Saturday, 31 December 2011

New Year's Quiz Resolutions

Is it really time to make my New Year Quiz Resolutions all over again ? Well, yes, I’m afraid it is, and I’ve had to really think about whether I should yet again carry over the same resolution which I have been totally unable to keep– namely to stop saying that any team who have beaten us in a quiz must have been cheating, even if they have actually been using their phones in front of us. I am honest enough to admit that the evil of phone cheating is just far too annoying to me for me to be able to hold my tongue when I see it happening. Therefore a more realistic resolution would be : -

*I resolve to stop automatically saying that any team who beat us in a straight pub quiz must automatically be cheating on their phones, and to hold my tongue unless I, or a reliable witness, has actually seen them doing it.

Being realistic I think I have a chance of keeping this one at least until the end of January, although next week’s New Year quiz at the club will be a huge test. Watch this space on that one.

• I resolve to not close the door to appearing on some other broadcast quiz, but only to apply to something because it might be fun.

Yes, it’s the same as last year, and why not ?

• I resolve to keep working on my weak areas

Again, another carry over. It brought me good results this year, and I hope it will continue to do so next year.

• I resolve to try harder to try to attend at least one or two grand prix events this year.

That’s pretty self-explanatory. If I’m honest I didn’t really try very hard last year at all, and was too easily put off for a number of reasons. I’ll at least TRY to try harder to attend this year.

• I resolve to try to listen to my team mates more carefully, and more sympathetically – even if I’m pretty sure that the answer they have suggested is very wrong.

That’s a new one. I have hated it in the past when teammates have brushed off my suggestions for answers , and yet I’m guilty of doing it myself now – a lot. I’ll work on this.

• I resolve above all else to enjoy my quizzing throughout the next year as much as I have enjoyed it this year.

Yes, another carry over, but then this one is what it’s all about. I wish you all a Happy New Year.

Sleb Mastermind Show 4

A family gathering meant that I didn’t get to see last night’s show until the wee small hours on the iplayer. Up first it was nice to see Matthew Hoggart. As I have said before in the blog, cricket is very much a bogey subject for me, but I remember Mr. Hoggart’s heroics in the 2005 Ashes series very well, and so I wanted him to do well. His subject, Friends Series 1 and 2 was one of those in which I fancied my chances too. My daughter Jessie got 6, and I got 8. Poor old Matthew knew more than he could dredge past the tip of his tongue, but he ended the round with 5. His chosen charity is the Harley Staples Cancer Trust.

I will confess to not recognizing Jules Hudson. I guessed he was probably a TV presenter, and was right. He presents a show which I have heard of called Escape to the Country. Jules was answering on what looked to be a pretty good traditional Mastermind subject – Operation Market Garden. If you’re not familiar with the name, Operation Market Garden was the allied airborne landings in Arnhem, a bold plan which, had it worked, might well have shortened the war. Jules certainly knew his stuff, and earned a very impressive 12 points. He was representing The Gurkha Welfare Trust.

Justin Moorhouse is a comedian. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t aware of his work before last night’s show. However this only bodes well for the man. I had never heard of either John Bishop or Micky Flanagan before their respective appearances in past series, and now look at them. They’re all over the place. Justin’s specialist subject was the life and career of Les Dawson. I have a huge soft spot for Les Dawson. Often viewed as the last of the British old fashioned stand ups, I think Les was a hell of a lot more than that. Justin obviously thought so too, and he put on a terrific display, answering 11 correctly on behalf of the Wood Street Mission.

Finishing the first round off then was the actor Ray Fearon. He’s been in many stage and TV productions, but probably reached one of his biggest audiences when he was a contestant in Strictly a few years ago. Ray, who was answering on Shakespeare’s Othello, used the inter-round chat to pay tribute to the universality of Shakespeare, a good point which we need to remind ourselves of each new generation. Ray too managed that hallmark of quality, a double figure score, although his very good 10 was only enough to put him third place at the halfway stage. Ray’s chosen charity is the African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust.

Returning to the chair you could have forgiven Matthew for being daunted by the size of the task ahead of him. He needed to score 6 to go ahead of Ray, and as we’ve seen once or twice before this is by no means a given. He gritted out the round, blocked what he couldn’t hit on his pads, and sent a few into the boundary. By the end of the round he’d managed a battling eight to take his score to 13. John told him that he wouldn’t win. The question was, would he stay in 4th ? It certainly looked like it. Right, you can call it nerves, or brain freeze, or whatever you like, but sometimes, on occasion, something happens when contenders sit in the chair, and they fail to do themselves anything like justice. I have no doubt that Ray knew a lot of answers which he just couldn’t get out, for whatever reason. But the fact was that he only managed to add 3 to his score, putting him level with Matthew on 13. He can take at least a crumb of comfort from the fact that this is not actually the lowest score in a sleb round that we have ever seen. If you want to know who was – well, google it.

Realistically then a three horse race at half time had become a two horse race. And it was Justin Moorhouse who was coming up quickest on the rails as we entered the final few furlongs. His GK round was the best from a sleb that we’ve seen so far this series. It was quick, it was accurate, and there were no passes. A score of 17 was a fine return, and set the target at 28, a score which equaled Chris Packham’s series best 28. Actually if anything it was slightly better, as Justin never passed on a single question. That’s good quizzing. Jules put on a decent show, but before the minute had gone it was obvious that he was behind Justin and not going to catch him. In the end he managed a pretty decent 11, not a bad score for Sleb MM at all. This gave him 23, and will ensure that he’s well within the top half of scorers for the whole series. But it was Justin’s game, and well done to him ! Fine performance.

The Details

Matthew Hoggard Friends Series 1 and 25 - 28 - 2 13 - 4
Jules HudsonOperation Market Garden12 - 1 11 - 0 23 - 1
Justin MoorhouseLes Dawson11 - 017 - 0 28 – 0
Ray FearonOthello 10 - 13 - 5 13 – 6

Friday, 30 December 2011

Cryptic Handout

No Cryptic Question this week - sorry - but I'll share with you the cryptic handout I used in the club in last night's quiz. All the clues below lead to the names of famous people - just identify whom -

Example - 2 overcoats in a cemetery = Max Bygraves

Pint-juggling ceramicist
3 planks on the cranium
Steal a handout
Grandmother consumed reconstructed male
Invoice Entrances
Invoice attracts male
A novel for the lavatory
Diminish on brewer’s cart
Valley for workout
Cat cooker
Calmer Scottish mountain
Mark on daffodils
Boastful goat
4 body parts
Partly scarlet truss

Answers in a few days - email if you can't wait.

Sleb Mastermind - Show 3

The first to go in last night’s show was actor Graeme Hawley. Apparently he plays quite a nasty piece of work in Coronation Street. Last night his specialist subject was Blackadder. This gave rise to my first moment of the week, as I went through the card, scoring a perfect round of 12 correct answers from 12 questions. Graeme didn’t do badly either, but missed 3 and ended up with 9 and 1 pass. Graeme was answering on behalf of leukaemia and lymphoma research.

Britain’s top 800m runner, Jenny Meadows came next. Again, I quite fancied the look of her specialist subject, the Golden Age of Wigan RLFC. I may be a southerner, but I know a great game when I watch it, and it so happened that I discovered rugby league in the late 80s, just at the beginning of the very period Jenny was answering about. Jenny managed 9, which was a good return considering I felt her questions were probably a little more difficult than Graeme’s. I didn’t do so well myself, managing 6. Jenny was representing Wigan and Leigh Hospice.

Alex Winters, the third contender, is a presenter on BBC’s CBeebies channel, and according to his inter-round chat, very proud to be so. In the words of Arnold Brown – and why not ? His subject was the band The Manic Street Preachers. I like the Manics, but I wouldn’t describe myself as a huge fan, a fact amply proven by the way that I only managed to answer two questions correctly. Alex put on a bravura performance. We’ve already seen that any double figure score off a 90 second round is a very good one. Well his 12 was a very significant return – good round indeed. Alex’s chosen charity was Scope.

Wildlife TV presenter Chris Packham brought the first round to a conclusion. I thought he’d be taking a Natural History subject, but no, nothing of the sort. Chris opted for the Battle of Rourke’s Drift. Immediately I began to search my memory for any stray facts I knew about the battle, while trying to forget that I ever saw the Michael Caine film (Oy ! Don’t chuck those bloody spears at me ! - for God’s sake , Ivor, sing something they like - etc. etc. ) The two I came up with were 1879, and Gonville Bromhead ( Michael Caine’s character ). Thankfully that was enough to get me two points. Chris though . . . well, Chris put on that rarity, a perfect round. 13 asked, and 13 answered correctly. You can’t do better than that. The Hawk Conservancy Trust is Chris’ chosen charity.

So being realistic it was the proverbial two horse race. The contenders would all return to the chair in the same order as the first round as well, which doesn’t happen all that often. Graeme came first. He wasn’t the fastest answering, which meant that he only had 17 questions asked. I managed 16 of them, so there was nothing too testing in there. He managed a decent 9, to finish with a perfectly respectable 18. Jenny , alas, was even slower answering, and she struggled and gritted her way to 7 , for a final score of 16. I had 15 of hers.
Alex returned to the chair looking as if he meant business, which indeed he did. He didn’t seem to be going that slowly to me, but at the end of the round he’d only been given 17 questions. The good thing was that he answered 13 of these correctly. A very good performance for a non-quizzer. I had my second perfect round of the night. Chris then returned to the chair knowing that he needed to equal this score to guarantee an outright win. His tactic was to go like the clappers, and it worked. Alright, he passed on three, but he answered 15. So quickly did John feed him the questions, and so quickly did he answer that he got through a massive 20 questions, answering 15 of them correctly. I had my last perfect round of the show. Chris’ winning score of 28 is the highest of the series so far, I reckon the equivalent of 33 or 34 in old money, and will take a lot of beating. Good show.

The Details

Graeme Hawley Blackadder9 - 19 - 518 – 6
Jenny MeadowsThe Golden Age of Wigan RLFC9 - 17 - 416 – 5
Alex WintersThe Manic Street Preachers12 - 013 - 225 – 2
Chris PackhamThe Battle of Rourke’s Drift13 - 015 - 328 – 3

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Sleb Mastermind - Show 2

Last night’s show , as did the previous one, featured a sleb I have actually met. Stacey Solomon was one of the special guests at the GetConnected Charity Quiz in 2010. We didn’t really talk at all, so I can’t offer any real opinion, other than the fact that she was giving her services for the evening for a good cause, which means that she is alright by me. In the inter round chat Stacey made it clear that she was just along for the experience, and being honest that is as good a reason for having a go in the chair as any. So let’s be kind about her performance, and suffice it to say that quizzes probably aren’t really her forte. Stacey’s specialist subject was the TV series The Inbetweeners, which is something of a guilty pleasure of mine. She scored 6. Stacey was playing on behalf of the Great Oaks Dean Hospice.

Next up was Sophie Grigson. Sophie is a TV chef and also food writer. Her subject was Highgate Cemetery. I take my hat off to her for picking a subject inspired by her choice of charity – she was actually representing the Friends of Highgate Cemetery. This is an unusual subject, although I do recall that Leslie Grout won the 1981 series taking the Burial Grounds of London as his semi final subject – which he also took in our heat of Champ of Champs. Sophie knew her subject very well. Double figures in a 90 second round is the mark of a quality performance, and her 11 was very impressive. For the record I scored 5 on both her subject, and Stacey’s.

Simon Day is one of those actors whom everyone recognizes, but only a few people can put a name to his face. I always usually default to calling him Tommy Cockles, one of his Fast Show characters. That or Dave Angel, anyway. Simon’s subject was Season 1 and 2 of the Sopranos. This presented me with a problem since I have never watched an episode of the show, and know nothing about it. A fact which I proved by failing to answer any of Simon’s questions. Simon though put on 8 answers for his chosen charity , Kids Company.

The last of our contenders was Steve Harley . Steve Harley ? Oh come on – come up and see me ( make me smile ) – The Phantom of the Opera ? Oh, THAT Steve Harley. I must confess a little surprise that he chose T.S.Eliot – the 4 Quartets , which just goes to show that you shouldn’t stereotype people. Steve made a good fist of this round, and answered 9 correctly. I suppose it says a lot about me that I answered 5 questions on the Inbetweeners correctly, but only 3 on T.S.Eliot. Steve was splitting the proceeds of the show between the Cancer and Polio Research Fund, and The Mines Advisory Group.

Poor old Stacey. She had what I think could fairly be called a very ‘Stacey –friendly’ set of GK, but struggled to 4. Still smiling mind, and she looked like she was still enjoying the experience. You can’t knock that. Simon returned to the chair, and whacked in a very good round of 15. I’ll be honest, I didn’t think he was likely to win at the half way stage, but this forced me to reassess his chances. Steve was only one point better than Simon at the halfway stage, and he was going to have to go like the clappers to give himself the best chance of overhauling Simon. He gave it a fair old lash, mind, but ran out of time before he quite managed to reach Simon’s score. He added 13 to his total, to finish on 22. Only Sophie remained, then, and she was very much the favourite on the Clark sofa. Still, a couple of questions caused her to waste time - she knew that she knew the answers – but just couldn’t dredge them past the tip of her tongue. As John helpfully pointed out at the end of the round, had she answered these, then she would have done it. As it was her score of 11 put her on 22, equal with Steve, but still a point behind Simon. So well played, or as your Fast Show colleague John Thompson would put it – Great.

The Details

Stacey Solomon The Inbetweeners 6 - 0 4 - 2 10 – 2
Sophie Grigson Highgate Cemetery 11 - 1 11 - 3 22 – 4
Simon DayThe Sopranos Season 1 and 28 - 115 – 0 23 – 1
Steve HarleyT.S.Eliot – The 4 Quartets9 - 113 - 222 - 3

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

In the News Questions

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

1) Ron Paul
2) John Caudwell
3) Jayne Bargent
4) Jack O’Shea
5) Carol Warne
6) Kateri Tekakwitha
7) Carlton Williams, Lee Stagg, Michael Riddle
8) Teddy Tamgho
9) Ian Mytton
10) Dave the Drift
11) Barry Herridge
12) Seydou Diarrasouba
13) Barry Colenso
14) Reiss
15) Andre Ward
16) Nivin El Gamal
17) Cannonball
18) Johan Lamont
19) Paul Kelly
20) Jamie Waylett
21) Karl Smith – Jeffrey Burton
22) Charles Byrne
23) Matthew Banks
24) Margaret McKever
25) Jennifer Cox
26) Georgina Ray

In Other News

1) Lord Prescott demanded an apology from Eric Pickles and Grant Shapps – for what ?
2) Who has just recovered from an emergency tracheotomy for pneumonia ?
3) Why were the Waterstones store in Huddersfield in the news ?
4) Which is apparently the happiest place in Britain ?
5) Which company has pledged to retain its credit card surcharge ?
6) Which politician said that Vladimir Putin is an embarrassment ?
7) What is the cause of the diplomatic row between France and Turkey ?
8) Who won Christmas Strictly Come Dancing ?
9) Which man assembled the Military Wives Choir who topped the Christmas charts ?
10) Which secret archive is going on public display ?
11) Which were the first team against whom Man City failed to score this season ?
12) Which was the most watched show on TV on Christmas Day ?
13) Who lost a libel case with the Daily Mail after it called her a ‘man eater’ ?
14) South American countries have banned ships from showing what ?
15) Which boxer was given a 90 day prison sentence for domestic violence ?
16) Which TV presenter was in court over claims he had been harassing an ex girlfriend ?
17) In an interview Downton Abbey actresses revealed that they are not allowed what ?
18) Whose song was cut from the broadcast of Jonathon Ross’ Christmas show ?
19) What does P.I.P. stand for ?
20) Who were first, second and third in Sports Personality of the Year ?
21) Into which hospital was the Duke of Edinburgh rushed with a blocked artery ?
22) Which comet was seen in the southern hemisphere ?
23) Which company failed to deliver some of their Christmas hampers due to IT problems ?
24) Whose Oscar sold for over £1/2 ?
25) The first major railway line has been opened in which country ?
26) Kim Jong Il officially died where ?
27) Which dance did the Duke of Cambridge do at the Centrepoint homeless shelter ?
28) Which notorious serial killer died in prison ?
29) John Terry faces a court case over his alleged racist abuse of whom ?
30) Which scot has announced his retirement from International Rugby Union ?
31) What was stolen from Dulwich Park ?
32) What was number 1 in the Christmas book charts ?
33) What is the name of the first earth ‘twin’ planet discovered by astronomers – just weeks after the discovery of Kepler 22b ?
34) Who won the series of Strictly Come Dancing ?
35) Who is Kim Jong Il’s successor ?
36) Which former European leader died aged 75 ?
37) Who won the club world cup ?
38) In a digitalspy survey, which emerged as the UK’s favourite Christmas film ?
39) Which island was hit by floods in the Philippines ?
40) Which republican candidate has threatened to arrest radical judges ?
41) Syria allowed observers from which organization to enter the country ?
42) Which TV show has been panned for being irresponsible in portraying lunchtime drinking ?
43) Who called the House of Lords an ‘affront to democracy ‘ ?
44) Which English city has cancelled its New Year fireworks display because it can’t afford to waste the money ?
45) Which seaside resort is hosting a JMW Turner exhibition ?
46) Which has become the youngest building to get a Grade 1 listing ?

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Brain of Britain - Round One - Heat 7

Last week it was the turn of my friend Rob Merrill to make his bid for a place in the semi finals. On Monday it was regular LAM reader Colin Kidd. Colin is a good, experienced quizzer. All well and good, but would even this be enough to beat the curse of support from the Clark sofa?

First up was Lizzie Brighton. In Russell’s introduction he said that Lizzie is from the Vale of Glamorgan, which is not a million miles from where I live, and certainly well within the radius within which I’m prepared to travel for quizzes of an evening. So while I have no recollection of meeting her it’s quite possible that we might have played in some of the same events. Not that it naturally follows that she takes part in quizzes. I discussed this with Rob. He told me about having a conversation with one of his vanquished opponents. Trying to find some common ground as a topic of conversation, Rob picked on quizzes, only to be told by the other person that they never listen to or watch quizzes, and never play in quizzes. Apparently this person had been put up to applying by a family member. Explains a lot. Still, back to this show. Lizzie failed to identify Medusa and her sisters as Gorgons, which gave Colin a bonus. Peter Brown failed on his first as well. In fact he would only manage to take one of his own starter questions, and not until round 5. During all this time he didn’t manage a bonus either. Angus Douglas took the first as a bonus on Parkinson’s disease. He then took his first, but could only remember one of the warring racial groups in Rwanda. Colin had the pair. He went on to take his own first two, but nobody knew a succession of places which all shared the name Ramsay. So my boy had an early lead. Well and good.

Lizzie started round 2 like an express train. She took three on the bounce – well done for that. However the Icelandic prose and poetic eddas tripped her up – none of the brains could take that one. Angus knew Peter’s first, that the BBC announced earlier this year that it was bringing an end to the annual Blue Peter books. He didn’t know his own first, that Dead Cert was the title of the first novel by Dick Francis. Lizzie took that one to complete a good round for her. Colin didn’t get a definition of email, and when Angus took the bonus this meant that he, Lizzie and Colin all tied for first place. Interesting. Lizzie was not to get another of her own questions right, and nobody knew the psychiatric term fugue for her first. Peter’s first, asking which creatures on TV were designed by Raymond Cusick, gave Colin a bonus. He knew it was the daleks. Angus failed on his own first, not knowing that MIB stands for Men In Black. Lizzie had that one. Nobody knew Colin’s first, that Barnsley stands on the river Dearne. So Colin and Lizzie now led, and the fact that we went straight onto round 4 suggested that 8 rounds at least were on the cards. Colin took a bonus on Lizzie’s first, knowing that Jim Callaghan held all 4 main offices of government. Nobody knew Peter’s, that Gerstmann Syndrome affects the brain. Colin took another bonus, knowing the Scottish settlement of Fort Augustus for Angus’ question. His own first, a piece of music composed by Michael Nyman foxed everyone. Still, being the only person to score all round meant that he had carved out a 2 point lead going into the Beat the Brains interval.

The two questions were both about alternative titles to pieces of music. Nobody – including me – knew that the Maypole Dance was another name for Barwick Green – aka The Archers theme music. Everyone knew that the Marching Song of the Army of the Rhine is the Marseillaise. So book token earned anyway.

Round five brought Peter into the competition. He took a good three on the bounce, but failed on the chestnutty scaly anteater. Angus had a bonus for the pangolin there. He’d already taken one on Lizzie’s first, recognizing the last words that Tony Blair spoke to parliament. He took his own first, but nobody could complete a quote from Rosencrantz and Gildenstern are dead. Colin stalled, not knowing that – ness literally means headland. Angus did, making a full set of three bonuses, which enabled him to leapfrog one point ahead of Colin. Nip and tuck. Peter’s points total was completed when he took Lizzie’s first, knowing that the BRIC group of countries is Brazil, Russia, India, China. Nobody knew that cubism came after fauvism for Peter’s first. Angus surprisingly didn’t know that codeine is obtained from the poppy family. Lizzie did, and this bonus also completed her points total for the competition. Colin took his first, but then didn’t know that Malcolm Morley was the first winner of the Turner Prize. Angus accepted the bonus to maintain his one point lead.

Colin knew Lizzie’s first, that pedology is the study of soil. Angus knew Peter’s first, that Benjamin Briggs was the captain of the Mary (not Marie) Celeste. Colin knew Angus’ first, that the nine of diamonds is the curse of Scotland. He also knew his own first. He didn’t know that Saturninus is a fictional roman emperor in Titus Andronicus. Still, neither did the others, and it was enough to give him back the lead, with 11 to 10. Round 8 began, and Russell still hadn’t announced that this was the last round. Lizzie couldn’t recognize Comfortably Numb by Pink Floyd, and Angus was the first to buzz in. All square. Surprisingly nobody knew the chestnutty word which means circle of animals – zodiac. Nobody knew Angus’ question, that Robert Watson – Watt was involved in the development of radar, and nobody knew Colin’s first either – that Christ crossed the Valley of Kidron going to the last supper. Now Russell announced the last round. Realistically it would be either Colin or Angus, but they could both qualify if they put a spurt on. Nobody knew either Lizzie or Peter’s questions. Angus took his first. Nobody knew Ixion’s punishment for his second. So Colin needed to answer his first to force a tie break, and his first two to win. HE so nearly did it. He was asked for the difference between rampant and salient animals in heraldry. He had the difference alright, but agonizingly had the two the wrong way round. A very, very rough way indeed to lose a show. Well done Angus, but very hard lines, Colin. At the moment there are 2 runners up with higher scores – but unfortunately also 2 others with the same. How they will work it out if no other runner up scores over 11, I do not know. I have to say, though, with several heats left I’m afraid it’s likely that someone will manage it. I hope I’m wrong.

The Details

Lizzie Brighton – 6
Peter Brown – 4
Angus Douglas – 12
Colin Kidd – 11

Repechage Board -

Austin McQuade – 14
Michael Frankel – 12
Christopher Anton - Alan Boden – Colin Kidd - 11

Sleb Mastermind - Show 1

Well, this show has answered one question for me. We are not going to see anyone beat last year’s record sleb score , since the specialist rounds have been cut down to 90 seconds. Have Jon and the team been reading the recent debate on LAM over the specialist rounds, I wonder ? It’s probably just a coincidence, as I’m sure they film the shows some time in advance.

First up was Jay Rayner. Most people probably know him from semi regular appearences on The One Show. He’s a journalist and food critic – and one thing I didn’t know before checking out his brief biog on Wikipedia is that he is also the son of the late Claire Rayner. Jay’s specialist subject was Steven Sondheim. Like him I couldn’t remember Mrs. Lovett from Sweeney Todd , but I did manage another five answers. Jay did a lot better than that. His 9 and 2 passes might be an ordinary score in a 2 minute round, but it’s competitive in a 90 second one. His chosen charity was Sense.

O.J.Borg proved just how easy it is to look completely different from Princess Leia while still being dressed in a long white robe, wearing a wig with her famous ‘danish pastry on either side of the head’ hairstyle. He has presented a number of shows on radio and television. Back in 2009 Darren Bennett from Strictly Come Dancing chanced his arm with the Star Wars movies. Here O.J. limited himself just to the original trilogy – wise move – and did proportionately better. Darren’s 10 from 2 minutes was inferior to O.J.’s 10 from 90 seconds. Manchester Dogs’ Home was his nominated charity.

Before the start of the show I had Jay Rayner, and the third contender, Simon Calder, down as joint favourites. Simon Calder is the only one of tonight’s contenders I have actually met in person. Well, I say met. It was on the day that I recorded my first round heat of “Are You An Egghead ?” in 2009. I was walking into the foyer of TV Centre in White City as he was walking out, and I did that thing where you see someone you’ve seen on the telly, and you know you know them from somewhere, but not where, so you mistake them for someone you know personally. So I said “Hello, how are you ? “ and he replied very well, thank you, like the polite gent that he is, and walked on. It came to me who he was about 5 minutes later. Anyway, it can’t have done him any lasting damage, since he produced the pick of tonight’s SS rounds. Answering on the history of Concorde, he scored a very impressive 12 and 2 passes. It was my second best round with 7. He nominated Farm – Africa as his charity.

Anthony Costa, of the once popular beat combo Blue, offered us Only Fools and Horses. I think he was a little overwhelmed by the whole experience of being in the chair, and he missed a couple of little sitters. As it happened I had the rare experience of outscoring a contender on their own specialist subject – albeit only by the fact that he said Grandad was sent out to get a budgie rather than a canary. I scored 8, he scored 7 and 2 passes, for Sara’s Hope Foundation. Which meant that he had a quick return to the chair. In their chat interval John went straight for the jugular by bringing up the Eurovision Song Contest. At least he didn’t remind Anthony that Blue finished 3 places below Jedward. 2 minutes later he had added another 8 points to his total to take it to 15 , which gave him the lead for a brief period.

Jay put on a bravura performance in his own GK round – in fact it was the pick of all the rounds tonight. I was amused to see the sleb friendly question about the black cat in the Savoy restaurant, but you’re entitled to one or two of those. 15 points is a good return on any 2 minute round, and this put Jay into the lead with 24. I thought he had an even money chance of winning with that score. O.J. gave it a lash, and his score of 11 is praiseworthy, but didn’t put him very close to Jay, despite John’s words of consolation. Simon didn’t seem as secure under the highball as Jay. However he was answering quickly, and John was throwing the questions at him as fast as he could. In the end he breasted the tape with a couple of questions left over, and was the winner with 26 points.

The Details

Jay Rayner Steven Sondheim9 - 215 - 024 – 2
O.J.Borg The original Star Wars Trilogy10 - 111 - 221 - 3
Simon Calder The History of Concorde12 - 214 - 426 - 6
Anthony Costa Only Fools and Horses7 -28 - 415 – 6

In the Christmas Stocking

After 25 years I would be the first to admit that my wife Mary still has the capacity to surprise me. Those of you who are married or in long term relationships might well have your own subtle, or not so subtle ways of letting your partner know what you desire for your Christmas present. Normally Mary will kindly drop heavy handed hints to one of my daughters. Alright, I have to do all the leg work of finding out which one she has confided in – I have four daughters, you see – but then that’s only fair. It means I have had to work for it, which makes the gift special for her. Well, that’s how I choose to look at it, anyway. My method is normally a little less subtle. On rare occasions I have said words to the effect of “I want this .” More often than not, though, Mary will point something out and say “Do you want this for Christmas ?“ and I will say yes.

This year , though, by October I realized, somewhat to my surprise, that I would rather like a Kindle. But I didn’t tell her. I didn’t tell any of the kids. More than that, if we go back 12 months ago I distinctly remember saying words to the effect of ‘I don't like the idea of a kindle, I like books, I like the printed word blah blah blah.’ So unless I talk in my sleep – and she has never actually told me that I do this – unless I talk in my sleep , then I can see no way in which she would have known that a kindle is what I really wanted. At this stage of the story I’m tempted to go for the completely bathetic ending of saying that I was still really disappointed when she didn’t get me one. But this would be a lie. She did ! I have no idea whence she got the idea I wanted one, but I’m very glad that she did. So understand me when I say that the more directly quiz related stuff I found in my metaphorical stocking , while very welcome, was not the best present this Christmas.

Still, let’s have a look at the quiz related stuff I did get. Last year there was the Schott’s Almanac, and the 5th Edition of the A to Z of Almost Everything. I think that last year’s was the last of the Schott’s Almanacs, but never mind, at least there’s the Quintessential Miscellany. haven’t really got to grips with this one yet, but you know what it was like with the original Schott’s. Within a few months of it coming out, questions directly related to what was in it were appearing in quizzes left, right, and centre. Besides. I really like this kind of thing anyway, as you’ll know if you’ve ever visited the pages devoted to quiz books on my website.

There was another specifically quiz thing as well. My eldest daughter brought me a new version of the game Buzz for the PS3. I’ve played Buzz before, but only when she’s brought it over to the house. This one was actually really good. I’ve found the others to be very entertainment-centered, but this one is more of a proper general knowledge thing. With the result that I won the first three games, and then only sulked for half a day after my son beat me on the third. It'll probably be next Christmas before anyone is willing to play against me again.

Here’s hoping that you got everything you wished for.

Answers to News Questions

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

1. Alan Pollack
2. Glenn Mangham
3. Jesse Jackson
4. Sam Main
5. Bob Flowerdew
6. Max Findlay
7. Wukan
8. Nardine Amrani
9. Cenarth Primary, Newcastle Emlyn
10. Dennis Leighton
11. James Whitmarsh
12. Jason Flemming
13. Melinda Star Guido
14. Francis Bridgeman
15. Joan Dufosse
16. Aidan Burley MP
17. Academi
18. Call of Duty : Modern Warfare 3
19. Richard Smith
20. Sarah Montague
21. Martin Boyce
22. Eva Michalak
23. Bradley Manning
24. Jim Wick
25. Alan Keen
26. Seema Malhotra
27. Francois Fillon
28. Ayesha Hazarika
29. Bryan Johnson
30. The Artist
31. Angela and Natasha Martin
32. The young Man’s Magazine Number 2
33. Richard Moore
34. Clare Carter and the Hartnoll Hotel, nr. Tiverton
35. Lamont Peterson
36. Mikhail Repin
37. Judge Jules
38. Christopher Logue

In Other News

1) A draw to which team put Fulham out of the Europa League ?
2) What common substance can be obtained duty free in Norwegian Airports ?
3) Who has been appointed Professor of Drawing at the Royal Academy of Art ?
4) What strange rainfall fell on Coventry last week ?
5) Which organization have donated £550,000 towards the restoration of the huts at Bletchley Park ?
6) Who is the new president of the Poetry Society ?
7) A huge Viking hoard has been found where ?
8) Which is the fastest rising search term of the year on Google ?
9) Which Man Utd. player has been ruled out indefinitely with colitis ?
10) Which country are withdrawing from the Kyoto Treaty ?
11) Who have announced plans for a commercial space ship – the Stratolaunch ?
12) Who delivered her report on the High Street ?
13) Who were the first team to defeat Man City in the Premier League this season ?
14) Johnny Wilkinson , who announced retirement from International Rugby, won how many caps for England ?
15) Which Republican candidate offered a main rival a $10,000 bet this week ?
16) Who has been sent home from France to face jail ?
17) The 4 main republican candidates have all agreed to abolish what ?
18) Ryan Giggs has admitted that which former lover did not try to blackmail him ?
19) Why were there complaints about a live video stream of Simon Mayo’s Radio 2 breakfast show ?
20) Why have there been complaints about Wolverhampton Grand Theatre’s Panto ?
21) OFCOM have ruled that whose adverts during Downton Abbey broke their guidelines ?
22) Which tournament gave Tiger Woods his first win in 2 years ?
23) Where in Britain was there an earthquake last week ?
24) Members of which organization infiltrated a French nuclear power plant at Nogent sur Seine ?
25) Which sportsperson was confirmed as suffering from Dengue last week ?
26) Where is the venue for the UN climate change summit ?
27) Footage of polar bears for the TV show Frozen Planet was actually filmed in a zoo in which city ?
28) Which Downton Abbey actor has joined the judging panel for the Booker Prize ?
29) Which US politician was blasted by Vladimir Putin last week ?
30) Which government watchdog rejected calls for a single examining board ?
31) Which former politician was found guilty on two counts of embezzlement ?
32) Who won the X – Factor ?
33) Whose album is top of the album charts ?
34) Which word did Clegg use to describe what the UK will become if we leave the EU ?
35) Which 3 celebs are in the final of Strictly Come Dancing ?
36) Which BBC show is leaving BBC1 for CBBC ?
37) Which group announced that they are going to reunite for their 50th anniversary next year ?
38) At precisely what time on Christmas Day does research suggest that most people are at their happiest ?
39) What was given to Virgin staff who were made redundant ?
40) What was announced by the PM of Japan last week ?


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

1) The vigilante who put a student accused of fare dodging off a scot rail train
2) In court he admitted to hacking into Facebook
3) He has claimed that Tony Blair should be on trial for war crimes
4) He was the student thrown off the train for alleged fare dodging
5) Gardening expert criticized for using peat compost
6) The owner of Fenton the dog
7) Chinese village in open revolt against communist authorities
8) The man who carried out fatal attacks on shoppers in Liege in Belgium
9) The headteacher of the school has banned kids from giving out Christmas Cards
10) Pensioner who was lost on the M25 for 2 days
11) Man cleared of sexual assault after eating contaminated oysters
12) Former burglar whose ‘checklist’ has been released by police to assist homeowners in safeguarding their homes.
13) Smallest premature baby to survive
14) City lawyer who tried to avoid a drink driving charge by claiming that he had been kidnapped
15) Senior citizen who slipped on a plastic icicle in Selfridge’s in 2009 – court has finally ruled that Selfridges were at fault.
16) He apologized for attending a friend’s Nazi themed stag party
17) New name of security firm Blackwater
18) The game has become the fastest selling entertainment product of all time
19) Suspected of killing his family before committing suicide
20) Radio 4 Today presenter apologized to listeners for claiming that Father Christmas does not exist
21) Won the Turner Prize
22) Consultant won £4.5 million compensation after being hounded out of job in West Yorks hospital
23) On trial in USA over giving material to wikileaks
24) Pet shop owner in Wolverhampton found abandoned crocodile in cardboard box left outside his shop
25) MP whose death resulted in the Feltham and Heston By election
26) Winner of the Feltham and Heston By Election
27) French PM who criticized UKs credit rating
28) Target of a blackmail plot
29) Ed Milliband speech writer who has quit to go and work for Harriet Harman
30) He proposed to his girlfriend in Buckingham Palace after receiving medal from the Queen
31) Silent black and white film nominated for 6 Golden Globes
32) Jailed for claiming that they could provide underage girls for an orgy at the Dorchester
33) Written by 14 year old Charlotte Bronte – sold for over £600,000
34) Police Community Support officer banned from hop Poles pub in Hull for demanding that the bar maid should be strip searched
35) Forced to take down a stag’s head which may have been the Emperor of Exmoor
36) Russian Embassy Official expelled from UK for spying
37) Private Eye True Stories editor, who has passed away
38) Radio 1 DJ who is giving up in order to become a lawyer

In Other News

1) Odense
2) Butter
3) Tracey Emin
4) Apples
5) Google
6) Roger McGough
7) Silverdale, Lancs
8) Top was the Royal Wedding – second was the iphone 5
9) Darren Fletcher
10) Canada
11) Paul Allen ( co founder of Microsoft )
12) Mary Portas
13) Chelsea
14) 91
15) Mitt Romney
16) Manuel Noriega
17) Abortion
18) Imogen Thomas
19) The Wombles, were performing, and Mike Batt took his head off to talk to Simon Mayo, horrifying watching small children
20) They used children rather than short actors to play the 7 dwarves, since the children were a lot cheaper
21) Aviva
22) The Chevron tournament
23) Bodmin , Cornwall
24) Greenpeace
25) Rory Mcilroy
26) Durban
27) Dublin
28) Dan Stevens
29) John McCain
31) Jacques Chirac
32) Little Mix
33) Amy Winehouse
34) Pygmy
35) Jasonn Donovan – Harry Judd – Chelsee Healey
36) Blue Peter
37) The Beach Boys
38) 1.55 pm
39) A Copy of Branson’s new book
40) The Fukushima nuclear station is now stable

Christmas UC FInal

Well, I’ve just watched the final of Christmas University Challenge. I have to admit that after watching the two semi finals on the iplayer this morning I thought that Warwick would blow Trinity out of the water. Which just goes to show how much I know. Mind you, it did illustrate an interesting point for me. I made Warwick the hot favourites because in their first round and second round matches Daisy Christodoulou looked comfortably the fastest buzzer, and the best quizzer in the whole competition. It’s not surprising when you consider that she won the proper series in 2007. The only thing about having one obvious ‘star’ on your team is it does leave a huge question mark over exactly what happens when your star has an off night. I only base this on her performances in the first two matches, but based on that I would say that Daisy Christodoulou was some way below par tonight, and unfortunately for Warwick the rest of the team just couldn’t take up the slack between them.

This is to take nothing away from Trinity, who put on an admirable display tonight. If we’re talking about stars, then Trinity had their own University Challenge series winner with Robin Bhattacharya, who has been a big hitter for them consistently, and also with Daisy Goodwin, who had comfortably her best performance tonight, and was rightly applauded by skipper John Lloyd at the end of the show.

For the record, the final score was Trinity – 235 - Warwick - 60

Friday, 23 December 2011

Brain of Britain - Round One - Match 6

I’ve mentioned the Thursday night quiz in the Aberavon rugby club many times before in this very blog. If you’re a regular reader you may recall the times when I have mentioned the serious opposition that we face from a team headed by my friend Rob. Well, Rob in the rugby club is none other than Robert Merrill, who contested last Monday’s heat of Brain of Britain. So even if none of his opponents knew it, I certainly knew that they were facing a very serious opponent indeed.

For the record, the full line up was Linda Bond, Louis Houghton, Thomas Leeming, and Rob. Rob of course labored under the burden of support from the Clark sofa. Linda kicked off. She answered her first question, but didn’t know what a laverock was. Rob did – the answer being skylark. I’m sure that he knew it anyway, but it’s rather ironic that this is one of the questions I asked in a quiz in the club about 6 months ago. Louis too managed his first, before failing on a French Royal house. He tried Bourbon , but my boy knew it was the Valois. Text book start so far. Thomas Leeming leapt off to a good start taking his first two, but a tricky question on the scientist who coined the term Homo Sapiens saw him off. It was Louis who knew that this was Linnaeus. Rob faltered on his first . Asked for the writer of Dad’s Army et al who passed away , he zigged with Jimmy Perry. Thomas zagged correctly with David Croft.

In round 2 Linda again took her first – incidentally and unfortunately the last of her own questions she would answer correctly in the contest. Her second – alphabetically speaking, which is the last book of the Old Testament – foxed all the brains. It is Zephaniah. Louis couldn’t take his first, not knowing that the Scottish football club Morton are now Greenock Morton. Thomas had that one. Thomas didn’t know the rather chestnutty other name for a plantar wart, which let Louis in for a bonus with verruca. Robert knew his first, but then none of the team remembered that Enoch Powell’s only cabinet post had been in Health. Thomas, then , still retained his lead, but with Rob only a point behind there was no real need to worry. In round three Linda didn’t know that the US Virgin Islands originally belonged to Denmark. Neither did the other brains. I don’t know where I’ve heard that one before, but I was pleased with myself for getting that. Louis again missed his first – and again none of the other brains could pick up the baton. Kicking Horse pass is on the Canadian Pacific railway. Thomas took his first two, but then rather surprisingly was unable to name the Norns from Norse Mythology. Louis, showing good speed with his buzzer finger ( or thumb, to be precise ) took that one. Rob took three , but failed on the flag of Dominica – again, a bonus for Louis. I have told Rob he should get on Sporcle and play the flag game. Still he shared the lead with 6 now, as we headed for the Beat the Brains interval.

My boy again showed his class by being the prime mover behind the correct answer to the first, somewhat trickier question. When asked – in which direction does the Panama Canal go from the Caribbean to the Pacific Ocean, the answer given was South East. Sounds crazy , but look at the map. It’s true. The second – which is the only London Underground Tube station ( still in use ) with a name which contains 6 consecutive consonants – was dispatched to the boundary in fairly short order – the answer being Knightsbridge.

Back to the contest. Linda was tripped up on the British empire Medal – I thought that was gettable, but none of the brains could dredge it up. Louis got rather a tricky one I thought – where would you hear a nautophone ? Nobody knew – and neither did I – that it’s a fog warning, maybe carried by a ship or a lighthouse. Nobody knew Thomas’ question either. This one was the sort of thing which Whitakers Almanac is so good for . Coronets of Dukes ( and some other ranks ) are decorated with leaves of which plant . The answer is strawberry. So , a low scoring round, and the door was wide open for Rob to make a move into the lead. Which he did with 2 correct answers. He tripped up on the relationship between Edward the Confessor and his successor Harold Godwinsson. Linda knew they were brothers – in – law, and this brought up her final point of the competition. Moving onto the next round, Linda didn’t recognize the scientific name of dry rot. I didn’t know it, but guessed from Russell’s description. Thomas took a timely bonus. Louis again got a tricky starter – nobody actually knew that the civilization after which one of the Earth’s tectonic plates is named is the Nazca. Thomas missed a gettable point, when he didn’t guess that the Women’s Land Army first came into being during World War I. Rob had that one. Now he ripped in with a set of four before being asked where you’d find Upper and Nether Something Or Other. Never mind, Rob’s lead was now a useful 6 points. While the others had come up with some good answers, none of them looked likely to whack in a 6 pointer in the last two rounds, so Rob looked well on course for the win.

Linda didn’t know that a scotch argus was a butterfly. Rob did. Louis took his first, but missed out on the Jewish festival of Passover – as did the other brains. I don’t know if there’s much consolation in this , but three times so far Louis had been asked a starting question which none of the brains could answer. I think we can assume that he is better than his score. Thomas couldn’t identify where the Oakridge Research facility is. Rob knew it was Tennessee. He took his own first, but then he was given a piece of music, from one of the films directed by and starring Laurence Olivier. Well, which do you go for. Hamlet ? Henry V ? Both offered, but the answer was actually Richard III. His lead had waxed to a mighty 9 points now, and with one round to go, he had to be home and dry. Linda had a nasty one on palindromic diseases nobody had it. Louis didn’t know that the Eclipse Stakes are run at Sandown , which gave Thomas a bonus to ensure his runner up slot. Nobody knew their Greek mythology well enough to identify Laertes as the father of Odysseus. Maybe not a gimme, no, but certainly gettable I would have said. Finally Rob took a further three, but fell into a little trap when asked who first referred to Swiss bankers as ‘gnomes IN Zurich ‘ . Rob went for George Brown, who famously used the phrase ‘The Gnomes OF Zurich’ but as Thomas knew old ‘tired and emotional’ George was picking up on something originally said by Harold Wilson.

I have had a chat with Rob at some length about the show. He told me that before the start, his main ambition was not to come last. Well, he certainly achieved that. Well done Rob ! A fine performance, which will come as no surprise to your friends, teammates, and regular opponents, even if you surprised yourself !

The Details

Linda Bond – 3
Louis Houghton – 6
Thomas Leeming – 9
Robert Merrill - 19

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Dear Santa

Yes, here we are, last day of the school term, and time for my annual plea to Santa, in the form of a review of how well I have managed to stick to my New Year quiz resolutions. Let’s get this first one out of the way : -

• I resolve to stop saying that any team who beat us in a straight pub quiz must have cheated, even when they have actually been using their phones in front of us.

Famous last words. Being realistic I said that I would be happy if I could keep this one until June. I didn’t even make it out of January. I don’t wish to sour the festive season with another diatribe about phone cheating, and so I will just do as I always do, and promise to at least try to try harder to keep it this year.

Verdict - Naughty

• I resolve to not close the door to appearing on some other broadcast quiz, but only to apply to something because it might be fun.

It’s the first year for some time that I haven’t at least recorded a show for broadcast. Between ourselves I came fairly close to being on one of the last Weakest Links, but it didn’t happen. Shame. So I haven’t closed the door, and who knows what the future might hold ?

Verdict - Nice

• I resolve to keep working on my weak areas as I have been since joining the quiz league this Autumn.

Yes, I have done this. Oh, don’t misunderstand me, really good quizzers won’t be quaking in their boots, believe you me, but I have kept it up – and enjoyed it, too.

Verdict - Nice

• I resolve to try harder to attend at least one or two grand prix events this year.

I’m sorry about this one. I can’t really go on making excuses, and I will , yes definitely will, try to attend at least one in 2012.

Verdict - Naughty

• I resolve to try even harder not to criticise a quiz unfairly , even when the questions are not especially to my liking.

I think I’ve done pretty well on this score. Reading back through previous posts I think I rate pretty low on the slag-off-o-meter for once. So I go for : -

Verdict - Nice

• I resolve above all else to enjoy my quizzing throughout the next year as much as I have enjoyed it this year.

This is easy. Even the fact that I have been so angry about the phone cheating on occasions just shows how important my quizzing is, and how much I have enjoyed it. Thanks to everyone who has made it such a pleasure.

Verdict – Nice

So five nices to two naughties. Hopefully that will do for Santa. Here’s hoping that all of you get everything you could wish for. Merry Christmas.

Christmas University Challenge

Christmas UC

Three days down, and three matches played. I’ll put my cards on the table, I love UC, so anything like this is always going to be an extra treat, and always to be encouraged in my view. I haven’t compiled my usual notes on the shows. Although the contests have been carried out under proper UC rules, and I’m sure that the teams on each show have wanted to win, and put up the best showing that they can, it’s still been a lighthearted joust really. I always find it a little bit difficult to know exactly how to pitch a review of celebrity ( for you can say what you like, but this is essentially what Christmas UC is ) versions of shows. After all if you put yourself up to take part in a serious quiz show, then you are open to be criticised – fairly I hope – on your performance. Presumably the UC team actually approached the graduates of the various universities and university colleges participating. So how fair is it to criticise ? I do bear in mind the fact that these people are not setting themselves up as quizzers. So I guess that it’s no surprise to sit and watch these shows, and find myself murmuring from time to time words to the effect of – I’m surprised they didn’t know that. Still , you have to echo JP’s comments at the end of the first show, where he thanked the teams for putting their heads above the parapet. Quite right.

One thing this welcome little series of shows has done is to highlight just how good many of the student teams we see in each series really are. This is just my opinion , and by all means feel free to disagree, but it has seemed to me that the questions in Christmas UC have been a degree or two easier than those in the regular show. I found last night’s a little harder, but nonetheless I’ve found with this series that even with the things you don’t know you can go a long way just by giving the percentage answer, or the most obvious one.

The scores in the first three shows would all have been unlikely to win a regular first round show. I’m not sure whether this is down to the strengths of the teams compared with the student teams, or whether more time is being allowed for answers, or fewer questions are being asked.

Oh , and if the production team is reading – should you ever invite Goldsmiths’ graduates ( imagine a team made of , say for the sake of argument – Damon Albarn – Julian Clary – Mary Quant – Damien Hurst etc. ) to make up a team, then I’m available.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

The 2011 LAMMY Awards

Yes, I know it’s the last weekend before the Christmas break, and I haven’t forgotten the LAMMYs. So let’s get down to business

1) The Award for the Best New Quiz Show of 2011

You may remember that there was such a dearth of new shows in 2010, that I didn’t feel that any were good enough to win the award. I am delighted to say that we did at least have some worthy nominees, albeit that none are of the quality of previous winners Only Connect, and The Chase – or runner up Pointless. The nominees are : -


This show did make an appearance after a few difficulties. It wasn’t bad either. A decent, honest new tea time quiz, I did wonder if the Beeb were grooming it to take over the tea time slot soon to be vacated by the departing Weakest Link. The show ran in the early spring, and hasn’t been back since, so I do wonder if that’s that. Nonetheless, it was a simple and relatively enjoyable thing, albeit that we could have had a lot more questions per show.

The Third Degree

A Radio 4 show this one. Hosted by Steve Punt, the basic idea behind it was that University students played against their lecturers to find out who was more knowledgeable. In most cases it was the lecturers. Not the most serious offering we’ve ever heard, but it wasn’t bad, albeit that I was never sure whether it really wanted to be a serious show or not.

Quiz Trippers

Every year brings its guilty pleasures, and this one was mine. The Coach Trip goes quizzing. The show was an interesting idea, but the execution left a lot to be desired. We got relatively little in terms of quiz in each show, and I know that at least one of the quizzers on board was not happy at what had been done in the editing of the show. There is the germ of an idea there which could actually make a good show. This wasn’t it, though. Despite this, though, as I say it was very much a guilty pleasure of mine.

High Stakes

A lady who works in the 360 Granada Studios in Manchester where they record the Jeremy Kyle Show once confided to me that in her opinion Jeremy Kyle is the most disliked man in British television. I have no idea whether this is accurate or fair. Still, he is not the first person you would automatically think of as the genial host of an evening big money quiz show. I found it hard to get over this mental hurdle when I watched High Stakes. It’s not really my cup of tea anyway. It’s a game show, really, a guessing game show, which is great if you like that sort of thing. Personally I thought it lacked the wow factor, and I don’t know what the audiences were like, but I doubt it made the kind of splash that ITV were hoping it would.

SO – the winner is : -


It may well have been and gone, and it may not be as good as The Chase or Pointless, and certainly nowhere near as good as Only Connect , but Perfection gets the vote. Of all the new shows it had the best quiz play for the viewer at home, and was the only one I could see myself watching on anything like a regular basis.

2) The Award for Quiz Performance of the Year


Right – here I have to correct a wrong. Last year the LAMMYs were announced before the final of Only Connect Series 4 was broadcast. So I could not include the Epicureans in the nominees. So let me rectify that : -

Series 4 Only Connect Winners – The Epicureans

The Eps posted some mighty scores during series 4, and with all due respect to ourselves, they always looked like the champions in waiting for the whole series.

Series 5 Only Connect Winners – The Analysts

I marked out the Analysts as probably the team to beat from early doors within this season’s tournament. Having said that they didn’t have it all their own way, facing strong challenges from the Trade Unionists, and especially the Technologists. They triumphed in the final , though, with a magnificent shut out on the missing vowels round.

Mastermind 2011 – Ian Bayley

Having cursed Ian’s chances in 2009 by tipping him to win the Grand Final I refrained from doing so this year. Unburdened by the Clark tip he romped home to win comfortably with a magnificent 37, becoming the 5th to do the Mastermind and Brain of Britain double.

University Challenge 2011 - Magdalen , Oxford

Magdalen proved themselves up to every challenge that came their way throughout the series, and outclassed a good team from the University of York to win the Final.

Brain of Britain 2011 – Iwan Thomas

Iwan Thomas won a splendidly competitive final , beating some great quizzers to the title.

A vintage year again, and it’s very hard to choose between them all. Still, on reflection I have plumped for a performance of domination in the Grand Final – The Winners are – step forward

James McComish,
Kyle Haddad- Fonda,
Will Cudmore
and Captain Matthew Chan of the victorious Magdalen College Oxford University Challenge 2011 Winners.

3) The Award for best performance in a Non Broadcast Quiz

There are a couple of nominees in this category , but first I’d like to start with a team I’m not nominating. If I wasn’t part of the team, then I would certainly be nominating the Llangewydd Arms quiz team. In 2011 we completed the double of league and cup, and won every game into the process – becoming the first team in the history of the league in Bridgend to complete a 100% season. But I am in the team, and the rules of the LAMMYs state that members of the judging panel may not be nominated in any category. ( I should know – I made them up. ) So the real nominees are : -

The Royal Oak Nomads ( since renamed the Tyrisha Nomads )

The Nomads are our most formidable opposition in the Bridgend league. We were the only team to beat them in the whole of last season. That’s not why they are nominated. In the curtain raiser to this season’s league, the Muriel Williams Cup, they beat us, and what’s more as round by round went on we never felt that we were going to get on terms with them, and we didn’t. A fine performance.

Utopia Ltd.

You may have read my post about this year’s Birmingham Mega Quiz. We were beaten into second place by a team who are always right up there on the scoreboard, Utopia Ltd. They overhauled us in the last round, and clinched the prize. Well done !

Gosforth Empire

In this year’s CIU Finals Gosforth empire and Radford Road Social Club were a street ahead of all the other teams, and believe me there was a lot of serious quiz talent in many of these as well. In the end only a tie break could separate them.

Without further ado – the winners are : -

Gosforth Empire.

It always seems that this award is won by the CIU winners, but I have to say that I thought that this year’s quiz was the hardest for a long time, and I thought the boys’ performance ( and also that of Radford Road ) was out of this world. Very well done !

4) The Award for the Most Enjoyable Event in Non Broadcast Quizzing

I would have plumped for the GetConnected Charity Quiz in Floridita in Wardour Street, but this won the category last year. As a one off evening it was unbeatable. However, for sustained, week in week out enjoyment I have no hesitation I awarding the prize to : -

The Bridgend and District Quiz League 2011

Many congratulations to the league committee, and especially to Dai Rees, who compiles all the questions for the league.

5) The Award for New Quiz based fan website/blog

Two in particular have stood out this year. I have enjoyed QuizQuizQuiz very much – and thanks for the plug for LAM, guys. Much appreciated. However the award for 2011 goes to Daniel Fullard’s

The Quiz Addict

Daniel is a young quizzer, living in the North East of England. He has huge enthusiasm for the whole quiz scene. The posts have begun to flow very freely again after a little hiatus in the early Autumn. Not only that, but Daniel has just recently has shown huge initiative in approaching publishers, and gaining free quiz books to give away as competition prizes.

6) The Host – With – The – Most Award

I toyed with calling this the Robert Robinson Memorial award, since the late great one was always my very favourite chairman. Without the permission of his family this might be a little disrespectful, though.

I’ve fought a little shy of going down this route in past years since it is all very much in the eye of the beholder, I know. Besides, how can you judge between the Jeremy Paxman at his best , Russell Davies aka The Best Voice On The Radio – Ever, Victoria Coren - the list goes on. All of the above are worth a prize just for being who and what they are. However the difficulty of singling out a winner is not an excuse not to present the award. So without further ado, the winning host is –

Alexander Armstrong – Pointless

It’s a personal choice – feel free to disagree. If we take UC and BoB , both Russell Davies and JP are brilliant at what they do. But their shows could be and have been handled well by people with a completely different style. Victoria Coren is so far the only presenter of OC – and be honest, could you see anyone else ever presenting it ? The fact that she does not, this time, win the award takes nothing away from her. But I awarded the prize to Alexander Armstrong, because, while I like Pointless, in other less deft hands I feel it could have become quite a tedious show. That’s my decision, and I’m sticking to it.


There we are, then. I have no doubt regulars will be sitting at home, wondering how on earth I could leave out so and so – and probably with every justification as well. Roll on next year.

R.I.P. John Hart

I have just read on Weaver's Week the news that John Hart has passed away. John Hart was the first man to win Mastermind, back in 1975. Mr. Hart, Classics master at Malvern College, answered questions on Athens 500 - 400 BC , and Rome 100 - 1 BC. I extend my condolences to his family and friends.

Only Connect Special

Wall Night

An interesting little pre-christmas treat this. 8 former teams, who represented each of the 5 series, were invited back to contest a winner takes all, knockout wall tournament. The format was easy to follow. The teams were paired up in the first round. each would get one wall to unravel – usual scoring rules applied. If the two teams achieved the same score, then the team who solved their first set more quickly would go through.

I won’t give details of each of the walls – I’m sure you can find them and play them on the official site. The teams involved were : -
The Courtiers – a team unlucky enough to meet the Epicureans on top form in round 1 of series 4.
The Knitters – from series 1. I believe they were knocked out by finalists The Lapsed Psychologists (although my records for series one are sketchy – apologies for that. )
The Choirboys – they contested round 1 in series 3.
The Editors – they met future semi-finalists the Trade Unionists in round one of season 5.
The Archers Admirers – semi-finalists in the 3rd series, and featuring none other than our own Andrew B.!
The Technologists – who lost that extremely tight quarter final to series 5 winners the Analysts
The Hitchhikers – semi-finalists in series 3
The Travel Writers – now, I’m guessing that they must have been in series 1, because I have no record of them. I can only apologise.
Here’s the results : -
Round One
Courtiers – 4
Knitters – 7
Choirboys- 4
Editors - 5
Archers Admirers – 4
Technologists - 5
Hitchhikers – 4
Travel Writers 2

Semi Finals
Editors – 5
Knitters – 5 (won on faster first set )
Technologists – 7
Hitchhikers – 3

Knitters – 5
Technologists – 6

So our first Wall Night champions are Bruce and the boys from the Technologists. Well done gentlemen ! Fine performance.

University Challenge - Round Two - Match 8

Pembroke, Cambridge v. Nottingham

The last of the second round matches pitted Pembroke, Cambridge against Nottingham University. Both teams were in the bottom half of my unofficial table of first round results. Pembroke and their team of Edward Bankes, Ben Pugh, Imogen Gold, and Captain Bibek Mukherjee comfortably beat St. Anne’s Oxford by 205 to 140. Nottingham, in the shape of Harry Dalton, Matthew Byrne, Ewan Pickard and their captain Lee Cooper, beat the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine by 215 to 155. Nothing much to choose between their first round performances, and this suggested that maybe we were in for another close match. Maybe.

Keep calm and carry on said Harry Dalton. Correct, said JP, this being the slogan required as the answer to the first starter. Nottingham took a full set of bonuses on the human condition. Ben Pugh, who I believe was the leading buzzer on the night, took his first starter with a quote from Dwight Eisenhower. One bonus followed on search engines. Neither team knew that Coriolanus was originally banned in Nazi Germany, before becoming a set text when comparisons between the eponymous hero and Hitler began to be drawn. Harry Dalton lost 5 on that one by an early incorrect buzz. Captain Bibek Mukherjee of Pembroke, who weighed in with some good buzzes himself, knew the biologist Linnaeus. Again, only one bonus followed on beds. Ben Pugh knew that a set of definitions related to the term Cavalier. This brought up Pembroke’s first full set on pioneering female scientists. The picture starter asked the teams to identify the type of lens a photograph was taken with. Lee Cooper had a decent shout with fish eye, but Bibek Mukherjee had it right with wide angle. Three different types of lenses followed, and Pembroke managed to get two of them. The Pembroke skipper completed a very good first ten minutes for his team by identifying Big Island – or Hawaii – as the largest island of Hawaii. The team was unable to take any bonuses on sociological terms. By this time Pembroke had 85 to Nottingham’s 20.

I’m afraid that the mid-section of the contest was rather one sided as well. Neither team could quite remember the name Steven Pinker, but Lee Cooper dropped 5 from buzzing too early. I don’t blame him for this. When you are being outbuzzed you have a choice. You can either retreat into your shell, or go down fighting, and I always like to see a team giving it a lash. You might as well be hung for a sheep . . . Edward Bankes was very quick to work out the product of the two smallest 2 digit primes. 2 bonuses on Seattle followed. Neither team knew a Lemma. Edward Bankes, who weighed in with his own fair share of starters during the contest, knew the timeless classic “Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monster”. My notes seem to say that the bonuses, of which Pembroke took one, were on beers, but I’m fairly sure that it was bears. Ben Pugh knew that J is the only letter of the alphabet that does not appear in a symbol of any element of the periodic table. Bonuses followed on The Picture of Dorian Grey. The music starter followed, and ben Pugh identified Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring. The team managed a full set of bonuses on other works which had been panned on their premieres. Now the Nottingham skipper managed to muscle his way back into the contest, buzzing in very early on the term lebensraum. 2 bonuses followed on skin. Poor Nottingham just weren’t at the races on the buzzer – which was a shame because when they did get through they weren’t doing at all badly with the bonuses. Edward Bankes knew the difference between the EU and Council of Europe, and the team managed a bonus on plays at the Donmar Warehouse. A UC special followed. Let’s say that 1 is A and 2 B etc. What does 2015 spell? Ben Pugh knew it was TO. A very dominant second period, then for Pembroke, and they led by 185 to 35.

The game was over as a competition. Yet two points of interest remained. One was Nottingham’s attempts to reach a respectable score, and the other, Pembroke’s attempt to break through the 300 barrier. Harry Dalton made his bid first by identifying a painting by Roy Liechtenstein. Unfortunately the three pop art bonuses all went begging. Edward Bankes recognized a quote from “Twelfth Night”, and his team managed 2 bonuses on Physics. 200 barrier now passed by Pembroke. Imogen Gold took her starter by identifying Madame Butterfly, and the team took 2 bonuses on 1961. Nottingham took the next starter, knowing that alphabetically the number two comes second in French – well, something like that anyway. Haven’t we had a similar question recently – or am I imagining it? A full set of bonuses followed on words which are only differentiated by an acute accent. Lee Cooper knew that FIDE is the world governing body for chess. Again, another full set followed on a peace treaty. The skipper undid a little of the good work by buzzing too early on the next starter, which required identification of the anagrams – EBOR – EBRO – BORE. Ben Pugh took that one. No bonuses followed on Geography. Ben Pugh took a fairly swift hat trick here. He knew that the S in SIM card stands for subscriber. 2 bonuses followed on noble gases. Then he rounded it off by identifying antimony as the element in stibnite. 3 bonuses on religious clothing took Pembroke to 285. Ewan Pickard took a starter on anchovies, and a full set of bonuses on celestial bodies took them through the 100 barrier to respectability. Lee Cooper knew that heparin and warfarin are anti-coagulants, and then that was that. Pembroke won very convincingly, with 285 to 125.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

Really nothing of note this week. JP was on his best behavior, and even managed a few words of genuine consolation to Nottingham – “You had a jolly bad start, but you showed us what you could do towards the end there. “ I couldn’t put it better myself.

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

Baidu is the most popular search engine in China.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

News Questions

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

1. Alan Pollack
2. Glenn Mangham
3. Jesse Jackson
4. Sam Main
5. Bob Flowerdew
6. Max Findlay
7. Wukan
8. Nardine Amrani
9. Cenarth Primary, Newcastle Emlyn
10. Dennis Leighton
11. James Whitmarsh
12. Jason Flemming
13. Melinda Star Guido
14. Francis Bridgeman
15. Joan Dufosse
16. Aidan Burley MP
17. Academi
18. Call of Duty : Modern Warfare 3
19. Richard Smith
20. Sarah Montague
21. Martin Boyce
22. Eva Michalak
23. Bradley Manning
24. Jim Wick
25. Alan Keen
26. Seema Malhotra
27. Francois Fillon
28. Ayesha Hazarika
29. Bryan Johnson
30. The Artist
31. Angela and Natasha Martin
32. The young Man’s Magazine Number 2
33. Richard Moore
34. Clare Carter and the Hartnoll Hotel, nr. Tiverton
35. Lamont Peterson
36. Mikhail Repin
37. Judge Jules
38. Christopher Logue

In Other News

1) A draw to which team put Fulham out of the Europa League ?
2) What common substance can be obtained duty free in Norwegian Airports ?
3) Who has been appointed Professor of Drawing at the Royal Academy of Art ?
4) What strange rainfall fell on Coventry last week ?
5) Which organization have donated £550,000 towards the restoration of the huts at Bletchley Park ?
6) Who is the new president of the Poetry Society ?
7) A huge Viking hoard has been found where ?
8) Which is the fastest rising search term of the year on Google ?
9) Which Man Utd. player has been ruled out indefinitely with colitis ?
10) Which country are withdrawing from the Kyoto Treaty ?
11) Who have announced plans for a commercial space ship – the Stratolaunch ?
12) Who delivered her report on the High Street ?
13) Who were the first team to defeat Man City in the Premier League this season ?
14) Johnny Wilkinson , who announced retirement from International Rugby, won how many caps for England ?
15) Which Republican candidate offered a main rival a $10,000 bet this week ?
16) Who has been sent home from France to face jail ?
17) The 4 main republican candidates have all agreed to abolish what ?
18) Ryan Giggs has admitted that which former lover did not try to blackmail him ?
19) Why were there complaints about a live video stream of Simon Mayo’s Radio 2 breakfast show ?
20) Why have there been complaints about Wolverhampton Grand Theatre’s Panto ?
21) OFCOM have ruled that whose adverts during Downton Abbey broke their guidelines ?
22) Which tournament gave Tiger Woods his first win in 2 years ?
23) Where in Britain was there an earthquake last week ?
24) Members of which organization infiltrated a French nuclear power plant at Nogent sur Seine ?
25) Which sportsperson was confirmed as suffering from Dengue last week ?
26) Where is the venue for the UN climate change summit ?
27) Footage of polar bears for the TV show Frozen Planet was actually filmed in a zoo in which city ?
28) Which Downton Abbey actor has joined the judging panel for the Booker Prize ?
29) Which US politician was blasted by Vladimir Putin last week ?
30) Which government watchdog rejected calls for a single examining board ?
31) Which former politician was found guilty on two counts of embezzlement ?
32) Who won the X – Factor ?
33) Whose album is top of the album charts ?
34) Which word did Clegg use to describe what the UK will become if we leave the EU ?
35) Which 3 celebs are in the final of Strictly Come Dancing ?
36) Which BBC show is leaving BBC1 for CBBC ?
37) Which group announced that they are going to reunite for their 50th anniversary next year ?
38) At precisely what time on Christmas Day does research suggest that most people are at their happiest ?
39) What was given to Virgin staff who were made redundant ?
40) What was announced by the PM of Japan last week ?

Friday, 16 December 2011

Mastermind - Round 1 - Heat 6

Last week’s review of Mastermind sparked the liveliest debate here on LAM for some time. What will tonight’s bring, I wonder? Who knows? Tonight’s first contender was Hannah Coates. Her subject was Sir Francis Walsingham – often touted as Elizabeth Ist’s spymaster. I will admit that following last week’s debate I did keep a weather eye open for specialist subject gimmes, but I didn’t notice any quite as blatant as the Tbilisi one from last week. For the record I scored 3 on Hannah’s round. Hannah did considerably better. In fact, I was surprised that she ended with 13. She seemed to be answering more quickly than that, and getting hardly any wrong at all. Still, 13 is the kind of score which will usually give you a shout of featuring in the final shake up.

Graeme Jones offered us The Valley of The Kings. I would say that the aristocrat who sponsored Howard Carter’s excavation to find the Tomb of Tutankhamen was probably one of the most obvious gimmes tonight – that I think it’s fair to say is well within the bounds of general knowledge. As it happens I had my highest specialist score in this round tonight with 5. Graeme struggled and fought his way through to respectability with 10, and I think judging by his face he was kicking himself about one or two of the ones he missed.

Isabel Morgan’s subject, The Life and Work of George Orwell, should, by rights, have been the SS which suited me best. In fact I only managed to scrape the one point by remembering Mr. Frederick from ‘Animal Farm’. This was a good, confident round from Isabel. She needed in depth knowledge of both the life and work to get the majority of these, and 14 looked to me to be a good return. It put her into the lead, with one more round to go before half time.

Simon Alvey offered us a little light relief, as it were, in this week’s popular culture subject, the TV series The West Wing. I have never watched any of the series, so I was at a bit of a loss to think of where I could possibly gain any points. When a question asked about a problem with a North Korean would be defector who played an instrument I correctly guessed piano. I don’t care if it was pure blind luck – they all count. Simon needed no luck. He was answering at 100 miles an hour, and looked at the end of the two minutes as if he could have happily gone on for another 5. 15 points put him into pole position at half time.

All four contenders managed double figures in their GK rounds tonight, which is a less common occurrence than you might think. I thought myself that the rounds were pretty fair, and much of a level with each other – my own scores were respectively 19, 19, 17 and 20. Graeme began crisply and succinctly, picking off the answers he knew with the minimum of fuss. Alas, it never quite looked like he was going to be able to whack in something like 15 or 16 which would have been a sufficiently challenging total. Nonetheless 12 and 2 passes is very respectable, and it left him with a final total of 22 and 3 passes. Hannah returned to the chair. She seemed quite composed as she picked off 11 of her own answers. Her total of 24 was just enough to make the last couple of rounds interesting, albeit that I think you’d still have got fairly long odds on this score keeping her at the top of the leaderboard until the end of the show.

Isabel gave us the most hesitant round of the show. She obviously knew a number of answers which just didn’t quite make it off the tip of her tongue. 10 is by no means a disastrous score. However it only put her level with Isabel – both had scored 24 with 5 passes. All of which raised the interesting prospect that we might in fact see a tie break if Simon couldn’t score more than 8. For a moment or two at the start of Simon’s round that looked a possibility. He locked into a nervous pass spiral right at the start, passing on three in a row. He pulled out of that with plenty of time to spare though, and began rattling off answers – some right and some wrong – at a fair old clip. That’s good technique. Keep blasting away, and if the total you require is quite a modest one, then you’ve every good chance of getting there. Simon did with tread to spare, and in the end whacked in a commendable 14. His winning score of 18 meant that there was daylight between him and Isabel and Hannah in second. Well played.

The Details

Hannah Coates Sir Francis Walsingham13 - 111 - 424 – 5
Graeme JonesThe Valley of the Kings10 - 112 - 222 – 3
Isabel MorganThe Life and Work of George Orwell14 - 210 - 324 – 5
Simon AlveyThe West Wing15 - 114 - 329 – 4

Cryptic Question

Last week’s question was : -

The first was Wellington’s savior at Waterloo, the second linked Eva and Kylie, the third a heavenly wanderer, and the fourth was very handy with the mandible of equus asinus. What were they, and what was the fifth ?

Wellington’s savior was Prussian Marshal BLUCHER, whose timely arrival on the battlefield of Waterloo was one of the decisive moments of the battle. Little Eva and Kylie Minogue both had chart hits with the song , THE LOCOMOTION. The word PLANET is derived from a greek word that means wanderer. SAMSON slew 1000 Philistines with the jawbone of an ass. They were the first 4 locomotives built by George Stephenson. The fifth was the famous ROCKET.
So well done, Andrew !

Try this one : -

A journey in Swahili – the 24th element – an airplane stolen by Dirty Harry – The first thing to record Van Allen’s belt, and musical works. Where might you use any one of the above ?

Answers to News Questions

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

1) Eric Ryder
2) Keith Rumboldt
3) Nathan Yates
4) Amelia Hempleman Adams
5) HMS Ocean
6) Stephen Brooks
7) Mark Allen
8) Barry Morrow
9) Paul Evans
10) Gary Smith
11) Rod Blagojevitch
12) Asif Ali Zadari
13) Moshe Katsav
14) Emma West
15) James Ellington
16) Jay Lewis
17) Jenni Murray
18) Chris Ashton
19) Boris Nemtsov
20) Ben Madden
21) Leonora Sinclair
22) Gary McKinnon
23) Keppler 22b
24) Veena Malik
25) James Pryce
26) Colin Adams
27) Alan Savage
28) Michalina Lewandowska
29) Steph Warren
30) Stewart Simonson
31) Simon Beech and Garreth Foster
32) Pusuke

In Other News

1) Who won the Confucius prize - the Chinese equivalent of the Nobel Peace prize ?
2) Who has been given victory in the official results in the elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo ?
3) The BBC pulled an episode of which show featuring Jeremy Clarkson ?
4) What has finally been finished ?
5) Who has been granted a medical health tribunal to be held in public
6) Which 3 statues have been unveiled at the Emirates stadium ?
7) The last of what has been phased out in London ?
8) Which is David Cameron’s favourite soap opera ?
9) Which Oxford College is involved in a fight over its name ?
10) Where did the first all female RNLI rescue take place ?
11) What is the name of Putin’s political party , named the winners of the controversial Russian election ?
12) Who has resigned from the IOC ?
13) Manchester United fail to progress in the Champions League after defeat by whom ?
14) The UKs first rehab clinic for what has opened ?
15) Which UK town is Europe’s fastest growing tourist destination ?
16) Who had to apologise for mocking the death of a young man on Stronaway ?
17) Which film star was thrown off an American Airlines jet for playing a game on his iphone ?
18) IN which European country has the Prime Minister been named footballer of the year ?
19) The BBC has announce an end to which political broadcast ?
20) A branch of which chain last week announced Amelia Lily as the winner of the X Factor days before the final ?
21) 29 satellite dishes have been removed from what ?
22) Andrew Lansley announced a plan of how many steps for the NHS ?
23) Who has quit his cricket coaching role with Essex ?
24) What has been dismissed as a super food by the EU ?
25) What was closed to traffic due to overcrowding in the first week of December ?
26) In which EU country do people work the longest hours ?
27) Women are to allowed to serve in what for the first time in the Royal Navy ?
28) A £2 million monument to the Supermarine Spitfire is to be built where ?
29) Which tourist attraction has been bought by the council of Bad Frankenhausen in Germany for 85p ?
30) In which year did the late Dr. Scorates captain the ‘greatest team never to win the world cup’ in the world cup ?


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

1) A former employee of James Cameron , suing over his claim that Avatar was his idea
2) He killed his wife – suffering from Alzheimers – to spare her the indignity of hospital
3) Crime writer beaten by his girlfriend with a golf club
4) 16 year old daughter of David Hempleman Adams, who has become the youngest person ever to ski to the south pole
5) Ship returning from Libya, which sent home spoof video of “All I want for Christmas is you “ – huge internet hit.
6) Postal worker caught stealing penis enlargement pills from a package by his supervisor
7) Snooker player who made public criticism of Barry Hearn
8) Head of WJEC filmed giving away exam secrets at conference
9) Wanted in connection with death of landlady and her mother.Sighted in Calais, and then posted comment claiming innocence on Facebook
10) Head of Market Field School who said “God help any school in a worse state than mind “
11) Jailed in the US for trying to sell Obama’s former senate seat to the highest bidder
12) President of Pakistan who suffered suspected heart attack
13) Former president of Israel jailed for rape
14) IN court for the racist rant on a tram in Croydon
15) UK sprinter who has put himself on eBay for sponsorship
16) He refused community service sentence in Gloucester Crown Court as a waste of time, and instead accepted a night time curfew
17) Made a dame
18) Rugby player given four week ban for pulling hair of Manu Tuilagi
19) Russian opposition leader arrested
20) Killed on cycle when a deer jumped a barbed wire fence right into his path
21) Jailed for murdering her husband after a row about the TV
22) Alleged computer hacker at the centre of the US / UK extradition row
23) Possibly habitable planet discovered by NASA
24) Bollywood actress suing FHM India over alleged fake nude pictures
25) Duchess of Cambridge wedding hairdresser who has left salon to set up on own
26) British travel writer killed in scuffle in bar in Moscow
27) Boss of Inverness Caledonian Thistle , being sued by mistress Julie Ann Zeitel
28) She was tasered and buried alive by partner
29) Chief Examiner of Edexcel – boasted of setting easy exams
30) Former Chauffeur of Heather Mills made an illegal copy of her blue badge
31) Jailed for setting fire to mosque in Hanley , Stoke in 2010
32) World’s oldest dog, who died in japan aged 26 and 8 months

In Other News

1) Vladimir Putin
2) Laurent Kabila
3) Q.I.
4) Painting the Forth Bridge
5) Ian Brady
6) Herbert Chapman – Tony Adams – Thierry Henri
7) Bendy Bus
8) Eastenders
9) New College Oxford – challenging AC Grayling’s right to call his college the New College of Humanities
10) Cardigan
11) United Russia
12) Joao Havelange
13) Basel
14) Stalkers
15) Ilford
16) Matthew Wright
17) Alec Baldwin
18) Bulgaria
19) Budget Day Live
20) HMV
21) The BT Tower
22) Sixty
23) Graham Gooch
24) Royal Jelly
25) Oxford Street
26) Greece
27) Submarines
28) Southampton
29) A church tower, which leans further than the more famous tower of Pisa
30) 1982 - Spain

Brain of Britain - Round One - Match 5

Well, I recognized the name of the first of this week’s Brains as soon as Russell announced Hamish Cameron. You don’t have to be blessed with perfect recall to remember Hamish as a Mastermind semifinalist in the last series. Hamish is no stranger to the semis, and in fact I did meet him when he was stand in for the Grand Final of the 2007 SOBM. No prizes for guessing where the full burden of support from the Clark sofa was being placed, then. Hamish took his first question in round one, but then stumbled on the reservoir Rutland Water. None of the other brains knew it – and neither did I. Second brain was Jim Connolly. He was beaten by the University of the Third Age, and as with Hamish, no bonus was taken. Third of the brains to embark upon the voyage of discovery that is each show was Michael Frankel. He took a good three on the bounce, before being tripped up on the country that is home to the Jasper National Park. I guessed Canada. Jim might well have known it, or he might have been guessing. Whatever the case he said the same as I did and earned himself a bonus. Lee (or Leigh – sorry if I have it wrong) Stone was the last of the brains. She too took a first, but didn’t know Nellie Bligh – the assumed name of the lady who took it upon herself to travel around the world faster than Phileas Fogg. Michael led with 3, and all the others had one. In the second round Hamish again took his first question, but was tripped up on the original meaning of the word urchin. Michael knew that it was a hedgehog. Jim took the first of his own questions, but failed on the chestnutty question about which king instituted the order of the garter. He had the right name but the wrong number. Michael, busy hovering up bonuses at this stage, knew it was Edward III. He was stymied by his own question, though. In fact nobody knew what a Great Curassow is. It’s a large South American game bird. Innuendo overload warning. Sorry. Lee took her first two, but was halted by the patron saint of Paris. Hamish was glad to add this one to his collection. So, going into the third round, Michael led with 5, Hamish and Lee both had 3, and Jim had 2.

Hamish began to make inroads into Michael’s lead by taking his first two questions of round three. Rather surprisingly though none of the brains knew that the Borg Warner Trophy is annually awarded to the winner of the Indianapolis 500. Jim was given a music question to begin, and couldn’t identify that the tune ‘Repton’ was written by Hubert Parry. Michael knew it to take a well-earned bonus. Michael didn’t know what it was that killed the Trojan priest Laocoon and his sons. Hamish did – Russell had to check that his answer of serpents – snakes – was acceptable, but was given the green light. It would have been harsh to reject this when sea serpents was the answer. Given the name of a religious festival in French – Lee couldn’t identify candlemas. I’ll be honest, when the word crepe was mentioned I fancied Shrove Tuesday as well. Mais non, mes amis. Poor Lee didn’t have a great deal of luck with her questions from here until the end of the contest, and didn’t manage to take any of her remaining starters, and it was this as much as anything else which prevented her from making a serious challenge. As we went into the Beat the Brains interval, Jim still had 2, Lee still had 3, Hamish had 6, and Michael 7. The first of the 2 Beat the Brains questions was rather simple – which beach inspired Matthew Arnold to write a famous poem. Dover Beach of course, and the Brains gobbled it up. The next, though, which beach, less than 50 miles from Dover, inspired Wordsworth, foxed them, and me as well. It was Calais.

Hamish took his first question of round 4, but couldn’t identify the Battle of Minden and others as belonging to the 7 Years War. Jim had that one. He took his own first and second, but didn’t know a Devon Rex is a cat. Hamish knew it. Michael, defending a narrow lead of a point took a couple, but nobody knew that a warden pie has pears in it. Finally Lee didn’t know that the alternative name for the 4 stroke cycle of an internal combustion engine is the Otto cycle. That bonus went to Hamish. So while Lee remained on 3, Jim had improved to 5, Hamish to 9, and Michael to 10. It was already beginning to look as if bonuses would be decisive, and at the moment there was hardly anything to choose between Hamish and Michael on that score. Hamish took the next couple, but couldn’t identify the first known Mesoamerican civilization in southern Mexico. Jim took a good bonus with the Olmecs. I ventured the Olmecs myself, but was only about 75% certain. Jim failed on his own first, not knowing that Prudhomme was awarded the first Nobel Prize for Literature. Hamish was in fastest for that one. Michael kept his head, and took his first two. However he didn’t know that when Truman Capote died, it was Gore Vidal who said ‘Good career move’. Lee had that bonus. Her own first question – the person to whom Zeus appeared as a shower of gold – fell to Hamish, who knew it was Danae. Which point was enough to give Hamish the outright lead, with 13 to Michael’s 12, Jim’s 6, and Lee’s 4.

There were three rounds to go, but as it was to turn out all the decisive moments of the contest had already happened as we moved into round 6. Michael was unable to add another point to his score, after such a positive first half of the competition. That’s just the luck of the draw, and the way that it happens sometimes. Jim added two bonuses in round 6, and Lee single bonuses in both rounds 7 and 8. Hamish, though, was the only person to get one of his own questions right at all in the last three rounds. Not that it mattered, since he took 4 bonuses as well. I was pleased with myself for correctly guessing that St. Thomas Aquinas is the patron saint of roman Catholic scholars, theologians etc. Getting back to the contest, I would say that the all-round general knowledge of Hamish ensured that he was always going to take the lion’s share of the bonuses. To have a good chance, the others needed that fortunate run of questions, which they didn’t get, and that was that. I don’t think that Michael’s 12 will see him into the semis, but you never know. Well played anyway and good luck in the semis, Hamish.

The Details

Hamish Cameron – 17
Jim Connolly – 9
Michael Frankel – 12
Lee Stone - 6