Saturday, 11 October 2014

Only Connect - Match 6

Chessmen v. Linguists

You may well remember the Chessmen from series 2, where they won the third place play off. Henry Pertinez, Nick Mills and captain Stephen Pearson were reckoned by many good judges to be one of the best teams not to make the final of Only Connect. They were in the same series as The History Boys, who became the first team to reappear in a regular series a few weeks ago. The Chessmen’s opponents were Virginia Fassnidge, Gail La Carbonara and skipper Tom Fassnidge. Virginia is Tom’s mum, and Gail and Tom live together. No previous form guide on the Linguists, but if they were to live with the Chessmen they’d have to be good.

Round One – What’s the Connection?

The Chessmen elected to put the Linguists in first. They opted for water which revealed N.E.Smith – Jon E S. – and Tom at this point had it. They were ways of writing the surnames of members of the Monkees. A little bit of an oddity that one, but fair play, Tom had it long before I would have done. Lion gave the Chessmen Bundeskanzlerin (gesundheit) . Henry knew that this meant the Chancellor of Germany – good shout, that. The next clue was Boat Race Dead Heat. This required some nifty footwork, as Henry realized that the form of the german word is the feminine form and so could only apply to Angela Merkel. To date there has only been one dead heat in the boat race, and so unique things provided the connection off two. Twisted Flax began with 19 hand in cribbage. Never played that myself so I had no idea. Cry Baby by Jemini though virtually cried out for the answer – 0 points. That was the famous UK no point entry to Eurovision, where poor Chris Crombie and Jemma Abby were left pretty much high and dry by the Beeb. Tom felt so, and so the first three sets had each been taken on the second clue, but to Victoria’s amazement. The Music set was lurking for the Chessmen behind two reeds. The first I didn’t know, but the second was Hold Me Now by the Thompson Twins. We heard Love Can Build A Bridge, then Deck the Halls. The Chessmen just didn’t have it. If it wasn’t cards, then the only other thing I could think of was parts of a ship. Given the chance of a bonus captain Tom ignored Gail, and took the Tintin option. The Linguists disappointed by not voicing the second vowel of Horned Viper, for which they were given a picture set. We saw part of the titles of Dad's Army, an easyjet airplane, The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds LP, and the Only Connect title slide. The connection, seen by neither team nor by me, was that they all have the same typeface. The first three all have it, but the OC title slide had been changed to have cooper black as well, I didn’t notice the change until it was pointed out. Left with Eye of Horus the chessmen began with apt – apposite – awl. That was enough for all of us to realize that you can change the a for an o with each of them to form new words. That was enough for the Chessmen to close the gap so that they trailed 5 – 6.

Round Two – What Comes Fourth?

Often we’ve seen round two sort out the sheep from the goats as it were. The Lings took Lion to start, and they found Thames – which gave a couple too many possibilities for my liking, followed by Dover. Now, devotees of the shipping forecast will, like me I’m sure, have chanted  - Wight – Portland. The Lings needed Wight next to make sure of getting Portland. The Ches took two reeds, and Birmingham 1992 came up. Now, I took a long punt at the posts with London 2012. Birmingham applied for the 1992 Olympics. The second – Manchester 1996 fitted the pattern, and I predicted that Manchester 2000 would be third. It was. The Ches had unsuccessful Olympic bids at this point – but I was sure it was going to be successive British bids – and we didn’t bid for 2004 or 2008. They barked up this particular wrong tree and offered London 2004. This left the field open for the Lings who also barked up the 2004 tree. My 5 pointer came in. The Eye of Horus kicked off with Move MS Word scrollbar left. Hmm, I didn’t know. Bleaching allowed made me think of those cleaning symbols that some question masters are so fond of, and I thought it was something like a plain triangle for that. The Lings certainly thought so. Play, the last one, is a triangle with the point facing to the right – so what they were looking for was a downward pointing triangle. I suggested a give way sign, or possible the old YMCA logo. Tom had it, but didn’t give an example. It actually was a give way sign as the example – yeeesss! Twisted Flax gave the Ches – eg  SDR, DDR – which meant nothing immediately to any of us – then Berry, Buck, Mills, Stipe – which are the surnames of members of REM. – Blackberry creators  - I’ll be honest I was nowhere near it, but the Ches worked out that we had RAM – REM – RIM so the last would be ROM. Well done! Now, with water for the Lings – 4th: Exploded on stage irresistibly suggested to me Spinal Tap’s drummers. I think Tom had it as well, but like me, was struggling for what 1st would be. 3rd: Spontaneously combusted confirmed my thoughts. I dredged my memory and something about a bizarre gardening accident came to mind. 2nd: Choked on vomit was the third clue, and immediately after that Tom gave the right answer – which made me think he might well have had it earlier. Once again, the viper was left as the gift nobody wanted to be the last set on the second round. Picture clues showed us what looked like a Distillery,  Muddy Waters, some knees and lower legs running. Now, this needed a little lateral thinking. With a still to start, then waters – then run all that was needed was something deep. I suggested Deep Purple ( and any of you who said the word throat should wash your minds out with soap.) That’s a really nice set – kudos to the setter. All of which took the score to 12 – 9 to the Lings.

Round Three – The Connecting Walls

The Ches opted for the water wall. The first set they saw was a group of Barry Manilow songs. I could see a set of Muses there as well, and this set – Erato – Urania – Calliope and Thalia were the first to fall. This left Clio looking like part of a set of Renault cars. Which left in turn a set of beaches. Knowing what all the lines were, all the Ches had to do was to untangle them. The Kangoo – Clio – Laguna and Wind were the cars. The Renault Wind? Yes, apparently so. It only took two goes to untangle the others. Venice – Boulders – Bondi and Copacabana were the beaches, leaving Mandy – Could it Be Magic – Daybreak and Bermuda Triangle as the Manilows. 10 from 10.

Lion wall saw the Lings see a set of pastries early doors. I could see a set of terms from Star Trek, but then that’s my problem. Actually the first line they isolated were parts of a loom – shuttle – treadle – warp beam and Heddle. Looking at beater, capper, pie and row I could see that we had homonyms for greek letters too. Tom saw this one. The Lings took a little while working out the lines after isolating the first, but this meant that when they went back to pushing buttons they took out the pastries in one go – cobbler – crumble – strudel and turnover, and then did the same with the greek letters to solve the wall. The star trek things were transporter, tricorder, phaser and hypospray. Lovely work – a pleasure to watch. 10/10. So the Lings retained their lead with 22 to 19

Round Four – Missing Vowels

3 points is not necessarily much of a lead when it comes to the vowels. Countries that start and end with the same letter began with that old Pointless Favourite, Central African Republic. The other three were all taken, and two fell to each team. The second set were chance cards in Monopoly. This set wiped out the lead, as the Ches answered two, and the Lings lost a point for an incorrect buzz. Idioms found in Aesop’s fables fell 3 – 1 to the Lings, and as Victoria announced the next category the background music ramped up, and it looked like we wouldn’t have time for any Olivier Award Winners for Best Musical. We didn’t. The Lings ended up winners with 26 to 24. Well done Lings. But what a good match! Both of these teams showed themselves to be teams to be reckoned with, and nobody will fancy having to beat the Chessmen to go through in their next match. Great show. 


Gavin Tillman said...

You often mention recidivists in your posts. A related point is the cross fertilisation between the different top flight BBC quiz programmes (Only Connect, Mastermind and University Challenge). It is uncanny how often I spot a player in one of these that a recognise as a previous player from one of the other two.

I'm not sure whether this has always been the case and it's only in these days of catch up TV that I've actually noticed, or whether this is happening a lot more than it used to. In other words once BBC knows someone, are they more likely to select them, or even positively encourage them to enter? Cuts both ways of course: I've read somewhere - here probably - that players from the top flight show are barred from some other shows such as Pointless.

The odd player I've seen from all three shows.

This week a couple of the chessmen looked very familiar. One of them, captain Stephen Pearson, featured on the University Challenge documentary about how teams get selected; he was on Manchester's team early on in the Paxman era, and has since acted as coach to Manchester's UC teams in subsequent series.

The other, Henry Pertinez I also recognised from a much more recent UC series; I speculated that all three were in fact UC Manchester alumni, and this was in fact confirmed by a colleague at work, himself a Manchester UC alumnus.

No major issue, more an observation.

Stephen Follows said...

'In other words once BBC knows someone, are they more likely to select them, or even positively encourage them to enter?'

It won't be the BBC, as such, but the producers of individual shows. I got an 'Only Connect' application form last year (although didn't end up applying because one of my team had to pull out). There's quite a large box on the form where you have to describe in detail your entire previous involvement in broadcast quizzes.

The wording makes it seem as though they're asking you to own up to a previous conviction, as though it's some sort of CRB check. However, it's obvious from the people who get on to the show - and there was another all-Manchester UC team in the last series - that it's actually a method of positive selection.

Londinius said...

Hi Gavin, Hi Stephen,

I don't know of any production company who have ever come out with a clear and open statement on their policy towards applicants who have already appeared on other shows before. So what follows is based on my own experience and deduction.

Some shows have or had a no reappearance policy. For most of its original run, once you were out of Fifteen to One you couldn't come back. Mastermind you couldn't come back until 1995. Only Connect when I was on series 4 told us that the policy then was you couldn't come back.

As a rough rule of thumb, I would say that the greater the monetary value of the prize the less likely that players with a long list of previous appearances are to get on. It can happen - I have been to two auditions where the researchers hadn't actually looked at my previous appearances on my form, but it's a lot more rare. I don't know that you could say that it's anything in the way of an outright ban. I think all production companies would tell you, with some reason, that they consider each application strictly on its own merits. For example, Dave Bill, one of the Gamblers who won series 3 of Only Connect, went on to win in Pointless, and to play in Breakaway. So it can be done.

At the serious end of the market appearances are far more common. It's only natural for a good quizzer to apply to Mastermind, OC, BoB and 15 to 1, for example, and it's important to each of these shows to put forward some contestants of a high calibre.