Friday, 31 August 2012

Mastermind - Round 1 - Heat 4

Tonight, then , was the first time that I took the wiki challenge in any form. As things worked out, it was the very first specialist subject to be offered on tonight’s show. John Wheeler answered on that perennial Radio 4 favourite, the Shipping Forecast. This is one of those odd British institutions, which, although you might never use it yourself, it’s somehow comforting to know that it’s there. If you read my earlier post you’ll know that I’ve been through the Wikipedia page on the subject today, and even come up with my own set of questions. A few of them did occur in the round, and a couple of other things I didn’t turn into questions but could remember anyway from the page came up. I believe that I would have had three of them just from general knowledge anyway, but having taken the wiki challenge I managed 9, which wasn’t by any means a bad return. John scored a praiseworthy 13, which meant that he would still be in the shakeup whatever happened.

Laurie Handcock, our second contender, answered questions on The British Alpine Club. This one I didn’t fancy on my own knowledge, but I didn’t fancy wiki-challenging this one either, so I decided to wing it. I kind of guessed that the name Edward Whymper might give me my best chance of a point, and so I kept trotting this one out until it scored. I guessed another question as well, and so this meant that , with two decent subjects for me to come I was unlikely to have any pointless rounds tonight. Laurie kept his head, and picked his way carefully through what seemed to be a pretty wide ranging subject to score 11. Not out of it, certainly, but probably likely to have some work to do in the GK round.

Tonight’s dive into popular culture was presented by Katherine Palmer, who answered questions on 80’s popsters Duran Duran. This was my second most confident unwikied subject in tonight’s show, and there was quite a bit on offer for those who were never huge fans of the group, but were young in the early-mid 80s. I managed 8 . Which was precisely half the number that Katherine managed. Her 16 was a top notch round, and certainly seemed to put her into pole position, with one specialist round to go.

Shakespeare’s Comedies was my ‘banker’ subject of the 4 on offer tonight, even allowing for the fact that I had prepared for the Shipping Forecast, and hadn’t for this. It’s part of my day job, after all. Of the four of tonight’s contenders I felt that Alan was the most obviously affected by nerves. This seemed a very fair set of questions, and he missed a couple which I thought were very gettable. I’m not saying that 10 was not a good score, but I felt that with preparation a score in the teens would have been a fair one for that round. My unwikied score for it was 12. Yes, I’m pleased with myself for that, but then as I say, it is part of the day job. This meant that my aggregate total for tonight’s specialist rounds was 31.

Alan was first to return to the chair, which meant that he didn’t really have any time for his nerves to subside, It meant that the first half minute or so was very difficult for him. All the more to his credit, then, that he was able to focus, and start picking off the answers throughout the second half of the round. As we always say, anything in double figures is a perfectly respectable score, and Alan’s 11 put him through the 20 point barrier. Unlikely to win, but nowt to be ashamed of. I scored 17 on his round. Laurie Handcock did even better. His 13 points was a pretty good performance, which matched the highest GK round that we saw in last week’s show. It didn’t actually look like a winning score as such, since it still meant that Katherine only needed 9 to overhaul it, but then GK rounds can be funny things.I scored 19 on Laurie’s round.

If Laurie’s round made things a little more interesting, then John Wheeler’s round made things very interesting indeed. In a nutshell, John answered like a quizzer, and his knowledge was pretty wide ranging too. To put it into perspective, his score of 16 is the joint best GK round that we’ve seen this series . His total of 29 meant that Katherine needed to score 14 to win outright, a target which is more than enough to place a contender firmly within the corridor of uncertainty. John’s quick and crisp answers allowed me to really build up a head of steam, and I managed 21 on this round.

If John answered like a proper quizzer, then you have to be honest and say that Katherine did as well. I felt that the crunch came about a minute and a half into the round. She started very well, as many contenders do, but what was to win her the show was keeping a cool head when she had a couple of wrong answers, and picking up again as soon as more questions she knew the answers to came along. In the end she just fell short of John’s round , but a mighty 15 of her own meant that she scored 31, enough to give her the win with a little daylight between her and John. I managed 19 on this round. Well done to John, though, for I fancy that his 29 may well secure him a spot in the semis. As for Katherine , checking back through my records, 31 is the highest first round score for a lady contender in the current first round format that has been in place for the previous 2 series. Highly impressive – well done !

The Details

John Wheeler The Shipping Forecast13 - 216 - 329 – 5
Laurie HandcockThe British Alpine Club11 - 114 - 424 – 5
Katherine PalmerDuran Duran16 - 015 - 231 – 2
Alan HaddickShakespeare’s Comedies10 - 311 - 421 – 7

Mastermind - Wiki Challenge Accepted

Ok, tonight is Mastermind - huzzah ! - and I've had a look at the four subjects. I'll have a go at
Duran Duran
unprepared( they took their name from Barbarella's Nightclub - could that be the first question, do you think ? ) but I don't expect much there. I'm going to have a go unaided at
Shakespeare's Comedies.
I don't fancy
The British Alpine Club.
So, for my first attempt at the wiki challenge I'm going to have a go at
The Shipping Forecast.
Bearing in mind the terms of the challenge, I have restricted myself just to the wikipedia article about the same. In case you fancy having a go yourself, here's the list of questions I've prepared : -

Wiki Challenge – The Shipping Forecast – Questions

1. In the opening ceremony to the 2012 Olympics, the shipping forecast was played along with which piece of music to symbolize the British Isles ?
2. On whose behalf is the Shipping forecast broadcast on Radio 4 ?
3. At what precise time does the first broadcast of the day begin ?
4. What is significant about the 12:01 broadcast ?
5. The Shipping forecast is broadcast on its own , and also as part of which daily weekday programme ?
6. Which is the northernmost shipping area ?
7. Alphabetically which is the last shipping area ?
8. In 1955 which shipping area was created when Dogger was split into two areas ?
9. Which name was given to German Bight up until 1956 ?
10. In 1983 which shipping area was absorbed by Hebrides ?
11. Why was the name of Finisterre changed to Fitzroy ?
12. Admiral Fitzroy, after whom the sea area was named, was the captain of which famous naval expedition ?
13. Which shipping area is usually only mentioned in the 00:48 broadcast ?
14. Excluding the header line, what is the maximum number of words allowed for a broadcast of the shipping forecast ?
15. The General synopsis gives which three pieces of information for each area ?
16. Which word is used to indicate an anti clockwise change of wind direction ?
17. Which word is used to describe a clockwise change of wind direction ?
18. The word force is only normally used for winds of which number and above on the Beaufort Scale ?
19. On 10th January 1993, the forecast reported a record North Atlantic low pressure of what ?
20. Reports from which of the coastal stations are only included in the closedown version ?
21. Which was the first BBC channel to broadcast the shipping forecast, until 1939 ?
22. Which was the second channel to broadcast the BBC shipping forecast ?
23. On 23rd November 1978, Radio 4 took over the broadcasting of the shipping forecast from which other channel ?
24. What is the name of the piece of music which precedes the 00:48 broadcast of the forecast ?
25. Who composed the piece of music which precedes the 00:48 broadcast ?
26. What mistake occurred in the Friday 17 August 2007, 0520 forecast and data, as read by BBC Weatherman Philip Avery ?
27. Which song on Blur’s Parklife album contains several references to shipping forecast areas ?
28. Which group used references to the shipping forecast in their song “in Limbo” ?
29. Whose sonnet “The Shipping Forecast “ opens with the lines “"Dogger, Rockall, Malin, Irish Sea:Green, swift upsurges, North Atlantic flux
30. Which forecast is available daily on BBC iplayer ?

All of the answers are on the wikipedia page.Or you could email me if you're desperate for them - doubt it somehow.

Now, it's obvious they won't ask all of them - after all, you're only going to ask about one group,if any etc. Still , if I can get anything over a couple then that will be more than I'm sure I would have done anyway, and if I get over half a dozen I'll be delighted. Watch this space.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

50 Years of University Challenge

If you haven't listened to last Saturday Night's Radio 4 Archive on 4 show celebrating 50 years of University Challenge, can I suggest that you might well enjoy it, and point you in the direction of the iplayer ? I've read the 40 years of UC book, and seen TV documentaries about the show, but there were things I didn't know in this one. If nothing else you'll have the pleasure of hearing Russell Davies announcing the scores in my BoB final, when Anne, Rob and I were absolutely trounced by Ian. Ian is interviewed in the show in his role of coach to Oxford Brookes. There's an interview with Gail Trimble, and another notable to feature is former winner Sean Blanchflower, whose own website is the oracle for me on anything to do with UC, and if you've never been, you can find the link in my recommended links. Good show, a most pleasurable hour. I'll end with a paraphrase - I like the description of UC as a show which reminds you that the world is not actually going to hell in a handcart. Well said.

Destination Inner Swot

My father , whom I may have mentioned once or twice before in this very blog, was not a great quiz man. In fact of all my family, when we used to sit in the front of the telly watching quiz shows , he was the one who didn’t try shouting out the answers before the contestants. He just didn’t seem that interested. However, even my father had his little piece of trivia of which he thought himself to be the proud keeper, whose duty it was to disseminate this morsel to members of the general public. On several occasions I can remember him imparting this dubious gem to unsuspecting innocents, no matter what the actual subject of the conversation in hand was : -
”’Course, the closest that yer’ll ever get to the real Dracula was a man called Vlad the Impaler . . . used to go around impaling people. “
That was it. But the point is, that even as disinterested a person as my Dad had his little bit of trivia he had hoarded, and which he simply loved imparting to other people. Even my Dad had his own inner swot.

My theory – hmm, I’m sounding a little like Monty Python’s Miss Ann Elk here . She was the one who had the theory about the Brontosaurus, but I digress. My theory is that we all of us have an inner swot. Our inner swot is that part of us that will pick up and retain a tidbit of knowledge, and jealously keep it safe and secure in the hope that we will be able to parade it in front of others on an opportune occasion, thus impressing everyone, and earning universal admiration. Ok, a bit of an exaggeration, I agree, but you can see where I’m coming from. As I said, my Dad was not an armchair participant in TV quizzes, but had any of them ever asked – Which prince of Wallachia was supposedly the prototype for Dracula ?- or some other variation on the same theme, he’d have trotted out his favourite fact, and he’d have been in his oils.

Now, my Dad’s inner swot was probably seriously underdeveloped, bearing in mind the fact that he had such an adherence to just this one specific factlet, and I’d suggest that even an average person has a little store of favourite facts like this one. Ok – we are now starting to head in the general direction of the point. Tonight is the quiz in the rugby club, and I’m not sure if it’s supposed to be my turn. That’s why I put a quiz together today just in case. When I put a quiz together, I try to think, using my knowledge of many of the regulars who attend – what sort of thing might just appeal to the inner swot ? It doesn’t always work at all, but it does at least mean that you’re trying to put something together that might appeal.

Which I guess is part of the reason why the quiz I did in Spain last week didn’t really go off as well as I hoped. Not really knowing any of the participants very well, apart from the in laws, I had to take a wild stab at what might encourage the inner swots from their shells. So I put a few specifically Spanish questions in. Big mistake. They just weren’t interested. National bird of Spain ? Alright, so you’ve given me choices, but I just don’t care about the answer anyway. Paseo del Prado in Madrid ? What would I want to know about that for ?

I guess also that as well as questions and facts that can entice the inner swot from its shell, there are also questions that can send it into a coma. Probably it’s different questions which have this effect for different people. For me, it’s often the questions which start “In a recent survey . . . “

Breakaway - Another One That Got Away

We none of us have any God given right to appear on any particular show, and I have been much luckier in the past with getting onto shows than many people I know. So, when an audition doesn’t come off I’ve got no reason to complain. I say this because I heard today that my application to take part in Nick Hancock’s Breakaway had been unsuccessful.

After being invited to join a team for my first ever show, Come and Have A Go If You Think You’re Smart Enough, I was desperate to get onto other shows – any shows. Then after Mastermind my attitude changed a bit. I didn’t apply to any shows for a year after Mastermind, and in fact I didn’t originally apply for the next show that I was on, Are You An Egghead – they actually asked me to apply. I really wanted to play in Brain of Britain and Only Connect, and I’m delighted to say that both of those wishes were granted, and I was invited to play in Mastermind , Champion of Champions, all three of these shows being highly enjoyable experiences. After this my attitude has been that I’m not going to rule myself out of applying to any shows again, but I’m only going to apply to shows that I like, and that I think I’ll have fun on.

At the tail end of 2011 I was sounded out about the possibility of appearing on the Quiz Winners special for the last ever week of The Weakest Link. I’d have loved to have done it, but in the end the producers decided to go with others, which was fair enough. Then a few months ago my son Mike was desperate to apply to ‘Pointless’. I suggested that he might be a lot better off applying with somebody else, since I wouldn’t be surprised if my TV/Radio quiz CV might count against me. Mike insisted that he wanted to apply with me, though, so we went ahead with it. Never heard back. Then a couple of months ago a call went out for contestants for the second series of Breakaway. If you’ll recall I liked the show last year, and the contestant call said that previous experience on TV wouldn’t count against you. I recall as well that they had a quizzer of the calibre of Dave Bill on during last year’s series, so I thought, what the hell, and sent in an application, not expecting anything to come of it.

I was surprised to get invited to an audition in Cardiff, a few weeks ago. Now, my main aim from TV quizzes as I’ve already said is to have a bit of fun, so I made up my mind to enjoy the audition whatever happened, and never mind the consequences. If you’ve never had a TV quiz or game show audition before, well, they tend to follow a pattern. There were 6 of us being auditioned at the same time. We started with a warm up game, then each did a piece to camera. Now, some of the others had been chattier than others before the audition started, so one guy there had already told me that he’d been on 15 to 1 before. As the others went up to do their piece it swiftly became clear that they’d all been on TV before, and the guys running the audition wanted to talk about this as well as other things. So when I had my turn I came straight out with it about Mastermind. Cue looks from other auditionees. Which I am honest enough to admit I did quite enjoy.

The last part of the audition was a run through of the game. We didn’t start from the start, but from about a 3rd of the way through the game. We were specifically asked not to breakaway at the first breakaway point, but it came to the second, and that was it. I went for it. My feeling was that they were probably going to make up their minds about me from my piece to camera and my application form, and so I might as well have a bit of fun. So I did. I went through all the rest of the questions, and carried out a successful breakaway. And that, as it turned out, was the end of the audition. I’ll be honest, I can well see that if I was one of the other auditionees I’d have been pretty peed off at my behaviour, but I just couldn’t resist it.

As we left we were told that if we got on the show we’d be informed by telephone, and if we didn’t we’d be informed by email. Well, after what I’d done in the audition I was checking my inbox, and was therefore really surprised when , on the second day of my holiday in Spain, the kids told me that I’d had a phone call from Breakaway, wanting to check on my availability. I rang the number the kids gave me, and although neither of the names I’d been given was available I left a message to say when I’d be available.

Well, as I say, that was that until I had the email today. Either my dates are no good for them – a possibility, or on reflection they decided that they’d rather go with other people. Whatever the case, it doesn’t matter, and I enjoyed the whole process anyway. Good luck with the show, guys, and I’ll be looking forward to it .

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Round Up 4 - New Show - Don't Blow The Inheritance

I don’t always find it very easy to write an objective review of a show such as “Don’t Blow the Inheritance”. After all, as you know my preferences in a quiz show veer towards such gems as Only Connect, University Challenge, Mastermind, to name three. If a new quiz show is not of this ilk, then chances are that I’m not going to like it as much. This will obviously colour what I want to say about it. Yet, to use an analogy, would it be fair to decry the work of , for the sake of argument, Barbara Cartland, because it is not sufficiently like that of William Shakespeare ? While there are any number of things you might be tempted to say against the former, probably with good reason, the fact is that the context between the two is so different that comparisons between them become relatively meaningless. The question is not – how closely does the work of Barbara Cartland approach Shakespeare, but , how good an example of the genre within which she worked are her books. The intrinsic value of the genre within which she worked is a different question.

All of which I suppose is a long winded way of trying to say that I watched “Don’t Blow The Inheritance” for the first time today, and tried very hard to judge it for what it actually is, a tea time game show, rather than judging it against my hypothetical ideal of a quiz. If you haven’t seen it, basically Tim Vine presents a show whose contestants are four 2 person teams, consisting of grown up child and even more grown up parent, or grown up niece/nephew and even more grown up aunt/uncle. Until the final, the nippers have to decide whether their elder will know the answer to a question. If they think they will, then they can buzz in as soon as they please. Correct answers win £1000, and incorrect answers give everybody else £1000. At the end of each round the couple with the least amount of cash are out.

There’s a little variation between rounds – in round one it’s straightforward questions. I enjoyed round two most. There are 4 categories on the board, and the nippers pick out a category for each partner. So , when young Haydn chose ‘websites’ his mum Louise was asked for a list of the 10 countries who have the most users of Facebook. You can just keep shouting them out, there’s no penalty for wrong answers, and time is limited. Another category in yesterday’s show was the last ten winners of I’m A Celebrity. I liked this round , The semi final round gave up to three clues to a famous person – eg. – I married Kate Capshaw in 1981. ( Stephen Spielberg ). First to buzz in gets the chance to answer – right you get £1000, wrong they get £1000. As for the last round, well, in this round it’s down to the nipper alone. The younger member of the team has to answer 5 questions correctly. When they give their first wrong answer the money they have won throughout the show drops away at the speed of about £200 a second. Once they have answered 5 correctly, whatever is left is theirs. Once the money has completely gone, then that’s it. The game is over.

That’s the mechanics of the show. It’s pretty simple, and none the worse for that. On the positive side I liked the list round in round 2, which has good play at home value. The endgame as well is rather more tense than I expected – wondering whether all £17000 would disappear before the poor girl would get the 5 answers she needed. ( It did. ) Rounds one and three were ok as well, albeit nothing that special. So there’s nothing in the basic machinery of the show that prevents it from being a watchable example of the genre. I don’t know that they’re milking the gimmick – the generation gap within each team – all that confidently. For most of the show these people don’t really even need to be related. They might just as well have brought along their slightly brainier friend. Having said that there was just a hint of what might be at the end of round two where the Dad complained to his daughter for picking the category Will Smith films, when he felt sure he would have done better with Madonna. Still, I’ve only seen the one show.

This is not to say that she show is without its problems. It’s desperately slow in places, even for this particular genre. This stems in part I think from the fact that it has something of an identity crisis. It is a weekday, teatime, mid prize range show. However it seems to think that it is a prime time Saturday Night gameshow extravaganza. From the late 1970s. Maybe this is Tim Vine’s fault. I can’t quite make up my mind whether his desperate flogging of the dead carcases of the show’s catchphrases is meant to be ironic, or whether he really does believe that yelling such doggerel as - we lose a team – it’s the end of a dream – adds something to the show. Let’s be honest, even doddery ( yes, Brucie , doddery you are ) old Brucie doesn’t really get away with this sort of thing any more. I’m not necessarily knocking Tim Vine , either. I think that given the choice, I’d rather have him than brother Jeremy, but it might be worth his while watching Bradley Walsh on the Chase as a good example of how a comedian can present a game show, still get a few laughs, but not get in the way of the show. While I’m on the subject as well, I know that a certain amount of ‘let’s meet the teams’ is still expected in shows of this genre, but this tends to take it to extremes. The consequence is that it’s an easy show to watch On Demand, with the remote in your hand, and your finger poised above the fast forward button.

So to my overall verdict. I’m not a huge lover of the quiz game show genre, and I’m not a huge lover of this show. That doesn’t matter really, because I wasn’t expecting to like it very much. What did surprise me was that I felt that there were a couple of quite strong games within the show, though. Comparing it to a few of the recent ITV tea time quiz games, this wasn’t mean spirited like Divided, which I hated. It isn’t unnecessarily fussy through trying to do too much in the time available, like the Fuse, which I quite liked. It isn’t built all around a boring and rather pointless game, like Tipping Point, which I felt was dreary. It doesn’t have anything like as much for the quizzer as The Chase, though. Nonetheless, the show has a chance. What I will say, though, is that it’s a show which has at most 25 minutes’ worth of questions, and a good 20 minutes of padding, and this is not a very good ratio at all. Will it come back after this series ? The coin is in the air as far as I’m concerned.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Round Up 3 - University Challenge - Round One - Heat 5

Queen Mary College, London v.Jesus College, Oxford

I confess that I did watch this one last night from the comfort of the in laws air conditioned front room in San Isidro. I was pleased to see a college of London University in the mix tonight. QMC has many distinctions, but close to home, the fact is that my Mum worked for several years in their Accomodation service. So they were of course doomed before the start, being cursed with support from the Clark sofa. Benefitting from this windfall were Jesus College, Oxford. The only college founded during the reign of Elizabeth the 1st was one of the interesting facts which JP gave us, which slightly mitigated my disappointment that once again their was no team member named Jones for them. Speaking of which ,the Queen Mary team consisted of Patrick Woodburn, Alastair Haigh, Michael Hammond, and their captain , Luca Cavalli, while Jesus were represented by Matt Hitchings, Frankie Goodway, Johnny Woodward and skipper Guy Brindley. Let’s go.

’A Scandal in Belgravia’ which was the second story title to pass JP’s lips gave me , and I suspect thousands of fans the name Sherlock Holmes. Unfortunately Matt Hitchings just offered Sherlock, which lost him 5, and let in Alastair Haigh to supply the surname and take the first starter. We had a UC special set of bonuses early doors tonight, with clues to male names in places – eg Fort William etc. The first two fell, but they missed out on St. PETERsburg- PETERborough. Never mind. Guy Brindley knew that the Lion of the North was otherwise known as King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden. This brought up Jesus’ first set of bonuses on flowers in Shakespeare. I didn’t know eglantine, but had the other two. Jesus missed out on a tricky set. Matt Hitchings atoned for his earlier error with the term tension for the next starter. Bonuses on British Islands and their wildlife brought them two bonuses, and a lot of forward momentum. Again, it was Matt Hitichings who buzzed in to take the next starter. Given a quotation from a playwright referring to his own work, he correctly judged that the work must be ‘Waiting for Godot’, and gave us the correct answer of Samuel Beckett.For his pains this brought up a set on fluvial geography. You pays yer money . . . Neither QMC, nor DGC ( me ) had a Scooby Doo, and didn’t bother to trouble the scorer. Traditionally it’s usually at this time that the first picture starter is revealed, and last night was no exception. We were given a map of western Europe with some red dots. ‘Cities of Culture’ shouted my Mother in Law, niftily beating me, and Patrick Woodburn to it. More maps with just two dots of two cities were revealed, both of which had been capitals of culture. I had Rotterdam and Porto, Jenny had none, but QMC had the first . A chemistry thing came next. Johnny Woodward gave the answer redox, which was certainly in the ball park so it seemed, but wasn’t acceptable, and QMC were unable to take it. So right on the 10 minute mark QMC had the narrowest possible lead, with 35 points to 30.

My mother in law, to my chagrin, also took the next starter, which described an artichoke. Nobody on either team got it. The impressive Matt Hitchings knew that if you put the latin word qua with rk you get a quark. Believe me, the question was a lot more difficult than it sounds from my description. The following set of bonuses on writer’s block proved difficult , and I don’t blame them for not getting any. In fact generally I found last night’s a little more difficult than any of the shows so far. Mind you, both teams missed out a gettable starter on Thomas Cromwell. One said More, the other Wolsey. Ah, all those Thomases belonging to Henry VIII. Poor man had a thing about Thomases. And Katherines. As an interesting aside, It was all Francises by Elizabeth Ist’s time, but I digress. Johnny Woodward knew that Christine Lagarde headed up the IMF in 2011. This brought up a good set on monarchs and their relationship. The second bonus – Henry II and Edward I was a wee bit tricky , and I was glad to get great grandfather. They managed one. It was Matt Hitichings who buzzed in to know that the Cenozoic, given as an example, is an Era, and in what had seemed a close contest earlier it seemed as if Jesus were beginning to exert a stranglehold upon the starters. Maths bonuses followed, of which Jesus managed to answer 2. We were treated to a music starter next . At first I thought it was Frank Sinatra, but I could see my mother in law getting ready to leap in, so I blurted out Tony Bennett. Good guess, which eluded both teams. Matt Hitchings jumped in too early on the next starter, which gave a list of place names – eg the Aboriginal name for Ayers Rock, and the capital of Uzbekistan, and asked for the connection. He went for ending in A, and knew it was wrong as soon as he said it. This let in Alastair Haigh, who knew that they started and ended with the same letter – Uluru , Tashkent eg. It had been a while since QMC had been offered a tilt at some bonuses. They were given the Tony Bennett set, with three duets from his recent album, and asked to name the other singer. Knowing that she had sung on the album, I answered the late Amy Winehouse to all of them, thus gaining correct answer to the last of them. QMC also had Andrea Bocelli for the second. A good set for them which narrowed the gap to less than a starter and full set. Well, Michael Hammond took the starter, correctly interrupting with the answer of Vivaldi to the composer ordained in Venice etc. I wonder if their hearts sank, as did mine, when they were told that the bonuses were about the artist Maggie Hambling. No disrespect to the lady, but I would never take her as a specialist subject on Mastermind. Funnily enough I did actually see her portraits of Max Wall in that exhibition ( which actually was surely in the National Portrait Gallery rather than the National Gallery itself – small point, but still, come on ) QMC took the two that they needed to draw level with Jesus. Alright, it wasn’t a very high scoring show, but it was an absorbing contest. It seemed as if Jesus got the message at this point. As soon as JP had said ‘Pacific . . . giant sculptures’ Johnny Woodward interrupted correctly with Easter Island. A UC special set followed. What were required were shorter words that could be made with any of the nine letters of epeolatry. What ? No idea. I’ll come back to that a little later. Didn’t matter . Opal – Pelota and Rote followed, two of which were managed by Jesus. I knew that John Bunyan wrote ‘Grace Abounding’ and also that a bunion is not a thing you want to have on your foot. So did Frankie Goodway. Thi8s pushed Jesus a little further away, and introduced a set of bonuses on geology.I didn’t know them, they didn’t either, and so on the 20 minute mark Jesus had a lead of 30 points, with 100 to 70. It didn’t look a lot, but this wasn’t a high scoring match, and they certainly had the momentum.

The second picture starter showed a picture from a well known novel, and asked for the name of the illustrator. I knew it was John Tenniel, but I got into a pointless argument with my mother in law about whether it was from Alice in Wonderland or Alice Through The Looking Glass . ( Rough rule of thumb – cards – Wonderland, chess – Looking Glass ). Neither knew it. Then neither team knew about the number of positive cubes needed to make 23. Not surprised. Then we had the hattrick when neither team knew that the word omelette takes its name from the shape of the dish. Johnny Woodward stopped the rot, taking the next on something to do with time, distance and acceleration. The picture bonuses then followed, with more illustrations inspired by the Alice books. 1 was taken. Reliable Matt Hitchings knew that the last male player to complete the set of career grand slam tennis singles titles was Rafael Nadal. A set of bonuses on alloys proved interesting, and I had 2, as did Jesus. Neither team knew about making surgical incisions in the eardrum. Johnny Woodward applied another nail to QMC’s coffin, knowing that the probe named after a greek goddess, sent to Jupiter must be Juno. A nice set on authors whose names began with Eu followed, and they took 2. I didn’t know Bishop Eusebius myself, although I did think that he was the top scorer in the 1966 World Cup finals. With a lead of 85 points Jesus looked home and dry. Which regular viewers will know is often the point at which the trailing team start to find their range with the buzzer. Asked for a double U word, Matt Hitchings buzzed too early with vacuum, which allowed in Alastair Haigh with continuum. Chemistry bonuses yielded nothing, but they were on the march. Patrick Woodburn knew the spirit Ariel linked Shelley and Plath. The set on US presidents wasn’t a gimme set, but they needed to have them all instead of just the first two. Luca Cavalli took QMC’s 3rd starter on the bounce, knowing that Elvis sang about moons, shoes and Christmases which were all blue. I bet they were cursing their luck at landing a series of bonuses on dressmaking terms. They’d probably have been better just quickly saying pass to each one. No more points. Neither team knew that the word cataclysm comes from the greek for deluge. Michael Hammond continued the charge by knowing the term mixed economy. But that was it. The gong ended the contest before a single bonus could be asked. Jesus won by 150 to 120. A close game.

Well played both teams – congratulations Jesus, and good luck in the next round. In all honesty I find it difficult to gauge their strength as a team. As I say I found this a little harder than the other shows, and although their score isn’t huge, I still didn’t feel that they were as profligate with the bonuses as some of the teams already through in this series. Well, time will tell.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

I had a little chuckle about JP’s pronunciation of the River Teifi. Look – I’ve lived here for 26 years, and I don’t get it right, but when he said ‘The River Teethy’ ! my welsh Mother in Law shouted words to the effect of ,’It’s Tie – V you wally !’ Those are her words, JP, if you’re reading, and not mine.

I liked the respectful use of the more formal ‘Mr. Bennett’ when referring to the singer. Almost Robert Robinsonesque, that.

Finally, just a tiny baring of teeth from JP came when QMC answered ‘pizza’ to the omelette question. JP chuckled and then replied ‘ No, not pizza. . . I know it features largely in your life. “ Miaow.

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

Epeolatry is the correct term for the worship of words.

Round Up 2 - Only Connect - Heat 1

The Joinees v. The Draughtsmen

Ah, the ever popular Monday evening double whammy of UC and OC swings back into action ! First in the lists for series six were the Joinees, and the Draughtsmen. The Joinees were Se├ín Gleeson, Rachel Burns and their captain, Dave James.They were united by having all met through Join Me. Right, do you know about Join Me ? If not – well get hold of a copy of Danny Wallace’s book of the same name. It’s a terrific read anyway, and it will clue you right in.

The Draughtsmen had a few familiar faces , to say the least. LAM regular Andy Tucker was runner up in last year’s Mastermind. Andy – threatening to kill Victoria on the very first show – that’s going too far, sir ! Steve Dodding is a very well known and highly rated and respected quizzer. AS for their skipper, Iwan Thomas, well, he won a little competition called Brain of Britain in 2011. You had to feel sorry for the Joinees, coming up against such a supercharged team in their very first match. Still, the Joinees are all nice guys because they are part of Join Me. They could cope.

Round One – What’s the Connection ?

The Draughtsmen kicked off with the Horned Viper, and the first set of the new series was a little cracker, too. The team were given three phrases, one after another – which were something like – Voce esta demitido ( I can’t be bothered with all of those fiddly accents – sorry ) – Estas Despedido – Sie Haben Frei – Now at first the guys were thinking along the Esperanto line, and I have to say I was barking up that tree myself until the third , which looked like German to me. Andy threw in that they were all ways of saying ‘You’re Welcone’, but wrongly. When the Joinees were given’ You’re Dismissed’ as well, they got it that they are all different ways of saying ‘You’re fired’ in different languages. As a nice touch they even brought Lord Sugar into their answer. You’re dismissed is the South African version. Nice. The Joinees found the pictures behind Lion. Lord Snowdon – Hugh Laurie and Dan Snow gave it to me, and I suspect most of the regular quizzers watching, that we were dealing with the Boat Race. I didn’t recognize the Winkelvoss Twins, but the others did it for me, and for the Draughtsmen as well, who took back that bonus.

Andy showed his class with the next clue. Given periods of meditation, and Trading at the New York Stock Exchange, he knew that both of them start and end with a bell. Behind the eye of Horus the Joinees found these – The Treachery of Images – French Fries – Saxophone and Tintin. I had an inkling at French fries, which was confirmed by Tintin. I think it worked like this for the Joinees as well, who had a point for the fact that all of them were created by Belgians.

Of the last pair, the Draughtsmen picked Two Reeds, and were given the music for their pains. We began with Blueberry Hill, then heard some raspberry blowing , and, just as I said the answer, they buzzed in on berries. Quite right too. This left the Joinees with water, and I had an inkling on the second clue, confirmed by the third clue this time. Their four clues were Family Planning, the Nazi Symbol for Political Prisoners, The Oldest British Trademark, and Youth Hostel. The four were enough to give the Joinees a point. So I was glad that the Joinees were not being blown away, although the Draughtsmen led by 7 to 3

Round Two – What Comes Fourth ?

Iwan kicked off with Horned Viper again. First we were given Sext ( oo, Matron ), and it sounded like Andy had the connecting principle – hours of the church. Next were revealed None, then Vespers. The team all plumped for Prime, wrongly as it turned out. The principle was absolutely correct, but as Victoria explained to both teams, after Vespers it is Compline. No points for anyone. The Joinees took Twisted Flax, and began with Comte – ‘allo',- I thought,- 'ranks of French nobility' , as you do. Marquis looked good, and I know the Joinees were thinking along the same lines. A rush of blood to the head saw them offer up Dauphin, which passed the set over to the Draughtsmen. As expected they were given Duc, but tried their arm with Roi – king. Actually the Joinees were probably closer with Dauphin, but that was specifically the Crown Prince, the eldest son of the King. Simple Prince would do.

The Draughtsmen picked water and began with 4: Adenine, and immediately they knew this was a chemistry thingy, then 3:Niacin ‘B1 – Thiamine ‘ I shouted, and when Iwan buzzed in and said the same thing, I went on a lap of honour around the living room, my guess that these were B vitamins paying off. Come on – a science connection ? Me ? Off two clues ? I am making the most of it, because it’s an only child. The Joinees took Eye of Horus, and got one of those ‘could be anything’ clues with 2000. Mind you, the second clue XP did give the game away. Except , which would it be ? Vista – Explorer ? – Seven ? I plumped for Seven, and guessed rightly. It wasn’t a guess on the Joinees’ part, and they took it off just the two clues. Good game.

The Draightsmen made their last choice of the round with Lion. Bad came up first. Feeling a little headstrong I shouted ‘Michael Jackson Albums', and threw in ‘HIStory’. Well, I wouldn’t have chanced my arm in the studio, but it was worth a guess. Dangerous told me I was on the right lines. Unfortunately the Draughtsmen must have heard me, and they too plumped for HIStory. Which was actually the third in the sequence. Given a chance for a bonus the Joinees couldn’t remember Invincible. Still, they still had a shot at the pictures behind Two Reeds. A single bed, a copper saucepan, and Jonathan Edwards in the Triple Jump were revealed, leading the Joinees, and me , to suspect we were looking at single, double, triple. We were all right to do so, and the last picture represented quadruple time. A timely answer, which meant that the scores at the end of the round the Draughtsmen had a much more slender lead, with 10 points to the Joinees 8.

Round Three – The Connecting Walls

The Joinees picked the Lion Wall . Immediately they saw a set of Ben Elton Novels . Trouble was there were too many of them, and they couldn’t get the right four. Rachel though noticed a set of four chicken dishes, Tatsuta, Maryland, Coronation and Popcorn, also eliminating a Ben Elton title. I was shouting that Parker – Stark – Kent and Banner – superhero alter-egos would eliminate Stark for them as well. They didn’t notice it then, but managed to separate Chart Throb, Meltdown, High Society and Gridlock for the Ben Eltons. They got it then, which left Floating, Keyword, Pop up and interstitial – all forms of online advertising. A very good full house on the wall.

The Draughtsmen were given water. Incidentally, when we played the Alesmen in our semi in series 4, Gary gave them the water wall on the principle that ale and water shouldn’t mix. Would it upset the Draughtsmen ? Probably not, so it seemed. They’d hardly started and they’d already separated a set of Old Testament books – Esther, Job, Micah and Judges. They were looking for a set of Pan's People from early doors ( many of us gentlemen of a certain age have done that in our time too ) Flick, Dee Dee, Ruth and Babs were the particular People in question. I could see a cluster of bombs as one of the two remaining sets – in fact cluster was one of the options. Soon they teamed it with cherry, atom and stink. They had already worked out that the remaining clues – temper, bearings, marbles and grip were all things a person could lose. So another full house. 18 played 20 – what a cracking game to begin the series.

Round Four – Missing Vowels

Either team could win this show, depending on how quickly they could buzz in. The first set were cleaning products. The Draughtsmen stumbled on scouring powder, lost a point , and handed it over. All square. Did this make the D’s dwell on the buzzer a bit ? Who knows, but the Joinees took the next three. Second category was Hans Christian Anderson Fables, and it went 2 apiece. The Joinees still led, and time was coming close. The third category was Crustaceans ( Kings Crustacean and Charing Crustacean were not asked for ) Andy took a velvet crab, but oh, the team took too long on woodlouse and handed the whip hand back to the Joinees. They took the next two, and it looked all up for the Draughtsmen. They were six points behind as we went into colours. So what did they do ? A complete shut out. We went into a fifth category, with only 2 points between the teams, and possibly only seconds to go. Ironically the next set was Biblical Miracles. The Joinees failed on Parting of the Red Sea, which the Draughtsmen had. I made it all square. I bet the next correct answer is the end – I thought. Neither knew Gideon’s Fleece, but the Draughtsmen buzzed for it and lost a point. Andy took Raising of Tabitha – and that was that. A tie ! Tie breakers , then, are captain’s only . 1 clue , no connection. It took a while, but it was Iwan who was in first with The Hand Is Quicker Than The Eye. Oh, Joinees ! My heart goes out to you. You played so well, and not only that, you did it against such a good team. Many , many congratulations. Many congratulations as well to the Draughtsmen, and their nerves of steel.

What a fantastic show ! Keep it up !

Round Up 1 - Mastermind Round 1 - Heat 3

Yes, I’m back. I know that I have a bit of catching up to do, so let’s start with last Friday’s Mastermind. First to go was Roland McFall. Now, I thought that this name rang a bell, and a quick search through my records reveals that Roland competed in the 2010/11 series of University Challenge as a member of the St. Edmund’s Hall team. They were knocked out by a good team from Downing, Cambridge in the first round. I’m always glad to see a UC old boy taking on the quite different challenge that is posed by the black chair. Roland’s subject was the band Radiohead. I confess that I didn’t take the wiki challenge for this show, so I had to be satisfied with my 2 points. At several points during his round Roland seemed to have the answer on the tip of his tongue without being able to cajole it any further, and he finished with a respectable 10, which nonetheless seemed to guarantee that he would be playing catch up in the second half.

There was one specialist subject I fancied going into the show, and one I half fancied. The one I half fancied was offered to us by Graeme Marley. The Sherlock Holmes stories are favourites of mine, but, and this needs to be stressed to anyone who has ever considered going in for this subject – there are an awful lot of them. I crave your indulgence for a moment. One of my earliest experiences of quiz success was in the Elthorne High School six form Mastermind competition in 1981. I was in the lower sixth, and amongst my rivals was an exceptionally bright upper sixth former called Emma Rushton – who certainly went on to either Oxford or Cambridge. If I recall correctly, Emma opted for the Sherlock Holmes stories. By which she meant the 4 novels. However the question setter had also included the 56 short stories. A salutary lesson for anyone thinking of going into the show proper, there. As for Graeme, he had some nastily long questions, and by crikey you needed to really know the details of the stories to get into double figures. I managed just two. Graeme managed his double figures, with 10, but I couldn’t help wondering if he might come to regret that 5 passes he had incurred.

AS for the subject that I fancied, well, that was The Goodies, and it was the specialist subject of Sarah Lefevre. As it turned out, my round was pretty much the opposite of Sarah’s. I scored 8 points, by getting a few of the programme details right, and pretty much all of the peripherals, about shows that had appeared on before etc. Sarah did a lot better getting pretty much all of the programme details right, and only missing out on a couple of the peripherals. 13 and no passes gave her a handy cushion over the two previous contenders, and for my money at least would give her a shout in the GK round. All depending on the last contender.

This was Aidan McQuade. Aidan’s subject of Michael Collins didn’t offer me many possibilities, and I was delighted, and surprised, to get a couple of them – which gave me no pointless rounds. Aidan’s was clearly the pick of the specialist rounds in this show. He picked up one pass, but 15 correct answers in what sounded a difficult round to my untutored ears put him into pole position. Still, with two and a half minutes on GK, all things are possible.

Roland McFall was the first to put this old axiom to the test. As a TV competitor with ‘previous’ he put on a good performance I thought. The main thing with these rounds is cracking on, and answering what you can. You just can’t dwell on previous wrong answers or passes, for that way lays the road to pass hell. Alright, 13 isn’t going to be the highest GK round we see this series, but it was enough to put even Aidan into the corridor of uncertainty. Graeme Marley seemed more obviously ill at ease than Roland, but the main thing was that he kept answering. It didn’t, if I’m honest, look a great round, and yet the score kept mounting, and he reached a perfectly respectable 12 by the buzzer. It put him a point behind Roland.

Occasionally the order for the second round works out exactly as that of the first round, and this was just such a show. Sarah Lefevre had a three point cushion over Roland at the halfway stage, and required a score of 11 to go into the outright lead. I’m afraid that she didn’t have a great round. She fell into a pass spiral at an early point in the round, and it is actually to her credit that she managed to pull herself out of this. At one stage she mouthed – I do know this -. Sarah, if it’s any consolation at all we have all been in that position, and there’s nothing you can do with it when the recall just won’t work for you. Don’t beat yourself up over it. At the end of the round Sarah’s total had risen to 19. Aidan’s task was pretty straightforward. He had to go for the win, for it was now pretty clear that the second place in this show is highly unlikely to be in the running for a runner up slot. 8 correct answers and fewer than 4 passes would be enough. 9 correct answers and as many passes as he pleased would also do the job. Again, I don’t know if it was nerves – I can understand this. I always preferred setting a score to chasing one, myself – still, Aiden struggled to impose himself on this round. I felt that all of the four GK rounds were much of a muchness in terms of difficulty, and my scores for each were , in order, 20,19,16 and 19. To cut a long story short, Aidan struggled, but he didn’t panic, he didn’t fall into pass hell, and he answered 9 questions correctly, to give him the win. Well played, and an exciting show. As a rather pointless footnote, my unwiki-ed aggregate on the specialists in this show was 14.

The Details

Roland McFallRadiohead10 - 313 - 223 – 5
Graeme MarleyThe Sherlock Holmes stories of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle10 - 512 - 322 - 7
Sarah Lefevre The Goodies13 - 06 - 619 - 6
Aidan McQuadeMichael Collins15 - 19 - 524 – 6

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Happy 40th - Bridgend and District Quiz League

Like buses, you wait around for a big quiz for ages, and then two come along at the same time. I knew that the CIU finals in Derby are a week tomorrow on the 2nd September. What I didn´t realise was that the very next day is the Muriel Williams in Bridgend.

I knew it´s alwaysin September, but I didn´t know it was going to be quite so early this year. Or maybe it was said in the AGM, and I´ve just forgotten since, which come to think of it is far more likely. Anyway, that´s what the league´s website is for.

The Muriel Williams is a quiz which serves as an open quiz , and also as the registration night for the Bridgend Quiz League. This year is the 40th Anniversary of the league, and so the Muriel Williams night a week on Monday will be a night of special celebrations. To whit, the services of Mr. Mark Labbett as guest of honour have been engaged for the evening. Which is really why I´m writing. If you live within a reasonable travelling distance of Bridgend and you fancy an evening out you´d be really welcome. The quiz is being held at the Tondu Railway Club and it kicks off at 8pm. There´s no charge for the buffet, and there is absolutely no obligation to register as a team in the league - just come along and play. On the other hand, if you´d like to play in the league, then why not come along on the night - there´s bound to be a team there who will be glad of your services during the season, whatever your level of knowledge, experience and ability.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Familiar Faces - Only Connect

I don´t know if you´ve seen any of the adverts for the new series of Only Connect ( starts this Monday ) I´ve seen the ad a couple of times now, and it shows several teams from the new series. One of which contains none other than our very own Brian Pendreigh, and also Chris Brewis, organiser and compere of the ever popular and highly contested CIU quiz tournament every year ( which come to think of it is very nearly upon us).

I promise not to curse you with the Clark Tip, but I wish you, and of course any other regular LAM readers taking part in the series the very best of retrospective luck.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Being Fair To Pointless

When I´m on holiday I am extremely susceptible. By this I mean that I´ll read almost anything, and pretty much suspend my normal critical filters, and just be open to the experience. When I´m here in Spain, if there´s any redeeming feature of a book at all, then I´ll find it. In the same way I´ll often watch and enjoy things on television which I´m not normally in the habit of watching back home. For example, I never watch "Deal or No Deal " or "Come DIne With Me" back home, but in previous years when the in laws were living in the Casa Me Duck I´d always arrange to be safely out of the pool in time for my daily fix.

This having been said I am in no way suggesting that I ever thought that "Pointless" is not a very good show. That was obvious from the first series. Still, I never got into the habit of watching it at home. Which didn´t stop me applying for an audition, if truth be told. It happened like this. A year or two ago my son Mike told me that he´d really like to go on the show, and he asked me to apply with him. I wouldn´t go so far to say that I begged him to ask someone else to apply with him, but I did tell him that in my opinion he´d stand far more chance of getting on the show if he didn´t apply with me. He persisted though, and to be honest I´d love the opportunity to play in a show alongside Mike. We never heard back, anyway.

As I say, I never quite developed the habit of watching the show at home, partly, I suppose, due to the fact that it´s scheduled in that awkward slot when I might well not be home from work. Still, my mother in law - who is the Guardian of the Remote in her house - loves it, and so I´ve watched every edition since we arrived last week. And I just have to say, what an engaging show it is. I´m currently feeling very smug having picked three out of three pointless answers for yesterday´s final - naming three pointless answers for losing finalists in the world snooker championships, and then managing to get one pointless answer for naming a celebrity who appeared as him/herself in Ricky Gervais´and Stephen Merchant´s Life´s Too Short.

It´s not difficult to see the appeal of the show. Amongst its positive features are the fact that the questions and the games require actual knowledge and skill. Alright, while I can easily accept that there may be times when the pair with the widest and deepest general knowledge don´t win, I think that it´s a show which definitely rewards wide knowledge, and I like that. I like Alexander Armstrong very much - I used to enjoy his shows with Ben Miller - and I think his double act with Richard Osman is highly effective. To give Richard Osman his due as well, while I occasionally find some of his rejoinders to contestants a little glib, I have to say that he does come up with something usually very funny in each show that I´ve seen. The chemistry between presenter and pointless friend works perfectly in the context of the show. What I´ve noticed watching the last few shows as well is the fact that there is a tactical side to the game too. In almost ever show I´ve seen at least one couple come unstuck through taking a flyer on an obscure answer, and ending up with 100 points, when playing safe with a relatively popular answer would have seen them home and dry. I´ve also seen teams picking popular culture and entertainment subjects for the final, and getting absolute stinkers. If I ever did go on the show , and if I ever did get through to the final, I would be tempted myself to pick the most obscure subject on the board, working on the basic premise that if it´s difficult and obscure to you, hopefully it should be so to the general public.

What has really surprised me, though, is the fact that I´ve even found myself getting interested in the personalities of some of the teams involved. This is not like me at all. I´ve always said that I don´t want to know anything about the teams in quiz shows other than their ability to answer the questions they´re asked. Actually , on this score I could still do without ´Zander asking the team who get through to the final what they´re going to do with the cash. Still, the fact that there are two to a team means that you can become interested in the dynamic between them. Case in point. Today´s show was the second show to feature two students, who were called Charlotte and Lucy. Yesterday they were taken out in the first round by a question about the towns and cities where specific football grounds were located. Bad luck that. Today they made it through to the round of three, which featured last lines of famous movies. The last lines were given. Each team had to pick one, and first of all correctly answer which movie it came from, and then hope that it had gained less points than the others. The first of the team had a terrific answer, picking out that a line which had the name Jem in it came from "To Kill A Mockingbird". Two points only. The first team had scored 34 points, and the last team came up with a cracker as well, and scored just the 1. The second board with last lines seemed a bit harder to me. The team who went third now went first, and the other team member struck out, and earned 100 points. So all the other member of the team I was following had to do was to answer one correctly and get less than 99 points. She then struck out and what is worse, she knew that she was going to do so as well, since she said that she thought that her answer was probably going to lose her a best friend. The last team gave a safe answer, and so my team were out. What was fascinating was that neither the director, the camera operators, nor ´Zander and Richard made any effort to hide the fact that the one team member seemed thoroughly disgusted with her friend. In fact they drew attention to it. Her applause for the other two teams was understandably half hearted, and she didn´t manage to raise even the ghost of a smile. How many shows would let you actually see that happening, I wonder ?

So, as I say, this holiday has made me confront the fact that this is actually a terrific show which I probably haven´t given its due in the past.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

- and Some Fell on Stony Ground

Many years ago, when I was following my Postgraduate Certificate in Education to qualify as a teacher, my tutor for the English part of the course was a gentleman - and I use this word advisedly, for a gentleman he certainly was - called Gilbert Bennett. Mr. Bennett had retired a year or two previously , but responded to an SOS call from the University to shepherd us through the first half or so of the course. Some of us on the course could be quite bolshie at times, and there were times when it would become fairly obvious that we, wet behind the ears and full of ourselves as some of us were, quite clearly disagreed with some of his ideas about teaching. On such occasions he would look at us more in sorrow than in anger, shake his head, look down to his shoes, and whisper the words, "And some fell on stony ground.". I think, thiss evening, I can appreciate exactly where he was coming from.

We´ve just said adios amoebas to the other participants in La Gran Tarde del Concurso. How did it go ? Well - OK , I thought immediately afterwards. Only now, well, I´m not so sure. The use of multiple choice questions was highly sensible . As for the smut, well I thought I´d misjudged it until I first asked how many moons circle Uranus, and followed it up by asking what the best thing to do with Lord Hereford´s Knob is - the best of the choices being to sit on top of it and admire the view, being as it is a mountain about 7 km from Hay on Wye.

However, and it pains me to admit this, but the fact is that the most successful part of the quiz was nothing really to do with me. I hadn´t done a handout, but Mary came up with a list of 20 famous people, and all the teams had to take it in turns to say whether the named celebrity was still alive, or had passed away. A little ghoulish, perhaps, but it kind of followed on from a conversation in the local cafe yesterday where one of the people who was coming to the quiz asked me, apropos of nothing, whether Geoff Capes is still alive. Mary didn´t put the former World´s Strongest Man into the list, but the ones she did seemed to go down really well.

As I´m sitting here, writing this, it seems that the post mortem has begun. I´ve just been told that the questions were far too hard ( that´s why they were multiple choice , d´oh !) Hmm . well, I´m not being funny, but the boys scored 47 out of 60 and the girls got 48 out of 60. Hardly pathetic scores, wouldn´t you say ? Apparently both teams would have been in the mid 50s had they not thrown away correct answers. You can tell that they aren´t experienced quizzers, can´t you ? Because , as we all know , that´s what quizzing is actually like ! You do get bloomin´ frustrated sometimes when the correct answer is on the table, but it doesn´t go down on the paper. As I´ve just been trying to explain, only on a very few occasions have i had every question right in a pub quiz - and on these rare occasions it was actually a rather boring evening.

What was a little sad was the fact that only two of them bothered to say thank you for doing the quiz. Don´t get me wrong, I wasn´t expecting a standing ovation, but it would have been nice if the others had shown maybe just a tiny bit of recognition that I did spend a couple of hours putting the quiz together in order to give them an evening´s entertainment - even if they maybe didn´t really enjoy it that much. Still, it´s all proof that quizzing isn´t for everyone, I suppose.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

La Gran Tarde del Concurso

Since you´re asking I went furniture hunting in La Marina and Dolores this morning. Well , I say that, but really and truly I was just along for the ride. But you don´t really want to know about that. So I´ll tell you about La Gran Tarde del Concurso, which is the closest my one term`s lessons Spanish will get me to The Great Quiz Evening.I´ll explain.

My in-laws live in a village which has a small and relatively close ex-pat community. This is not to say that they have no spanish friends at all , in fact they recently moved so they can be next door to their best spanish friends. Still, it´s probably fair to say that the majority of their friends and close acquaintances are Brits. Two of them were away when Mary and I arrived here last week, and only got back on Sunday. So they popped round to see us, well, I say us, but Mary really. I only tend to get over to Spain once a year, but Mary comes at least twice and three times if we can scrape up the airfare . So they know Mary better than me. That and the fact that I´m a bit of an antisocial sod as well. During the course of Sunday evening my mother-in-law suddenly came out with this "I know - why don´t we have a quiz evening this week ? David can do all the questions for us !" So it was agreed that we´d have a group of the friends around tomorrow night. Bring some drinks when you come, and teams will be sorted out on the night.

Ok, ok, no I really don´t mind it at all. But if you´ve set any number of quizzes in your time you´ll appreciate that this did land me in something of a quandary. For one thing, I don´t know if any of them ever do any quizzes, ever watch any quizzes, or have any quiz experience at all. So I´ve taken it for granted that they haven´t. This presents its own problems though. Namely, how do you make it accessible and fun for everyone, so that everyone can get some of the answers right, and nobody feels stupid, without seeming to be patronising them either ? So I´ve used a large proportion of multiple choices. - Alright, this sort of thing isn´t so much my cup of tea, being as I´m a simple soul and I prefer questions where you either know it,or don´t,or can guess it ,or can´t, but then it´s not for me as I´m doing the quiz. There´s also the question of resources for checking my answers, being away from my well stocked mission control at LAM Towers. Still, the level of the quiz means that it really hasn´t been difficult to verify the answers.

So what we´ve ended up with is a five round, 50 question quiz. None of the questions would give any proper quizzer a problem, and lots of them are multiple choice. I´ve fallen back on another old favourite as well.
A couple of ooh, Matron questions each round will hopefully stop the whole thing from becoming too serious.

Mind you, for all the sheer seconds I´ve spent agonising over the quiz, a little nagging something within my mind says that the chances are the drinks will start flowing amongst the teams tomorrow night and we´ll never get as far as starting the quiz, let alone finishing it. Watch this space.

Monday, 20 August 2012

University Challenge - Round 1 - Heat 3 - Observations

Durham v. Strathclyde

I think that I should warn you that if you´re expecting a full review of tonight´s show you are going to be rather disappointed. I´m afraid that my resources here are a little limited this far away from LAM Towers. It was as much as I could do to persuade everyone to allow me tonight´s fix, let alone with putting on the subtitles and demanding absolute silence for me to take notes as we go along. Still, nil desperandum. Both Jack and Daniel usually post full reviews on their own blogs, so you might well want to follow the links in my recommended section.

So as I say, no review as such, but a few observations on the show if I may. Firstly many congratulations to Durham. The last few minutes notwithstanding they are the first team I´ve seen this series where I wasn´t thinking to myself about the gaps in their knowledge that they showed. Yes, I´ve often said that first round form is unreliable, and I stick by this, but the fact is that they seem to be a well balanced team, quick on the buzzer, with firepower throughout the whole team. They cover a lot of ground between them. Early days yet, but I think that they can go further.

I´m glad that Strathclyde came back so strongly in the last few minutes. They were certainly blitzed by Durham´s lightning start, and then a wrong early buzz landed them with a minus score which took them a relatively long time to get back. I think it was a case of being forced into their shells by these circumstances, and so it´s nice that they did manage to find their form, and show that they were a team with knowledge who were worth their place in the series. Low scores unfortunately attract a disproportionate amount of ill informed comment, and I hope that Strathclyde´s late rally will spare them this.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

What is the Attraction of Triviador ?

I don´t ask this in a sarcastic way. I´ll tell you what prompts this post. I´m still in Spain, of course. We didn´t bring the kids with us this time, so it´s just Mary, me and the in-laws. This kind of dictates the pattern of the day - basically do what you have to do during the day before lunch, siesta after lunch back at the house, then maybe out again in the evening. And please don´t misunderstand me, I have no problem with the leisurely rhythm of life here, either. However I do struggle to have a sleep in the afternoons - something which can´t be said for all of the kids I teach, but I digress. I did promise myself that I´d take the visit as an excuse to try to break my Triviador habit, and for the first few days I was successful.However being at a loose end for those few hours in the afternoon has taken its toll. To cut a long story sightly shorter my mother in law caught me at it this afternon, and asked me what it was all about, and what the attraction was. Good question.

If you´ve never played Triviador before yourself, well, it´s basically an online game you can play in Facebook. I have mentioned it before on LAM, although I don´t think that I ever went into that much detail. You log in to play, and you will be joined by two other players, who could be from anywhere in the world - so long as you´re on Facebook you can play. The playing area is an outline of the world. Each of you is given a base consisting of three towers somewhere on the map. The first stage of the game consists of fighting to win points and soldiers, which are placed on the map wherever you choose to deploy them. You are asked 4 questions which require numbers for answers. The closest to the correct answer gets to place two soldiers on the map, and the next closest gets to place one soldier. In the event of two or three of you having the same answer, fastest wins. Having the soldiers is important. You can only attack a soldier or a base which one of your pieces is adjacent with. Unless you have a booster, but we´ll come to them afterwards. Attacking is ne of the ways there is to win points.

There are 4 rounds. You take it in turns to attack one of your opponents. When you attack you are both given a multiple choice question. If one gets it wrong, the other one wins the question. So an attacker would change the colour of the defending piece to his own colour, and take it over, along with however many points the soldier is credited with. If the defender wins the question, then they get credited 100 more points. If nether player has the correct answer - which is rare - then neither gets any points. If both have the correct answer, then we move to a tiebreak number question. Whoever is closer to the correct answer wins, and if both have the same answer, then fastest wins. Once your base has been destroyed, you´re out of the game. In round four, the final round, you can attack anywhere you want without being right next to it. Of the surviving players after round four, the winner is the one with most points.

Which, in itself probably wouldn´t quite be enough to keep me interested for the amount of time that Triviador has already done. However your results in each game do add to certain statistics. The game tells you which of your Facebook friends are playing this week, and what their cumulative score is. You can also see how well your weekly score compares with everyone else playing the game - ideally the aim is to be within the top 1%, and if possible, within the top 100. Also, every time you reach a certain threshold of points, you go up a level. Shouldn´t make a difference to how much you enjoy the game, but I´m afraid that I am immature enough that it does to me.

The game is not without its frustrations though. For example, when you start, in fact , whenever you play the game, it doesn´t seem to me that there´s any seeding . So for all you know you might end up playing someone who is in the level 80s, 90s or even more than 100. It doesn´t matter how good a quizzer you are going into Triviador - until you´ve worked your own way up through the levels then your chances of beating them are extremely slim. The nature of the game is such that knowing some pretty obscure numbers is vital, so it can really take a long time to feel that you´re getting to grips with it at all, and to start winning. Another frustrating thing is the boosters. There´s a range of boosters which can be available to you to help you get a correct - or at least a close - answer. Kind of like the Phone a Friends in WWTBAM. I don´t know , but I´m guessing that it´s possible to buy more game gold, which you can use to buy more boosters. You get some for free during the course of the day, but they only go so far. They are a legitimate part of the game, and you´re fully entitled to use them, but it an be frustrating when you see someone beating you up by coming up with perfect answer to a succession of nummber questions which nobody can realistically be expected to know.

Mind you that is a problem which eventually cures itself - if you keep playing the game long enough, for the questions do tend to recur. The nature of the game is such that questions do recur over a period of time, and they do eventually start to stick. The questions are a curious hotch potch too. The format of either multiple choice questions, or questions with numerical answers does impose limitations upon the game, and they are supplied by players as well, which means they do vary in accuracy , of both answer and grammar. It´s also going to happen that questions are going to apply particularly to one area or country to the detriment of others. In my experience Brits are pretty well served in this way - there´s a lot of Brit specific content in the game. The way the questions recur as well seems to highlight some obsessions among the people who set the questions. In discussions in other places I´ve seen it said that there are more questions on Harry Potter, for example, than Shakespeare.Not that I am saying that there´s anything wrong with this, but I know some people who don´t like it. Certainly if you haven´t played before, and are thinking of doing so, it would be well worth becoming familiar with the boiling points of various metals, and Karl May´s "Winnetou" - at least one question setter seems very taken with that.

Long before I finished explaining all this to my mother in law she had fallen into deep slumber, though. Which suited me fine, because it meant that I could go back to my game . . .

Friday, 17 August 2012

Hola !

Buenos dias. Yes, I did warn you that I would be flying out to Spain earlier this week, and I´m sitting here in the frontroom of mi suegra - which if I´m right means my mother in law, and if I´m wrong then it doesn´t, rather bored during siesta time, tapping away on her netbook. Not that I really have much to tell you. As I´ve said in previous years, the quiz scene here is understandably moribund, so it seems, and so last Sunday was the last time I played. I wouldn´t say I´m exactly suffering from withdrawal symptoms. Although it was decided last night that we´d go out to eat again tonight - and don´t get me wrong, that´s lovely - but it does mean that I won´t get to watch tonight´s Mastermind, and if you don´t watch a particular show, then it becomes difficult to actually review it ( although I do know people who´ve done this. Come to think of it I haven´t reviewed a show I didn´t watch, but when I was a student I did write a couple of assignments about books I hadn´t yet read, but that was a long time ago, and we´ve all passed a lot of water since then. ). I´m not keeping up with the news really either - so sorry, but no news questions till I get back at the end of the month. I keep watching the news though, and all the time the cogs are turning and I´m thinking - hmm, that´ll make a good question, someone´s going to ask that in a quiz soon - you know the kind of thing, I´m sure. Quiz Affective Disorder. But by the time I start to think of writing it down safely, it´s gone.

Well, anyway, enough of my problems. Just to keep my hand in, here´s a couple of questions which came to me earlier

When the Blue Angel,the hereditary Imam of the Nizari Ismaili community, the widow of Roland Petit, and the petit boisson du petit caporal come together, what is the question ?

The Bayuda and the Nubian, places where the bonsais grow, the world´s 4th largest cathedral, and the hear how they talk peninsula. What is the order in these four places and others ?

I´ll give you the answers in a couple of days - sure that you´ll get them yourselves anyway.

Monday, 13 August 2012

University Challenge - Round 1 - Heat 3

Well, that was a very quick couple of weeks, wasn’t it ? Nonetheless, as wonderful as the Olympics were it’s somehow reassuring to see good old University Challenge back in its rightful slot. Wadham College Oxford , last seen in 2007 when they reached the quarter finals, was the first of tonight’s teams to be introduced, and they consisted of Alistair Smout, Jonathan Hall, Oliver Forrest and captain Jonathan Stanhope. Bristol were beaten in the quarter finals last time out, in 2011, and tonight their team were James Xiao, Andy Suttie, Madeleine Fforde and skipper Will Brady.

The first starter is usually a gentle lob in the direction of both teams, and Alastair Smout was the first to whack it with the full meat of the bat, knowing that if a writer is paying tribute to another writer on the 200th anniversary of his birth, Charles Dickens is probably a pretty good answer. A set of quotations about money followed. neither the team nor I got any, but I liked Francis Bacon’s observation that money is only good when it is spread – like muck. Will Brady opened Bristol’s account , recognizing a set of facts all about National Service. 2 bonuses were taken on Bulwer Lytton. Very popular in his day, the poor old dear is almost forgotten now. That’s Bulwer Lytton, not Will Brady. Andy Suttie took his first starter with the next question about bile. 1 bonus followed on elements discovered in the year 1817. Neither team recognized for the next starter the famous tag team of David and Ken Livingstone, but Will Brady knew a question about the Catalan language, and Bristol took a bonus on US Cities. This brought us the first picture starter. When I heard that it was going to be a flag, I said to no one in particular – this will be either Libya or South Sudan. Well, Libya it was, as Alastair Smout knew when he buzzed in for his second starter. South Sudan was the last of the bonus flags, the other two being Democratic Republic of Congo ( formerly Zaire ) and Lesotho. This brought us nicely up to the ten minute mark, and pulled Wadham well back into contention, although Bristol still led by 50 to 30.

Neither knew the answer to the question about the politican from Turkmenistan. Neither did I . Neither team knew that Archbishop Scrope evoked the ire of King Henry IV – a little surprised that they didn’t, as a Shakespeare wallah on either team could probably have told them. Whatever the case, the next starter , on terms from the game of croquet was well taken by Andy Suttie. Bristol were doing better on the starters than Wadham, although not that much better, but they weren’t converting bonuses well, and missed the full set on female prophets, offering ‘Margaret Shipton’ rather than ‘Mother Shipton’. Neither knew a science starter next, and Andy Suttie showed a twitchy buzzer finger when he came in too early and lost five. Madeleine Fforde compounded this by taking a flier on the book “Imperium” with Robert Harris, only to find that the question swerved to ask which roman writer was a main character – Cicero. Hard lines – but the right tactics. You can’t sleep on your buzzer, because if you snooze, well, you know the rest. Jonathan Stanhope took that one, and Wadham took a bonus on US Nobel laureates. Which was enough to bring Wadham up to level pegging now. Would Bristol be ruing those lost bonuses ? Well, maybe not, because they were still winning the buzzer race. Will Brady knew that named after a pacific island etc. most likely required the word ‘Bikini’. He was right, and at least this gave them a couple of bonuses on Danish Scientists. You pays yer money . The Music starter played a wee bit of opera, and asked which character was singing. Oliver Forrest recognized Don Giovanni. This brought up a nice set of bonuses, on other Dons from opera. I answered Don Carlos to all of them and added one bonus to my total. Alas, Wadham didn’t use this old pros tactic, and failed to add to their score. Andy Suttie took a good starter on anagrams of the word Granite ( ingrate etc. ) This was followed by a bonus on the quaintly named ‘authors and their pleasures ‘ – no , missus, not what you’re thinking. Neither team could get the magazine National Lampoon for the next starter. Bristol managed to find the term cracking, though, although once again bonuses on recent non fiction proved elusive. Not surprised. Still, it was enough to give them a lead of 95 to 55 at the 20 minute mark.

Either team could have won at this stage. We’ve seen how a score can suddenly start to rocket when a team start getting full sets of bonuses.Especially when the other team buzz in too early , as Will Brady did with SOPA – he gave the abbreviation, but JP wanted the meaning, which Wadham were happy to supply. No bonuses were taken on insects, though. For the second picture the teams had to identify a fortified city . Carcassonne ! I shouted. They obviously didn’t hear me, since neither team got it. I was glad to see the next starter – which was a number of words derived originally from Cymraeg, in fact so excited that I didn’t take note of who actually answered it . One of Wadham I think. A bonus on the pictures of other fortified towns followed. Mr. Xiao of Bristol opened his starter account with Corundum, and a lovely set on Scottish battles, and the towns or cities they were closest to followed. A maths thing came next, and neither team could answer it, although Will Brady did buzz in too early and lose 5. Skipper Jonathan Stanhope buzzed in with the knowledge that Thomas Jefferson was one of the two US former presidents who died on the same day. A bonus followed on words with silent letters. You sensed that this was not going to be enough, especially when Andy Suttie took the next with LCD. A set of bonuses on mountains only yielded one. Nobody knew the Belarus question – more about that later – and although I missed the next starter, which was taken by Wadham I think, it wasn’t enough. In the end the final score was Bristol 120 , Wadham 105.

I’m glad that Wadham reached 3 figure respectability. I’m glad that UC is back now as well, although if I’m honest I hope that this isn’t the most exciting contest we get to see this series. Well done to Bristol, and good luck in the next round

Jeremy Paxman Watch

Maybe it was just me, but I thought that there was a sluggish atmosphere about the whole show tonight, and maybe it got to JP. Certainly I didn’t jot down anything in my notes about him tonight, and it was almost as if the great man had decided that he was going to get no joy from winding either of these teams up, so the best thing to do was to keep the questions coming until the gong put an end to what had been ( sorry to say this – I don’t do it lightly ) a rather lacklustre contest.I suppose you could say that maybe the Mother Shipton call was a little harsh, but not really - they did say Margaret. Had they just said Shipton they'd probably have been alright.

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

Belarus is the largest landlocked country of Europe. Really good enjoyable fact, that.

Angels of Confidence and Demons of Doubt

I’m sure that I must have mentioned my old acquaintance the Doubt Demon before. In case I haven’t, I’m going to quote from something that I wrote a while ago. It’s actually aimed at parents of school age children, but the principle holds good , I think : -
Meet the Confidence Angel and the Doubt Demon

Cast your mind back to when you were a kid yourself and you used to watch Tom and Jerry cartoons. If you missed out on this wonderful experience I can only offer you my sympathy. In several of the cartoons Tom or Jerry – let’s say Tom for the sake of argument - would be presented with a moral dilemma. At this moment two tiny figures would pop up on either of his shoulders. On one shoulder would be a little Tom complete with white nightie, harp, wings and halo. This figure would urge Tom to do the right thing. On the other shoulder would be an equally tiny Tom, this one in a red devil suit complete with forked tail, horns and pitchfork. This one would urge doing him to do the opposite. Inevitably Tom would choose to go along with the devil, with hilariously disastrous consequences.

Now you’ve got this picture in your head, I want you to imagine that there are two tiny figures sitting on your children’s shoulders. The angel is our Confidence Angel. This one tells your children that they are brilliant, fantastic, that they can cope with anything that school and life throws at them. The devil is the Doubt Demon. The Doubt Demon is constantly wearing your children down, whispering to them that they are useless, a failure and an embarrassment to everyone concerned. And just as happens in the cartoons, the Doubt Demon is a lot louder, a lot more insistent, and a lot easier for your kids to listen to than the Confidence Angel. And just as disastrous too- although there’s nothing funny about it.

As with kids, also with quizzers. Case in point. It was my last quiz before Spain last night, and yes, we scraped home by a point, but the fact is that it shouldn’t have been quite that close. The Doubt Demon got to me. Now, in the past I’ve mentioned what I immodestly describe as Clark’s Taxonomy of Questions. As you’ll remember all questions can be divided into 4 broad categories, namely
The questions you know that you know
The questions you know that you don’t know
The questions you don’t know that you know
The questions you don’t know that you don’t know

Now, as I’m sure you know, the first two categories present you with no problems. You’ll never get the first sort wrong, and any points you get for the second type are a bonus, because you don’t know them. However the third category is very fertile soil for the Doubt Demon to sow his evil seeds.

We were asked a question something along the lines of
The Department of Social Affairs and Citizenship is the setting for which satirical TV show ?
Now, I knew that we weren’t dealing with “Yes Minister” as that’s Administrative Affairs. I had a vision of something about a government spin doctor, and I was sure Pete Capaldi was in it. True enough, but could I remember the name ? No. I came up with the name Spin City, but couldn’t remember where the hell that name had come from. OK, now, just about 30 seconds before handing over time the title “The Thick of It” popped into my mind. At which point the Doubt Demon popped up on my shoulder and said ,
”Oh, so you’re going to change your first answer, are you ? That’s a bit brave, isn’t it ? Going to feel stupid if you cross out a correct answer, aren’t you ? Don’t you think you’re better off leaving it there ? “ The upshot of which is that I didn’t write down The Thick of It – the correct answer. Never actually having seen The Thick of It doesn’t actually make it any better, since it would have been an even better answer had I written it down, for exactly the same reason. Mind you, I did cross out a correct answer and replaced it with a wrong answer in the second half, just to even things up, as it were. Still, at least in the TV themes music round I managed to spot the original opening theme music to “Auf Weidersehen Pet.” The more famous “That’s Living Alright” was actually used over the end credits.

I’ll miss the Sunday quiz for the next couple of weeks, but there we are, one has to make sacrifices sometimes.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

News Questions

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

1. Joanne Rowsell and Dani King
2. Kat Copeland and Sophie Hosking
3. Anthony Triggs Hodges
4. Shafilea Ahmed
5. Wade Michael Page
6. Curiosity
7. Peter Charles
8. Mr. Justice Foskett
9. Riad Hijab
10. Nick Dempsey
11. Laura Bechtolsheimer
12. Charlotte Dujardin
13. Carl Hester
14. Stuart Hazell
15. Paul Ryan
16. Ed McKeever
17. Gu Kailai
18. Mzwamadoda Qwabe
19. Jade Jones
20. Luke Campbell
21. Sir David Walker

In Other News

1. Which 2 UK records did Jessica Ennis break in the London Olympics ?
2. How many consecutive Olympic games has Ben Ainslie won sailing medals ?
3. Who defeated Andy Murray and Laura Robson in the mixed doubles finals ?
4. The 3rd longest ever running West End musical is set to close. Which one ?
5. In which event did Sir Chris Hoy win his 6th Olympic gold medal ?
6. In which event did Laura Trott win an individual gold medal
7. Louise Mensch has quit as MP for which constituency ?
8. Nick Clegg has said that he will oppose Conservative party plans on which issue ?
9. Which military historian passed away last week ?
10. Which brothers won individual gold and bronze medals in the same event ?
11. Who confessed to peeing in the pool during his races ?
12. Which composer died at age 68
13. Which 98 year old astronomer passed away ?
14. What was the opening price of Manchester United shares when the club was floated on the New York Stock Exchange last week ?
15. Usain Bolt was prevented from taking what into the Olympic Stadium ?
16. Mel Stuart died last week. Which classic children’s film did he direct ?
17. Which pair of GB gold medal winning cyclists confessed that they are dating at the moment ?
18. Which team were defeated by GB’s women’s hockey team in the bronze medal match ?
19. What was the nationality of Simon Kiprotich, the men’s Marathon winner ?
20. Which 72 year old commentator passed away ?
21. What was the result of the Olympic men’s football final ?
22. In which country did twin earthquakes cause devastation ?
23. Which team were defeated by Norway in the women’s handball final ?

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Mastermind Wiki Challenge - Heat 2

This is just by way of a quick heads up about next week’s specialist subjects in case anybody fancies taking the wiki challenge on Friday. The subjects as listed on the Mastermind website are : -

Billie Holiday
Eddie Merckx
Ludwig Wittgenstein
William Gladstone

Well, no chances of a no study 13 for me with those – in fact no chance of even a no study 7 either. Of all four I think I’d maybe do best on Gladstone. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of the Tour de France, but wouldn’t fancy my chances on a set purely on The Cannibal ( and you never know – his nickname may be one of the gimme questions ). I think Billie Holiday was a wonderful singer, but again that doesn’t mean I could tell you much about her other than her birth name ( again, maybe that will be one of the questions. )As for Ludwig Wittgenstein, since I don’t think that they are likely to require the answer that Monty Python called him ‘a beery swine who was just as sloshed as Schlegel‘ I can’t see that I’m going to get much joy from him.

Best of luck if you do decide to take the challenge.

Answers to News Questions

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

1. Alexandre Vinokourov
2. Paul Chambers
3. Gary Connery
4. Thomas Heatherwick
5. Lizzie Armistead
6. Yi Siling
7. Ruta Meleitutye
8. Madhura Nagendra
9. Pussy Riot
10. Zoe Smith
11. Ye Shiwen
12. Khaled al Ayoubi
13. Mark McCammon
14. Freya Murray
15. Hiroshi Hoketsu
16. Helen Glover
17. Heather Stanning
18. Greg Searle
19. Michael Jamieson
20. Jessica Varnish
21. Gemma Gibbons
22. Peter Wilson
23. Tiesto
24. Tim Baillie
25. Etienne Stott

In Other News

1. Who is donating $2.5 million to defend gay marriage in Washington State ?
2. Which 68 year old TV actor passed away ?
3. 4 cases of Legionnaires disease were reported where ?
4. Which auction house had to hand back £1.5 million after it was proven that a painting they sold was not painted by Boris Kustodiev ?
5. Which British TV show has been the first to make the cover of the US Entertainment Weekly ?
6. Who upset punters by only playing for 45 minutes at a concert in Paris ?
7. How many competitors made up team GB in the Olympics ?
8. Who did Kenneth Branagh play in the opening ceremony ?
9. Which Olympic event began behind closed doors ?
10. Who was on pole for the Hungarian GP ?
11. How many people in the UK were still watching the opening ceremony after midnight ?
12. Who was reported as kicking out her husband after it was revealed that he had an affair ?
13. Which oil company is being sued over pollution by farmers and fishermen in Nigeria ?
14. Who beat Phelps to gold in his first event ?
15. What is the UKs most popular second hand car ?
16. What are men allowed to wear on formal occasions in Oxford University now ?
17. Underwater salvage teams are trying to raise the bell of which vessel ?
18. Which sporting figure died aged 82 ?
19. GB’s men’s Olympic gymnastic team was downgraded to bronze from silver after a protest by which team ?
20. Peter Jackson announced that he will be making how many films out of “The Hobbit “ ?
21. Whose memorabilia, including a Rolls Royce, were sold at auction ?
22. Who is the biggest earner to compete in the Olympics ?
23. Rio Ferdinand has been charged over calling Ashley Cole what on Twitter ?
24. Which magazine voted the Duchess of Cambridge the world’s Best Dressed woman ?
25. In which event did Michael Phelps win his record breaking 19th Olympic medal ?
26. Which country faced massive power cuts ?
27. Which 72 year old author passed away ?
28. Which country suffered an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus ?
29. Microsoft announced that it is to abandon which brand ?
30. Who was left dangling from a zip wire ?
31. Competitors from which 3 countries were thrown out of the badminton competitions for trying to lose ?
32. Name the other member of the men’s sprint cycling team with Sir Chris Hoy and Jason Kenny
33. Which team knocked the GB football team out of the competition on penalties ?
34. Who has quit as UN envoy to Syria ?
35. Who has completed his trilogy on the life of Christ ?
36. Whose bones are to be handed over to his family ?
37. Lily Allen now records under her married name – what is it ?
38. How many gold, silver and bronze medals has Michael Phelps won during his Olympic Career ?


Who or what are the following ?

1. Rider from Kazakhstan won the Men’s road race – which Mark Cavendish had targeted
2. He was fined for tweet threatening airport after support from Stephen Fry and others
3. The Queen’s skydiving stunt double for the Opening ceremony
4. Designer of the fabulous Olympic Cauldron
5. She won GB’s first medal – silver in women’s road race
6. Winner of the first gold medal of the London Olympics, in the women’s air rifle
7. Lithuanian swimming gold medallist based in Plymouth – same school as Tom Daley
8. The person who joined the Indian team in the Olympic procession without permission
9. Russian girl group on trial for singing in Cathedral against Putin
10. Broke British weightlifting record in Olympics
11. Chinese swimming sensation whose gold medal performance was openly questioned by a US coach
12. Syria’s senior diplomat in UK – quit over violence in Syria
13. Industrial tribunal ruled he was unfairly sacked by Gillingham FC
14. Replaced Paula Radcliffe in Olympic Marathon
15. Oldest competitor in London Olympics – 72 year old Japanese dressage competitor
16. One of GBs first gold medallists – in women’s double sculls
17. The other of GBs first gold medallists – in women’s double sculls
18. 40 year old rower, bronze medal in men’s 8
19. Won only GB silver medal in swimming
20. Victoria Pendleton’s sprint partner – they were disqualified in women’s team sprint
21. Judo silver medalist
22. Gold medalist in Double trap shooting
23. World’s highest paid DJ
24. One of the gold medal winning K2 canoe slalom pair
25. The other

In Other News

1. Jeff Bezos
2. Geoffrey Hughes
3. Stoke
4. Christies
5. Dr. Who
6. Madonna
7. 542
8. I.K.Brunel
9. Archery
10. Lewis Hamilton
11. 20 million
12. Anthea Turner
13. Shell
14. Ryan Lochte
15. Ford Fiesta
16. Skirts
17. HMS Hood
18. Jack Taylor
19. Japan
20. 3
21. Sir Jimmy Saville
22. Roger Federer
23. Choc Ice
24. Vanity Fair
25. Men’s 4 x 100 freestyle
26. India
27. Maeve Binchy
28. Uganda
29. Hotmail
30. Boris Johnson
31. China, Indonesia and South Korea
32. Philip HIndes
33. South Korea
34. Kofi Annan
35. Pope Benedict XVI
36. Ned Kelly
37. Lily Rose Cooper
38. 22 – 18 gold, 2 silver, 2 bronze

Friday, 10 August 2012

Mastermind - Heat 1

I know the question which has the potential to keep you awake unless I should answer it , namely , did I take the Wiki Challenge for this week’s first heat of Mastermind ? Well, worry not, I shall answer that question now. No, I didn’t. I’ve been a busy boy today, and there’s been Olympics to watch, and bearing in mind I fancied a go at three of the subjects with no prep, I decided to postpone my first go at the challenge this series. Off to Spain before next week's show, so it might be a while before I get to see it as well.

Still, that's my problem, and never mind it for the moment. Let’s get on with the show. Given the honour of kicking off the 2012/13 series was Rosalind Winter. Rosalind was offering one of the three subjects which I fancied – the Completed Novels of Jane Austen. Now, bearing in mind that I haven’t read any of them for getting on for 30 years, and that some of my answers were based on what I remember from telly or film adaptations, then I was pretty pleased to get 7 – pretty much all from the first minute’s questions if I recall correctly. Rosalind acquitted herself admirably. 15 in a 2 minute round is a good score which will always give you a good chance if your GK is up to snuff.

Nathan Joss must be one of the youngest of this year’s contenders. He was offering the second of my fancied specialists, in the shape of the life and times of Queen Elizabeth Ist. By sheer coincidence I managed 7 of these as well, spread throughout the round though they were. Despite his relative youth Nathan did not let himself become overawed by the occasion, and managed a good 13 in a round which seemed to me to have its fair share of obscurities as well as relative gimmes.

My banker subject , in the shape of Fawlty Towers, came third, and my thanks are extended towards Gregory Spiller for offering it. I had most, if not all of the questions that focused on details from specific shows, and ended up with 13. Well pleased with that. However Gregory did much better, with a very fine 16, only missing out on one question I believe. 16 took the lead.

Follow that, as they say. Well, that’s exactly what Chris Cann set out to do. Chris was answering on my bogey subject , the Savoy Operas of Gilbert and Sullivan. I managed one, which to be honest is one more than I expected. Chris, however , managed his own sixteen and no passes, which guaranteed that he would be the last to go in the GK round. So at the halfway stage there were only 3 points between all 4 contenders. All 4 had acquitted themselves well on the specialist, and so could relax into the GK.

Nathan , I will admit, I feared a little for. I always think the Gk round can be harder on younger contenders, simply because there’s so many things you can be asked which you might just know simply because you’re that bit older, which a younger person wouldn’t know. I needn’t have worried. Nathan showed admirable presence of mind to snap out an answer, or in a couple of cases to pass quickly when he didn’t know a guess, and as a result he kept his round ticking along nicely, and scored a commendable 13. A score which Rosalind was unable to match in her own round. She added 9 to her total, which left her 2 points behind Nathan. I also found her round a little harder than the others, scoring a 17 myself as opposed to 20s for Nathan and Gregory’s rounds, and a 21 for Chris’ round.

Gregory needed 10 to overhaul Nathan’s score. This should be doable in a 2 and a half minute round, but it’s never easy when you’re in the chair, and things can go wrong. They didn’t go wrong in Gregory’s round though, and indeed he answered very well, never seeming too flustered, and keeping the round ticking along. 16 put him comfortably into the 30s , with 32, and with only Chris to go, he certainly looked the favourite to go through.

Chris never seemed quite as good in his GK round as Gregory, and missed a few ‘quizzers’ questions, of the sort that Gregory had answered. Nonetheless he did keep the score ticking along, although a little more slowly than Gregory had managed to do. In the end Chris managed 13, which was enough to give him a final total of 29. As John himself pointed out, that may well be good enough to get him into the semis, indeed 28 was the lowest score to get into last year’s semis.

A word for Nathan Joss – you might not have made it this time, but you did well and you should keep it up. You’ll only get better. But tonight belongs to Gregory Spiller. Many congratulations, an impressive performance.

The Details

Rosalind Winter The Completed Novels of Jane Austen15 - 09 - 424 – 4
Nathan JossThe Life and Times of Elizabeth I13 - 013 - 326 - 3
Gregory SpillerFawlty Towers16 - 016 - 332 - 3
Chris CannThe Savoy Operas of Gilbert and Sullivan16 - 013 - 229 – 2