The Listeners v. The Antiquarians
The Listeners’ route to the semi final took them past the Steel City Singers in the first round, and The Rowers in the second round. Andrew Lyman, Jane Teather and captain Dave Tilley had moved confidently through the competition to this stage. The Antiquarians – Simon Belcher, Debbie Challis and skipper Will Howells had beaten the Fantasy Footballers, and the Social Networkers in their first round and quarter final matches. Maybe it was just me, but they seemed a little surprised with themselves having come so far. Well, one more step , and they would be in the final. However, first of all they had to negotiate : -
Round One – What’s The Connection ?
The Listeners won the toss and opted to be first receivers. They chose twisted flax, and discovered – The Amber Room - and Vermeer’s The Concert. I would have buzzed in after two , just as the Listeners did. However I was surprised at the confident answer which came from them , wrongly, that they are all in the Hermitage. No they’re not. When given Little Mermaid’s Head, and Jules Rimet Trophy, the Antiquarians knew that these were all stolen, and have never been seen again. Actually whole books have been written about the Amber Room and other stolen art works which vanished at the end of World War II, but enough of such things. Would the Lists come to regret this rush of blood to the head at the start of the show ? Time would tell. The Ants took Eye of Horus, and found H. Norman Schwarzkopf – Ulysses S. Grant – Russell T. Davies. Now, Will being a big Dr. Who fan he knew that the T. in Russell T. Davies does not denote a name – and so the team didn’t even need to take Harry S. Truman to supply the connection. A very good start from the Ants, leaving the Lists with some work to do. Unfortunately the Lists did not possess anyone confident enough in Spanish to identify – forgive me if I take these down wrongly – Aqui, alli y en todas partes – Cuando tengo sesenta y cuatro anos ( my Spanish is not great , so I only had it from this one ) – todo lo que es necesitas es amor – Hola adios – as being the spainish translation of the titles of various songs by the Beatles. The Ants gratefully accepted the bonus. They picked Horned Viper, and found the music connection. Vaughan Williams’ The Wasp – Herb Alpert’s Spanish Flea – Dolly Parton’s Love is Like A Butterfly and Rimsky Korsakov’s Flight of the Bumble Bee gave them insects. I didn’t know the wasp, but I did know Spanish flea. I’d probably have taken the third myself to be certain. Still, every point is good when you’re already in the lead. Finally the Lists took a good set with – Angina Treatment – Grafitti Remover – Cattle Worming Chemical – Horse Tranquilliser. I would have needed all four for that myself – and they were correct to identify these as original uses of street drugs. Finally behind Lion the Ants found the pictures. The first – which nobody identified – was syzygy – fresh from showing both teams a clean pair of heels on UC earlier the same evening. Then a sphynx cat – a crypt and a gypsy. Yes, seeing them all written down its easy, but when you have to work them out from pictures, it’s not. Neither team quite got the connection that they are words without vowels. Still, what a start for the Ants ! They led by 5 points to 1.
Round Two – What Comes Fourth ?
The Lists started with Two Reeds. 2F = 1H – 2H=1P – 3P=1T. That third one is the clincher, but it escaped the Lists. The Ants though knew we were dealing with old pre decimal coins. 1 farthing = 2 half pennies and so on. Working on , two thruppennies would be one sixpence, so the Ants answer of 2T=1S was correct for a bonus. Mind you, that was about it for the Ants on this round. Given Ophiuchus – Sagittarius – they went early and wrongly. Given Capricornus, the Lists made no mistake with Aquarius, to give constellations on the ecliptic. Fair enough. They hacked further into the Ant’s lead with the next set behind Flax – Randall Davidson – Nobody – Cosmo Lang -. A good set this. It’s the Nobody that really makes you think. They are obviously Archbishops of Canterbury, but what was nobody doing there ? They supplied the correct answer – Geoffrey Fisher – but not really the reason – this being that they carried out the coronations of the last 4 monarchs . Nobody crowned Edward VIII, see. Clever, that. That was it for the round, though. The last three sets neither team could take. The Ants found a set of pictures - diagrams of The Philippines – Russia – Indonesia. The Ants really didn’t know what came next, and although the Lists were closer, they went with rising populations, rather than coastlines of increasing length. Indonesia has the second longest, and Canada the longest. Behind Viper the Lists found 7=Wipeout – 8 = Puppetry – 9 = Etiquette . The connection was that these are all words of increasing length that can be written using only the top line of letters on a qwerty keyboard. So you could have 10 = typewriter ! Finally I think that both teams probably saw what the sequence was with Thomas Keller – Gordon Ramsay – Alain Ducasse, but neither knew that Joel Robuchon has more Michelin stars than anyone else. A good round, and the Lists had significantly narrowed the gap , so that the Ants now led by 6 to 4.
Round Three – The Connecting Walls
The Ants opted for Water. If they could score a maximum, then they would at the very least preserve a lead going into the final round, and as we’ve seen so often, anything can happen in the missing vowels. At first it didn’t look as if they would do it. They took a while to untangle – Ishmael – Flask – Ahab and Queequeeg – all character in Moby Dick. Then the set they knew was there – drinking vessels, finally emerged with Mazer – Chalice – Quaich – Kylix. They found Beaker – Burette – Condenser – all chemical equipment – and worked out that there was no way that four out of the other five could be one, so correctly plumped for cold finger. This left them with Popeye Doyle – Long John Silver – Wimpy and Starbuck, and with the last two they knew that we could only be dealing with restaurant chains named after fictional characters. A good job done, ten points earned, and a place in the final a distinct possibility now.
Not that the Lists were going to make it easy for them . They almost immediately found Rufus – Gordius – Brummie and Shed. They identified them to Victoria as Guardian crossword setters – and confessed that Jane’s husband also does this – although he’s not one of the four in the list ! Well, that’s how it goes. It’s all the luck of the draw as to which wall you get. Beauclerc – Harefoot – Lackland and Bolingbroke they knew were all names /nicknames of kings of England. Moonrakers – Scousers – Loiners and Mackems they knew as terms for inhabitants of particular parts of the country. As an aside, Victoria presented a really interesting TV show called Balderdash and Piffle a few years ago. This delved into the derivation of certain words and phrases within the OED, trying to update the earliest evidence of the word etc. – and Mackem was one of these words . Copland – Gallowgate – Holte End and The Shelf they knew as stands within football stadia. So they too earned a full set of 10
Going into the final round, a lead of 16 to 14 for the Ants did not look a very substantial amount at all. It honestly was anyone’s game.
Round Four – Missing Vowels
We kicked off with Operas premiered in Paris. The teams took one apiece, then Dave identified Lakme for the Lists. Les Troyens was missed by both. Wartime Poster slogans proved very much to the liking of the Listeners. They took 3 to the Ants’ 1, and this was enough to make them the leaders on the road. Female protagonists proved difficult for both teams. The Lists took 1. The Ants took 1. The Lists offered Lorelei , instead of Lorelei Lee, and this put both teams level. Then the defining moment of the show. The last category was Metric Units, and what they measure. Andrew knew we had Hertz – Frequency there, but you have to be so careful in this round. He said – if I’m right – Hertz Unit of Frequency, but the answer required was Hertz and Frequency. Yes, the margin between victory and defeat is sometimes no more than a couple of letters. The rules are that you lose 1 for an incorrect answer, and that was enough to give the win to the Antiquarians by 19 to 18. Very bad luck to the Listeners, but well done on giving a fine account of yourselves during the series. Good luck in the play off. As for the Antiquarians – well, I apologise for not making you one of my favourites for the final – and look forward to seeing you against next week’s winners, whoever they turn out to be.