Friday, 20 October 2017

Mastermind - Round One - Heat 12


If tonight’s show did nothing else, it at least proved beyond all reasonable doubt that John Humphrys, for all his undoubted qualities, does not listen! I will explain this all in the fullness. 

Before we come to that, though, let’s go through the specialist rounds, for it wasn’t until the GK rounds that John revealed his weakness. One look at the range of GK rounds tonight was enough to make me feel that, for the first time in weeks I had a chance of getting a 20 point aggregate, and in fact, an outside chance of improving on my best specialist aggregate of 24 so far this series First of these serendipitous subjects was Alison Zrada’s round on Philip Pullman’s “His Dark Materials”. Granted , it must be over a decade since I read them all, but I felt sure that enough might have stuck to bring me a few points to boost what I was likely to get from my bankers. That’s pretty much how it proved. Alison scored 13 herself, which is the mark of a quality specialist round. 

So the first of my two bankers was Steve Lacey’s round on the Life and Career of Tony Hancock. I know many people whose judgement I value and respect who rate Hancock as the greatest post-war British comedian. I don’t know if I would ever be prepared to go quite that far, but undoubtedly a rare talent, and a fascinating, complex personality. Steve’s round of 11 was the kind of score you’re only going to get with careful preparation, and I know enough about the subject to know that some of these you really had to know your stuff for. 11 put him 2 points behind, but by no means out of contention at this stage.

If you’ve never sat in the Mastermind chair for a specialist round, then you don’t know how you’re going to react. Sitting in the audience at home it’s sometimes difficult to gauge whether a relatively modest specialist performance is caused by the contender suffering an attack of nerves in the chair, or whether its down to the fact that the contender didn't prepare that well. I have to be honest, there were times during Claudia Webb’s round on Ryvita Peron where John would ask a question, and a fleeting look of – what the hell are you asking me that for? – passed across her eyes. That’s the thing about a Mastermind specialist round – whatever you think they won’t ask you, that’s what’s going to catch you out. Claudia’s score of 7 was not a disaster, but it meant that she was out of contention, when all was said and done.

And so to my second banker. I’d scored 3 on Pullman, 8 on Hancock, and 2 on Peron. With 13, I needed 7 to get to 20, 11 to equal my best of the series, and 12 to set a new target. I felt confident I could do it, since the subject final contender Shahab Mossavat was offering, Muhammad Ali, was one that I’d have loved to have taken as a specialist if I’d been allowed. No, no , no, they said when I suggested it. Well, that’s life. As it was, I dropped 2 points, not knowing “Freedom Road” and saying Bermuda rather than Bahamas by a slip of the tongue. Still, 13 bought me a new best specialist aggregate for this season of 26. As for Shahab, well, he managed a sparkling 14, although he’ll probably be very annoyed with himself for missing Doug Jones, which was not a way out question by any stretch of the imagination. 

So to the GK. Claudia’s GK round actually started and finished brightly enough, with most of her 7 points coming from the first and last few questions. The middle of the round proved something of a struggle for her though. Such is life. She kept smiling throughout and certainly looked as if she’d enjoyed her appearance on the show. Well done for that.  Steve’s round was a rather better performance, although again he never really built up the head of steam he needed to achieve the kind of score which would really make the other contenders have to pass through the dreaded corridor of doubt. What his score of 10 did achieve, though, was double figures in both rounds, and a score of 20+ overall, which should be a source of some satisfaction. 

Now we come to Alison Zrada’s round. Like Steve, Alison achieved 10 points, which gave her a 2 point lead. Now then. One of her questions asked about the bridge rebuilt in Lake Havasu, USA. She passed, and when John gave the answer, he perpetuated the hoary old myth that the Americans thought they were buying Tower Bridge. 

Forgive the vernacular.

Bollocks.

In 2007, I sat in that very chair, in the Grand Final and answered a round of questions on the History of London Bridge. This was back in the days of the excruciating pre-round chats with the contenders before each GK round. These would usually go on a lot longer than what you’d see on screen. During ours, John asked me whether the Americans believed that they were buying Tower Bridge, and I set him straight then and there. Tommyrot. Robert P. McCullough knew EXACTLY what he was buying – there was even a model of London Bridge on the table in front of him.  So John, I’m very disappointed in you for perpetuating what is, when you get right down to it, a steaming pile of Arsenal. 

You can’t argue when a contender produces both the best specialist and the best GK of the show, and this is what Shahat proceeded to do. Granted, we’ve seen better this series, but even then it was nice to see a contender answering every question and avoiding passing. I speak from experience that doing this takes a certain coolheadedness and presence of mind. A good performance, sir, and I wish you every success in the semis. If you could provide us with another boxing round in the semis – then so much the better as well. 

The Details: - 

Alison Zrada
Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials
13
1
10
4
23
5
Steve Lacey
The Life and Career of Tony Hancock
11
1
10
1
21
2
Claudia Webb
Eva Peron
7
3
7
2
14
5
Shahab Mossavat
The Life and Career of Muhammad Ali
14
0
12
0
26
0

Friday, 13 October 2017

University Challenge - Round One - Heat


St. Andrews v. St. John’s Cambridge

It’s picked up a bit in recent weeks, this season, hasn’t it? After all of those no-contests earlier, we’ve had some enjoyable matches more recently. I was hopeful that this match up of the second and third oldest universities in the UK (alright, there are older colleges than St. John’s in Cambridge, I know) would provide us with another well fought contest. Representing St. Andrews we had Euan Grant, Christina Fell, Matthew Leighton and captain George Davies. St. John’s, in turn, were represented by John-Clark Levin, Rosie McKeown, Matt Hazell and James Devine-Stoneman. No Chiswickians in either team, but James Devine-Stoneman is from Southall which is in the London Borough of Ealing, so that’s good enough for me too. 

It was this same James Devine-Stoneman who showed a superb turn of speed on the buzzer for the first starter, working out that not only was Mr. Canning the PM who dies within months of taking office, but also that his given name was George. Francois Truffaut brought them a good full house, even if the Last Metro did look like a guess. A good buzz from John-Clark Levin saw him identify former first lady Laura Bush, and this earned a set on Islamic Art. I didn’t trouble the scorer with this set, but St. John’s managed a couple. There was a biological/chemical thing next which I didn’t understand, but the answer, supplied by St. Andrews skipper George Davies, was B. Bonuses on nuclear physics saw an early outing for the lap of honour around the living room. I have no idea how I knew Plutonium 239 – I have a vague idea it may have been from something in Dan Brown’s Digital Fortress – but I did. No bonuses for St. Andrews. Euan Grant buzzed early to identify Harlequin as a name linking an Agatha Christie sleuth with a DC comics villain. Women buried in Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris brought me my first full house, and St. Andrews their first two bonuses. For the picture starter we saw a picture representing the widest extent of an empire. This was always going to be a buzzer race, and it was won by George Davies. More of the same brought them another 10 points, and meant that they had a slight lead just before the 10 minute mark. So once again it was shaping up for a good contest. Both teams looked lively on the buzzer. 

This was demonstrated on the next starter. Where both teams waited. . . waited. . . and then JP mentioned Amstrad and Matt Hazell was straight in with Lord (no longer Sir Alan, please) Sugar. Hydrocarbons did not promise much, but had I not already taken a lap of honour I would have done so after getting propane. St. John’s had a full house. Another Science starter followed. Of course I didn’t understand it, but the answer, correctly provided by James Devine-Stoneman, was the square root. Of course it was. Questions on an international crisis over Luxembourg brought me just the one, and St. John’s nowt. For the first time St. John’s showed just a little vulnerability on the next starter. James Devine-Stoneman leapt onto the mention of a novel of Walter Scott, and not on the link to the name of a district in Scotland. Given an open goal, Euan Grant gave the correct answer of Lothian. Ghost stories saw St. Andrews manage just the one on a decidedly gettable set. Respect to Rosie McKeown for coming in early with the literature question – which short first name links the titles of novels from 1816 and 1857 – “ She looked as if she knew that “Emma” was the title of Charlotte Bronte’s last, unfinished novel too. Electrickery bonuses saw me score another opportunity for a lap of honour, because I correctly guessed resistivity for the first. St. John’s took the second as well, but not the third bonus. So to the music starter. Now, following a principle I think I’ve already outlined, as soon as JP asked for the name of a German composer, I shouted out ‘Beethoven’ before the music began. Which didn’t work since it was Mendelssohn, as Rosie McKeown knew. Three more symphonies in the key of A Major brought me 2 points when Beethoven turned up late for the third bonus – I’d already guessed Shostakovitch for the 1971 Russian. James Devine-Stoneman was first to win the buzzer race to say that John Dalton coined the word atom. Film versions of Shakespeare plays saw them add another correct answer to their score, which had already reached triple figures. Respect to John-Clark Levin for knowing that the 4th largest state of the USA is Montana. French client states during the revolutionary and Napoleonic rules were not at all easy, but St. John’s managed 2. For the next starter Matt Hazell worked out incredibly quickly that forty is the only integer with all of its letters in alphabetical order. People born in Herefordshire added another ten points to an already burgeoning score. In fact, the power buzzing of St. John’s had completely shut out St. Andrews for several minutes, so much so that at the 20 minute mark they led by over 100 points, with 175 to 65. 

Power buzzing which continued with the next starter. You hear ‘English poet’ and ‘1649’ you buzz, because it’s (probably) Milton. Rosie McKeown did just that. IT acronyms and abbreviations were a bit of a gift to a regular quizzer, and so St. John’s should have had a full house rather than 2. The picture starter showed us Robert Frost, which allowed the St. Andrews skipper to get his team back on the road. Multiple Pulitzer winners weren’t all easy – I only had Eugene O’Neill – and St. Andrews sadly couldn’t get any of them. At last St. Andrews won a buzzer race, when Christina Fell grabbed the low hanging fruit which was the secretion of the lacrimal glands – otherwise known as tears. Biblical figures who doubted provided a much needed 10 points. A third consecutive starter for George Davies saw him identify something about speciation – no, me neither. I didn’t know the three novels about one of the less attractive cures for insomnia, Henry James. In fact both of us only got the last one, knowing that it was Britten who wrote an opera based on James’ “The Turn of the Screw”. Nobody knew about Patti Smith’s relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe. A chemistry bonus saw James Devine-Stoneman give the correct answer of nitrogen before JP was halfway through the question. 20th century history according to Billy Joel saw an impressive accuracy with precise years, to earn a full house which deserved but didn’t get the Paxman ‘well done’. Nobody knew that Shakespeare referred to Anne Boleyn as ‘a spleeny Lutheran’. That’s a splendid insult which I intend to use more often in the school. Matthew Leighton knew that a speed of one metre per second equates to 2 knots. Literary pseudonyms saw two quick bonuses taken, but they sadly missed out on the David Cornwell – John LeCarre chestnut. James Devie-Stoneman was never going to let anyone beat him in a buzzer race to say that Brass is made from copper and zinc. The Scilly Isles saw James Devine-Stoneman prove that he is a serious quizzer beyond question, for correctly answering that old quiz trap about Puffinus Puffinus actually being the Manx Shearwater. Alright, they missed the other 2 but it didn’t matter. They’d already passed the event horizon several minutes earlier. I knew PNG and Samoa had the Southern Cross on their flags – for some reason Brazil escaped me. Escaped both teams as well, for that matter. Annular coral reef is a wee bit of a gimme, and Rosie McKeown won the race for that unconsidered trifle. That was it. St. John’s win was completed, by a score of 255 to 120.

This , for me, was one of the most impressive performances in this first round. Make no mistake, their opponents, St. Andrews, were no mugs, but were just buzzed out of the game. First round form is often unreliable, but I think that this St. John’s team have the goods to go a long way this year. Hopefully the Clark tip won’t be the kiss of death to them. Good news for last week's runners up, St. Hugh's, as I think that this result ensures that they go through to the repechage. 

Jeremy Paxman Watch

Has JP got an axe to grind with Lord Sugar? Far from awarding him his correct title, he just replied “It was Alan Sugar, yes.”, pronouncing the great man’s name as if he was holding it in a pair of tongs to avoid contamination. 

A rare slip saw JP introduce the second bonus on the ghost stories set with the word ‘finally’. 

An incredibly quick buzz from Matt Hazell on the integer question saw a disbelieving JP ask “Did you know that or did you just work that out?” – which I guess is the closest we got in this show to a Hollywood handshake. A simple ‘well done’ might have sufficed, Jez. 

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

Kenneth Branagh filmed a version of “Love’s Labours Lost” where much of the dialogue was replaced by Cole Porter and George Gershwin’s songs.

Mastermind - Round One - Heat 11


4 Mastermind virgins took to the chair tonight, as far as I could see, and treated us to an object lesson in some of the essential and unchanging realities of life in the black chair. I’ll get to that in due course.

I was surprised that I know so little about the films of James Cameron, considering that I’ve seen at least a few of the films that were mentioned in Kyle Nagundra’s round. Yet this wasn’t enough to get me more than the 4 points I managed. Kyle, on the other hand, gave a pretty textbook demonstration of one good way of tackling your specialist round. He had prepared thoroughly, and so even if he sometimes did take a moment’s pause before producing his answer, when it did come, it was correct. An opening score of 14 always looks as if it could put the other contenders on the back foot, and this is just what Kyle produced. Good round. 

Traci Whitehead offered us a subject about which I knew even less, Georgia O’Keefe. This was a round in which Traci never really built the momentum that you’re going to need if you’re going up against a score of 14. I think she allowed a wrong answer early on play on her mind a little bit, and when that happens it can be difficult to dredge up the information that you need. On the other hand – and I admit that I myself know next to nothing about Georgia O’Keefe – on the other hand a couple of the questions she had wrong were of the sort I would have thought that you’d expect to get right. Which brings me to one of the unchanging realities of the show. Over-preparation, that is, preparing so thoroughly that you cover every conceivable aspect you could be asked about your subject, is no guarantee of success. Allowing for the occasional rogue easy round, like the Oscars round a couple of weeks ago, if you leave gaps in your preparation, then you are likely to have them exposed. As Traci walked back to her own seat, having scored 7, I sadly thought that her status as a genuine contender in this show was over. 

It's been a few weeks since the last teacher on the show, so I was rooting for David Cheshire to put on a barnstorming performance in his own round on Guns ‘N Roses. He certainly didn’t do badly, and managed 11. At 3 points behind Kyle he certainly wasn’t out of it, but he’d need a really good GK round to put him in with a realistic chance.

This task was made none the easier when retired solicitor, Terry Quy, put in a sparkling round to score a perfect 14 from 14 on King Henry IV. This wasn’t an easy round either, since I know enough about the subject to know that the questions weren’t easy, but sadly not enough about it to answer many of them correctly. 

So let’s just think about this for a moment. As the half time oranges came out, Traci was a full 4 points behind 3rd place, and a total of 7 points behind the joint leaders. To be blunt, you could have named your own price on her winning. So what did she do? She returned to the chair, and put in one of the finest GK rounds we’ve seen in this whole series. Traci scored 17, and took her total up to 24. Oh Traci, Traci – at the very least you obviously have a very good general knowledge, and frankly, it looked to me like you’re a proper, serious quizzer. Why leave things to chance with your specialist round preparation? Well, nonetheless, that round meant that all of the others were going to have to get into double figures on GK, and that meant traversing the corridor of doubt. Respect.

First to try to make his way through the corridor was David Cheshire. For the first minute or so he looked like he’d do it as well. Sadly, as we’ve often seen happen in the past, he was stopped short by a couple of questions in the middle of the round. When you’re chasing, if you lose momentum, then the task ahead of you assumes greater proportions with each successive question, and it’s very difficult to keep picking off what you know, and keep making plausible guesses. In the end a GK round that had started promisingly never really delivered, and David finished with 20. 

Let’s consider another of the unchanging realities of life in the black chair. It’s no good answering at 100 miles per hour if the majority of your answers are wrong. Kyle Nagendra did not deliver us an express round. What he did do, though, was maintain his pace, and build during the last minute of his round. What he also did well was not to panic when he had an answer wrong. His score accumulated steadily, and he had his 25th point before the blue line of death started snaking around the score. He finished with 12 on GK, and 26 overall. 

So, allow me to make a golfing analogy. Which would you prefer? Being the leader in the clubhouse as the last pair are facing up to the 18th hole, knowing that a wayward putt would make you the champ? Or facing the final hole knowing that par will get you a play off, and a birdie the title? Terry Quy’s position was essentially the latter. He knew exactly what he needed, and he gave it a lash. On this occasion, though, he could achieve neither eagle nor par. His 8 left him some way short, and he finished with 22.

So,, well played Kyle. A win for thorough preparation, and cool-headed, sensible play in the general knowledge round. Good luck in the semi finals. As for Traci, well, anyone who can score 17 in a GK round has to be applauded, and has to be taken seriously as a contender. You have my sympathy, and should you decide to pass this way again you could just do very well.

The Details

Kyle Nagendra
The Films of James Cameron
14
0
12
4
26
4
Traci Whitehead
Georgia O’Keefe
7
2
17
0
24
2
David Cheshire
Guns N’ Roses
11
0
9
5
20
5
Terry Quy
The Life of Henry IV
14
0
8
5
22
5


HELP!!! - London Pub Quiz for Sunday needed.

I had a lovely email from a nice lady in Luxembourg. Here's the gist of it:-

"In a nutshell, I'm a Luxembourg-based quizzer (or quiz freak :-) as a friend of mine said) and I will be in London this weekend. I was wondering whether you or any London-based quizzers that you know would be able to recommend a good pub quiz to do this coming Sunday evening (16 October) in London? I will be staying near the British Museum. I already had a look at the pubquizzers.com website, but there are so many quizzes to choose from that I don't really know where to begin."

Would anyone like to recommend a pub quiz, pretty central, which might suit Ines' needs?

Over to you. 

Saturday, 7 October 2017

University Challenge - Round One - Heat 11 - Emmanuel. Cambridge - St. Hugh's, Oxford


Emmanuel, Cambridge v. St. Hugh’s, Oxford

I’ve been looking forward to this match. Cambridge v. Oxford matches are usually worth watching. That’s not the only reason though. Emmanuel Cambridge have a habit of putting memorable teams into the competition – just think of Bobby and the guys last year, and then Alex G., Jenny H. and co who were series champions in 2010. Having to live up to that pedigree were Ed Derby, Kitty Chevallier, James Fraser and their captain Alex Mistlin. Determined to show that they deserved more than just opponent status were St. Hugh’s team of Kazi Elias, Ewan Grainger, Aiden Mehigan and their own captain Daniel De Wijze.

Ewan Grainger was right on the money with his first buzz in thinking that a 2016 book titled “Hello, Is this Planet Earth?” would be an astronaut’s memoirs. Sadly, though, he plumped for the wrong one, allowing James Fraser to supply the correct answer of ‘Major Tim’ Peake. Bonuses on the films of Quentin Tarantino brought them another 10 points. I more or less guarantee that if you asked a question starting with the words ‘Concrete cows’ to a room of 40 and 50 somethings there would be an almighty scamble for the buzzer to answer Milton Keynes. As it was, though, both teams rather sat on their buzzers, and took all the clues, until Daniel De Wijze chanced his arm. This earned bonuses on European Geodraphy, specifically places with Trans – in their names. Their 2 bonuses narrowed the gap to 5. Krait and taipan are fairly staple quiz chestnuts, and Ewan Grainger identified them as snakes. Bonuses on physics saw an early lap of honour opportunity as I knew Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle. I forbore, though, bearing in mind I didn’t even understand the next two questions. Let alone the answers. St. Hugh’s took a deserved full house, and the lead. Black Panthers and Black Prince both pointed to the linking word black for the next starter, and Aiden Mehigan was not going to turn his nose up at that. When JP announced that the bonuses would be about works of literature that take their titles from quotations from earlier works of literature I correctly predicted Tender is the Night, but not the other two. I thought they might use Golding’s ‘Darkness Visible’ and Agatha Christie’s ‘The Mirror Crack’d’ instead. St. Hugh’s only managed the one of these. Respect to James Fraser. On the picture starter he very quickly recognised the first page of the sheet music of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. I would only have recognised it had it had the words ‘Beethoven’ and ‘Fifth’ on the top, which sadly it lacked. The first bonus, having the words La Primavera on the top was a lot easier – Primavera means Spring – hence Vivaldi Four Seasons, next please. Nothing so helpful for me in the 2nd and third. Emma still managed the second, but not the third. A quote from chess god Lasker about the rules of Go brought Ed Derby his first starter. A really tricky set on 19th century history yielded no bonuses, and so this meant that just after the ten minute mark the scores stood at 55 – 50 to St. Hugh’s. All the signs were that we were going to have another good contest. 

Kitty Chevallier won the buzzer race to say that the play within a play in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” was ‘Pyramus and Thisbe’, or as we referred to it in the 1981 Elthorne High School production, pyramid and frisbee. James Muirden’s Rhyming History of Britain gave a set of bonuses that weren’t easy, but were just about gettable. Sadly they missed out again. Both teams showed commendable nerve not jumping in with the next starter, and once it became obvious that the answer was the River Indus, Alex Mistlin won the buzzer race. Animals whose common name begins with hy yielded two more bonuses. The next starter was a good old quiz chestnut. When you hear words to the effect of – Thought to be a corruption of Acadian – then slam the buzzer through the desk because the answer is Cajun. Which is exactly what Aiden Mehigan did. The St. Hugh’s team are all younger gents, so they can be forgiven for not being familiar with the works of the brilliant Dennis Potter. This whole set passed them by. So to the music starter. Aiden Mehigan did exactly what I always do when I’m asked for a German composer and I don’t recognise the music – and answered Beethoven. This time, not correct. Nobody could see Schumann’s Ghost Variations. It was well worth waiting to hear the whole of the next question. It sounded like a chemical/biological thing, then suddenly asked us about compounds which are used in fruit preservatives. Pectin! I shouted. Kitty Chevallier buzzed in with the same answer, and we were both right. A composer chain, of composers whose works were dedicated to another composer gave me just the one, but Emma a terrific full house, taking them into triple figures. An 1802 sonnet written to Wordsworth was just too early to give Aiden Mehigan a shout with Shelley, which left the impressive James Fraser to supply the percentage (and correct) answer of Coleridge. Rainbows gave Emma a second consecutive full house. Aiden Mehigan, who at this stage was doing what he you must do – buzzing any time you think you MIGHT know the answer, correctly gave us the title of Ginsberg’s poem ‘Kaddish’. There’s a photo of Ginsberg as a young, clean shaven man, sometimes used in picture quizzes, and I always think he looks like Jeff Goldblum, but I digress. 2 correct answers on lunar exploration were timely, since Emma had been stretching the lead to ominous proportions. As it was, approaching the 20 minute mark Emmanuel led by 130 – 80. 

James Fraser knew the president of Colombia before we even got to his surname. Good buzzing. Henpecked husbands yielded only 1 bonus from a pretty gettable set, I would have thought. I recognised Canaletto’s painting of the original Westminster Bridge for the picture starter, as did Aiden Mehigan. Now, you know I have a thing about bridges, especially Thames bridges, so when JP announced we were having three more paintings of Westminster Bridge I knew we’d have the Whistler and the Monet. Thankfully, though I didn’t previously know the Turner, I recognised it for a full house. Much more importantly, St. Hugh’s also took a good full house to keep the match very much alive. James Fraser kept Emma ticking over, though, knowing or guessing that there are 4 planets in the solar system which have hydrogen and helium as the two most common gases in their respective atmospheres. Two Geography bonuses followed. Aiden Mehgian was the first in to recognise various boundaries of the state of Texas. 2 bonuses on Sorrow in the Bible kept the score moving. The indefatigable Aiden Mehigan took his second consecutive bonus, knowing the ratio of the volume of a cylinder to the volume of a cone of a given height and base radius is 3:1. Sadly they failed to take any bonuses on local administrative units. Ewan Grainger knew that Griznakh and his muckers were all orcs. Bonuses on books on post war Britain brought them to within 10 points of Emmanuel. Which was cut by five when Alex Mistlin, like me, remembered The Crucible, but not the name of the character required – again, just like me. St. Hugh’s could not capitalise. Nobody knew various terms that can be applied to the process of Evolution. Nobody knew that the only US President to have taken out a patent was Abraham Lincoln. Why have I never been asked a great question like that in a quiz before? (Note to self – next quiz for the rugby club). Now, if someone was going to come in with a vital early buzz and win the match for his team, the Man Most Likely was always going to be either James Fraser or Aiden Mehigan. This time it was James Fraser who knew the gyrus in the brain. However, they couldn’t answer any of the bonuses on Africa, and were still vulnerable. But no, the buzzer went before JP completed a question about Tennyson. 

Congratulations to Emmanuel, who had won by 170 to 155. That's a good performance considering that this was a very competitive match. But as for St. Hugh’s,  JP would only say that they may well come back. To that extent he is right. With three games left in the first round, only Ulster, with 160, are so far guaranteed a place in the repechage round. It would need all three losing teams in the last three matches to score more than 155, though, for St. Hugh’s not to make it. I think they deserve it. 

Thanks to both teams for a great match. 

Jeremy Paxman Watch

Respect to JP for giving us something approaching the correct pronunciation of the rainbow bridge – Bifrost. I believe that it really IS supposed to be pronounced closer to Beef Roast – than By Frost. 

I must admit I thought Jez was very dismissive of Aiden Mehigan’s answer of Canaletto on the second picture starter. “Yeah – very easy , wasn’t it?” I mean, look, Canaletto is pretty unmistakeable, but fair play, even if a question might be a bit easier you still have to win the buzzer race. Chwarae teg, mun. 

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

The only US President to have taken out a patent is Abraham Lincoln

Friday, 6 October 2017

Mastermind Round One - Heat 10


You wait all season for a former finalist to come along. . . Alright, we’ll come to that shortly. First of tonight’s contenders was Stella Traynor, who was answering on the band Crowded House. I only really knew two of their songs, and I love both of them. Stella, I dare say, knows all of them, and she gave a highly competent display, grabbing a haul of 11 points by the end of the round. Good performance.

My supposed banker subject for this evening was Super Middleweight Boxing, courtesy of Lawrence Cook. You may recall that Lawrence is a semi finalist himself, having reached the 2014 semis, where he was defeated by our own Daniel Adler. In his first round that year he answered on Heavyweight boxing, and I did well, although not as well as Lawrence did. Well, unfortunately I failed to get more than 4 on this round. My excuse is that Super Middleweight has only been around for about 3 decades, a lot of which you’ve had to pay to watch boxing, and I’m too cheap to do so. Lawrence’s 10 looked like a pretty good return on a fairly tough round.

I have a history of arriving at parties after everyone else has left. Or let me put that another way – I often don’t discover a TV show until everyone else has already been watching it for years. I still haven’t discovered Parks and Recreation for myself yet, and have never knowingly watched an episode. So managing to guess the answer to which state its set in quite impressed me. That was the only point I managed on this round, mind you. Kyle Hobman did considerably better, managing a good 12 and no passes to take the lead.

So to our third former finalist in 2 shows. Didier Bruyere reached the final of Aidan McQuade’s 2013 series. In fact, he was actually the series runner-up. So to say he has a serious Mastermind pedigree would be no less than he deserves. Didier this time round was answering on Claude Monet, or ‘show me the’ as his mates called him, and I was rather surprised to find that this was by some distance my best specialist round of the night. Didier didn’t do badly either, scooping 12 and no passes to take a share of the lead. 

So that was a good, competitive first round. All the contenders had prepared their subjects, so gold stars all round and not a detention to be seen. 

With all to play for Lawrence was first to return to the chair. In his semi final Lawrence managed an 11 from a minute and a half, while in his first round he managed 12 from 2 minutes. So this was a seasoned GK performer. And he gave us a decent GK round again this time. Lawrence added 12 to take the target to 22. This didn’t necessarily look like a winning score, but it did mean that all of the other three contenders would need double figure scores, and that’s enough o put you in the corridor of doubt. 

Stella Traynor did not look as if she would manage that when her round began. But she did what you must do, keeping her head despite a couple of answers that just would not come, and allowing the momentum of her round to pick up as she started picking off correct answers. In the end she didn’t quite get there, but her combined total of 21 is the kind of score which means she can be pretty happy with her evening’s work.

Kyle Hobman started his round At a tremendous clip, picking off correct answers with unerring accuracy. He was put to the test, mind you, as a couple of incorrect answers stopped him for a moment or two in his tracks. Never mind, he picked himself up, dusted himself off, and had raised the target to 24 before the blue line of death started it’s circumnavigation of his score. He could have maybe added another 3 or 4, but the questions didn’t fall that way for him. Nonetheless, 12 and 0 passes meant that this was the least that Didier would need from his own round.

I can’t imagine having to tackle a GK round in a language that was not my first language, and yet Didier has done it, and very successfully, several times. You can’t say there was anything drastically wrong with his GK round tonight, either. In today’s money, though, 12 is a pretty decent score, and all it takes is a couple of stoppers pulling you up in your tracks, and it can become a challenging target. Let’s be fair too – Didier did get there. However, he incurred two passes on the way. In the end, that was what it took to give Kyle the win.

Congratulations Kyle – that is quite a scalp you have taken tonight. Very bad luck Didier, but at least let’s salute young talent.

The Details

Stella Traynor
Crowded House
11
0
10
3
21
3
Lawrence Cook
Super Middleweight Boxing
10
0
12
1
22
1
Kyle Hobman
Parks and Recreation
12
0
12
0
24
0
Didier Bruyere
Claude Monet
12
0
12
2
24
2

Friday, 29 September 2017

University Challenge - Round One - Heat 10 - Imperial v. Strathclyde


Imperial v. Strathclyde

The first of this week’s teams, former winners Imperial were represented by James Pollard, Ed Waddingham, Juan Rubio Gorrochategui, and their captain Istvan Kleijn. Their opposition came in the shape of the University of Strathcylde, and they were Ian Brown, James Flanigan, Paul Dijkman and skipper Alastair Logan. 

Now, here’s a point. I always thought that the word chevron was derived from chevre – the French rather than the Latin for goat. Whatever the case, it allowed Alastair Logan to draw first blood. Bonuses on various Parkers – sadly not Aloysius Parker – only brought one out of a very gettable set. The next starter asked for one of those Greek philosopher chappies. Strathclyde zigged with Plato, while Imperial zagged correctly with Aristotle. Their bonuses were on various meanings of the names of political parties or movements. 2 correct answers gave them an early lead. I didn’t know what Standard Error means, but Ed Waddingham leapt like a salmon to catch that one on the fly, and earned Imperial a set of bonuses on winners of the Palme d’Or at Cannes. They took one bonus – which funnily enough was the one that I didn’t know. Bog men, that is, ancient human remains preserved in bogs and marshes saw Imperial fail to add to their score. A lovely picture starter followed. This showed us most of the text of a blue plaque, and a map of the UK showing where it could be found. The date of death, and the fact that it said that she had been buried with the heart of her husband led both me and Istvan Kleijn to go with Mary Shelley. Actually, Alastair Logan’s throw of the dice with Thomas Hardy’s wife was not stupid at all – his hear was buried away from his body, and the area pinpointed on the map certainly wasn’t a million miles from Lower Bockhampton. But the date was just far too early. Three more commemorative plaques yielded no further points, and so they led 60 – 15 at the ten minute mark. Were they going to keep powering away?

Nobody recognised a Kenneth Tynan quote about King Lear, and so for the next starter Juan Rubio Gorrochategui increased Imperial’s lead when he recognised the description of a pangolin. Biochemical synthesis bonuses had me reaching for the smelling salts, and as I came round, Imperial had given two correct answers. Ed Waddingham knew that if you’re asked for a breathtaking natural feature near Buffalo, New York, you’re going to be in the ball park if you offer Niagara Falls. Cricket in 19th century literature saw them out for a duck. I’ll be honest, I love a good Trollope, but I’ve never heard of the dystopian story referenced in the second bonus. The line “No Man is an island” by John Donne gave Alastair Logan the chance to narrow what was becoming a worryingly large gap for his team. Prime numbers provided them with a full house. The music starter gave us a piece of classical music written to represent a month of the year. Neither team managed to get January. A fine answer from Paul Dijkman saw him correctly identify the Pakistan province of Balochistan. This gave Strathclyde the dubious gift of the music bonuses. More musical months added a single bonus, but that gap was shrinking. I’ll be honest, I didn’t really understand the next starter, but James Flanigan knew the answer was mitochondria. Films and books brought Strathclyde one correct answer on The Wizard of Oz. The Strathclyde charge continued as their impressive skipper identified the art critic Robert Hughes for the next starter. Biology Chemistry and Physics saw us both get the first two. This was enough to earn me a lap of honour around the living room, and Strathclyde the joint lead at the 20 minute mark. Both teams had 90, and it was starting to look ominous for Imperial.

Nobody knew that a set of books including “Great Expectations” were all published in the 1860s. I awarded myself a second lap of honour for knowing the second law of thermodynamics for the next starter, as did Istvan Kleijn. Johannes Brahms, a rum chap by all accounts, saw them again fail to convert bonuses into points. The second picture starter saw all of us fail to identify Raphael as the painter of a cartoon used as the basis for a tapestry. Right – if you get asked for a comic novel of the 18th century – well yes, I suppose it could be “Tom Jones” or “Joseph Andrews” or even any of Smollett’s novels. But on UC chances are that it won’t be. You buzz and you answer “Tristram Shandy”. Now, that is a rum old shaggy dog story if ever there was one. Neither team had it, which is only to their credit. Neither team knew that the Silurian came between Ordovician and Devonian. Finaly Alastair Logan won the buzzer race to say that Knights, frogs, birds and clouds (although not gypsies, tramps and thieves) were all plays by Aristophanes. Remember the picture starter. Well, we’d taken this long to actually get to the bonuses, more cartoons on display in major galleries. One was taken. Alastair Logan knew that the Shannon flows into the Atlantic west of Limerick. Indira Gandhi brought another 10 points, and Strathclyde led by a full set with only a couple of minutes to go. Not that Imperial were rolling over in the dust just yet. Ed Waddingham knew deuterium. So did I, but I was too knackered for a third lap of honour. Insects finally saw Imperial get their act together on a set of bonuses, taking a full house in very quick time. Right – socialist – political writer – 1947. Go. Alastair Logan won the race to say George Orwell. The 2016 Euro championship saw them take their own full house in quick time, earning the Paxman well done – the UC equivalent of the Paul Hollywood handshake. Now, there was drama, for as time ran out, Ian Brown lost 5 through an early buzz. If Imperial took a full house on this set they could still win by 5. They didn’t know the answer though. They would not have had time anyway, since we were gonged halfway through the next starter. 

Now that was a good match, since it went right down to the wire. It was pretty easy to see why Strathclyde won – the buzzing of their captain, and Imperial’s – sorry to say this – poor bonus conversion rate. Well, losing by 125 to Strathclyde’s 145 they might still be back to put that to rights. Well played Strathclyde – a demonstration of character there to come back after allowing Imperial to make the start that they did. 

Jeremy Paxman Watch

Jez rather displayed his ignorance in one of the films and books bonuses. When Strathclyde made the eminently sensible suggestion of “Gone With The Wind” he replied. “No, the Wizard of Oz. . . Technicolor of course.” Jez – what the hell do you think Gone with the Wind was shot in? And in fact, as well as being released in the same year as Wizard of Oz, with the same director as Wizard of Oz, Gone with the wind was completely shot in technicolour, while there are monochrome sequences in the Wizard of Oz. Brain in gear before mouth in motion please, Jeremy. 

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

A young sailor who has not yet learned the requirements of the job is called a ‘wonk’. Make your own jokes about that one.