Orienteers v. Gamesmasters
Right then, quarter finals and sudden death. In the blue corner, the Orienteers, Paul Beecher, Simon Spiro and Sean Blanchflower, who won their place by defeating the Romantics, and the Gamesmasters. In the red corner . . . well it was the same Gamesmasters, whose only loss was to the Orienteers. Filip Drnovšek Zorko, James Robson and skipper Frederic Heath-Renn took out the Coders and the Bibliophiles to work their own way through. In their previous match the Orienteers had carved out a five point lead by the end of round three, and survived a Gamesmasters onslaught in the Missing Vowels to win 22-19. So basically, the Gmesmasters needed to be within 3 points by the end of the walls to be realistically in with a chance. Well, whoever won this show, one person would be a step closer to the coveted University Challenge – Only Connect double. Would it be Sean or Filip, though?
Round One – What’s The Connection?
The Orienteers kicked off, choosing Twisted Flax. Timothy Evans (for murder) – Michael Shields (for attempted murder) – Derek Bentley (for murder) – Alan Turing (for gross indecency). Now, I had gone for pardons from the second. Sean offered posthumous pardons. I would have got quite annoyed at the adjudication on this, had not Victoria offered them another go. They didn’t supply the answer she wanted – that these were just pardons, since they weren’t all posthumous. The Gams didn’t manage a bonus. Victoria then went on to make the unarguable point that while there was nothing wrong with the pardon being given to Alan Turing – why haven’t other people convicted of the same offence for the same reason been pardoned as well? For their own first set the Gams chose Lion, and received – ho-de – ho –de – ho. Well, that was the response to hi-di-hi-di – hi from Minnie the Moocher. This was followed by Stand Up stand up stand up – from the Isley Brothers/Housemartins Caravan of Love. So these were responses in songs – fillers – call them what you like. The Gams also took - Talkin bout my generation - then - Doo dah – doo dah. They gave an answer which satisfied Victoria, but the correct technical term apparently is call and response responses. Fair enough. Two Reeds gave the Teers - Rome, 64. Hmm , I needed more on this one. London 1212, though was a bit of a clue for me. London Bridge was my grand final specialist subject, and I knew that the Bridge was gutted by fire a few times in its history, and 1212 was the first of these. New York 1776 certainly didn’t disprove my fire theory, and London 1666 proved it beyond reasonable doubt. The Teers had it from the last clue. The Gams then opted for Eye of Horus. Now, I take nothing away from the Gams for knowing bits of The Creation of Adam off two clues – in fact James had it off the first but they took a second to be certain, which was probably sensible. Yet this really was the plum set of the round – whoever picked this one had a serious chance of decent points compared to the other sets we’d seen so far. Sean ignored the opportunity to enhance his choices by voicing the second vowel of Horned Viper, and received Silent. Compare this with the previous set. I defy anyone to have a reasonable chance of getting a five pointer off that word. Knock – out was the second, and it obviously wasn’t punch, because then knock out would be last clue, not second. Reverse didn’t help me at all, and I don’t think it helped the Teers much either. Ducth, though was the clincher and all of these were auction types. Left just with water, the Gams knew they’d be getting the water set. This was maybe a bit of payback for the easy picture set. The songs were – Every Teardrop is a waterfall – The Boy In The Bubble – American Pie – I walk the line. They are all ways of representing data graphically – pie chart - line graph etc. Fair, but tough, and no points to anyone. So for part one of the contest it was mission accomplished by the Gams, who led by 4 - 2
Round Two – What Comes Fourth?
The Teers’ luck changed in the second round. Taking Two Reeds, they got a set which really suited Scrabble fanatic Simon. DA(3 pts) He had the connecting principle worked out from the first, and when CH(7 pts) came up he worked out that what was needed was AX(9 pts). These were ascending possible scores of two letter words. Great answer. The Gams chose Twisted Flax, and received 9 = B. 12 = Tr didn’t help me get any closer to the answer 15 = Quadr saw both me and the Gams have a lightbulb moment, as this was now clearly numbers of noughts of billion – trillion etc. So the answer would be 18 = Quint. As I said, the Teers’ luck had changed, and they picked the plum in this round. Given a picture from the wonderful John Tenniel illustrations of Alice in Wonderland, with the March Hare highlighted, I do wonder if they were tempted to take a punt for five on a fictional June? As it was they took Pril O’Neil to be certain before plumping for a June bug, which was good enough. Grace Jones as May Day represented May. Drastic action was required, and Frederic took just that, opting for Hornèd Viper. Now, the word England in white on a graduated red background gave the Gams the connecting principle that all of these appear on the navigation bar on the BBC news website. The next word was UK, and the one after that World. To be fair we should all of us have seen that these have been reversed in order. The next word would have been Home. No excuses – a good set which I didn’t have but should have done. Now, I probably wouldn’t have gambled in the studio, but when Roger Black came up as the first clue of the Teers’ next set, I went for Kriss Akabusi. I remember watching that 1991 world men’s 4x400m relay. I was visting my Mum in London at the time. Derek Redmond was the second clue, which confirmed it and gave it to the Teers. The Gams really needed a helpful set for their last go of the round. I didn’t have it from St. Albans, 1980 – but I did from Bath and Wells, 1991. These were all the last few Archbishops of Canterbury – their previous diocese, and the year of their promotion. Which meant that Durham, 2013 would be the answer. Neither team managed both diocese and year, although they had both between them. The scores revealed just how dramatic the reversal of fortune both teams had undergone was, since the Teers now had a lead of 11 – 6.
Round Three – Connecting Walls
The Gams kicked off first, knowing that they really needed as close to a maximum as possible. They quickly separated a set of PG Wodehouse characters – Byng – Wooster – Spode and Glossop. English Civil War Battles followed – Brentford (yay, Brentford! Go the Bees!) – Edgehill – Naseby and Preston. The last two sets were rather more problematical. They could see porcelain makers, but three attempts to find them failed. Once the lines were resolved we saw Royal Crown Derby – Wedgewood – Doulton and Aynsley. This left Gallup – Worcester – Kellner and Luntz. I didn’t know, but leapt on Gallup and went for pollsters. That was the right answer. The Gams just didn’t see it, and thus ended with 5 points.
A good performance from the Teers, then, could just about wrap the game up. 20th century ‘Angry Young Men’ British writers saw them find Braine – Amis – Wesker and Sillitoe early doors. Bushy – Osborne – Holyrood and Somerset were all ‘Houses’ that were royal residences at one time or another. Now, I could see a set of horse drawn vehicles, and words which can follow – fire -. In a case of lightning striking twice in the same place, the Teers too took three guesses and froze the wall. The horse drawn vehicles – Fly – Wain – Clarence and Gig – they didn’t know, and that surprised me a little. This left the fires – Brand – Arm – Fox and Fighter. This meant that they too scored 5. With the score at 16 – 11 the Gams had a hell of a gap to close, but at least it was possible still.
Round Four – Missing Vowels
Well, the first set, Greek cuisine, was one of those sets you could predict what was likely to come up. The Teers managed this taking 4, while the Gams lost a point for an early buzz. Game over? Well, not necessarily, since three consecutive numbers in ascending order went 3 – 1 to the Gams. Then a noun and a verb pronounced differently went 4 – 0 to the Gams. Time was running out, even though the momentum – and maybe even the Force- was with them. There was only time for one point apiece on Nobel Laureates in Physics. 22 – 18 was probably a fair reflection of the match, and the Teers deserved their win – hard luck to the Gams, but well played as well.