Tuesday, 31 December 2013

New Year's Quiz Resolutions

Yes, it’s New Year’s Eve, and so without further ado I’d like to post my quiz resolutions for the coming year. I’ve had a much better year moaning-and-whinging-about-cheating-wise, but it’s probably wise to still include something about this.

I resolve to try to show more sportsmanship when John and I are beaten in Sunday evening quizzes.

I think that this still allows me to be indignant if I see any cheating in my home quiz in the rugby club, but to be on the safe side I will also make this one

* I resolve to keep vigilance against phone cheating in the quiz in Aberavon Rugby Club.

I did last year resolve to be more sympathetic in my comments about the quizzes produced by semi-regular and guest question masters in the rugby club, to keep my negative comments to myself, and to try to make my criticisms constructive rather than destructive. I think that I went some way towards doing this, but maybe still need to include something along these lines

I resolve to try to remember that not everyone takes their quizzing as seriously as I do, and to try to avoid making unhelpful comments at the quiz in the club.

I’m going to keep another perennial favourite: -

* I resolve to apply to another TV quiz show if I see one I like the look or the sound of

Yes, another year has gone by that I didn’t grace, or otherwise, the TV screens. Well, I came close to playing in a pilot, but in the end the company decided to go in another direction. That’s the way it works sometimes. Heigh ho.

The next is another easy carry over

I resolve to continue my support of the GetConnected Charity, participation in whose events has brought me a lot of pleasure in the last three years.

Each year I thank my fairy quizfather that they still ask me to take part.

Last Year I made the resolution to become a little more actively involved in The Mastermind Club. Since then I have had, I thin, three articles published in Pass, the club magazine. So this year I’ll try to take it a step further: -

I resolve to try to attend the annual Mastermind Club event

Let’s move on to a new one. If you’re a regular you might recall me mentioning an article in the Bridgend Gem newspaper about the Quiz League. In this it suggested that heavy defeats, such as the one my team inflicted upon one of the others were very demoralizing. If I said that no umbrage whatsoever was taken that would be a brazen lie, but I was more concerned about the suggestion that we might be having such an effect on the League. I’ve played in a League which dwindled until there were too few teams for it to be viable once, and it wasn’t nice. I love quizzes, I certainly don’t want to kill them, and so I made my offer to drop out of the League at the AGM. That was turned down by those who were in attendance. Since then I have actually been asked to drop out by someone who wasn’t even playing in a team at that time! So, with that in mind I will make this resolution: -

I resolve to try my hardest not to irritate members of other teams, and if the consensus is that it would be for the good of the league, to bow out at the AGM with good grace and no hard feelings.

On to more pleasant things then. What remains? Well, as always: -

* I resolve to keep working at my quizzing when time permits

Yes, when time permits. After all, this is fun, not work. Quizzing never has felt like a chore to me, and long may this continue. Which only leaves this hardy perennial -

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

I wish you all the same.

Happy New Year to one and all.

Brain Of Britain - Heat Four

You may remember how last week I was spoilt for choice over who to support. Well, they say lightning never strikes twice in the same place, but ‘they’ were proven wrong as once again there were two people I knew in yesterday’s heat. First up was my erstwhile OC skipper, Dr. Gary Grant, Mastermind Champion 2012. Sandwiching my two faves were Al McClymans and Iain Mathieson. Fourth to go was another former OC skipper, Sunderland’s finest, Dave Taylor. I felt it was quite hard lines on two such established quizzers as Gary and Dave getting drawn against each other in what is already turning out to be a fascinating series.

Gary kicked off a point, but left Dave to take a point with Rab Butler who was associated especially with the 1944 Education Act. Al took his first two but missed out on the chestnutty quetzal as Guatemala’s currency Dave took that. Iain also took a couple but nobody knew that C.P.Scott had complained about TV. Dave already had a couple of bonuses, but a little surprisingly nobody knew his first, that the Pleiades were the daughters of Atlas. So everyone was off and running. Gary trailed by a point, but his set saw him add two. He was undone by a medical question about the Coolidge tube, much to the schadenfreude of the audience, and Russell, who asked ‘Didn’t you do that one?’ Cheeky monkey. Iain knew that it is used in the process of taking X-Rays. Fair enough. AL took his own first, but nobody knew that an attercop is a spider. I only knew it because it’s a word that Bilbo uses in “The Hobbit” when encountering the spiders of Mirkwood, IIRC. Iain didn’t know the chestnutty Journal of the Plague Year, which Gary took. Then Dave got a nasty starter, which asked about an Ad Hominem argument. Gary took a great bonus on that, which meant that he now had 5 and a lead of 2.

To start round three Gary was given the waltz from Carousel to identify. He couldn’t, and so the bonus went to Dave. Al couldn’t quite get Electro Motive Force from EMF which Iain was happy to accept. Salmagundi did for him in his own starter, and nobody else managed it. Dave was very unlucky to give Voyager II as the first man-made object to enter interstellar space. I wonder whether he would have been given it had he just said Voyager. Whatever the case Gary was happy to take the windfall with Voyager I. The fourth round saw Gary unable to ascribe the last lines to a Shakespeare play. Alright, you could say that it’s my bread butter, being an English teacher and all that, but I was still pleased to pick out Richard III, especially since the only person in the show who did was Russell, and he had it written down in front of him. Al added another point to his score, but nobody knew that the guinard inhabits Llyn Tegid, or Lake Bala. Iain stumbled on his first starter. I was delighted to guess that Amiens is the largest gothic cathedral in France. I visited it in 1983, and it is massive, having the most incredibly ornate façade that you could wish for. No bonus for that. Dave didn’t put 2 and 2 together with his starter, knowing that 2013 detective novel is likely to refer to JK Rowling’s “The Cuckoo’s Calling”, published under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith. So, going into the Beat the Brains Interval Dave had 3, Iain 4, Al had 5 and Gary led with 6.All to play for.

The first Beat the Brains question was the old chestnut, which two countries share the island of Hispaniola? Is it just me who feels an urge to go ‘Arrrrrr, Jim laaaaddd!’ every time I hear that word? I digress. The brains knocked that one over the boundary rope without wasting any time. The second question asked for three of the largest islands of the Greater Antilles, and by jingo, they had that as well with Jamaica, Cuba and Puerto Rico. Not easy, and I wouldn’t have had Puerto Rico.

Back to the contest, which was nicely poised. Gary took three to begin his run for home, but didn’t know about Scott Fitzgerald’s article Handle With Care. That went as a bonus to Iain. Al didn’t know that Terry Scott played the definitive Cardinal Wolsey in Carry On Henry. Dave had that. Iain was given a snatch of Benjamin Britten, but didn’t recognize Gloriana. Dave did. Now, for his own set he took his first 4, and these weren’t all easy at all, but then in the last question was asked for an American novel of 1884. Obviously Twain, but Tom or Huck? I knew it was Huck since I have actually taught that novel once, but Dave zigged with Tom. Gary had the bonus there. Still, it did change the complexion of the competition, as Dave now trailed Gary by a single point – 10 -9. Gary kept his head, and kept the score ticking over with another point. He didn’t know that The Reason Why was an analysis into the Charge of the Light Brigade. Iain had that. Nobody knew Al’s first, that a crepinette is a sausage. Iain didn’t know that The Rivals is set in Bath, and so Al took his back. I was pleased to get Dave’s first. We both knew the theme music of Some Like It Hot – one of the most joyously wonderful films ever made. Dave went on to add another point, but a little surprisingly nobody knew that Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City are about San Francisco. That meant that Dave and Gary were now 11 apiece.

Into the last round and Gary fell at the first, the rather chestnutty pogonophobia. Al was given it for facial hair, fair enough really since it is the fear of beards. For his own he didn’t know that the UK driving test became compulsory in the 30s. Iain had that. He didn’t have Goya for his own, though. Dave took a terrific first answer with the Rankin scale. However he didn’t know that Danny Baker wrote “Going to Sea in a Sieve”. Now, if Gary took the bonus on this, then he would win by a point. He didn’t, which meant that my boys finished level with 12 points. As with University Challenge you cannot have a tie in BoB. So Gary and Dave faced off with another question – what was the official name given to the 1916 Act of Parliament which brought in the use of British Summer Time. Dave was first to answer with Daylight Saving, and that was it. Well played both, an absorbing contest. Gary may well be back with 4 highest scoring runners up getting a place in the semis – but with 12 the coin is in the air on that one. It was just enough last year.

The Details

Gary Grant -12
Al McClymans - 7
Iain Mathieson – 7
Dave Taylor – 13 *AET

Monday, 30 December 2013

Sleb Mastermind - Show Three

Good morning, I’ve been expecting you. Now, pay attention, because we have a lot to get through. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to catch up on what happened in last night’s Sleb Mastermind, and Brain of Britain for that matter. More of that later. For now, let’s kick off with James Allen’s round on Roald Dahl. Mr. Allen is a commentator on Formula One motor racing. I’ll be honest, I haven’t followed it much over the last couple of years, but I do add myself to the list of all of those hoping that Michael Schumacher will make a full and speedy recovery. James was clearly up for it, and although John made a big show out of being ‘generous’, allowing the New York Philharmonic where the New York Symphony was the answer, he did well to get 9 points.

David Bradley is probably best known for playing Argus Filtch in the Harry Potter movies, but let’s be honest, you’ll have seen this ubiquitous character actor in many things. He was superb as William Hartnell in An Adventure in Space and Time recently, for example. He wasn’t bad on his specialist round on Max Wall either. I couldn’t match his 11, although I was pleased with my 6. They didn’t ask the title of Wall’s autobiography, though, which I thought was a dead cert to come out. It’s called “The Fool on the Hill” , just out of interest. Oh, and his character in “Crossroads” was Uncle Wally, if I remember correctly.

Chris Ramsey was answering on TV’s The Sopranos. That’s one of the growing list of shows about which I’ve heard a lot, but never actually watched. Which means that my two points were really not bad going at all. Chris on the other hand gave it a decent old go, and ended up with 8, which seems to be pretty much the mark of a decent sleb specialist round this term.

Then to Shobu Kapoor. I’ll be honest and admit that I haven’t seen “Citizen Khan”, her current show, but I do remember her as Gita in Eastenders, back in the days when I used to watch that thrice weekly gloomfest. Now I suppose she was tempting fate by taking a single book – Jack Kerouac’s On The Road, and frankly, she wasn’t great. We’ll say a little more about that shortly.

So far we’ve seen one great sleb GK round, and one good one, both of which were in the first show. Shobu Kapoor was never going to provide another one. I’m not going to go on and on about this, but her particular form of brain freeze seemed to mean that she just couldn’t understand the simplest questions. Well, that’s what she said, several times as I recall. In the end John resorted to repeating the questions and she rallied enough to just creep into double figures for the whole show. Never mind, thanks for playing anyway. As it happened, 5 points was as much as Chris Ramsey managed for his own GK round. He started with a couple of correct answers, but then soon switched to flippant silly answers mode when there were a few he couldn’t get. The best of these – name the wife or Earl Leofric who rode naked through the streets of Coventry – answer – Dame Judi Dench – may well be the funniest of this series, although it’s not as good as Rick Wakeman’s – don’t tell him, Pike – of a few years ago. He finished with 13.

James Allen then needed 5 to take the lead. Well, he managed that with quite a bit to spare. His 14 was, at least, the second good GK round we’ve seen this series, although not in the same league as Mark Watson’s round in the first show. The upshot was that David Bradley needed 13 in order to win. Now, lovers of Harry Potter will know that the character that David Bradley plays in the film series, Argus Filtch, is a Squib. That means a member of the magic community who can’t actually perform magic. I found myself irresistibly drawn to remark that David is something of a squib when it comes to GK, I’m afraid. That’s unkind. At least his 6 points meant that he had the second best GK round of the night, and he finished a clear second overall. The show, though, was James’. Well played

The Details

James Allen Clic Sargent Life and Novels of Roald Dahl9 - 114 - 123 - 2
David BradleyThe Shakespeare HospiceThe Life and Career of Max Wall11 - 06 - 117 - 1
Chris RamseyCrossroads Care GatesheadThe Sopranos8 - 15 - 313 - 4
Shobu KapoorMigrant VoiceJack Kerouac – On The Road5 - 45 - 610 - 10

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Sleb Mastermind - Show Two

Let’s give credit where it’s due. For the second show running I have at least heard of all 4 slebs taking part. First up last night was Gail Porter. I have a lot of time for Gail Porter, her honesty and bravery over her alopecia. So I was pleased to see her giving it a good old lash in her 90 seconds on Number 1 singles of the 1990s. Now, if I’m honest I was more of an 80s man myself, and if I’m even more honest I could narrow this down to 1980-86. So I was pleasantly surprised that my 7 points was only one point behind Gail’s. In a 2 minute round 8 is no great shakes, but in 90 seconds it’s a useful total to begin with.

Danny John-Jules I will admit that I didn’t recognize until John introduced him at the start. Unless you’re a fan of either Red Dwarf or Maid Marion and her Merry Men, then that name probably won’t mean a lot, and if you are a fan then he doesn’t really need any introduction from me. Of all of last night’s specialist rounds this was my lowest scoring, and I only had 4, of which only 2 I knew for certain. Danny, whose dancing skills were used on several occasions during the run of Red Dwarf, certainly knew his stuff, and topped Gail by a point with a good 9.

Prue Leith is a very well known restaurateur, food writer, so her choice of wartime food in Britain looked a decent one. However I think that her round might well be one of those occasions where her view of the parameters of the subject, and the setter’s view differed somewhat. I somehow expect she was hoping for more questions on the actual constituents of dishes. Still, even having said that failing to answer that spam was the tinned spiced pork and ham sent to Britain from the US was a bit of a clanger, and showed that maybe she was more affected by nerves being in the chair than her face and voice otherwise betrayed. 6 points left her a mountain to climb in the second half.

Mike Bushell, BBC Breakfast sports reporter, finished the round off, answering on Alan Partridge. Yum yum, said I, being something of a fan. I managed 11, probably because there were few questions about Knowing Me Knowing You (A ha!) and none at all about the day Today. I’m Alan Partridge, together with this year’s film, are my favourite aspects of Steve Coogan’s work as the ghastly partridge, and if you knew the two series then a good score wasn’t hard to rack up. Mike Bushell obviously thought so since he racked up a perfect 12 from 12.

So the question remained to be asked – who was the GK buff amongst the 4 slebs on this show? Not Prue Leith, I’m afraid. While not suffering a pass spiral of Bunny Campione proportions she still incurred 5 passes of her own, as she edged her way towards 6 points for a total of 12. She made the comment, “It doesn’t matter because I’m stone last” when she was unable to dredge up the name of John Profumo – an admirable show of sang froid. Gail Porter did somewhat better with her own round, managing 8 correct answers to take her to 16. In her last question when John wanted the word grid, or more specifically cattle grid, she offered grate, and then jokingly raised her hand and said “Challenge”! That’s actually what you are supposed to do if you think you’ve suffered from a wrong question or what you feel is an incorrect adjudication. I’ve either played in or watched live 9 shows, and I’ve never seen one happen yet, but I’m sure that they do.

Danny John-Jules also managed 8, which gave him the temporary lead with 17. So of the first three of last night’s contenders none had managed double figures on GK. Mike Bushell, then, needed a relatively modest 6 to win outright, and so there seemed little chance of him failing to do so, barring a mental mountdown. Well, her certainly didn’t do that, and if his GK round was competent rather than stellar it was still by some distance the best of the evening. His 11 took him to 23, and a clear win. Well played.

The Details
Gail PorterMarie Curie Care in EdinburghBritish Number 1 singles of the 90s8 - 28 - 416 - 6
Danny John-Jules African Caribbean Leukaemia TrustLife and Career of Bob Fosse9 - 08 - 217 - 2
Prue LeithOnly Connect UKWartime Food in Britain6 - 06 - 512 - 5
Mike BushellLeukaemia and Lymphoma Research Alan Partridge12 – 0 11 - 123 - 1

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Sleb Mastermind - Show One

There are always two questions we ask ourselves at the start of any edition of Celebrity Mastermind, namely – how many points will they score, and how many of them will actually be celebrities. Miaooww! Sorry, I couldn’t resist it.

Well, to be fair the only one I didn’t really know was the first contender of the show and the series, Shaun Keaveny. The reason I don’t know him is that he’s a Radio 6 DJ. Fair enough. Shaun was answering on The Music of Led Zeppelin for Action for Children. You know I can’t say I ever listen to Led Zep any more – in fact I hardly ever just listen to music, I have to be doing something else as well. Still, time was when I was quite a fan, and I managed about 8 of these. Shaun had the lot, though, but since they were a bit long and he took a little more time over a couple he ended up with 11. Good performance.

Now the second contender was Mark Watson. A quick check on the LAM archives revealed that Mark Watson took part in a Children in Need Mastermind special in 2009. He scored a massive 33 then, but lost out to Lucy Porter. Last night he took a heavyweight subject in the shape of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, a work which is very unfairly mainly remembered as a collection of bawdy tales. It is so much more than that. Mark took a very creditable 12. We already knew that he could do the business in GK.

Antiques Roadshow has a very good record on Sleb Mastermind, withy Hilary Kay setting a record of 36 a few years ago. Bunny Campione is another well known face from the same show. However her performance was destined to fall some way short of her colleague’s. Answering on the films of Stewart Granger, Bunny answered 8 questions correctly. That’s fine, but it really didn’t give her the chance of winning on the GK.

Finally writer Frank Cottrell Boyce. Now, Frank was offering as a subject the life and career of something of a hero of mine, the late Oliver Postgate. Oliver Postgate created, amongst other TV shows, Noggin the Nog, Ivor the Engine, Bagpuss and the Clangers. He was gifted with such a wonderful, distinctive voice that I reckon he could have read aloud from the yellow pages, and millions of children across the country would have sat quietly and paid full attention while he did it. I’m delighted to say that Frank did justice to the subject with a perfect round of 13 from 13.

I’m quite sure that there is a section of the Sleb Mastermind audience who, while they enjoy a display of Sleb virtuosity are just as happy to watch it all go pear shaped. Such a round was Bunny’s GK. She isn’t the first contender to suffer from brain freeze, and won’t be the last. However I’ve rarely seen such barrage of passes in one round. In the end she managed 5 points to take her total to 13, but had incurred a mighty 11 passes for the one round. Well, she was playing for charity and good luck to her. More power to your elbow for giving it a lash, Bunny.

Shaun did somewhat better. I dare say that he’s not a quizzer, but he gave it his best shot, and added another 11 to his score to take him up to 22. Perfectly respectable performance, and thanks for playing. Mark returned to the chair, and I predicted some fireworks. Whichi s exactly what we got. I went through Shaun’s and Frank’s round sin this show and had them all, but a clear round on GK isn’t easy. I had one of Mark’s wrong which he had right. In fact, only a pass on one question stopped him from going through the card. 17 points took him to 29 , and set Frank a hell of a target to chase.

Which, to be fair to him, he made a pretty good fist of. Once he’d had a couple wrong though it always looked as if he was going to beaten by the clock, and so he was. The finish line loomed as he was still some distance from the target, and in the end he finished with 25. Good show.

The Details

Shaun Keaveny Action for ChildrenThe Music of Led Zeppelin11 - 011 - 222 - 2
Mark WatsonThe Freeman Heart and Lung Transplant AssociationThe Canterbury Tales12 - 117 - 129 - 2
Bunny CampioneThe Daws Hall TrustLife and Films of Stewart Granger8 - 15 - 1113 - 12
Frank Cottrell BoyceLoreto School in RumbekLife and Works of Oliver Postgate13 - 012 - 125 - 1

Brain of Britain - Heat Three

Let’s start with a list of the contestants. They were: -

Derek Clough
Daniel Fullard
Rachael Neiman
Gareth Williams

Yes, I knew that this was Dan’s heat, but I didn’t know that our own Rach Cherryade was in the same one! What a dilemma – who to support? Simplest thing to do was to give equal support to both, and so that’s just what I did.

Derek began wiith a couple of gentle lobs, but fell down on the colour Jenny Joseph threatened to wear in her old age. Somehow I knew that Rach would have a bonus on that one. Daniel has already said, in his entertaining account of the show on his blog The Quiz Addict that his first question was the only one he really regretted, being asked who named the Victoria Falls their English name. He zigged with Stanley, when he should have zagged with, well, I’m sure you know. Derek took the bonus. For her first Rachael got asked what the original name of the same falls translates as, and received a little bit of a lenient adjudication when answering Roaring thunder rather than The Smoke that thunders. Rach knows me well enough to know that there is no malice whatsoever in me saying that Roaring Thunder does not contain all the connotations of The Smoke that Thunders. Now, I have no problem with generous adjudications per se, but it is very, very difficult to apply this principle fairly across the board. For example, in a ‘year’ question, they wouldn’t accept it if an answer was only a year out. Although BoB is carried out in a lighthearted manner, this isn’t Pets Win Prizes. It’s a serious quiz, for a highly respected title. If an answer is right then it’s right, but if it’s not quite right, then it should be wrong. I’m sorry about that, and back to the show. Rach didn’t know what is found in a Stevenson Screen, and neither did I. Gareth Williams knew it is for meteorological equipment. For his own set he took the first couple, but fell on the rather chestnutty snow leopard. Rach was in for that one with ounce. On with round two. I wouldn’t have had a full set with Derek’s next questions. I didn’t know the first, the Leeds Piano competition. So even though I knew the next 4 I wouldn’t have had any. Derek knew that, and the next four and so took a useful lead with a 6 pointer. Daniel got a stopper for his next. He didn’t know that Ernest Schumacher wrote “Small is Beautiful”, and tellingly neither did anybody else. Rach was going great guns with 4 in a row, but didn’t know who Leo Amery told “In the name of God, go.” Derek had Neville Chamberlain for the bonus. Gareth took his first, but then we had a daft quote from 1989. Now, if it’s a bit daft, and it’s from 1989, the answer is usually Danforth Quayle. Nobody knew, and so we ended the round with Derek leading with 9 from Rachael’s 7.

I was pleased with myself for recognizing the Abduction from the Seraglio for Derek’s starter. Oh, alright, I only knew it because of the Too many notes comment – Amadeus is still one of my favourite films. Nobody had that. Dan was away with his next starter, but I’ll admit, I didn’t know that pan troglodytes is a chimpanzee any more than anyone else did. Rachael missed Chesil Beach for her starter, which let Gareth in for the bonus. In his own set he had a nasty starter with phylogeny. No, me neither. Gareth, then, was coming up on the rails, but Derek still led by 9 to Rachael’s 7. This was where we broke for the Beat the Brains interval.

The first question was – between 1973 – 77 there 4 US Vice Presidents – name them in the right order. That’s the sort of list question I rather like, and I rattled off Agnew – Ford – Rockefeller and Mondale. The Brains had all but Rockefeller – who let’s be honest was one of the least memorable US vice Presidents of the second half of the 20th century. The second question was rather macabre. It was – on what occasion in the last 20 years has a cannibal stood for the presidency of a major nation. This referred to Dr. Roberto Canessa, a survivor from that Andes plane crash show stood for the presidency of Uruguay in 1994. Nobody had that.

Round Four began with Derek Clough missing his starter, not knowing that My Country Tis Of Thee has the same tune as God Save The Queen/King. Gareth had a bonus. I thought that the speaker for the speech on Daniel’s first was Hugh Gaitskill, and fight and fight and fight again confirmed it. Dan missed it, but Gareth took the bonus. Rachael didn’t know that Vectis was the Roman name for the Isle of Wight, and so Dan took the bonus. Gareth now made his move. Despite Russell’s rather unnecessarily long winded explanation of the dealings between Roy Brown and Manfred von Richthofen Gareth kept his nerve, and finished off a set of five. This catapulted him into the lead. Now he had 14 to Derek’s 9, and looked good for a place in the semi whatever happened. Derek didn’t know the rather chestnutty - what is the only Borough of New York on the mainland, the answer being the Bronx. Daniel missed his first, not knowing that Capetown is nicknamed South Africa’s Mother City. Gareth had that. Now, Rachael’s second question in this round illustrated my point about accepting near misses. Asked about an address in Anaheim California, Rach offered Walt Disney World. This wasn’t accepted, and indeed the answer was Disneyland. Now, the adjudication was correct. Walt Disney World is in Orlando, Florida. However, world – land – there’s not a lot of difference in the answer. You might argue that Walt Disney World is as close to Disneyland as roaring thunder is to the smoke that thunders, especially if Rach meant Disneyland, which I am sure she did. This is the sort of problem that gets thrown up once you start accepting SOME near misses. Yes, I know I’m banging on again, but this sort of thing does matter. Thomas Gradgrind was maybe right after all. For Gareth’s first I think every famous 20th century British sculptor other than Jacob Epstein was offered. It was Jacob Epstein, though. It didn’t matter to Gareth, for he was a further point ahead with 15.

So to the last round. Mathematically Gareth could be overhauled, but it would have to be a hell of a round from one of the other contenders. Derek didn’t know that Max Tyler invented the yellow fever vaccine. Neither did anyone else, and neither did I. Dan took his first, but didn’t know Sir John Taverner’s The Whale. That was a bonus for Rachael. For her own set she took one, but missed out on the names JRR as in Tolkein stood for – John Ronald Reuel. I’m a little surprised nobody had that, mind you it is a few years since that one did the rounds. To finish the round, and the contest, Gareth took his first two, but it fell to Derek to tell us that Gaspard Ullrich were two of the many names of Dirk Bogarde. All of which meant that Gareth won comfortably in the end. Well played sir, some very good answers. Hard lines Rach, but well played, and I hope that you enjoyed the experience. Of the bog four – UC – Mastermind – BoB and OC it’s only Only Connect that I think Rach hasn’t tried yet. Any chance in the future, Rachael? AS for Dan, well, having read his own account I know that he enjoyed the experience, and he’s young yet. To paraphrase Arnold Schwarzenegger – he’ll be back.

The Details

Derek Clough -10
Daniel Fullard – 3
Rachael Neiman - 10
Gareth Williams – 17

Only Connect - Series 8 Grand Final

The Bakers v. The Board Gamers

Right then, here we are at the Final. If I’m honest, this time three weeks ago I was expecting to be writing about a Lasletts v. Oenophiles Final. Which just goes to show how much I know, doesn’t it. Both the Bakers and the Gamers lost once along the way, then went on to knock out an undefeated team in the semis. The Bakers - Tim Spain, Matt Rowbotham and Peter Steggle beat the Press Gang in a close match, before losing to fellow semi-finalists the Oenophiles, who beat them 27 – 15. In their sudden death match they beat the Globetrotters 20 – 19. In the semi they beat the Lasletts by 23 – 18.

The Board Gamers, Hywel Carver, our own Michael Wallace and skipper Jamie Karran, on the other hand had seen off the Globetrotters before losing to the Lasletts, then seeing off the Science Editors. In the semifinal they beat the much fancied Oenophiles 24 – 10, possibly the biggest upset of the series. So both teams were battle hardened veterans by this stage. Let’s get on with it.

Round One – What’s the connection?

The Bakers began the final with water, behind which they found – Ex-royal winner getting A1 returns – to begin. I’m ashamed to admit that even though I try to do the Telegraph Cryptic and Toughie crosswords every day, the Bakers saw that these were cryptic crossword clues before I did. The second clue was – Posh convict or Ian confined, and then we both saw it on the third – Plum sponge – which can only be Victoria. It was, and game on. Victoria really liked that set, and so did I – nice, clever set. The Gamers took the lion, as is their wont, and ended up with the music set for their pains. I didn’t know the first, but Natasha Bedingfield’s “These Words” I knew, which was followed by Elton John’s “Your Song”. I guessed then that these were songs about songs – and when the Gamers took the fourth – Barry Manilow’s I write the songs this confirmed it. The Gamers played better safe than sorry on this one to ensure they got the point. The Bakers took Twisted Flax, and this revealed a set that stumped both teams. Sir Walter Scott: Chivalry – Marie Curie : Radium – Carl Sagan : Life and Harry Houdini : Conjuring. I will come clean – I did know that Harry Houdini wrote an entry for the Encyclopedia Britannica – but this never occurred to me with this set, but this was the answer, each of them had written entries about these things for the Encyclopedia Britannica. Good, set, certainly hard enough for a Grand Final. Now, behind Eye of Horus I needed the first three clues – Sweat Bee – Separate Hard Lumps – Light Air before I had a stab with number 1 on various scales. The last – talc – confirmed it, and I was a little surprised the Gamers passed it on for a bonus. The Bakers happily accepted this. Two Reeds gave the Bakers a set of pictures – a willow – a maple leaf were the first two. Now, there is no willow on a national flag that I know of, so Maple Leaf suggested Scott Joplin rags. Wall Street did nothing to confirm or deny it, but a photo of Laurence Olivier in the Entertainer did confirm my thoughts. The Bakers just didn’t see it. The Gamers on the other hand did, and took back the previous bonus. Now, I think that I would have had a five pointer with the Gamers’ last of this round. I think they could have done as well, but played safe. The first clue was Windows Freecell Game #11982. Now, I like Freecell, but I’m sure there are games you just can’t win, and I guessed that this was the most likely connection. The Gamers took a second clue – WOPR’s Global Thermonuclear War – and this meant nothing to me. I did enough to confirm it for the Gamers though, who supplied the answer of unwinnable games. This was very helpful to their cause, as it meant that they led by 5 – 3.

Round Two – What Comes Fourth?

If one team is stronger than the other, then it’s often round two that highlights this. The Bakers took Eye of Horus, and the first in the sequence was Croesus. As rich as. Fair enough, let’s see the next. Benjamin Franklin’s alter ego I did actually know, since he was the writer of the tremendously popular Poor Richard’s Almanac. So we had Rich Man, Poor Man. So the last one would be a thief of some kind. The third clue was Lazarus at the rich man’s gate. This was enough to give the teams a beggar, but they just didn’t get the connection to rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief. No prizes for guessing that the Gamers kicked off with Lion. Now, all I can do is tell you the clues that they got – 2x with a little 3 above the x – 6x with a little 2 above the x. Michael and Hywel knew the answer, and though it looked like Jamie took some convincing they did give the correct answer of 12. It’s some Maths thing. As Victoria said, if you know it then it doesn’t need explaining, and if you don’t, then you’re probably not interested in a long explanation anyway. Ah, you know me so well. Now, the Bakers chose water and received this final’s windfall. China and Mongolia irresistibly called out – long border. Now, it seemed unlikely even in a final that you would be looking for shorter borders for this sequence. Which meant that all the Bakers had to do was identify the world’s longest, and as many people at home did, I’m sure, they went straight for Canada and USA. Five points. That’s the luck of the draw. The Gamers would probably have had a five pointer with that one as well. Fair play to the Bakers for having the guts to go for it off five. The horned viper revealed IV:Sailor. Now, I’ll be honest, this wasn’t impossible as a five pointer, but it would have taken a hell of a shout. However when the second clue – III: Billy appeared I did have the answer. King Williams, you see. The Gamers again played safe with – II:Rufus, and gave the correct answer of I:Conqueror. Presumably they might have accepted I: Bastard as well. Two Reeds was a picture set guaranteed to appeal to those of a similar vinateg as myself, and older. However all of the finalists are considerably younger, so failed to see it. First we saw an umbrella in a gale, then some orange peel. – Ah – said I –the last one will be a shotgun!. Gale – Peel – King and Purdey being successive John Steed’s assistants in The Avengers – that’s the 60s/70s TV series, and not the Marvel Comics superhero supergroup. Left with Twisted Flax the Gamers received Load the Toaster – hmm – Open and shut the cupboards – ahh! This was about one of the most joyous couple of minutes’ television from my childhood – Morecambe and Wise’s musical breakfast. What would come next? It was Break and whisk the eggs. I guessed chopping grapefruit. The Gamers were on the wrong lines, thinking of Wallace and Gromit’s breakfast routine – not a bad shout at all. However the Bakers confirmed that I was right, and took the points. This narrowed the gap, so that the Gamers led by 10 – 9.

If you’ve never seen the breakfast sketch, do yourself a favour, and click this link: -
Morecambe and Wise Breakfast

Round Three – The Connecting Walls

Neither team has a great record on the walls, but if there was ever a time to have your best performance, then this was it. The Gamers took the Lion wall, as expected, and made no mistake with it. They unraveled all four lines, finding three pointer – Hail Mary – lob and six. I loved seeing Michael tell Jamie – I’m, not letting you explain the sports answers! The answer being that they are all high trajectory throws or kicks or passes and so on. The second was Denmark – Patron – Melrose – Garryowen. Look at the words here. They each consist of two men’s/boys’ names. Collect – angelus – requiescat and grace they offered as parts of a church service. They are actually prayers, but that was close enough. Which only left Sweetheart – Tintern – Battle and Glastonbury. I only knew that there was an Abbey called Sweetheart because it came up on UC a year or two ago. 10 points, and a guaranteed lead of at least 1 point going into the vowels.

As had the Gamers, the Bakers put on a bravura performance, and separated all four lines with time to spare. Incubus – Kelpie – Imp and Bogey they knew as evil spirits. Now, Ocean – Aztec – Industrial and Futuristic they knew had all been at one time or another zones in The Crystal Maze. Peter earned my whole hearted approval by saying that the Crystal Maze was his second favourite quiz show, although strictly speaking it wasn’t a quiz. It was a brilliant show, anyway. The third line Neil Armstrong – Armistice Day – Nigel Tufnell and Cricket team they had as all being connected to the number 11. This left Eon – Demon – Medieval and Encyclopedia – which they knew can all be spelled using the Æ combination. 10 points, 20 played 19, and everything was set for a nailbiting grandstand finish.

Round Four – Missing Vowels

The first group = British Isles , fell 3 – 1 to the Gamers, but a wrong answer from the Bakers meant they7 stayed on 19. Now, for the next category, X-Rated parodies of famous films, I am sorry to say that I immediately predicted Flesh Gordon and Shaving Ryan’s Privates. Two apiece, and on to the next category. UK postcode district and equivalent American state wasn’t quite as complicated as it sounded – mind you, it did sound complicated. 3 – 1 to the Gamers, and that was all we had time for. In the end, the Gamers had carried the day, winning with 28 to 21 were the Gamers.

Commiserations to the Bakers, but you played very well in a good final, and played extremely well to be worthy finalists. Many congratulations to the winners – well done Hywel, Jamie and Michael – Only Connect Series 8 champions!

Monday, 23 December 2013

Little things please . . .

I've been promising myself for a long time now that I would dedicate a few hours towards learning how to really do clever things on microsoft powerpoint once I had some hours to spare. Why? So I can make some interesting interactive quiz games to use with the kids at work. Oh yes, never miss a chance to sow the quizzing seeds in young minds, my friends. So yesterday, and earlier today, I made up a powerpoint based on Pointless, with questions all about one of the books I use with year 7.

The most difficult thing was making the counter. I apologise for getting technical here, but I originally thought I could do it with an animated gif. That was unsatisfactory. However I cracked it yesterday evening, and I'm really pleased with the results. I'd love to paste it here so you could have a go at it, but I don't think that's possible - or if it is, then I don't know how.

FOr an encore I made a blockbusters powerpoint game this morning, and that works quite well. I'm thinking about having attempts at Eggheads and the Chase later on. Too much time on my hands? Ain't it great.

Saturday, 21 December 2013

News Questions

In the News

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

1. Qunu
2. Sam Bailey
3. Mohammed Abu Talb
4. Winter Wonderland MK
5. Karl Pierson
6. Jade Rabbit
7. Harold Camping
8. Skyscraper
9. Abbas Khan
10. David Lagerkrantz
11. Robert Holden, Matthew Winstone, Ian Laurie
12. Jonathan Tiernan-Locke
13. Giuseppe Mannino
14. Michael Rogers
15. Jeffrey Ganano
16. Paul Torday
17. Gaia
18. Stuart Harness and Gavin Humphries

In Other News

1. Which exotic bird was stranded in North Wales last week?
2. The late Peter O’Toole – how many Oscar nominations – for which role was he nominated twice – which film did he receive his last nomination for?
3. Name the top three in the BBC Sports Personality of the year
4. Who was sacked as manager of West Brom?
5. Who was the last man to be voted off Strictly?
6. What was the score between Man City and Arsenal?
7. – and Spurs and Liverpool?
8. Which award was given to Sir Alex Ferguson at the Sports Personality of the Year?
9. According to a survey, which is the nation’s least favourite Christmas song?
10. Whose album became the fastest ever seller on itunes?
11. The UN launched an appeal for how much money for Syria?
12. Who accused Home Secretary Theresa May of formulating illegal and undeliverable plans to cap the number of UK nationals coming to the UK?
13. Which 96 year old Oscar winner passed away last week?
14. Who was sacked as Spurs manager
15. Which teams have the following been drawn against in the Champions’ League? – Arsenal – Man City – Chelsea – Man Utd.?
16. John Major said who are great for Britain?
17. Who resigned as Watford Manager?
18. Which boxer relinquished his world title in order to concentrate on politics in his country?
19. Which European leader was elected for a third term last week?
20. Who ruled out becoming an MP again in 2015?
21. Which two words were David Cameron’s assessment of the situation when British troops pull out of Afghanistan?
22. In the Capital One cup what was the score between Man City and Leicester? 23. and Sunderland and Chelsea? 24. and Man Utd and Stoke City? 25. and Spurs and West Ham?
26. Who is Spurs’ interim manager?
27. What sentence was passed on former Lost Prophets front man Ian Watkins?
28. Who was chosen by Obama as a winter Olympic delegate in a move seen as designed to embarrass the Putin regime’s anti-gay stance?
29. What will happen to British banknotes from 2016?
30. How old was Ronnie Biggs when he passed away?
31. Northampton Saints were fined how much for allowing George North to play for Wales outside the test window?
32. Who was appointed head coach of Novak Djokovic?
33. Which veteran Lib Dem MP took his first ever ministerial post last week?
34. Who was banned from competing in the 2014 Winter Paralympics due to a refusal to ratify her ski equipment?
35. The Neville brothers’ father was cleared of sexual assault charges last week. What is his given name?
36. What was named the world’s richest property last week?
37. Ian H. Watkins from Steps won an apology from which website who wrongly used his photograph alongside the story about Ian Watkins’ conviction?
38. The roof of which West End theatre collapsed last week?
39. Which footballer was banned for two matches for an obscene gesture?
40. Which two teams made it to the final of the world club cup final?
41. Vladimir Putin compared Stalin to which Englishman last week?
42. Which manager refused an order to resign last week?
43. The last of which iconic vehicle rolled off the production line last week?

Brain of Britain - heat 2

Right then, as requested, last Monday’s Brain of Britain. The contestants were: -
Marcus Cavalier
Andy Crane
Nicholas Flindall
Mark Grant

Talk about a stacked heat! Marcus I don’t know, but Andy and Nicholas are both mastermind semifinalists, and Mark is a two times Mastermind finalist, and member of the Crossworders, Only Connect’s Super Champions. Andy is a very good quizzer. However Mark is a great quizzer, and you have to say that it was very bad luck two men of this calibre getting drawn against each other in this early stage. That’s the way the cookie crumbles, and on with the show.

Marcus took his first, but didn’t know that the spires of Lichfield Cathedral are nicknamed the Ladies of the Veil. mark knew that – good shout. Andy was caught out by a gettable first – he didn’t know that the halcyon is the kingfisher which let Marcus in for a bonus. Nicholas Flindall didn’t know for his first that Chaucer’s Tabard Inn from the Canterbury Tales was in Southwark. Marcus again had a bonus with that one. Mark took his first, but didn’t recognize the opening lines of Anna Sewell’s “Black Beauty”. Neither did I, nor anyone else. 3 to Marcus, 2 to Mark. In the second round Marcus took his first two, but couldn’t remember the chestnutty title that Wedgie Benn renounced. Andy was in for the bonus with Viscount Stansgate. Now, I loved the Professor Branestawm books by Norman Hunter – not Bite Yer Legs, I think – but Andy missed out and the bonus went to Marcus. Nicholas didn’t know that an exclamation mark in Mathematics denoted factorial, and Mark had the bonus. For his own set he did the equivalent ‘opening his legs and showing his class’ to use a Colemanism, and took a good set of five. This meant that he had a lead of 9 to Marcus’ 6.

Marcus, as so many contestants do on this show, missed a relatively easy popular culture question, being unable to identify the song the Candy man from Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. Mark had that. For Andy’s first a little surprisingly nobody knew that Parzival from Germanic legend was the father of Lohengrin. Nicholas didn’t know that the only known portrait from life of Jane Austen was made by her sister Cassandra. Mark did. Nicholas opened his account when he took a bonus on mark’s first question. He recognized a Jonsonian description of a cucumber. MArk now led by 11 – 6. Marcus took his first, but those pesky films caught him out again. Asked for the next four words after this quotation from a Marx Brothers film – “Either he’s dead or – “ he was unable to dredge up – my watch has stopped. Mark snapped that one up. Sadly for Andy he didn’t recognize the dulcet tone of Tracey Ullman singing her version of Move Over Darling for his first. Mark took that as well. “ The lowest depths a human being can sink to before God” according to Kierkegard was Nicholas’ first question. Nobody had it – journalist being the answer. Mark was tripped up on GBS’s “Three Plays for Puritans”. Never heard of it. It didn’t matter, since, as we moved to the Beat the Brains interval, he led by 14 to Marcus’ 14.

The first listener’s question was What do Bette Midler – Nicole Kidman and Barack Obama have in common. Immediately I thought born in Hawaii, and so did the brains. I knew the second as well – Larry Grayson – Cilla Black and David Jason all had the real surname of White. The Brains made very short work of that too. I’m very sorry, but you won’t beat Brains like these with questions like that.

In the next round Marcus took his first, but didn’t know that Wastwater is the deepest lake in England. Andy didn’t know that a pinna in humans is the external ear. Mark had that bonus. Nicholas was given a horrible first question, asked to identify the band in an early jazz record. Amazingly Andy had it with the Original Dixieland Jazz Band. Mark then finished the round taking his first, but failing to complete the quote – he that increaseth knowledge increaseth - . Nobody knew the answer was sorrow. Mathematically Mark could have lost still, but he was surely already in the semis with 17 points and still some time to go. In the next round Marcus took one, but failed to equate Yorick with George. Andy did that. For his own round he took his first but didn’t know that Brief Encounter was based on Noel Coward’s Still Life. Nobody knew that. Nicholas didn’t know the disused British Museum underground station. I did, but only because I love the tube, and even once considered it as a potential Mastermind subject. I digress. In his own round Mark listened to John Laurie reciting the Tay Bridge Disaster, but could only come up with Fraser, the name of Laurie’s Dad’s Army character. Andy took that. Marcus was undone by broadcasting again, not knowing that 1938 saw Orson Welles’ War of the Worlds broadcast. Mark was in like a coiled cobra for that one. Andy didn’t know that the horse Eclipse is commemorated on the Rowley Mile, and it was Mark who came in for that one. For Nicholas first I was surprised that nobody knew that the apostle Thomas’ alternative name of Didymus means twin – that one has done the rounds. Now, I knew a Science one. Well, I guessed it. Asked which Greek letter stands for the universal gravitational constant I guessed gamma – for G – and although Mark missed it, Marcus had the bonus. It was enough to take him to 10, but Mark had 20 by now.

Going into the last round then, Marcus took a couple , but nobody knew that an eggplant has violet flowers. Andy didn’t know that ‘the unspeakable in the pursuit of the inedible” was a line from ‘A Woman of No Importance’. Nicholas, who’d had a hard evening, took one. He didn’t know that the last item that makes Mr. Creosote explode in “The Meaning of Life” is a tiny wafer theen meent. To finish off, nobody knew Mark’s first, that the Coupe Aeronautique Gordon Bennett is awarded in ballooning. So that was that. In the end, a very comfortable win for mark. Marcus had played well, but his score may well not be enough for a semi place – the coin is in the air there. As for Andy, a tough competition with a set of starters which just didn’t suit. The way that BoB works if that happens there is nothing you can do about it, and you just have to take it on the chin. But well played Mark! A terrific performance. It’s far too early to predict that he will go on to emulate fellow Crossworder Ian Bayley – but you’d be a fool to bet against it.

The Details

Marcus Cavalier -13
Andy Crane - 5
Nicholas Flindall - 2
Mark Grant - 22

UC At Christmas

I’m not going to review every edition of Christmas UC this year, but I don’t mind saying it was a pleasure to see it back last night as the lead in to Mastermind. The University of Reading were comfortably beaten by Emmanuel College. I was delighted to see Emmanuel’s team including Rory McGrath, this year’s host for November’s GetConnected Charity evening, and a decent quizzer in his own right. I enjoyed last night, since it’s worth the price of admission watching JP biting his tongue when one of the teams comes out with a silly answer. In particular there was one member of the Reading team – they were doing it for charity so no names – no pack drill - who came out with the totally irrelevant answer of ‘sausage’ for one question , and then reckoned that Madeira is a Commonwealth country – wrong on both counts. Perhaps a little too much of the BBC sherry partaken before the show, there. A comfortable win for Emmanuel there.

Mastermind - Round One - Heat 17

It was lovely to see Christmas UC used as the lead in to Mastermind last night. A little – and I do mean little - more about Christmas UC later on. For now, though, let’s look at this week’s Mastermind. ris Forse kicked us off with The Presidency of John F. Kennedy. That’s one of those subjects where a lot of us probably think we know a bit or two, and yet it proves trickier than we thought. I had three of them myself, and was probably a bit lucky to get that many. I don’t think there was any luck involved in Chris’ score of 10, though. The questions were as needlessly long as ever, and under these circumstances any double figures score deserves some respect.

Now, I have actually read several of Peter Carey’s novels, the subject offered by Liz McSheehy. Oscar and Lucinda and Jack Maggs I can highly recommend, although I lost a bit of patience with Illywhacker and The True History of the Kelly Gang. I managed three of these questions. Liz obviously knows the books, but she struggled for the first half of the round, and even though she picked up momentum towards the end she still only managed 7. That’s not a bad score under these circumstances, but it is not a competitive one, I’m afraid.

Now, when I heard that Lawrence Cook was answering on The World Heavyweight Boxing Championship 1960 – 2000 I felt like the mother ship was calling me home. Boxing is an interest of mine. Maybe it was just me, but it seemed to me that the questions were mostly about the big names of the 60s and 70s, with a couple of others thrown in. This made it easier than if you’d asked about the other champions of the Holmes years, guys like Coetzee, Page, Tubbs, Witherspoon, Thomas etc. for example. In a way I was reminded of Colin Foster’s round on British Olympic Gold medalist in Heat 2, where the setters had by and large selected pretty soft questions as well. Not that I blame Lawrence for this any more than I blamed Colin – they can only answer the questions that they are asked. This Lawrence did very well, scoring 11. I was delighted with my 12, and it took my specialist aggregate for the show up to a respectable 18.

Now, I do actually know Ramdas Mullath, our fourth contender. Ramdas emailed me some time ago asking for some advice on applying to be a contender in Brain of Britain. We exchanged some emails and phone calls. In the end I believe Ramdas decided to postpone his application to work on his GK. His subject last night was James Clerk Maxwell. This was one of David Edwards’ specialist subjects when he won the 1990 series. Ramdas produced the specialist round of the night when he raced away to 12 points, veritably snapping out his answers. This put him in pole position, with the GK yet to come.

Before that, though, down among the wines and spirits we had Liz, who returned to the chair some way behind 3rd place. She gave it a fair old lash, and had decided, I think, on the tactic of passing on anything she didn’t get straightaway. That’s a valid tactic, and it can pay off. In Liz’ case it brought her 9 more points and 5 more passes. The total of 16 posed quite a few problems for Chris Forse, who was next to return. He only managed to add 7 in two and a half minutes to take his total to 17, which just overhauled Liz.

Lawrence started his own GK round rather brightly, but lost some momentum before halfway. He battled manfully, and did what you must do when the force isn’t with you, namely, he kept picking off what he knew, guessing what he didn’t, and not wasting too much time on each answer, right or wrong. This enabled him to get 12 points for his round. Not an earth-shatteringly brilliant score, but then it looked like it wasn’t going to take a cricket score to win last night.

Ramdas was a picture of concentration. You could actually see that he has been working on his GK with some of his answers – there were some of what I would regard as quizzers’ questions where he snapped out the answer without a second’s thought. However, as with anyone playing in a country other than that they grew up in, he was laboring under the handicap of not having the popular culture grounding that most of us would take for granted. In the end he took his score up to 18. Ramdas looked absolutely gutted when John told him his score, but he didn’t need to feel this way. Ramdasm your SS round was terrific, and those areas in which you were found wanting in the GK will come if you keep working. don’t let it get you down. As for Lawrence, many congratulations, and good luck in the semis.

The Details

Chris Forse The Presidency of John F. Kennedy 1961 - 196310 - 17 - 517 - 6
Liz McSheehyThe Novels of Peter Carey7 - 39 – 5 16 - 8
Lawrence CookWorld Heavyweight Boxing 1960 - 200011 - 012 - 223 - 2
Ramdas MullathJames Clerk Maxwell12 - 06 - 318 - 3

Repechage Places

Steven Broomfield 30 – 1
Beth Webster 28 – 2
Ron Wood 28 – 3
=Carol O’Byrne 27 – 2
=Peter Russell 27 – 2
=Chloe Stone 27 – 2

University Challenge - Round Two - Match Seven

Liverpool v. Cardiff

Liverpool’s Katherine Monks, Daniel Jenkin-Smith, Luke Nugent and their captain Chris Spencer thrashed Keele by 295 to 40 in their first round match. I did say at in my round up of the first round of matches that although Liverpool had amassed a huge total, their bonus conversion rate wasn’t great, and Keele never really competed on the buzzer, which made it difficult to assess how quick Liverpool were. Cardiff, represented by represented by Eleri Evans, Sara Caputo, Tom Parry-Jones and captain Roderick Lawford, had to battle to win a low scoring match against Exeter by 145 to 95. Now, on paper, this looked like a clear win for Liverpool. However Cardiff faced what looked like tougher opposition in the shape of Exeter, and their bonus conversion rate was better than Liverpool’s. So what I suppose I’m trying to say is that I went into this match with an open mind, believing that anything could happen.

Now, if you’re asked for an Edwardian composer, it won’t always be Elgar. However if you give the name Elgar you’ll probably be right more often than you’re wrong. Roderick Lawford had it to kickstart Cardiff’s push for a quarter final slot. Bonuses on Napoleon in Art brought two bonuses. Countries ending in – land – allowed Luke Nugent to get Liverpool off the tsrting blocks. Chemical elements and Greek Mythology provided a nice although tricky set of bonuses. 2 were taken. Sara Caputo knew the two main forms of Vitamin K. Literary works that faced prosecution was the set of bonuses attached to that question. The first mentioned Baudelaire’s “Les Fleurs du Mal”. Ah, memorise of French A Level - “Le poète est semblable au prince de nuées” – that line from “L’Albatros” always stayed with me, but I digress. They took the first two, but missed on D.H.Lawrence’s The Rainbow. Great book – Women in Love, nyah, not so much. Asked for the year of only two digits that saw the publication of Shelley’s “Ozymandias” Eleri Evans worked out that it had to be 1818. Physics took their score to 60. This took us up to the picture starter. We saw cities marked on maps of parts of the UK and the USA, and the teams were asked to give the one name shared by both. I recognized Bangor in North Wales, and knew that the other must be Bangor, Maine. Tom Parry-Jones had it, and earned his team three more of the same. A full set – Lincoln, Richmond and Manchester – took Cardiff to 85, and the lead was starting to look just a little threatening. Luke Nugent had a good interruption with Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Liverpool got a tough set on South American presidents. They didn’t get any and neither did I. This meant that at the 10 minute mark they trailed Cardiff by 85 - 25.

The next starter asked about which road Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman’s “Good Omens” offered as evidence of the hidden hand of Satan. Now let’s be honest, even if you haven’t read it, and I haven’t, you’d still go for the M25, wouldn’t you. Eleri Evans did and brought Cardiff the points. Legislation on open government didn’t give a great deal, although I was pleased that when the quote “open government is a contradiction in terms – you can be open or you have government” saw me shout Yes Minister correctly. A couple of bonuses took Cardiff through the 100 point barrier. Daniel Jenkin-Smith correctly identified the man praised by the New York Times as the Peace King of the World as Kaiser Wilhelm II. One bonus on astronomy followed. Katherine Monks knew that the given name of the founder of Saltaire was Titus. One bonus was taken on Dublin. Liverpool were starting to claw their way back into the match, but it was heavy going for them. Sara Caputo knew that Schliemann, probably more famous for the excavation of Troy, excavated Mycenae. In a slightly controversial moment she offered Ernst Schleimann rather than Heinrich, but it was accepted. That’s fair enough, but I have seen times when an incorrect given name has seen a whole answer rejected. Whatever the case, this answer earned a set of bonuses on letters of the alphabet. These proved extremely tough, and neither of us bothered the scorer. For the music starter Roderick Lawford very quickly identified the strains of Mozart as played by the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain. Three more pieces played by them followed. I must say, even played by ukulele. One of them was Wagner’s Ride of The Valkyrie – or – Kill da Wabbit as it will always be known in LAM Towers.

Surely this is what Wagner really envisaged when he wrote the music.

Cardiff had the lot. Tom Parry-Jones knew that the small projectile weapon giving its name to an orbital manoeuvre is a slingshot.Living creatures and their scientific names also provided a full set, and Cardiff looked ot have the bit well between their teeth at this stage, having extended their lead to over 100. Sara Caputo recognized various meanings of the word arabesque to take the next starter, and add to Liverpool’s problems. Members of the Westminster Parliament added nothing more to their score. The next starter asked for the three letter combination that is the most common ending of the surnames of US Presidents. Katherine Monks knew it was – son. Now, JP said there were 42 US Presidents. Remarkable error to make. There have officially been 44, and even if you don’t count Grover Cleveland, who was president on two non-consecutive occasions there are still 43 men who have been president. Oh well. Liverpool didn’t worry about that as they got on with their bonuses on biochemistry. These reduced the gap to 100 points – 175 v. 75 – at the 20 minute mark.

Cardiff’s serene progress towards the quarters continued as Tom Parry-Jones answered that Nigeria won their third African Cup of Nations. A full set on Rupert Graves followed. Daniel Jenkin-Smith recognized a portrait of Erasmus of Rotterdam. Didn’t he play for Feyenoord? A set of bonuses on European figures whose names are commemorated in European initiatives brought two more correct answers. Katherine Monks knew that Henry II’s queen was called Eleanor. This took Liverpool into three figures. Quantum Physics only brought one more correct answer. Daniel Jenkin-Smith was on the right lines with his answer to the next starter – recognizing Monticello as Thomas Jefferson’s house, but sadly he offered the last 4 letters as celo. Easy mistake to make. Sara Caputo really didn’t get hold of the question, and that one went begging. Chris Spencer knew that am toast is an anagram of stomata. A UC special set on words ending in – ngue – took Liverpool to 120. Nobody knew a set of words where the German and English cognates are spelled identically. Kathryn Monks recognized a description of Agatha Christie’s The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. One bonus reduced the gap to 65. Could Liverpool possibly come back? Theoretically there was enough time, but it would need full sets. Nobody knew that escape velocity is about 40,000 kmh. Tom Parry- Jones pretty much sealed Cardiff’s victory by correctly identifying Norwich as the UK city with the largest population that is located wholly east of London. Bonuses on andro words took the total to 215. Chris Spencer took the next starter on the formula for the volume of a cone. I didn’t do much with the set on an algorithm, and Liverpool , who knew a lot more about it than I did, struggled as well. Nobody knew about the Puerto Rico trench. Tom Parry-Jones knew that if you combine the two letter domain names of Spain and Sweden you get esse- which is the latin for – to be. Good, quick shout. A bonus on Italian art finished the scoring, and it was a comfortable win for Cardiff by 230 to 145. Bad luck Liverpool, but at least you have that first round match to prove to any doubters that you are a team of some substance. Well done Cardiff. That performance was by some distance better than the first round against Exeter. Very best of luck in the quarters.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

Rather chatty from the start this week. When Roderick Lawford offered Elgar he smiled and remarked “Your field – you had to get it.”
There was nothing for about 10 minutes, then he enjoyed the M25 question – chuckling and saying ‘very funny’.
He gave in to laughter again on hearing the ukulele version of Kill da Wabbit, observing “Yes, it’s magisterial, isn’t it!”

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

In computing a nybble has 4 bits.

Friday, 20 December 2013

Only Connect - Semi Final 2

You might recall that last week I predicted that the Lasletts would win this semi. This is only my opinion, and as always feel free to disagree, but I felt that Jake Laslett, Emma Laslett and their dad, Chris Laslett were good value for their wins against the Pikots, and especially the Board Gamers in their first two matches. The Board Gamers are in the final, yet the Lasletts beat them by 28 – 18 in their match. Now, in my comments last week I hailed the Bakers as good battlers. Tim Spain, Matt Rowbotham and Peter Steggle beat the Press Gang in a close match, before losing to fellow semi-finalists the Oenophiles, who beat them 27 – 15. In their sudden death match they beat the Globetrotters 20 – 19.It’s fair to say that many people were surprised by the outcome of last week’s first semi. Was I going to be surprised by the outcome of this one?

Round One – What’s the Connection?

The Lasletts chose first, and they went for Twisted Flax. This showed us a set of pictures. Celtic Park suggested little, and then what looked like a painting of Paradisio from Dante’s Divine Comedy. A still, which turned out to be from the BBC’s costume drama The Paradise followed, but I didn’t recognize it, and neither did the Lasletts at first. Still, the last photo showed a bird of paradise, so at least both I and the Lasletts were in for a point. Now, not that I like to brag, but I did have a five pointer for the water set which gave the Bakers their first go. 1960: King Constantine II made me suggest Olympic Gold Medal winners. Yes, well, I did use the Summer Olympics as a Mastermind subject once, and I have written an Olympic Quiz book. As usual, whether I’d have had the guts to go for it in the studio is a moot point. The second clue – 1924: Dr. Benjamin Spock – confirmed my answer. Also it would have been enough, I fancy, to give serious quizzers the answer, since Dr. Spock is one of those names which usually features in one of those – what do all of these famous people have in common – questions. It wasn’t enough for the Bakers, who also took 1908: City of London Police and 1932: Buster Crabbe. They didn’t know it, and neither did the Lasletts. As with any question, it’s only easy if you know it. The Lasletts chose Lion, and here I am bragging, but I got another five pointer. The first clue was Spider Man. Immediately I announced to nobody in particular – there’s a hyphen missing! Which is the answer, as it turns out. Funnily enough, I wouldn’t have had it from the second clue, Moby Dick, which is where Emma came in. Good shout. Now, Two Reeds revealed its first clue for the Bakers, and, yes, it was another five pointer. (Don’t worry, I played dreadfully for a lot of the rest of the show.) The first clue, Abu Simbel Temples Egypt, really begged the answer – it was relocated. The Bakers obviously thought so, since that was the correct answer that they gave. That’s the luck of the draw, but I bet the Lasletts wouldn’t have minded having that little gimme themselves. Eye of Horus gave the Lasletts Leopold I takes oath as King. – nope. Then there was Signing of the Treaty of Waitangi – here a vague idea was forming, but no concrete answer. Arrival of Columbus in the Americas didn’t shed huge light, but the Storming of the Bastille did. I plumped for national days, as in Bastille Day. The Lasletts offered events in years ending 92, and the Bakers for events all happening on July 14th. National days was the correct answer, and both teams could maybe reflect on a gettable chance gone begging. The Horned one concealed music for the Bakers. Both the Bakers and I were out with the washing on this one. The Lasletts were closing, knowing it had something to do with letters, but not close enough to see that they were all connected with greek letters – Catherine Zeta Jones – Alpha Beat etc. So, having benefitted from the Abu Simbel windfall, the Bakers led by 5 – 4, and neither team yet had really caught fire.

Round Two – What Comes Third?

The Lasletts chose water and were given NOC list – Chimera – Rabbit’s Foot. Sorry, but I didn’t have a Scooby for this one. Neither team had it. Apparently they were targets in the Mission Impossible films. Fair enough, never seen ‘em. The Lasletts had worked out the connection but didn’t know that the last would be cobalt. No points all round. Lion gave the Bakers Observing Norman English – The Wondrous Oratorios – and I didn’t see this one, but they did. If you look at the first letter of each word, you’ll get it. Feeling of Utter Regret gave the Bakers a very useful three points, and that was a good shout. Now, the Lasletts chose horned viper, and as a coincidence I used this exact same connection in a recent quiz for the rugby club. As soon as National Dairy Council came up I said that it would be sponsors of the League Cup. However I wasn’t confident as to which came 4th, so I waited for Littlewoods and Rumbelows before offering Coca Cola. We already saw with the Olympics set that neither of these teams is necessarily great on Sport, and neither had it. Interesting that Victoria outed herself as a QPR fan. I know that her dad, the late, great Alan Coren was the Sage of Cricklewood, which is certainly within the Super Hoops’ catchment area. I digress, and back to the show. Now, again the Bakers benefitted from a good choice, as Twisted Flax gave them the softest set of the round, in my opinion. Chargé d’affaires – I would have said was a quite well known term for a diplomat in an embassy, so Ambassador, or full Ambassador seemed like a pretty good shout to me. The Bakers looked pretty happy with that, but they took Minister Resident to be certain before scooping another 3 points. Two Reeds gave the Lasletts some pictures. Celery was the first. That meant nothing. However I had a lightbulb moment when apples appeared next. Waldorf Salad! I yelled, then remembering it was a sequence chanted – Celery - Apples – Walnuts – Grapes! before adding – sorry, we’re all out of waldorfs. Not part of the sequence, but my favourite line from that show. It’s from a famous episode of Fawlty Towers. Well, I say that, but all 12 episodes are famous really. Now, as with the lines from the Parrot sketch in last week’s show, neither team quite managed it. Eye of Horus remained to give the Bakers Grand-Terre, New Caledonia – Corsica – Martinique. Now, I think both teams, me included, knew the connection, French islands ( ordered by population) but none of us worked out that Réunion would be next. Still, what a good round for the Bakers, who now led by 11 – 4.

Round Three – The Connecting Walls

The Bakers went first with the water wall, and they isolated a set of oil companies – Shell – Sinopec- Total and Petronas. Then Dexter – Chevron – Fess and Lozenge gave them oil companies. This was done in fairly short order, allowing them a lot of time. They worked logically and methodically to untangle the last two lines, which were List – Handle – Bird and Britain. These they knew were all homophones of the names of composers. The last line – Buzzer – Bed – Axis and Cars I admit that I wouldn’t have had either. None of us saw that they can each be preceded by the letter Z. Still, 7 points gained, which meant that they would lead into the vowels round however well the Lasletts did with their wall.

As it was, the Lasletts did very well with their wall. A set of characters from The Wizard of Oz fell very quickly, in the shape of Toto – Glinda- Dorothy and Scarecrow. Then a nice set of words – Extremis – Excelsis – Utero and Camera – each of which follows –in – to make a latin phrase. I could see a set of terms used when addressing different ranks of Catholic priests, and so could the Lasletts with Ecellency – Beatitude – Grace and Holiness. Now, the other line was a little beauty. Each of these words – Ingress – Monetary – Eminence and Muchkin begins with the name of a famous artist. The Lasletts thus had the 10 points they really needed to make a game of it in the last round – 18 played 14.

Round Four – Missing Vowels

4 points was not an impossibly large lead to overturn, but it would need a great performance. We began with shades of grey – 4, not 50 – and it fell two apiece. However Jake came in with a wrong answer for the last, and so the Lasletts lost one of those points. Solar activity or its results went 3 – 1 to the Lasletts to reduce the gap to 3 points. I enjoyed the next set of Ironic Idioms – eg Hobson’s Choice. 1 apiece, but again a wrong answer from the Lasletts stripped them of a point, and the gap stretched to 4 with time running out. Terms used in a newspaper office gave another point to the Bakers, who duly won by 23 – 18. Lasletts, I can only apologise for tipping you last week, but well played in this series. As for the Bakers, many congratulations! You took your chances extremely well in this show, and good luck in the final.

Answers to News Questions

In The News

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

1. Goldthorpe, Barnsley
2. Stan Tracey
3. Gemma Steel
4. The Bridge Church, Neath
5. Felix Sturm
6. Barry Jackson
7. Lord Edward Somerset
8. Henrik Stenson
9. Eleanor Parker
10. Maggie Aderin-Peacock
11. Billy Foulkes
12. Viktor Yanukovitch
13. Thamsanqa Jantjie
14. Ian Dibell
15. Cathie Sabin

In Other News

1. Whose statue was toppled in Kiev?
2. How much did Jesse Owens’ gold medal sell for in auction?
3. What % pay rise did IPSA recommend for MPs?
4. What was the score between Fulham and Arsenal?
5. Which team have Arsenal been drawn to play in the 3rd round of the FA Cup?
6. In cricket South Africa won their series against whom?
7. Who was the contestant who left Strictly in the quarter finals?
8. Which politician played Schumann in public?
9. Which singer announced she has been officially diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome?
10. Man Utd. have been drawn against which Premiership club in the FA Cup?
11. Which two players contested the UK Snooker championship final?
12. Which former X Factor judge was formally charged with selling drugs?
13. What did the EC rule that people should be allowed to do on planes?
14. Which actor did the Foreign Office warn not to go to Russia?
15. By how many runs did England lose the 2nd test?
16. Name the final 3 footballers on the shortlist for the Ballon d’Or?
17. Which rule change did the FIA suggest last week, to condemnation from the sport’s world champion?
18. Graham Norton was told off for wearing what?
19. Who is the new Wigan manager?
20. Which dancer announced his retirement last week?
21. Who was banned from entering the UK to promote his autobiography?
22. What will happen for the first time in the UK on 29th March 2014?
23. What was the score between Bayern Munich and Man City?
24. – and Man Utd and Shaktar Donetsk
25. Why was the match between Galatasaray and Juventus in Istanbul abandoned?
26. What toy topped the Royal Mail survey of most requested gift in letters to Santa?
27. Where will Andy Murray not be on 15th December?
28. Whose house was burgled during the Mandela funeral?
29. Who is Time Magazine’s Person of the Year?
30. Describe the new symbol for the rouble
31. What was the score between Arsenal and Napoli?
32. – and Chelsea and Steau Bucharest?
33. – and Swansea and St. Gallen
34. – and Wigan and NK Maribor?
35. – and Spurs and Anzhi Makhachkala?
36. Who admitted smacking his kids when they were younger?
37. Who won the Varsity rugby match?


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

1. Town with the first social supermarket
2. Jazz Pianist died , 87
3. Won individual silver in the European Cross Country championships
4. Mary has been forced to wear a crash helmet to ride a donkey in the procession
5. Defeated Darren Barker in IBF Middleweight boxing match
6. Actor, George Bullard in Midsomer Murders, passed away
7. Admitted years of beating his wife
8. Golf Writers’ Golfer of the Year
9. Actress – Baroness in Sound of Music – passed away 10. New presented of BBC The Sky at Night
11. Busby Babe who played in the 1968 European Cup Final, passed away. 12. President of Ukraine, vacillating over deal with EU
13. The South African signer who made such a mess of Mandela’s memorial
14. PC posthumously awarded the George Medal
15. New President of the LTA

In Other News

1. Lenin
2. £900,000 / $1.47 million
3. 11%
4. 1 - 1
5. Spurs!
6. India
7. Ashley Taylor-Dawson
8. Ed Balls
9. Susan Boyle
10. Swansea City
11. Neil Robertson defeated Mark Selby
12. Tulisa Contastovolos
13. People would be allowed to leave their phones on in planes
14. Sir Ian McKellern
15. 218
16. Messi – Ronaldo – Franck Ribery
17. Double points to be awarded for final GP of the year
18. World AIDS Day ribbon
19. Uwe Rosler
20. Carlos Acosta
21. Mike Tyson
22. Same Sex couples getting married
23. 3 – 2 Man City
24. 1 – 0 Utd
25. There was a heavy fall of snow!
26. Lego
27. In the BBC Sports Personality of the Year ceremony – he’s in warm weather training
28. Archbishop Desmond Tutu
29. Pope Francis
30. It is a Cyrillic R ( like a latin capital P ) with a horizontal bar through it
31. 2 – 0 Napoli
32. 1 – 0 Chelsea
33. 1 – 0 St. Gallen
34. 2 – 1 NK Maribor
35. 4 – 1 Spurs
36. Tony Abbott – PM of Australia
37. Oxford

Quiz Show Pilot - Seeking Contestants

I received an email this morning asking if I could post a request for contestants to try out a new pilot. Here's the details: -


Love Productions are looking for trivia buffs to test run their brand new quiz show
We are looking for chatty and funny trivia fans who eat, breathe and sleep general knowledge.

On Tuesday 21st January we are having a non-broadcast run-through at a Central London location.

We will pay travel expenses plus prize money to the winner.

For more information or to get involved, please contact Anthony.White@loveproductions.co.uk providing a short summary of who you are (age, location, hobbies/interests), your phone number and a photograph.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Letter to Santa

Dear Santa, Thank you very much for giving me my dearest quiz wish and resurrecting 15 to 1. Now, if it’s any good as well, then that’s my birthday taken care of as well. Granted that you probably have already worked out who’s naughty and nice, but even so, it is traditional at this time of year for me to take a look back at my quiz resolutions. So let’s begin, shall we?

* I resolve to try to take defeat in pub quizzes a little more philosophically, to accept that there will always be a level of cheating in some quizzes, and to not moan about it endlessly when it happens.

I relatively recently stopped going to a quiz. There were a number of reasons, but one of them was that the results when one particular question master did the quiz were highly suspicious. I kept my own counsel about it – largely – and I think that I am definitely getting better on this score. So : -
Verdict – Nice-r

* I resolve to carry on the fight against phone cheating in the quiz in Aberavon Rugby Club, and to maintain my firm opposition to it whenever it is my turn to be question master.

I cannot say that I have any reason to suspect that any of this year’s quizzes in the club have been affected by phone cheating. A huge well done to everyone at the quiz. It does restore your faith a little – and my tongue is only partially in my cheek when I say this.
Verdict – Nice

I resolve to be more careful and sympathetic in my comments about the quizzes produced by semi-regular and guest question masters in the rugby club, to keep my negative comments to myself, and to try to make my criticisms constructive rather than destructive.

For a couple of months at the start of the year Brian was seriously ill, and it fell to me to co-ordinate the quizzes in the club. Thankfully Brian returned. Still, I think and I hope that fellow setters have found me supportive and constructive this year. So I’m going to say
Verdict – Nice
* I resolve to apply to another TV quiz show if I see one I like the look or the sound of I honestly didn’t see anything I fancied applying to that much, although I did come close to appearing in a pilot. ( If that show ever sees the light of day, I’ll let you know.)
Verdict – could be nicer

* I resolve to continue my support of the GetConnected Charity, participation in whose events has brought me a lot of pleasure in the last three years.

Each year I am honoured and excited to be invited to participate in these events, and will continue to support them for as long as they want me to do so.
Verdict – Nice

* I resolve to try to become a little more actively involved in the Mastermind Club

I couldn’t make it to the annual get together, but I have contributed some articles to our magazine, “Pass”. As for the get-together – well, maybe this year.

Verdict – Nice

* I resolve to keep working at my quizzing when time permits

Yes, Santa, I have been doing a bit on the QT. Well, I can’t just let Lemurs have their own way in every quiz in the club – just the vast majority of them.
Verdict – Nice

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

Of course this should be a given, but it does no harm to remind yourself every now and again that you’re doing all this for fun, and that it is still a source of great enjoyment, and fun. And it is – it always is.
Verdict – Very nice indeed

So thank you, Santa. What I’ve already got, that’ll do just fine for me.

2013 LAMMY Awards

Yes, not even a 4 and a half hour drive would keep me from making this weekend of all weekends the time for the presentation of the annual LAMMY Awards. The results of the Grand Jury are in, the guests are seated, and the nominees are already fixing their grins on their faces. Let’s being.

The Award for the Best New Show of 2013

And the nominees are: -

Face the Clock
Britain’s Brightest
The Common Denominator
Beat the Pack
Five Minutes to a Fortune
Take on the Twisters
Pressure Pad
Show Me The Telly

Yes, a bumper crop this year of new shows. January saw the launch of Rory Bremner’s Face the Clock. This show did not, it is fair to say meet universal approval. The mechanics of the show meant that you could be a genius level quizzer, but could still go out in the first round, and this put many people off, as did the easy level of the questions.

In February we saw Phil Spencer’s “The Common Denominator” where contestants were just asked to find the links between two seemingly unconnected words and/or pictures. A simple idea, but by the end of the show you’d probably had enough of it. Channel Four’s heavy bias towards young, pretty people was very much in evidence in the couple of shows I watched.

In March Jake Humphrey invited us to Beat the Pack. Like many of the nominees, the Faffing About Quotient of this show wass too high for my liking. There were comments in various places that judicious use of the fast playback can reduce this show to about 10 minutes without losing any of the questions. Add into the mix that you don’t get a lot of questions for your money.

I’ve gone on record more than once about the fact that Shouty McFacepull ( Davina McCall) is not my cup of tea as a presenter. However I have to say that I found her April offering, Five Minutes to A Fortune less annoying than much of her oeuvre. It suffered from being too long at an hour, and pitted against Pointless and the Chase you would say that it’s potential audience were mostly watching something else at the time.

Five Minutes to a Fortune used one giant version of an egg timer.Julia Bradbury’s “Take On The Twisters” from August used lots of slightly smaller ones. I like Julia Bradbury, but this show was just far too chatty, too gimmicky – all bread and no sandwich filling if you know what I mean. If you don’t, well, it was a bit of a bore.

John Barrowman’s Pressure Pad in November didn’t interest me a huge amount more, for that matter. It’s the same old story, I’m afraid, too much chat, not enough questions, too many of which were about entertainment etc. etc.

Just time to mention Richard Bacon’s “Show Me The Telly”. The best bits of this show were the little comments passing between the host and celebrities’ captain Chris Tarrant. Other than that, if I tell you that forced to choose between them I’d probably prefer to watch a rerun of TellyAddicts, that should give you an idea of my opinion.

And the winner is -

No Award

Yes, this is not totally unprecedented, and I apologise to all the honest, hardworking professionals who used their skill and expertise to make the nominated shows. Yet . . . sorry, but none of them grabbed me that much. There were two acid tests for me. The first was the question – are there any of these shows I would turn over channel to watch, for any other reason than to review them on my blog? The answer is no. The second acid test was this. With the exception of Show Me The Telly I put a still of each of these shows in my last picture quiz, to see how many would be recognised. The only one which was, Pressure Pad – was still running at the time. None of the others were, and none of them was recognised by anyone. I rest my case.

The Award for the Best Performance in a Broadcast Quiz of 2013

And the nominees are: -

Mastermind 2013 – Aidan McQuade
Brain of Britain 2013 – Barry Simmons
University Challenge 2013 – University of Manchester
Only Connect (2 series) - The Scribes - The Francophiles

Ah, a more pleasant duty this one. After several years of Mastermind wins by ‘names’ within the quiz world 2013 saw a win by the relatively unheralded Aidan McQuade. We saw the Scribes and the Francophiles win series’ of Only Connect. This show also saw a change in format, so that the first round leads directly to the semi finals, and resembles the quarter final stage of University Challenge, with each team having to win twice to progress. Brain of Britain 2013 saw a Grand Final which boasted David Stainer, captain of the Only Connect Super Champions, The Crossworders, and Egghead Barry Simmons. A great match saw Barry emerge winner and champion.

It’s easy for me to say this, but you have to believe me that the judging panel spent more time arguing over this award than any other. Barry would have been a most worthy winner, whose name would be a great addition to the LAMMY role of honour. However after the dust had cleaned, and the judging panel’s wounds and bruises had healed, the decision was made.

And the winner is : -

University of Manchester

Yes, the fact that 2013 saw the University of Manchester retain the University Challenge title swayed the committee. They beat a quality field, and a quality UCL team to retain the trophy.

The Award for Best performance in a Non Broadcast Quiz

And the Nominees are: -

Maesglas A, Newport
Lemurs, Aberavon Rugby Club
Old Castle A, Bridgend

Back in September my friends from the Maesglas A team performed superbly to win the CIU finals in Derby. The field was as good as ever, and I may be wrong, but I think that once Maesglas took the lead they never relinquished it. I was honoured to play with three of the Maesglas boys – Trevor, Richie and Gordon in the Birmingham Mega Quiz last month, and they are formidable. On the day in Derby they were a different class.

The Lemurs are currently the most successful team in the Thursday night quiz in Aberavon Rugby club. For the last couple of years they have beaten us regularly – not quite like gongs, but it’s getting on that way. We’ve done better against them this year than last year, but even so, I would say that they must win about 70% of all the quizzes in the club. When I started going in 1995 we used to measure ourselves against how close we were to Alan and John’s team, and how many we actually won against them, and now it’s the same with Lemurs. In fact I look upon having won more quizzes in the club this year than we did last year as one of this year’s better quiz achievements.

At the time of writing, the Old Castle in Bridgend are the only team to have defeated my team, Llangewydd Arms, twice since I started playing for them. Last year in our final match of the season they stopped us from achieving a 100% record for the season. They’ll be looking for a hat trick in January, I’m sure.

And the winners are: -

The Lemurs

I’m sure that you’ll appreciate where I’m coming from with this when I say that, when you get to a certain level of ability, you want to be top dog in your own back yard. But you have to pay tribute to a team who are good enough to stop you. Lemurs – take a bow, and well played.

The Award for the Most Enjoyable event in Non- Broadcast Quizzing

And the nominees are: -

The Bridgend and District Quiz League
The GetConnected Charity Quiz Evening
The CIU Finals
The Birmingham Mega Quiz
Pill Harriers Monday Night Quiz

The League will always be in my top quiz experiences. However being accused in the local paper of demoralizing other teams with a couple of big wins did kind of take the shine off the experience a little this year.

I loved the GetConnected Chairty evening again this year. Having it during school half term was a huge bonus, as was meeting host Rory McGrath, an absolutely smashing guy in my opinion.

The CIU Finals are always a top quiz event, albeit that I got us lost on the way, and by the time we arrived all the lunch had been eaten and nothing was saved for us. That’s life. Get over it, Dave.

If you read my write up of the Mega Quiz you’ll know that we did retain the trophy. It was a fun evening, even if some of the humour was caused rather unintentionally by sound problems.

As for the Pill Harriers’ Monday Night quiz, well, this is rather self-indulgent. Don’t care. Barry has been a quiz mate for a long time, more than 20 years, but we hadn’t seen each other for a couple of years. Teaming up again for the Monday night quizzes was great fun.

And the winner is: -

Pill Harriers Monday Night Quiz

Here’s where it gets self-indulgent. One Monday evening during the summer George couldn’t make it, and Gordon wasn’t there. Barry and I played on our own that evening . . . and we had a blinder. We won, and there are no mugs play in that quiz at all. A joyful experience.

The Host With The Most Award

A tricky one this. I mean, I would gladly award Jeremy Paxman, Victoria Coren, Russell Davies and Alexander Armstrong year in, year out, for consistent quality. This year the judging panel decided against making the award to a presenter who makes an average show good, and instead the award is going to a host who stepped in when the long term presenter stepped down through ill health, and in a few short series has made the role his own.

And the Winner is: -

Russell Davies

I loved the late Robert Robinson as a presenter. The fact that I don’t miss him when I listen to BoB now has a great deal to do with the charm of Russell Davies, the possessor of the best speaking voice on the radio. Many congratulations.


Well that’s it for this year’s awards. Apologies for all those disappointed, congratulations to the winners and the other nominees - and keep up the good work in 2014.

News Questions

In The News

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

1. Goldthorpe, Barnsley
2. Stan Tracey
3. Gemma Steel
4. The Bridge Church, Neath
5. Felix Sturm
6. Barry Jackson
7. Lord Edward Somerset
8. Henrik Stenson
9. Eleanor Parker
10. Maggie Aderin-Peacock
11. Billy Foulkes
12. Viktor Yanukovitch
13. Thamsanqa Jantjie
14. Ian Dibell
15. Cathie Sabin

In Other News

1. Whose statue was toppled in Kiev?
2. How much did Jesse Owens’ gold medal sell for in auction?
3. What % pay rise did IPSA recommend for MPs?
4. What was the score between Fulham and Arsenal?
5. Which team have Arsenal been drawn to play in the 3rd round of the FA Cup?
6. In cricket South Africa won their series against whom?
7. Who was the contestant who left Strictly in the quarter finals?
8. Which politician played Schumann in public?
9. Which singer announced she has been officially diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome?
10. Man Utd. have been drawn against which Premiership club in the FA Cup?
11. Which two players contested the UK Snooker championship final?
12. Which former X Factor judge was formally charged with selling drugs?
13. What did the EC rule that people should be allowed to do on planes?
14. Which actor did the Foreign Office warn not to go to Russia?
15. By how many runs did England lose the 2nd test?
16. Name the final 3 footballers on the shortlist for the Ballon d’Or?
17. Which rule change did the FIA suggest last week, to condemnation from the sport’s world champion?
18. Graham Norton was told off for wearing what?
19. Who is the new Wigan manager?
20. Which dancer announced his retirement last week?
21. Who was banned from entering the UK to promote his autobiography?
22. What will happen for the first time in the UK on 29th March 2014?
23. What was the score between Bayern Munich and Man City?
24. – and Man Utd and Shaktar Donetsk
25. Why was the match between Galatasaray and Juventus in Istanbul abandoned?
26. What toy topped the Royal Mail survey of most requested gift in letters to Santa?
27. Where will Andy Murray not be on 15th December?
28. Whose house was burgled during the Mandela funeral?
29. Who is Time Magazine’s Person of the Year?
30. Describe the new symbol for the rouble
31. What was the score between Arsenal and Napoli?
32. – and Chelsea and Steau Bucharest?
33. – and Swansea and St. Gallen
34. – and Wigan and NK Maribor?
35. – and Spurs and Anzhi Makhachkala?
36. Who admitted smacking his kids when they were younger?
37. Who won the Varsity rugby match?

Answers to News Questions

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

1. Paul Walker
2. Jean Kent
3. Tony Bellew
4. Laure Provost
5. Wantee
6. Stoner
7. Jonas Von Essen
8. Toby Rowland
9. Gal Gadot
10. Dustin Lance Black
11. PISA
12. Brazuca
13. Kieran Reid
14. Alexander Blackman
15. Mark Sampson


1. Actor – star of Fast and Furious – died in car crash
2. British film actress passed away aged 92
3. British world light heavyweight challenger, lost to Adonis Stevenson
4. Winner of the Turner Prize
5. Title of her winning work
6. Waterstones Book of the Year – originally published in 1965
7. World Memory Champion
8. Claiming libel against Andrew Mitchell
9. Cast as Wonder Woman in forthcoming Warner Bros movie
10. Reported to be in relationship with Tom Daley
11. Literacy/Numeracy and Science Test with disappointing results for pupils in the UK
12. Official football for the 2014 World Cup
13. RFU World Player of the Year
14. Sergeant jailed for killing a Taliban prisoner
15. New manager of the England Women’s football team

In Other News

1. Which country was visited by David Cameron last week?
2. Which premier league manager was sacked last week?
3. What was the score between Man Utd. and Spurs?
4. – and Man City and Swansea?
5. What was the score in the Rugby League world cup final?
6. – and between Wales and Australia in the RU Autumn test?
7. Who lost his 4th Strictly dance off last week?
8. Who ‘came out’ on Twitter?
9. Jamie Cullum was criticized for a gig in which venue?
10. Who is the BBC’s African Footballer of the Year?
11. Which Premier League manager left ‘by mutual consent’ last week?
12. Mike Phillips signed a new contract with which rugby club last week?
13. Pope Francis revealed that he had once worked as what last week?
14. Which store are giving staff time off to attend their children’s Nativity plays?
15. What will soon no longer be seen on British roads?
16. Who was banned from racing for five years?
17. Who declared some people too stupid to get on life last week?
18. Which celebrity was charged in France last week with inciting race hatred?
19. Nico Hulkenberg has rejoined which F1 team for 2014?
20. Name the cricketers on the shortlist for the ICC cricketer of the year?
21. French experts say that who was not poisoned?
22. Where is the venue for the 2nd Ashes test?
23. English rugby clubs have withdrawn from what?
24. How old was Nelson Mandela who passed away last week?
25. Which teams are in England’s 2014 world cup group?
26. Which country became a member of the UN security council for the next two years?
27. What were seen swimming in the Thames last week?
28. Who were the last of the Big Six energy companies to raise prices?
29. Which university took out injunctions to prevent students from protesting last week?
30. Who was reelected president of FIA, the world governing body of Formula 1?
31. Which world cup group includes England?


1. China
2. Martin Jol of Fulham
3. 2 - 2
4. 3 - 0
5. Australia 34 – NewZealand 2
6. 30 – 26 to Australia
7. Mark Benton
8. Tom Daley
9. Munich Animal Circus
10. Yaya Touré
11. Owen Coyle
12. Racing Metro
13. Nightclub Bouncer
14. Asda
15. Tax Discs
16. Gerard Butler
17. Boris Johnson
18. Bob Dylan
19. Force India
20. Alastair Cook – James Anderson – Hashim Amla – Michael Clarke – Kumar Sangakkara – M.S.Doni
21. Yasser Arafat
22. Adelaide Oval
23. Heineken Cup
24. 95
25. Italy – Uruguay – Costa Rica
26. Jordan
27. A pod of porpoises
28. EON
29. London
30. Jean Todt
31. D