Tuesday, 6 April 2010

TV Watch - Only Connect

Only Connect – Semi Final 2 – Hitchhikers v. Strategists

Well, there’s only one question on everyone’s lips as we go into the second semi final – will the curse of the Clark sofa do for the Strategists as it did for the Archers in the previous semi ? Alright, maybe not everyone’s lips. However my reputation as a tipster, so well restored by correctly predicting the 4 semi finalists, 2 finalists , and winners of UC was at stake here. As I read it, the underdogs were the Hitchhikers, Chris White, Fiona Constantine, and Tom Scott, who beat the Brasenose Postgrads in the 2nd round. Their opponents, and recipients of the onerous Clark tip , were the Strategists, Chris Cummins, Sarah Higgins, and captain Michael Dnes, who comfortably beat the Neuroscientists in the 2nd round. I will quote from my preview of the semi finals on 26th March –
“As with the first semi, any huge difference between the relative performance of the teams comes down to the connecting walls”. Hmmm.

Round One – What’s the Connection ?

Hitchhikers began with epsilon, and Fiona Constantine impressed me tremendously by taking London’s Burning, and sandwiches, and confidently asserting that they came in rounds – as in being sung in a round, and a round of sandwiches. 3 points, and a great start. The last in the set would have been applause, which led to Victoria’s quip of the week. She suggested that that answer should lead to a round of applause, and the Strategists duly obliged. “Now I know how it would feel to present a Saturday night show on ITV “ was her rejoinder. The set of Charles Babbage , Mrs. Lovett, The Witch in Hansel and Gretel, and 24 blackbirds begged to be answered with the word pie. Incorrectly as it turned out. All of them went into an oven while still alive. Tricky, but as we always say, it is the semi final. Hitchhikers picked alpha, for perfectio in spiritu, ut amem et foveam, VII, and the clincher – Brooklyn. The Hitchhikers really should have seen Beckham tattoos there, and the Strategists made no mistake for a bonus. They picked gamma for the music bonus. I didn’t get the first two clues, but Ray Charles singing Georgia on my mind, and Stevie Wonder singing Superstition made it easily gettable. Neither team managed it though. Hitchhikers took delta for the pictures – Bob Seeger – Henry Seagrave’s Silver Bullet car – the Lone ranger and a werewolf. What a beautiful little connection. I didn’t know Bob Seeger’s silver bullet band, and although I thought it was Seagrave’s car I didn’t know what it was called. But the last two were enough – the Lone Ranger used them, and werewolves can be killed by them. Again, it passed by both teams.The Strategists finished with zeta, and what I thought was the easiest of the sets. I might have gambled for five when I saw Richard Bachmann, and like the Strategists I would have definitely gone on Mary Westmacott, for pseudonyms of writers working in a different genre from their main one. So after round one the Strategists had a slight lead of 4 - 3

Round Two – What comes fourth ?

A first pick of epsilon gave the Hitchhikers a set of pictures. For me this was their answer of the night. Panther and Tiger gave Tom Scott MAC operating systems, and he knew that the 4th would be snow leopard. Yeah, OK, so IT is his field, but even so it would have been very easy to have been sidetracked on this one. Altogether now, its all the luck of the draw which questions you get. The Strategists too had a great answer on their first set. S=1/2 M=1000 L=50 gave them XL= 40. They are all clothes sizes and their numerical value when roman numerals. Great – no –actually, GREAT question. The third set gave the Hitchhikers Anger – Bargaining – and they realised that it was the 5 states of grief. They discounted acceptance, and went for denial. Incorrect. Even when given acceptance, the Strategists didn’t go for acceptance, which the Hitchhikers had wrongly rejected. The crafty setters had deliberately started after denial, which messed them both up. The Strategists then were offered afro Asiatic, Niger – Congo , after which they were on the right lines, which sino – Tibetan confirmed – that they were all language families, and the 4th would be indo-european. The Hitchhikers last set were George II 1989, William IV 1993, George III 2001– in fact I told a lie earlier. This was in fact their answer of the night. They correctly identified the answer as Barack I 2009. Victoria said that it was horrifically complicated to get US presidents by their regnal number. So the strategists brought the round to a close with Chinese – Turkish – Singapore. Chris Cummins was right to think Grand Prix, but neither teams got that the latest new one was Abu Dhabi. Well done to both teams in this round. These were tricky old sets, and both teams showed ample proof that they are no mugs at all. Good play, and the Hitchhikers had deservedly overhauled the Strategists to lead by 9 - 8

Round Three – The Connecting Walls

The Strategists led, and had untangled two sets with a minute to go. They were barking completely up the wrong tree with what they were looking for, yet it was enough to untangle the last two. So 4 points already. They identified sets of second partners of double acts, but missed orchestra leaders, and words which could be followed by ball- which they felt would be followed by man instead.Versions of solitaire or patience escaped me too.
At the top of the show the Hitchhikers had correctly identified the connecting wall as their Achilles heel. So it proved again. None of the four sets were unscrambled in the time. When they were unravelled, the Hitchhikers could see a set of butterflies, which they had known were there but couldn’t find.They could also see a set of things that go in threes – degrees – R etc. They failed to see characters from Are You Being Served, being but youngsters, and also failed to see a set of deputy leaders of the Labour Party. So as I predicted the walls made it advantage Strategists, with 13 to 11.

Round Four – Missing Vowels

The Clark prediction looked fairly safe, considering the Hitchhikers inconsistent vowel performances in earlier rounds. The first set offered us world currencies. The Strategists took the first two, then Tom of the Hitchhikers offered Vietnam Dong instead of Vietnamese Dong. No dice, and hard lines, but them’s the rules. Danish Krone gave them a full set, and the Hitchhikers a mountain to climb.Physical constants fell 3 –1 to the Strategists, but unlucky Tom lost another point by a slight mistake . Heraldic terms followed and fell to the Strategists 3 – 0. Characters who committed suicide followed, and this time it was the Strategists who made the small slip, giving us Madame Bovary instead of Emma Bovary. The Hitchhikers took the bonus, and the very last one – Juliet Capulet – for good measure. The final score was 22 – 12 to the Strategists.

Commiserations to the Hitchhikers. It really was a game of two halves for you. For the first two rounds you punched well above your weight. Even after the wall you were still in it, but the missing vowels did it.

As for the Strategists – very well done ! Reaching the final of Only Connect is a huge achievement. Good show.


Andrew B. said...

Some brilliant answers early on from the Hitchhikers, but the Strategists didn't panic and came through well in the end. I'd back the Gamblers in the final, but hopefully it'll be a very tight match.

(I doubt it mattered in the end, but it seemed a bit harsh to disallow "Vietnam's Dong"?)

Retrospective good luck to both sets of finalists!

Londinius said...

Hi Andrew,

It was very hard lines about the dong, but at least it didn't materially affect the outcome of the match. Thats the way the cookie crumbles !

Best regards


davidbod said...

I didn't actually catch the "'s" in the studio or the many times I've reviewed this on CD, so I suppose Victoria (who doesn't have the benefit of the microphone feed) won't have heard it either.

I guess we would have overturned it on appeal, but the pattern had been set - i.e. it was the Turkish lira and not Turkey's lira.