Sunday, 28 April 2013

How many hours to make a Competitive Quizzer?

I’ve just finished reading a remarkable book called “Bounce – The Myth of Talent and the Power of Practice” by former Commonwealth Games Table Tennis gold medalist Matthew Syed. If you haven’t read it, can I recommend it to you? It’s a fascinating exploration of the idea that some people are just naturally able, and that without the right combination of genes we call natural talent, for want of a better term, you can’t reach the highest standards in your chosen field. Matthew Syed makes a very convincing case that this is actually untrue. Without wanting to spoil the book for anyone, he examines some of what we might think of as incredibly gifted performers – if not geniuses – such as Tiger Woods and Mozart to give two disparate examples, and proves that the pair of them were in fact the products of practice.

I am gradually driving towards a point. The book cites the magic figure of 10,000 ( that’s ten thousand!) hours of purposeful practice being necessary to gain mastery . Now, I don’t claim for one minute to be a master quizzer – I’m certainly not that – but I was intrigued enough to start trying to work out roughly how many hours I’ve spent quizzing. I began playing in quizzes in 1988. That’s 25 years. However I stopped for pretty much a year in 1993. For my first stint I wouldn’t say that I averaged playing in more than 1 quiz a week, of an average length of an hour and a half. Allowing for a couple of weeks per year when I wouldn’t play, that means that for my first five years of quizzing I wouldn’t have spent more than 375 hours in quizzing. I only played a couple of quizzes in 1994. Then in 1995 I started playing for a team in the Neath Quiz League, and I played in my first quiz in the rugby club. My guess is that if you offset the weeks I only played in one quiz against the weeks I played in three quizzes, I’d say that there have been more of the latter than the former, so an average of 2 quizzes a week for the last 18 years is probably a little conservative. Still, working on this, then an hour and a half per quiz, 2 quizzes per week, and 50 quizzing weeks a year gives me a figure of 2700. Added to my first figure, that’s slightly more than 3000 hours.

Ah, but it isn’t just about playing in quizzes, is it? For the last 18 years I have compiled the quiz for the club at least once a month. In fact it probably averages out at about 15 a year over this period, since there have been years when I was doing it every other week for much of the year. It takes about 3 hours to put a quiz together for the club. So that gives us another 810 hours. Right. Let’s add on 20 minutes every day compiling news questions. I’ve been doing this for 2 years now, so that makes about 240 more hours. Mastermind Revision comes into play too. I would say that a conservative estimate would be 2 hour’s practice per day for and average of 6 weeks for each subject. I learned 6 subjects ( I answered on 5, but also learned one as stand in for the Champion of Champions final) So that’s another 504 hours. How’s the total looking ?

375+
2700
810
240
504
______
3929 hours
_______

Not even halfway. OK, so there have been other times that I’ve set out to learn things for quizzes, but never in a really systematic manner, and if it added up to 1000 hours over 20 years I’d be surprised. Still, let’s say that.

What about time spent watching TV quizzes? At the moment I watch about 7 quizzes, which works out at 3.5 hours per week. Even if we say that has been an average for the last 25 years – which it hasn’t, since there are weeks and even months when I’ve gone without watching any – even if we do say that, then it works out as 4550. What does that do to the total?

375+
2700
810
240
504
1000
4550
______
9479 hours
_______

Which I am sure you’ve worked out means that although I’ve spent just over a year of my lifespan quizzing, I still haven’t quite reached the magic 10,000 hours practicing. Ah, but it’s worse than that. Since the 10,000 hours of practice only works if it is PURPOSEFUL practice. Practising things you can already do is relatively worthless. Therefore any time spent watching a TV quiz where you already know 99.99% of the answers is no help whatsoever. So all those hours of watching “The Weakest Link” and “Blockbusters” can be wiped off my total for a start. In fact, a large number of the hours in my total would have to be wiped out, being of limited value in making me into a better quizzer.

I say all of this with my tongue slightly in my cheek. After all, I’m sure with most, if not all of us, while we’d like to get better, the main purpose of playing in the quizzes, and watching the shows, and making the quizzes has been the enjoyment we get from it. It does get you thinking though. I don’t know if you ever watched the old Channel 4 show “Faking It” but I often thought it would have been interesting if they’d taken a complete quiz novice, with an average general knowledge, and seen how quickly they could turn them into a competitive quizzer, using specific teaching and learning techniques, and intensively targeting certain quiz topics and areas of knowledge. If any production company out there would like to discuss the idea with me further – well, you know how to contact me.

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Answers to previous news questions

In the News

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


1. John Sweeney
2. Mark Burnett and Roma Downey
3. Redoine Faid
4. Nicolas Maduro
5. Adam Scott
6. “The Orphan Master’s Son”
7. James Harding
8. Raymond Voet
9. Connor Doran – Brandon Doran – Simon Evans
10. Marcus Campbell
11. Tim Brabants
12. Pig 26
13. Solo
14. Chris Holmes
15. Gov.uk
16. Peter Stead
17. Jean Claude Mas
18. Sativa Halappanavar
19. Black Caviar
20. Opempipo Jaji
21. Marin Alsop
22. Storm Thorgeson
23. Jiroemon Kimura
24. Tamerian Tsarnaev

In Other News

1. What happened at the Five Sisters Zoo in West Calder?
2. Which position did Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead reach in the BBC chart last week?
3. What were banned in Venice last week?
4. What was the score in the Man City v. Chelsea FA Cup semi final last week?
5. Which club was relegated from the English RU Premiership last week?
6. Who won the Chinese GP?
7. What was revealed as the most played song of 2012?
8. Which honour was granted by Parliament for the Margaret Thatcher Funeral?
9. Which multiple Olympic Gold Medalist announced his retirement from competition last week?
10. Who accused John Humphrys, Jeremy Paxman, and modern political interviewers for being too aggressive?
11. Who was the caddy of the winning golfer in the US Masters?
12. An application was rejected to open the first what in India
13. What are the christian names of Margaret Thatcher’s grandchildren?
14. In which country was there a 7.8 magnitude earthquake?
15. What was the score in the Arsenal v. Everton match?
16. Cardiff City achieved promotion to the Premier League through a 0-0 draw with which team?
17. The boss of which company admitted that they had exploited a loophole to pay virtually no tax for the last three years?
18. Thursday 18th April was the 75th birthday of whom?
19. Which Commonwealth country legalized same sex marriages last week?
20. How many mourners attended the Thatcher funeral in st. Paul’s?
21. what was the score of Man Utd. v. W. Ham?
22. What was the score between Chelsea and Fulham
23. Which revelation concerning Lance Armstrong was made by the UCI last week?
24. What was the score between Man City and Wigan?
25. Which sporting figure celebrated his 80th birthday last week?
26. Who is Worcester’s new Director of Rugby?
27. Who paid a visit to Londonderry last week?
28. Where did the fertilizer plant explosion occur last week?
29. It was announced that Prince Harry will be joining a team of disabled servicemen to undertake which challenge?
30. Sanctions against which country are to be lifted by the EU?
31. John Terry refused to shake whose hand last week?
32. Which former England cricket captain passed away aged 72 last week?

Answers

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


1. Reporter who made the Panorama report in North Korea with LSE students
2. Sunday Times list Britain’s richest movie couple
3. Armed robber who escaped jail in Lille
4. New president of Venezueal
5. First Australian man to win the US Masters
6. Novel that won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction
7. New Director of BBC News – previously with News International
8. US Judge who fined himself when his mobile phone went off in court
9. Teenagers jailed for kicking homeless Kevin Bennett to death
10. Ronnie O’Sullivan’s opening opponent in world snooker championship
11. 2008 Beijing canoe gold medalist announced retirement
12. Pig produced through gene editing – immune to swine flu
13. Next James Bond novel – to be written by William Boyd
14. He wrote his letter of resignation to Stansted airport on a cake
15. Website which won Design Museum Design of the Year Award – beating the Olympic Stadium
16. Conman claiming to be Peter Kay’s brother
17. Founder of PIP on trial in France over the faulty breast implant scandal
18. Dentist who died because she was refused an abortion in Ireland
19. Mare which retired unbeaten after winning 25 races
20. Jailed for raping 11 year old, after not being placed on Sex Offenders Register after a previous offence
21. Appointed to become first woman to conduct on the Last Night of the Proms
22. Designer of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon album cover, passed away this week
23. Oldest man ever – turned 116 last week
24. Boston Bombing suspect shot dead

In Other News

In Other News

1. A fire
2. 2
3. Motorboats
4. 2 - 1
5. London Welsh
6. Fernando Alonso - Ferrari
7. Domino – Jessie J
8. Big Ben was silenced for the suration
9. Sir Chris Hoy
10. Sir Jimmy Young
11. Steve Williams – former caddy of Tiger Woods
12. Playboy Club
13. Michael and Amanda
14. Iran
15. 0 - 0
16. Charlton Athletic
17. NPower
18. Superman – created in 1938
19. New Zealand
20. 2,300
21. 2 - 2
22. 3 - 0
23. He failed 4 drugs tests in 1999, and claimed it was through using a product on saddle sores
24. 1 - 0
25. Dickie Bird
26. Dean Ryan
27. Dalhai Lama
28. West, near Waco, Texas
29. Skiiing to the South Pole
30. Burma
31. FA Chairman David Bernstein
32. Mike Denness

News Questions

In the news

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

1. Alisher Usmanov
2. John Cherry
3. To Be Loved
4. Giorgio Napolitano
5. Branislav Ivanovic
6. Tsegaye Kebede
7. Prisgah Jeptoo
8. Michael White
9. Parsons School of Design – New York city
10. Mark Davis
11. DNP
12. Eric Toth
13. James McCormick
14. Chris Gayle
15. The Look of Love
16. Danny Cohen
17. Sarah Stevenson
18. Caxirola
19. Enrico Letta
20. Duncan Larcombe
21. Jo Johnson MP
22. Moulton Paddocks
23. Caroline Banana
24. Robert Milkins
25. Marcus Wareing
26. Irfan Naseer


In Other News

1. What was the score in the Spurs v. Man City match?
2. What happened to panda Tian Tian in Edinburgh last year?
3. Who defeated Nadal in the final of the Monte carlo Masters?
4. Who won the SPL?
5. What was the score in the Liverpool v. Chelsea match?
6. Which team won the Championship after having qualified for the Premier League the previous week?
7. Who were the top 3 in the Bahrain GP?
8. Which Brit was 4th in the Bahrain GP?
9. Poor harvests have halted the production of which breakfast cereal?
10. GB lost a play off for the world group in the Fed Cup to which team?
11. what was the score in the Man Utd. v. Aston Villa match?
12. How many League titles has Sir Alex Ferguson won with Man Utd.?
13. Which Hollywood actress was arrested for disorderly conduct?
14. Which film topped the Time Out poll of the most romantic films of all time?
15. Who was controversially overlooked for the position of the chairman of Sport England?
16. ITV were criticized for excessively promoting what on the Alan Titchmarsh show?
17. Who last week offered to pay just a quarter of his trial costs?
18. The search for whom was officially called off last week?
19. Which two teams will contest the University Challenge final on Monday?
20. Who said GCSE Maths is too easy after sitting the paper and getting A*?
21. Which European country’s parliament gave its final approval to the Gay marriage bill?
22. How many of Mahmood al Zarroni’s horses tested positive for steroids?
23. The government appeal was rejected over what?
24. Ritchie Havens who passed away last week was famously the first act on what or where?
25. Lushan was hit by an earthquake last week – in which country?
26. what was the score in the Bayern Munich v. Barcelona European Champions League semi final? 27. Which large union is balloting members about a strike? 28. Who was re-arrested over sexual allegations last week?
29. A factory supplying which retailer collapsed in Bangladesh last week?
30. Which car topped a UK motorists satisfaction poll last week?
31. Who announced that they will split after a farewell tour in December
32. Which Hollywood actor announced he was taking part in the £1 a day food challenge?
33. How many games has Luis Suarez been suspended for ?
34. Last week which welsh legend was added to the British and Irish Lions coaching team?
35. What was the score in the Borussia Dortmund v. Real Madrid Champions League match?
36. Which D Day beach has been omitted from a French D Day tourism campaign?
37. The US Justice Deartment have launched legal proceedings against which sportsman?
38. A UN peacekeeping force has been approved for which African country?
39. Which has been voted Britain’s best University for Quality of Life?
40. On whose tour bus were drugs found in Sweden?
41. What was the score in the Europa League match between Chelsea and Basle?
42. What punishment was handed to Mahmood al Zarooni ?
43. Which rugby player suffered only minor injuries after being hit by a bus during a pub crawl?
44. who was charged by the CPS on 11 counts of Indecent assault?
45. Who will feature on the new £5 note?

University Challenge - Semi Final 2

University of Manchester v. University of Bangor

The penultimate show of the series, this, and an interesting match up. Both teams, Manchester and Bangor, were beaten in the quarter finals by UCL, who have already booked their place in next week’s Grand Final. I’ll be honest , I couldn’t pick a winner with any confidence. The team of David Brice, Adam Barr, Debbie Brown and skipper Richard Gilbert have had a lot to live up to this year, since Manchester are the reigning champions, at least for another few days. However they would have to overcome a very tough test, since the battle hardened Bangor team of Adam Pearce, Mark Stevens, Simon Tomlinson and Nina Grant are the team who gave UCL what has probably been their hardest match of the series so far. Enough of the preliminaries – let’s get cracking.

First blood went to Manchester on the King James Bible. David Brice took that one. The first set of bonuses were on Bowring, and they took one of them. Debbie Brown knew that Oscar Wilde’s tombstone has recently been placed behind glass to prevent lipstick erosion. H.L.Mencken brought them two more correct answers. Something about heating gases came next, but nobody was able to take it. David Brice had it at 273 degrees. So Manchester’s third set of bonuses were on thermometers. One was taken. Wilkie Collins’ “The Woman In White” saw Nina Grant open Bangor’s account. Bonuses on quotes from Henry James about other works of Literature and writers brought one bonus. Richard Gilbert buzzed in well to take the picture starter, identifying the flag of the Central African Republic. Other African five colour flags were given as bonuses, and they missed out on Zimbabwe. Nobody took the next starter, asking for EU member state Estonia. Stevens knew that a capella is the term that means in the chapel style. Bonuses on artists of album covers brought them another 5 points. It had been a brisk opening to the show, and Manchester had certainly had the best of the first ten minutes, leading by 65 to 30. Still, the main thing for Bangor was that they had managed two starters, and were less than two full sets behind.

Autonomic system gave Debbie Brown the next starter. Paradoxes were the subject of the next set of bonuses. I had one while Manchester missed them all. Simon Tomlinson took his first when he supplied the name of two former dictators of Haiti, Duvalier. Organic chemistry promised me little, and delivered less, ie. nothing. Bangor couldn’t answer on reagents either. A lovely UC special followed, where the teams were asked for the chemical element, denoted by the symbol which was used as the two letters at the start of a number of words. The letters were – au – and Simon Tomlinson won the buzzer race to say that this would be gold. Meso-American pre-Columbian civilisations gave another ten points, and they were now only 15 points behind. Our own Adam Pearce took ten of these points out of the lead by identifying a bar or two of Mozart for the music starter. They were given three more composers to identify, and the two they did gave them the lead. Game on! Richard Gilbert took the next starter, and the lead, with the answer Charles I from a quote about an English king. Computer languages gave them the chance to build a little buffer, but only one fell to them. Something about pi ( or was it pie? ) came next, but passed both teams by. Not surprised. Adulterine Castles under King Stephen saw Simon Tomlinson buzz in too early, allowing Richard Gilbert in to earn bonuses on French Magazines. One was taken. A great question followed – what number do you arrive at if you multiply the titles of Adele’s two albums? 19 x 21 =399. Amazingly I had it, but neither of the teams did. Mind you I wasn’t under pressure in a hot studio at the time. Nobody knew the German philosopher who had a fake Twitter feed set up in his name. Which brought us to the 20 minute mark. Despite the way that the lead had changed hands twice in the last few minutes, Manchester’s 35 point lead remained the same at this stage, as they had scored 105 to Bangor’s 70. Honours even for the mid section then, and all still to play for.

Simon Tomlinson buzzed too early on the next starter, and Adam Barr knew that elephant’s tusks are really overgrown incisors. Some Maths things followed. I didn’t get it, but they managed 2, the first of which seemed to impress our Jez. Nobody recognized a painting of Hercules for the second picture starter. Richard Gilbert buzzed too early on the next starter, allowing Simon Tomlinson to supply the correct answer of the Martin Luther King monument in Washington DC. Hercules paintings carried over from the previous starter were offered, but Bangor couldn’t name any of the creatures that Hercules faced in any of them. Alas, this was very much the story of the game. Bangor were getting starters, but just couldn’t convert the bonuses into points in this game. Mind you I doubt that Manchester’s conversion rate was that much better in this particular game, but they were ahead, and the gap was slowly widening. Adam Barr knew that Florence was the world heritage site being described for the next starter. This one brought up a set of bonuses on artists and ballet. They took the first, but that was it. Another Maths starter fell to Adam Barr, and that, as they say, was that. A lovely set on British monarchs, and the position in the succession they held at their births was delightfully tricky. Manchester failed to convert. Nina Grant knew that Francis Walsingham became Elizabeth Ist’s Secretary of State in 1573, which gave them a set of bonuses on wit. A full set would put them into triple figures, but Alexander Pope caught them out in the first. Richard Gilbert knew that if the librettist of the opera King Arthur was John Dryden, then chances were that the composer would be Purcell. Bonuses on Africa raised a laugh when the Manchester skipper asked ‘anyone know any Congolese dictator types?’. It didn’t matter, since the gong sounded, to herald a win for Manchester by 160 – 95. Very hard lines, Bangor. You made a good contest of it, but it just wasn’t your day. Many congratulations on a terrific series, though.You’ve done Wales proud. As for Manchester, many congratulations. The better team on the day, and worthy finalists.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

It’s getting serious now, and as the competition becomes more serious, so does our Jeremy. Very, very little of note in this show, although there was this comment ,”It’s giving me a headache just watching you!”, as Adam Barr struggled with a complex Maths bonus – which he answered correctly, for the record.

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

L’Express – Modelled on Time – was France’s first weekly news magazine.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

University Challenge - Appeal

I haven't checked this out myself since I don't want to know the result of Monday's semi, but Jack who reported this is totally reliable I am sure. On the Radio Times website, on the listings for Monday 29th you can already see who won the second semi final.

Now, if you want to go and check it out for yourself, then that's fine - I wouldn't, but each to their own. But it would be nice to not run the risk of accidentally finding out the result beforehand. I know that some of the team behind University Challenge do read LAM from time to time, and I also know that they take spoilers very seriously, and do their very best to prevent something like this spoiling anyone's enjoyment of the show. So if by any chance any of you are reading this, I don't know if there's anything you can do, but I know that you will if you can.

News Questions

In the News

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


1. John Sweeney
2. Mark Burnett and Roma Downey
3. Redoine Faid
4. Nicolas Maduro
5. Adam Scott
6. “The Orphan Master’s Son”
7. James Harding
8. Raymond Voet
9. Connor Doran – Brandon Doran – Simon Evans
10. Marcus Campbell
11. Tim Brabants
12. Pig 26
13. Solo
14. Chris Holmes
15. Gov.uk
16. Peter Stead
17. Jean Claude Mas
18. Sativa Halappanavar
19. Black Caviar
20. Opempipo Jaji
21. Marin Alsop
22. Storm Thorgeson
23. Jiroemon Kimura
24. Tamerian Tsarnaev

In Other News

1. What happened at the Five Sisters Zoo in West Calder?
2. Which position did Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead reach in the BBC chart last week?
3. What were banned in Venice last week?
4. What was the score in the Man City v. Chelsea FA Cup semi final last week?
5. Which club was relegated from the English RU Premiership last week?
6. Who won the Chinese GP?
7. What was revealed as the most played song of 2012?
8. Which honour was granted by Parliament for the Margaret Thatcher Funeral?
9. Which multiple Olympic Gold Medalist announced his retirement from competition last week?
10. Who accused John Humphrys, Jeremy Paxman, and modern political interviewers for being too aggressive?
11. Who was the caddy of the winning golfer in the US Masters?
12. An application was rejected to open the first what in India
13. What are the christian names of Margaret Thatcher’s grandchildren?
14. In which country was there a 7.8 magnitude earthquake?
15. What was the score in the Arsenal v. Everton match?
16. Cardiff City achieved promotion to the Premier League through a 0-0 draw with which team?
17. The boss of which company admitted that they had exploited a loophole to pay virtually no tax for the last three years?
18. Thursday 18th April was the 75th birthday of whom?
19. Which Commonwealth country legalized same sex marriages last week?
20. How many mourners attended the Thatcher funeral in st. Paul’s?
21. what was the score of Man Utd. v. W. Ham?
22. What was the score between Chelsea and Fulham
23. Which revelation concerning Lance Armstrong was made by the UCI last week?
24. What was the score between Man City and Wigan?
25. Which sporting figure celebrated his 80th birthday last week?
26. Who is Worcester’s new Director of Rugby?
27. Who paid a visit to Londonderry last week?
28. Where did the fertilizer plant explosion occur last week?
29. It was announced that Prince Harry will be joining a team of disabled servicemen to undertake which challenge?
30. Sanctions against which country are to be lifted by the EU?
31. John Terry refused to shake whose hand last week?
32. Which former England cricket captain passed away aged 72 last week?

Friday, 19 April 2013

Answers to News Questions

In the news

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


1. Michael Norgrove
2. Paris Brown
3. 18, Victory Road, Derby
4. Ryan Mania
5. Richard de Wit
6. Lindsay Sandiford
7. James Crosby
8. Pablo Neruda
9. Ljubisa Bogdanovic
10. Fred Talbot
11. Annette Funicello
12. True Blue
13. Sir Robert Edwards
14. Derek Richardson
15. Danny Wilson
16. David Lynn
17. Hawk eye
18. George North
19. Jerome Fillot
20. Andrew Wakefield
21. Stella English
22. Gentleman Style
23. Australophithecus Sediba

In Other News

1. Which country did team GB defeat in the Davis Cup?
2. Which team will play which in the Heineken cup semi finals?
3. Where was the venue for International Pillow Fight Day last week?
4. What was the cause of Margaret Thatcher’s death?
5. UK stores put a limit on how much of what customers were allowed to buy last week?
6. What was the Man City v. Man Utd. score ?
7. Which song has been boosted into the chart as a response to the death of Margaret Thatcher?
8. Where will Margaret Thatcher’s funeral be held?
9. In which area of London were there reported street parties following the death of Margaret Thatcher?
10. Which University was granted the right to have overseas students again last week?
11. Quentin Tarantino edited his film Django Unchained for release in which country, where it was promptly banned on the opening day of release?
12. What was the score in the Champions League Galatasaray v. Real Madrid?
13. – and Borussia Dortmund v. Malaga?
14. 2 suppliers from which country were revealed to have sold meat with traces of horse tranquilliser?
15. What was the score in the Bayern Munich v. Juventus match?
16. Who came on as a supersub for Barcelona v. PSG?
17. – and what was the score in their match?
18. Which publication celebrated its 150th anniversary?
19. Team GB will face which country in their Davis Cup world group play off?
20. Who lost his voice during his national radio show?
21. Which author claimed that the English do not respect the Arts?
22. Which 4 makes of car had models recalled due to problems with airbags – they all use the same airbags?
23. What was the score in the Spurs v. Basle match?
24. Who missed the last penalty for Spurs?
25. What was the score between Chelsea and Rubin Kazan?
26. – and Newcastle and Benfica?
27. Which supermarket chain have removed three nerve agent pesticides which are harmful to bees from their supply chain?

Answers

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


1. British boxer who died as a result of a boxing match
2. Kent Youth Police and Crime Commissioner quit due to Twitter comments she had made in the past
3. The home of Mick and Mairead Philpott that is now to be demolished
4. Grand National Winning jockey taken to hospital the next day after a fall in Hexham – allowed home later in the week
5. He admitted stabbing Sarah Groves in Kashmir
6. Grandmother who lost her appeal against her death sentence in Bali
7. Former HBOS boss who has asked to give up his knighthood
8. Chilean poet whose body is to be exhumed to solve the mystery of his death in the days after the Pinochet coup
9. Massacred 13 people in Serbia
10. Arrested over historic allegations of sex abuse
11. Former original Mickey Mouse club actress who also starred in a succession of surf movies with Frankie Avalon – for example the neglected classic “How to Stuff a Wild Bikini”
12. Operational codename for the Margaret Thatcher funeral
13. Test tube baby pioneer passed away aged 87
14. New principal shareholder at London Wasps
15. Parted company with Sheffield United
16. English golfer shot a 68 in first round of the US Masters
17. Goal line technology chosen to be used in English Premier League
18. Wales and Scarlets winger finally sealed transfer deal to Northampton
19. Stade Francais scrum half given a 14 week ban for spitting in the face of bath’s Peter Stringer
20. Person discredited this week for his comments 15 years ago which caused the MMR scare, blamed for the recent measles epidemic in Swansea and the surrounding area
21. Winner of the 2010 series of “The Apprentice” who lost a court case for constructive dismissal she brought against Lord Sugar
22. Psy follow up to Gangnam Style
23. Newly discovered hominid with features of both ape and human

In Other News

1. Russia
2. Toulon v. Saracens – Munster v. Clermont
3. Trafalgar Square, London
4. A Stroke
5. Baby Milk. Following a scandal over home products, people have been buying British baby milk in bulk to export to China
6. 2 - 1
7. “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead”
8. St. Paul’s Cathedral
9. Brixton
10. London Met
11. China
12. 3 – 1 (Madrid 5 – 3 on aggregate)
13. 3 – 2(Dortmund 3 -2 on aggregate)
14. Netherlands
15. 2 – 0 (4 – 0 Bayern on aggregate)
16. Lionel Messi
17. 1- 1(3 – 3 on aggregate – Barcelona go through on away goals)
18. Wisden
19. Croatia
20. Chris Evans
21. Julian Barnes
22. Toyota – Honda – Nissan - Mazda
23. 2 – 2 (4 – 4 on aggregate – Basle on penalties – sob)
24. Adebayor
25. 2 – 3 ( Chelsea 5 – 4 on aggregate)
26. 1 – 1 ( Benfica 4 – 2 on aggregate)
27. Waitrose

University Challenge - Semi Final

UCL v. New College, Oxford

Before the start of this interesting match up we had two unbeaten teams. By the end of it we would be left with just the one, striding forwards into the final. Many people are already almost awarding the winners’ laurels to this very fine UCL team of Adam Papahilippopoulos, Tom Tyzsczuk-Smith, Tom Parton and their captain Simon Dennis. Well, I wasn’t going that far. However I did think that they had looked a little stronger in their matches than their opponents from New College, Oxford. The team of Remi Beecroft, India Lenon, Tom Cappleman, and skipper Andy Hood have come this far unbeaten, but some pundits, this columnist included, have noted that several of their performances have been based on stellar starter performances by Tom Cappleman. Having a great buzzer like that on your team is wonderful, but it does always pose the question of what happens on an ‘off night’.

Tom Cappleman certainly seemed on top form when he buzzed early to take the first question, knowing that a number of names alluded to all began with –Hippo-. A set of bonuses on trading blocs brought two bonuses. Given a list of names of the Tolpuddle Martyrs, Andy Hood gave a wrong answer, which left his opposite number Simon Dennis to open UCL’s account. The bonuses he earned for doing so were pairs of places with one same element – eg – Manchester and Chesterfield. They too took two.All square. The next was a long question, which needed you to hang on until the easy bit came , which was that the person in question was chiefly remembered for the absolute temperature scale. In previous games we’ve seen Tom Cappleman come in at precisely the right moment with a buzz, but this time it was Simon Dennis who judged it to perfection to provide the answer of Lord Kelvin. This was telling. Physics was the subject of the bonus set, and the team scored 3 more than I did. We had another such wait for it starter in the next question, where we were asked for a set of initials. A list of people was given, which was finished off by – and the local rivals of Inter Milan. This time it was Tom Tyzsczuk-Smith who won the buzzer race with AC. Historical Provinces of Japan didn’t seem to promise a lot, but I was pleasantly surprised to get a full set.UCl took one, and at this admittedly early stage they had a 40 point lead. No need to panic for New College, but they needed to get busy with the buzzer and try to muscle their way into the buzzer race. The picture starter showed a map , with some highlighted countries on the map of Africa. Tom Parton buzzed in to supply the correct answer that all are linked by having Portuguese as an official language. For the bonuses they were asked to identify three Lusophonic countries. The first two were hard, but they had them all. Andy Hood did what I felt he needed to do at this stage, and took a flyer on a very early buzz on the next starter. He took a punt, but because he hadn’t heard enough of the question he didn’t answer correctly. It was another of those questions which meant you had to wait until it became more obvious – in this case through the words “Title of a Robert Harris novel”. Hard lines. UCL didn’t know it was “The Fear Index”. On the next starter, a great little curio, the teams were asked which Aberdeenshire hamlet has seen a huge number of hits on it’s website due to it sharing its name with an acronym for a BBC2 reality show. Tom Parton guessed correctly, and gave The Only Way Is Essex for the answer, but the question asked for the name of the village – the acronym TOWIE. No points. New College couldn’t capitalise. We were now practically on the ten minute mark, and it had been a very good session for UCL, even by their own high standards, as they led by 80 – 15.

Adam Papaphilippopoulos buzzed in too early on the next starter. He knew it was asking about a play by Dario Fo, and so supplied the name of the playwright, but it wanted the name of the play – The Accidental Death of an Anarchist. New College couldn’t answer. A UC special asked for the last time when the 8 digits of a date taken together add up to 12. No dice. A question about atmospheres of pressure finally got Tom Cappleman off the mark. New College’s bonus set was all about English coastal cities, which were to be identified from a heraldic description of their coats of arms. A very tricky set, but they still managed one of them. Nobody on either side knew that the kazoo comes in a familiar submarine shape. Andy Hood knew that Acer and several other IT companies have their headquarters on Taiwan. Insects in music was an interesting idea for a bonus set. Only one fell to the team, but I got my first music full set for ages. This was coincidentally followed by the music starter, and Adam Papaphilippopoulos recognised the work of Handel. Other notable composers who worked in England in the 16th and 17th centuries followed, and the team managed two of them. Remi Beecroft waited on the next question until it explained that the order of mammals called chiroptera have wings, when he buzzed in with the correct answer of bats. Human anatomy brought another 10 points. Andy Hood’s early buzz on the next starter about a columnist for the New York Times brought dividends in the shape of terminology in the Met Office shipping forecast. They managed one. The scoreboard revealed that their fightback in the last few minutes had been remarkably effective, as the gap now stood at just 15 points. They nearly had the next starter as well. Given a list of political figures, Andy Hood knew that they all switched sides, as it were, but he buzzed in early with – they all switched from Conservative to Labour. The answer JP wanted, as supplied by Adam Papaphilippopoulos was that they crossed the floor – not all in the same direction. UCL got to try their luck on Chinese literature for the bonuses. These asked specifically which dynasty certain writers lived during. The team did remarkably well by taking the first two. This success seemed to spur UCL to greater effort. Simon Dennis took the next starter, giving a list of things which are all linked by the three letter word orb. Nculear Physics promised me nothing at all, which is exactly what it delivered. UCL took one of them. This was enough to stretch the lead to 55, as UCL had 130 to New College’s 75. Not over yet, and the gap had still shrunk overall in the previous ten minutes.

The second picture starter showed us a painting by Caravaggio, and Andy Hood had it very quickly. More paintings of the same scene by different artists followed. 2 were correctly answered. A test to find glucose in urine was taken by Tom Tyzsczuk-Smith - not literally - and it earned a lovely little set on Keat’s odes. Yes, I did have a full house, but then I love Keats. UCL took one. Maths came next, about our old friends x and y. Nobody had it right. The next starter asked if the sixteen states of Germany are arranged alphabetically by their English name, which comes second? I didn’t know, but I made a mental bet it would be an obvious and well known one, and plumped for Bavaria. I was right and so was Simon Dennis. One of those – I’ll give you the rulers , you give me the century – sets provided UCL with another 10, and the gap was at 70. It looked like a winning one. Remi Beecroft wasn’t conceding yet, and recognised Lowood, Thornfield et al as locations in “Jane Eyre”. People born in the city of Rouen didn’t help them. A regular polygon finally put Tom Cappleman in the driving seat, and he buzzed very early with octagon. Comets helped bring the gap back down to 40. This was less than two full sets – it was still do-able. Port Natal gave Simon Dennis Durban, and what had looked quite a tall order was looking even taller. The silk route saw them fail to add to their score. Fair play to Andy Hood. his buzzing had hauled his team back into contention after the first ten minutes, but this time he knew he buzzed in too early to answer the question asking for the writer of “Six Characters in Search of An Author” He said “It’s Camus, but it’s not right.” At any other stage of the game this might have earned an interesting reply from JP, but to be fair to the great man he never tends to mess around in the closing stages. UCL didn’t know it was Piranadello. Simon Dennis knew a set of breeds of pig. Pigs in literature gave them two correct answers to bring us to the gong. The final score was 195 to 115 to UCL, and I don’t think that you could argue that they were certainly worth their place in the final. Respect to New College though, and especially their inspirational captain. Yes, the gap lengthened again in the last few minutes, but they were in contention late on. Had the crossing the floor question gone the other way, they might even have taken the lead, and who knows what might have happened then? So well played both. Next week our own Adam Pearce and his Bangor team fight it out with Manchester for the right to play UCL in the final. Looking forward already.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

Tom Parton committed the cardinal sin of buzzing in for the first picture starter and hesitating before supplying the answer. JP has a certain way of responding to this sort of thing as if it is a personal affront. he points his finger at the offender and when I hear him say “Next time you buzz you must answer straight away.” I tend to imagine him completing this with the words – “or I’ll smash yer face in.” even if it is only in my own head ( or his).

JP does this thing whereby if he knows an answer he expects that everyone else should as well. So when UCL gave the answer of Purcell to one of the music bonuses he replied rather dismissively “Yes it is Purcell. Unmistakeably. “ I wonder what he would have said if they hadn’t answered it.

There was a wonderfully long suffering “Is ANYONE going to buzz from UCL?" after the X and Y Maths starter. Actually I know that tone of voice. I’ve used it in class often enough.

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

The Kazoo was patented by Warren Herbert Frost in 1883.

Saturday, 13 April 2013

In the News

In the news

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


1. Michael Norgrove
2. Paris Brown
3. 18, Victory Road, Derby
4. Ryan Mania
5. Richard de Wit
6. Lindsay Sandiford
7. James Crosby
8. Pablo Neruda
9. Ljubisa Bogdanovic
10. Fred Talbot
11. Annette Funicello
12. True Blue
13. Sir Robert Edwards
14. Derek Richardson
15. Danny Wilson
16. David Lynn
17. Hawk eye
18. George North
19. Jerome Fillot
20. Andrew Wakefield
21. Stella English
22. Gentleman Style
23. Australophithecus Sediba

In Other News

1. Which country did team GB defeat in the Davis Cup?
2. Which team will play which in the Heineken cup semi finals?
3. Where was the venue for International Pillow Fight Day last week?
4. What was the cause of Margaret Thatcher’s death?
5. UK stores put a limit on how much of what customers were allowed to buy last week?
6. What was the Man City v. Man Utd. score ?
7. Which song has been boosted into the chart as a response to the death of Margaret Thatcher?
8. Where will Margaret Thatcher’s funeral be held?
9. In which area of London were there reported street parties following the death of Margaret Thatcher?
10. Which University was granted the right to have overseas students again last week?
11. Quentin Tarantino edited his film Django Unchained for release in which country, where it was promptly banned on the opening day of release?
12. What was the score in the Champions League Galatasaray v. Real Madrid?
13. – and Borussia Dortmund v. Malaga?
14. 2 suppliers from which country were revealed to have sold meat with traces of horse tranquilliser?
15. What was the score in the Bayern Munich v. Juventus match?
16. Who came on as a supersub for Barcelona v. PSG?
17. – and what was the score in their match?
18. Which publication celebrated its 150th anniversary?
19. Team GB will face which country in their Davis Cup world group play off?
20. Who lost his voice during his national radio show?
21. Which author claimed that the English do not respect the Arts?
22. Which 4 makes of car had models recalled due to problems with airbags – they all use the same airbags?
23. What was the score in the Spurs v. Basle match?
24. Who missed the last penalty for Spurs?
25. What was the score between Chelsea and Rubin Kazan?
26. – and Newcastle and Benfica?
27. Which supermarket chain have removed three nerve agent pesticides which are harmful to bees from their supply chain?

Friday, 12 April 2013

Answers to News Questions

News Questions

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


1. Let’s Get Ready to Rhumble
2. Oskar Zorilla
3. A Rush of Blood to the Head
4. Katie Walsh
5. Bertrand Picard
6. Jonathan Taylor
7. Liberty Council
8. Paul Mosley
9. Finding Dory
10. Yangbyon
11. Tony Hall
12. Connie Gustfason
13. Motorola Dyna TAC 800X
14. Rob Wilson MP
15. Junior Bradshaw and Kevin Liverpool
16. Sir James Crosby – Andy Hornby – Baron Stevenson
17. Sergei Polunin
18. Paris Brown
19. Home
20. Kamala Harris
21. Malala Yousafzai
22. H7N9

In Other News

1. Who became manager of Sunderland before facing a barrage of criticism for his alleged political views?
2. The cost of a prescription in England has risen to how much?
3. Who quit as a director of Sunderland FC?
4. Who won the University Boat Race?
5. Which legal defence is to be scrapped?
6. Whom did Andy Murray defeat in the final of the Miami Masters?
7. The launch of which helpline was aborted last week?
8. Who said he could live on £53 a week if he had to ( he doesn’t have to )
9. What was the score between QPR and Fulham?
10. Who scored the only goal in the Chelsea v. Man Utd. FA Cup tie?
11. Who left his post as Leeds Utd. manager?
12. Which author announced he has months to live with bowel cancer?
13. Who left his monkey in Customs in Munich?
14. Which international Rugby Union coach was informed that his contract will not be renewed?
15. What was the score between Barcelona and Paris St. Germain?
16. What was the score between Bayern Munich and Juventus?
17. The UN approved a treaty on what?
18. It was announced that bald men are at a greater risk of what?
19. For what did Simon Brodkin receive a 6 month conditional caution?
20. Which power company were fined £10.5 million by Ofgem
21. Which footballer was sentenced to 250 hours of community service for driving without insurance?
22. Which 87 year old actor passed away?
23. Which tennis player has been diagnosed with glandular fever?
24. What was the score between Real Madrid and Galatasaray?
25. Who announced that he is going to take a voluntary 5% pay cut?
26. The only person to win both an Oscar and a Booker prize died last week. Who was she?
27. What was the score between Chelsea and Rubin Kazan? 28. What was the score between Spurs and Basel?
29. What was the score between Newcastle and Benfica?
30. Which columnist has left the Daily Telegraph website after complaints from readers that his appointment as a columnist will dumb down the paper?
31. British embassy staff in which country were warned that their safety could not be guaranteed by the host country? 32. Which British city is at the centre of a measles epidemic?
33. BA announced plans to start phasing out what?

Answers

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

1. Number 1 single – rerelease by Ant and Dec
2. Oxford cox in Boart Race, caught repeatedly swearing on camera
3. Coldplay album voted the favourite album of all time by BBC Radio 2 listeners
4. Jockey – claimed Grand National horses are treated better than some children
5. Swiss adventurer aiming to cross the Atlantic in his solar powered plane “Solar Impulse”
6. Teacher who passed away on a school skiing trip
7. Horse that won the Irish Grand National
8. Convicted of manslaughter with Mick and Mairead Philpott
9. Sequel to Finding Nemo announced
10. North Korean Nuclear reprocessing facility reopened
11. New Dg of the BBC
12. Revealed last week as Truman Capote’s original name for Holly Golightly in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”
13. First mobile phone celebrated its 40th anniversary last week
14. MP accidentally posted a link to a hard core porn site
15. Convicted of plotting to rob and murder Joss Stone
16. Former HBOS heads heavily criticized by Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards
17. Ballet dancer who failed to turn up for rehearsals for Midnight Express
18. New teenage Youth Police and Crime Commissioner for Kent
19. Facebook’s new phone
20. Attorney General of California. Obama called her ‘by far the best looking Attorney General in the country’ then had to apologise for making this ‘sexist remark’.
21. Pakistan teenager shot in the head for speaking out for education for girls. She announced the first grant from her charity to pay or the education of 40 girls in the Swat Valley
22. New deadly strain of bird flu

In Other News

1. Paolo di Canio
2. £7.85
3. David Milliband
4. Oxford
5. Marital Coercion
6. David Ferrer
7. NHS 111
8. Ian Duncan Smith
9. 2 - 3
10. Demba Ba
11. Neil Warnock
12. Iain Banks
13. Justin Bieber
14. Declan Kidney
15. 2 - 2
16. 2 - 0
17. Global Arms Trade
18. Heart Disease
19. Comedian who ‘invaded pitch’ as character Jason Bent in Everton v.Man City game
20. SSE
21. Carlos Tevez
22. Milo O’Shea
23. Heather Watson
24. 3 - 0
25. Barack Obama
26. Ruth Prawer Jabhala
27. 3 - 1
28. 2 - 2
29. 1 - 3
30. Kelvin Mackenzie
31. North Korea
32. Swansea
33. Boeing 747

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

New Show - Five Minutes To A Fortune

If you haven’t caught this new show yet, it’s on in the important 5pm slot on Channel 4. Now, I’ll be honest, I wouldn’t have normally watched anything fronted by Gurny von Shout, but we all have to make sacrifices for quizzes sometimes. Is it a quiz, though? It’s a fair question. It isn’t a straight quiz, no, it’s a game show. However it does have some fairly strong quiz elements within it.

There’s a couple of things which make me think that Channel Four have fairly high hopes for this show. Firstly, they gave it to Davina McCall. Her screen persona may not be my cup of tea, but she is one of the channel’s big draws. Secondly, the very first show was a celebrity special. Normally with a quiz/game show you don’t get a celebrity special until it’s already quite well established. Is the confidence they seem to have in the show misplaced, though?

The mechanics of the show work like this. Pairs of players – they may be friends, couples , married couples, whatever, take it in turns to try to win up to £50,000. The two of them will decide who will be the player, and who will be the timekeeper. The set is dominated by a huge and impressive hourglass. At the start of the first game the top of the glass is full of £50,000. The players are given five minutes to divide up between 5 games. The timekeeper will choose one of a number of different categories with catchall titles like film buff – wordsmith etc. The exact game will be explained, and then the timekeeper has to decide how much of the five minutes to allow the player for the game. The games themselves remind me of the first round mental agility puzzles of the old Krypton Factor. The player can keep answering , but has to get 5 right. Once the time allotted is up, the hourglass begins to flip over, and the money drains away, until the game is completed.

The team does have the option of using their emergency stop button for one of the five games. When this happens the hourglass is reset with whatever cash remains, and a random game is chosen by the computer. The player then has the same amount of time as in the previous game to complete it. So the only way to take £50,000 to the final is to complete every game within the time. Money that drains away is deducted from the total. Once the team has completed five games – the failed game and emergency game together make up one of the five – then they go to the final. They will be left with one category. The timekeeper and the player swap places. The gameplay of the final game is similar to the previous.In this you'll be given a category - eg The Most popular authors with British teachers - and asked to find 5 correct answers out of the top 10 as quickly as possible before the money drains away. Any money that hasn’t drained away, they get to take home. It’s as simple as that.

It is simple, and actually that’s a strength of the show. The games that they play do vary in difficulty. There’s a game where you are given five numbers in figures. You have to give the numbers in alphabetical order if they were written in words. Try it – it’s difficult! Then there are ebay-style ads which give clues to a person – eg – a little black dress – with the tag – you could wear it at Tiffany’s = Audrey Hepburn. I think that in a show like this, it will only really work if it has good play along at home potential – and I’ll admit that I did enjoy playing along with the games at home. I liked the fact that if you want to take much money home you’ve got to play well. Maybe there’s luck involved in which kind of game you get for which category, but this is relatively negligible, and that’s a strength as well. In fact I think that Channel 4 has a good show here.

It’s not without its drawbacks, though. Look at the timeslot. This is up against the kings of the teatime quizgame, Pointless, and the Chase. I would argue that a huge proportion of the potential audience will be watching Pointless, before catching up with The Chase on ITV+1. So not only does it have to lure viewers away to get them to watch the show in the first place, it also has to be strong enough to keep them. Granted, I like the games, and Davina in the three weekday shows so far has been at her least annoying. However, like many hour long game shows it would benefit from trimming down. There are two pairs that play in each show, but one only finishes their game, and another only starts. If it was cut down to 45 minutes you’d get one game in quite nicely. Also it’s early days yet, but I’ve watched each show apart from the celebrity one, and on each show Davina has been by some way the oldest thing on the menu. It’s been painfully obvious for a long time that Channel 4 want to attract a younger audience, and this is usually reflected in the average age of the contestants on their shows. We’ll see how we go on this score. As an incipient wrinkly myself I’d like to see at least a sprinkling of my people being represented during the series.

On reflection, then, I won’t be watching this instead of Pointless, but I may well keep watching it on 4OD for a while to see how it develops. I’ll be interested to hear what you think if you decide to give it a try.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

A Habit Worth Getting Back Into

Have you ever got out of the habit of doing something, or going somewhere? It’s easily done. There are relatively few things in this life that we can’t do without, and once you start doing without something, or you stop going somewhere, or stop doing something, it becomes a lot harder to start again as time goes on.

Since 2010 I’ve played in the Bridgend Quiz League on a Monday night, and I’ve enjoyed it tremendously, and I hope that I’ll be able to continue to do so for a long time to come. Prior to this I used to go to Newport on a fairly regular basis to Trevor Parry’s Monday Night quiz in the Pill Harriers Rugby Club. When I started in the Bridgend League, my idea was that I’d play in the League from September until it ended in April, and then from April to the start of the league season in September I’d go to Newport. Over a period of time I got out of the habit of going to Newport regularly, so much so that I wouldn’t have said that I went more than once in a blue moon, if that.

In mitigation I should say that there were drawbacks to going to Newport. The main one being that it’s a 45 minute drive there, and another 45 minute drive back. It’s a lot of driving, especially if it’s on a school night. A few years ago three of us used to go together, sharing the driving and also the cost of petrol – and let’s not ignore that it’s not just an expensive night in terms of time, it’s also expensive in terms of fuel. This was brought home to me when I started coming on my own, especially when they started diverting traffic off the M4 every Monday evening. Even during school holidays I found myself becoming glued to the sofa as the time to leave for Newport on a Monday evening came closer.

I was talking to Trevor a few days ago, and he happened to mention that Barry and George – two members of our Wales and West CIU winning team a couple of years ago would both be coming. George you might remember as a semifinalist in this year’s Brain of Britain. Barry I’ve known and played with in quizzes for over 20 years. So, to cut a long story shorter, I drove to Newport for the quiz last night.

It was great to see Barry again last night. I reckon that it’s been at least 2 years, and maybe even three. IN all honesty, it was worth going all that way just to see and chat with Barry and George again. But it was even more than that. When you go to a quiz which manages to be really good on a regular basis, then you stop going, it’s easy to forget just how good it was, and just how much you enjoyed it. Well, OK, we won last night, but I would still have thought it was a great quiz anyway. What Trevor does isn’t rocket science when you write it down on paper, but it's a hell of a good format. See what you think - – Round 1 is 10 News Questions and 10 General Knowledge Questions- Round 2 is a picture quiz of 30 pictures (not my cup of tea, but an important part of many a quiz, so fair enough) Round 3 is another 20 general knowledge questions – Round 4 is a lists handout, consisting of a variety of different subjects – Round 5 is another 20 general knowledge questions. Oh, and in between round three and the handout you get three questions for a rolling jackpot. How good does that sound? Well, it’s better. All for £2 each. You can’t go wrong.

If I’m honest the round 4 handout is my favourite part of the quiz. I still go to a lot of quizzes, and you don’t find anything like this in other places. To give you a flavor of it, in last night’s handout we had – 12 of the Times list of the best 30 musicals of all time – 8 original Warsaw Pact Countries – 12 classic albums – a set of questions on the Muppets – Sports questions based on the year 1995 – words for Monday in French, Spanish, German and Italian. You get the idea, I’m sure.

Of course, the fact that I enjoyed the quiz immensely doesn’t change the fact that it’s still a hell of a step on a school night. But I have to say, it’s certainly worth making the effort when I can. I’ll probably give it a go a week on Monday, and see how easy/difficult it is. Watch this space.

University Challenge - Semi Final Preview

Well, we know our four semi finalists now. They are : -
University College, London
New College, Oxford
Manchester University
Bangor University


If you’re looking for clues as to potential finalists we can compare their relative records in the quarters -

UCL beat Bangor 190 - 125beat Manchester 230 - 150 -
New College, Oxfordbeat King’s 165 - 125beat St. George’s , London 160 - 110-
Manchester Universitybeat Imperial 185 - 115lost to UCL 150 - 230beat St. George’s 220 - 135
Bangor Universitylost to UCL 125 - 190beat Imperial College 210 - 120beat King’s College, Cambridge 195 – 70


Something might strike you about this. The very strong team from University College, London has already defeated two of the three other teams to make it through – Manchester and Bangor. Does this mean that they are guaranteed to beat them again? No, it doesn’t. However it will certainly give them confidence if they do meet again. You have to reckon that they will as well. After all I don’t know if UC goes in for seeding at all, but how fair would it be for the two undefeated teams to have to face each other in a semi final?

You have to take New College Oxford seriously. They have won every match they have played in this series. However let’s look at some of the comparative scores. Manchester University outscored St. George’s by a significantly greater margin than New College did, and Bangor defeated King’s by a greater margin than New College did. However. . . New College keep winning. Whoever they play in the semis, they will certainly make a good match of it.

UCL are probably going to hate me for doing this, but I have to plump for them as most likely finalists. As for the other place – well, it is just too close to call. But I shall certainly be keeping my fingers crossed for Adam, Mark, Simon and Nina from Bangor.

University Challenge - Quarter Final Elimination match

Here we are, then. The last quarter final match. 3 teams are already into the semis, and only 1 place remained to be fought over . The first of tonight’s teams was Bangor, represented by our own Adam Pearce, Mark Stevens, Simon Tomlinson, and captain Nina Grant. Bangor lost in their first quarter final match to the powerhouse UCL team, but showed all of their fighting spirit in eliminating a good Imperial College team. As for King’s College , represented by Curtis Gallant, Amber Ace, our own James Gratrex and captain Fran Middleton, they lost out their first quarter final match to New College, then saw off Pembroke in the elimination match. Both teams were battle hardened by now, and both had a LAM veteran in the ranks. I deliberately refrained from cursing either with the Clark tip.

Neither team knew the first starter, that the Rio Summit in 1992 and its successors were known as the Earth Summits. Earth Summit also won the 1998 Grand National, but I digress. A lovely little starter came next, asking which set of colours are represented by the prefixes erythro – leuko and cyano. Neither team got that these made the set of red, white and blue. A little bit of a nervous start this, by two teams with everything to gain, but also everything to lose. Simon Tomlinson took first blood by answering that bagger – bombing and shark can all be preceded by the word carpet. Bonuses on existentialism provided a further 10 points. Simon Tomlinson took the next starter, on Pascal. That’s Blaise Pascal, the French mathematician, and not Fran├žoise Pascal, the sultry siren from “Mind Your Language”. Bonuses on the island of Samos yielded only 5 points. Nina Grant knew that a term for novels such as “A la Recherce du Temps Perdu” is roman fleuve – French for river novel. She looked like she couldn’t quite believe it was right. Well it was. Documentaries of Werner Herzog brought 5 more points, but they didn’t know that Klaus Kinski had starred in “Fitzcarraldo” and “Nosferatu ( the 1970s remake)”. Simon Tomlinson won the buzzer race to say that a term for a piece of wood or stone placed over a door, fireplace or window is a lintel. I did think that a set of bonuses on US Presidents might offer me the chance of a full set, and I was right. Bangor managed just the last, but even so they had carved out a lead of 65 points as we went into the picture starter. We were shown the Beatus Map, an 8th century version of the Mappa Mundi. When asked for the modern name of the river highlighted on the Map Simon Tomlinson supplied the correct answer of the Nile. What’s more, the team went on to correctly identify all three places highlighted on the map for a full set of bonuses. When asked for the name of the structure said to have taken its name from a giant statue of Nero Fran Middleton buzzed early, and gave the answer of the Colossus. Ah, so close. Mark Stevens took a punt with the Colosseum, and was rewarded for his pains with bonuses on asexual reproduction in plants. They took one, and this was enough to give them a lead of 105 to -5. I think we all knew that King’s are much better than this score suggests, but they were being beaten to the buzzer comprehensively, hence the shutout. Time to throw caution to the winds, before JP issued the dreaded – come on, plenty of time to go.

Nina Grant continued where her team had left off , by answering that a welterweight comes between a lightweight and a middleweight. Well – in old money yes.Let’s ignore light welters, light middles and the rest for the sake of the question. The set of bonuses it brought were on Ford, the car manufacturer. Now, I know that I took Henry Ford as my first round specialist subject in 2007. but the fact is that Fordism had never entered into my revision. So that’s my excuse for not having it right. Bangor managed one bonus. A mathematics starter followed, and I said to the girls, who were in the front room with me while I was watching this morning, that James would have that. And he did too, before the question was finished. King’s were off the mark. Half the show remained, so nothing was impossible, but some kindly sets of bonuses would be appreciated. The first they earned wasn’t, being on artists born in the 1880s. Marc Chagall bought them another 5 points. Simon Tomlinson knew that the city of Bayonne gives its name to the bayonet. Computer Game designers brought two bonuses, and increased the scale of King’s task. For the music starter we were asked for the name of the Biblical figure after whom the oratorio we were listening to was named. Nobody knew that it was the St. Matthew Passion. The bonuses rolled over, and we had something about throwing balls in the air, and how high they’d go. Nobody had it. Neither did anyone know Joseph Brodsky, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1978. It became a hat trick of unanswered starters when nobody could answer that Lord Carrington and Francis Pym had both been Foreign Secretary. Two starters in a row had seen Bangor coming in too early and losing 5 points. Well, to be fair, their buzzer blitzkrieg had brought them a healthy lead, so it was obviously the right tactic. James buzzed in early for the next starter, knowing something about the SI unit the second, and Caesium – we didn’t get the whole question, you see. This brought up the music bonuses, more pieces based on Biblical figures. This took their score up to 30, but the gap was still in three figures. James knew that one of the King George’s was glad to receive news of the death of his son Frederick, Prince of Wales, but he zigged with III, which allowed Nina Grant to zag with George II. The bonus set attached to this starter was on economics. Bangor only took one bonus, but then as long as they kept at even stevens on the starters they would be home and dry. Amber Ace took her first starter knowing that Wagner’s “The Flying Dutchman” was inspired by a sea crossing. Geometry brought King’s another 10 points, and the gap was now down to double figures. Bangor’s impressive Simon Tomlinson took the next starter on the pharynx. Fictional detectives brought them five points. For the second picture starter nobody recognised Caroline Herschel. Not surprised. If a question begins with “South Sudan . . . “ there’s an even money chance that the answer to the question will be Juba. Curtis Gallant buzzed in early with this answer, and he was right to do so. Pictures of influential British women scientists were unforgiving and yielded nothing. Adam came in early for the next starter with Project Guttenberg. The works of Thomas Paine gave them another 5 points, and a lead of 125. The match was won, but there were still a couple of minutes to go. Nina Grant knew that subluxation comes immediately after sublunary in the dictionary. They didn’t know any of the bonuses that followed on Physics. Didn’t matter. Nobody knew that a star with an unusually high velocity is a runaway star. Simon Tomlinson knew that Punch was subtitled the London Charivari. Bonuses on Indian Booker Prize winning authors provided them with nothing, but it really didn’t matter at this stage. Curtis Gallant knew that vigesimal means proceeding on intervals of 20. I thought it was a type of ointment. Fair enough. Creatures named after rivers only gave King’s time for 2 bonuses. At the bell Bangor had won comfortably with 195 to 70.

JP paid tribute to King’s performances throughout the series, and rightly so. James, very unlucky, but it just wasn’t your night. It has happened – and will continue to happen – to all of us. Bangor, and Adam, many congratulations. I wish you the very best of luck in the semis.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

JP was in another just-getting-on-with-it mood last night. He spluttered slightly in disbelief when Nina Grant offered a speculative Fritz Lang for Klaus Kinski. “Fritz Lang? Fritz Lang!!”
Likewise with the question about throwing balls in the air he offered us another brief burst of disbelief when Amber Ace suggested the answer was 1 metre. “! metre?!” he expostulated, eyebrows reaching for the ceiling. Well, we can all do that when we’ve got the answers in front of us, Jez.
Adam received a telling off from JP when he buzzed in straight after an incorrect answer for the Pre Cambrian era, and offered Cambrian. “You should have let me finish the question!” he expostulated.
When he asked “What is an oscillator called when it is not oscillating in simple harmonic motion . . . “ Nina Grant offered, tongue in cheek, “Stationary?”, and a delayed chuckle caught him just as he was asking the next starter.

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

An extra weight carried in horseracing is called a welter.

Re: Giving the Radio and Discovery Champs their Due

I received an email from the 2000 Mastermind Champion Stephen Follows, which I take the liberty of posting here,

As one of the four 'missing' winners, I'd like to thank you for pointing out that we exist! I too wish that the current Mastermind production team would have the honesty to admit that BBCTV are not the only people to have used the format. I didn't see the Discovery version, but the three Radio 4 series were at least as good as the Magnusson series, and several fine quizzers took part in them. To airbrush them from history is insulting to everyone connected with them.

I have commented on this before. I really don't understand why the show continues to act as if the two BBCTV versions are the only ones that count. For the record, the 4 champions are: -

BBC Radio 4

1998 - Robert Gibson
1999 - Christopher Carter
2000 - Stephen Follows

Discovery Mastermind

2001 Michael Penrice


You know that I've gone on record in the past and made the point about how much I enjoyed participating in the Champion of Champions series in 2010, and it's true. I thoroughly enjoyed it, but the fact that not one of the champs from 1998 - 2001 took part was a shame. Maybe one or more of them was actually asked if they'd like to take part - but I doubt it. As I said in my post on the Grand Final, if you won a Mastermind series, then you're a Mastermind champion. I find it difficult to believe that the TV team don't understand this.

Stephen's email continued,

One other thing: not only was the Verdi round unnecessarily picky and tangential in a lot of its questions, but a correct answer was disallowed - 'Stiffelio' was, as Sian said, renamed 'Aroldo' to get the piece past the censors. If the question was somehow worded to exclude this answer, then it was at the very least misleading; my memory of it, and Sian's stunned reaction, suggests that it was just plain wrong. I can't really understand why she didn't challenge it.

I'll be honest, my knowledge of Verdi, or lack of it, meant that I certainly didn't pick this out. I don't know if anyone else has an opinion on this. I know that I myself would have thought very, very carefully before making a challenge to a question, even if I had been certain I was right. In all honesty I don't know how common challenges are. I never saw one in the five shows in which I was a contender, and the 3 other shows in which I have been a member of the studio audience.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

In the News

News Questions

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


1. Let’s Get Ready to Rhumble
2. Oskar Zorilla
3. A Rush of Blood to the Head
4. Katie Walsh
5. Bertrand Picard
6. Jonathan Taylor
7. Liberty Council
8. Paul Mosley
9. Finding Dory
10. Yangbyon
11. Tony Hall
12. Connie Gustfason
13. Motorola Dyna TAC 800X
14. Rob Wilson MP
15. Junior Bradshaw and Kevin Liverpool
16. Sir James Crosby – Andy Hornby – Baron Stevenson
17. Sergei Polunin
18. Paris Brown
19. Home
20. Kamala Harris
21. Malala Yousafzai
22. H7N9

In Other News

1. Who became manager of Sunderland before facing a barrage of criticism for his alleged political views?
2. The cost of a prescription in England has risen to how much?
3. Who quit as a director of Sunderland FC?
4. Who won the University Boat Race?
5. Which legal defence is to be scrapped?
6. Whom did Andy Murray defeat in the final of the Miami Masters?
7. The launch of which helpline was aborted last week?
8. Who said he could live on £53 a week if he had to ( he doesn’t have to )
9. What was the score between QPR and Fulham?
10. Who scored the only goal in the Chelsea v. Man Utd. FA Cup tie?
11. Who left his post as Leeds Utd. manager?
12. Which author announced he has months to live with bowel cancer?
13. Who left his monkey in Customs in Munich?
14. Which international Rugby Union coach was informed that his contract will not be renewed?
15. What was the score between Barcelona and Paris St. Germain?
16. What was the score between Bayern Munich and Juventus?
17. The UN approved a treaty on what?
18. It was announced that bald men are at a greater risk of what?
19. For what did Simon Brodkin receive a 6 month conditional caution?
20. Which power company were fined £10.5 million by Ofgem
21. Which footballer was sentenced to 250 hours of community service for driving without insurance?
22. Which 87 year old actor passed away?
23. Which tennis player has been diagnosed with glandular fever?
24. What was the score between Real Madrid and Galatasaray?
25. Who announced that he is going to take a voluntary 5% pay cut?
26. The only person to win both an Oscar and a Booker prize died last week. Who was she?
27. What was the score between Chelsea and Rubin Kazan? 28. What was the score between Spurs and Basel?
29. What was the score between Newcastle and Benfica?
30. Which columnist has left the Daily Telegraph website after complaints from readers that his appointment as a columnist will dumb down the paper?
31. British embassy staff in which country were warned that their safety could not be guaranteed by the host country?
32. Which British city is at the centre of a measles epidemic?
33. BA announced plans to start phasing out what?

Friday, 5 April 2013

Mastermind Grand Final 2013

I know I’ve said this before on more than one occasion, but well, that just goes to show how much I know, doesn’t it? I’m talking about the Grand Final, of course. In one of the most unpredictable seasons for many a year we saw it come to a climax with a suitably exciting and unpredictable final. Once again, the format was 2 minutes of questions for specialist, and 2 and a half minutes of questions for GK. The scores for all the contenders in the semi finals were all so similar that it was very difficult to draw any conclusions about who might be expected to run well, but if you read my preview last week you’ll know that I predicted podium places for Andrew, Didier and John. Fellas, I can only apologise.

John kicked off with Pop music of the 1970s. John’s semi final win saw him come from 5th place to win with a barnstorming general knowledge round. I worried a little about his subject – not that I thought it wasn’t an enjoyable round, because it was. I grew up during the 70s as well, turning 16 in 1980, so I was able to get a couple of them. It did strike me as a very wide subject, though, and I did worry that John would leave himself too much to do in the GK. Nine wasn’t a bad score at all, but it did leave room for someone to establish a significant cushion.

It turned out that this someone would be Paul Whittaker. Paul was one of the winners of the insert lottery, getting a chance to film in London’s Globe Theatre. This was because he was answering on Shakespeare’s plays about The Wars of the Roses. Interesting subject – and plenty difficult to learn, as there’s quite a few of them. I’ll be honest, I’ve little familiarity with the three parts of Henry VI and the two parts of Henry IV, but managed a few points on some of the others. Still, Paul did a lot better. It wasn’t quite a perfect round, but it was a strong one. 14 is the kind of score which will put you in with a chance at halfway, and at the moment he had a useful lead of 5 points.

The outright winner of the insert lottery was Aidan McQuade, whose subject of Abraham Lincoln bought him a visit to the USA. Aidan had a good 90 second 10 in his semi-final, but this round didn’t quite manage to hit those heights. I read a biography of Lincoln last year, and this pushed me to a round half dozen. So I know that these weren’t all gimmes by any stretch of the imagination. 11 put Aidan 3 points behind Paul – not good in a final, but not insurmountable. However the GK rounds had not been his strongest point in the first round and the semi.

In contrast to John, Sian West had won her semi final by setting a very good total on her specialist subject of The Pembrokeshire Coast, and then hanging on through the GK round. Tonight she was offering the operas of Verdi. I may be wrong, but it seemed to me that there were more questions about things which were tangential to the operas than Sian would have liked, and the round seemed a bit of a struggle. It’s horrible when you can feel a round slipping away from you, as there’s nothing you can do about it, save keep concentrating and answer what you can. I give Sian full credit for pushing her score up with a late burst, when she might have been forgiven for panicking. 6, though, meant that she was out of the race for the title, if truth be told.

Didier Bruyere had answered in previous rounds on first Marie Curie, then Garibaldi. Tonight he forsook the biographical subjects, and plumped instead for the Paris Commune of 1871. Historically a hugely interesting subject, however, I pondered, not one easily reduced into one 2 minute round. With the target at 14 it meant that Didier’s round of 11 gave him a shout of overhauling Paul in the GK rounds. However he was one of the three contenders battling against the curse of the Clark tip, so anything could happen.

Andrew Frazer made no secret of his wish to win the show in his filmed insert. I don’t blame him for that. Both Gary and Ian did exactly the same, and it didn’t hurt either of them. Out of interest, both Gary and Ian had taken part in an earlier series, while I believe all 6 of tonight’s finalists had made the final on their very first attempt. Andrew also pointed out that he had answered every single one of his specialist questions in both heat and semi correctly. Tempting fate there, Andrew, I thought. Well, answering on the late Roman Empire he maybe didn’t have them all right this time, but I think there was only one wrong and no passes. I thought that of all the rounds his questions were a little on the long side. Still, a score of 13 put him in second place, only 1 point behind the leader. So nobody had managed to blow the opposition away with a barnstorming first round, but then almost all of them were in with a shout if they could produce a great GK round. It’s been a while since 5 of the contenders were still in contention at the halfway stage.

If you watched the final you’re maybe wondering – when are you going to get around to your cameo appearance, Dave? Ah, you know me too well. If you watched the final you’ll have seen a good little half time film about the history of the show. There were clips of a number of champs receiving their just desserts, and I’m very pleased to say that me collecting my bowl from Sally Magnusson was the second, immediately after Fred Housego. (By the way, Fred, if by any chance you’re reading this, the offer of that pint is still on the table.) One small thing, though. John said that only 34 people had ever won a Mastermind bowl. Now, there have only been 35 BBC TV Mastermind winners including tonight’s, true. But what about Discovery Mastermind and Radio 4 Mastermind? That’s another 4 in total. I’m sorry, but I don’t go along with pretending that BBC never made the mistake of leaving it to Radio 4 to preserve the show, and to the Discovery Channel to bring it back to the TV. If you’re a champion of any of the 4 – original BBC TV – Radio 4 – Discovery – revived BBCTV – then you’re a Mastermind Champ, as far as I’m concerned.

The next champion, then, was surely going to have to earn the title through General Knowledge. Sian started off like an express train in her round, but became a little bogged down around about the 90 second mark. She kept the total moving enough to push her score up to 15. Next up was John Savage. Now, it’s only a week since we saw John win his semi by blowing away the competition with a very good GK round. He needed a great round to at least open the door of the corridor of uncertainty to the remaining contenders. It certainly wasn’t a bad round, not at all, but it wasn’t of the calibre of the previous week’s. 11 put him on 20, which is perfectly respectable, but it looked very vulnerable.

In my preview last week, I said that while I thought that Aidan, Paul and Sian were all capable of winning, Aidan’s first round GK score of 9 worried me. Had Aidan repeated that in this round, then he would have tied with John on 20. He didn’t repeat it, though. Aidan had said in his filmed insert that he was more concerned about doing his best, the best that he was capable of, than he was about winning. He had also said that he entered because Mastermind looked like good craic. For me, this calm and sensible attitude was one of the factors that enabled him to do much, much better. 14 is a good round in anyone’s money, and it took his total, and the target, up to 25. Now we had a target that was going to test all three of the remaining contenders.

The first of the last three to have a go at beating it was Didier Bruyere. Didier never once mentioned in his filmed insert that he has the disadvantage of the fact that English is not his first language, despite how well he speaks it. It didn’t seem to hamper him in the first round and the semi, and I’m not saying it hampered him in this round. However he did seem more nervous than he had done in first round or semi – understandably so, and although he managed double figures, his 12 would only take him to 23. I thought that this might well have left the door open for Andrew Frazer to achieve his goal. Andrew never looked entirely convincing in his GK round in the semi, but even so he scored 10 in 2 minutes then. With another 30 seconds a similar performance would put him very close to the target. If he could reproduce his 19 from the first round, though, the game would be as good as over. Sadly Andrew just couldn’t get going in his round. I think he was aware of this as the round went on as well, and when the buzzer went during the last question you could see the disappointment in his eyes. He knew he hadn’t done it, and a score of 9 for the round left him on 22.

One contender remained. The specialist rounds had ended with Paul Whittaker holding a 3 point lead over Aidan. 3 points is a significant lead, but it’s not necessarily so significant over a 2 and a half minute round. Paul needed 12 to win outright. At first too, it seemed as if he could do it. He wasn’t blasting his way through, but he was keeping calm, picking off the answers to the ones he knew as they came. However, heartbreakingly for him, these dried up in the middle of the round, much as they had done in Sian’s round. At 2 minutes he was significantly behind the clock, and he finished on the same score of 9 correct answers. So Aidan McQuade had done it! Many, many congratulations to you , sir, as much for what you said, and for the attitude in which you approached the contest, as for the splendid GK round which brought you the title.

Congratulations too to Mark Helsby and the team, who brought us a highly enjoyable, and wonderfully unpredictable series. Thank you very much.

The Details

John Savage Pop Music of the 1970s9 - 011 - 020 - 0
Paul WhittakerShakespeare’s Wars of the Roses Plays14 - 09 - 323 - 3
Aidan McQuadeAbraham Lincoln11 - 114 - 325 - 4
Sian WestThe Operas of Verdi6 - 19 - 215 - 3
Didier BruyereThe Paris Commune of 187111 - 012 - 223 - 2
Andrew FrazerThe Roman Empire 284 – 476 AD13 - 09 – 022 – 0

Answers to News Questions

In the news

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


1. Pervez Musharraf
2. Boris Berezhovsky
3. Eddie Mair
4. The Meaningful Easter Egg Co.
5. Car Share
6. Criterium International
7. Mallissa Venice Noel
8. Amanda Knox
9. Arnold Palmer International
10. Kim Barnett
11. Clive Mantle
12. Norman Baker
13. Sir Jonathan May
14. Jade Anderson
15. Martha Jane Fox
16. Nigel Adkins
17. James Holmes

In Other News

1. Last week which city was revealed as the best value European city for a short break?
2. The leader of which central African country was ousted last week?
3. Last week a blue plaque was unveiled to commemorate which London institution?
4. Which brand of chocolate bar was recalled due to pieces of plastic being found in some?
5. Which famous church was presented with new bells last week?
6. Who defied team orders to gain a better place on the podium in the Malaysian GP, and who obeyed team orders, and didn’t get a place on the podium in the same race?
7. Scotland defeated Sweden in the final of which world championship last week?
8. Who won the FA Trophy Final
9. In a Gadget Show poll, what came out as the top innovation disaster of all time?
10. Which railway opened a line to East Grinstead, connecting with the National Rail Network last week?
11. Which US university was last week stripped of several national quiz titles?
12. What was the venue for the friendly between Brazil and Russia last week?
13. What was the final score in the Hong Kong World Sevens Final?
14. Which two British cities are on the shortlist for the European Green Capital of 2015?
15. What was the result of the final test between England and New Zealand?
16. What was the score in the Brazil v. Russia friendly?
17. What was abolished by Home Secretary Theresa May last week for being not fit for purpose?
18. Who announced that he is quitting as an MP to take up a new post in the USA?
19. Which comedian announced that he would like to run as London Mayor in 2020?
20. What was the score between England and Montenegro?
21. – and between Wales and Croatia?
22. Which rugby team lost their appeal against lost points following fielding an ineligible player?
23. What was the score in the Republic of Ireland v. Austria clash?
24. What was the score between Scotland and Serbia?
25. Who used the c word to describe the Environment Secretary following his support for a badger cull and foxhunting?
26. PETA called for an end to which sport last week?
27. Parts of which structure were removed to make way for a building project last week?
28. Which company pulled out of their sponsorship of the iTV drama “Broadchurch”?
29. Which band announced they will be playing Glastonbury this year?
30. A new type of vaccine against what was announced last week?
31. Whose deportation was once again refused by the courts last week?
32. Who announced that her athletics career is probably now over due to a long standing foot injury?
33. Which cycle race will be run for the first time in 20 years this summer?
34. Where was an X Factor audition held where only one auditionee turned up at first?
35. The search for whom was called off last week?
36. It was announced that a drink nicknamed tramp juice is to be made revived. What is its real name?
37. Which actor died aged 65?
38. How long did it take astronauts to reach the International Space Station this week?
39. Parents in Swansea are being offered £100 to stop using what?
40. The heart unit in which hospital was controversially closed last week?

Answers

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


1. Former leader of Pakistan who returned to the country last week
2. Russian tycoon found dead in his London bathroom
3. TV political interviewer who asked Boris Johnson “You’re a nasty piece of work, aren’t you?”
4. Christian Easter Egg company forced by low sales to sell at a loss
5. New BBC sitcom starring Peter Kay to be shown on iplayer first before terrestrial TV
6. Mini tour race won by Chris Froome
7. Got married to Johnson Beharry VC
8. Had her acquittal quashed by Italian Supreme Court
9. Tournament won by Tiger Woods which put him back to no1 in the world rankings
10. Former England cricketer convicted of harassing his ex wife
11. TV actor who had part of his ear bitten off in a Premier Inn
12. Transport Minister who has released an album with his band “The Reform Club”
13. Head of MI5 stepping down
14. 14 year old killed by dangerous dogs
15. Founder of LastMinute.Com, took her place as youngest female member of the House of Lords
16. New manager of Reading FC
17. Suspect in US Batman film shooting – last week tried to plea bargain

In Other News

1. Budapest
2. Central African Republic
3. The London Tube Map – where it was first drawn up
4. KitKat
5. Notre Dame, Paris
6. Sebastian Vettel defied team orders to overtake Mark Webber for the win : Nico Rosberg obeyed team orders not to overtake Lewis Hamilton for third place
7. Women’s curling
8. Wrexham won a penalty shootout 4 – 1 after a 1 – 1 draw with Grimsby
9. Sinclair C5
10. The Bluebell Railway
11. Harvard
12. Stamford Bridge
13. Fiji 26 – Wales 19
14. Bristol and Glasgow
15. A draw, despite England being on the back foot for the whole test
16. 1 - 1
17. UK Border Agency
18. David Milliband
19. Eddie Izzard
20. 1 – 1 ( Rooney scoring for England) 21. 1 - 2
22. London Welsh
23. 2 – 2
24. 0 - 2
25. Bill Oddie
26. Cross Channel Pigeon Racing
27. The remains of the Berlin Wall
28. Viking River Cruises, who were understandably upset about a scene showing a burning boat
29. The Rolling Stones
30. Foot and Mouth Disease
31. Abu Qatada
32. Paula Radcliffe
33. The Milk Race
34. Colchester
35. April Jones
36. Kestrel Lager
37. Richard Griffiths
38. 6 hours
39. Disposable Nappies
40. Leeds General

Nelson question

It was Alwyn’s quiz last night at the club. Now, I would be the first to agree that you should always treat someone who is good enough to spend their own time putting a quiz together for other people’s enjoyment with respect, especially if they receive no other remuneration for their efforts than a couple of pints. However I am also honest enough to admit that there are question masters I would argue with, and question masters I wouldn’t. Alwyn I wouldn’t argue with, even if I did think some of his answers were wrong. Not that I felt so last night. I certainly didn't spot any obvious wrong'uns.

I did get annoyed at one point, but I was annoyed with myself more than anything else. Alwyn had produced a connections quiz, and this was one of the connection sets.

Which is the furthest planet from the Sun in the solar system?
Who was portrayed on the tails side of an old penny until 1971?
Who was the son of Atreus, and the brother of Menelaus?
What is the connection between your last three answers?


Now, I’m sure you know the answers to the first three questions : -
Neptune ( almost every question master now knows that Pluto is a Dwarf Planet)
Britannia
Agamemnon

As for a connection, though, I have to say that we were stumped. So, this is where technique comes into play. One way of tackling a connections question when you can’t see the connection is just going on random word association, and so we sat there going “Britannia – Britannia Building Society – HMS Britannia”. I said, just off the top of my head , “HMS Agamemnon was Nelson’s favourite ship.” Why did I say this? When I was researching my family history I came upon a 4x great grandfather who was press ganged onto the Agamemnon’s sister ship HMS Belliqueux. The Agamemnon was a lot more famous, and there's a lot more about it on the internest so I ended up finding a lot about the Agamemnon while I was researching the Belliqueux. However we couldn’t think of a famous HMS Neptune and so I forgot all about it. What did we end up with for an answer? Some nonsense I came up with about Neptune holding a trident, and Britannia holding a trident. The answer – well, I’m guessing that Alwyn received several teams which had just put HMS/ Royal Navy ships as the answer, since he apologized, but said that the only answer he would accept was that they were all ships of Nelson’s Navy. I could conceivably have had that! Mind you, in my opinion that was an obscure connection which probably should have been made easier by including a question like, for the sake of argument – Nike was the Greek Goddess of what? – Victory.

As my late friend Allan used to say – the best question you can be asked is the one where you say – damn, I should have known that – but you don’t.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Just Call Me Anne Robinson ( Annual Games Marathon #2)

A couple of years ago I was at a quiz in Ton Pentre, which I’d never been to before, and after winning the quiz one of the other players made the comment “I bet nobody ever wants to play against you at Trivial Pursuit”. This led to a post asking readers about other quiz games they’d played, and as a result of this post I bought The World According to Ubi, and fell in love with the game. It’s still my favourite trivia/quiz game by a long, long way.

Last year, purely on the spur of the moment, my daughter Jess and I dug it out, and used it as stage one of what became a games marathon. We spent most of the day taking it in turns to pick various games to play against each other, the first of which was Ubi. After a couple of hours Jess’ twin sister Jen and Jen’s boyfriend Shaun also joined us. A good fun day.

Well, that day rather started something. While we’ve never quite gone the whole hog and spent a whole day playing games since, we’ve spent many evenings trying out one or another game. I should probably explain that. Jess has kept eagle eyes open in car boot sales and charity shops, and over the last 12 months we have put together quite a collection of quiz based games. To name but a few – over the last year we’ve acquired : -

Trivial Pursuit – Genus, Genus II, Baby Boomer, 2008 Genus, Young Players, Family Edition,TV Edition, 20th Anniversary Edition, Sports, Entertainment, RPM (Music) 1, RPM 2,90’s edition,
Quizwrangle
Isaac Asimov’s Superquiz
Masterbrain
Waddington’s Masterquiz
Quotations
Sporting Triangles (remember that show?)
A Question of Sport (1987)
A Question of Sport (1991)
A Question of Pop(2000)
The $64,000 Question
Magnus Magnusson’s The Quizmaster
Nostalgia
Dave Lee Travis’ Give Us a Break
Blockbusters
Who Wants To Be A Millionaire
Today’s The Day
Genius – The Game of the Guinness Book of Records


This is not an exhaustive list , but it will at least give you an idea. Well, yesterday we played the second running of our annual Games Marathon. Disney Trivia again, Scrabble, Trivial Pursuit TV and Family Editions (Jess likes the Family Edition, because the questions really are slanted to give the player on the child questions a decent chance of winning, even more so than the Young Players edition) , Pointless, Ubi and then her latest acquisition, The Weakest Link.

This is not the electronic game version. Now, we’ve played quite a few TV tie in games in the last year so I feel qualified to make a couple of points here. In all of the tie in games the designers have had to face a dilemma – do they go all out to reproduce the gameplay of the show faithfully, or do they take the basic idea of the game, but come up with something of a more traditional board game which moves away from the gameplay of the show? There’s advantages and disadvantages on both sides. The makers of The Weakest Link game went all out to be as authentic to the show as they possibly could.

The nature of The Weakest Link was such that I would imagine that for the majority of the audience it wasn’t the questions that provided the main source of interest in the show. It was the voting, and the nastiness of the hostess. Presumably the majority of people buying this game would be regular viewers, and so these elements really needed to be built into the game somehow. The result was a very different quiz game.

We’d never roadtested the game before, and we quickly found a drawback to it. In order to make the game work, you need at least 5 players. That’s quite a lot. Alright – not quite such a huge problem in my house, where we’ve 7 of us living here at the moment, but then the chances of any 5 being willing to play at the same time are strictly limited. Not only that, one of your five players has to be prepared to play Anne Robinson. The game even comes with an Anne Robinson mask for the question master. I shall be putting mine on the mantelpiece to frighten the grandkids away from the fire when they start walking. Whoever takes the part of Anne has a lot to do in the game. Firstly they have to ask the questions to each competitor. They have to keep moving the bank indicator, and keep track of where the team banks each time. The mechanics of the way this is done are actually very clever and work in practice. Then they have to conduct the voting. Again, this is clever. Each player has their own different coloured playing piece, which ‘Anne’ moves along a board each time they get one wrong, to keep track of the weakest link. Each player also has a voting wheel. In the voting round they move the wheel to select the colour of the player they want to vote off. It’s all perfectly clear and easy to do when you play it, and it does replicate the mechanics of the show itself very well. As in the show, the two remaining contestants battle it out in a head to head over 5 questions each. In the event of a tie, sudden death ensues until there is a winner.

We managed to play through one game, which didn’t take more than about half an hour. Yes, I had to play Anne. Well, in fact it was gently explained to me that I could either play Anne, or resign myself to the prospect of getting voted out at the very first opportunity. A bit of a no brainer, really.

Well, that was pretty much our second games marathon , and there are worse ways you can spend a day of your precious Easter holidays. As for today, well, in a little while I’m off to school to run an Easter revision session for the pupils who are doing their GCSE English in a few weeks time. I’m tempted to do it in the Anne Robinson mask.