Sunday, 19 September 2021

1 Week, Two Quizzes and Fred Housego - RIP Jimmy Greaves

 I cannot honestly remember the last time that I played in two quizzes in the same week. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it was back when I gave up on Sunday evening quizzes, which was some time before the pandemic struck. A week ago on Thursday the newest members of our quiz team made their debut in the rugby club quiz, and they mentioned that there was a themed James Bond movie quiz in the Gwyn Hall in Neath on Wednesday 15th. There’s a movie quiz on different themes there once a month. Well, it’s quite a long time since I watched a James Bond film for pleasure, but they’re a pretty recurrent theme for general quiz questions, so while I couldn’t offer anything on films from Skyfall onwards, I thought I might help out with some of the older stuff. Long story short, we won on a tie break. Not my doing. Skipper Adam did all of the heavy lifting (and truth be told, nearly all of the light lifting as well.) 

The second quiz was of course the Rugby club quiz on Thursday. Not a bad quiz at all, either. I particularly liked a question on which we scored only 1 of the 2 points. It went some like this – of the original Wombles on the TV series based on the novels of Elisabeth Beresford, which of the Wombles are northernmost and southernmost according to their names. Southernmost is simple – Wellington. For northernmost though, which one would you go for – Tobermory or Tomsk? We went for Tomsk, but the answer given was Tobermory. When I asked the question master about it he said that there is virtually nothing to choose between them, with the former being a tad further north than the latter, and I’ve no reason to doubt that. Time was I would have googled that when I got home. Maybe I’m growing up a little.

 I’ve already made 10 posts since restarting the blog at the end of August. Nothing can be guaranteed, but you never know, it looks like this just might not be another false dawn. I did spend a little bit of time thinking about the sort of posts I’d like to be making, all being well. Obviously the TV reviews have to continue. Certainly for the time being I’m not planning on expanding on the range of shows. Mastermind and University Challenge are enough to cope with for the time being, and ironically, they were the two shows I started reviewing way back in 2008 when I first started the blog. But I made a mental wish list, and in order to fill it in, one of the questions I asked was – if I could interview someone for the blog, who would I most like to interview? Now, don’t misunderstand me, if anyone with something interesting to say on quizzing wanted to step forward, I’d be only too delighted to interview them. But I think my number one – and this is purely my personal choice – would be Fred Housego. 

If you’ve been with the blog for a long time, and you have a great memory, you may remember that I’ve written about this before. I am being totally sincere when I say that I would absolutely love to meet Fred Housego. Now, okay, 1980, when Fred won Mastermind, was 41 years ago, so maybe his name doesn’t have the resonance it once did. But I was 16 back then, and I was one of the unwashed millions who marveled at the London cabbie winning the title which had previously been the exclusive right of academics, educators, civil servants and a retired ambassador. He was my first quiz hero. Fred didn’t participate in the 2010 Champion of Champions series – I can only imagine that he was busy or couldn’t do it for some other reasons, since the thought that he might not have been invited is surely ridiculous. It's the only thing I regret about that excellent series, which was huge fun to be involved in. So, Fred, I have no idea if you have ever read the blog, or if you, or anyone else who knows you well enough to mention it will ever read this post, but I have to make the offer. I would absolutely love to meet you, or, if that doesn’t work for you, I’d love to send you some questions, and if you’d like to answer, well, then you’d make me very happy. Over to you.

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I must pay my respects to another hero whom I never met, Jimmy Greaves, who has passed away aged 81. I'm too young to remember him much as a great footballer and goalscoring hero, although he was one of Tottenham Hotspur's greatest ever players (which in itself is enough to endear him to me) , but also for his good humour, his quick wit, and his honesty over his battles with alcoholism. Having grown up with an alcoholic myself, I have nothing but admiration for the way he met his demons head on, and continually won the daily battle for sobriety and sanity. 

Have a good week. 

Tuesday, 14 September 2021

University Challenge First Round Heat 10, St. John's, Cambridge v. Imperial

The Teams

St. John’s Cambridge

Thomas Clark

Louis George

Jonathan Chan (capt)

Kyanna Ouyang

Imperial

Max Zeng

Fatima Sheriff

Michael Mays (capt)

Gilbert Jackson

 The shame of it. The BBC takes Mastermind off for a fortnight of Test Cricket – and then the second of the two tests is cancelled. Doesn’t mean that they do the decent thing and bring Mastermind back a week early, mind you. Thank heavens for Only Connect, then and University Challenge. Last night pitted St. John’s, Cambridge against Imperial, once of the University of London but since 2006 and independent institution in its own right. 

Fatima Sheriff drew first blood, recognising the word Park from a series of clues. I was far too slow on this one, and so my run of correct answers didn’t so much come to a grinding halt this week as never even make a grinding start. They picked up two bonuses on Samuel Coleridge Taylor, but missed out on the performing rights society. Good early buzzing from Louis George opened St. John’s’ account when he buzzed early to identify events that happened in 2013. French physicist Emilie du Chatelet promised me but little, yet the first bonus earned me this week’s lap of honour around the Clark sofa for knowing Isaac Newton’s Principia Mathematica. We both took two bonuses to leave the teams tied. I made the same mistake as Gilbert Jackson with the next starter. When asked about notable buildings in the Derby Gothic style – no, me neither – when I heard the name Ribblehead I too went for viaducts. St. John’s couldn’t capitalise. We were close but no cigar. First in for the next starter to identify the breed of collie was the Imperial skipper Michael Mays. Bonuses on the Musee Marmotan – I guess visitors either love it or hate it – largely passed them by. The picture starter was a UC special, showing two countries, the flags of the neighbouring countries, and asking which one country lay geographically between the two. I had Poland, but the bonuses, more of the same, showed Max Zeng is a master at this sort of question. On the three bonuses – more of the same – if we’d both been greyhounds he’d have caught the electric hare before I was even out of the trap. Highly impressive. It meant that as we approached the ten minute mark Imperial led by 55 – 20.

That man Zeng again took the next starter knowing that two battles mentioned took place near the city of Prague. Bonuses on Ancient India saw all other Imperial heads turn to Max Zeng, and he didn’t let them down, swatting all three bonuses to the boundary. Something was needed from St. John’s and it came in the shape of a very speedy buzz from skipper Jonathan Chan, who won the buzzer race to say that it was Turner who was strapped to the mast in a thunderstorm. (That was his story). Birds on the red list of conservation concern of the RSPB saw them take just the one bonus, but at least the scoreboard was moving again for them. Fatima Shariff recognised John Polidori’s work I think which led her to say that the next starter required the answer of Vampire. Three questions followed on words that look as if they are oxymorons based on their etymology saw Imperial take another rfull house, thank you very much. Yet again the reply came from St. John’s in the form of very sharp buzzing by the captain, who worked out that the culinary herb made from two personal pronouns is thyme. Great question, great buzzing. Two bonuses took them to 55, but the gap to Imperial was looking ominous still. Nobody recognised the work of Liszt for the next starter, however the moment JP mentioned the Sorceror’s Apprentice during the next starter I would imagine that voices throughout the land were suddenly shouting “Fantasia!” at the screen. I was. Jonathan Chan won that particular buzzer race to earn the music bonuses. Symphonic poems influenced by Liszt were on the liszt for the bonuses. Which did no good for me, but saw Jonathan Chan consolidate the excellent evening he was having by taking all three. However the next starter was on Geography, a subject which Max Zeng was proving ubeatable on and he quickly identified Uzbekistan as the answer to the nest starter. A tricky set on literature saw them take just the one bonus. Taking their atomic numbers, what element is calcium minus fluorine? Working out 20 – 9 and then working out that number 11 is sodium, all before Max Zeng buzzed in with the same answer, well, I’m very sorry, but if that isn’t enough to earn me my second lap of honour, then I don’t know what is. I took it, anyway. All of which meant I was too knackered to properly listen to the bonuses on mathematical notation, but whatever they were, Imperial had a full house. I thought that both teams sat on their buzzers a bit for the next starter but as soon as it became obvious we were talking about the Battle of Waterloo, Michael Mays won that buzzer race. We got crabs for the bonuses. Ooh, Matron. We both took a full house with that set. All of which meant that as we were on the cusp of the 20 minute mark, Imperial had a match winning lead of 170 – 80.

Which didn’t mean that the remainder of the contest was without interest. St. John’s might not win, but they had every chance of claiming a repechage slot if they could keep slinging buzzer. Jonathan Chan, as he had done all evening, showed the way by buzzing early to identify the second picture starter as the work of Gauguin. Three other works depicting washerwomen brought us both two correct answers. Now, if I said ‘Italian Lake’ and ‘Law enforcement agency’ how quickly would you come up with Garda? Max Zeng beat me to it. Three Bergs provided a brace of bonuses, and put Imperial within a starter of 200. Nobody knew the prefix yotta. Jonathan Chan knew that Jacques Chirac has been both Prime Minister and President of the Fifth Republic. Scientific terms beginning with ax brought just one bonus – sadly none of them referred to the Claws of Axos from Doctor Who – which I referenced in this very blog last week. It was inevitably Jonathan Chan who won the buzzer race to tell us that the US state with an 11 letter name made up of only 5 different letters was Mississippi. He shook his head ironically when JP announced the bonuses were on card games in works of literature – and yes, St. John’s hadn’t been extremely lucky with the bonuses they were given. No marks to them for not knowing Peter Carey’s Oscar and Lucinda, though. One bonus brought them to 130, and their chances of a repechage slot were looking better all the time. Now, be honest. Did you shout out “Dambusters” when the next starter began with ‘Operation Chastise-‘? I did, and threw away an answer, since what was wanted was the name of the secret weapon involved. Louis George came in a raction of a second too early and lost 5 valuable points. Gilbert Jackson mopped that one up with the correct answer of the bouncing bomb. Two bonuses took them to 210. Jonathan Chan pushed his team to probable qualification for the repechage round by answering the next starter that called for quarts and quartz. Bonuses on River saw them drop a couple of answers – no prizes at all for saying that the Dee runs through the Clark ancestral hometown of Dundee. Right, I have a story about the Peter Pomegranate. We were asked pretty much the same question once in a CIU Wales and West of England quiz. My dear mate John said the Mary Rose, and was pretty certain, only to be overruled by my brilliant but wayward friend George Sheldrick. Needless to say, we lost by that one point. I always said that if you cut John open – please don’t – but if you did you would find the words Peter Pomegranate engraved on his heart. Any road up, my man Chan had that one. A UC special set on monarchies and the periodic table took their score to 155. The last buzz of the evening saw St. John’s lose 5, but they should still be fine. Imperial won with 210. 

I can’t help wonder if St. John’s kept their skipper under 24 hour surveillance to make sure nothing could happen to prevent him playing in he repechage. He really was all of his team’s buzzing, a fine individual performance. As for Imperial, this was a strong performance, especially considering the way that St. John’s refused to make it an easy win for them. Best of luck to both teams.

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

A factor of 10 to the power of 24 is denoted by the prefix – yotta. That’s a helluva yotta noughts. Aye thenk yow and goodnight.

Friday, 10 September 2021

Hang onto your bread and butter

 There’s an old saying. I can’t remember which of my quiz mentors said it to me first, but it goes something like this – you win more quizzes by answering the bread and butter questions correctly than by answering caviar questions correctly. By which he obviously meant that there’s a body of knowledge that you get asked about quite a lot in quizzes, and if you have that knowledge, then you’re not going to do badly. Last night’s quiz in the rugby club was, for my team, a good, old fashioned bread and butter quiz. While we by no means had every question right – I’ll come to the last round shortly - - I can’t think of any whythe’ell questions (as in – why the ‘ell is he asking that?) that came up last night. Question master last night was a member of the team we just about scraped past last week, so they were weakened, and right up until the last round a relatively comfortable win looked on the cards. The last round consisted of 10 questions, and we had a five point lead. Now, up to this round, I’d say at least 8 of the questions each round we’d known, and in most of the rounds we’d had one or two correct guesses. Well, we knew 5 for definite in the last round. . . and none of the guesses came off. So while our lead was not completely wiped out, we ended up scraping home by a point.

The most annoying thing about the last round was not that we had the answers on the table for several of the ones we had wrong, and zigged when we should’ve zagged. No, the really annoying thing was that the other ones we had wrong were things that I know that I used to know. Now, not including the family quizzes I made during lockdown, I haven’t made a quiz for the club or anywhere else for probably over 18 months. So not playing in quizzes for much of that time either, I find I’ve lost some of the bread and butter. The shame of it.

Tuesday, 7 September 2021

University Challenge 2022 First Round Heat 9 - Edinburgh v. Peterhouse, Cambridge

 Last night’s 9th first round heat of UC pitted teams from Edinburgh and Peterhouse, Cambridge

The Teams

Edinburgh

Ben Russell Jones

Lewis Thomas

Rishi Sundar (capt)

Al Karunaratne

Peterhouse, Cambridge

Beatrix Huissoon

Anamay Shetty

Eli Hong (capt)

Lucy Hart

For the first starter the words ‘San Luis Rey’ saw me shock my nearest and dearest by shouting out ’Bridge!’, which it turned out was the answer. Rishi Sundar had a bit of a rush of blood to the head and buzzed in too early which allowed Peterhouse a little thinking time, and then Lucy Hart supplied the right answer. The first set of bonuses were on international trade and brought ten further points on a relatively gentle set. Al Karunaratne opened the scoring for Edinburgh when he recognised that the next starter question was leading towards the answer of samovar. To be fair he did seem mightily pleased by it too. A full house of bonuses on letters of the Greek Alphabet were dispatched to the boundary in short time. Eli Hong won the buzzer race for the next starter, knowing that the family of mammals including weasels and stoats are mustelids. Sadly the bonuses did not ask one of my favourite questions – what is the difference between weasels and stoats? Well weasels are weasily recognised, but stoats are stotally different. Aye thenk yow. Prominent people who share a given name did see my opening burst of 7 on the bounce peter out rather dismally. I’ll leave you to guess which of the two Hannahs I didn’t know. Peterhouse had that, but Edgars and Amys went begging. It was worth sticking with the next question  and holding your nerve, as it did eventually mention Monte Cervino, and as many people know, that’s the Matterhorn. Lewis Thomas certainly knew it for Edinburgh. Sweden and Switzerland in the 20th century brought them another full house, and rather impressed JP in the process. So to the picture starter, and a county highlighted on a map of England. Ben Russell Jones was close-but-no-cigared with Bedfordshire, while Beatrix Huisson scored a bullseye with Buckinghamshire. For the bonuses, other places associated with lace making were highlighted. Peterhouse managed one. This meant that at just past the 10 minute mark, they led with 50 to 45. They’d outscored Edinburgh 3 – 2 on starters, but profligacy with bonuses meant that this was looking like a tight contest.

Lewis Thomas grabbed the lead for Edinburgh by recognising that Le Roi Soleil, or Louis XIV, was the answer to the next starter. Technical terms beginning with the same three letters saw them take a third consecutive full house of bonuses. Lewis Thomas showed some really nifty buzzing recognising the start of the subtitle of Brideshead Revisited before I did. I did think that parallel worlds in fiction might give me a shout – but it was (for me) the wrong kind of fiction, although to be fair I did know Stranger Things. Lewis Thomas took his hattrick knowing that lagopus mutus is the ptarmigan. Here's a quiz history fact. After World War II Penguin launched an imprint specifically for quiz and puzzle books called Ptarmigan, in the same way that Puffins were for children, and Pelicans non-fiction. I don’t think that the imprint lasted very long – I’ve only ever found 9 books that were published under it. Which has nothing whatsoever to do with the bonuses on philosophers which furnished Edinburgh with a further 2 correct answers. In the space of 4 minutes Edinburgh had opened a 65 point lead, and things were looking ominous for Peterhouse. For the music starter Ben Russell Jones recognised the unmistakeable voice of Billie Holiday. She was singing the state song of Georgia. More state songs didn’t do either of us many favours – like me, Edinburgh could only recognise Louis Armstrong. Ben Russell Jones recognised a description of Cardigan Bay to take his second starter on the bounce. Diseases with names that are commonly plural forms saw Edinburgh take two of the three, and to be fair, I didn’t know yaws either. What’s yaws?, as you might say. And yet the agony continued for Peterhouse, as skipper Rishi Sundar correctly gave the name of Arrhenius as the scientist who won the 1903 Nobel Prize for something or other. English towns ending in -ham with notable parish churches brought just the one bonus, but it was all starting to look increasingly academic at this point. Al Karunaratne recognised the name of a space centre that is in the United Arab Emirates. This meant that every member of Edinburgh had now scored at least one starter since Peterhouse had managed their last one. ‘Orange’ in History saw Edinburgh take another full house, to put them just one starter away from a double hundred on 190. This middle ten minutes of the contest had been that relative rarity, a complete shutout as Peterhouse remained on 50.

I read “The Underground Railroad” a couple of years ago, so recognised it in the next starter. So did Ben Russell Jones. A relatively gentle set on Geography gave a full house. For the second picture starter we were shown an abstract painting by Tracy Emin. “No,” intoned JP, “It’s by Tracy Emin and it’s Ruined”. Was there a hint of irony there, Jez? None of us got that one. At last Peterhouse won a buzzer race as Lucy Hart buzzed into give the answer ‘Axion’ to the next starter. Wasn’t he defeated by the Third Doctor, played by Jon Pertwee? The picture bonuses, showing work by other artists who had works exhibited alongside Tracy Emin’s, saw them take a quick full house. To be fair they needed a few more of those to give them a hope of a repechage slot, but at least it was possible. For the next starter, both teams displayed enviable nerve in waiting and waiting, but almost inevitably as soon as the name Batavia made the question clear it was Lewis Thomas who buzzed in with Jakarta. Now, it had been a long time coming, but knowing that the shape of the area where two circles intersect is called a lune brought me my first opportunity for a lap of honour around the sofa, and I’m not the kind of chap to turn my nose up at that. Edinburgh only took the one bonus, but by now it was all academic anyway. I didn’t really get the next question, but Rishi Sundar said the answer was Hilbert and that was good enough for Jeremy P so it was good enough for me. Former names of capital or former capital cities brought another 2, and at this stage a potential 300 points did not look totally impossible. Lewis Thomas, who’d had a splendid match, worked out that the word libertine was the one derived from a term for a freed slave in Ancient Rome. Things mentioned in Charlotte Bronte’s “Jane Eyre” brought two bonuses. Trying for the full set to take Edinburgh to 300, Rishi Sundar came in too early for the next starter, losing 5. They could afford it. I’ll be honest, I didn’t understand the question, but Lucy Hart came in with a superbly precise answer with decimal points and minus numbers. Words that appear in the title of the Japanese video game franchise Tales Of sadly did not offer Peterhouse the chance to increase their score, as we were gonged with the score on 270 – 80 to Edinburgh.

I don’t really know what went wrong with Peterhouse. Only they could say whether it was a case of genuinely not having a Scooby about all of those starters, or whether Edinburgh really were that much faster on the buzzer. It’s hard lines, because I got the feeling they were better than the score suggested.

As for Edinburgh, though, well they looked pretty much as good as the score suggested. They have buzzing throughout the team, and cover quite a wide range of ground. Time will tell whether they can outbuzz other teams the way that they outbuzzed Peterhouse, but you have to say that based on this showing, they do look a bit tasty.

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

John Ruskin swooned the first time he saw Grantham Parish Church. Silly sod.

Saturday, 4 September 2021

A Question of A Question of Sport

Suppose I had put a less obvious title to this post, and I asked you the question – which TV quiz show began in 1970, and has run for 51 series? What would you have answered? In some ways Mastermind would be the closest fitting wrong answer – having begun in 1972, and run for 45 series – 3 of which were broadcast on Radio4, and one of which was broadcast on the Discovery Channel.  But, not, it’s A Question of Sport.

Cards on the table, I’ve rarely written about Question of Sport in the past on the blog because , well, certainly since I started the blog in 2008 QOS has been as much an entertainment show as anything else. And if you take it as that, then it’s worked pretty well. I’m fortunate enough to have played in charity quizzes against both Matt Dawson and Phil Tufnell, and what you saw on TV seemed to me what you got in real life. Now, the thing about the Barker – Dawson – Tuffers set up was so much of your enjoyment depended on how much you liked the three of them. If, say, you found Tuffers got on your nerves – I didn’t, but I know people who did – then there was progressively less and less pure quiz content for you to get your teeth into as the years went on.

The new series kicked off this week, and so I decided to give it a go. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t too hopeful when I saw that Paddy McGuinness was presenting. Don’t get me wrong, I think that Paddy is an assured and comfortable broadcaster, whose manner would be at home on the show. However, the show has always been presented by either someone respected within the sporting community like David Coleman, or a former sportsperson like Sue Barker. Paddy’s presence made me wonder if we were going to be moving even closer to Sky TV’s “A League of Their Own”. Like the BBC’s own “They Think It’s All Over” of a couple of decades ago, there are occasionally sports questions in the show, but it’s far more interested in extracting comedy and entertainment from the captains and the guests.  Which is great, and it’s an entertaining show. A sports quiz though?

If you haven’t watched the show for about 20 years, well, it’s quite a bit different from how you remember it. Still, what I did like was that the two team captains, Sam Quek and Ugo Monye, don’t yet have the kind of relationship between them that Daws and Tuffers had. The show had become very much about the banter between the two of them, and so at least this has freed up some more space for sports questions.

However, that having been said, I really don’t like the section where the two captains have to try out a sport and compete to win a couple of points. This is the sort of thing they do in “A League of their Own”. The thing is, though, in that show they do it for laughs, to make the captains/participants look a bit ridiculous. And this is the sort of thing you can’t afford to do by halves. So when you have the two team captains who were both sportspeople who reached the top of their game, doing a sport which is unfamiliar to them quite well, but obviously nowhere near as well as people who actually do the sport, then it just doesn’t work. In a quiz show, this sort of thing is just pointless padding. I’d

I’ll be honest, I only tuned in after seeing a couple of extremely negative reviews in a couple of the national papers. Well, to be honest, I think this was a little unfair. It’s still pretty watchable – although purely as a matter of personal taste I’d like to see still more genuine quiz content. The Home and Away round went the way of all flesh some time ago, and that’s a shame. Surely there must be enough clips available to start doing the What Happened Next as well. There you go, though, If you haven’t watched the new series yet, I’d give it a try and make your own mind up.


So - is the spark still there?

In all honesty I’m not sure. I a post that I made a few days ago I explained how a chance meeting with one of the regulars from the quiz at the rugby club led to me thinking seriously about giving it a go and seeing how I felt. I enlisted my youngest daughter and my son in law, and we decided to have a go.

For my first 25 years or so playing in this particular quiz we always began at about 9:15, which meant that we wouldn’t finish before 11, and often it would be around 11:30. The thing is, though, I’m no spring chicken any more. Bitter experience over the last two or three years has shown me that if I’m going to teach the next day, then I really have to be in bed by 10:30. That’s one of the reasons why I stopped going. Well, after the first lockdown, when the quiz did come back it was shifted to start at 8, which is certainly a good development for me.

Thursday’s quiz was a good, old fashioned General Knowledge quiz – 8 rounds of 10 questions. In the final analysis, I feel that we probably benefitted from not having a handout. To be honest, for the first 5 rounds, we seemed to be really playing for second place. In these rounds the best we could do was to post the same score as the leaders, and in 3 rounds we lost a point to them. Then in round 6 we wiped out the deficit, and in round 7 we established a 3 point lead. I’m not really sure how that happened, other than there were quite a few either/or questions in both rounds, where we zagged correctly, and maybe the other team zigged. We held on to 2 of the 3 point lead we took into the round.

So I’m buzzing about going back, and getting a win? No, actually, I’m not. Which really surprises me. When we last went to the quiz for several weeks in August last year, I was absolutely bouncing when we managed a few wins. Now, meh, so what? But then that may well be a good thing. If you twisted my arm, I’d admit that I’ve always taken quizzes too seriously. And I’ll be honest, there was another good sign when I didn’t badger the question master after he asked, “Who scored the first 147 break at the snooker World Championship?” You see, as I see it, the answer to the question the way that it has been asked is John Spencer. For whatever reason, the TV cameras were not running at the time, and it was several years before Cliff Thorburn came along and did it in front of the cameras. Rather than hectoring the question master, whom I don’t know, we just played the man rather than the ball and wrote down Cliff Thorburn. That was the answer he gave.

We’ve invited a couple of Jess and Dan’s friends to join us next week, so we’ll see how much we enjoy that. One thing I don’t see myself doing, though, is volunteering to compile the quiz for the foreseeable future. 25 years is enough, I’ve done my whack with that.


Tuesday, 31 August 2021

University Challenge 2022 - Heat 8 Exeter v. Manchester

The last leg of the Beeb’s powerhouse triple whammy of the best of quizzing last night pitted the universities of Exeter and Manchester.

The Teams

Exeter

Ollie Kirwin

Jefferson Ting

Jacob Evans (capt)

TJ Alabi

Manchester

James McCafferty

Tom Stone

Alice Irving (capt)

Richard McNair

James McCafferty was fast in to take first blood, knowing that the words “Once Upon a Time” precedes the words ‘In Hollywood’ and ‘In the West’ – (and quite a few others too, although my script for Once Upon A Time in Aberavon remains, as yet, unfilmed). This brought up a set of bonuses on twin towns. Now, Hay on Wye happens to be one of my favourite towns, and I’ve asked several times in my quizzes about it being twinned with Timbuktu. This was the only one that Manchester managed. The fact that they didn’t know that Dunedin is taken from the Gaelic for Edinburgh suggested that although extremely intelligent and knowledgeable, as all contestants on the show are, the team probably didn’t possess a dedicated pub quizzer, because that is one of the nuttiest (and chestiest) of old chestnuts. A well-timed buzz saw Ollie Kirwin make an immediate response for Exeter, knowing the word flak. Which he might well have taken had he got it wrong. Flak is named after the captain of the Trumpton Fire Brigade. The University of Ingolstadt saw me take the first bonus, but there my opening burst ended at 6 on the bounce. Both Exeter and I took the first and last of the set. Nice to see the Illuminati getting a name check, though. Ollie Kirwin took his second starter on the bounce, knowing that William II was killed in the New Forest. It was the Brand New Forest then, while now it's only the Nearly New Forest. Aye thenk yow.. Self-driving cars promised little. Actually Exeter took two, but I was happy to take the money and run with Tesla. So to the picture starter. I’m lucky enough to have appeared in two TV quizzes from Glasgow, and so recognised the Armadillo and the huge dock crane which appeared in a striking picture of a city’s waterfront. Both teams were misled, I think, by the resemblance of the Clyde Arc Bridge to the ‘Eyelid’ over the Tyne. Now, for the next starter, I earned myself a lap of honour around the sofa by knowing that Descartes gave his name to a coordinate system. Tom Stone won the buzzer race for that one. This earned the picture bonuses. Not more pictures of waterfronts, but maps showing the positions of other British shipbuilding ports. I surprised myself by taking a full house. Although a couple of the right answers were on the table, Manchester showed a little profligacy with the bonuses, failing to score at this visit to the table. Exeter skipper Jacob Evans knew that the IPL began in 2008 – good shout that. Bonuses on Nobel laureates with shared surnames saw Exeter take a full house, to lead by 65 to 25 at the 10 minute mark.

When the opposition are beating you to the buzzer the best thing to do can be to hit and hope. So I don’t blame Richard McNair for buzzing early and offering Solomon for a favoured second son from the second book of Samuel. When it’s not your night, though, these ones tend to hit the wire and bounce out, and he lost five points. Given the full question, Exeter couldn’t dredge up the name of Absalom. Same dad as Solomon, but he actually was the 2nd son. Asked – when the first five numbers are written as words, how many vowels do they contain?  TJ Alabi seemed uncertain when he buzzed in to offer 9. He was right though. Bonuses on opera saw me take a rare full set, but Exeter missed out on Il Trovatore and William Tell (Rossini apparently stole the overture from the Lone Ranger TV series. The swine.) Tom Stone now tried to disrupt Exeter’s rhythm by buzzing early on a question about some kind of graph, but again failed to hit the target. The answer was hysteresis, and it’s just as well that JP knew because neither Exeter nor I did. Tom Stone persevered and took the next starter, knowing that Kate Winslet played fossil hunter Mary Anning in “Ammonite” – which can kill Superman apparently. A UC special set on character names from The Matrix provided the bonuses. Manchester managed the first, but the other two escaped them. Which all brought us to the music starter. Richard McNair took Manchester’s second in a row, recognising the work of one time Ealing resident Edward Elgar. Three more songs from song cycles followed. I resolved to answer Schumann to each bonus until it was right. It was actually the first answer. So I answered Schubert for the next two – it was the third. Sadly Manchester didn’t nail down any of the answers. At least Manchester’s tactic of slinging buzzer and throwing caution to the wind had slowed Exeter down, but it didn’t work with the next starter as Tom Stone interrupted incorrectly. It was Jefferson Ting who knew that the Fed Cup in tennis was renamed after Billie Jean King. Self portraits brought me one, and Exeter none of the bonuses. Richard McNair knew that Galileo was born in Pisa for the next starter. Apparently his surname was Galilei, although I always thought it was Figaro. Bonuses on the naturalist Georg Steller passed them by. So on the cusp of the 20 minute mark, Exeter still led by 90 to 45. Manchester had answered more starters in the last ten minutes, but this had come at the cost of several point deductions for interruptions, and their inability to convert bonuses had cost them.

A good interruption saw TJ Alabi recognising that the next starter was working its way towards an answer of the poet Shelley. Bonuses on world leaders saw Exeter take another ten points, and if they’d realised that all 3 answers began with the same letter, they might well have had a full house. Jacob Evans recognised Brazilian footballer Marta for the picture starter. More world female football players of the year brought another 5 points. TJ Alabi took Exeter’s third starter on the bounce, when he caught Manchester napping when the definition of the word isthmus reared its familiar head. A lovely set of bonuses on questions set in 20th century poetry saw Exeter draw a blank. None of us knew the answer to the probability question that followed. James McCafferty took a flyer on the next but found that the answer had gone after he buzzed. None of Exeter could capitalise with the Analects of Confucius - who were a lesser known prog rock band from the early 70's, I thought. Undaunted, James McCafferty took the next starter with alt-J. Fair enough – me neither. Persian History bonuses brought me nothing but Manchester took two. Tom Stone recognised three abbreviations containing S for Space for the next starter. A tricky set on visual defects saw us both take two bonuses. Neither team quite managed to dredge up Verlaine for the next starter. The contest was gonged before the completion of the next starter, which meant that Exeter had won by 130 to 80.

JP congratulated Exeter saying that they were just about ahead for the whole contest. Hmm -sorry, but it looked a little more comfortable than that to me, Jez. Manchester were a little unlucky that they didn’t quite make it into triple figures – all they needed was one of their hail Mary buzzes to have come good and a sympathetic set of bonuses. Well that’s quizzing for you.

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

The (real) Illuminati Secret Society was formed at the University of Ingolstadt