Saturday, 23 September 2017

University Challenge - Round One - Heat Nine - Leicester v. Fitzwilliam, Cambridge


Leicester v. Fitzwilliam, Cambridge

Yes, you’re right. The big question about this contest was – were we going to get a real contest, or was one of the two teams going to win easily again? Leicester, determined not do be easily pushed to one side, were Graham Aldred, Stan French, Jamie Byrne and their captain, Pip Brown. Equally resolved not to serve as cannon fodder were Fitzwilliam’s team of Theo Tindall, Theo Howe, Jack Maloney and their own skipper, Hugh Oxlade. Chiswickians? Not a one. 

As soon as he heard the first question wanted the word used for an early spiritual leader of Sikhism, Theo Tindall slammed the buzzer and gave the correct answer of guru. Internet company names gave both of us two gimmes. Both teams dwelt on the buzzer a little bit before Stan French answered that Chris Boardman was the man on the lotus bike who won the 1992 Olympic Pursuit gold. Shrinking lakes in Asia were by no means easy, and Leicester took one of this set of bonuses. I thought that Redox was bubble bath, but apparantly it’s some chemical thing, and Stan French identified it for his double. Notable people with names of 4 syllables provided Leicester with two correct answer, and me with a lap of honour around the living room for knowing Torricelli, which was the one that they missed. Jamie Byrne was in too early for the next starter, and this one was one where it really paid dividends to wait until it became obvious that the answer required was Death Valley. That’s what Theo Tindall did. Famous women and their famous husbands provided me with one and Fitzwilliam with 2. The first picture starter was a UC special – which showed umbers and weights of 4 elements. Teams had to take their symbols and say which word they spelled out. I worked out cook. Theo Howe came close, as did Jamie Byrne, but both were one letter away. There was a great buzzer race when the next starter became clear – blah blah blah, the same gallery houses a version of “The Scream”  - bang! Theo Tindall won the race to say Oslo. The picture bonuses gave us more of the same, with words from elements and Fitzwilliam took a good full house. At the ten minute mark they led by 65 – 30.

The impressive Mr. Tindall continued his good form recognising a description of the island of Sulawesi for the next starter. A lovely UC set on smelling salts in Victorian novels (apparently there was a law requiring smelling salts to be mentioned in novels between 1837 and 1901 ) did not enable them to increase the lead. Theo Tindall completed a hattrick, knowing that when you hear ‘Aeneid’ and ’Mythical Queen’, then Dido is usually the answer. Early 20th century industry gave us both a full house, and took Fitzwilliam to triple figures. Nobody knew about a British and French attack on Beijing in 1860, so we rolled on to the next starter. Simon Aldred recognised the Adam/Venerable Bede connection for the nest starter. The Peterloo Massacre provided two correct answers for Leicester, and the fightback was under way. Pip Brown recognised a wee bit of Ravel for the music starter. Works with the name of another composer in their titles, and they managed 1. Simon Aldred was first to buzz in with the title of Chaplin’s 1940 film “The Great Dictator”. Organisms that thrive in extreme environments sadly did not include one about English teachers, but gave Leicester enough to cut the deficit to 10 points. For the next starter Theo Howe buzzed in early with the only titel of a James Baldwin novel that I knew as well, and lost five for his pains. Leicester did not know ‘Giovanni’s Room’, the title required, either. Thus, just before the 20 minute mark the scores stood at 85 – 90, and joy of joys, we had a real contest. 

Jack Maloney took his first starter, knowing the Kattegat and Kaliningrad both start with K. 2 bonuses on banana cultivation followed. The second picture showed us the great former England cricket captain Mike Brearley, allowing Hugh Oxlade to take his first starter. The team also recognised Andrew Strauss to take a further 5 points. Right, if you ever hear the word ‘Astapovo’ in a question, slam the buzzer through the desk and answer ‘Tolstoy’. It’s the location of the railway station where he died. Theo Tindall picked that particular piece of low hanging fruit. 2 correct answers on courtiers and favourites of the Virgin Queen took the lead to 60, and you fancied that the winning post was in sight for Fitzwilliam now. Pip Brown knew several books which coupled capitalism with something else in their titles. Two bonuses put Leicester through the 100 point barrier, and there have been too few times this series when both teams have managed triple figure scores. I took a second lap of honour after guessing that fat is stored in the elaioplast of plants. Fitzwilliam took that, and a couple of bonuses on humanism put more gloss on their score. The Cambridge skipper took the next starter, identifying Maximilian as the ill fated Habsburg appointed Emperor of Mexico. . . briefly. The four corner US states which all meet at the same point provided a full house. Taking Fitzwilliam to 200, Theo Howe identified witch-hazel for the next starter, but there was no time for them to add to their score as we were gonged after one passed bonus. 

The score – 200 – 105, looks like a bit of a walkover. Nonsense. All bar 5 points of that gap were achieved in the last few minutes, when Fitzwilliam were simply too strong on buzzer and bonuses for a good Leicester team. Well done to Fitzwilliam. This series being what it is, though, Leicester are, I think, still in with a chance of a repechage slot, and I wish them good luck. 

Thanks for giving us a contest, both. 

Jeremy Paxman Watch

JP got really sniffy when Leicester missed the last music bonus. “No, it’s Rachmaninov. I thought that was the easiest of the lot actually.” Well, Jez, answer me this one, then. Who recorded “Ozzie’s Dream” with the Tottenham Hotspur FA Cup final squad in 1981? No? It was Chas and Dave. Not so smart now, are you?

“Who’d have thought that you’d know so much about banana cultivation?” he scoffed after the banana bonuses. God knows what he’d have said if they’d had a full house on that set. 

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

The E in Ebay originally stood for Echo

Friday, 22 September 2017

Mastermind - Round One - Heat 8

I would like to thank all 4 of last night’s contenders. I’ve had a good week at work, but an extremely busy one, and last night’s contest was just what I wanted to see after a week of honest toil.

First up was Terence Saunders. Last time out for Terence was in Clive’s 2014 season, when he was beaten into second in his heat by a single point. Last night Terence was offering a good traditional MM subject in the shape of the Lives and Comic Operas of Gilbert and Sullivan. Here’s an interesting point. Mr. Saunders is a free lance musician, and therefore you could argue he was taking a subject which impinges on his work. Over a decade ago I was told that I couldn’t use the life and work of WM Thackeray as a subject because I am an English teacher. Not that I’m complaining mind you. Who knows, maybe the policy has changed since? Whatever the case, Terence was looking at a perfect round right up to the last question, where he offered an answer scant moments before the correct answer came to his lips. Nonetheless, 13 is a serious SS score nowadays.

Jonathan Wright, a Mastermind virgin as far as I know, offered a subject which I came close to choosing for Champion of Champions. In fact, I would have done had it not been for the fact that a contender in the regular series that year was doing it. I have also written a quiz book - still available on your kindle - on the subject. So I think it’s fair to say that I know enough about the Tour de France to say that the questions in this round, well, they weren’t all gimmes, but only a couple of them were at all testing. Jonathan dropped a couple that I thought he might have had. Nonetheless, he managed 1 more than I did. At least this meant that, together with my 2 points from Gilbert and Sullivan, I had already scored more on SS than I did in the whole of last week’s show. 

Our second recidivist of the evening was Andrew Teale. I believe that Andrew joins a relatively select band who have appeared in 4 series. We saw Andrew in 2010, the 2014 series, and Marianne’s 2015 series where he reached the semis. His subject this time was Thomas Becket. Now, I feared a little for Andrew when he seemed so keyed up for battle at the start of his round that he leapt in with an answer he realised was wrong halfway through saying it. He rallied from that early setback, but from my own knowledge of Becket I think he had a few stinkers. I had 4 to go to 17, and Andrew had 9. That left him 4 points behind the leader and facing an uphill battle in the GK.

Coronation Street since 2000 might strike some people as a ‘soft subject’. Apologies for using the vernacular, but that’s a load of old cobblers. Just think how many episodes there have been in that time, and no, I don’t know the answer to that. Ailsa Watson probably does though. I can’t really comment on the level of the questions, since I don’t know enough about it – I haven’t been a regular Corrie watcher since the days of Elsie Tanner and Hilda Ogden. Nonetheless, 10 and 1 pass looked like a pretty decent return. I was pleased to pick up three pieces of low hanging fruit to give me a respectable aggregate of 20 for the specialists. 

Andrew was first to return for the GK round. I didn’t honestly think that he had the greatest start to the round, as he missed several which I think he might well have had on another day. Nonetheless, he picked up momentum as the round continued, and by the end he’d added 14 to his total. He didn’t look all that happy about it as he rose from the chair, but let’s make no bones about it, he’d at least done enough to open the door to the corridor of doubt for the opposition.

If Ailsa Watson was in any doubt, though, she didn’t show it. She needed 13 to go into the lead, and that’s a serious target. Yet from the moment she answered her first question correctly she never looked like she was in any danger at all. I shan’t beat about the bush. Alsa produced a round out of the absolute top draw, and as the round ended, with her scoring a magnificent 18 points, I couldn’t stop myself from standing up and applauding the television. Ailsa, that was fantastic, and an absolute pleasure to watch. 

The great danger now, was that everything that followed would be an anti climax. Ailsa’s round was of a ‘blowing the rest of the opposition away’ stature. So it is to Jonathan Wright’s great credit that he smiled as John reminded him of the size of his task, and then set about it with gusto. He needed 16 and no more than 1 pass to take the lead, and blimey, he gave it a good lash. He fell slightly short, though, scoring 15 and no passes. As John would later point out, in this series it surely gives him a very good chance of a semi final slot of his own. 

Terence Saunders needed 15 and no more than 1 pass to win. In his last appearance he did actually score 15, as it was his SS that cost him a chance of a win. It did look like he might do it as well, for the first minute. A pass, though, seemed to take all the wind out of his sails. Several followed in quick succession. Mastermind can be a cruel mistress sometimes – in the space of just a few questions you can go from fighting for a win to fighting to avoid last place. Sadly for Terence, this was a losing struggle. He laughed though, and showed admirable good humour as John announced his score of 22.

What a show. This is what I’ve been waiting for all series. All 4 contenders acquitted themselves well. Hard lines to Andrew – sometimes it is just not your night, and when that’s the case then there is nothing you can do about it. Well done to Jonathan, and I hope you make it to the semis – you deserve to for that performance. But many, many congratulations to Ailsa. If you can repeat that level of GK performance, then you are a serious contender, in fact, a very serious contender indeed. Good luck in the semis.

The Details

Terence Saunders
The Lives and Comic Operas of Gilbert and Sullivan
13
0
9
5
22
5
Jonathan Wright
The History of the Tour de France
12
0
15
0
27
0
Andrew Teale
Thomas Becket
9
1
14
2
23
3
Ailsa Watson
Coronation Street Since 2000
10
1
18
1
28
2

Saturday, 16 September 2017

University Challenge - Round 1 - Heat 8


Sheffield Hallam v. Newcastle

Right, what were we asking from this heat, ladies and gents? Well, another close match would be nice. Sheffield Hallam’s team were Richard Simkins, Alex Crombie, James Hanson and their captain, Chris Doyle. Their opponents, Newcastle, were Jack Reynard, Molly Nielsen, Adam Lowery and skipper Jonathan Noble. None of the 8 claimed to hail from Chiswick. 

The first starter required the name of a religion. Jack Reynard buzzed in too early, before it became obvious we were looking for Hinduism. Chris Doyle missed something of an open goal with that one when he answered for Sheffield. The next starter gave us descriptions of the moon and the sun, but nobody recognised them. Finally first blood was taken for Newcastle by Molly Nielsen, who recognised definitions of a group of words that all began with – who - . We both scored a full house of bonuses on Russian Composers. Neither team knew that Einstein went to University in Switzerland, which was the key to answering the next starter, and Alex Crombie came in too early, losing 5. He made up for it, mind you, with a great early buzz to identify Lyme’s Disease for the next starter. Orwell’s 1984 provided no extra points, and we moved to the next starter. Jonathan Noble came in early to identify Henry VIII as the recipient of the title Defender of the Faith. A full house for me on John Napier provided two correct answers for Newcastle. We came thus to the first picture starter. This was an interesting one. We saw a graph basically showing how many searches there were for a particular neologism in June 2016. Alex Crombie was the first to get it, buzzing in with Brexit. Good shout. More google graphs provided no more points, and this left the score at the ten minute mark at 40 – 15 in favour of Newcastle.

A rush of blood to the head saw Alex Crombie lose 5 with a speculative punt on the next starter, but Newcastle didn’t know the islands of Rum, Eigg and Muck. A Maths thing about how many braille dots can be created in a 6 dot matrix passed by all of us. The next starter described a painting and asked for the painter. It sounded like Normal Rockwell, and Molly Nielsen thought so as well. We were both right. Greek philosophers brought both of us a couple of correct answers. Now, I haven’t previously heard of Adam’s Bridge, but I have heard of Adam’s Peak, so I answered Sri Lanka to the next question. So did Molly Nielsen, whose patient buzzer work was gradually extending the Newcastle lead. Te Solar System promised much to me but delivered nowt. Newcastle took one. Now, for the music starter, I got it, but only because I recognised how similar it sounded to “Blurred Lines” ( or bird lime, as I misheard the lyrics on first listening). I knew that the song allegedly plagiarised a song by Marvin Gaye. Listen to the two and you can see how the allegations came about. Nobody could answer. The next starter was a real old quiz chestnut – which is the only element named after a location in the UK. You hear that, then you slam the buzzer through the desk and answer ‘Strontium’. Jack Reynard didn’t exactly do that, but he did at least answer before the end of the question. This brought up the music bonuses, on songs that have been the subject of plagiarism accusations. I’ll be honest, I only got the last one – Sweet Little 16/Surfin USA. Which is one more than Newcastle managed. Molly Nielsen again pushed her team a little bit further ahead, knowing several things sharing the name Margarita. Now, I’m a bit partial to Umberto Eco, so wasn’t unhappy to get a full house. Newcastle managed two, which pushed them into triple figures. At last Sheffield Hallam managed to force their way back into the game. If you hear the words ‘novelist’, and ‘Poland’ you go for the buzzer and do what Chris Doyle, did, answering Poland. Frankly, I thought that it was a waste of time asking for the melting points of various metals for the bonuses. I can’t see many teams having been able to answer any. I couldn’t, Sheffield Hallam couldn’t, it’s a boring set, and it was insult to injury giving it to Sheffield Hallam when they were so far behind. At the 20 minute mark Newcastle lead 105 – 20. The game was over as a contest, and had been for some time.

None of us knew the Lombard Reflex, and so another starter went unclaimed. The first verb in the first line of Wordsworth’s Daffodils is wandered. This I’m sure everyone knew. The buzzer race to give the answer was won by the Newcastle skipper. Bonuses on various applications of the name The Great Bear saw Newcastle claim a full house. For the second picture starter it was obviously Brueghel, and Molly Nielsen did the smart thing, offering just the surname to see if that would be enough. It wasn’t, but when JP asked which one she zigged correctly with the Elder. Bonuses were provided with three other paintings used as album covers. Bit much that it asked for both Artist of painting and artiste of album. They took one, which was one more than I did. I knew the paintings, but didn’t have a clue about the albums. Richard Simkins made a good early buzz to quote about ‘the unexamined life’ from Socrates. Jan Van Eyck gave them a chance, but they couldn’t manage any bonuses. Jonathan Noble buzzed in first to link Kurosawa’s “Throne of Blood” with “Macbeth”. British Prime Ministers and popular fiction provided another full house for Newcastle. Nobody knew that there are 2 and a half acres in a hectare. Finally I got my lap of honour answer, knowing that objects beyond the 8th planet of the solar system are TNO  - Trans Neptunian Objects – and Alex Crombie won the buzzer race for that one. Helena Bonham Carter might have given some more points, but the gong put us all out of our misery. 

Right, I don’t want to upset anyone, and I don’t want to be mean. But the fact is this. Had this low scoring contest been the first mismatch we’d seen this series – or even the second for that matter – then nobody would say anything, I’m sure. But it wasn’t. Think about this

·       This is the 5th match of the series in which 1 of the teams has scored less than 100.

·       It is the 6th time in this series that the winning margin has been greater than 80.

And it’s not as if most of the winning scores have been all that impressive either – it’s not as if these losing teams are being flattened by opposition of seemingly Guttenplan or Trimble-esque ability. Does this have implications for whatever means have been used to select teams for the series? Hey, I don’t know. But what I do know is this. Walkovers are not entertaining. I’m not talking about those games where one team is just simply overwhelmed by the brilliance of another team. I’m talking about matches like – well, to call a spade a spade, like this one. I mean no disrespect to Sheffield Hallam. They applied, they were selected, so they came and they game it a lash. Respect for that. But. . . and I feel a bit of a heel for saying it, Newcastle themselves weren’t all THAT great, if truth be known. In particular, I worry about their buzzing when it comes to round two - they'll have to buzz more quickly in my opinion. Good luck, nonetheless. 

Jeremy Paxman Watch

There was more than a flash of the old JP early doors after the two teams both failed to get the universities starter – just a hint of – even I knew that! – in the pause and the old fashioned look that he gave both teams. 

Then, later on we had that music starter. Nobody could answer it. “We’ll have the music starter later,” the great man observed, pausing before adding, “When someone gets a starter question right.” As in come on, at least ONE of you should be able to answer these. Bit harsh Jez. 

JP waited until the 21st minute before administering the kiss of death, “Sheffield, there’s still plenty of time to – “ and then added insult to injury, by not suggesting that they might still snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Instead he said, “ – salvage some more.” Now, we all know what salvage means in this context don’t we? Translation – Sheffield – you’re having a ‘mare.

Even then JP had not finished, and in his finest performance in a heat for a couple of years, he made the point that although Newcastle had identified a Van Gogh, “It is Van Gogh, but if you couldn’t get that you shouldn’t be here at all.” I fancy that he was getting even more frustrated than me at the number of questions going begging in this show.

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

Neptune’s northern Springtime lasts more than 40 Earth years.

Mastermind 2018 - Round One - Heat 7


Last Friday, dearly beloved, we saw one contender take the heat by the scruff of the neck, give it a good old shaking, and win by a whopping 5 points. This Friday’s show did not have such pyrotechnics for us, but nonetheless proved to be an interesting contest in its own right. 

The Green Wing is one of those TV series which I’m aware of, and which I know other people watched, but which I never actually watched for myself. In simple terms, I knew absolutely nothing about it. So while Alyx Weston blitzed her way through the round to score 13 and 2 passes, I scored nowt, in what would prove, by the end of the round to be my lowest specialist aggregate for the series. Alyx provided the kind of specialist round I like to see – she’d obviously prepared extremely well, and rattled off the answers without agonising and wasting time over the ones she didn’t know. 

Hammad Hassan is from Cardiff, but I don’t believe that our quizzing paths have crossed at any time. Hammad was answering on Rumi. To my shame, I did not know anything about Rumi prior to the show. If you’re in a similar position of ignorance to my own, Rumi was a 13th century Persian Sunni Muslim poet, jurist, scholar, theologian and Sufi mystic. Needless to say I failed to open my account, while Hassan battled through to a total of 10. You don’t really want to be more than a couple of points behind at half time – well, you don’t want to be behind at all at half time, if we’re being pedantic – but a deficit of three does at least give you a fighting chance.

Like many of us, Jonathan Frere has been round the block a few times. A former Brain of Britain contender, he last took part in Mastermind as recently as last year. Well, I can’t say anything negative about that. I’m still the only person to be knocked out in the first round in one series, and to come back to win the series the very next year. Last year he was second in his heat, answering on the history of Hungary 850 – 1920. Last night he gave us Julius Caesar, a good old traditional sort of subject. Like Hassan he seemed to have a couple of stumbles along the way, but kept his cool, and pushed on to double figures. 10 and no passes seemed a reasonable return. Under the circumstances my 4 was a godsend. 

So to our final contender, Matt Jackson from Bury. Matt was answering on Lancashire County Cricket Club. I have it in mind that this was once a subject taken by the great Geoff Thomas, but may be mistaken, and if I am, then I apologise. Well, last week, Australian test cricket netted me 5 valuable points. This week, cricket netted me none whatsoever. Thus ended my worst aggregate specialist round set, not just for this year but for many a long year as I recall. Matt’s round was, for much of the time, on a par with the previous two, although he levelled out at 9.

So, at 4 points behind the leader at the turn around, did this mean that Matt was out of contention? No, but it would require a very good GK round to give him a decent chance of keeping the lead. His round of 11 was good, but didn’t at this stage look as if it was going to be good enough. What it did do, though, was take him past 20, the point at which you have to be satisfied that you’ve taken on the chair and given a good account of yourself. Sadly, when Hassan returned to the chair we got to see something which has become actually rather rare in the last few series, a horrible pass spiral. You could see clearly that he was locked in for much of the last minute or so, and though it only cost him something like 4 or 5 consecutive passes, the damage was much greater for it robbed him of any momentum. In the end, though, he still managed to squeeze 7 points out of the round, but that wasn’t going to be enough. 

Last time out, Jonathan Frere managed 11 on GK. If he could repeat that score, and keep the passes down to less than 5, then he would go into the lead. Well, he did a bit better than that, scoring 12 to go into the outright lead. His round was rather like Adam Gilchrist’s winning round from heat 5, starting rather slowly and hesitantly, but really picking up momentum as it progressed. A total of 22 gave him the lead with only Alyx Weston still to go. Would it be enough, though?

Let’s put Alyx’s task into perspective. Alyx had already picked up two passes in the first round, so she couldn’t force a tiebreak. 9 for 22 would not be enough. This put the target at 10. Now, once that GK target is set in double figures, then funny things can happen. The way that Alyx started her round I was fairly sure that she’d get there with maybe 15 or 20 seconds to spare. But if Jonathan’s round was like Adam’s from a fortnight ago, then Alyx’s was like Nicky’s from the same show. In terms of tactics I think she did nothing wrong. She got a run of questions to which she didn’t know the answer once she’d scored 19, and then when that happens what can you do but guess? Sometimes this will work, sometimes it won’t – this time it didn’t. In the end, Alyx took her total to 20.

So, well done Jonathan. Speaking as a recidivist myself, I ‘ve got a lot of time for anyone who gets close to a win first time round, so comes back and gives it another lash. Good luck in the semis. 

The Details

Alyx Weston
Green Wing
13
2
7
4
20
6
Hammad Hassan
Rumi
10
0
7
5
17
5
Jonathan Frere
Julius Caesar
10
0
12
0
22
0
Matt Jackson
Lancashire County Cricket Club
9
2
12
3
21
5


Friday, 8 September 2017

University Challenge - Round 1 - Heat 7 - Trinity, Oxford, v. University College, London


Trinity, Oxford, v University College, London

As an alumnus of London University myself (Goldsmiths College, class of 1986 thanks for asking) I’ll always be a little biased towards London University teams. However, if I’m honest I didn’t really mind which team was going to win this show, as long as we weren’t given another contest which was over by the 20 minute mark. So to the teams. Trinity were represented by Maxim Parr-Reid, Nicole Rosenfeld, Ben Coker and skipper James Gunn. UCL’s team consisted of Tom Allinson, Charlie Dowell, Omar Raii and their own captain, Robert Gray. None of the members of either team mentioned Chiswick. Shame. 

James Gunn took first blood for Trinity identifying the term super moon. Bonuses on patience – not the card game nor the middle English poem from the Gawaine manuscript – provided them with another 2 correct answers. Omar Raii had a bit of a rush of blood to the head with the next starter and came in extremely early to lose 5 points. Given the whole question James Gunn recognised a definition of altruism. Again, 2 bonuses were taken on the National Rifle Association. For the next starter Charlie Dowell did well, coming in early to identify the German explorer Humboldt, putting his team’s score into the black, and earning bonuses on recipients of the Hughs Medal. 2 bonuses of their own followed. Being fair to myself I did know that coins were first minted in Lydia before a further clue to the name was given, which enabled the Trinity skipper to take his third starter of the evening. It wouldn’t be his last. A welcome set on John Dryden’s Absalom and Achitophel yielded my first full house of the evening, but nothing to Trinity, who might have done a wee bit better – even not knowing the poem the Duke of Monmouth should have been gettable. For the picture starter a map showed us where in Britain and Ireland you’d find rocks of the Carboniferous period. I know, I was amazed when neither of the teams got it either (sarcasm). Tom Allinson knew that Barbara Hepworth was a fellow student with Henry Moore, and earned the rollover picture bonuses. One correct answer meant that they trailed by 30 – 50 at the 10 minute mark, but at least the indications were that we had two teams who were going to make a fight of it.

Charlie Dowell came in too early for the next starter, but Trinity were unable to capitalise. None of us knew the muon. (Blue muon? Harvest muon? Dark Side of the – alright, I’ll behave.) Now, a list of books’ English titles followed. I didn’t know them, but the last, the Lusiads – was just a clue that we might be talking Portuguese. We were, but nobody in either team saw it. James Gunn knew that lophiiforms are anglerfish – good shout, that. Bonuses on pineapples proved fruitless to Trinity. The splendidly named Alfred Badger played a part in the development of the flute, a fact of which I and the 8 team members were all unable to conjure out of thin air for the next bonus. Now, when asked for an adjective used for, amongst other things, a painting by Grant Wood, you’ve got a 50/50 chance – it’s either American or Gothic. Add a novel by Philip Roth and it’s a 100/0 chance – it’s American. Tom Allinson won that buzzer race. That was a nice UC special question, and the bonuses on Irish counties that shared names with other things or people was a nice UC special bonus set. UCL only managed one of them, but this kept them within a full house set of the lead. Nicole Rosenfeld knew that Calabria is the so called toe of Italy. My heart sank as JP announced a set of bonuses on Matrices – but when my mind was back in the room, Trinity had answered two of them. James Gunn came in incredibly quickly for the music starter to recognise the merest soupcon of music from the musical Hamilton – apparently it’s about Alexander rather than Diddy David of that ilk. This gave Trinity a very quick full house, and took them to a triple figure score. Omar Raii buzzed in to identify Henry I who defeated Robert Curthose in the battle of Tinchebrai. This starter was well timed, bearing in mind that Trinity were n danger of disappearing over the event horizon at this point, but they could only add 1 bonus on donkeys. I’d never heard the definition of the word Wuthering before, and I doubt Nicole Rosenfeld had either, but we both guessed correctly for the next starter. One bonus on female Prime Ministers of the Americas  meant that at the 20 minute mark Trinity had a commanding lead of 120 – 55.

Robert Gray began the UCL fightback knowing a set of phrases beginning with ad. They added a further 10 points with bonuses on Roman Provinces. For the second picture starter we were shown a painting that absolutely screamed Van Dyke, and Omar Raii won the battle to claim that windfall. Two correct answer on bonuses of other paintings from the same collection, and in the space of a few minutes the score was looking a lot closer. Ben Coker buzzed in for the next starter, though, recognising a description of the corrupt ecclesiastical practice of indulgences. A UC special set on pairs of words with the prefixes – pro and con – for example profuse and confuse – enabled Trinity to once again widen the gap to two full house sets. For the next starter Robert Gray correctly identified the Bahamas. UCL needed a full house on physiology. *Lap of honour around the living room imminent*. Yes, I’d left it late, but awarded myself the victory lap for knowing tocepherol as Vitamin E. – UCL did one better, but missed out on their full house. Tom Allinson knocked a further 10 points off the lead, knowing that Ionesco wrote Rhinoceros. Two bonuses on Russia cut th gap to 10 points. Now THIS is what we pay the licence fee for! Once again, though, it was Ben Coker who threw a spoke in the UCL wagon wheel, knowing that Bernard Cornwell’s first non-fiction work is about the Battle of Waterloo. Crucially, 2 bonuses gave Trinity a lead of 30 points. A full house would not do it for UCL, and there was hardly any time left. Then the usually sure footed James Gunn lost 5 points by buzzing too early, mistaking the cross of St. Patrick for that of St. Andrew. Omar Raii took the 10 points.

Could we have a tie?

No, we couldn’t. The contest was gonged before any of the bonuses could ask. A very good match. You sensed that Trinity were always a bit better on the night than UCL and well worth their win by 160 – 145. UCL’s score gives them the chance of a repechage slot. Neither teams, I felt, quite set the world alight with their bonus work – I wasn’t counting, but I’d guess that their % of correct answers was similar to that of Oxford Brookes last week. Never mind that though, it was an absorbing contest, and for that I thanks both teams. 

Jeremy Paxman Watch

For the first time in living memory JP did not refer to UCL as ‘The Godless Institution of Gower Street’. About time. When Trinity suggested that Clint Eastwood had been president of the NRA he veritably chuckled and replied “He’d be mortified!” Really? How well do you know Clint then, Jez? I think we should be told. 

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

Victorian financier Albert Grant, model for bogus financier Augustus Melmotte in Trollope’s “The Way We Live Now” , donated the statue of William Shakespeare in Leicester Square.

Mastermind 2018 - Round One - Heat 6


I will confess. I checked out what tonight’s specialist subjects were going to be on the BBC Mastermind website a couple of hours before the show was broadcast, and I have to say that they offered me no chance whatsoever of beating my best aggregate of 24 for this season so far. Of Australian Test Cricket since 1945 – James Ellroy’s L.A.Quartet – Kirsty MacColl and Henry VI, only the last held out any real promise of any points at all. 

Mind you, that’s immaterial to the outcome of the show. So, first up was Denis Irvine, who was answering on Australian Test cricket since 1945, Now, I’ve told you before about my feelings about cricket. I have nothing against it as a sport, but find it’s one my brain just refuses to engage with in terms of quiz knowledge. So I was rather surprised when I managed to score 5, not all of which were complete guesses. Denis answered every question, but sadly there were quite a few wrong answers among the 8 correct ones. 

Now, and this is something I make no apologies for going on about, the last time that a school teacher won a series of Mastermind was 10 years ago in 2007. Alright, the final wasn’t actually broadcast until 2008. Still, I’ve held the honour of being the last schoolteacher to win the series for long enough now. So I was rooting for David Bishop who was offering us James Ellroy’s L.A.Quartet. Frankly, I was surprised to even get the single point that I did. As for David, well, it didn’t start badly, but it looked to me that he got one or two wrong in the middle of the round, and they were playing on his mind right until the end of the round. Not a pass spiral, but just as destructive. He scored 5.

I liked the late Kirsty MacColl. Probably nothing like as much as Nicola Nuttall did, though. Nicola provided, frankly, a fantastic round. Barely any hesitations at all saw her rattle off 15 correct answers on the bounce. No passes. No wrong answers. Speaking as someone who never managed a perfect round himself, this was very impressive. The outcome was that, at this point, with the best will in the world, neither Denis nor David could expect to challenge in the second round, So could our last contender, Chris Ward, at least post a challenging score and make a contest of it?

For the second heat in a row the most traditional Mastermind subject was the one that was last to go. Chris Ward offered us the life of King Henry VI. Acclaimed King of England and King of France before his first birthday, it’s probably not that unfair to say that it was all downhill from there for him. Not for Chris Ward, though. After a bit of a false start he powered on to 12 points. So even if Nicola was still favourite, at least there was now an element of doubt about the proceedings.

So let’s refresh our memories about one of my observations last week. Basically, whatever the final positions, if, as a contender, you can score a total of 20, and get into double figures in the GK, then you’ve come up to scratch, as it were. On David Bishop’s return to the chair a final total of 20 looked unlikely, but at least he did manage the double figure score of 10 to finish with 15. Hard lines, that’s the way it goes sometimes. Denis Irvine himself had quite a challenge in order to reach 20, and in his GK round he never really built up a huge head of steam. For all that, though, he kept ploughing on, and by the end of the round he’d added a useful 12 points to finish with 20. Job done, sir. 

With the best will in the world, though, the contest had not been about the two previous gentlemen since before half time. The winner was going to be either Nicola, or Chris. For Chris to have a chance, though, I fancied he’d need a score in the teens. He gave it a decent lash as well, but when the buzzer went he had added 11. His score of 23 meant that Nicola would need 9 to win avoiding a countback. Would this target at least put her into the corridor of doubt? Well, it might have done, but to me she seemed remarkably relaxed on her return to the chair, and what she produced was the best GK round of the night. OK, judging by her reaction a couple of her correct answers were guesses, but do you know what? That doesn’t matter. You score points for correct guesses, while you don’t score points for almost but not quite recalling the answer correctly. 28 is a terrific overall performance, and if she can repeat a similar level of performance in the semi, then you never know just how well she might do. Congratulations, and best of luck!

The Details

Denis Irvine
Australian Test Cricket Since 1945
8
0
12
4
20
4
David Bishop
James Ellroy’s L.A. Quartet
5
2
10
1
15
3
Nicola Nuttall
Kirsty MacColl
15
0
13
1
28
1
Chris Ward
The Life of King Henry VI
12
0
11
1
23
1


Sunday, 3 September 2017

Fifteen To One - Open for Applications

Yes folks, if you fancy a go at the next series of Fifteen to One you can download an application form if you click on the link below

Fifteen to One Application form