Saturday, 31 January 2015

Brain of Britain - Heat 5

Let’s have a look down the list of contenders in last Monday’s show: -
Roderick Cromar
Peter Haslam
Martin Riley
Kim Semmence
Now, last week we heard Mastermind 2014 Grand Finalist take his place in the semi finals. This week, well we had another Mastermind 2014 Grand Finalist, Roderick Cromar. Roderick has also played on University Challenge, so he’s not short on experience. Mind you, he was bearing the burden of support from the Clark sofa, so nothing was guaranteed.

Roderick took his first but didn’t know that Boko Haram actually means Western Education is Forbidden. I didn’t know that one, neither did anyone else. Peter took two relative chestnuts, but gave the answer Third Republic of France, when Second Empire was required. No bonus. Now, I do like a question about the Great Vowel Shift, and though Martin missed it, Roderick was very happy to take the bonus. I’m afraid the Kim let a bit of an easy one go for her first question, asked what queso is on a Spanish menu. Martin knew it was cheese. We’ll come to the scores in a round or two’s time.

Back to Roderick then. He took his first two, but the acronym WIMP did for all of us. Weakly Interacting Massive Particle apparently. Peter got off to a good start on his set again but his third question saw him Magna Carting when he should have been American Declaration of Independencing. Peter took that one. For his own questions he missed out on the fact that the last of the canonical hours is compline. Roderick took that windfall. Kim got off the mark taking her first two but didn’t know that Steaming is set in a steam room. That bonus fell to Martin. This meant Kim had 2, Martin had 3, Peter 4 and Roderick 5.

It was time for Roderick’s music question. I didn’t recognize the piece myself, but that wasn’t the question. I guessed that  the series it was the theme for  was Cabin Pressure, and so did Roderick. Neither of us knew that Lee Lawrie was a leading figure in architectural sculpture, but Peter did. He didn’t know the rather chestnutty nugget that Saturn has such a low density that it would float on water. Martin took that. Nobody guessed that a diary entry from D Day 1944 was written by Anne Frank. Would have been worth a punt, I would have thought. The Queen of Time is a clock face on Selfridges apparently. I didn’t know it neither did Kin for her first, or anyone else.

Roderick again took a point for his first question, but didn’t know the battle of Trocadero. Me neither. Peter had a music question about U2’s Pride (In the Name of Love) and took that. Kim took a bonus on his next question, knowing that Piney Copse was donated to the National Trust by E.M.Forster. Martin took his first, but didn’t know that William Willett was first to propose the idea of Daylight Saving time. Roderick took the bonus. Kim didn’t know that the Coupon Election took place in 1918, and Roderick again had that one. Going into the interval, then, the scores were Kim – 3 , Martin 5 , Peter 6 – Roderick – 9. Not over yet by any means, but my boy was going well.

For the Beat the Brains they were asked – what do the letters SPECTRE as in James Bond stand for? Special Executive for Counter Intelligence, Terrorism and Extortion. Spot on Brains. The second asked about the novel Thunderball, which states the country in which Blofeld was born. Poland was offered, and was right. No book token, sorry, but nice questions.

Back to the contest. Roderick once again took his first question, and his second, but didn’t know a quote from JB Priestley on his third (JB Priestley to the best of my knowledge never split his trousers on stage, although PJ Proby did). Peter had the bonus. Peter took his first, but didn’t get my favourite question of the show. I didn’t know that the term Nerd is supposed to derive from a name in a book by Dr. Seuss – If I Ran the Zoo. No bonus there, but as some of my quiz mentors would say to me when I was in my salad days, remember that one because it will come up again. Martin’s Music question came, asking for a male character in Tosca. All I knew were Scarpia and Cavaradossi. The latter was the right answer and gave a bonus to Kim. She didn’t know that the ciliary muscle is part of the eye. Peter took that. Roderick was up to 11, against Peter’s 8.

Roderick predictably took his first, but didn’t know his second about shipping. Martin had it. For his own questions he missed out on his first, a french phrase which equated to empty vessels make the most noise. Martin didn’t know that the alkali metals are the first set in the periodic table. Roderick gratefully accepted that one. Kim’s music provided us with Ethel Merman singing I Got Rhythm. Nobody knew it came from the musical Girl Crazy. Another round gone, and Roderick still led Peter by 13 – 8

And so to the last round. Roderick didn’t know that rupe affects the naval passages of poultry. Fair enough. Peter didn’t know 2 dots in morse code is I. Thank you very much, said Roderick, taking the bonus. Martin took his first but didn’t know a set of places associated with meteorite impact. Roderick again took a bonus, home and dry now. Kim didn’t know that Time and Chance was written by Jim Callaghan. So the final scores were: -
Kim – 4
Martin –8
Peter – 8
Roderick – 15
A very good performance, Roderick, which must give you confidence for the semis. Very best of luck.

In The News

In the News

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

Major Oak
Sasha Pique Mebarak
Lotte Haas
Avengers Helicarrier
Prime Evil
Katie Swan
Howard Marks
New Horizons
Amjad Bashir
Elise Christie
Salman bin Abdulaziz
Holm of Huip
Alexis Tsipras
Libby Lane
Michael Van Praag
Gary Street
Andrew Barratt
H is for Hawk
Helen Macdonald
Haris Sohail
Joel Grey
Sayida al Rishawi
Marshawn Lynch
The Hard Problem
Alice Biggar
Colleen McCullough

In Other News

Who is the new head of the African Union?
Who declared that he will not be running for the US Presidency in 2016?
Which European country banned arms exports to Saudi Arabia
Which much publicised trial began in France?
Which team knocked Chelsea out of the FA Cup?
– and Man City?
– and Spurs?
Which driver won the Monte Carlo rally?
Which unusual new Easter Egg was it announced would be available in 2015?
A judge in a French court ruled that a couple would not be allowed to name their child after which foodstuff?
Which 68 year old European singer passed away?
Who apologised for using the phrase ‘coloured actors’ on a US talk show?
Who said that if he went back to 1995 he’d cheat all over again?
Lord Hall of the BBC said what will become obsolete?
Where is the 2018 European Football Youth Cup to be held?
Which Wales and British Lions great announced his international retirement last week?
Whose high profile trial for sex offences began last week?
Which English city suffered an earthquake of 2.9 on the Richter scale?
Which US Composer has been announced as writing the theme for the new Fantastic Four movie?
Name the Stone Roses front man who gave evidence against former TV weatherman Fred Talbot?
Which company secured rights to animate the Mr Men books series?
What was the result of the Liverpool v Chelsea Capital One cup semi final?
– and Spurs v. Sheffield United semi?
Who are the (English) FA officially backing in the FIFA presidency election?
Who had to apologise for comparing the effect of a Trident submarine base to those of Nazi death camps?
Scotland announced a moratorium on which practice?
Which company announced the largest ever annual profit, and what was the figure?
Which former Real Madrid player announced he will also stand against Sepp Blatter?
Who confirmed he will stand against Lord Coe in the election for IAAF president?
Which Radio station will only play music composed by women on International Women’s day?
Which prominent Brit was given one of the first of the revived Australian Knighthoods?
Politicians failed to elect a new president of which country?
Which famous actor quit Labour to join the SNP?
Whom did Andy Murray defeat in his Australian Open semi final?

Which two countries had to draw lots for a space in the African Cup of Nations quarter finals – and which was successful?

Answers to News Questions

In The News

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

Leo Varadkar
Gladys Hooper
Lindsey Vonn
A P de Villiers
Robert Allenby
Maggi Alphonsi
Dr. Dhanusan Dharmasena
Chris Bryant
Kenny McDowall
Rebecca Wooller and Blake Greene
Victorino Chua
Lorraine Etherington
Tony Verna
Katie Summerhayes
John Bayley
Hoegh Osaka
The Mirror and the Light
Nicole from Bournemouth
Pauline Yates
Geert Lainders

In Other News

Where did Pope Francis preach to 6 million last week?
Who left Big Brother without being ordered out or voted out?
Transport chaos was caused in Kent by what last week?
What was the score between Man City and Arsenal
Who threw away a 10 stroke lead in the golf in Dubai in his last round?
Which error was noted on the £2 Magna Carta coin?
Which member of the cast of Coronation Street passed away aged 60?
British Gas were criticised for only reducing their prices by what %?
Which Australian cricketer was fined half of his match fee for telling Rohit Sharma to speak English?
Which two teams will contest this year’s Superbowl?
Which politician walked out of an interview with Dermot Murnaghan?
Which political party’s poster gave an incorrect phone number, which actually belonged to a woman in Wolverhampton who started to receive constant hate phone calls?
IN which country are the Houthi rebel group?
Who will be presiding over the Grand Jury in the Cannes film festival this year?
Frankie’s Fish and Chip shop in Brae was awarded the title of UK’s best Fish and Chip shop. It holds which other distinction?
What didn’t actually come to an end in a newspaper on Friday 16th?
Who lost a court battle with his father in law last week?
What was the score in the Liverpool v Chelsea Capital One Cup semi final?
Which actor passed out playing King Lear on stage, but came back to finish the performance after telling the audience that he had a slight fibrillation?
What will not be published until after the General Election?
What issue regarding cigarettes is to be voted on?
What was the score in the Spurs v. Sheffield United Capital One Cup semi final first leg?
Which golfer saved a drowning man in Barbados?
What was given a ticket by an over zealous traffic warden in Carmarthen?
The New England Patriots are under investigation for what?
Which former cabinet minister died aged 75?
Who publically denied charges made against him in connection with a court case in the USA?
Who had his appearance at the caravan and camping and motorhome show cancelled after what he said about caravans on Room 101?
What is to close in the House of Commons?
What did the Cairo Museum admit last week?
Which England cricketer was the subject of a blackmail attempt ?
Castrol – Johnson and Johnson and Continental all announced they are cutting their ties with what?


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

1st republic of Ireland government minister to come out as gay
UKs oldest person who celebrated her 112th birthday
Equalled Anne Marie Moser-Proll’s record for World Cup Ski wins – 62
Struck a world record 31 ball ODI century against the West Indies
Aussie golfer kidnapped and mugged in Hawaii
England world cup rugby winner, retired to concentrate on shot put
1st person to stand trial in the UK for Female genital mutilation
Labour MP labelled as a ‘classist wazzock’ by James Blunt
Resigned as Rangers caretaker manager
The couple who will marry in Morrison’s in Cambourne, Cambridgeshire
Nurse accused of poisoning patients at Stepping Hill Hospital
Broke her engagement to prisoner Charles Bronson
Inventor of the TV Instant Replay – passed away
German anti-Islamic group who staged mass protests
1st British woman to win a medal int eh world freestyle ski and snowboard championship
Widower of Iris Murdoch, passed away aged 89
Ship towed into Southampton 19 days after running aground
Title of concluding novel in Hilary Mantel’s trilogy about Thomas Cromwell
Topless model on the revived page 3 of the Sun
Actress who played Reggie Perrin’s wife – passed away
Former Team Sky doctor – banned for life for doping.

In Other News

Alexander O’Neal
Problems with Eurostar
2 – 0 Arsenal
Martin Kaymer
John has a quill pen, when he would have used a seal to sign it
Anne Kirkbride
David Warner
New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks
Chuka Umunna
Coen Brothers
Most northerly in UK – in Shetland
Supposedly the last time a topless model featured on Page 3 – but it wasn’t
Gordon Ramsay
Liverpool 1 – Chelsea -1
Brian Blessed
Chilcott Enquiry Report
Plain packets for England
Spurs 1 – Sheff Utd. 1
Lee Westwood
A wheelie bin
The New England Patriots have been accused of using under inflated balls
Leon Brittan
The Duke of York
Ray Mears
The House of Commons shooting range
That the beard of Tutankhamen’s gold death mask had been broken off, then stuck back on with an inappropriate epoxy resin
Eoin Morgan


Only Connect - Series 10 - Match 19

Bibliophiles v. Gamesmasters

The Bibliophiles, Richard Clay, Vince Milner, and Mike Hart, got off to a good start by beating the Q I Elves first time out. However in a battle of the Philes they lost narrowly to the Nordiphiles in their last match. Filip Drnovšek Zorko, James Robson and skipper Frederic Heath-Renn, the Gamesmasters also comfortably won their first match when they beat the Coders, but lost a good match against the Orienteers last time out. The stakes? On the one hand a place in the quarters, and on the other, bus fare home. Pre match form suggested that the Gamesmasters would be better on the vowels, and so the Bibliophiles needed to get a cushion by the end of round three.

Round One – What’s the Connection?

Captain Frederic of the Gams immediately opted for Hornèd Viper. Now, I liked the picture set this revealed. I didn’t notice, but it revealed Roy Liechtenstein’s Whaam! – but without the exclamation mark. Next we saw Messrs Ridgely and Michael – without the exclamation mark. That was a pair crying out for the wrong answer to be given. Thankfully the Gams resisted the temptation, and saw a picture of Allo Allo. At last it became clear with a road sign saying Westward Ho – you see how it works. Yes, only one point, but a point which might easily have been lost had they dived right in. Lion brought the Bibs OAT. Nope, me neither. JGB – same. – Bund – Huh? The last clue, Gilt, made it clear these were government bonds, and that was the answer given by the Bibs. Both teams were playing tricky sets sensibly. The Gams picked eye of Horus, walking straight into the music set. I didn’t get the first two, but I recognized Cinderella Rockerfella on the third. Cinderella was my answer, confirmed when the last was Prince Charming by Adam and the Ants. Ridicule is nothing to be scared of. Neither team got it. Twisted Flax gave the Bibs Queen Elizabeth II. Possibility overload there. Romeo Beckham didn’t make anything clearer. Neither did Mark and Carol Thatcher. The fourth clue, Macduff, made it obvious, just so long as you know the play “Macbeth”. The big thing about Macduff is that he was born by caesarian – it is important to the plot. Now, I never knew that the Queen or the others were, but what else could it be? The Bibs went for the same as me, and we were both right. The Gams took Two Reeds, and started with Eraser (28s). Both the Gams and I considered it was something to do with films, but needed the second – Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (66s). I guessed at this point it was the relatively prosaic – this was the amount that the censors had cut from the named films. The Gams were barking up the swordfight tree at this point, but were sensible enough to take the third clue – Rambo III (65s), and Last Tango in Paris (10s). This changed their minds, but unfortunately they went for the length of screen kisses. A bonus for the Bibs was duly taken. Now, I took a five pointer with the water set. Kings of the Ptolemaic Dynasty was enough of a clue. You see all of the kings of the dynasty were called Ptolemy ( while all of the queens, I think, were Cleopatra). So they all had the same name was my answer. It was proven right when the next clues were Edward Heath’s Yachts – (Morning Cloud) – George Foreman’s Sons (George) – Philosophy Dept. of Woollamoloo Uni (Bruce) That was enough for a point, but had they had the courage of their convictions they might have had at least 2. Nonetheless they led by 4 – 1.

Round Two – What Comes Fourth?

The Gams picked Water to start this time. We saw a picture which I’m sorry to say I didn’t recognize as Julian Lennon. The second was Paul McCartney’s son James – and apart from the hair you could see a resemblance (although I didn’t). Finally Dhani Harrison. The Gams actually said that James McCartney looked like Sir Paul, but didn’t latch onto the set. Neither team saw it – required was Zak Starkey, Ringo’s son, although I’d like to think they would also have accepted Jason Starkey.  Captain Mike of the Bibs also voiced Hornèd Viper in the time honourèd fashion. Now, the first clue gave a real opportunity for a five pointer. After – 4th then 6th: The Silver Chair - a bit of thought I gave “1st then 2nd: The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe” As you can guess this is all to do with the Chronicles of Narnia. The Silver Chair was 4th to be published, but actually 6th in the order of events of the story. This is because two other novels were added – The Magician’s Nephew, and The Horse and His Boy, which fit into the series earlier than The Silver Chair. However, only the former goes before The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe. Phew – got it? The Bibs did for a 3 pointer. Now, Lion gave the Gams Bafta Awards to start. When they were given The Exeter Levels , then Mississippi, they figured out that it’s the words, and the fact that we have 4 As, then 4Es, and so on. So they offered any word with 4 O’s – having toyed with giving Boogaloo as an example. The Bibs opted for Twisted Flax, and this gave the innovative Music sequence. We had Sir Tom Jones singing “The Green Green Grass of Home”, then something which had blue in it. Then Orange Crush by REM. So – working on ROYGBIV we would have a song with red in the title – red sails in the sunset for example. Now, like Filip of the Gams, I was onto the next one from the first clue – Rod Laver. The court on which the Australian Open final is played is named after Rod Laver. SO working forwards through the year, the Arthur Ashe court would be the answer IF this was the sequence. The Gams took the second – Philippe Chartrier – to be certain, and then gave the answer for a 3 pointer. There was a potential three pointer in the last set for the Bibs too. Miss Harris didn’t help, but Mrs. Beale certainly did. – Mrs Butcher I answered, knowing that these were successive names of Pat from Eastenders. The Bibs obviously knew it was Eastenders, but not the right character. No bonus to the Gams either. Nonetheless the Gams finished the round having knocked a point off the Bibs’ lead, which stood at 9 – 6.

Round Three – The Connecting Walls

The Bibs picked the Lion Wall. They’d the cushion of three points already, but would need a good wall performance to keep it, or even better, to increase it. That’s exactly what they produced. Almost immediately they isolated the latin dances – Sarabande – Bolero – Flamenco – Fandango.The DEA – ATF – CIA and IRS – all US government agencies followed almost immediately afterwards. They discussed the others for all of 30 seconds, and then proceeded to isolate a set of sandwiches – BLT – Sloopy Joe – Pan Bagnat – PBJ. This left the last line of Corrina – Jamon – Reuben – Liar. Double each of those and you get the names of films. Exemplary demonstration of how it’s done chaps – 10 points gained without braking sweat.

The Gams needed an equally good performance on the water wall just to keep the gap at manageable proportions. Some nifty work very quickly separated the D Day beaches – Gold – Utah – Juno – Omaha. They could see a set of Tarot suits, but left them for a moment. Carpet – Roundabout – 8 Ball and Lantern they knew co0uld all be preceded by the word Magic. This left just the tarot suits, and the other line. They deliberated for a bit, then decided the last line would be space probes. Quite right. Finally happy the separated the tarot suits – wand – sword – cup – pentacle, which left the probes – Gallileo – Giotto – Dawn and Rosetta. 10 points. This meant that we had a 19 – 16 game, going into the vowels.

Round Four – Missing Vowels

The first category was Highs and Lows. The Bibs buzzed incorrectly on the first, and the gap was down to 2. The Gams didn’t know the answer, and buzzed too early on the next. The Bibs did know, and so increased the lead to 4. They took one more and going into Neologisms in “Jabberwocky” they were sitting pretty on 20 – 15. However the Gams took a full house of 4 on this set, and the gap was down to 1. Two football teams from the same city saw the Gams equal the score, take a one point lead , then a two point lead by the end of the round. 7 unanswered points, and that is why the Bibs needed a cushion. Very hard lines on the Bibliophiles, but well played Gamesmasters – good luck in the quarter finals. 

University Challenge - Quarter Final Round - Match 2

Oxford Brookes v. St. Peter’s , Oxford

Oxford Brookes, in the shape of Simon Joyce, Paula Ayres, Stephen Mayes, and skipper David Ballard have already done some damage in this competition. They knocked out Jesus, Oxford in their first round match, and UCL in their second. Their opposition, John Armitage, Ed Roberts, Spike Smith and their skipper, Gabriel Trueblood, of St. Peter’s, Oxford, had defeated Sussex in their first round, and Selwyn, Cambridge in the second. Now, you probably shouldn’t single out individuals for their performances, but a number of commentators were particularly intrigued to see how well the St. Peter’s skipper would do this week, after a couple of stellar buzzer performances thus far.

The first starter was very long and involved, as first starters often are, and you hadn’t to lose sight of the fact that eventually the key to the question would appear. In this case it was ‘1793’ and ‘famous Historical Work’. Stephen Mayes won the buzzer race to give the correct answer of Edward Gibbon. Areas which feature in BBC coastal weather forecasts provided them with one bonus. Gabriel Trueblood opened his account, recognising a potted history of the city of Strasbourg. This earned a set on large numbers on which we both scored a full house. A rare incorrect early buzz from the St. Peter’s skipper gave Oxford Brookes the chance to answer on the baobab tree, but they couldn’t. I was a bit surprised neither team knew the term ‘romanesque’, but not as much as JP. Both teams are experienced enough at this game that they knew enough to wait for the clinching clue in the next question, before going for the buzzer. Asked for a specific method of transport rendered obsolete by Dunlop’s pneumatic tyre it was Simon Joyce who won the buzzer race to answer penny farthing. A set of bonuses on the island of Java proved unforgiving. This took us to the first picture starter, and it was Simon Joyce who recognised the logo of Plaid Cymru with any helpful lettering removed. So far the team hadn’t exactly been lucky in the bonuses that had fallen to them, and they weren’t exactly lucky with the picture set. This featured logos of other European political parties which, like Plaid, operate under the European Free Alliance umbrella. They managed 1 with the Viking Party. Do they send out a lot of spam, I wonder? JP offered us a quotation about a composer. It sounded like Beethoven – Gabriel Trueblood offered Beethoven, and it was Beethoven. A UC special set of bonuses followed. The team had to identify capital cities of Asian countries from the chemical symbols from which they can be spelled. Phew. Not quite as difficult as it sounds, but getting on that way. They took a full house. Which meant that despite trailing in terms of starters answered, St. Peter’s actually led at the ten minute mark – 45 – 40.

Gabriel Trueblood took starter number 3, knowing the term stent. Authors with the surname James only provided another 5 points. Spike Smith took the next starter, knowing a number of clues that all added up to Nickel. Protozoal diseases of humans didn’t promise a great deal, if truth be said, but the skipper is a medical student, and he made short work of these. He also knows classical music too, since he very quickly recognised Albinoni’s Adagio for his 4th starter. 3 more blockbusters from the Co-op’s list of most requested musical pieces for funeral services provided just the one correct answer on Elgar’s Nimrod. Never mind, it still brought up triple figures. Starter number 6 for the St. Peter’s captain was provided when he knew that Zhang Zhou is associated with Taoism. Observational astronomy provided another 5 points for the total. Spike Smith took his second starter by recognising a definition of irony – well, it’s like goldy and bronzy, but it’s made of iron (Blackadder the Third? One of the Blackadder series anyway). There was some laughter when JP announced that their bonuses were on potatoes. Having said that, though, they still took two bonuses. A relatively simple mental arithmetic question – add the number of pawns on a chessboard etc. – which just required you to keep up with the different elements of it, saw Gabriel Trueblood take starter number 7. The team only took one bonus on palaces, but it really didn’t matter. They had completely shut out OB for this middle section of the contest, and had a lead of 110 points.

Spike Smith, the able lieutenant of the St. Peter’s team took his third starter by identifying a portrait by Cezanne. 3 more portraits of the art dealer Ambroise Vollard followed, and they identified the artists of 1 more portrait of the same. Now, whenever you hear the words ‘district of Seoul’ in a question, you press your buzzer and say ‘Gangnam’. That’s what Gabriel Trueblood did to take his 8th starter. Physics starters did little for either of us, although the team managed one more than I did – namely 1. Finally Simon Joyce managed to claw back another starter for OB, knowing that Tom Bradlye had been a mayor of Los Angeles. They went on to take two bonuses on the historical term – the Pale-. Gabriel Trueblood took starter number 9, knowing that the acronym SALIGIA is taken from latin words for the 7 Deadly Sins. Good shout. Bonuses on fictional books asked for the author and the real books in which specific fictional books appeared. 2 more correct answers added 10 points to the score, but the contest was already over. It was just a matter of what the final score would be. Neither team knew the Prague school for the next starter. It was Simon Joyce who won the buzzer race to correctly answer that Napoleon Bonaparte created the Legion D’Honneur. A bonus on Botany pushed OB within one set of a triple figure score – but was there time to get it? Gabriel Trueblood took his tenth starter knowing that the word comet is derived from the Greek for long hair. Eritrea provided a full set of bonuses. Starter 11 for Mr. Trueblood followed immediately afterwards, since he knew that Angola shares the same three flag colours as Belgium and Germany. A UC special set on years that only contain two different digits only gave time for one correct answer before the gong.

The final score was 240-80. We all know that you win as a team, or you lose as a team, but even so this was another highly impressive performance by Gabriel Trueblood. There’s a long way to go in this series yet, and anything can happen, but no team will fancy playing against St. Peter’s now.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

Just when you thought that giving up Newsnight had mellowed JP for good . . . When asked for the architectural term Romanesque, neither team managed to get the correct answer. This earned this withering blast,
“No. Don’t know much about architecture either of you.”
He was back to rubbing salt into wounds at the end of the show as well, saying to OB, “I’m afraid you got a bit whipped there, Oxford Brookes, didn’t you?”

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

There is a variety of potato called a Vivaldi

Friday, 30 January 2015

Mastermind - First Round - Heat 23

The penultimate first round heat last night pitted 4 MM newcomers against each other. The target for a guaranteed semi final place was 26 points and as many passes as you like. Mind you, all four were doubtless hoping to qualify the best way, namely by winning the show.

First up was Tom Parker. Tom’s subject was “Game of Thrones”. I have to admit that I have neither read George R R Martin’s books, not watched the TV series, son I can’t make any comment about the relative difficulty of the round. What I can say is that Tom put on a very good performance. In this series it really isn’t easy to get a score in the teens in the specialist round, which put Tom’s performance into perspective. If his GK round was up to snuff, then he would certainly be in with a good chance of getting through.

Providing us with last night’s music round was David Kisilevsky. David had opted to answer questions on Neil Young. He was very good on most of the details about bands, records and the like, and only missed out on stuff like details of specific gigs. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Anyone who thinks a popular culture specialist round as a soft option should really think again. 11 and 1 pass was a good score – 2 points adrift really isn’t that much of a gap on a 2 and a half minute round, provided that you have the general knowledge.

Julie Lloyd picked one of the more unusual specialist subjects of this series, in the shape of Bournville Village. Bournville, which is just south of Birmingham, is best known for its connection with the Cadburys, and this connection understandably provided a significant number of the questions. Questions which Julie was equal too for the most part. Like David before her, Julie ended with 11, although she also incurred 2 passes. Another good round.

Bob Monger brought the round to a close. I’ll lay my cards on the table here. In 5 shows including Champ of Champs I only ever went last in the first round once. It’s not a position I can say that I really enjoyed. I’d always rather be setting a score than chasing it. Bob had the life and career of famous barrister Edward Marshall Hall. The 9 he scored was perfectly respectable in the context of this series, but at 4 points behind the leader Tom you had to say that he looked out of the contest by the turn around.

Coming back to my own experience as well, I’ve never had to come straight back to the chair for my GK round, which I cannot imagine would be a very pleasant experience. Bob kicked off the GK round, and he gave it a lash. Unfortunately the questions never fell in enough numbers for him to enable him to build up any momentum at all. He added 6 to his total, and finished with 15. Actually, momentum was also in short supply in David’s round too. This turned out to be slightly better than Bob’s, and he managed 7 to take the total to 18. This wasn’t going to be enough.

Now the task facing Julie was this. She needed 8 points to take the lead. 15 points – which is doable but very difficult – would see her qualify regardless of how well Tom did. Alternatively, she needed to score as many points as possible to at least put Tom into the corridor or uncertainty. As a rough rule of thumb, a double figure lead at least gives you a chance. Well, Julie didn’t manage that, but at least she scored 9 points, to put her in the lead with 20.

8 in 2 and a half minutes for a win is not a huge total, when all is said and done, and Tom was the favourite to win. In fact the bookies stopped taking bets altogether as soon as he started answering his GK questions. Last week I mentioned how you sometimes get a feeling from watching the way that a contender deals with a GK round that the contender is a quizzer, and I felt the same about Tom this week. He powered through the round, yes, missing a few, but getting a lot as well, and his 13 was quite a lot better than anything else we’d seen in this heat. So very well played, and good luck in the semis.

The Details

Tom Parker Game of Thrones13 - 113 - 126 - 2
David KisilevskyNeil Young11 - 17 - 318 - 4
Julie LloydBournville Village11 - 29 - - 620 - 8
Bob MongerThe Life and Career of Edward Marshall Hall9 - 16 - 315 - 4

Highest scoring Runners Up

Gareth Kingston – 28 – 0 (qualified)
Diane Hallagan – 28 – 3(qualified)
Marianne Fairthorne – 27 – 2 (qualified)
Alice Meynell – 26 – 0
John Beynon – 25 – 1
Julia Hobbs / Jeremy Renals/ Susan Sworn – 25 - 3

Sunday, 25 January 2015

The Return of the Podcast

Yes, here it is. This week we've
Questions on Entertainment, Medicine and anagrams
Features on Mastermind and University Challenge
My Barcelona story (don't get excited, it's really not all that)
My week in quizzing

Brain of Britain - Heat 4

Heat 4

A quick rundown of last Monday’s contenders: -
Brian Chesney
Andy Crompton
Samuel Keays
Valerie Teague
reveals nothing less than a Mastermind runner up – Brian. It’s not a given that someone who did so well on mastermind would also do well on BoB and vice bersa, but it’s true more often than it’s not. Brian kicked off knowing Pliny the Elder , Lippizaner horses, and E.H.Shepherd as a relatively gentle opening to his campaign, but he probably could have known that Kazakhstan is the world’s largest landlocked country. Sam took that windfall. Andy took his first but didn’t know that the further down coal is buried, the better it is, basically. Brian had the bonus. Sam didn’t know that Rutherford split an atom of lithium. Nobody had a bonus. Valerie didn’t know the mnemonic for the Royal Dynasties – Sam took that windfall as well. So Brian had made a great opening with 4.

His second round saw him take 5 on the bounce – and they weren’t all easy either. Class. Andy didn’t know a river in Namibia. Sam did. For his own set he took his first but didn’t know the elite print setting. Valerie didn’t know that a woodlouse has 14 legs. Brian had it. Now he had a remarkable score of 11 after 2 rounds. Game over? Looked like it even at this stage.

Brian now received his music question. We heard Tammy Wynette from the KLF’s song Justified and Ancient. That song was based on the Illuminatus trilogy – couldn’t get on with it, myself. Nobody knew it apart from me. Andy took his first on Bobby Robson, but didn’t know Astrakhan. Valerie had it. Sam didn’t know that George Blake escaped from Wormwood Scrubs. Valerie had her first on the drink perry, but gave away a windfall through not knowing that Comet Shoemaker Levy IX crashed into Jupiter. Sam won the buzzer race on that one.

Brian didn’t know a series of titles from “Alice in Wonderland”. Valerie took the bonus. Andy’s music question was on Tchaikovsky, a piece of music representing the month of June. Valerie again took the bonus, and she was doing well now. Sam didn’t know that there are 12 in a Canadian football team – a bonus for Brian there. Valerie didn’t know the ending of Frankenstein, nor did anyone else. Having made such a blitz start Brian had just added two points since round two, but he had such a lead he was already looking certain for the win.

For the Beat the Brains interval the first asked us for a prominent collection between Citizen Kane and Vertigo, other than being voted among the most influential films ever. They both have scores by Bernard Hermann, mind you I’m sure the Brains’ answer – that both had screen appearances from their directors was also correct. Alright – they said the director acted, and you couldn’t necessarily call most Hitchcock cameos ‘acting’. The second question was the old chestnut about the derivation of Soweto – South West Township, and they made short work of it.

Back to the contest. Brian didn’t know that the Roost is a current between Orkney and Shetland. Sam had that bonus. Andy didn’t know another name of ground elder. Fair enough – never heard of it. Sam’s music question gave us a piece of Bach but he didn’t know it was the concerto for two violins. Fair enough again. Valerie didn’t know that James Bedford in the USA was the first person to be cryonically suspended. Not much headway made by anyone there.

I was surprised that nobody knew Blondin’s real name. He lived just off Northfields Avenue in Ealing for a while. Andy didn’t know Marilyn Robinson. Nor did anyone else, and Andy was looking like the winner of the worst luck in the questions he got asked stakes for this show. Sam was asked about classification of perfumes and nobody had that either. This show was getting harder as it went along, it seemed to me. Valerie was played the voice of a politician for her sound question but didn’t recognize Gough Whitlam. Andy had that one on a bonus. Which put him into second place.

Brian didn’t know about the Great Dismal Swamp. Nobody knew its in N. Carolina and Virginia. Andy got a nice bingo maths question as his first of the round, then got wrong a Russian tsars question. Sam had it, then one on EM Forster, but didn’t know that Richter of the Scale was American. Valerie was asked which seabird lent its name to the first North Sea oilfield opened by Shell. It was auk. Fair enough.

OK, then. The last round asked Brian about Dame Sally Davies – who is the Chief Medical Officer. Nobody had it. I knew that Andy’s was Howard Webb, as did Sam. His own first question saw him fail to answer that Shanghai to Shepperton was written by JG Ballard. Didn’t know it myself. Valerie finished off with not knowing that Mr. Rusty operated the Magic Roundabout. Andy took that. So with the scores not moving very much from rounds 3 – 8, the final scores were: -

Valerie Teague – 4
Sam Keays – 6
Andy Crompton – 7

Brian Chesney – 14

Brain of Britain Heat Three

OK, then, heat 3. The contenders were: -
Ann Everett
John Furlong
Chris Jones
Nigel Thomas

Off we go with round one then. Anne didn’t know that H2O2 is hydrogen peroxide for her first, which gave Nigel a timely bonus. John’s first gave him a list of winners of GB Bake off but nobody recognized them. I only did because we were asked the same question in the rugby club. Chris didn’t know that a Jesse tree depicts the lineage of Christ for his first, and Ann took that bonus. Nigel knew that Platz Solidarnosc would be in Gdansk. He took this second, third but didn’t know that you have a Busyness of ferrets. I thought that all of the contenders had questions which gave them a chance of getting off the mark in this round. That’s how it should be.

In the second round Ann didn’t know that the current nicknamed the Pineapple Express is around the Hawaiian islands. The clue was in the question, and Chris had that. John didn’t know that Arthur Bell Nicholls was Mr. Charlotte Bronte. That bonus went to Ann after Emily and Ann were discounted. Chris didn’t know the Asquith quote about Kitchener – if not a great man, then a great poster! John had a bonus. Nigel again took a first but didn’t know that Woodrow Wilson was the last President to be widowed in office. BY this stage Nigel led with 5 to Ann’s 3. All of the contenders had answered something, and all of them had shown some gaps in their knowledge as well.

Ann had her music question to start next. She had the old chestnut about the alleged plagiarism of He’s So fine by My Sweet Lord written by George Harrison, and made short work of it. She didn’t know the Grey dagger et al are subspecies of Moth – which Chris Jones knew. John didn’t know that Fiesta is the alternative title of The Sun Also Rises. Ann had that to share the lead. Right – another good old quiz chestnut for Chris now. He didn’t know that Angelo Siciliano was the real name of Charles Atlas. Nobody did. Right, there is no reason why any average person in the street should know that. If you’re going to have a serious stab, or even a semi serious stab at a prestige quiz show though, it’s the sort of thing you really ought to know. It’s not an uncommon question. Nigel didn’t know that Lenin et al are all characters in “travesties” by Tom Stoppard.

In the fourth round Ann didn’t know that gavage is feeding by a tube or funnel. I didn’t know either although I guessed, but John took a bonus.  For his own first he was given a burst of Chopin. If in doubt with Chopin you say the Minute Waltz, but this wasn’’t that. He didn’t recognize the Black Keys etude, nor did I or anyone else. Chris took his own first but didn’t know either of the men apart from Churchill to hold cabinet posts during both world wars. I knew Lord Beaverbrook. Nobody had a bonus. Nigel took his first, his second, his third, his fourth . . . but not his fifth. He didn’t know that the musea del oro is found in Bogota. Shame. He still led with 9 – 5.

So to the Beat the Brains interval. The first asked which play of the 36 plays in the first folio was not actually included in the contents due to rights issues. Good question – I went for The Tempest , they went for Henry VIII, and we were all wrong. It was Troilus . . . The second asked which one title would tell you whether you were holding a British or American edition of the collected works? Good question – I guessed Love’s Labours/Labors Lost. The Brains gave no answer.

Back to the contest. Ann was asked in which genre the Eisner awards are made in publishing. Never heard of them, but I was well pleased in guessing comic books since I knew that Will Eisneer created The Spirit. Mind you, John Eisner also played the longest match ever at Wimbledon didn’t he, so you pays yer money. Nobody had it. John had some maths thing as his first, and neither of us had it. Nigel had it. Chris had his music question. I didn’t recognize the dulcet tones of Roger Daltrey and somebody else but Chris had it. He had his second but not his third. Nobody knew the July Column in Paris. Keith was asked for three states with Mexican borders and had them all. He took his second but not his third. Deneb, Vega and Altair are the summer triangle as Chris knew. Chris had now gone up to 6, and Nigel looked good with 12.

Ann didn’t know the jack and jill are the male and female hare – neither did anyone else. John should have known Robert Peary for his first – Nigel took that windfall. Chris took his first but didn’t know the SI Unit – the Gray. Never heard of it. Nigel had his music question next – Love Letters Straight from your heart. Knew that, and knew it was sung by Ketty Lester. Nigel didn’t. Neither did any of the others. So here we were at the last round. Ann didn’t know that the highest ethnic group in Kenya are the Kikuyu. John knew tundra, but not Hugh Dowding. Chris had that one. For his own questions nobody knew Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in Glasgow 2014. Nigel, already home and dry, took another point, but didn’t know that the Land of the Incorruptible is Burkina Faso. Well played Nigel.

Final Scores
John Furlong – 3
Ann Everett – 5
Chris Jones – 8

Nigel Thomas - 14

Brain of Britain Reviews

Look, you’re all intelligent people, I know, and you all know that whatever I write in my reviews, it’s just my opinion. As I always say – this is just my opinion, and feel free to disagree. You know that it’s just my opinion, and it’s a matter of your opinion whether you feel mine is worth paying any attention to or not.

In previous reviews, I have used the word ‘starter’ for the first question each contender is asked in a round. I can see that this would give the impression that each contender has prearranged sets for each round, which is not the case. So the best thing is that I don’t use the word starter for the first question faced by each contender in any given round – which is purely a matter of blind luck depending on the order in which the questions come out. I will try very hard to avoid doing so.

I don’t write entries in my blog to upset people. I have upset readers on a few occasions, but never deliberately and never with malice aforethought. I have not been trying to say that there is some conspiracy on Brain of Britain when one contender seems to me to get first question after first question which seems to me to be harder than those faced by the others. Neither am I suggesting that adjudications are made deliberately to favour one contestant over another. However, when I have thought that the level of questions within a given show has been inconsistent, I have said so. When I have thought that a contestant was given an inconsistently lenient adjudication over an answer, or an inconsistently harsh one, I have said so. This is just my opinion. I don’t say for one moment that my opinion should have any more weight than anybody else’s just because I am a former finalist of the show. On the other hand though, I don’t think it should stop me from making a comment, or from making critical comments about the show, should I have any.

However, as I say, I hate the thought of upsetting people, and this is why I didn’t write a review of BoB last week. Having thought about it over the last few days, though, I decided to carry on, and see what the reaction is like. So here we go. 

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Only Connect - Match 18

Linguists v. Oxonians

Virginia Fassnidge, Gail La Carbonara and skipper Tom Fassnidge of the Linguists defeated the Chessmen in their first round contest. Well, the Shessmen have prospered since then, while the Linguists lost to the Gallifreyans in their first qualification match. Second time lucky, then. Blocking the route to the semi were John Jenkins, Ian Hughson, and captain Justin Floyd of the Oxonians. They had lost first time out to our own History Boys, but knocked out the Politicos while both were imbibing in the last chance saloon. So who to win, then? I didn’t know – you pays yer money and takes yer choice. Let’s get on with it then.

Round One – What’s The Connection?

Having won the toss the Oxos elected to put the Lings in first. Eye of Horus brought us a picture set. After three photos, the only one of which I was sure being the second, of Marilyn Monroe, they went for American presidents, which was not correct. The last picture showed Clint Eastwood . They ahd it from this that all of them were people with no name – Marilyn Monroe from the Seven Year Itch – Marwood – who is never actually called that in the (brilliant) Withnail and I. Sorry folks – just didn’t see it myself. The Oxos looked to build on their lead with by voicing Hornèd Viper – well done. This brought the music set. We heard Bohemian Rhapsody – then what turned out to be from Tosca – then Delilah. I had it at this stage – they are all confessions of murder. The last was I shot the Sheriff. The Oxos saw it not, and so the bonus went to the Lings. All square. The Lings took on water, and began with £100m banknote. Hmm – a couple of ideas there, but nothing confirmed. Mahler’s symphony number 1 followed, then a child of Uranus and Gaia. Well their children were the Titans, which is what I decided to plump for. The last one – the Solar System’s second largest moon provided confirmation that this was indeed the correct tree under which to bark. The Lings had suspected it after 3 clues and took it off four. Twisted Flax gave the Oxos Livonia (Latvia and Estonia) – Transistor (radio) – and I was struggling here – Bums on seats (audience) – and still struggling – Finally Wheels – car. I didn’t see it, neither did the Oxos, but the lIngs informed us this is synecdoche. For example – wheels are actually part of a car – but they can also be used as a word for the whole car. Again, no excuses – just didn’t see it. Lion gave the Lings – The Toothache – huh? – The Unco Guid – which as a good part Scot I know is a Burns poem – so that was my answer. The Deil proved it – and I predicted Tam O Shanter might be the last. Actually it was a haggis – so these were actually all things that Burns addressed poems to. Right at the death Virginia put it on the table and secured a point. So the Oxos finished the round with Two reeds, and kicked off with Muscoidea. Well – Musca suggested some kind of flies, but I wanted more to go on. Uncomplimentary didn’t help. Unproprietary followed – and Ian came up with the brilliant shout that each of these words have all 5 vowels in reverse order. Brilliant. That really helped, since it meant that the Oxos only trailed by 1 – 3 to the Lings’ 4.

Round Two – What Comes Fourth?

Tom of the Lings courted disaster by asking for Horned Viper. IV:1830 immediately suggested King William IV who acceded to the throne in 1830. So I threw caution to the wind and went for I: 1066. III: 1689 said five points to me. It was enough for the Lings to take 3 points as well. The Oxos picked twisted flax, and we saw a picture of a spade. Next we saw 2 hearts. So 4 diamonds? No, not if it’s Bridge, so 4 clubs then . That was my 3 point guess. 3 images of Neil Diamond suggested I was looking good, and brought the Oxos two points. Two Reeds was the next Lings pick. We began with arMs. Hmm – not a Scooby. Then the Lings helped me out by pointing out that the capital M could suggest it is an anagram of Mars. They were dead right since the next was hEart. So some anagram of Mercury with a capital M in the middle. I take no points for that, since I had no idea until they pointed it out. Great shout, easily worth three points. Lion gave the Oxos 4: Move cursor to address bar. Would this be the function keys on a computer keyboard? In which case what would either F1 or F7 be? The second clue said we were going down to 1, since it was 3: Search for files or folders. So dredging my memory I went for F1 – Help, which is exactly what the boys went for, being as it was the right answer. Yay. Lings went for water. We started with John Hannett: USDAW. OK, so John Hannett is the Union’s general secretary. Now, it was a guess to suggest that USDAW might be the UKs 4th largest TU, but if it was, then Unite is the biggest, and Len McCluskey is the Gen Sec. 5 points for me? Paul Kenny GMB came next. Dave Prentis Unison third, and I was already counting the points. Now, up to this point the Lings had shown some good knowledge, but there really isn’t an excuse for not at least knowing that Unite is the UK’s biggest union. The Oxos made no mistake with it. They were left with Eye of Horus and the dreaded musical sequences. Actually this was a terrifically well thought out sequence. We had Franks Sinatra singing about Spring, then Summer, then Autumn. The Oxos didn’t get it, but the Lings took a bonus. Which meant that the score at the end of the round was 11 – 9 to the Lings.

Round Three – The Connecting Walls

The Oxos had the choice and they opted for Water. I could see a set of Countdown presenters. So could the Oxos as Dent, Stelling – Vorderman and Lynam fell into place quickly. I could also see a group of women played by men – Edna Everage and Old Mother Riley for example. Again, the Oxos took them out quickly, adding Fritton and Savage to complete the line. With plenty of time left to untangle the last two lines and indeed they did. Cowl – Hewer – Kitchen and Nightmare they knew all contined the names of female animals, which left Beer – Rose – Market and Zen. They can all precede Garden said captain Justin, and it was maximum points thank you very much, Victoria.

The Lion then remained for the Lings, who needed a full house to preserve their lead. Now, I fancied there was a set of BBC Newsround presenters there. Never mind that – the Lings took out Goulash  - Slumgullion – Daube – and Tagine – a group of stews. They then took out the Newsrounders – Guru-Murthy – Hedayat – Mzimba and Morris. They worked out that there was a set of words with birds in them, which meant they just needed to work out what was left before untangling them. They took them out – with wrench – probing – craven and crowded being the birds. This left Bowler – Doctor – Vector and Cycle which all follow spin. Once again a full house. So this meant that going into the lst round it was an exciting 21 – 19 to the Lings.

Round Four – Missing Vowels

The first set was Phrases heard on Only Connect. 2:1 to the Oxos – and the score stood at 22 – 21. Flavours of crisps. 2:2 – and 24 – 23 to the Lings. Former names of African Countries went 2 apiece, but crucially the Oxos lost a point for an incorrect buzz as well. 26 – 24.Starring David Jason gave just enough time for 1, and it fell to the Lings. So the final score was 27 – 24. What a good game. Very well played both, and congratulations to the Linguists.