Saturday, 14 June 2014

Only Connect - Sudden Death Match

Heath Family v. The Software Engineers

Oh, decisions, decisions! Who to support? There were LAM readers – and contributors - on both sides! In the blue corner we had the Heath Family – daughter Kip, mother Heather and father and skipper Alan – who defeated the Exhibitionists in their first match. An inspired Europhiles team beat them in the qualification match, and this placed them into this winner-takes-all-loser-has-to-fall showdown. In the red corner we had the Software Engineers Stephen Macintosh, Anne Harrison and captain Chris Howlett. They were well beaten in their first round by the Welsh Learners, but came back to knock out the Erstwhile Athletes in their own first sudden death match. Well, I wasn’t making any predictions. Neither team deserved to be jinxed by that.

Round One – What’s The Connection?

The Heaths began their bid for glory with Lion. The first clue was The Devil’s Tune – hmm, no ideas occurred to me. The Devil You Know – came next. Now that was one of those things where I kind of had the feeling that I really ought to be seeing some connection after two – but I couldn’t. The Clematis Tree gave me a clue. I seemed to recall that Anne Widdicombe had published a novel under a similar title - and when Seventy Two Virgins came up as the last clue, well that, I knew, was written by Boris Johnson. So novels by (Conservative) politicians was my offer. The Heaths just hadn’t heard of them, and offered things you find in Heaven. The Engs knew that they were novels, but offered novels by the same author. A bold gambit from the Engs to kick off their bid saw them go for a traditionally voiced horned viper, and, joy of joys, even Victoria pronounced it this way as well! It was at this point I started to suspect that they might win. Right, a few years ago on the IQA website somebody pointed out Stendhal’s passing resemblance to the great Pat Gibson, which is how I knew that the first picture of the set was Stendhal. Unfortunately I didn’t recognize Stockholm in the second picture, or Diogenes in the third. Baron Munchausen in the last I did recognize, which suggested nothing other than syndromes – which was all I could come up with – I didn’t know Stendahl’s syndrome. That was the right answer, though neither team had it. Two Reeds gave the Heaths the sound set. Now, the first clue was the song Many of Horror by Biffy Clyro – which is also known by the title When We Collide. Was that, I wondered, the connection – all were songs to have been retitled? Hallelujah came next, and that meant I knew I was wrong. Matt Cardy recorded the previous song, and Alexandra Burke this one, as their first singles after winning the X-Factor. But there was just the sound of footsteps, or something like that for the next one. Huh? Then Killing in the Name Of, by Rage Against the Machine – and that made me go for the opposite to my second idea – singles released to prevent X-Factor singles getting the Christmas Number 1. D’you know what – I liked that set. It was one which actually did get much easier when the last clue was revealed. Neither team had it. So Twisted Flax offered the Engs Cheddar Gorge. A brilliant shout saw the team put games from I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue on the table, and when the second clue, Late Arrivals confirmed it the points were there. Water began with the Beatles for the Heaths. I’m sorry but a clue like that just gives me possibility overload. Mr. Bean came next – and I couldn’t see it – but Gordon Tracy meant I could. Thunderbird 4, Gordon’s vehicle of choice – was a yellow submarine – you see where I’m coming from. Mr. Bean’s car was yellow. Alas, Alan and Heather are, I would imagine, of a similar vintage to myself, and knew that Gordon piloted Thunderbird Four, but they went with Four, rather than the colour. I mentally patted myself on the back for guessing that Del Boy (alright, it was The Trotters) would be the last in the set. The Engs made no mistake, and took the first bonus of the contest. Given the chance to extend the lead with Eye of Horus, the Engs began with Manhattanhenge – huh?– The Palio – huh huh?? – Football Transfer Window – hmm – twice a year events? I wondered. Clocks Change, the last clue certainly didn’t disprove it. The Engs liked it to, and offered it, which was just as well since it was the correct answer. Oh, when you haven’t got the rub of the green it can be a cruel game. Alan even knew what the Palio was, but never got the chance for the bonus. All of which meant that the Engs had scored 5, while the Heaths had yet to get off the mark.

Round Two – What Comes Fourth?

Twisted Flax gave the Heaths the first opportunity to strike back. Twisted Flax revealed Nicky Hutchinson, and that meant nothing to any of us. DI Alec Hardy didn’t do anything more for me either. Whatever ‘Party Animals’ is, I haven’t seen it, and so that set passed me by completely. Nobody had it. However, when it’s explained, you can’t help admiring the set. The first was played by Christopher Ecclestone – the second by David Tennant – ah, you see it now, don’t you. So anything played by Peter Capaldi such as Malcolm Tucker would have worked. Lion gave the Engs the words Double Take printed in green. Round House in yellow followed. Fast Pace in red came fourth. Nobody knew that these were stages in the American DEFCON warning system. No, of course I didn’t. The answer was – cocked pistol – in white. Eye of Horus gave the Heaths 1976 Mark Edmondson. Now, I knew that Mark Edmondson was the Australian tennis player who won the Australian Open Singles – somewhat against the odds – in 1976. I made a punt for a 5 pointer at this stage, and plumped for Andy Murray - 2013 – these all being home winners of Grand Slam Tournaments. Yannick Noah 1983 certainly worked – French player, French Open. Alan had it on two, but didn’t press the buzzer yet – Come on Alan! – I was shouting at the telly by this point. Yes! Water saw the Engs start with sit – far too many directions that one could go in, I thought – dolor came next, and it looked like Stephen who was straight in with the lorem ipsum thingy – you’ve seen it, I’m sure. Lorem gave them three points, and that, Engineers, was a pretty good shout, I reckon. Alan passed on the viper, and took Two Reeds for their third set. They received pictures for their pains. We saw capers – I didn’t recognize them – a Manhattan cocktail (ditto) – and Carol Vorderman. Huh? Ah, apparently they are the last word in titles of Muppet films. Muppets’ Christmas Carol is still Mary’s favourite film. Didn’t help. The last should have been an Island for the Muppets Treasure Island. Now, Victoria did an interesting thing here. She didn’t give Chris a chance to pronounce horned as horn-ed again, turning to them and voicing it conventionally herself. I suppose to ask for twice in the same show is just greedy. The set started with A: One hundred and one – B: One billion – C. One octillion. Now, neither team had it, and I’m not surprised. One hundred and one is the first number in which the letter a appears – one billion – b and so on. So for the 4th the answer would be D- One hundred. Absolutely fiendish. The round being ended, the Heaths were up to 3, and the Engs to 8.

Round Three – The Connecting Walls

The Engs, kicking off, picked Lion. Ta-ta – Cya – Ciao and Vale they resolved early doors as a set of ways of saying slong. They saw a set of plots too, but they wouldn’t resolve. I could see a set of words which could follow Spanish, but they hadn’t seen them yet. Then Stephen had it , and a little trial and error isolated Inquisition – Practices – Flea and Fly.Three attempts failed to sort out the others and that was that. The first of the last two lines was Bye – Main – Babington and Gunpowder. These they knew as plots against the crown, and even though they didn’t say specifically catholic plots they were given the point – rightly so, I think. Now – Sencha – Gyokuro – Hyson and Chun Mee, well, none of us knew they were types of green tea. So 6 points, enough to ensure they would lead in to the last round.

For the water wall the Heaths could see a group of Flemish artists, and a group of lucky articles. They were stubbornly refusing to untangle, though. It was scant consolation when time was up to hear Victoria say what a wicked wall it was, I’m sure. When the lines were resolved they knew that Brill – Hayter – Flymo and Bosch make lawn mowers. Vermeer – Hals – Steen and Cuyp – were the recalcitrant set of painters. Circle – Anchor – Van Dyke and Horseshoe were beards, leaving Jade – Wishbone – Number Seven and Rainbow – all things that were lucky. All the groups they had, but none of them would resolve. Ouch. So 4 points scored, and I’m afraid that going into the vowels, the Heaths were looking down the barrel of a gun at 13 – 7 to the Engs.

Round Four – Missing Vowels

We kicked off with things that swing, and these went one apiece. Fashion designer and product went 2 – 1 to the Engineers. Cyclists I fancied as a set, but I will confess that even I didn’t have the master of the standing trike, Mr. MacHenry from the Magic Roundabout. Good clue though. Well, that was that, another 1 apiece, and a deduction for the Engs meant that the final score was 16 – 10 to the Software Engineers. Well done Engineers, and best of luck in the semi finals. Bad luck, Heaths, but well played for your efforts in the series – we’re sorry to see you go.


Chris Howlett said...

Amusing backstage story on this round: before the recording started, Victoria told us that the question setters wished us to know that we might think one of the music clues had gone wrong, but actually it was meant to be like that. As a result, I think all 6 of us were expecting one of the clues to be 4'33" from before the first question!

My only regret this show was not buzzing in after "Cheddar Gorge - Late Arrivals" to say just "I'm Sorry, I Haven't a Clue"...

Londinius said...

Hi Chris, and congratulations.

Ah, now that would have been worth a bonus point!

Andrew B. said...

Some tough questions, I thought - haven't spoken to anyone who thought the "DEFCON" one was gettable!

Watergrass Jon said...

Credit where it's due - the Doctor Who question you admird was one of Victoria's.