Tuesday, 24 December 2013

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!

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