Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Only Connect - The Grand Final

The Scribes v. The Draughtsmen

The Scribes, who have been this year’s surprise package , consisting of Holly Pattenden , Gareth Price and Dom Tait, had a fairly resounding first round victory over the Ciphers, winning 31 – 13. In the quarter final they saw off the TEFL Teachers 27 – 9.Then in the semi-final they beat the much fancied Wordsmiths by 25 – 14. Their opposition in this Grand Final were the Draughtsmen. Andy Tucker, Steve Dodding and captain Iwan Thomas, had tied with the excellent Joinees in their first round match, winning because of captain Iwan’s steely nerve and superior buzzing.The quarter final proved a little more relaxed, seeing them win by 28 – 14.In the semi final they face the Footballers, who gave them all the trouble they could handle, eventually squeezing through 19-18.

So who would win ? On paper, before the start of the series I’d have said the Draughtsmen. But you just couldn’t ignore the form that the Scribes had shown all series. One thing I was sure of, though. If the Draughtsmen weren’t ahead going into the last round, then the whip hand would be with the Scribes.

Round One – What’s the Connection ?

Eye of Horus kicked things off for the Draughts. England : Wales and Brazil:Scotland gave them the correct answer that these were footballers whose names were countries other than those they played for. Horned Viper brought the Scribes a set of pictures. We saw Girl with A Pearl Earring – Victoria Coren – Men at Work sign – and Statue of Liberty. Neither side saw that they were all flipped – the wrong way round – and neither did I. The Ds took Lion, and had Marty Feldman’s last film – Captain of Queen Anne’s Revenge – at which stage I had it – Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I , and with a rush of blood to the head they went with Red Beards. They were probably kicking themselves after when the Scribes had the bonus for saying that these were all people with different coloured beards – Yellow – Black – Red, and the last one , the wife murderer, being Blue Beard. Scribes took two reeds, and had Head : Meissa – Beltbuckle – Alnilam – and I had this one at this stage – Left Leg : Rigel, and skipper Dom knew that these were star positions in the constellation Orion. The Ds had water, and Champion of 1981 Grand National . They considered going for a five pointer, but wiser heads prevailed. -It told of Pennywise the Clown , and - Town where Battle lies were not enough to give them the answer. The Scribes gratefully took a bonus, knowing that the three of these , and - Had a 1974 hit with Killer Queen were all clues in which the answer is actually contained. Twisted Flax brought the Scribes the music set. They took the first three, and impressed me hugely by knowing that they were all written in the form of a letter. Well done for that. This meant that they actually led after the first round by 6 points to 3. You couldn’t help wondering whether dropping those two gettable sets was going to play on the D’s minds as we went into the next round.

Ropund Two – What Comes Third ?

Horned Viper gave the Ds a tricky set – A=azure a saltire argent ( St. Andrew’s cross ) – D = Sable a cross or (St. David’s Cross )– at which they guessed G=argent a cross gules, knowing that this was the cross of St. George. Unfortunately this was actually next in the sequence alphabetically. The Scribes couldn’t take advantage, not knowing that the cross of St. Patrick is P = Argent a saltire gules, Very very bad luck to the Ds, and it was turning out to be one of those nights for them. Scribes took the Eye of Horus. Now, not that I’m one to brag ( alright , I am ) but as soon as Kendal Mintcake came up I said “Young Ones – University Challenge “ and ticked them off to Lord Monty ( Hugh Laurie). So that would have done me fine for a five pointer . Neither team could dredge it up, although both knew what it was all about. Two Reeds gave the Ds 5:Marylebone Old Church – 6: White’s Club Soho – 7: Fleet Debtor’s Prison. I guessed the connection – the Rake’s Progress – but not the 8th destination. It was Bedlam Hospital. Lion was taken by the Scribes, and I wouldn’t have had this one on all three ( and to be honest would have struggled even if the answer had been in front of me. ) Disposable Cigarette Lighters – Hot Air Balloons – Production of Ethylene were the clues, and the Scribes knew that it was uses of simpler alkane gases, so something methane-y would do. Fair enough. Twisted Flax brought a good picture set for the Ds. They knew a tamarind, followed by a tamarin monkey , so it would probably show the river Tamar in the last. Sounds easy, but you have to know a tamarind when you see it in the first place, and I certainly didn't. Just water remained for the scribes. NNNE – NEENE – EESE. These I thin k they all figured out as compass directions, but neither team knew that they were pairs of compass points going clockwise. The scores, then , were 6 to the Ds, and 8 to the Scribes. The gap had been narrowed to 2, but being realistic the Ds needed a lead, and there was only the wall round remaining before the vowels in which to get it.

Round Three – The Connecting Walls

The Scribes kicked off with the Lion wall. Some fairly adept button pushing saw them untangle Fry – Smolt - Alevin and Codling – young fish. They could see a set of boats, and a set of Jacks, but these would not untangle. Eventually they could see a set of contributors to That Was The Week That Was , and they untangled Levin – Martin – Rushton and Percival. That was it. When the wall was resolved they saw Mormon – Ketch – Frost and Sprat were the Jacks, and Snow – Brigantine – Buss and Yawl were the boats- two mast-ers to be precise. That was 6 points, and just a glimmer of a chance for the Ds.

The Water wall was no more forgiving to the Ds than the Lion had been to the Scribes. Eight Ace – Mr. Logic – Tin Ribs and Black Bag they knew were all characters from Viz. They knew there was a set of plural nouns used as singulars, but they just wouldn’t unravel, nor would the other 2 lines. When Sportscene – Burnistoun – River City and Landward were revealed they guessed correctly – based on Sportscene I’d guess – that these are programmes made by BBC Scotland. Coast – Employment – Data and Consumer are all things that can be followed by Protection. This left the plural singular nouns, which were Graffiti – Opera – Agenda – Candelabra. Hard luck on that wall, and it meant that they scored 5, to give the Scribes another precious point to add to their lead, which now stood at 14 to 11.

Round Four – Missing Vowels

Put in its simplest terms, the Scribes had been one of the finest vowels teams we’ve seen all series, and while the Ds have been good, they haven’t been as good as the Scribes when it comes to the vowels. You fancied by this stage that the 3 point lead , although slender, would be too much of a gap to bridge. It certainly looked that way when the Scribes took Things that Good Children do by 3 to 1. Wooden objects and their traditional wood saw the Ds lose a point and gain a point, and the Scribes take three. The last category – three consecutive months saw the Ds lose another, and the Scribes take 1. At the end, then, the final scores were 11 to the Draughtsmen, and 20 to the Scribes.

Commiserations to the Draughtsmen. It just wasn’t your night. Many congratulations to new champions the Scribes. Worthy champions indeed – and I apologise for never marking you out as such at any time earlier in the series.

Congratulations also to Jenny, Rachel, David and the Only Connect team, on another fantastic series, and on your 100th show. By the way – I really liked the lovely Only Connect badges all the team were sporting. Any chance of them being awarded retrospectively to other runners up – specifically the runners up in series 4 ? No ? Well you can’t blame a chap for asking . Great show.


Unknown said...

Well done indeed to the Scribes - very sharp all series and worthy winners. I was a bit disappointed with the Draughtsmen, they made 2 or 3 serious mistakes and were punished ruthlessly for it - but I'm sure they know that. I did pretty well on the connections, but those sequences were tough (especially that one about the flags - who wrote that!) My favourite Q was the one with the answers in the clue - clever (no it wasn't mine, the beardy one was). Currently hard at work on the next series, but looking forward to the 3 remaining specials.

Ewan M said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ewan M said...

Dom Tait in particular was so fast on missing vowels throughout the series that any team hoping to beat the Scribes would have had to have built up a very healthy lead after the first 3 rounds. There were a couple of teams who were the equal of the Scribes on the other rounds but none could come close on the missing vowels.

FWIW, I still think missing vowels carries too much weight - it's very unlikely that you'd get an 8 point swing (as we saw in the semi with the Wordsmiths) or a 6 point differential (as we saw in the final) in any other round as the teams are all of high calibre and otherwise fairly well matched. One prodigiously talented missing vowels player can make an Only Connect team exceptionally difficult to beat. It was pretty much a foregone conclusion going into the last round of both the semi and the final due to this factor, rendering the closing stages of both matches slightly anti-climactic IMO. Nevertheless an enjoyable series and a deserved winner.

Londinius said...

Hi both

I liked the Beards question. I didn't remember straightaway that Marty Feldman's last film was Yellowbeard, but the Captain of the Queen Anne's Revenge is a little bit of a chestnut. Maybe not asked as many times as How do we know Edward Teach - but getting on that way. That's why I thought that it was points dropped for the Draughtsmen.

AS regards the Missing Vowels, well, the fact is that this is the game of Only Connect. If you take it away and replace it with something else, then you have something that isn't Only Connect. AS for this final, well whatever happened in teh earlier rounds, the Scribes had a lead going into it - you can't say that they just won because of the vowels, although this round certainly increased the margin of victory.

Dave Bill said...

Very well done to all concerned. The Scribes were worthy winners and I reckon Dom Tait is one of the strongest individual players to have played.

I'd never have a bad word said about Only Connect... BUT, I agree on the vowels weighting - this might sound odd coming from an Only Connect winner, but the vowels nark me on several levels.

a) Apart from they're in sets of 4, there isn't really a 'connection' aspect to them.
b) It is the only round where it is possible to practice (I am aware some sides have had access to some MSSNGVWLS software that has been created privately)
c) The number of points on offer is limited only by time - if both teams clean up the wall in double quick time, the vowels last longer. For weaker vowels teams, the plan should be use up as much time in the first three rounds.

We (Gamblers) have discussed this at length - we'd fancy ourselves to beat anybody over three rounds, but could get beat on the vowels.

davidbod said...

For critics of Missing Vowels, I pose you this question - in how many shows this series has a team going into the vowels round behind on points managed to overturn their deficit and win? Answer below.

There *is* a connection between vowels questions, it's just that you don't have to find it yourself. We have tried to add more interesting categories in later series that require more awareness of the link between the items, and we make the questions in the semis and finals harder so that they're not 'cheap' points compared to the earlier rounds.

Time doesn't actually affect the running of the show as much as you might think. Nearly every missing vowel round is within 15 seconds of 2 minutes. If someone solves the wall quickly, we take up most of that slack by getting Victoria to do the 'debrief' more thoroughly, and by cutting out less of the Round 1-2 chat.

To answer Ewan's point, there have indeed been wider 'point swings' this series mainly because teams who are in the lead have been happier to let their opponents do the chasing, and only buzz if they're 100% sure of their answer.

There were other rounds we could have done at the end but they would have impinged on our ability to write questions for the other rounds. One idea that I had considered - a basic "What keyword connects X and Y?" - has actually been devised as a completely separate format called The Common Denominator, presented by Phil Spencer, and it'll be on Channel 4 in January.

And the answer to my question above - none. The only time when vowels have been crucial is the second show when the teams went into Round 4 on equal points. For all the huffing and puffing, it's actually very rare for MV to be the 'deciding' factor even though, on paper, it should be one show in four. In fact, I'm pretty sure that in our 100 shows, the number of times a lead has been 'overhauled' is less than 10.

Baboonery said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Baboonery said...

Sorry, forgot to click post, and in the meantime Mr Bodycombe has made/addressed many of my points, so I deleted my first comment.

The vowels probably does have *slightly* too much weight these days, though less than they used to, the rounds seem shorter these days than they were at first (engaging/leaving in more early-round persiflage). Plus, as DB says, there's a bit more effort on the categories these days.

I think it's slightly less than ideal as a final round, feeling a bit foreign from the rest of the show. But a good vowels round is great telly (I'd watch the forthcoming CoC, for example, without giving a spoiler) and it's a signature for the show, just as the wall is, so it balances out, I think. And I say this as a person whose team was on the end of a vowelling (and survived) in our QF and administered one in the final.

Dave Bill said...

I agree they make 'good telly' but surely this could lead to teams concentrating on the vowels round as opposed to the other three.
In our final we were 20-7 up after three rounds and only won 22-19. Chris Cummins in particular was AMAZING on the vowels..

If we'd lost - (an analogy i've used before) it would have felt like we were a football team, winning 1-0 at half time, 2-0 at full time, 3-0 after extra time and then losing on penalties.

The advantage should be with the teams who are good at the whole show, not just the vowels. The Scribes proved themselves as worthy victors over the whole four rounds - they were excellent.

But hey, a million+ viewers disagree I suppose. Well done on that too.

Unknown said...

I've always thought the missing vowels round was almost a different quiz show but if twitter is anything to go by it's a very popular part of the show with the viewing public. Even if they're clueless at the connections a lot of folk appear to think they're brilliant at the vowels. Even I'm good at them sitting at home on the settee.
I agree we had a poor final. Too much dithering. We knew we needed a substantial lead going into the vowels if we were to have any chance. Probably double figures!
The Scribes were very worthy winners so no complaints from me. Nevertheless, we exceeded our expectations and had a fantastic time doing so.

jim360 said...

The missing vowels round is the part of the show I look forward to the most - I get the feeling I just don't know enough to be a serious contender in this show and that shows the most in the first three rounds. A lot of the topic referenced I didn't even know existed, let alone anything about them. But when I do know things my mind works fairly quickly, at least at the moment, and so I do quite well at the MVR. It would be a shame to see a fourth "more of the same" round that gives me no entry point to this show as overall it's a lot of fun.

Anyway that's my thoughts, I think it's right for any quiz show to be accessible to the general audience.

Jenny said...

Dave! I am just catching up on your blog after the Christmas break. I will have a good look round for an OC badge, though we only had 100 made so I fear they are all gone from the office. Mine's at home in Toronto, but if I can dig it out when I head back in April, it's all yours! (my fiance got one for visiting studio for the 100th ep record, so we only really need one between two of us). Thanks for all the blogs re: OC. We really appreciate the support and value the feedback from your readers J xxx