Saturday, 19 January 2019

University Challenge 2019 - Round 2 - Downing, Cambridge v. Darwin, Cambridge


Downing, Cambridge v. Darwin, Cambridge

Yes, dearly beloved, I will admit that I’d been especially looking forward to this contest, since it featured the return of Darwin’s remarkable skipper, Jason Golfinos. Mr. Golfinos you may recall, put in a buzzer performance of Guttenplanesque or Trimblesque stature by scoring 13 starters in Darwin’s first match. Well, first round form isn’t everything. Alex Guttenplan’s Emmanuel were actually beaten in their first round match, and I hardly mentioned Alex’s name once in my review of that contest. That would certainly change as the series progressed. Would Jason Golfinos’ fortunes take an opposite trajectory? Hoping that they would were Downing, represented by Fergus O’Dowd, Jane O’Connor,  Felix Prutton and their own inspirational skipper, Yanbo Yin. Downing were no slouches on the buzzer themselves in the first round. For Darwin we had Stuart Macpherson, Christopher Davis, Guy Mulley, and the irrepressible Mr. Golfinos.

Jason Golfinos started early. Like me, he heard ‘Hindu’ ‘five peaks’ and ‘temple’ and correctly guessed Angkor Wat, although he gave a little grimace before answering. Participants at the Congress of Vienna provided a pretty gentle set of bonuses, which were duly sent goalwards with the minimum of fuss to give Darwin the perfect start. A little of the gloss of which rubbed off when Stuart Macpherson came in too early for the next starter and lost 5. Never mind. At least it was perhaps a sign that the other members of the Darwin team were going to be buzzing and not waiting for their captain, and that’s a good sign. Given the whole question I knew that Selenium was named after a Moon goddess, and so got my lap of honour (done at slow walking pace) over early. Meanwhile Felix Prutton tapped that one into the hole. Downing’s set of bonuses on pairs of words differing by the addition or subtraction of the letter r – a good UC special set, that – saw Downing struggle and only get 1 of a distinctly gettable set. Jason Golfinos was back for the next starter, where he recognised references to Cezanne. Again, he grimaced before giving his answer. I have to be honest, he seemed very wound up during the contest. Counties of Ireland provided them with one bonus. It seemed that the grimace was catching, since Yanbo Yin now did it when he buzzed in for next starter. It didn’t do him any good as it happened, for he only had one of the two islands being asked for correct. However when Jason Golfinos buzzed in and grimaced, it worked for him as he correctly offered Hokkaido and Honshu. Gesundheit. Controversial operas brought Darwin another full house. Even at this stage of the competition their team seemed particularly wound up. Was this, I wondered, because the opposition were another Cambridge college? Do the members of the two teams, or some of them, know each other of old, thus making an even greater incentive to win? Certainly it seemed as if there was more riding on this for them than just a place in the quarters. I did consider awarding myself another lap of honour for recognising that the mathematical manifold we were shown for the first picture starter was correctly termed a torus. Too old, knackered and ill to do it, frankly. This time Jason Golfinos didn’t grimace as he buzzed in. Christopher Davis did pump his fists in triumph as his skipper gave the right answer. This was slightly before the 10 minute mark. What wild scenes of jubilation were we likely to see if Darwin actually won, I asked myself. Three more diagrams provided a further 10 points. At just before the halfway stage Darwin were carrying all before them, leading by 80 – 15.

Downing are no mugs, though. Yanbo Yin correctly identified a novel from the 1850s with a character called Mr. Hale (nicknamed Ginger? Sorry) as Mrs. Gaskell’s “North and South”. A couple of bonuses on members of the auk family followed. Jason Golfinos forgot to grimace when buzzing early for the next starter, and thus lost five with his first incorrect buzz. To be fair to him, his answer – cloaca – was my answer as well, and it did seem to be where the question might be headed. It wasn’t though, and once it became clear we were looking for the name of the order of mammals that actually have a cloaca, it was easy for Yanbo Yin to give us monotremes. Departments of France with three letter names seemed to be right up Fergus O’Dowd’s street and he helped his team to a full house. With the gap reduced to 15 points it seemed we had a game on our hands. Good show. Serialism – no, me neither, allowed Jason Golfinos to put a halt to the fightback, at least for now. Myrna Loy films brought them no further points. The grimace was noticeably back for the next starter as Jason Golfinos took his sixth with Purchasing Power Parity. Metallurgy brought just the one bonus, but that was enough to take Darwin into triple figures. The music starter was brilliant. We heard a couple of seconds of Chic’s good times, then Christopher Davis buzzed in, and looked to either side when Roger Tilling announced his name as if he couldn’t believe that he was the one who’d buzzed in. ‘Chic’ he answered with a look of bemused disbelief on his face. Jason Golfinos held his hand up for a high five. Christopher Davis ignored him. He tapped Mr. Davis on the shoulder and after looking at his skipper’s hand with an expression which seemed to say ‘what the hell do you want me to do with that?’ he delivered the most reluctant half mast 5 I think I’ve ever seen. Classic. 3 more songs recorded in the 70s that were later sampled in hip hop tracks saw them provide one correct answer – one argument (about which more later), and one more one sided high five. That Golfinos buzzer finger remained as sharp as ever though when he was first to buzz in to say that Messrs Mascagni, Tchaikovsky and Almodovar all had versions of the name Peter as their given name. Latin legal terms saw the ebullient skipper think twice before deciding not to try a high five with Guy Mulley after he supplied his first correct answer, then insist on a high five as he provided another. If possible Mr. Mulley seemed even more uncomfortable than Mr. Davis had. Didn’t matter – Darwin had still taken another full house. A lovely UC special starter using elements to represent the numbers at which they appear on the periodic table saw Felix Prutton narrowly miss, allowing Stuart Macpherson in. Dutch artists brought two bonuses, and that ensured that just after the 20 minute mark, Darwin led by 160 to 60.

When you’re faced with a buzzer onslaught you can either sit back and accept it, or fight fire with fire and go down all guns blazing. Which tactic would Downing adopt? Well, Fergus O’Dowd came in commendably early to identify the Leningrad oblast of Russia for the next starter. Really and truly they could have done with more than just the single bonus on Salvador Dali’s muse and wife Gala. (did she inspire him to create the Chipa Chups logo? The mind boggles) Never mind. Thus encouraged Yanbo Yin was first in to identify a still from the film “Get Out” for the second picture starter. More cinematic social gatherings from hell saw them fail on three films, two of which at least were pretty gettable. Again, Yanbo Yin threw caution to the winds on the next starter, guessing that Buston Keaton would have been the original performer of a stunt recreated in Dead Pan. European Geography saw them take a full house in short order. In just 3 minutes they had reduced the deficit by half – and there were still more than three minutes left. Asked for the title character of an opera by Delibes, Jason Golfinos buzzed, grimaced twice, and gave the correct answer ‘Lakme’. He received a wigging from JP for not answering straightaway, but earned the points. Years in world history ending with the digit 6  provided two bonuses to increase the magnitude of Downing’s task. Yanbo Yin failed to correctly say what LI as in LISA stands for, and sadly lost 5. To add salt to the wounds Stuart Macpherson then gave the correct answer of Laser interferometry. Too far away from each other for Jason Golfinos to offer him a high five, the skipper instead gave a congratulatory fist bump. Bonuses on oil painting pigments only brought one correct answer, but it really didn’t matter. The gap was now too wide, and there just wasn’t enough time left. Fair play to Yanbo Yin though, he took the next starter, recognising a description of Vilnius. Bonuses on the Lake District really didn’t do them many favours, providing just the one bonus. Jason Golfinos knew the term behavioural economics to take his 9th starter of the evening. 20th century writing saw the contest gonged before Darwin could add to their score. Darwin had won by 205 to 120. That’s a good performance, because, as I said, this is a good Downing team. I suspect that both teams had similar bonus conversion rates, at just over 50%. But this game was won on the buzzer, make no doubt about that. Jason Golfinos was slinging buzzer right from the start of the contest. Downing only threw caution to the winds in the later stages – a shame, because when they did, Yanbo Yin seemed to be achieving similar success to that of his opposite number. This was a thoroughly enjoyable game, and I look forward to seeing Darwin at least 2 more times (and probably more).

Jeremy Paxman Watch

When Jason Golfinos took what looked like a speculative punt for his 5th starter, “Um, like. . serialism?” JP seemed rather taken aback – “Serialism is ABSOLUTELY right, yes.”

Jez was really into the dynamic between Messrs Davis and Golfinos during the music bonuses. When they got the first one wrong, Mr. Davis committed the cardinal sin of remonstrating that he’d said the correct answer. Mr. Golfinos is a New Yorker, and they don’t take that sort of thing lying down. Jez then started stirring saying in pointed terms to Mr. Davis “Your CAPTAIN gave an answer!” – then he jumped on his desk, removed his shirt and tie and started twirling them round his head chanting “Fight – fight – fight!” No he didn’t. However he did challenge them “Go on, have a fight!” I like this Paxman, Jez. Can we have him every week, please?

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

Dali’s wife Gala had previously participated in a menage a trois with first husband Paul Eluard and Max Ernst.

Friday, 18 January 2019

Mastermind 2019 - Heat 13


Hello, good morning and welcome. I’ve been struggling a bit this week, since you ask, Dearly Beloved. My annual cold/flu/virus/chest infection (delete where applicable) has well and truly struck, and I’ve been feeling particularly seedy all week. Such is life. At least there was Mastermind yesterday evening. Speaking of which. . .

Now, I know there was a dramatized version of Albert Einstein’s life on TV a couple of years ago, but I never watched it. I’ve never read a biography of Einstein either. I’m sure that I’ve mentioned in the past how I was away the day we did Science at school as well. So quite how I managed 9 correct answers on Amit De’s round on Albert Einstein I really couldn’t say. Amit himself did considerably better, and got into the teens with thirteen. As we’ve said before, for the last few years that’s been a mark of quality in a specialist round.

I didn’t do as well on Marion Whitehead’s round. Marion was answering on the Hamish Macbeth novels of M.C. Beaton. Now, not having ever read any, and only about once or twice having watched the Robert Carlyle TV series by the same name in years gone by I knew I was going to be on a bit of a sticky wicket with this round, and indeed only a bit of guesswork on a couple of questions brought me two points to take the aggregate to 10. Which coincidentally was the score that Marion ended her round with. Good score, nothing to be ashamed of, and only a couple of points behind the leader at the turn around.

Once upon a time I became rather interested in the Crystal Palace. I mention this because our next contender, Richard Pyne, was offering us the Life and Works of Joseph Paxton, and of course, Joseph Paxton’s most famous work by far was the Crystal Palace. The Palace itself was re-erected some time after the Great Exhibition in Hyde Park in Sydenham Heights. It burned down in 1936, I think, and there’s nothing of the structure itself left, but the building’s footprint can still be seen, and it was a huge thing indeed. When I was young my parents took me and two brothers to Crystal Palace Park in Sydenham, using red bus rover tickets (ask your grandparents), and it seemed to me that the journey from Ealing in West London took us about 3 months. Enough of such nonsense. Richard, who came this way before in Clive’s series, took 11 points, and I took 4 to take my score to 15.

Finally Carole Stead, and the reign of possibly the most interesting and yet misunderstood Pharoah of Ancient Egypt, Akhenaten. He’s one of those figures that ‘alternative’ History theorists often like to involve in various theories, mainly, one suspects, because he acted in a way which was so different to those who had come before. Personally I think he might well have been, as my Nan might have said, ‘not quite the full shilling’, but it takes all sorts to make a world. I scraped the 5 points I needed to get me up to 20. Carole, on the other hand, gave us the best specialist round of the evening. Like all of the rounds last night it wasn’t quite perfect, but it was very good. 14 and no passes gave her a one point lead over Amit, and meant that she would be last to return to the chair in the GK round.

Speaking of which, first to return was Marion Whitehead. I spent some time last week discussing the fact that both last week and the week before a contender in both heats had an absolute nightmare on grneral knowledge. I won’t go into all of the ins and outs of this again. Still, it’s nice to be able to say that this didn’t happen for a third week in a row. Marion, to be fair, never looked like she was going to rip the guts out of this round, but that’s ok, there are relatively few people around who can do that. What she did do was keep her head, keep answering throughout the round, and amass a double figure total. Her 12 increased her score to set the bar at 22. Perfectly respectable, and well done.

Richard Pyne achieved a very similar round, in fact the number of correct answers was identical, as he too doubled his total. Indeed the only real difference was the number of passes. Richard passed 5 times, and seemed to have taken the decision to pass if the answer – or an answer – didn’t pop into his head quickly. That’s a valid tactic in its own right, especially if it maintains your momentum, which I believe is far more important than you might think in a Mastermind GK round.

Okay, so Marion more than doubled her score with her GK round, Richard doubled his score in his GK round. What about Amit? Well, yes, he doubled up too, and since he’d scored 13 in his specialist round, this meant that he took the target from 22 right up to 26. I enjoyed Amit’s round. I like to see contenders having the breadth of knowledge which means that the they know – or can guess – things from a wide range of subjects, and I thought that Amit did this. 26 can quite often be a good enough score to bring a victory in a heat. Would that be the case this time, though?

Well, it wouldn’t if Carole maintained the trend, and doubled her score. In fact, she did even better than that. It never looked like she was going particularly quickly, but she was going pretty accurately, and that’s often more important. By the end of the round she’d scored 16 – a very fine performance indeed – and took her total to 30. I don’t know Carole’s quiz background, although if she is a regular quizzer I really wouldn’t be very surprised at all. Still, if she can maintain this level of performance in the semi finals then she is certainly going to be a contender for one of the 6 places in the final. The very best of luck.

Congratulations to all involved, a good show.

The Details

Amit De
Albert Einstein
13
0
13
2
26
2
Marion Whitehead
The Hamish Macbeth books of M.C.Beaton
10
3
12
3
22
6
Richard Pyne
The Life and Works of Joseph Paxton
11
1
11
5
22
6
Carole Stead
The Reign of Akhenaten
14
0
16
1
30
1

Saturday, 12 January 2019

University Challenge 2019 - Second Round - Durham v. Keble, Oxford


Durham v. Keble, Oxford

Here we are again after the light-hearted fun of the Christmas alumni series. Oh, if any of the producers are reading, if you want to put Goldsmiths – or Swansea University in it next year I would definitely be available. No? Always worth a try.

Actually, I don’t know why they have to stop the real series while this is on. Mastermind doesn’t. Last night, while we had the real, full sugar caffeinated version on BBC Two, we also had Mastermind Lite, now with added celebrities (and fewer correct answers), on BBC One. Alright, enough nonsense, and as JP would say, let’s get on with it.

Durham achieved a fantastic score of 360 when beating a Strathclyde team all ways till Tuesday on the buzzer first time out. Well it doesn’t matter who your opposition are, you’ve got to be good to do that. They were again represented by Sian Round, Cameron Yule, Ben Murray and skipper Matthew Toynbee. The unenviable task of opposing Durham fell to Keble College Oxford. (Are there any other long-in- the- tooth Monty Python fans who automatically think Keble BOLLEGE Oxford whenever they hear that name? No? Well, please yourselves) Keble set UAE home in the first round, although this was more of a contest then Durham’s had been. As before they were represented by Ellen Pasternack, Michael Green, Thomas Player and their captain Rose Atkinson.

Michael Green took first blood for Keble, knowing that Salvator Mundi (who I thought was a Spanish surrealist) was a painting by Da Vinci sold in 2017. Novels published in 1818 sounded full of eastern promise for me, and indeed provided a full house, although if truth be told they weren’t all that easy. As Keble duly found, failing to add to their total. Ellen Pasternack did though, knowing that the personal pronoun which begins an Isaac Asimov collection of short stories about robots is I. Aye. Fish brought us both a couple of bonuses. Ben Murray opened Durham’s account, recognising a couple of quotes about statistics. Bonuses on the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC followed. They took a brace of bonuses. A good buzz from Sian Round saw her correctly ascribe an observation made in a lecture to Virginia Woolf – good shout that. Periodicals founded in the 18th century was the subject of the bonuses that followed. A full house earned Durham the coveted Paxman ‘well done’ and gave them the lead. You sensed that the Durham juggernaut was building momentum. The picture starter was one of those – I don’t know, but what else could it be? - questions. Shown symbols from the notation system for a game, I thought – well I only know about chess notation so I’ll go for that and checkmate. I don’t know if the same thought processes were what led Ben Murray to give the same answer, but we were both right. Three more examples of algebraic notation denoting specific events in chess brought Durham 10 more points. Matthew Toynbee was the first to get the old chestnut about the kind of cake eaten specifically at Easter, after being given the additional clue of the name being the same as a pretender to Henry VII. (Warbeck cake never caught on apparently). So ironically every member of the Durham team had now had a correct buzz apart from Cameron Yule, who was so good in the first round match. Plenty of time left for that, though. Building materials brought another one correct answer. This gave Durham a healthy lead of 80 – 30 at the ten minute mark.

Ben Murray knew that Galen was the ancient physician mentioned in the next starter. This was Mr. Murray’s third starter so far. The composer Anne Dudley (yes, Anne Who? in LAM Towers) actually gave me a full house, while Durham managed just one. Didn’t matter at this moment, since they were buzzing Keble to shreds at this point. Michael Green stopped the rot, knowing that 1816 was a year during the lifetime of Niels Abel. Scientific awards during 1979 promised but little but we both managed the last. More importantly, Keble were moving forward again. I felt for Michael Green when he ascribed the tale of Patient Griselda to the Canterbury Tales. A version is actually in there, but the question had specified it was part of a collection of 100 tales, which should have given someone the idea of the Decameron. Durham couldn’t capitalise.  I felt for Rose Atkinson on the next starter. She knew that one of the clues referenced Suzanne Vega, but in the heat of the moment forgot that the question asked for the given name rather than the surname, and offered Vega. This allowed Matthew Toynbee to toe poke that particular ball into the open goal. A very nice UC special set on letter combinations provided Durham with a full house, and took them into three figures. Cameron Yule now broke his duck on the music starter, very quickly recognising Joel Grey in Cabaret. Other singers sharing surnames with British PMs caused some hilarity when Durham offered James Brown and Gordon Brown – I’d have paid money to see that duo on stage together – instead of Jackie and Harold Wilson – ditto. As a result they didn’t offer answers to the next two. I didn’t really get the next question, but Ellen Pasternack did, and this earned much needed bonuses on Latin America. I took a full house on national flags, while the way that Keble went about answering, and failing to add to their score suggested that they may well have been feeling shellshocked by this stage. Fair play to Michael Green, he was first in to recognise the works of de Toqueville for the next starter. Nuclear physics offered me little chance of a lap of honour round the living room, and indeed did not deliver one. Nor for Keble either. Now, I did know that rongorongo is the largely undeciphered writing system from Easter Island. So did the impressive Ben Murray. Two bonuses on plagiarism meant that Durham led by 150 – 55 at just after the halfway mark. Yes, Keble could still win, but it would take a comeback to rival that of Lazarus.

I recognised a Rembrandt self portrait for the picture starter, as did Sian Round. Now, when JP announced bonuses on artists’ self portraits from the sub genre – self portrait with dog – I fully expected Hogarth and his pug to appear. They didn’t. Shame. One of my great, great, great, great grandfathers was a one-time pupil of Hogarth and one-time teacher of Turner. Enough of that. Landseer and Frida Kahlo did appear, and I recognised them, but not Gustav Courbet. Durham took one bonus. I didn’t know the scientific term efflorescence, but Matthew Toynbee did for the next starter. Yoga bonuses exposed all of our collective ignorance. Matthew Toynbee was the first in to supply the word impediments to the end of the first line of the famous sonnet 116. Actually it’s the end of the middle of the second line, but it was clear what was meant. Acronyms in Physics gave nowt to any of us. For the next starter Ellen Pasternack supplied the term bacteriophage, and since I’d just said it as well, I set off on my lap of honour. The art critic and novelist John Berger, with whose work I am not familiar, provided both of us with one bonus. Now, I guessed that a millionth of a micrometer might be a picometer, but I’ve got my winter cold at the moment so I didn’t take my second lap of honour. Thomas Player took that one. Ancient Egypt saw them take two bonuses. Cameron Yule knew that Closing Time is the belated sequel to Catch 22. Moths took them to 200 for the second time in a row. Michael Green – Keble’s best buzzer by some distance – knew that the Instrument of Government related to Oliver Cromwell. UK island group bonuses were gonged before they could add further points, but at least the starter had taken them to 100 points. I thought that they had some bad luck with the bonus sets they earned, although they still probably should have done better than the poor conversion rate they managed. I don’t think they would have won though. Durham’s performance on the bonuses was rather average in this contest in my opinion, but their buzzing meant there was no chance they were ever going to lose this.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

An early raising of the eyebrows and an incredulous repetition from JP as Keble offered Ivanhoe rather than Scott’s Heart of Midlothian promised some fireworks, but it turned out to be a bit of a damp squib. That was it.

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

When writing about plagiarism, Laurence Sterne plagiarised another author.

Friday, 11 January 2019

Mastermind 2019 Heat 12


Happy New Year to you all. Well, there was a definite teacherly feel to last night’s heat, as one teacher and two retired teachers – and that’s probably the best kind of teacher to be, in my opinion – chanced their arm against a chemical engineer.

First of all we had our teacher. Now obviously I can’t be certain, but it definitely sounded to me as if Devin Healy, our first contender, had an American or possibly Canadian accent. Nothing wrong with that either. Devin was answering on The Wright Brothers. Hello- thought I – chance of points here, since I did read a good biography of the brothers a couple of years ago. I must have remembered it quite well too since I picked off 9 of these. Which is not as good as Devin who managed 11, which was good but left a little bit of wiggle room for the following contenders to improve upon the target.

Our chemical engineer, Sanjoy Sen,if he was intimidated by the phalanx of educators to the left and right showed no sign of this. He rattled off 13 correct answers on the TV series Jeeves and Wooster, which wasn’t quite a perfect round, incurring two passes, but still looked pretty good to me. I didn’t add to my score. Although I am a huge fan of Stephen Fry, I never watched the TV series, and I’ve never read any Wodehouse, even though I know that he was an influence, believe it or not, on one of my favourite writers, Douglas Adams.

Chloe Stone has been this way a couple of times before. In previous appearances in Jesse’s series and Clive’s series she reached the semi final on both occasions. We’ll maybe say a little bit more about that later on. Chloe was answering on The Rumpole Stories of John Mortimer. I took 5 of these. It’s been many years since I read any, but I was a bit partial to both the stories and also the TV series starring Leo McKern. I did actually meet John Mortimer once. It was 1983, and I was washing up in the canteen of BBC’s Lime Grove studios near Shepherd’s Bush for a couple of weeks. I was going up the stairs and he was coming down. I did a bit of a double take, and then said, “Excuse me, you’re John Mortimer aren’t you?” I’ll never forget those words he said in reply. “Who are you and what are you doing in my way?” No, he didn’t really, he said, “Yes, good day!” and then toddled off down the stairs. Chloe finished with 12 and 1 pass.

Only our second retired teacher remained, Alan Keys. Now, Alan was offering Olympic Track and Field 1896 – 1948. Now, my first thought when I saw this was – blimey, I wish they’d have let me do just 1896 – 1948 when I did the Olympics in 2006. My second thought was – and I wish they’d let me just do track and field instead of all sports! Well, there we are, times change. My third thought was – come on Dave, son, fill your boots here. The 11 of these I answered took my aggregate of all 4 SS rounds to 24 – I’ll take that any day of the week. Alan of course did better. Like Sanjoy, he scored 13, although he managed to do so without passing.

Once again, it’s nice to see all 4 contenders obviously having put the time and effort into preparing for their specialists well. Kudos to all for that.

So to the GK round. Devin was first to return to the chair, and sadly she gave us a round the like of which we only rarely used to see in days gone by. Yet this was the second time in two heats we've seen a contender have an absolute 'mare on GK. Now, I don’t know if Devin is American, and if she is, I don’t know how long she has been living in the UK. I do always think that trying a general knowledge round in a country where you don’t have the grounding of knowledge that those of us who grow up in the country have must put you at a disadvantage. I’m sure that nerves must also have paid a part in what happened as well. The fact is that Devin passed the first couple of questions, which saw her fall into a pass spiral. At the end of the round her total had risen to 15, and that one round had incurred 10 passes.

Okay, this isn’t intended as a criticism of Devin. We don’t know how Devin will have performed at an audition, and we don’t know how much of that GK round last night was just due to nerves. And you can’t legislate for the effect of nerves. I know that. But I also know that there will have been people out there watching, who failed to gain a place on this year’s show, who won’t have been happy watching that performance. To be honest, if there had been any hint that this sort of thing could happen when she did her audition, then I think it was a bit reprehensible putting her on the show, and putting her through this. Not to mention that it's quite uncomfortable to watch and not very entertaining - well unless you're the sort of person who would have enjoyed Christians v. Lions at the Colosseum in days gone by,  Just my opinion, and feel free to disagree.

So to Chloe. Now in two previous series, Chloe produced good enough specialist rounds to put her towards the top of the leader board, and good enough GK rounds to win her heat in her first appearance, and to win a repechage slot in her second. In both semi final appearances she produced relatively solid GK rounds, which weren’t good enough to give her a chance of winning. This particular GK round fell some way short of her previous first round heat performances. There were just too many gettable questions which she couldn’t answer, and it seemed fairly clear that her final of 21 was very unlikely to win the heat this time.

Sanjoy Sen, on the other hand, didn’t let much that was gettable go past him. It was a good round which needed him to show a wide range of knowledge. He wasted little time, and his decision to pass three questions did at least enable him to maintain his momentum until the buzzer. His final total of 28 would give him every chance of reaching the semis, at least via the repechage route if need be. But would need be, that was the question.

Well, for the first half of Alan’s round I felt that Sanjoy was home and dry. Alan wasn’t doing badly. He adopted the same non-passing tactic that he’d used in his specialist round, but it did mean that he wasn’t going as fast as Sanjoy had. He was clearly behind the clock. Then, in the last 45 seconds or so he really started to put on a spurt. It wasn’t quite enough as he scored 13 to finish with 26, but this was still a good performance, and as John pointed out it does give him a sniff of a repechage slot.

Well done to Sanjoy, who may well be worth keeping an eye on when the semis start to come round. Best of luck to you, sir.

The Details

Devin Healy
The Wright Brothers
11
3
4
10
15
13
Sanjoy Sen
The TV series Jeeves and Wooster
13
2
15
3
28
5
Chloe Stone
The Rumpole Stories of John Mortimer
12
1
9
3
21
4
Alan Keys
Olympic Track and Field 1896 - 1948
13
0
13
0
26
0

Wednesday, 2 January 2019

Sleb Mastermind - Question Mistake

Sorry - it made no difference to the final result, but in tonight's sleb show I'm sure that I saw a bit of a howler, The question asked words to the effect of 'The Mayan site of Chichen Itza and the Incan site of Macchu Picchu can be found on which continent?'

What's wrong with this picture? Well, the answer given as correct was South America. Which is a problem when you consider that Chichen Itza is in Mexico, which is part of North America. Even if that had been given as the correct answer, it would still have been a problem, since Macchu Picchu is very definitely in Peru, in South America.

I'm really surprised that this one made it onto the show - and we can't blame John Humphrys for mucking up the question this time, since it's the question which is just plain wrong.