Tuesday, 21 July 2009

TV Watch - University Challenge Heat 3 - Only Connect Heat 2

University Challenge Round One - Heat Three - Loughborough v. University College London

For the second week running one of the colleges of the University of London makes an appearance in the first round. This week it was University College. Last week the burden of partisan support from the Clark sofa proved too much for RVC to overcome - would the same prove true for University College this week ?

I found myself amused when Olly Tearle of Loughborough explained that he is currently studying for a Phd in Weird Fiction. Nice work if you can get it. Then Jeremy Paxman described University College as the Godless Institution of Gower Street, and reminded everyone of dear old embalmed Jeremy Bentham, whose corpse is still wheeled out for senate meetings, although not allowed to vote, apparently.

Ok - everyone still with me ? Then on with the quiz. UCL started quickly, and for the first half of the show they looked well capable of beating the curse of Clark's sofa. Team Captain Miss Woolley snapped up three early starters, although she was not to manage another during the show. Loughborough kept their heads though, and pulled back the gap steadily, to create a lead going into the last few minutes. Sharp buzzing from Mr. Tearle and Miss/Mrs. Jennings particularly saw them get 9 starters between them. Miss Jennings was the pick of the quizzers on show tonight with 5 starters, although she did receive a bit of a telling off from Jeremy Paxman for not answering at once after buzzing in for a starter.

It was still a very close match. UCL were in it right up until the final starter question, and looking back, the key moments were probably when Mr. Grahl of UCL buzzed in and answered 'Platonic' when Jeremy really wanted 'Plato' . Technically he was right, he did ask for the philosopher rather than the adjectival form, but there have been times when I've seen him accept something like this, so it was a marginal call. Then the penultimate starter was grabbed by Mr. Grahl. 3 converted bonuses would have meant they could have won with the next starter. They couldn't convert though, and the game ended as Miss Jennings answered the final starter. So Loughborough's game, by 205 points to UCL's 175.

A great game - well done to Loughborough, and here's hoping that UCL will make it through to the repechage.

Only Connect - Round One Match 2 - The Mathematicians v. The Wordsmiths

This was a real case of youth versus experience tonight. The Mathematicians were, predictably a team of Mathematics graduates , while the Wordsmiths, well, the Wordsmiths contained two players I know. First was my internet friend Howard Pizzey. Howard played in the 2007 Mastermind series of blessed memory, where he scored a whopping 29 in the first round, only to be beaten by a score of 31. Then again in the last series he scored 25, only to be beaten on passes. Then William Barrett, the team captain, also played in the 2007 Mastermind series, where he gained the highest score for any individual round of the Humphrys era, when he managed an amazing 20 on his specialist subject , The Royle Family. Third team member Bob Bunting I don't know, but amongst such company I'll lay odds that he's no mug.

Into the first round, then, and the Wordsmiths took an early lead with a bonus, by recognizing that De Profundis, the Pilgrim's Progress et. al were all written in prison. However they failed to recognize slang terms for poker hands. I may be mistaken in this, but I think that in her wikipedia entry it says that Victoria Coren herself is a mean poker player. She said that she didn't recognize some of the terms. Mind you last week she made a point of saying that there are things which are completely wrong about her wikipedia entry, so there you go. At the end of the first round the Mathematicians had a lead of 3 to 1.

The second round really did the damage. A very unlucky guess by the Wordsmiths who knew one connection related to Geological terms for time gave the Mathematicians a bonus, and a couple of good guesses mean that they had stretched the lead to 7 points by the end of the round, with 10 points to the Wordsmiths' 3. As an aside I felt particularly pleased with myself for working out that on the picture connection, the next one would be an archer, which neither of the teams managed. Yes, I know its a lot easier playing along at home than it probably is in the studio.

The connections walls were the two hardest I think I've ever seen on the show, with the possible exception of those of last year's final. Going first the Wordsmiths looked very vulnerable only making one line. However they at least could explain the connections between all four lines. Which is one more than the Mathematicians could do, only being able to get one line, and explain two of the others. Still it only pulled back a point for the Wordsmiths, and without an all out blitz in the last round it was going to be a very tall order to pull back the six points separating the teams. Both teams picked up points , but the Mathematicians picked up more of them to score 20.

So hard lines, Howard and William, and Bob. The Mathematicians deserved their win; although it looked a little lucky in terms of some of the guesses, they had the best of 3 of the 4 rounds. Well done Mathematicians - good luck in round two.


Bob Bunting said...

Hi David – Bob Bunting here. Fame at last eh?

I play for the same team (Telstars) as Howard and William in the Quiz League of London, which is how I know them.

Well we all felt a bit like mugs after the recording back in March. We didn’t do ourselves justice and it was all over so quickly. A freezing cold studio and having no audience added to the other-worldly feel of the experience. I wasn’t looking forward to watching it, to be honest – but it wasn’t actually too bad when I saw it.

It was just one of those times when we knew all their questions (better than they in fact) but none of our own. And to be fair they were much faster than us in the last round – I blame (relative) old age...

But the mathematicians were a very nice bunch, and I too hope they did well in the rest of the series.

Thanks for the mention!

Bob Bunting said...

Oh and Victoria Coren is indeed a prominent poker player - she has written lots about it in her journalism and on her website http://www.victoriacoren.com/...

Londinius said...

Hi Bob,

Thanks for taking the time and trouble to comment. 'Not too bad' - please don't be so hard on yourselves ! You know that I love 'Only Connect', but you have to be brave to go on it, because it offers you every chance of looking silly, especially if the questions just don't fall your way. Yes, if I'm honest I would have preferred their questions to your questions - but I wouldn't have wanted EITHER connections wall ! You all came across well, or at least that's how it looked from the Clark sofa.

I agree with what you say about shows without an audience having this strange atmosphere. Mastermind, Millionaire and Come and Have A Go all had audiences, whereas Eggheads, and another show I've been on which hasn't been shown yet didn't. I'll be honest, I found that when I was on shows with audiences I tended to blank them out anyway.

Once again, thanks for taking the time and trouble to comment. Good luck in any future TV appearences.