. Like winning with a deflected goal and a soft penalty. DavidB has rightly pointed out that you can't edit all the questions in a show to take out anything that either team might know something about - dem's da breaks, but some online wingnuts just can't accept that. It's a light-hearted BBC4 quiz show - get some perspective!

btw that was another of my many, many (well 2)shirt questions.

Londinius said...

The Board Gamers got the rub of the green, yes. But they also played a smarter game than the Oenophiles in the first couple of rounds. I remain convinced that twice the Oenophiles came in too early , and with the benefit of another clue would have had the answer, and prevented the bonus. Which would not have enabled them to win, but at least narrowed the gap.

People have got short memories. The Gamers are not the first team ever to get one set that matches one of their declared interests, nor will they be the last. It is inevitable.

I think that Jamie D's comments on the Facebook Quiz Discussion group put the whole thing into perspective. He makes the point that the Gamers were worthy winners. Nuff said.

Michael said...

Hi David, thanks for your kind words (and a rather more measured assessment of the game than I've seen in some quarters!). I've been waiting to see what sort of reaction this result would provoke for some months, but I'll admit some of the comments (particularly from the more serious quizzing community) have taken me by surprise!

You may have already seen it on the Facebook group, but if not (and if it's of interest) I've tried to summarize the game from our perspective over on my blog (here's hoping that HTML works...).

Andrew B. said...

Nice walls, I thought; was surprised that neither team got more than one group out.

I can see why "deathly hallows" wasn't accepted, but it didn't seem very consistent with some earlier adjudications (e.g. allowing "flowers" for "falling petals"!)

And to be honest, I know it's happened before, but I can't see why it'd be so hard to avoid having questions based around a team's *stated* connection when it's as specific as this one (as opposed to avoiding anything they happen to be experts on) - I'd have been very surprised if we'd had a question based around The Archers...

All that said, anyone who says that a team who won 24-10 were just lucky, or that their opponents were robbed, is obviously talking nonsense.

Watergrass Jon said...

So for the team called "History Boys" there should be no questions about History? And the Airline Pilots - surely geography questions should be removed? Where do you draw the line? If this was policy, it would better if temas didn't mention *any* of their specialised knowledge, just in case a question touched upon it.

opaltiger said...

To me it seems completely absurd to edit the questions based on which teams are playing, and moreso to (as David Stainer suggested) only do it if the team name is sufficiently specific. I don't think there's any way you could possibly formulate a consistently fair policy about it.

Furthermore, the application form specifically asks each contestant to list their strengths. Should questions about those be excluded? Of course not. If anything, those strengths are a much better indication of what the team is actually good at than the team name, which is often rather contrived. The only real difference here is that the team name is public knowledge. It seems to me that the sentiment here is less about making it fair and more about making it look fair. But that's only an issue of you have reason to think that the show itself might be biased against one team and I should certainly hope that we have more trust in the production team than that. By far the fairest solution is a random selection of questions for each match (beyond the necessary broad balancing to ensure no subject is overrepresented).

On a side note, I saw this issue compared to my Slovenia starter on UC the other week, the argument being that such a question should never have been asked when a Slovenian player was present. This isn't strictly relevant, but having nowhere else to do so I thought I would reply briefly. The exact same reasoning applies here, I think. Me being asked a Slovenia question is no different than someone from a particular English county being asked a question about that county. The question sets are already hugely biased towards British topics (and thus foreign players are already at a large disadvantage), so attempting to make it "fair" by removing questions is silly.

All this assumes that the question isn't overly specific, of course. A question which only one particular team (or one particular player) could reasonably be expected to answer shouldn't be written in the first place. But clearly that wasn't the case. Anyone who knows the first thing about board games will have played Settlers at some point, and the Oenophiles have said they'd have got it for 5. If the question had been asked to them, I wager no one would have blinked twice.

Watergrass Jon said...

I couldn't agree more. Great comment.