Saturday, 25 April 2015

In The News

In The News

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

Rima Horton
Sir Philip Carter
Box Office
420 celebration
Oskar Groning
Clive Howard
Matthew Warchus
Ankit Kishri
Lelisa Desisa and Caroline Rotich
Patrick Bamford
Katie Cross
Roy Mason
Jack Grealish
Sunrise Farms Iowa
Reanne Evans
Phil Rudd
Don the Sheepdog
Navinder Singh Sarao
Lutfur Rahman
Alison Saunders
Adam Johnson
Box Office

In Other News

Which High Street Bank said that it may move headquarters out of the UK?
What went back on display in Italy after 4 months?
Leaked emails suggested which star had a slave owning ancestor which he tried to cover up?
What was the result of the Liverpool v. Villa FA Cup semi?
How many medals did team GB win in the European Gymnastics championships?
Who won the Bahrain GP?
Which item on This Morning received a huge number of complaints?
Who announced that 2015 will be his last Open Golf Championship appearance?
Who announced he will ride in the inaugural Tour de Yorkshire?
What specifically was criticized as unrealistic in Poldark?
Pep Guardiola announced he is staying at which club this year?
Which New Zealand player was ruled out of the Rugby World Cup?
Who was inducted as a soloist into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?
Where in London did an Air Ambulance land last week?
Name the teams contesting the Rugby European Champions Cup final?
Name the teams contesting the Rugby European Challenge Cup Final?
Which USTV star announced that she is going blind through macular degeneration?
What form of propulsion did the Japanese train which set a speed record of 374mph use?
Who denied editing his and other Tory MPs’ Wikipedia entries?
Which venue will host the GB v France Davis Cup quarter final?
What was the Champions’ league result of the Bayern v. Porto tie?
– and Barcelona v. PSG?
Where was a conference about the Charlie Hebdo Massacre cancelled?
Robert Downey Jr. walked out of an interview with whom?
What was the score between Real Madrid and Atletico?
 – and Monaco and Juventus?
Who scored a century for the W. Indies in the first innings of the 2nd Test?
Which Hollywood star joined the campaign for the return of the Elgin Marbles?
Which Premier League club have promised to slash season ticket prices the season after next?
Which anniversary did the Hubble Space Telescope celebrate?
Which US figure was given 2 years’ probation for leaking military secrets?
Which product did Apple launch last week?
Who announced a return to boxing promotion?
Which cycling team escaped a ban from the UCI over doping offences?

Answers to News Questions

In the News

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

1.       Isis
2.       Alexander Pacteau
3.       Manjinder Virk
4.       Bloomberg
5.       Lord Janner
6.       Periscope
7.       Adam Peaty
8.       Seedling – Balder Success
9.       Waleed Ghani
10.   Viv Nicholson
11.   Many Clouds
12.   Watson
13.   Delroy Facey
14.   John Zylinski
15.   Lance Corporal Joshua Leakey
16.   SS City of Cairo
17.   Jurgen Klopp
18.   Aaron Hernandez
19.   USS Oklahoma
20.   Alex Reppold
21.   Richard Desmond
22.   Escape from Camp 14
23.   Aaron Cook
24.   Mustafa Kamal

In Other News

1.       What was Sir Ian Botham’s England test wickets record beaten by James Anderson this week?
2.       Who described the killing of 1.5 million Armenians  during world war II as genocide
3.       Who said last week “I’m more British than UKIP”
4.       Who announced candidacy for the Democratic Nomination?
5.       Who won the Olivier Award for playing Madame Arcati in Blithe Spirit?
6.       Which team won the Boat Race?
7.       What was the score in the Manchester football derby?
8.       What position did Sir Bradley Wiggins finish in Paris – Roubaix – and why did he and a number of other competitors face censure?
9.       Who won the Chinese GP?
10.   How far did 300 runners in last weekend’s Portsmouth 10K actually run?
11.   Whose notebook sold for £700000 last week?
12.   Who is to receive a BAFTA Fellowship?
13.   Who called for a ban on chewing gum in pubic?
14.   Gunter Grass passed away last week. What was the English title of his famous book Die Blechtrommel?
15.   The 5th June will be marked how by the BBC?
16.   Which Liverpool player was supposedly shown in a Youtube video inhaling laughing gas?
17.   Who won the US Masters?
18.   Which famous rugby club are celebrating their 125th anniversary
19.   Who faced Twitter death threats after speculation that she might replace Jeremy Clarkson on Top Gear?
20.   Who became the UN’s global advocate for elimination of Mines and Explosive Hazards?
21.   Which singer passed away , aged 73?
22.   Who was named Laureus Sports Person of the year?
23.   What was the champions league score between Barcelona and PSG?
24.   – and Porto and Bayern Munich?
25.   A surplus of £38million angered fans of which football club?
26.   In which country were the world’s oldest ‘tools’ discovered?
27.   Who scored a century for England in the second innings of the first test in Antigua?
28.   Who appeared in Westminster Magistrates Court on sexual assault charges?


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

1.       It has been removed from the UN Weather agency list of names for Hurricanes
2.       Charged with murder of Karen Buckley
3.       Actress playing first Asian regular character in Midsomer Murders
4.       Financial trading platform crashed
5.       Escaped trial over historic sexual allegations due to advanced dementia
6.       Video streaming app which BBC bosses have told Tony Blackburn off for using
7.       Broke world 100m breaststroke record – first man under 58 seconds.
8.       Both were horses put down after the Grand National
9.       Man who has revived the Whig Party
10.   Pools Winner, subject of Spend Spend Spen – passed away
11.   Horse that won the Grand National
12.   IBM supercomputer that has now written a cook book
13.   Ex Bolton Wanderers player convicted of match fixing
14.   Polish Prince who has challenged Nigel Farage to a duel in Hyde Park
15.   He received his VC from the Queen
16.   Wartime wreck from which £34 million of silver rupees have been recovered
17.   Quit as Borussia Dortmund Manager
18.   Former New England Patriots star jailed for murder
19.   Pearl Harbour ship – USA to exhume over 300 of the crew
20.   Became Britain’s youngest head teacher at 28
21.   Daily Express owner donating £1.3 million to UKIP
22.   Book given to hundreds of prisoners to promote literacy
23.   British Taekwondo fighter, switched allegiance to Moldova
24.   Resigned as IOC President

In Other News

1.       383
2.       Pope Francis
3.       Amir Khan
4.       Hillary Clinton
5.       Angela Lansbury
6.       Oxford
7.       4 – 2 Man Utd
8.       18th – he and others were censured for crossing a level crossings just seconds before a train passed
9.       Lewis Hamilton
10.   A missing marshal caused them to run 13000m
11.   Alan Turing
12.   Jon Snow
13.   Jamie Oliver
14.   The Tin Drum
15.   National Music Day
16.   Raheem Sterling
17.   Jordan Spieth
18.   The Barbarians
19.   Sue Perkins
20.   Daniel Craig
21.   Percy Sledge
22.   Novak Djokovic
23.   3 – 1 Barcelona
24.   3 – 1 Porto
25.   Newcastle United
26.   Kenya
27.   Gary Balance
28.   Neil “Doctor” Fox

Saturday, 18 April 2015

The Return of the News

In the News

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

Alexander Pacteau
Manjinder Virk
Lord Janner
Adam Peaty
Seedling – Balder Success
Waleed Ghani
Viv Nicholson
Many Clouds
Delroy Facey
John Zylinski
Lance Corporal Joshua Leakey
SS City of Cairo
Jurgen Klopp
Aaron Hernandez
USS Oklahoma
Alex Reppold
Richard Desmond
Escape from Camp 14
Aaron Cook
Mustafa Kamal

In Other News

What was Sir Ian Botham’s England test wickets record beaten by James Anderson this week?
Who described the killing of 1.5 million Armenians  during world war II as genocide
Who said last week “I’m more British than UKIP”
Who announced candidacy for the Democratic Nomination?
Who won the Olivier Award for playing Madame Arcati in Blithe Spirit?
Which team won the Boat Race?
What was the score in the Manchester football derby?
What position did Sir Bradley Wiggins finish in Paris – Roubaix – and why did he and a number of other competitors face censure?
Who won the Chinese GP?
How far did 300 runners in last weekend’s Portsmouth 10K actually run?
Whose notebook sold for £700000 last week?
Who is to receive a BAFTA Fellowship?
Who called for a ban on chewing gum in pubic?
Gunter Grass passed away last week. What was the English title of his famous book Die Blechtrommel?
The 5th June will be marked how by the BBC?
Which Liverpool player was supposedly shown in a Youtube video inhaling laughing gas?
Who won the US Masters?
Which famous rugby club are celebrating their 125th anniversary
Who faced Twitter death threats after speculation that she might replace Jeremy Clarkson on Top Gear?
Who became the UN’s global advocate for elimination of Mines and Explosive Hazards?
Which singer passed away , aged 73?
Who was named Laureus Sports Person of the year?
What was the champions league score between Barcelona and PSG?
– and Porto and Bayern Munich?
A surplus of £38million angered fans of which football club?
In which country were the world’s oldest ‘tools’ discovered?
Who scored a century for England in the second innings of the first test in Antigua?
Who appeared in Westminster Magistrates Court on sexual assault charges?

University Challenge 2015 - Grand Final

Gonville and Caius, Cambridge v. Magdalen, Oxford

One of the quirks of the current quarter final rounds is that it enables us to get a final where two teams that have already met in the quarters meet again in the final. In the quarter final match between these two teams, Gonville and Caius, in the shape of Ted Loveday, Michael Taylor, Anthony Martinelli, and Jeremy Warner, defeated Magdalen’s Harry Gillow, Chris Savory, Cameron J. Quinn and skipper Hugh Binnie by 60 points. That margin was perhaps just a tiny bit flattering for that match – the outcome never looked certain until the last two minutes or so. Still, if we’re looking for a psychological edge, then it has to be said that it was advantage Gonville and Caius.

If we’re looking for psychological bonuses, then answering the first starter is always useful, and it was Ted Loveday who answered it, recognizing the words of John Maynard Keynes. Ted is from Hammersmith – so, being a West London boy myself I was hoping he’d have a good evening. This brought up bonuses on British monarchs since 1660, which gave them a full house. As a statement of intent this was pretty emphatic. Not that Magdalen were worrying at this stage. Hugh Binnie took an early buzz to identify the term colloid, and earned his own team a set on trite language. They too took a full house. These two teams put on a great show in their quarter final match, and early indications were that they were going to do the same here. Now, when I heard the words – Renaissance – London and Rotterdam for the next question I went for Erasmus and Thomas More, and Ted Loveday did exactly the same. 2nd correct starter. Only one bonus was taken on astronomy, which is one more than I got. I liked the picture starter very much. We saw a table of flags, with numbers underneath. These represented nationalities, with the number of Nobel Prize winners of each – so the USA was top, then Uk , then Germany, then France. Asked which country would be next I guessed Russia, as did Michael Taylor, and we were both wrong. Hugh Binnie went for Sweden, and was right. Great shout. As a reward Magdalen received three more similar tables, representing the winners in a specific prize category, and they had to identify the category. Of these they managed two. Various definitions of the word Mensa came next, and Ted Loveday took his third starter in the first ten minutes. A full house on cubism followed. Anthony Martinelli knew the superior vena cava for the next starter. No bonuses were taken on internet pioneers, which meant that the lead at the 10 minute mark remained 75 – 45 to Gonville and Caius.

Cameron Quinn took a flyer on the next starter. Good tactic, but it didn’t come off this time. Asked which year Virginia Woolf was referring to, he buzzed before he was told it was the year in which Edward VII died. This let Jeremy Warriner in. 2 bonuses on literary quotations followed to take them to the brink of a three figure score. I didn’t understand the next question, but Hugh Binnie did, and supplied the correct answer of hypothesis. A couple of bonuses took their score to 65. For the music starter Harry Gillow was very quick to recognize an excerpt from Tristan and Isolde. Other works depicted by Marc Chagall in a fresco in the Palais Garnier provided no correct answers, but nevertheless the gap was down to less than one full house of start and bonuses. Cameron Quinn took the necessary starter, knowing about a painting of the Lady of Shallot. The first bonus on geometry was taken. Gap down to 5 points. Second bonus wasn’t taken, but the third was, and we had a tied game. There was a great buzzer race between Ted Loveday and Michael Taylor for the next starter. Ted Loveday won, and took his 4th starter answering that Ted Heat’s Cabinet had the previous tory PM – Alec Douglas Home, and the next tory PM – Margrapet Thatcher – in it. Incidentally, Ted Heath is an anagram of Had Teeth. We had that asked in a quiz once. Bonuses on Kyrgyzstan ( incidentally, is there another country which has a name that would have a higher score in scrabble? Answers on a postcard please) brought a full house. Ted Loveday took his fifth starter, guessing that the language being referred to in the question was Sanskrit. Bonuses on some physicsy thing brought little – but I did actually know about the precession of the Heavens. After I’d completed my lap of honour around the living room Ted Loveday took his 6th starter identifying Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter as the work of Simone de Beauvoir. Geology bonuses yielded a further 5 points. Now, shown a portrait of Ben Jonson, JP asked which famous poet this represented. I don’t know – he was certainly a great poet, but I would have said he was better known as a dramatist – or a 100m runner. I think this is the reason why neither team was able to answer. Anthony Martinelli recognized several items all linked by the word ghost. This earned the picture bonuses. More poets laureate were shown, and the team was asked for their names, and the monarchs who appointed them. A full set gave them a commanding lead of 170 to 95 at the 20 minute mark.

The game wasn’t over, but G and C, and in particular Ted Loveday were in commanding form at this stage of the match. It was Ted Loveday who recognized a description of the works which inspired Mussorgsky’s Pictures at An Exhibition for  his 7th starter. A set of bonuses asking the team to identify the centuries BC in which certain events happened yielded another 15 points and a 100 point lead. Some physicsy thing about sound saw G&C lose 5 for an early buzz, but Magdalen couldn’t capitalize. Ted Loveday took his 8th starter with the term Chiasmus. Bonuses on rococo libraries – don’tcha just love a good rococo library? – brought another 5 points. The irrepressible Ted Loveday took his third starter in a row, and his 9th overall recognizing a definition of magma. Fluvial Geography didn’t add a great deal to their score, but it was all academic now anyway. Now, my favourite starter of the night came next. Meaning said only once – which two-word Greek term denotes  - and Ted Loveday took his 10th starter with the correct answer Hapax Legomenon. That’s a particularly sonorous phrase which I encountered studying Old English and Old Norse at Uni. My best mate, KD Johnson, had also studied Old High German, and encountered the same term. I remember one summer evening, two wine boxes liberated from the English Society, and an increasingly bizarre series of toasts, one of which was a toast to the Hapax Legomenon. Not much else do I remember of the evening. Still, within a couple of hours of the final being broadcast KD tweeted me words to the effect of – 30 years I’ve been watching UC, waiting for that question to come up – and he beat me to it! –Ah yes, one of life’s bitter ironies that. The bonuses – a bit of an anticlimax, but then anything would be an anticlimax after the hapax legomenon – were on epithets applied to Greek heroes and deities. Hugh Binnie rightly took his team into triple figures by identifying Poland as the 6th most populous EU state. Bonuses on Henry Kissinger (altogether now – Henry Kissinger – How we’re missin’ yer – and Wishin’ you were here. _ Monty Python’s Contractual Obligation Album, I think) yielded a further 10 points. Ted Loveday capped a remarkable performance with his 11th starter, knowing that Tribunes could be Miliatry, or Of The People. There was just time for a couple of bonuses on geology, and this enabled G&C to take the score to 255 – 105 at the gong.

Hard lines to Magdalen. They have consistently been one of the very best teams in this whole series, and in the final, well, in the final they were up against a terrific team, one of whose members was absolutely on fire for this final, and that’s something you can’t legislate for. As for Gonville and Caius – many congratulations! Another great performance – worthy University Challenge 2015 champions.

Many thanks to the whole production team for yet another absolutely wonderful series – a pure pleasure from start to finish.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

JP has had a quiet series. He’s definitely mellowed since giving up Newsnight. Having said that, he is always on his best behaviour for the Grand Final. In fact, his words of consolation to Magdalen – you were unlucky with the way the questions fell, I think – were surprisingly well chosen. Having said that, though, the more you know the more likely it is that the questions will feel your way.

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

Cliché originally referred to a stereotype or stencil plate in printing.

Sunday, 12 April 2015

CIU National Finals - Blackpool - 11th April 2015

If you’re a regular reader, then you’ll know that the CIU quiz competition, regionals and then (if we qualify) national final have been a highlight of my quizzing year since before I started writing the blog. It remains an unfulfilled ambition of mine to once – just once would do – win the whole thing. I’ve been in teams which have placed 2nd, 3rd (3 or 4 times), 4th, 5th, 6th and nowhere, but never won the big one.

You might recall that September 2014 was the last organized by the estimable Chris Brewis, and at the time we had no idea whether the quiz would take place at all this year, or how it would work. I had a phone call from George a few weeks ago, saying that there would be no regionals this year, and that the final would be played in Blackpool on Saturday 11th April. Well, I won’t lie when I say that my exact words were, “Stuff that for a game of soldiers!”, the upshot being that it was too far away, and would be a far more expensive trip than normal, especially considering that we didn’t at the time know anything about who would now be running the quiz, what the format would be, whether it would be any good etc. I don’t think I was the only person to react that way, not in the South Wales and West of England region anyway. OK, when Barry started asking me about it, and we started putting concrete plans together, my opinions started to change, and we did actually manage to put out our strongest team yesterday. Maesglas ‘A’, national champions on many occasions, weren’t so fortunate though. I know that one of their star players, like I had, said that it was too far away, and just wasn’t prepared to do an overnight stop – and a large number of people who were asked to take his place all said pretty much the same thing – they’d have loved to have played, but one or two nights’ stop was just out of the question for them.

Our plan changed several times before it crystallised. Originally we wondered whether we could travel up together with Maesglas, and maybe hire a minibus between us and share costs, but Maesglas were determined on staying for two nights, which was something we couldn’t manage. Well, my poor old Ford keeps soldiering on, but I think it would be asking for a breakdown in the middle of nowhere if I tried to get it all the way to Blackpool. Barry’s car is too small, and John’s was in the garage. Train fare or hiring a car would have required us to take out second mortgages each. So for us, then, the plan had to be that George, the most reluctant chauffeur amongst all of us, would drive us up on the Friday, we’d stay overnight, and drive back immediately after the quiz yesterday. Now, it’s vulgar to talk about money, so I’m going to be vulgar. Careful use of the internet meant that we were able to do the whole trip for just over £60 a head for fuel, bed and breakfast. Not bad going at all, and only three times as expensive as our annual Derby trip. Alright, sorry, that was a cheap shot which I couldn’t resist.

The wisdom of going up the day before the quiz was proven when we found ourselves sitting on the M6 (actually that was literally true at one point when it got too hot in the car) for about two and a half hours, just outside Keele services. There was a terrible pile up around junction 16 apparently, and they had to land an air ambulance and everything. I can only hope that the people involved were OK in the end. Well, we pulled up outside the guest house at pretty much bang on 7pm, and the first sign that we were going to have a pretty good time was the fact that we parked right outside the hotel. I’d already scouted out a car park nearby where we could have left the car overnight, but that would have cost each of us the price of a pint, so being able to leave the car right outside the guest house was a huge bonus. The guest house was absolutely fine for what we paid – comfortable beds – clean and quiet – a decent full English at 8 am sharp. I would share the name of the place with you, but we are planning on making the trip again if next year’s event is the same, so I don’t want you booking there ahead of me. By half past 8 we were unpacked, had our first pint in the guest house’s bar, and were ready to set out in search of food, and take whatever Blackpool could throw at us.

I’ve only ever been to Blackpool once before, and that was only for a day trip in 1983 to visit the Doctor Who Exhibition, so my impressions are only based on a very brief acquaintance. But what I respect about Blackpool is the way that it seems totally comfortable in its own skin. Blackpool is as Blackpool does, and it makes no bones about it neither. On the sea front you could easily have a marathon pub crawl without having to walk more than a couple of hundred yards. So as you can expect there were a large number of stag and hen groups out and about – maybe it was just me, but there seemed to be a lot more hen groups than stag groups. We met up with Gordon and Colin from Maesglas in Yates’, and then went to a Wetherspoon’s for a meal, where we met Clive, Tony, Michael and the Sunderland lads, who’d had the same idea we’d had of coming up the night before.

It was a good evening. Now, if you’re a regular, you might recall me having mentioned that I’m virtually teetotal (I don’t touch tea, never have. Badoom boom ching – I’m here all week, ladies and gents). When you get right down to it, I just don’t like alcohol that much. Yes, pathetic, I know, but it’s taken me a long enough time to learn what’s me and what isn’t me, and shoving pints down my neck just ain’t me. But. Seeing as it was a special occasion, I did have a pint of cider in the guest house before we went out. It did actually go to my head, and I felt light-headed for a good hour or so till we ate.

OK, so we stayed in Witherspoons, ‘enjoying’, if that’s the right word, watching what appeared to be a spontaneous ladies’ arm wrestling competition on a nearby table. That’s Blackpool, folks. We left the pub and wandered back towards the guest house about quarter to twelve. On the way, we came upon the unusual sight of a lady – and those of a nervous disposition may wish to skip the rest of this paragraph – right, we passed a lady showing considerable ingenuity in her drunken attempts to urinate in a litter bin. A sight of which Barry, with typical Brummagem wit, said, “You know, the lasting mental image I’m going to have of this weekend is the sight of that huge, white, flabby arse draped all over that poor litter bin.” He has quite a way with words, has our Barry.

Now, if you’re like me, your inner child is very often your outer child as well, and the ten year old boy in me that is never very far from the surface absolutely demanded that I went up the Blackpool Tower the next morning. I never took the opportunity in 1983, and always regretted it since. George, like me, is of the opinion that you should always try to do something, or see something when you visit a particular place, so he came too. It was that windy along the front that I did worry that the Tower might actually be closed when we got there; as it was the lady on the tickets told us that she reckoned it would be closed by 11am. I have to say that it wasn’t quite what I was expecting. I know that there’s a huge ballroom in the Tower, but I didn’t expect the 3D cinema. We did get to go up to the top, mind you, where a notice informed us that there are over 90,000 beds in guest houses and hotels in Blackpool, which is more than in the whole of Portugal. I presume this means guest house and hotel beds in Portugal, as opposed to all beds, unless the Great Portuguese Bed Famine is just something I haven’t heard of.

Could the quiz, then, be anything other than an anti-climax? Well, not, it wasn’t an anti –climax at all. I’ll go into some more detail shortly, but basically, we took the lead in the first round, and I think we stayed in the lead until the last. Going into the last round we‘d won a case of lager already, and had a lead of precisely one half of a point. I have never really been in realistic contention for a win in the CIU since the very first time I played, where we went into the Who Am I (which has thankfully been dropped from the quiz now) 1 point behind the leaders, and had it on the first clue. So did the team who were in the lead. So you can imagine it was an exciting situation. Sadly, we scored a point less than the teams behind us, and lost by half a point to Gosforth Empire, and drew with Newbottle Workingmen’s from Sunderland, who beat us on the tie break. Ah, fate can be cruel, but them’s the breaks. I was fine by the time we left, but I won’t lie, for a little while I was very disappointed – not so much that we were beaten, because the Gosforth and the Newbottle boys are great guys and fine quizzers, and it’s no shame to lose to them, but because I had started – only just started to believe it mind you, that this could maybe just be our year. Maybe next time.

So let’s say a bit more about the quiz itself. The chap from the CIU club magazine has asked for feedback, and so these are my thoughts on the subject.

The Quiz

There is, and always has been, a debate to be had about the format of the CIU quiz. Now, this is just my opinion, and I’m not trying to upset anyone, so by all means disagree with me, and dismiss what I say as the ravings of a loon. Still, this is what I feel. For all the years I have been taking part, the quiz has been compiled by some great quiz players and quiz people – the late Dave Cornish, sadly missed, is a notable example, and if I tell you that yesterday’s quiz was compiled by Dave Bill, then you’ll understand where I’m coming from. However the format for the quiz has always been, well, it’s always been rather gimmicky.

I remember a few years ago the list round was introduced, whereby you could put down as many answers as you liked – correct answers brought a half point, and incorrect answers lost a half point. It’s fair to say that this round was rather controversial at the time, and a year or two later it was changed so that wrong answers didn’t lose half points, which was a much better arrangement. In yesterday’s quiz round 5 was a wipeout round. Now, Redtooth were the organization who ran the quiz, and for whom Dave compiled it, and those of you who play regularly play in a Redtooth quiz will be aware of the mechanics of this kind of round. Basically, you can go for up to ten answers. If you get any of your answers wrong, you get no points for the round. The subject of yesterday’s round was Actors and Actresses. We were given, I think, 16 names, and had to put a ring around those who were 80 or over. We were sure of 6, and erred on the side of caution. Now, what happened was that several of the leading teams were taken out by this round, scoring 0. Now, OK, you can argue that this round worked in our favour – it certainly didn’t do us any harm. However – and this is just my opinion – however, I have to ask the question -  is it right to completely destroy a team’s chances because of one wrong answer? Ah – but you may well say – but that’s all part of the competition. Judging it to perfection, and knowing when to gamble and when not to gamble. – Well, maybe, but I don’t really subscribe to that point of view myself. I always think that the winning team in a quiz should be the team that provide the most correct answers. A quiz should reward knowledge – a wrong answer should be punishment enough in itself. Still, like I said, there is a debate to be had, and if a majority of people actually like this kind of round, then fair enough.

As I said, the CIU quiz has always been gimmicky. The second round was a video round – where half the questions were inspired by the video clips and connected to something in them, and half the questions were observation questions. Well, this round certainly didn’t do our chances any harm, so again, feel free to disagree with what I say, but I tend to think that observation is rather like picture identification – it’s a skill, rather than knowledge, and to some extent it is something you either can do or you can’t. Yeah, it’s maybe fun – but should it have a place in a quiz which is contested by some pretty serious and impressive quiz teams? Again, this is just my opinion, and for all I know the majority will disagree with me which is absolutely fine.

In the interests of fairness, before I get on to the sport round I ought to say that I enjoyed the round a lot, and as a team we did as well as we could have done in the round scoring 9 out of a possible 10. The sport round was a round where teams were given three minutes to name the 20 nationalities – excluding English – of people who have managed Premier League football teams in England, with each correct answer scoring half a point, and no penalty for wrong answers, other than the fact they obviously didn’t score. I liked the time limit of three minutes, that’s a new gimmick, and not a bad one if you have to have gimmicks. However – yes, there is a however – for the sport round it was a shame that it was all on football. You do see this a lot in some quizzes, a huge bias towards football when sports questions are given. Now, while I can understand this, football being as hugely popular as it is, in future CIU quizzes it might be nice for this round to be split into different sports, with maybe 4 questions on five sports. Since there’s the time limit there’s still the same level of challenge. Just my opinion, and as always, feel free . . .

No complaints about the two general knowledge rounds and the connections rounds. We played a blinder on the first GK round, going into the lead, and not relinquishing it until, ironically, the last GK round. We found this one to be a bit of a stinker, and just couldn’t quite get the 7 points I guessed we were going to need to have a chance of winning. But that’s quizzing, and there’s no complaints about that . . . some you win, and some you lose, and the fact is that although we finished 3rd on a tiebreak, we actually came closer to winning, being half a point behind deserved winners Mike and the boys from Gosforth Empire, that we’ve ever done before. So you can see that my comments on the quiz aren’t because we were out with the washing, as we sometimes have been in the last few years. Congratulations as well to Clive, Michael, Tony and the guys from Newbottle who pipped us on the Mark Labbett tie break for second.

Well, that’s the quiz. Congratulations and thanks to Dave Bill who compiled it. I have no issue with the questions that were asked. Whichever format you use for a quiz you are never going to please everyone, and if this format is what the majority of CIU teams and players want, then that’s fair enough. If you were there and you have an opinion on the quiz, then why don’t you get in touch with club journal to express that opinion? I will.

Of course, it isn’t just the format of the quiz I have opinions about either. The conception behind this year’s event was that Blackpool in April was the venue for the CIU AGM, and so the quiz would be the climax to the weekend’s whole event. Also – maybe to encourage more teams to take part – there would be no regional heats, just the final. There’s pros and cons to this.


The good thing about Derby was that it was central. Yes, some of us had longer journeys than others, but nobody had an absolutely horrendous journey. On Friday, we left Rhwbina in Cardiff at about 10:15 am. We arrived at our hotel in Blackpool at about 7pm. That was with two service station stops neither of which was longer than about 15 minutes. Now, you might say, well, you were unlucky because you were stuck in a horrendous jam on the M6 and didn’t move from the spot for 2 and a half hours, and you’d be right. Even so, we’re talking about hours and hours of travelling to get there, and hours and hours to get back.  I don’t see that we could do it without an overnight stop. Now, that’s all well and good if it coincides with the school holidays when I’m not working on the Friday. If it did coincide with a working Friday, well, I’m afraid that my occupation isn’t one where I can just book a day off when I need it. I know quite a few people and teams from Newport and Cardiff who would have come to the quiz if there hadn’t been the need to stop overnight. Which isn’t to say that I didn’t enjoy coming to Blackpool, because I did. I loved it. But the thing is, and I’m sorry to bring this down to money, even all of us sharing one car, and going for a very cheap and cheerful guesthouse, this made taking part this year considerably more expensive for each of us than it has been in previous years.

The Organisation

Well, it has to be said that the Norbreck Castle Hotel where the final was held was considerably more swish than the other locations in which the final has been played during my time. Respect for the  freebies for everyone from the sponsors too – Sky Sports T Shirt etc. Redtooth ran the quiz very smoothly, and it cracked along at just the kind of pace that I prefer a quiz to go. Full marks for all of that. However . . . and I know that for the second time in three years I’m moaning about the buffet again here. . . but there wasn’t a buffet. Nowt. Or if there was, nobody was informed about it. Alright, you might say, what do you expect for the amount you paid for the event? But, I don’t know, it just seemed a bit of an omission, bearing in mind how far some people had come (I think we had the longest journey, but I will bow to anyone else’s superior knowledge if that’s not the case) – and how far some people had to go home. Here’s another point too. There was a free bar for the quiz. That’s amazing – except for the fact that you had to pay for diet cokes – and these proved really rather expensive. Well, alright, as a teetotaler (almost) you accept that you are always going to be fleeced in a bar, but considering that a lot of the teams would be driving home after the event, it wasn’t exactly encouraging responsible drinking.

As for the going directly to the final – well, and again this is just my opinion – I always enjoyed the regional heats, even on the occasion that we didn’t qualify, and I think it will be a bit of a shame if they’re confined to the dump bin of History for good. I can be fairly sure that fewer teams took part in this year’s competition than in last year’s, because if there were a dozen teams in the final then that’s as many as there were. I think that a lot of teams who wouldn’t consider going all that way to play in the national final would take part in regionals, but hey, I don’t know what the financial situation is, and I don’t know whether regional heats are viable or not. It’s just a shame if they don’t happen again – as always, just my opinion.


Well, that was the CIU final for 2015. A very enjoyable weekend for a variety of reasons, and if it does happen in Blackpool again, and if it does coincide with a school holiday, and if I can get a decent deal on a guest house, and if the boys can get the Friday off work, and if one of them is willing to drive us, then on those conditions, you can count me in. 

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Only Connect : Series 10 Grand Final

Orienteers v. Chessmen

Here it is, ladies and germs, the first Only Connect Grand Final on BBC2. Let’s pause for a moment to reflect on what a successful transition this has been to the terrestrial channel. Those of us fortunate enough to have easy access to BBC4 have been enjoying the powerhouse Monday quiz hour for years, but now it’s been opened to a whole new audience they seem to have lapped it up as well.

Well, enough of such chaff. The Orienteers, Paul Beecher, Simon Spiro and captain Sean Blanchflower have cut a swathe through this series, entering the final undefeated. The Chessmen, on the other hand, Henry Pertinez, Nick Mills and Stephen Pearson, have flirted with disaster during the series, losing once, and needing a tie break to reach the quarter finals.

Round One – What’s the Connection?

Put into bat the Teers opted for Twisted Flax. Greek Bible Writings of St. Ephrem looked confusing – St. Luke’s Gospel A lectionary followed, Archimedes Stomachion A Prayer Book was third, and all I could come up with was works which had been written over by others – or to put it another way, palimpsests.The last – Institutes of Gaius Writings of St. Jerome – illustrated the point that unusually, with this set, I don’t know that the last clue made it any more obvious than the first, but I don’t know – maybe the last is an extremely well known palimpsest and I just haven’t heard of it. Anyway the Teers had it off this last one to earn a very valuable point. Captain Stephen of the Ches again flirted with disaster by not stressing the second vowel of the viper. They received William Henry Harrison. OK – presidents who dies in office? Too obvious. Presidents succeeded by descendants? Even more obvious. Zachary Taylor came next, and that certainly muddied the waters. Generals who became presidents? John Tyler came next, and I was running out of ideas. Millard Fillmore – now, this one, unlike the last set, did actually make it a bit clearer. I had it in my head that Fillmore was an American Whig, and so this was my guess. Bloomin’ good one as it turned out. No points for either of the teams, and so the Teers opted for Lion. Now, a surprisingly obvious set followed. We heard Spike Milligan followed by Joanna Lumley – in full smug mode I shouted – bet the last one is Cliff Richard, since they were both born in India. Actually that was the next clue. In fact the Teers needed the last clue, the sitar stylings of Ravi Shankar, to get it. Never mind, it’s always better to make sure of getting a point and not giving away a bonus, especially at this stage of the competition. The Ches took two reeds and received Heisei 26 – and Henry was right onto it. He knew that this referred to the reign of a Japanese Emperor. Yang Wood Horse came next, which was Chinese, and then 1435 AH. So these then were the year 2014 in different calendars – Japanese, Chinese and Islamic. The Ches made sure of the point by taking the last clue 2014. For the Teers, the name Diarmuid Ua Duibhne kicked off their last set, meaning nothing to me/ White Death, which came second, is a nickname for Tuberculosis. Which didn’t help me, nor did the third clue – Robin Hood. King Charles II, well I could see a connection between him and Robin Hood – in as much as they both used oak trees – Charles hiding in one, and Hood living in one, supposedly. The Teers didn’t get it, but the Ches thought much the same as me and received a bonus for it. White Death was a Finnish sniper. Finnishing off the round, then, the Ches received pictures of a yellow octopus – a sailing ship – Friday 29th February marked on a calendar – huh? – and an oyster. Well, I went for cards as in Oyster card – but I don’t know whether I would have been given it, sine I didn’t specifically link it up to travelcards. The Teers, given a chance for a bonus did something similar, but when given a second bite went specifically with Transport for London, and missed out. So the score at the end of the round was 2 apiece.

Round Two – What Comes Fourth?

In this round it was Sean who spurned the curse of the viper. The set the Teers received as 4th: Watt (W) – SI Units, ok, but what sequence – 3rd: Celsius (C ) – suggested that we were dealing with them in order of which the people they were named after were born. I wondered whether it might be Newton, but no, for that was the next clue. The Ches went for 1st: Joule (J). Incorrect. Henry of the Ches supplied 1st: Pascal (PA) and that was correct. Good shout. The Ches had the chance to capitalize on that bonus when they picked Water, to find that they had found the music sequence. Now, this was one of those that you were going to slap your head about if you didn’t get it. Well, that’s wehat I did anyway when I didn’t get it. We began with Elton john’s Your Song, and finished with Franke Goes To Hollywood’s The Power of Love. They were the songs, if not the artists, to accompany successive John lewis Christmas Adverts. So as the Teers knew for a bonus, the next would be Somewhere only we know – originally by Keane, but sung in the ad by Lily Allen. So now the Teers had the chance to establish a lead. They opted for twisted flax, and we saw a picture of jack Wilde as the Artful dodger in Oliver! With 8th in the top right hand corner. Next we had Tiger Woods, and 7th. I wondered if  Dodger and Tiger might be a reference to US baseball teams – maybe the number of World Series wins for them or something. The 6th looked for all world like a picture of someone being Sweeny Todd, which blew the baseball theory out of the water. The connection, which nobody had, was that each of them had broken commandments. So the 5th commandment – respect thy parents – was represented by Harry Enfield’s Kevin the Teenager. For all the fact that none of us were anywhere near getting it, that was a good set. Two Reeds for the Ches kicked off with I am Archaeopteryx. Hmm – a word thing by the look of it. I am a prillarhorn. Now, crossword fans would have had it at this point. The two contained March and April in between the words. So anything like I am Cajun English. The Ches had it on the last clue. Unfortunately for me numbers reared their ugly heads in the next set for the Teers. Lion gave them 34.1 – 13.6 – 2.1 – Sean gave the answer 0.1, which was the correct answer, and then admitted he only picked it because it felt right mathematically. The sequence was standard deviations in a normal distribution. You don’t say. Eye of Horus gave the Ches 5th: AltaVista. Well, that was an old search engine, wasn’t it? 4th: wa s Ask Jeeves – again, old search engine – 3rd: McDonalds. Now, that upset the apple cart. Failing all else, I looked at the words, and correctly predicted 2nd – iPad. The number refers to the letter of the word which is in capitals you see. Clever that. So the scores remained locked , now at 5 apiece.

Round Three – The Connecting Walls

The Ches picked the water wall. Quickly they isolated a set of cable/satellite channels – History – 4seven – Alibi and Discovery. There was clearly also a set of revolutions there as well. Orange – French – Velvet and October, and these fell next. They could see that there was a set of Nobel Prize categories too, so spent some time working out what the last set left would be. Once Stephen worked out that Biology could be a Girls Aloud song, they isolated the Nobels – Peace – Physics – Chemistry – Economics – Leaving Biology – Jump – Sexy! No No No – the Show as the Girls Aloud works. 10/10 – great work.

The Teers then needed something spectacular of their own. I could see both a set of cigarettes and a set of London Streets, which overlapped. The Teers themselves quickly saw that there was a set of words and phrases that can precede ‘runner’ . The there was also a set of collars. So it just meant that they needed to separate them all. Road – Blade – Bow Street and Long Distance were the runners. The wall was so cleverly constructed that the London Streets fed into each of the other categories rather than forming a category of their own. Next to fall were the cigarettes – Camel – Strand – Mayfair and Pall Mall. London – Whitehall – Daniel and Black are all famous Jacks, which left Picadilly – Whitehall –Buster Brown and Mandarin as the collars. For a long time it looked as if they weren’t going to get there, but the Teers pulled it out of the bag at the end. 10/10, which meant that the score was 15 all going into the vowels.

Round Four – Missing Vowels

A whole series came down to one round of missing vowels. Well, a close match is always more exciting than a walk over. We started with things usually found in threes – and these went 2 – 1 to the Teers. Impressionist Painters and their Paintings went 3 – 0 to the Teers. That was all we had time for. Very well played to both teams, but the Orienteers are series champions, having won by 20 – 16.Hard lines Chessmen, but well played.

Here’s an interesting fact. Whichever team had won would have provided us with the first dual University Challenge and Only Connect champ – for Henry won with Manchester a couple of years ago, and Sean a while before that. Many congratulations.